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Showing posts from April, 2006

Beneath the Planet of the Nutmeggers

I take great pleasure in life when I can think, "This is something I have never done before." That happened yesterday when Shmoikel and I went on a cave exploration trip sponsored by the Bruce Museum of Greenwich. Other than a 1971 visit to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico -- hardly rigorous, more a stroll along well-lit underground paths -- I have never entered a cave.

Two dozen of us, split between adults and kids on their spring break, boarded a bus in Greenwich for the 75 minute drive to Litchfield County's Tory's Cave. An instruction sheet told us to wear layers of clothes and bring our own food and water. We were ready, to some extent.

Once we arrived, we met three skilled guides who just returned from a cave trip to Belize. After historical and safety remarks, we donned hardhats with small flashlights taped to them and began the descent. Whatever Shmoikel and I expected, this wasn't it. Rather than a chilly but dry, dark but wide cave entrance, we slithered d…

When Retailers Give Up

Twice lately I've gone shopping for basic household items. My default retailer is a local hardware store here in Fairfield County, Connecticut. I always try to support the small guys. The results are sometimes discouraging.

First, I wanted an over-the-door towel rack from my bathroom. The plastic one I bought at this store snapped within five minutes. I took it back for a refund. Then I tried Home Depot. After circling the store and consulting a half-dozen orange-aproned associates, somebody told me to go to Wal-Mart. And this was Home Depot! Sure enough, I found a cheap plastic over-the-door at Wal-Mart. Which also broke. Finally, I found exactly what I wanted at Bed Bath & Beyond.

This week I needed a water bottle to take to a cave exploring trip with Shmoikel. Again I returned to my local store. Again, it stocked nothing I wanted. "Oh, the Rubbermaid company is having a lot of problems," a sales associate told me. "Try Wal-mart."

I don't want to try Wa…

Fatherhood on the Margin of Memory

My parents separated before I was three, and I have not a single memory of my family as an intact unit. Indeed, my father moved far away from my mother, brother and me before I was 5 years old, and I didn't see him for eight years.

Against this background of my parents' divorce and my divorce, my heart sank when my son, not quite a teen, told me he could not remember me living at home, with his mother and him. I moved out in 2002, when he was just past 8. Shmoikel knows me only at a distance, not the dad at home, but the dad on the phone, the dad with his other home.

Fortunately, I've worked hard to maintain a relationship. He may not remember me at the house, but he has a rich store of continual contact. I call every night, even if I'm on a date (what better way to show my solid parenting skills?), and maintain a clockwork-like visitation schedule.

Still, the sadness lingers, somewhere between a bruise and a shiv in my ribs. Surely my son benefits from growing up withou…

PARODY: Harvard, Yale Team Up to Produce Deluxe Edition of "Israel Lobby" Paper

[UPDATE: The April 12 New York Times carries an article titled, "Essay Stirs Debate About Influence of a Jewish Lobby." It's worth a look to see how brave Dr. Mearsheimer and stalwart Dr. Walt are holding up to the onslaught of attacks by "the Lobby." Why, they knew they were committing "career suicide in terms of getting a high-level administrative job in academia or a policy-making position," Mearsheimer said. What, provost of King Faisal University isn't good enough for you?]

Just in time for Passover, Harvard and Yale Universities are collaborating on a deluxe edition of the best-selling (in Saudi Arabia) scholastic paper "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy."

Announced at a press conference today in Cambridge, Mass., the book promises to bring the Harvard-published pathbreaking research of John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Joseph Walt of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government to a wider audience of readers.

Th…

Repentence, 26 Years Later

March 24 marked the 26th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in San Salvador. Now, one man involved in the murder is speaking out and asking for forgiveness. Alvaro Saravia, an aide to death squad leader and politician Roberto D'Aubuisson, acknowledged his role in the killing. Speaking with El Nuevo Herald in Miami, Saravia used striking language to make his point. Note the response from the current Archbishop of El Salvador:
As to his request for forgiveness, ''that's a moral obligation I have, as a human being, to society, to the Church and myself,'' Saravia said in an interview recently in a Latin American country he asked not be identified for his personal security.

Saravia said he is willing to appear before the Archbishop of El Salvador, Msgr. Fernando Sáenz La Calle, to ask for forgiveness. Sáenz La Calle said the offer brought him surprise and joy.

''God always forgives when there is true repentance and a desire to make amen…