Friday, September 19, 2014

Rant #1,293: Fishy Thoughts

One of the things that my doctor told me during my recent examination is to continue to eat fish over beef.

I crave a piece of steak, but I have always liked fish too ... or at least some fish.

I hate salmon, but I do love flounder, tuna fish--yes, the canned variety--and tilapia.

And I like some ethnic fishes, things that are in my Jewish blood, like gefilte fish and smoked white fish.

And it is about white fish that I am going to talk about today.

I have always liked white fish.

Maybe it currently conjurs up in me days of yore, when, as a little kid, my mother would take out the meat from this fish for me, right from the chub, or later, when I would actually have the whole fish in my plate, with the head and eyes still attached, and I did the honors myself, but there is something about white fish--bones and all--that I have always liked.

(And I don't mean the slang expression that uses white fish, "Coney Island Whitefish," which if you don't know what it means, please look it up. That is not what I am talking about here.)

Anyway, way back when, you could get two chubs for like $2, maybe even less, and in areas that I lived in, white fish was plentiful at any appetizing counter in any supermarket.

So literally through my 20s, I occasionally had this delilcacy, which tasted so good but cost so little to enjoy.

Tastes changed, people moved around, and since not as many people were buying white fish, those that carried it pushed the price up, but I still ate it when I could find it.

Now, in my 50s, go look for white fish ... I can't find it anywhere.

I have gone into many supermarkets, both big and small, looking for white fish, but to little or no avail.

I have asked others to look for it for me, and they cannot find it either.

I realize that white fish is really a Jewish thing, much like gefilte fish is.

But it isn't like bagels, a Jewish creation that has become almost as synonomous with American tastes as pizza is.

You can find gefilte fish just about at any supermarket--no, I haven't checked out any bodegas recently--but you can't find white fish.

Then my mother, also a white fish lover, let me know that in the local King Kullen, they are selling white fish salad, and although it is a bit pricey--nearly $7 for a little tub--it might satisfy my cravings.

Try it, you'll like it.

And I did, and yes, while it isn't white fish like I remember it, it is a good enough substitute.

No, the head isn't in there, and it is mixed with some other things, but it is good enough for now.

The last time I bought it, it was reduced 50 cents in price, so I looked at it as a bargain.

It is made by a company named Acme, out of Brooklyn, New York.

No, it is not affiliated with Wiley Coyote and the Road Runner, but they seem to make a good product.

But I am still looking for that elusive white fish, a chub that I really could dig into now as a full-fledged adult.

If anyone knows where you can get white fish--with the head intact--please let me know.

What I have is OK, but I really, really want the real thing.

There's nothing like the real thing, baby, there's nothing like the real thing ...

Speak to you again on Monday.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Rant #1,292: To My Credit

Even though I am not the richest person in the world financially, I have managed to pay off two cars during the past two years.

If not for my accident, I would have been done paying off cars by this point.

Now, I have one outstanding car bill, and it is something I could have lived without.

But anyway, back to the cars I paid off ...

One was my former car, the one that got trashed in the accident in May.

The other is my daughter's car, which the both of us paid off together ... well, I paid for probably 75 percent of it.

Because of my wonderful history of paying off cars on time, and probably also due to the fact that I owe X amount of dollars on my new car, I have been inundated by the credit card companies with offers for their respective credit cards.

And when I get these things, they go right in the garbage.

I do not want any credit cards at this point or in the long term.

I have had them, they are enticing as all heck, they allow you to do things you couldn't do without them, but you know what, been there, done that.

I have had credit cards, but they are all gone now, and I do not want any more.

But the companies see my sterling history with cars, and they want me .... desire me ... crave me.

Well, they aren't going to get me this time around, or for that matter, ever.

But they inundate me with requests to sign up, each and every day ... no exaggeration.

One company, in particular, has probably sent me well over 200 requests during the past year, seemingly one every other day or so since I paid off my own car last year.

This has continued unabated now that I have paid off my daughter's car.

It really is ridiculous. Are the credit card companies that desperate to get me on their rolls?

Yes, they apparently are.

I have had some financial problems in the past, but everything is pretty much hunky dory now.

