Saturday, December 24, 2011


Here's a fun parody that popped into my mind this week... while a bit late for the First Night of Chanukah very appropriate for tonight!

‘Twas the first night of Chanukah
When all thru the house
Every Creature was stirring
Even pet mouse
The wallets were laid
In a haphazard way
Expecting the gelt
That daddy would pay
Us children were shouting
Refusing to sleep
And Mama was crying
‘Keep this noise to a peep’
When out at the door
Came a knock so loud
I knew it was Grandpa
Who would bring in a crowd.
Dad sprang from his chair
To attend to the matter
Aunts and Uncles trooped in
O my, such chatter
Coins jingling in pockets
Enough for my rockets
Bundles of presents and toys
One for each girl and each boy
Mama, hands on hips, I could tell
She hadn’t expected
This visit from Hell
But ‘wait’ Grandpa shouted
Before anything’s outed
Light candles and recall
Judas Macabee and all

And now I have kids who dutifully shout
‘Not clothes,’ with a pout
‘Please mommy and daddy,
We’d rather have money
All that time in the store, waiting in lines
What happened to me-I opined
Have I been corrupted
By commercials that state,
‘It’s your duty to spend, buy all that you can, and even more’
‘Forget that plea from that old sage advisor
As he bade his good-bye, Grandpa always implored
“Don’t waste money, spend right
“Happy Chanukah to all, I’ll see you next night!”

Saturday, December 17, 2011

To Blog or Not to Blog

If you are like me you might find yourself saying... where does the time go.  There are so many things on my to do list and somehow I just don't get through them.  The past five months blogging has been one of the things on the list that I have just not gotten to.  Why???  I'm asking myself that question.  It isn't for lack of ideas or adventures I've had.   Maybe its priorities.  Other things have demanded my attention and had to be taken care of.  That is clearly part of the reason.  And sometimes even though I have had the time I just haven't felt like it.  If I am to be honest, some of that may be due to my Mom's passing last May and this blog didn't feel like the appropriate expression of the grieving process.

This morning I decided to look at the traffic to the blog and was surprised how we continue to be picked up by the search engines and the posts that get a number of hits.  The statue of Franco Harris's Immaculate Reception is the top of the list receiving quite a few every week as does the one on Boquette Crime.  Of my Art Postings the one "She Paints Sea Shells" is the most popular.  Well.. that's some motivation.  To know that I might be providing some information to the general public.

I think back to the reason we started this blog.  Some friends and family had expressed that they liked the unique things we were doing in "retirement" and that it was providing inspiration for them. OK! Today I don't even like the word "retire."  I prefer Jane Fonda's term "Third Act" which I heard via a podcast on a  retreat she participated in at Upaya (which I listened to on their Dharma podcast  and highly recommend). The retreat explored the fact that we are living longer and encouraged us to find ways to make the 30 years that people often have after retiring from their formal careers meaningful.

For me each day has the potential to be an exciting adventure and it is up to me to make it so.  It is fun to share those adventures on this blog. So I'm committed to writing again and to encouraging Murray to do some writing too.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Perry-Mansfield's Evening of Dance - Preview Performance July 20th

I just returned from "Camp Night" at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp still very much under the magic created by young dancers and exceptional professional choreographers. In her 11th season at Perry-Mansfield, Director of Dance, Linda Kent, has put together an outstanding program. Several days earlier we had worked on a press release and when I asked her to describe what she thought we would be seeing she described it as "an astonishing variety;" "compelling physicality;" and "amazing artistry!" Well she was right on!!! And that is just scratching the surface of superlatives that I want to use.

It featured seven new works from seven different choreographers and a special presentation of excerpts from Paul Taylor's Runes. Each piece was extremely different and challenged the high school and college dancers in a variety of ways.

The opening piece, Slow Falling, by Rick McCullough performed on pointe opened the concert and showed the technical skill of the eight dancers. Excellent partnering and performances by Ellie Swiatkiwsky and Nehemiah Spencer were a highlight for me.
Aperture by Jennifer Golonka used fourteen dancers in interesting groupings that in Golonka's words "explores our relationship with photographs and memories." It is exciting to watch how Golonka's choreographic skills have been growing from summer to summer.
Fix Up, Look Sharp by Kyle Abraham, a 2010 Princess Grace Choreography Fellow, was a quartette featuring four outstanding dancers: John Rafffles Durbin, Delana Jerry, Nehemiah Spencer, and Ellie Swiatkiwky. The young audience caught the humor and the seriousness in it immediately! The quirky fresh movement was excellently performed and I particularly look forward to seeing this piece again. (I'll be heading out tonight too.)
The first half concluded with Paul Taylor's 1975 piece Runes staged by former Taylor Company Member Linda Kent. I had caught this piece in a tech rehearsal two days earlier and was thrilled to see how the dancers had grown in just two more days of rehearsal. Eleven dancers were tightly ensembled in this evening's performance in a thrilling section of jumps at the end. They have also captured the Taylor style of movement in their four and a half weeks of studying at Perry-Mansfield.

