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Confessions of a Hebrew school dropout...or "Crow-bart's" mid-70s journey

It was in the mid 1970s. My father recently permanently wallpapered and paneled the interior of our family’s modest dingy white aluminum-sided 1950s row-like type suburban Cleveland home. By permanent, I mean the basement paneling was driven into cinder blocks with heavy-duty concrete nails. Father even covered the basement windows which was good to keep burglars out. I liked that idea. The wallpaper was glued to the house's interior plaster with the strongest thickest paste imaginable. There was even wallpaper on the ceiling! I couldn’t make that fact up any day of the week.
When I came home from third grade one day for lunch, I witnessed my father's rugged determination to make sure that damn loudly-blue-green-striped ceiling paper would never fall down. My father was successful in making sure that these "enhancements" were never going to fade away. In other words, like many dads who cared about their household projects, my dad was quite thorough. Okay, obsessive i…

A pedestrian safety island makes good sense for our city

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I’m once again getting local on this blog, but many can relate with this topic across the nation. In my neck of the woods, planners installed a well-marked pedestrian island on a busy two-lane county thoroughfare that cuts through my neighborhood. Runners, joggers, walkers, strollers and cyclists alike enjoy going up and down the sidewalks that line a good portion of the road on both sides.
For years those who use the sidewalks – I shall call them pedestrians - have been complaining that it’s tough to cross the two-lane road – even in the protected crosswalk that has been in place for years. Their complaints were heard loud and clear. This past summer, city and county leaders did something about the issue and installed an island near where the old crosswalk was located. As expected in any city no matter how small or large the project, brouhaha ensued.
It seemed like the moment the first service truck showed up to build the island, the complaints began rolling in about the project. T…

Flashback to 2005: The frat party in Iraq

If we're serious about tikkun olam, reparing the world through peace, then we can't minimize our sins in Iraq. We must face them and hold ourselves accountable. 
by Robert J. Nebel 
Autumn 2005

"It's a bunch of guys blowing off steam," ranted conservative syndicated talk radio host Rush Limbaugh. The copycats in every market quickly followed suit and echoed America's number one neo-conservative. Before you knew it, the right convinced its legions that the detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was one big fraternity party. 

While the government and mainstream America was asking salient questions about, "Who knew what and when did they know it," the talk masters were having a field day. Many of these programs featured juvenile mockery from the host and callers who said that it was OK to treat the detainees with mistreatment because they were terrorists and deserved it anyway. 

Callers to these talk radio shows should have made comments that said, &q…

Fiction: The lawn chronicles

I cannot keep up with the vegetation growth in the yard. The hot days and rains have been relentless this summer. To me, the whole thing means death to me and the poor lawn mower. The last time I mowed, the poor thing was choking on the amount of grass and weeds that the blades cut through over the course of three hours under the blazing sun. This summer, I feel like I have been living in the Brazilian rain forest. Indeed, I realize that I’m being dramatic, but I confess that I’m sick of mowing the weeds and grass in my yard. I have been mowing, weed-whacking, weed-pulling, weed-killing for more than a quarter century.
I figure that if I cannot beat them, join them. By that I mean, stop mowing the lawn. With lawn mowing, I’m well past my expiration date. I now have the craziest yard overgrowth ever seen in Suburbia, USA. I’m done Finished. Fin! Done! I’m on lawn mowing strike and quite proud of that fact.
With the lawn overgrowth, I could care less what the homeowner’s association …

Fiction: Poor Rufus

I was approaching the house on another humid Atlanta afternoon when I noticed something out of the ordinary sticking out of my air conditioning unit also known as the condenser. This summer it feels like we have been living in the rain-forest so the hum coming from my condenser is music to the ears. Was it another raccoon doing whatever it took to lick the water flowing out of the overflow pipe? No, water isn’t as scarce as it has been in past summers when we experienced extreme droughts. This summer, water has been plentiful, I explained to myself.

I was in my station wagon doing my best to assess the situation. I quickly turned the ignition to silence the engine and exited the car. My heart was pounding. I tip-toed towards the condenser on the left side of my home. I heard some rustling wondering what type of activity could possibly be occurring around my air conditioning outside unit?
I turned the corner and saw two large boots moving about. As I approached, I saw a rotund white-as-…

A wildlife break

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It's summer and time to share some wildlife photos from the neighborhood.






The “dog daze” of summer making many delirious

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I was delirious as the lawn mower was choking on the thick dew-stained grass under the blazing hot sun attempting to make my yard somewhat presentable. It was only a matter of minutes before I was going to crawl to the shed to get the sledgehammer so that I could put the poor mower out of its misery.  How could I possibly do this to my mower which only wishes to cut my grass, not “murder it” by taking down “mountains of vegetation.” That’s torture for anyone or anything which includes this innocent machine.
Cami intercepted me to offer a break and some water. I refused. The sounds of thunder were approaching.
“I got to get this monster lawn full of grass, weeds, tics, ants and deer droppings sliced down before the storm arrives!” I protested.
Cami gave up on me, heading back inside to the AC. Instead of reaching for the sledgehammer, I retrieved my water bottle which saved me during plenty of my insane summer runs and guzzled away, trying to save myself from a heat stroke and/or a nervou…

What happened to actual summer?

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Now that we are here in mid-July, it looks like summer is almost over. What? That’s right. Back-to-school 2017 is right around the corner. Where did summer go? Can you believe that some schools go back in session on July 31? For education professionals, there is no doubt that they are preparing to go back to work any minute. I’m not sure when this started, but back-to-school has crept up earlier and earlier through the years, making it seem that summer pretty much ends after the last firework is out and the last Nathan's wiener is eaten by hot dog-eating champ Joey Chestnut on the Fourth of July.

So, what happened to actual summer?
Our fair state has its reasons for returning to school in late July/early August, but I could think of advantages and disadvantages with these dates. Since the schools are air conditioned, students are better off in a climate controlled environment rather than sweltering at camps throughout August. The disadvantage to going back to school in early Aug…