Yes, I have a large car bill each month, have some other bills that really rile the heck out of me, and the last thing I need is a credit card bill.

If I need to pay with a card, I use my debit card, using funds that I have accumulated to pay for things.

I do not use credit anymore, because it took me some time to learn that even though the world wants you to have a credit rating, and thus, accumulate money that you owe lenders, I don't want to owe anyone.

It is really a vicious cycle, but that is how the world is.

But I have tried to make my own personal world different, have done things to make it so, and I am satisfied, at the very least, where I am now.

So the companies can continue to send me these requests, and I can continue to feed my garbage pail with them.

I have earned the right to do that, and that is just what I am going to continue to do with the applications for credit I will undoubtedly get in the mail today.

Sayonara, credit, I don't need you anymore.

And that, I guess, is to my own credit.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rant #1,291: To Good Health

You know what they say: You have good health, you have everything.

Well, in lieu of the fact that I really don't have everything, I guess I do have good health.

Yesterday evening after work, I went back to my doctor to find out the results of my blood test that I had a week earlier, and to get a full checkup, and lo and behold, I came out smelling like roses.

Everything that the blood can be used to check out checked out fine, and that includes thyroid, prostate, liver, and several other areas.

My blood pressure is also quite good.

My cholesterol count is so way down that for the first time in years--and I do mean years, probably maybe like 15 or 20 years--I do not have to take my cholesterol pill each day.

I have been taking Vytorin forever, it seems, and at least for the next three months, I don't have to take it anymore.

This is a true revelation, as taking this pill has been part of my very being for oh so long.

Now, at least for the next three months, I can live without it. This way, the doctor can see if I truly need it.

How much will my cholesterol jump without the use of this pill? That is what we are going to try to find out.

Yes, I am a bit overweight, but otherwise, for a 57 year old male, I am in pretty good shape.

I will admit that a lot of it is pure luck, maybe even good genes.

I don't watch myself that much when eating, and I have been known to go to town every once in a while.

I don't exercise much either, even if you count in the work I do putting away the dishes (see yesterdays' Rant for more information).

What has helped me is that I really don't eat that much, and what I do eat is regulated by my wife, who makes sure that we all--including my son--eat a little healthier.

I rarely, if ever, eat white bread anymore, preferring rye over white anytime anyway.

When we have pasta, it is wheat pasta, not white pasta.

I rarely have steak--I have to admit I crave it now--and I haven't had a real piece of steak for several months.

And I do eat fish at least once or twice a week, including during lunch.

So I do have to thank my wife for everything she does to make me healthy.

She watches herself like a hawk, and with me--and for that matter, our son--she watches us like, well, doves.

With everything my family has been through this year, it is really good to know that I have withstood everything, and I am healthy, if not wealthy, and yes, I do feel wise.

You can't really have it all, but I feel that I do, and that is the first step on the road to good health.

So I thank my wife and my family, as well as my doctor, for the good vibes I got at my checkup yesterday.

I hope that everyone out there can feel as good as I do today, in mind and in body and in soul.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rant #1,290: Dishes ... Wishes

Regular readers of this column know all too well that I hate to put on a tie each morning before I go to work.

To sum that up, it is like putting a noose around my neck, and I find it unnecessary as I go about my workday.

There is something else that I hate to do, but I do it just about every morning, and that is putting away the dishes from the dishwasher.

But unlike the tie thing, this is something that has to be done.

We have three people in my house: myself, my wife and my son.

We eat three meals a day here--of course, during the week it is two meals a day, less lunch--and the dishes can pile up, so we do a dishwash just about every day, or seven per week.

We use plates, bowls, forks, knives ... you name it, and they have to be washed and cleaned.

We have had a few dishwashers over the past several years, and we just got a new one a few months ago.

It doesn't do the greatest job, but it does a good job with a lighter load in it, like today, where everything pretty much came out spic and span.

But all of those things had to be put away in the cupboard, and since I am the first one up and about, at between 4:15 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. each and every morning, it is my job to put away the dishes.

It is a moribund task, but it has to be done. Everything that comes out of that dishwasher has its place, and it has to be put back where it came from.