The second half opened with an aerial piece, Sweet Beatles, created by Janet Taisey Craft. Performed by six dancers to Beatles' songs the combination of aerial movement and on the ground choreographer blended well together with a nice sense of humor that kept the audience laughing and gasping one moment to the next. The next piece by Thang Dao called Heart Play was inspired by the title and text of Heiner Mueller's Heart Play and the program notes tell us that it explores the complexities and mysteries of relationships between two people and how an individual can lose oneself when heart is at play. Thang Dao is clearly a choreographer that I look forward to seeing more from. His use of the dancers was fresh and intriguing with unique partnering, use of chairs and formations with an emotional intensity. The score by Richard Bennett and Paula Jeanine Bennett worked well for the piece.
Ernesta Corvina's On the Path has a folk ballet flavor to it set to Traditional Celtic Harp. The dancers' performances were clean and spirited capturing the mood beautifully.
The program concluded with Antonio Brown's Groovestreet Manor, filled with surprises and a sense of humor combining characterization of seniors watching TV at a nursing home with lively contemporary jazz. The dancers captured both the characterization of the senior each was portraying along with the inner child making for a playful way to end a wonderful evening that simply flew by for this audience member.

A special congratulations to the technical staff. Costumer Tamara Cobus did an outstanding job. Lighting was superbly designed by Michael Jarett with JC Clementz Stage Managing the evening.

As a Board member of Perry-Mansfield and a former alumni I am so proud of what I saw. Thank you to Linda Kent, the choreographers, and all the support staff that made this possible. If you are anywhere near Steamboat Springs Colorado, or have friends in the area, tell them not to miss this concert. It officially opens to the public Thursday, July 21 and runs through Saturday July 23 starting each evening at 8. Call 970-879-7125 for tickets.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sarasota Hospice House - Making a Difficult Time Very Meaningful

On May 1, my Mom, Janet Klineman passed peacefully. Two and a half weeks earlier she had begun internal bleeding and at age 90 she elected to not do any testing and instead to work with Hospice. As we were discharged from Sarasota’s Memorial Hospital the ER doctor said we would be pleased with Hospice and he respected her decision.

Early the next morning we had a call from a staff member of Hospice who arranged to interview us and within a few hours Hospice was helping us adjust to this “transition” period. My sister joined me later in the day and together we began providing care for Mom at her apartment assisted by a Hospice nurse. We received a package of emergency medicine by Fed Express, which we kept in the refrigerator.

When it began to be difficult to care for Mom at home, the nurse suggested moving her to Sarasota’s Hospice House. Knowing how Mom wanted to be at home we included her in our discussions and the nurse assured her it would not feel like she was in a hospital setting and that all the rooms were spacious and lovely. As family members we would be free to come and go and even stay overnight if we wanted. And most important of all the staff would know how to care for Mom in the best way possible rather than my sister and I improvising and guessing what to do. Mom agreed.

A room was available later that day. Hospice arranged an easy transport. We were wonderfully surprised and pleased with Mom’s room. Spacious and airy with a screened in porch that overlooked a butterfly garden we immediately felt at ease and Mom was very pleased. Over the next 10 days we got to know the staff well and to appreciate their sensitivity and care. All was done to make Mom comfortable and to support us as family members.

Mom was alert and very present with us until about 24 hours before going into a deep sleep from which she did not wake. During the time she was awake we had many meaningful moments together which a storyteller friend of mine, Regina Ress, referred to as golden moments.

Mom had long been a supporter of Hospice and now having experienced it first hand I am too. I am most grateful to the Sarasota Tidewell Hospice House for the outstanding work they are doing. I commend the volunteer staff who were there to open doors, tend the garden, bring in therapy pets, and assist anyway they were needed. The professional staff was outstanding from the doctors to the nursing assistants. There were simply no weak links.

