The beginning of December also marks that the holiday season is in full swing. I think I can speak for everyone when I say, “Thank God.” No, not because I’m all that into the holidays, which I will explain a little bit later, but because December 1 also means that hurricane season is officially over. I think all of us on Long Island are relieved at that. So if bringing in the holidays means doing away with hurricanes, then I say string up the holly!
It shows you just how bad the hurricane was if I’m saying to bring on the holidays. The season and I have never really been friends. As a child, I would often come down with strep throat at this time of the year. One year, as a young child, our beloved Christmas display was vandalized. I can still remember getting in my mom’s car and seeing Rudolph smashed and turned upside down. The decorations were repaired, but one week later the whole display was stolen. My beloved first dog, Charlie, died a week before Christmas when I was young. Years later, another beloved pet, Ricky, died the day after New Year’s. Another year, during the season, I was hit in the rear as I was stopped at a stop sign. The weather gets too cold for golf and Bethpage is closed on Christmas so I can’t console myself with even the thought that I could possibly play on Christmas, if I really, really wanted to. And in a note that we can all relate to, could there be any more traffic in the malls at this time of year? So, as you can see, as December rolls around, I usually cringe and hope that the damage won’t be too bad.
I had written something on the conflict in Gaza only to find out, within minutes of finishing, that a cease-fire had been announced. I considered scrapping the whole thing, but you know what? Sadly, this will probably still be relevant going forward, because chances of this ceasefire setting the foundation for a lasting peace are slim to none.
And if I’m wrong, and the end of this particular conflict marks the beginning of a new, more peaceful era in the region, my having published one dated column will be a very small price to pay, I think.
“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.
It seems like it was just yesterday when the temperature was in the nineties and trips to Jones Beach for a swim or Bethpage State Park for a round of golf were in season. However, the holidays are here again. On Saturday night, Massapequa Park will host its annual tree and menorah lighting event. I encourage all of you to attend. There are some events that make a community special, and this is one of them. It is heartwarming to see the delight in the children’s eyes as the big man in the red suit makes an appearance. It’s equally nice to see members of the community come together and share a special event. The last month has been quite difficult due to the storms, but the Massapequas are still a very special place and it is events like the tree and menorah lighting that make them so. Please come and enjoy. Happy Holidays!
Considering how we’ve all been concerned with pretty serious business for the last couple of weeks, I thought I’d do something on the lighter side this time and discuss anime, or Japanese animation. My experience has been that most people over the age of 25 are only dimly aware of what anime is and would actually like to know more about what their children/grandchildren/etc. are into. Hey, if I had a nickel for every time someone said, “Oh, you watch anime? I don’t know what that is, but my kids are crazy about it!” I might even have an entire dollar.
However, instead of trying to provide any sort of Anime 101-style overview, a questionable endeavor at best, I thought I would provide some information on some of the weekly shows that happen to be airing on Japanese television right now. Keep in mind this isn’t any sort of favorites list, this is only shows that are currently airing in Japan that I happen to be watching. From this sampling, you may start to get an idea of why so many people find these cartoons uniquely appealing; original Japanese titles, if applicable, are in parentheses.
Without question, the last couple of weeks have been very awful, especially in Massapequa and Massapequa Park. Whenever I have traveled south of Merrick Road, I have seen terrible devastation. Homes are in ruins and property, including personal belongings that hold precious memories, have been destroyed. Throughout Massapequa and Massapequa Park, many of you are still without electricity or heat as you struggle through the miserable conditions. If there were some way I could wave a magic wand and make it all go away, I would.
I know words do not mean much now, but it will get better. Actions speak louder than words, and the actions I have seen in Massapequa have been extraordinary. Neighbors have pitched in and helped each other get through the crisis. While waiting on long gas lines, I’ve yet to witness someone trying to sneak into line, nor have I seen any disputes. What I have seen is cooperation. We are all working together to restore our community. It is what made Massapequa special before the storm, and it is what will get us through the storm’s aftermath. Massapequa and Massapequa Park are special communities and when we rebuild the damage, the whole nation will see that.
As the warm water fell upon my head, I can say that it felt like the most blissful moment of my life. After my home, like most on Long Island, lost power on Monday, I was left without heat or electricity, and most importantly the ability to wash my hair. Without electricity, my hair dryer would not operate, and I did not want to have a damp head in a house in which the temperature was getting close to dipping below forty degrees.
Fortunately, after two days of living like Daniel Boone, my aunt and uncle were gracious enough to invite both my parents and me to stay with them in the Bronx. They had heard of the devastation in Massapequa and were frantically trying to get in touch with us. However, not only did the landline phones go down, we were having difficulty getting a cell phone signal. So my uncle’s phone calls went unanswered for several days, until a signal became available and we were able to get the many voicemail messages that had been left.
I’m not sure whether I count as a “digital native.” When I was a kid, we had no computers in the house. Eventually we bought a word processor (hey, remember those?) for middle school reports and my mother’s grad school papers, and received a non-Internet connected computer a few years later. It wasn’t until I was well into my high school years that “going online” became a regular thing. Digital native or not, I consider myself fortunate to have been born at precisely the right time to feel comfortable with the Internet, but not for it to have become so second nature to me that I can’t even really see it anymore.
One way to appreciate the exhilarating and at times peculiar culture of the Internet was to follow the recent presidential and vice-presidential debates not on television, but on Twitter. I didn’t really consciously decide to do it; I just happened to be otherwise occupied when the first debate was airing, and it was easy enough to check my phone periodically to see what some people I followed were tweeting about it. Amazed at the speed with which statements from the candidates became Internet memes, I then followed the rest of the debates on Twitter to observe more of this process.
For those of you who believe the doomsday predictions based on the Mayan calendar, I apologize, but I simply do not believe that the world will end in December because of a calendar that was created more than 5,000 years ago. There is no science to back up any claims about doomsday occurring on Dec. 21, 2012, and no theology to back it up either. Jesus is quoted in the Bible as saying about the end of the world, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” Scientists and clergy are not always in agreement, but it definitely seems that both sides concur that the sun will rise on Dec. 22. So I will plan on celebrating Christmas, New Year’s and hopefully a return trip for the Patriots to the Super Bowl with a better result this time. (Note: I know most of you are not rooting for this, but I have had to endure two Super Bowls in which it seemed that every Giants fan in the New York area who was looking to gloat turned to the only Patriot fan in the area they could find, yours truly, so please cut me a little slack.)
It seems like its a fairly regular occurrence that someone prophesizes that the end of the world is coming. Last year, it was Harold Camping who created headlines with his prophecies for May 21, 2011. Previously, Jan. 1, 2000 was a date that many feared because of the “Y2K” bug. Now it’s Dec. 21. Enough already.
At times, my intuition is way ahead of my brain. I’d like to think that I arrive at a lot of my opinions through logical reasoning, but often, I feel like something is wrong long before I can articulate why it’s wrong. This was the case with the word “privilege” as used in the phrases “white privilege,” “male privilege,” and the especially reviled “white male privilege.” Something about the way these terms are bandied about bothered me, but I couldn’t explain why until recently.
It’s not that I have any doubt that privilege exists; I’ve certainly seen it in action. Even if you’re not particularly devoted to the cause of achieving greater social justice, it’s not difficult to see that being white and male confer some advantages in our culture. So if I admit privilege exists, why does the term make me wince in annoyance?
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