So each and every morning--or at least five days a week, much like this column--I put away the dishes.

On the weekend, my wife and I usually handle this task equally, but during the week, I am the go-to guy.

I remember that years ago, futurists predicted that dishes would wash in their own places and that nothing would have to be put away like this, but they were very, very wrong.

At least we have a dishwasher to get the cleaning job done.

I have washed dishes in the sink, and, well, been there, done that, and I don't want to have to go back to that.

So if you are up at the same hours that I am, please think of me, putting away those dishes like a machine programmed to do that job.

It is a bore, I don't like doing it, but it is one of the ways I contribute to the upkeep of our house, so I do it, and do it methodically.

You can't always be creative, and I guess that the least creative thing I do each day is to put away the dishes.

That's part of my job, you know.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Rant #1,289: Cyber Bullying Continues

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the cyber water ...

Cyber bullying is alive and well on the Internet, and Facebook is where it's at.

And unfortunately, Facebook offers no medium to rid oneself of this type of behavior.

I have been the victim of cyber bullying a few times on Facebook over the years. Funny, I hesitated joining up to the social media service for a relatively long time because I felt that this was a place where people aren't immune from this type of behavior--my daughter went through something when she was a young teenager that I won't go into here--but after a while, I felt it was the place to be, so I joined.

And as I predicted, I saw cyber bullying of others, and later myself, which firmed up my belief.

Heck, some young kids have committed suicide after being taken over the coals by others.

Me, as an adult, I basically just shrug my shoulders, wondering what all the fuss is about.

The latest incident I was in happened just over the past few days.

Someone I am linked to through my network of my old neighborhood put up a photo of former MLB pitcher Dwight Gooden, who, as you probably know, was one of the rising stars in sports about 30 years ago, but gave it all up for a life of drugs and degradation.

Anyway, they saw him wherever they were at, took his picture, and lauded him as "such a nice guy," and then several people followed with some more flowery praise for this guy.

I posted on the thread, saying in the light of all that is going on in the NFL with players abusing their spouses and their families, Gooden is one not to praise, but almost to pity, because this "nice guy" has a rap sheet longer then your arm.

He has been in jail a few times, he has abused drugs, he has neglected his family, he has threatened his spouse/girlfriend (I forget which one, maybe both); and he owes thousands of dollars in child support ... and almost more importantly, has never shown much remorse for his action, not yet coming to grips with the fact that he has deep-seated problems.

This is a nice guy?

And with the NFL players' problems becoming not just top sports news, but page one news, this is not someone anybody should be lauding as much as they were here.

Well, this set off a firestorm of response from people to me, and it wasn't pretty.

People knocked me with reckless abandon. The person who put up the post--who I never, ever had any problems with, and whose husband I was friendly with in the old days--called me some names and said I should take my negativity elsewhere.

Another guy actually threatened me to fisticuffs, which led to him posting such negative, anti-Semitic comments to me on Facebook messages that I blocked him after unsuccessfully trying to report his tirades to Facebook. Any yes, he is, himself, Jewish.

And what's more, other people "liked" what people said about me. The original poster deleted my comments, but, of course, left on the comments knocking me and my character for all to see.

Look, I am a big boy and I can take all this nonsense, where perhaps a younger person would take this stuff differently--and more personally--then I do.

But the vociferousness of some people toward me is astounding.

I mean, these people are in their 50s as I am, and they act, in unison, as if they are about nine or 10 years of age, with a vicious streak the length of the Great Wall of China. Any word against them is taken as a word against humanity, and they strike back with a viciousness that really, I am perhaps naively astounded by, even though it has happened to me before and happens to others on a regular basis.

I tried to make amends with the original poster, but she is so poisoned by others that she looks at me like some sort of pariah.

And the ganging up is really something, cyber bullying at its very, very worst--and most obvious.

What more can I say?

This stuff still exists, so be very, very aware of it when you post something on Facebook.

Like I just said, I am a big boy, I can take it, but the lengths that people will go to cyber assault others really is incredible, unnecessary, anti-social and completely anti-human, to coin a phrase.

Let's all move on from this, and not take things so personally in the future.

I know I will.