When Mom died one of the nurses suggested I quietly spend some time in Mom’s room before they called the funeral home. I was hesitant at first but so glad I did. Those twenty minutes of being able to sit quietly beside her even though she had passed has proven to be very meaningful. Thank you Sarasota Tidewell Hospice.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

DNA tests and genealogy

What does DNA testing tell a genealogist?
In search of my DNA genealogy

The Jewish Diaspora has been studied, rather exhaustively. DNA studies have added some important missing links to establishing a genealogical path.

What does DNA testing tell a genealogist? Without getting into the technicalities, the short answer to this question is that a person can learn about his/her biological ancestry from DNA tests. Through the Y-chromosome possessed only by males, one can correlate specific DNA characteristics with a growing collection of people throughout the world who are contributing their DNA for research. Women can ask fathers, brothers or male cousins to contribute DNA for their paternal side of the family.

I had long suspected that my paternal ancestors had followed one of the paths of Sephardic Jews, that is, Jews from Spain. Since they came from an Ashkenazic territory, proving this hunch was formidable, if not impossible. My paternal grandfather, Jonah Tucker, came from Dzenkiv, a shtetl near the larger settlement of Pogrebishche, a town near Kiev, where my grandmother, Chai Pessie Schakne, came from. When he arrived in Pittsburgh from Canada, he sought out a shul that used the Sephardic ritual (Nusach). This was a clue, but even my cousins thought such a choice meant nothing.

Along came that expanded the study of haplotypes and haplogroups (people with the same or very similar haplotypes). The large number of participants who submitted their own DNA gave researchers a greater ability to determine certain patterns of migration.

Current DNA studies indicate that while some Sephardim have attributes indicating ancestors from Palestine, a significant portion have attributes that indicate that they came from Western European stock. The deeper one goes into the Y-DNA, the closer one gets to a reliable answer to the question, “where did my paternal ancestor come from.”

Let me start with the broadest test called Y12. As I found out, it leads to a potential of false positives. I was told I fit into the haplogroup R1b. In reviewing the close matches, there was an overwhelming majority with non-Jews from Western Europe, particularly the British Isles, France and Switzerland.

I then requested a deeper study and went to Y-25, more than doubling the number of sites studied. The results came back. Again, my matches were predominantly from Western Europe. Only when I increased the study to Y-37 did I secure close matches with participants who (except for one) knew they came from Jewish backgrounds.

I sought out a better understanding of this coincidence from the founder and CEO of FamilyTreeDNA, Bennett Greenspan. In an email from him he said:

"It strongly appears that your male line is from R1b1a2a1a1b3 defined by the SNP (U-152) . . . derived, or downstream, from L23/L49, which is the ancestral SNP nearly exclusively found in the Middle East.

"I found some Jews in that Mediterranean database that is yet private from Turkey, Soviet Georgia and Morocco, and a Druze, but that dataset is inferior because it only uses our first 12 markers plus a few others (DYS 437/438), so I'm not satisfied with the resolution of the comparisons given your common overall signature in the genepool."

In other words, it looks like my paternal ancestor may have had roots in the Middle East, but only a more detailed study of the Y-DNA from participants who live in that area of the world might provide a definitive answer. I still cannot claim Sephardic roots.

One has to go fairly deep into the analysis of their Y-DNA to have anything close to an understanding of where their paternal ancestor came from. An example of not going far enough can be found in a monograph by Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman and Donald Panther-Yates. They produce charts of men from New Mexico, who are descendants of early settlers from Spain. The predominant haplogroup is R1b. (“Toward a Sephardic Haplogroup Profile in the New World,” an unpublished monograph, available online through a service called SlideShare). Their conclusion is imprecise and misleading because the R1b haplotype is common in Western Europe and represents only the shallowest of study at level Y12. Recall that my results for 12 or even 25 markers matched with males from Western Europe. It was only when my study went out to 37 markers that matches were predominantly Jewish, but, even then, not necessarily Sephardic. I was fortunate to have Bennett Greenspan look more deeply into my haplotype (see quote above), but even then there was not enough evidence to make a convincing statement.

There is one group that has more of a chance to claim historic ancestry. The “Cohen” or “Kohanim” J-gene has apparent association with the patrilineal haplotype associated with Aaron, brother of Moses, and founder of the priestly dynasty of Judaism. A majority of present-day Kohanim either shares, or is only one step removed from a DNA string that represents possible descendants of Aaron. Not having a J-gene is more likely to disprove the claim of being a Cohen.

Haplotypes associated with Asian haplotypes occur infrequently among Jewish males but may indicate that their forefather was from Asia. Scandinavian haplotypes also occur as a result of incursions from the north into Russia. Blond and red hair color, while not a part of the Y chromosome, may be a tip off to a Scandinavian source of ancestry.

