I was pleased to hear that the Plainview Water District got so many donations this year for the Toys For Tots program, along with other local collection sites. Unfortunately, I haven’t donated many toys myself this year (although I have in years past), in part because I was too scared to face the crowds and the lines at the toy stores.
Disappointed with my 2012 toy donations, I’ve decided that in 2013, I will buy toys all year round, while the stores are nice and peaceful. I can hoard toys and pretend they’re for me, but then redeem myself come holiday time, when Long Island children’s organizations will see a deluge of fashion dolls, stuffed pandas and coloring books emerge from the depths of my closet. It’s win-win.
Happy Holidays to everyone in the community, and I hope some of you will join me in stocking up on toys next year—what’s not to like?
The Nassau County legislature made a misguided decision, born of partisan politics, on July 5, 2012, to cut $7.3 million from youth, chemical dependency and mental health services for tens of thousands of people.
The decision to defund human services in July led to months of protests by human-services providers, parents and youths. In an attempt to draw wider attention to the impact of the budget cuts, one of the affected agencies, STRONG Youth, Inc., a gang-prevention and intervention program that lost all of its funding, staged a symbolic funeral for youth services at the Hempstead Pentecostal Church, in Hempstead, on August 2, 2012.
In the column “An Abuse of Power,” Ronald Scaglia says that “Now...is our chance to use our ‘power’ to hold others accountable for their actions.” I’d also consider their inactions, and their words/promises. And the first person to hold accountable is Governor Cuomo, who tough-talkingly promised to hold LIPA accountable this time after Sandy—despite his own failure to do so during the 14 months following LIPA’s abysmal performance after Hurricane Irene.
As a lad growing up in the East Bronx, I carried an Albatross around my neck. Like the Ancient Mariner, I had committed an unpardonable sin. My sin: I rooted for the Brooklyn Dodgers, while living in the Bronx. All those Yankee lovers chose to make my life miserable.
What seemed like every year (except for 1955), the Yankees embarrassed the Dodgers in the World Series. It was difficult to walk the streets without being hooted at by some DiMaggio, Henrich or Charlie Keller fan. I just did what they said to do in the musical, The King and I: “I just held my head up high and whistled a happy tune.”
My wife and I are currently spending our eighth winter on Longboat Key, which is on Florida’s west coast near Sarasota. Most of my mornings start on Whitney Beach across from where we stay. When the beach is bird-rich, a big morning can start soon after you set foot on the sand. This was what it was like one day last winter.
The first bird I see is a great blue heron swooping very low across the sand toward a gray and salmon colored horizon. The heron lands near a person who is looking for shells. The blue seems to be waiting for throwaways, apparently having mistaken the shell collector for a fisherman. Realizing no meal is forthcoming, the hungry heron quickly leaves.
Continuing our voyage on the Adriatic Sea, next was the alluring peninsula of Split on the Dalmatian coast. Split is the second largest city in Croatia. The history of Split must include the Emperor Diocletian. He took power in 284 AD and stepped down in 305 AD. Emperor Diocletian built a large walled palace in the Roman style with an aqueduct, which is still in use. The town today is a paradise for tourists. Split joined Croatia when the Yugoslavian state broke up in 1991. The beautiful port of Split was built along the easily defended and finest harbor in the Adriatic.
When our cruise ship arrived in Malta, there were no signs of Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet or the Maltese Falcon. Malta is a limestone-walled city, sitting proudly in the southern Mediterranean. It is Malta’s location, not its size that dictates its importance. You might have trouble locating Malta on a map, but its history is written in large letters.
Valletta, the capital of Malta, was built by the Order of the Knights of St. John. It has two deep channels that accommodate large vessels. The history of Malta dates back 7,000 years. Malta was conquered by the Arabs, Normans, Germans, French and Spaniards. It was also an important Crusader outpost.
The famous quotation from the movie Network—“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,”—has now been transformed by three storms (Sandy, Athena, and a “storm” of criticism) into the question, “We’re boiling mad but are we going to take it forevermore?”
The boiling point of water is 212 degrees F., which leads me to a second question: What is the boiling point of more than a million New Yorkers who live on four pieces of land completely surrounded by water—namely, the islands of Long Island (including Brooklyn and Queens), Staten Island, Manhattan, and the City of Long Beach, when they have had no electricity for two weeks (although it seems like millennia)?
I still remember watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a small child. One year, I asked my mother why the parade closed with Santa Claus—after all, Santa Claus was not part of Thanksgiving! The mixing of holidays seemed almost criminal to me.
My mother gently explained that Thanksgiving was the start of the holiday season, the countdown to Christmas and Hanukkah. I didn’t realize it then, but that “countdown” comes with a kind of implied menace: get everybody great presents before your holiday of choice rolls around…or else (and if you celebrate Hanukkah start your engines, because you have about five minutes.) For better and for worse, I’ve never had a huge number of people to buy for this time of year, but even I feel the pressure.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln
This is one of my favorite quotes that I often repeat. During my experiences, I have met individuals who have gained power and used it to make a positive difference, help others, and make themselves true leaders. I have also encountered those who let the power go to their heads and used it in a bad manner. Therefore, I consider this statement from Lincoln to be truly sage advice that I often refer to, and with a movie about the 16th President now showing in movie theaters, it is also timely.
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