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Posts Tagged ‘Lifestyle’

As I have said many times, the love of bacon, especially in Canada and the United States, borders on religious fanaticism.

The knee-jerk response people say in their defence is, “Yes, but it’s so delicious!”

True. However LOTS of things are delicious. Ice Cream is delicious. Chocolate is delicious. Chocolate ice cream is delicious.

(Bacon Chocolate Ice Cream Cupcake)

But none of the other delicious foods comes close to the level of adoration accorded to bacon.

(“Honey, I’ve got it! BACON APPLE PIE!!”)

It reaches an almost fevered pitch.

I’ve heard people say that they dream of bacon.

More than a few people have admitted that a life without bacon is a life that is simply not worth living.

The love of bacon has become a lust. Bacon is bordering on becoming a fetish with some people.

(Bacon mug)

It’s become a relentless obsession with a large segment of our society.

Bacon is omnipresent.

(Bacon sunrise)

People see the world in terms of bacon.

(Bacon tattoo)

Bacon has literally become a part of many people.

Many people start their day with bacon.

(Bacon cappuccino)

Some not in the way one would expect they would.

(Jolly Roger Pirate Flag Bacon)

In our culture, bacon is ubiquitous.

Some guide their lives by it!

I will continue to chronicle this national and international obsession with bacon.

No matter where it leads.

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Many thanks to my readers and friends (especially Stephen Balen and Anna Camara) who have emailed or otherwise forwarded bacon-related photos and ideas to me. Thanks also to my dear friends Wendy McIntyre and Danielle Ulch with whom I have discussed the bacon craze at great length and who share my bafflement on this entire subject.

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Saw this disturbing article the other day at the Telegram.co.uk…

Chinese toddler’s karaoke tantrum ends in bloodbath

Now before you have visions of berserk toddlers going on a murderous rampage, let me assure you that is not the case. Well, at least not here.

(Somebody is NOT happy!)

It was more like…

“Toddler’s refusal to give up the microphone during a

family karaoke evening started a quarrel that left

two men hacked to death with a meat cleaver!”

(Are you ready to rumble??)

OK, here’s what happened. A couple were celebrating the Qixi Festival (i.e. China’s Valentine’s Day), with a singing session at a local karaoke parlour. So far, so good. Trouble starts when the parents’ four-year-old son hogs the karaoke mike and the doting parents were indulging him. [1]

(Beijing… we have a problem)

Mayhem ensues when two of the karaoke kid’s uncles berate the father for having raised such a spoiled child;  a “Little Emperor”, as the Chinese say [2]. Push literally comes to shove, then shoving proceeds to punching. A nephew grabs a meat cleaver and hacks the uncles to death.

(The problem solver)

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. Karaoke-related violence is a real problem in the East.

Other karaoke massacres have taken place in the Philippines, where the Frank Sinatra song ‘My Way‘ has had to be removed from many songbooks after sub-standard renditions provoked a string of killings.

(Clearly a trouble-maker)

In Thailand, meanwhile, a man shot eight of his neighbours, including his brother-in-law, after tiring of their tuneless reprisals of John Denver’s ‘Country Roads.’

(An incitement to violence)

In the United States, a woman punched a man for continuing to sing Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ after she had told him he was not up to the task.

(It would have driven Mother Teresa to violence)

In her defence… it WAS a karaoke version of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow!’

Ghandi would have punched this guy out!

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[1] NB: Karaoke is taken very seriously, not just in China but throughout Asia.

[2] There is no shortage of criticism inside China for the bad behaviour of the Little Emperors, the children raised under the strict one-child policy and doted on by their parents and grandparents.

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Steel magnolias, they call them.

(“So… you say you’re a feminist. Inn’t that cute?”)

Sweet as jam…

(Hee Haw’s Cathy Baker)

and tough as nails.

(“Now.. Ah know yew are not gonna make me repeat mahself”)

 These girls brook no backchat.

(Ah cain’t wait to see the look on his face when I blow that hat off his head!)

They’re not bitchy. Far from it. They are the sweetest, kindest, most big-hearted girls you will ever meet.

But Lord help you if you do them wrong.

