Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Virus woes

Virus woes? Ours are minor. The biggest is canceled travel. So far, we've lost one planned trip in March, two in May, and one in July. (And the one in July was already a second attempt, after we couldn't grab seats in 2019. Now, it's out until 2021.) 

We still have bookings for travel in August and in October, but who knows if they will stand.

After travel, I miss libraries!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Worst President Ever?

In all my adult life, every time I've thought we can't possibly have a worse President, the voters have proved me wrong.

I first thought it about Nixon, then Reagan, then Dubya (with Cheney's help), and now Trump. 

I sure hope I'm finally right, that it can't get any worse!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Social Distancing

After the governor asked us to stay at home, I sent this letter to the Los Angeles Times (not published):
New weekly catch-up with family and friends:
What did you do this week?
Stayed at home.
And what did you do this week?
Stayed at home.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Choosing not to sing carols

When I was in fifth or sixth grade, I opted out of participating in a school holiday program of singing carols. While most students were in rehearsal for the program, the three or four of us who opted out were sent to one classroom to read or study.

The principal, Mrs. Glover, came by to try to talk us into joining. After briefly addressing us as a group, she turned to me and said, "What about you, Rodney? I know your parents wouldn't mind."

Although I only shook my head, I was deeply offended. I had three simultaneous thoughts: This is my own decision. Why do you think you know what my parents would say? Why do you think you know anything about my parents and me regarding religion that I don't know? (As Jews in an overwhelmingly Christian society, we had talked a lot about such things.) 

Prior to this, I had no strong feelings about Mrs. Glover, but now I despised her. I never forgot the incident, and I never forgave her.

Monday, February 24, 2020

What liars do

Still thinking about Trump's inevitable pardon of Stone, I've got another letter ready:
Of course the Liar-in-Chief thinks lying to the FBI is no big deal. What did you expect?

Thursday, February 20, 2020


Anticipating Trump's pardoning Roger Stone, I drafted a letter to send when he did it. First, I checked the Constitution, which says, "[The President] shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment." 

So I wrote this succinct note:
Other than impeachment, the President's pardon power is absolute. As Lord Acton predicted, this corrupts absolutely. 

Stone is due to be sentenced today. But, two days ago, Trump pardoned a bunch of others. When I saw the strongly condemnatory Los Angeles Times editorial about that, I went ahead and sent my note. Today, they published a revised version:
Disregarding the possibility that Congress can impeach him, the president’s pardon power is absolute. As Lord Acton predicted, this corrupts absolutely.

I think my original is not only shorter and better, but more accurate. I'm no lawyer, but I think the wording in the Constitution means that the President can't pardon, say, a judge who's been impeached, as well as a President who's been impeached.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Hawaii — January 2020

Link to more photos. View the photos individually to see the captions.

We took a tour that went to Oahu, the Big Island, and Maui. There was occasional rain, and there was no lava to see, but things went well. As the photos show, we hit the expected tourist spots: Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, Volcanoes National Park, Maui Ocean Center, a luau.

We didn't buy any of the optional add-on trips, such as snorkeling, submarine, helicopter, or sunrise. They were pricey. Instead, we did a bit of hiking and swimming on our own, and one brief glass-bottom boat ride (lots of coral but only a few fish).

Saturday, December 14, 2019


I sent this letter first to the New York Times, and then, a week later, to the Los Angeles Times. Neither published it:
Republican Senators will only abandon Trump when they feel that supporting him will threaten their own re-election.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Green Card Aggravation

Yes, I was happy when Victor got his visa. And I'm very happy that he is with me now. And I always knew that after we were married, he would need to apply for a green card ("permanent residency"). And because he is here and we are happy and busy, I have moved slowly on that.

As I've said before, all we have ever wanted (for more than 25 years now!) is to be able to exchange visits — for Victor to be able to enter and leave the U.S. as easily as I enter and leave Mexico. Why does it have to be so difficult? A relatively simple tourist visa would do, but the U.S. State Department has repeatedly refused to give Victor one, first in the mid-1990s and again in the mid-20-teens.

First, there's the green card application itself. It's 13 parts on 18 pages (!) and includes several dozen questions such as 

  • Have you ever been arrested, cited, charged, or detained for any reason by any law enforcement official?
  • Have you ever engaged in prostitution or are you coming to the United States to engage in prostitution?
  • Do you intend to engage in any activity that could endanger the welfare, safety, or security of the United States?

Dozens of these! Worse, because Victor can't read all this in English, nor can I translate all this into Spanish, I had to engage a bilingual friend so that we could truthfully check the box that says, "The interpreter named in Part 11 read to me every question and instruction on this application and my answer to every question in Spanish, a language in which I am fluent, and I understood everything."

But now, having completed that form, additional forms must be included in the application package. I have to fill out an Affidavit of Support (despite having already done so to get the visa), with all the required financial documentation. And we have to pay a USCIS-certified doctor to fill out the Medical Examination form. (And Victor will need additional vaccinations.) And we have to include a copy of Victor's birth certificate (which we do have). And we have to fill out the Application for Travel Document so that Victor might be able to visit his mother next Spring. And we have to include photos (despite having already done so for the visa). And I have to pay $1,225.

Yes, I'm damn aggravated.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Cousins trip to New York City — October 2019

From left, clockwise: 
Victor, Rodney, John, Marsha, Les, Joel, Joan, and Cherie 
(Judy and Steve were not at this lunch)

Two photo albums this time! Here's the usual one, with a selection of 15 of my photos: Link to more photos. View the photos individually to see the captions. 

For those who love looking at travel and family photos, here is a link to a shared album of 85 photos, some by me and many by my cousins.

Last year, I learned that some of my cousins have traveled together several times, and in May I heard that they were going to New York City sometime this year. Since I wanted Victor to see New York, I asked to be included. The group included my brother Les and his wife Cherie, my cousin John and his wife Marsha, my cousin Joel and his wife Joan, and my cousin Judy and her husband Steve.

The plans evolved to a three-night stay with two plays and two group meals. We paid in advance for the (expensive!) hotel and plays. I was planning to not participate in one of the plays, but the tickets were purchased anyway, so we did both. We also had reservations for group meals before each play.

Despite a rainy forecast, the weather turned out fine. It never did rain, and the temperatures were mild. 

We arrived Thursday evening. After checking in, we had dinner in nearby Times Square. Friday morning, after a casual group breakfast, Les, Cherie, Victor and I went to the American Museum of Natural History. Afterwards, we walked through some of Central Park to join most of the others for lunch at Tavern on the Green.

That evening was our group dinner and To Kill a Mockingbird. Victor had read the book in Spanish (from the L.A. library) ahead of time, so he was able to follow some of the action. I enjoyed the performance a lot. Now I need to re-read the book.

Saturday we had our group brunch followed by a Hadestown matinee. Before we left L.A., Victor watched videos of more than half of the songs with Spanish subtitles. He loved the musical.

Joel, Joan, Victor and I then walked to and on the High Line. It was OK, but much of it was narrower than I expected. It was also pretty crowded.

Cousins started leaving early Sunday, but Victor and I were not flying out until 8pm. In the morning, we took the subway to go on a Staten Island Ferry round-trip for the boat ride and views of the city and the Statue of Liberty:

Afterwards, we took the subway again to Central Park, planning to see the zoo. But we stumbled upon the Hispanic Day Parade on Fifth Avenue, and watched that instead.