To this point I have only discussed male lineage. DNA tests are available for looking at mitochondrial (mtDNA) or DNA from our mother’s side. I had very close matches with nearly fifty others whose predecessors came from the same area of Eastern Europe of what my grandparents referred to as “White Russia” and what is now mostly Belarus. Many of the ancestors of Jews who lived there migrated from Italy. My great-grandmother’s maiden name, Resnick, is derived from what is now a suburb of Belgrade, a city that was once a sub-capital of the Roman Empire, and probably residence of many Jews.

Documentation is still the gold standard in establishing ancestral roots. For many of us who have Jewish roots, it is difficult to trace our heritage beyond the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. I have documents and oral history that trace my ancestry back to 1830 in all but one case. As we go back in time, the number of our ancestors grows geometrically and surnames become more difficult because they were not fully established in Eastern Europe until the early nineteenth century. The genealogical road I have decided to take is to learn how my ancestors lived and migrated from place to place -- their story, and mine – a slice of Jewish history. DNA studies have placed a significant amount of guidance at my disposal.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Target,WalMart and China and the price of oil

I was at the Supermarket last week. A quart of milk was $1.30, a half gallon, $1.65 and a gallon was $1.79. How does this relate to Target, WalMart and China? China does not buy crude through middle men. It buys gallons, direct from the producers. Target and WalMart operate in similar fashion using their huge buying power to get the best price. Now how do we operate in the United States? We operate through a cadre of middlemen who lock in the price of gallons, and we buy quarts.

When an oil tanker is loaded, the captain does not know where his load will be dropped, except if he is going to China where his price is set with a negotiated profit. Another tanker captain deals with several U.S. marketeers. His price is also set, but it is higher or lower because there is a bidding process.

Now here's the rub. Once the winning bidder gets the tanker full of oil he goes to his market, the refiners- there are many of them, none willing to take a full cargo. He splits it up into quarts and half gallons. What cost the Chinese $1.79 costs the U.S. market as much as $5.20. That middleman, generally sitting at a computer in New York has made a bundle, and you pay at the pump.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

America and the Decline of Rome

Will We Repeat History?

Vandals and Attila the Hun were the military factors that brought a close the Roman Empire according to its eighteenth century chronicler Edward Gibbon. But at the base of the fall was economic atrophy. Bullion hoarding, what in present day context would be termed a liquidity crisis (corporate treasuries invested unproductively), the looting of the Treasury to pay for excesses (bailouts), and inordinate trade deficits necessitated the central government to seek foreign funds and eventually to become beholden to the lenders (China, Saudi Arabia).

Second was the lack of effective military leadership (Bush into Iraq) coupled with excursions to bring Roman values to people in far off territories (Obama into Afghanistan). Christian beliefs conflicted with the working of the empire.

Finally, an environmental problem- pipes for the water brought into Rome were made of lead that leached into the water causing a decline in the mental capacity of the leaders. Vandals attacked Rome supported by Roman elite who had moved into the provinces (states rights). These collaborators promoted secession in order to create fiefdoms in the outlying Roman states.

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire occurred over more than a century. Over the last decade our country’s historic parallels to Rome cannot be ignored. Raids on the Treasury coupled with the politically expedient tax cuts have crippled our ability to manage a fiscal crisis that has become endemic.

Fiscal conservatives fear for their political lives if they utter the need for increased revenues to cover the cost of an unnecessary intrusion into far off territories. We cannot protect the health of children or provide veteran benefits. Populists call for reducing taxes, furthering the move to national bankruptcy as in Argentina where Peronistas spent the country from one of post-war prosperity to constant monetary crises. Unfortunately for Argentina it did not have China to prop up its profligate ways.

Concentration of some of the body politic to bring government into ending a woman’s freedom to make extremely personal decisions, inherent in the Constitution but in conflict with religious beliefs, placing laws based on religious belief against legalized associations of persons with alternative life styles are but two issues that have deflected political concentration from what is really needed to govern.

Despite our knowledge of the effect of lead, water pipes in many older U.S. cities and foreign countries remain a problem. But there is an even greater environmental problem, one that we can see or test in the poisons we release into the atmosphere and our streams, and the one that is creeping up on us with the melting polar ice and the rising sea levels.

Finally, is the age of vandalism (riots) approaching? Will it grow into the terrorism and calls for secession as in Rome? Time will tell. Only our resolve to avoid repeating history will counter the trend.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Crosby decked.Was it vicious?

