Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Hearty Welcome to Trader Joes: the most pleasant grocery shopping experience in town

Trader Joes opened its doors about one month ago at the High Ridge Cener and the store is already a hit.

As you enter the store, you sense you are going to experience an unhurried, unharried pleasurable experience. And indeed it is!

You are first hit with a colorful and artful display of fruits and vegetables at very reasonable prices:  bananas 19 cents per pound, red yellow and orange peppers at $1.19, all varieties of apples from 69 cents to $1.79, with fujis and galas under a dollar.

Strawberries are always fresh and sweet and lower in price than competitors.

Many of their products are marked kosher.  For instance, their 73% Cacao chocolate comes in a number of varieties such as super dark chocolate with almonds and dark chocolate 73% cacao super dark. Both are delicious and economical.

They are always giving away free samples of their coffees and other delectables.

They carry a nice assortment of their own Trader Joes Butcher Shop Kosher beef. I purchased a rib eye steak, added some spices, cooked it medium rare and then proceeded to enjoy dinner with the slices of meat melting in my mouth.

They also carry Kosher chickens and challahs as well.

To me, the sign of a good store is when employees exude a feeling of being happy with their jobs and the ambient atmosphere. Here every employee displays a smile and goes out of his/her way to answer any and all questions.

There are never any lines for checkout. If a counter is open, the checkout person at the station acutally walks over and invites me to follow him to one without a line.

Kudos to  Trader Joes for a most pleasurable shopping experience.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

...And the winner of the Citizen of the Year Award goes to Bob Dilenschneider and Stamford's Mayor Michael Pavia

Bob Dilenschneider the man behind 
the Civility in America series 
Courtesy of the Hearst Media Group

"There is no man that embodies civility, decency and love of country and community more than this man."

These words of praise for the creator of the concept of Civility in American Series, Bob Dilenschneider, were pronounced by Joel Klein at The Ferguson Library as he began his talk on civility in education.
Joel Klein, former Chancellor of New York City 
Department of Education
courtesy of

These two leaders in their respective fields of Public Relations and Education  have known each other for over 10 years and exude tremendous respect for each other. (click here to watch the entire segment).

I must wholeheartedly concur with Joel Klein's assessment and, for  reasons I will elaborate on, award Citizen of the Year award to both Bob Dilenschneider and  Mayor Michael Pavia of Stamford. The latter was instrumental in bringing the series to the Ferguson Library and  passionately exemplifies the values of open discourse in governing.

Under his aegis, Stamford has become, arguably, the most civilized city in our country.

Michael Pavia, Mayor of Stamford 
courtesy of archive

In introducing the Civility in America series, back in September 2012, Dilenschneider remarked that an unfortunate incident erupted in his Public Relations business that underscored the need for there to be a rational and national discourse about what constitutes civility in various categories.

In this CBS radio broadcast of September 2012, hosted by Fran Schneidau, Bob is heard saying that the idea of civility has entered Presidential politics where it "has been elevated to a new level." (click here to access the printed story and when on the page click again on right arrow under the bold heading reading WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau on the Story to hear the interview)

Bob's brilliance and acumen is demonstrated by his elevating the level of discourse in many fields including but not limited to  ART, EDUCATION, BUSINESS, POLICE RELATIONS, ADMINISTRATION OF BASEBALL, THE MANAGEMENT OF SPORTS FRANCHISES AND, OF COURSE POLITICS.

We are so appreciative that he has decided to extend this amazing program's lineup of speakers into its THIRD YEAR. The next speaker in the series is George Martin, former defensive end of the New York Giants on Tuesday, January 14th at 6 PM. He will discuss civility on the gridiron. You can register at Contact  203-351-8231

Olympia Snowe
courtesy of wikipedia

Judging from the turnouts, the most popular speaker was undoubtedly Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine. There was an overflow crowd so many of us were shuttled off to another Ferguson room where there was a large screen TV set up.

She has vacated  her Senate seat to focus exclusively on restoring civility to a Congress that has been in a gridlock mode. Here is a link to my blog on her speech.

On the value of a liberal arts education in promoting civility, please read my blog on Georgia Nugent's speech

Special mention must be made to sponsors of  the series: The Hearst Media Group, Purdue Pharma, The City of Stamford, The Ferguson Library and  Sacred Heart University.