(Well, if it isn’t that lyin’, cheatin’ bastard coming up my driveway!)

A Southern Girl will tell you to go to Hell in a way that almost makes you look forward to the trip!

I miss their masterful flirting. I miss their refreshing honesty. I miss the laughter that comes straight from their hearts.

(The lovely Angela Johnson – one more reason to love Alabama)

I miss the way they talk and the sounds of their voices.

I miss the Belles and their strength of character. I miss the Redneck Girls and their passionate love of life.

In a very real sense, these wonderful women ARE The South.

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One night when I was driving down from Canada to Arkansas, I stopped at Jackson, Tennessee.

A few months before, an old girlfriend of mine, LK, introduced me to a wonderful place in Jackson called Casey Jones Village and I thought I would pop by to see if it was still open.

As I pulled in and parked, I could tell they’d had some kind of festival or concert there and, sadly, it looked like I’d missed it. Everyone seemed to be packing up. Rather than head back out on the highway, I decided to get out and stretch my legs and have a bit of a poke around.

I’ve never had bad luck meeting people in The South.

I headed toward the Old Country Store & Restaurant as there was group of musicians gathered there just to the left of the store. Looked like maybe they were a family. Two young ladies on violin. Two older gents on guitar. A stand-up bass. A banjo. Perhaps a harmonica.

I’d almost reached them when they lifted their instruments.

And that is when I heard it.

That small group of musicians started playing the beautiful Tennessee Waltz.

I just froze in my tracks, taking it all in. I was transfixed.

I’m not sure if any of you have ever experienced a perfect moment. I did that night at that place.

The music. The night. The mild night air. A gentle breeze blowing the long blonde hair of one of the girls playing the violin.

I was in awe.

It was like looking at a Norman Rockwell painting come to life.

Although I know it’s not possible, it seems to me I held my breath the entire time. I was so afraid that if I spoke, if I moved, if I did anything… I would spoil the absolute perfection of the moment.

I’ve always liked the Tennessee Waltz. But on that exact night at that exact time and place… it was the most beautiful tune I’d ever heard.

When they finished, they began packing away their instruments.

As I quietly came forward, I noticed a big old mason jar with some money in it. Not a lot of money, I’m sad to say.

I took all the cash I had on me and rolled it up, put a $5 bill around the outside and placed it into the mason jar. It must have been around $400, I think. And I actually felt guilty for not being able to pay more… to pay them as much as they were worth in my eyes.

You see, I wasn’t giving them money. I was merely trying to pay back a small token amount of what they had given to me that night.

You can’t put a dollar value on perfection.

I’ll always remember that night… and The Tennessee Waltz.

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The folks over at UnitedAcademics.com Magazine pose an interesting question…

Should We Be Optimistic?

If ignorance is bliss, then optimism must be euphoria. Thanks to a mechanism called the optimism bias, humans are pretty much incapable of applying basic risk statistics to their own lives. We know smoking causes cancer, but we don’t expect it to happen to us. We find a lump on our body  and we tell ourselves it’s probably nothing. 

In his 2011 book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman notes that “people tend to be overly optimistic about their relative standing on any activity in which they do moderately well.” This ‘optimism bias’ generates the illusion of control [1]: the idea that we are in control of our lives. Bad things only happen to others.

You can see where this bright outlook on life can cause trouble. Wearing seatbelts? Not necessary.  Opening a savings account? Maybe later. Being overly optimistic in life puts us at risk. In addition, people who show cheerful, optimistic personality traits during childhood, have a shorter life expectancy than their more serious counter parts. On the other hand, optimists are more psychologically resilient, have stronger immune systems, and live longer on average than more reality-based opposites. So who’s better off in life; the optimist or the pessimist?  And who’s reality comes closest to the truth?

According to the “depressive realism” proposition, people who suffer from (moderate) depression actually have a more accurate perception of reality.  They are less affected by the illusion of control and therefore better capable of estimating their chances in life. In other words, people with depression are not pessimists, they are realists.

(Hey! Looks full to me!)