1. Setting the scene
2. Steckel charges into Crosby, leaving the ice

3. Steckel has right hand on his stick and left in Crosby's jaw.

Close up of 2. Steckel puts his shoulder into Crosby's head. His feet are off the ice. This is usually called charging.

The Washington Capitals had it in for the penguins. In an HBO production Coach Boudreau laid out his plan on HBO, F- the Penguins.

The first picture from the NHL lays out the situation. The puck is on the far boards. Crosby is looking at it and moving slowly towards the center of the circle. Steckel is charging towards it, but clear of Crosby.

In Picture 2, The two converge and Steckel leaves his feet and hits Crosby with his shoulder going at full velocity.

Picture 3 is the clincher. Here, Steckel hits Crosby with his left glove hand as he is traveling at full speed.

You can judge for yourself if this was deliberate. If Steckel had been Pittsburgh's Cooke, he would have been suspended for the season.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Naples Botanical Garden: A disappointing work in progress

This past week, while driving from Marco Island to Ft. Myers we passed signs for Naples Botanical Garden.  We love to visit gardens and have enjoyed some amazing gardens throughout the world.  We easily followed the signs to the garden and enthusiastically parked looking forward to a new adventure.

Our first surprise was the price.  It cost us each $12.95.  We are use to most gardens being free or having a small charge and at least a senior price.  Of course, here we are in Florida where the majority of the people visiting are seniors.  Anyway we paid our nearly $26 and entered.

 The signage is good and the walkways and architecture but the actual plants and flowers are clearly a work in progress.  The garden is new.  The website indicates it was founded in 1993 but it wasn't until 2000 that a gift from the Kapnick family enabled the purchase of the current 170 acre site with 7 different habitats.  Looks like the garden was reopened in November 2009 after an extensive expansion.  Plenty of volunteers are around to answer questions and are welcoming so it looks like it is a good volunteer activity for seniors.  

Our favorite place was the butterfly house, officially a part of the Children's Garden.  We also got some good shots of water lilies.  

Overall though for the price and its level of development we can't enthusiastically recommend it like we can the amazing free gardens in Vancouver or the topical unique gardens in Panama which charge very little or the intimate free Yampa Valley Botanical Garden in Steamboat Springs.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Peggy Klineman's Meditation Paintings

I am pleased to share with you some of my sister's meditation paintings and her thoughts about creating these pieces.

From Peggy:

"I began doing my meditation paintings as an art making exercise to expand my creativity. Instead of writing daily morning pages after I meditate I decided to try something which spoke more directly to me as a visual artist and more specifically as an abstract painter.

I meditate regularly for 20 to 30 minutes. This is my time to quiet my mind and reach my authentic self. I meditate with no expectation other than following my breath and having as little mind chatter as possible. When I finish I am amazed that it is almost always between 20 to 30 minutes even though I haven't set a timer. I go to my drafting table and begin painting reaching for whatever color feels right. I just start painting shapes, blending colors and scribbling with pencils. Meditation enables me to trust my intuition. I allow myself to be guided by my materials for I am as responsive to the paint, brushes, pencils and whatever other materials I use as they are responsive to my touch. It is a give and take dialogue facilitated by a nonjudgemental quiet mind which allows the painting process to flow freely. An added benefit is that I am finding a new freedom in my studio practice from doing these meditation paintings.

Featured here are three of my favorite works. Additional meditation paintings can be seen at my blog. My personal website where larger paintings and works on paper can be seen is"

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Deficit Reduction Act: A Modest Proposal

We've got to reduce the federal deficit. If interest rates rise even one percent we will be adding $0.14 trillion to the cost of running government. The following is a modest proposal.

First: Reinstate the tax on those whose incomes are over $0.5 million a year. We should address this issue clear of the Bush tax cut extension in which we gave away $100 billion.

Second: Make the tax rate on the income of derivative managers an income tax and not a capital gains tax. This is a tremendous give away to Wall Street who has bought a sizable majority of Congress.

Third: Royalties paid by companies to foreign potentates are currently allowed to offset against the corporate tax under the foreign tax credit. Exxon pays nearly nothing on its billions of earnings because of this credit. We have lost close to a trillion dollars in revenues over the past ten years.

Fourth: Eliminate the requirement that Medicare pay a claim within 2 weeks of a bill being rendered. Fraud has cost Medicare $100 billion in the last five years-particularly in South Florida.

Fifth: Eliminate cold war defense weapons from the Defense Department budget (do we need another nuclear sub, stealth bombers?) $100 million could be cut and no one would know the difference except Boeing and shipbuilders.

Does anyone in Congress have the guts to take on even one of these issues?