And in parting, I have to say that we all must move on from this type of nonsense, because Facebook refuses to put in any safeguards to prevent it.

They should be ashamed of themselves, and held accountable for these type of actions, the actions of their members, people that they allow to post such nonsense with reckless abandon.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Rant #1,288: Selected Rantings and Ravings

Sometimes you simply do not have enough stuff to fill up a whole column, so you simply gather up everything and put it into one basket.

That is what I am doing today, so here goes:

Pistorious Trial: Why anyone really cares about this thing is beyond me, but whenever I go on the Internet, and I go into Yahoo, an alert about this trial is at the top of my page, in color, as if I am biting my nails over this one.

He thought his girlfriend was an intruder, he shot her, and now, he has to pay the consequences.

And this is in South Africa yet? We have enough nonsense at home, we are supposed to worry about this?

Richard Keil Dies: Another tragic death of someone I really liked as an actor, this hulking fellow was in everything from an episode of "The Monkees" to the James Bond movie where he played the memorable character "Jaws."

He actually used his huge frame to his advantage, usually playing Frankenstein monster or simply monster types.

He will be missed.

Yankees' Season Goes Down Drain: I am a big Yankees fan, but I have to admit, this season has been extremely difficult to watch.

After a promising off season, where they brought in several new, high profile players, they are worse off than they were a year ago.

Yet, attendance is up. I guess people enjoy spending $100 a seat to see mediocrity.

Like the old Brooklyn Dodgers used to say every year, "Wait 'til next year," and the ongoing Derek Jeter going away party hasn't soothed my wounds this year.

The Yankees are as bad as the Mets are, and that is really saying something.

Denise Milani Double Take: One of the people I converse with on Facebook is obsessed with model Denise Milani, and he has put up dozens of photos of her for myself and others to gaze at.

The only thing that I can say is that if you were looking for a brunette Barbie, she is it.

I cannot believe that a lot of what she has wasn't man made, but whatever the case, she is quite fetching.

I am not obsessed with her, but I have to admit I am intrigued by her, because I think there is more plastic in her than in all the Khardashians put together.

I will let you be the judge.

Working Six Days a Week: Yes, that is what I am doing now, and I can't say that I am happy with this arrangement.

Every year, my company puts out an issue that takes extra effort, so the thought is that we have to come in an extra day to get it done.

"Hogwash!" I say to that.

It can be done in five days a week, not six, and working the six is killing me.

It fouls up my Saturdays--supposedly a day of rest for me--and ends up screwing up my mind and body.

Woe is me--I have to do it again tomorrow.

The world is not fair.

Speak to you again on Monday.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rant #1,287: What More Can One Say?

Today, the unlucky 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, I ask you, what more can one say that hasn't already been said?

The world changed that day, and it hasn't been the same since.

Not only have actual wars escalated, but cyber wars also seemingly started that day too.

And sometimes, the cyber wars are every bit as costly as the ground wars.

Remember in school, we were all taught the phrase, "The pen is mightier than the sword"?

Well today, the Internet might be mightier than the sword.

Social media escalates actual combat, and often sets it in motion.

But back to 9/11 ...

The only thing that I can think about are my kids.

My daughter is 26, and since this is the 13th anniversary of those horrid attacks, she has lived exactly half her life since the world changed.

My son is 19, and he was only six when this happened, so he knows no other way of living.

But on the positive side, we have done just what we should have done since those heinous attacks.

We have moved on.

Not forgotten, just moved on.

We have rebuilt, we have revitalized ourselves.

We are what we are.

So in a sense, we have defeated the enemy, which sought to change the way we live.

But the enemies that we have, and their yearning for change to their way of living--if that is what you want to call it--persists.

We have ISIS,. we have Hamas, we have cells within our own country that do not believe in the American way.

We are ultra-security conscious about everything.

We kind of do look over our shoulders just to make sure everything is OK.

But again, I think of my kids, and the world that they are growing up in, and yes, it is scary.

But they will survive, we will all survive, and we will prosper.

And our enemies will be defeated, if not today then tomorrow or within due time.

And we will continue to live our lives, by and large, the way that we want to live our lives.

Because of that, we have not been defeated.

We have won.

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