When you tend to attribute positive events to yourself and negative events to others, that is called a self-serving bias [2]. This is the case for most people. When you believe you are responsible for negative events rather than positives ones, you show a non self-serving bias – something that is often seen in people who suffer from depression.

Humans, apparently, have developed a way to better cope with negative emotions. Their rose-colored glasses cause them to view the world just a little better than it actually is. But without them we would never get anything done, says neuroscientist and author of “The Optimism Bias” Tali Sharot: “Optimism pushes us to take chances – attempt a new job, a new relationship. It also acts as a self-fulfilling prophecy, as believing a goal is attainable makes it more likely to be.”

Being optimistic is necessary in order to get anything done in life. Without the belief we can accomplish anything, we will not even try to do so. Still, holding on to the belief that everything will be OK in the future does not mean that we should ignore the things that are shitty today.

That, I think, is truly being realistic.

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[1] The tendency to claim more responsibility for successes than failures. It may also manifest itself as a tendency of people to evaluate ambiguous information in a way that is beneficial to their interests

[2] The tendency to overestimate one’s degree of influence over other external events.

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One of the things I miss most about The South is the Stars and Bars.

Otherwise known as the Confederate Battle Flag. [1]

Now I am mindful of that fact that this particular flag is a controversial image. There have been protests and petitions trying to get the Stars and Bars removed from state flags and even to stop flying the flag on schools, government buildings and other public property.

I’m not a part of that history. I wasn’t born in The South. I’m not even American. The baggage associated with the Stars and Bars is something I don’t carry. I can have positive feelings about that flag because I can pick and choose the things with which I associate it.

And I am the first to admit that my associations with the flag have virtually nothing to do with reality and everything to do with a fictional romanticized concept of what I personally feel the flag and The South was, is and should be.

I am sometimes met with a mixture of righteous indignation and moral outrage on this subject. “How would you feel if someone expressed positive feelings about the swastika and Nazi Germany?” Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t feel too good about it. That’s probably because I have a connection to that symbol and what it means.

But all that doesn’t seem to have any effect on me when it comes to the Confederate Battle Flag. Maybe it should… but it just doesn’t.

All the times I’ve been down in The South… all the people I’ve met and befriended… all the places I’ve been to while I was there… all have been positive experiences for me.

When I think of The South, I have nothing but good memories and good feelings. When I think of The South, I remember friends and loved ones.

When I think of The South… I picture the Stars and Bars.

_______________________________________________________________

[1] Also known as The Confederate Naval Jack.

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The ninth day of Av  (Tisha B’Av) is perhaps the saddest day in the Jewish calendar.

It is the day we commemorate and mourn the tragic events that occurred on that day.

(Romans carrying the Menorah taken from the Temple of Jerusalem)

Tisha B’Av in History

On Tisha B’Av, many national calamities occurred:

  • During the time of Moses, Jews in the desert accepted the slanderous report of the 12 Spies, and the decree was issued forbidding them from entering the Land of Israel. (1312 BCE)
  • The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled. (586 BCE)
  • The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, led by Titus. Some two million Jews died, and another one million were exiled. (70 CE)
  • The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The city of Betar — the Jews’ last stand against the Romans — was captured and liquidated. Over 100,000 Jews were slaughtered. (135 CE).
  • The Temple area and its surroundings were ploughed under by the Roman general Turnus Rufus. Jerusalem was rebuilt as a pagan city — renamed Aelia Capitolina — and access was forbidden to Jews.
  • The Spanish Inquisition culminated with the expulsion of Jews from Spain on Tisha B’Av in 1492.
  • World War One broke out on the eve of Tisha B’Av in 1914 when Germany declared war on Russia. German resentment from the war set the stage for the Holocaust.
  • On the eve of Tisha B’Av 1942, the mass deportation began of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto, en route to Treblinka.

(To this day. Jews pray at the Kotel [Western Wall] – what remains of the ancient Temple compound)

The Tisha B’av fast begins Saturday, July 28th at sunset. It ends approximately 24 and a half hours later, Sunday night. Check for local times in your area.

May you have an easy fast and may HaShem protect and save the Jewish people from the hands of those who wish to destroy us.

(My son at the Kotel)

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