Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Christmas Raisin, A true Story

Image result for old fashioned family christmasI don’t recall ever being told how the tradition got started but I do remember eating the special rice pudding every year of my young life and enjoying the sticky goodness of the overly white, sweet goodness, never getting enough to satisfy my craving.

The year was 1962, I was six years old and I do remember having to practice the duck and cover while crawling under my desk at school.  Our teacher told us that we had to be prepared for a nuclear attack, I didn’t know what nuclear meant but it was fun to get out of my seat and squirm under my desk.

“The Nevada bombing a few days ago should remind all of us that we need to be prepared,” the fear in my teacher’s voice told us more than her words as we scrambled to beat the clock and shield our small bodies.

A few days after that Christmas vacation started and we were free for two wondrous weeks, two weeks of exploring the orange groves that surrounded our home and down to the creek where we hunted for crawdads and kept a sharp eye for the elusive wild pig that sounded its warning but was only occasionally seen.  Two weeks of playing with my friends, Brent Moore, Charles Drysdale, Brad Zitsh and my little brother Wayne, no school, no homework, no problems and only a few days before Christmas what a glorious time.  

Christmas meant family, lots of family, parties, and food, the food was everywhere.  We would start by visiting my cousins or they would come to us; going to grandmas and grandpas house, both sides and again the food, always the food.  Everyone had their favorites, my little brother loved the divinity and would take handfuls putting them in his pockets and stuffing his little face, every one smiled as they saw him try to sneak the sugary treat and not caring that he took too much or would get sick as he did almost every year.  

My favorite was the rice pudding.  I loved the texture, the lumpy look of ricey clumps, but mostly l liked the surprises hidden within and the contest of being the lucky one to find the magic treasures.  I had never won before but I knew this was my year.

A Danish tradition and a Hansen family favorite we always made rice pudding for Christmas Eve dinner and within the pudding one penny, one almond and one raisin.  Each had an important meaning but I didn’t really understand except the idea of simply being the one to earn the acceptance of the rest of the family for finding the treasures within.

I have since learned that each hidden gem had its own clairvoyant meaning and promise of future events but at the time all I wanted was the lovely, sweet rice and the chance of being the victor.  If you were the lucky one to find the penny you were promised wealth for the coming year.  The almond meant luck and whoever found the coveted almond would be the recipient of a lucky year.  It was great to get the penny or the almond but everyone wanted the raisin for the raisin meant long life and with long life came happiness and joy.

I really don’t like raisins but I knew the raisin was the most desirable and most wanted of the three.  If you were lucky enough to get the raisin the entire family would encircle you with praise, hugs, and kisses all around and for that short time you would be the center star and for me, at six years old that was the center of everything.

On Christmas Eve the entire family came together to my grandparents’ home in Montebello California.  Their home was small but it had a large room off the kitchen where we could all sit and talk, eat and enjoy the festivities of that special day.  After a dinner of turkey and ham with all the fixings we would clean the room, move the chairs and tables and I would rush to the pink chair and sink deep into the feathery pillows and feel the secure comfort of grandpas’ favorite recliner, until he emerged from the kitchen drying his hands, he would give me a happy frown, reach down with his arms and pick me up placing me on his lap, not as comfortable as the pillows but much more satisfying.

The adults would be given their small bowls filled with the yule pudding and then the kids.  I looked at mine and I knew something was missing.  I couldn’t see into the white goodness, but I knew that there was no penny, no almond nor a small wrinkly raisin; I would not be winning tonight.  My eyes, that a second ago were filled with hope and wonder lost that sparkle of anticipation, my mouth turned into a small frown, I could still enjoy the rice pudding I tried to tell myself but even that wonderful whiteness would not make up for the impending loss of not winning the penny, the almond nor the raisin.

As my grandma raised her bowl of rice pudding in the air and announced the rules of the contest, a speech repeated each year like the preamble of the constitution or a reverent prayer, my grandpa quickly pulled my bowl from my tiny hands and replaced my kiddy bowl with his adult bowl, giving to me his portion and his chance for winning.

“Start eating everyone” my grandma announced stoically.  

With a spoon in hand and ready to dig in my heart stopped a beat as I noticed my grandpa not eating, waiting, watching me with his tired but loving eyes.  I looked at him, his smile bright and knowing, encouraging, he nodded his head and I took a tentative spoon full, tasting the enchanted creamy delight as it melted in my mouth, forgetting for that moment the penny, the almond, and the raisin.

His arms encircled my small body as he hugged me and held me tight, his own bowl of rice pudding gently set aside, watching me, encouraging me, loving me.  It was at this moment in my life that I understood love, I could feel it as I sat on his lap, his eyes wanting me to win, knowing perhaps that I would win and me not really caring if I won or not, all I wanted was for this moment, these feelings to stay forever.

Near the end of my bowl of yule pudding, I did find the raisin and with the dried grape the adoration of everyone in the room.  It was a grand experience, the hugs, the kisses, the warm eyes of all, but most of all the realization that I loved my grandpa and he loved me, a feeling I would never lose, a relationship that would endure throughout his life and still endures in mine 40 years after his death as he sat by his typewriter writing a letter to me.  He died loving me, writing me and enjoying the benefits of giving me an insignificant gift of a little piece of dried fruit. The raisin may have been mine on that event filled Christmas Eve but the promise of a long and fulfilling life was his and is mine as I remember that special gift from a very special man.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Nothing Neutral about Net Neutrality

The Myth Of Net Neutrality  (shamelessly copied from,

Image result for Net Neutrality cartoonTo begin with, “net neutrality” is a loaded and inaccurate term. It was coined by Tim Wu, a far-left lawyer and university professor who ran for New York Lieutenant Governor in 2014 on a socialist platform and campaigned for Bernie Sanders during the presidential race last year. Wu invented the concept of “net neutrality” as a solution to a nonexistent problem.

Everyone wants a free and neutral Internet, but “net neutrality” has nothing to do with this. Net neutrality refers to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which regulates what are referred to as “common carriers,” utilities that hold de facto monopolies and thus are required to adhere to standards of open access and use. Title II originally governed such things as phone service and electricity, but two years ago, the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order decreed that they applied to Internet service providers as well.
As Gab founder Andrew Torba has pointed out, existing legislation does not prevent ISPs from charging different rates for different types of services, which net neutrality advocates claim will become reality should the FCC end it. All “net neutrality” does is force ISPs to treat all Internet traffic equally. This benefits edge providers such as Google and Facebook by letting them avoid paying their fair share for bandwidth, while financially hurting ISPs:

For that matter, the nightmare scenario in which ISPs charge consumers extra fees to use certain services has never occurred in the U.S. or any other Western country. Despite net neutrality having only been law for two years, American ISPs have never sold Internet service like it was cable TV, forcing consumers to purchase individual packages. Indeed, the only two countries I could find where this model is used are Turkey and China, two non-Western countries whose governments strictly regulate online speech and censor websites on their own.

To put it simply, net neutrality is corporate welfare. Google, Twitter, Facebook, Netflix and other edge providers support it because it gives them a discount on their operating costs at the expense of ISPs, who must pay to maintain and upgrade the infrastructure that makes the Internet possible to begin with. Net neutrality has as much relevance to consumers as Coke vs. Pepsi, and net neutrality defenders are nothing more than useful idiots for Silicon Valley.

Thank you, Matt Forney, 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Moral high ground sinking to new depth

The Moral High ground to the immoral is only a strategic position that can be pursued or relegated to obscurity based on the political needs of those in power

Image result for moral high ground Sexual harassment cartoonWhen accusations alone become the basis for decision making the entire process of “innocent until proven guilty” is no longer the rule of the land.  It doesn’t matter how credible or how “serious” the accusation is, they remain accusations until proven.  Our rule of law dictates that a person is innocent until they are proven guilty.

Al Franken was accused and subsequently forced from office, by his own party.  He obviously did not want to resign but the question is, are the accusations sufficient in determining guilt or innocents?  They were not.  I am not a fan of Al Franken, I only liked him because of his portrayal of the effeminate Stuart Smalley, who kept telling himself, while looking in a mirror, that people liked him, no one really believed any of what he was saying, that’s why it was funny.

The problem and the truth is that no one really likes Al Franken.  He is abusive, cruel, and weird but was he guilty?  I don’t know, do you really know?   There is some evidence, but does it fall into the category of sexual predator or is it just weird?   When the accusations surfaced it was more like Stuart Smalley, the weird guy, rather than the sexual predator of the Weinstein ilk.  Do we now judge based on personality types and convict based on if he fits into a preconceived mold or do we provide the Due Process guaranteed by our justice system?  
When the accusations are enough to convict then there is no need for due process, no need for facts or evidence of any kind.  The accusations are the judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one neat, unassailable package of convenience.  The Media has become that hangman, that hanging judge and malicious sheriff manipulating the politicians (or is it the other way around) sending them out like have vigilantes ready to string up any who get in their way or serve their purpose.

Judge Moore’s accuser has recanted her story of the yearbook and basically exonerated the Judge, on that account.  He decided to fight back and for a time he has landed successfully on his feet, but for how long?  Who will be next?  Who will accuse who of some misconduct from years past and who will be forced to resign because the company, the party or group, demands a resignation because of the “Seriousness of the Accusation”?  

Many are guilty and for them, I would suggest resigning early like the Weinstein’s and the Spacy’s did, but for those who are truly not guilty, make the anonymous voices prove your wrongdoing. You are innocent until proved guilty, that is still the law of the land.

There are some Women who are applauding this strategy and the outcomes of destruction and are feeding themselves on the discarded carcasses of their victims.    Rule of law means nothing to them; Due Process is just an idea that gets in the way of their mission for control.  All men are evil, all men need to be controlled and marginalized with the new saying around the media being “it’s time for women to be in charge”, repeated by former President Barrack Obama, maybe he wants his wife to run for something and maybe, in this case, she would be a better leader than he was, just saying…

There is much more to this issue than just the idea that woman make better leaders.  This is a planned and concerted effort to displace President Trump and to force him to leave the office of the President through the implications of impropriety and accusation that have been established by the sacrifices of other politicians who find it "necessary" to clean house, to make room for more deserving leaders, any leader will do, just not Trump.

I know this is just a theory, but I think my theory should hold as much weight as an unfounded accusation.  It all starts with the left losing an election that to most was a slam dunk victory for Hillary.  The first step was the Russian collusion, but that is failing fast, so they had to rethink their tactics and someone came up with the idea to capitalize on the avalanche of sexual harassment cases; it would be easy to implicate President Trump but only after the left captured the moral high ground by sacrificing its own despicable members. 

Harvey Weinstein, Keven Spacey, James Toback, Ben Affleck…. high profile, big named targets that were expendable.  Then came the politicians.

In politics the CNN article only mentions President George HW Bush, it should have mentioned Wesley Goodman, Steve Lebsock, Paul Rosenthal, Dan Schoen and John Conyers…Accusations only, some are more credible than others but, no due process has been allowed or considered, only the accusations. 

The left has taken a very strong and moral stance against these accused but the left fails to mention the associations they had and the excuses they made over the years that allowed these, presumed sexual predators to exist.  The point of all this is credibility.  With that new-found credibility, they will demand that President Trump also step down due to the “seriousness of the accusations” and “for the good of the country”.

None of it has to be true, none of it has to be proven, it only has to be said and repeated for the seriousness to trump the truth.  This is just a theory, a theory that I hope is wrong.  It makes me shudder to consider the possibility that we have leaders that will stoop to something so low and dramatic just to get their way.  This theory does have some basis from past performances by the left, and the right, the end justifies the means and in the case of our current political leadership that means getting rid of Donald Trump.

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