Great Holiday Story Synagogue about to close because of expensive repairs is saved by members of a nearby Mosque

Symbol of Muslim Jewish Cooperation
courtesy of

What better way to enjoy and celebrate the Holidays surrounding the New Year of 2104 than with such a feel good story as this one. 

In an English city where the Muslims outnumber the Jews 129,041 to 299, a Mosque raised enough money so that its nearby neighboring Synagogue, much in need of repairs, would not have to shut its doors.

What a beautiful model of cross cultural co-operation.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Thirteen Top News Stories for 2013 and who will be our Citizen of the Year....

Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, 13 May  2008
Courtesy of Wikipedia

From a letter to Winnie Mandela in Kroonstad Prison, dated 1 February 1975
 Mandela,Nelson, Conversations with Myself,  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2010,
Pages 211-212

1. Nelson Mandela dies and leaves a rarefied legacy demonstrating an amazing transformation during his 27 year jail sentence. He metamorphosed from being a radical and violent protester to one who seeks and then effects reconciliation and compromise. What is notably praiseworthy and unusual is that he worked his MOJO, not only on his adversaries, such as de Klerk, but particularly with his supporters whom he convinced to lay down their ammo and negotiate. He spearheads the end of apartheid.

FW de Klerk and Mandella (File, AFP) 
The two shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. 

3. Sports Wire: Events surrounding Lance Armstrong (stripped of 7 titles) and A-Rod (suspended for 211 games), both who have taken PED’s, show that various sports authorities have not been able to police and enforce a consistent anti-doping policy.

   The NFL shells out  nearly $800 million to settle SOME concussion lawsuits.

4. Issues concerning the disastrous effects of climate change continue to plague us and thus loom large a year after Hurricane Sandy struck the east coast. New York and New Jersey are still prone to massive displacement/uprooting of its loyal denizens and massive power outages.

5. Two fifty year milestones were remembered with a media blitz including fantastic coverage in magazines, newspapers, C-Span, the History Channel, the major networks and radio.

View from the Lincoln Memorial to 
The Washington Monument on August 28, 1963
(courtesy of Wikipedia)

The March for Freedom and Jobs was led by Dr. Martin Luther King on August 28, 1963, 100 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and King asserts that despite the passage of  5 score years, "the negro is still not free." He will only be free when "justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like  a mighty stream". His speech culminates with his resounding cry of "Free at last, free at last, free at last." Click here to hear his speech.

The march also heralded the powerful message of Rabbi Joachi Prinz, the Rabbi of Berlin before World War II, who addressed the marchers and condemned not those who harbored hatred and bigotry, but those who remained silent in the face of injustice, brutality and mass murder.

Rabbi Joachim Prinz speaking at the March for Freedom and Jobs

50 years after the assassination of JFK, the country still struggles with whether his short tenure as President merits to be called the reign of Camelot or reign of mediocrity. Can we trust Jacqueline’s assessments?

6. The President continues to be vilified by his Republican political enemies despite an S&P that has soared nearly 30%, an unemployment rate that continues downward, with more and more people signing up for the Affordable Care Act and despite the fact no American blood has been spilled --through our diplomatic overtures-- and black ops, no doubt-- in the Middle East.

7. Pope Benedict XVI announces his retirement and is replaced by a little known cleric who is getting good press for the Vatican--which, unfortunately, desperately needs it! 

8. Atmospheric carbon pollution is to be attacked on two fronts. First, the President has the Executive authority to impose stricter standards and controls on mid western coal- fired industrial plants. Meanwhile, the Eastern States have petitioned the E.P.A to improve the air quality coming from the Rust Belt. Kudos to Governor Daniel P. Malloy of Connecticut who is leading the Eastern governors in the petition.

Coal-fired industrial pollution
Courtesy of

9. In a bold radical move designed to reform and improve our faltering and embarrassing early education system, the President calls for universal pre-kindergarten education. Serious debate must be forthcoming as America's education system fall further behind those in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East.  
(A MUST READ: Why Other Countries Teach Better)

Isn't it time for a bottoms up overhaul, fellow citizens?

10. Volcker rules are enacted to stem the proprietary trading by financial institutions.They are enacted to protect the rights and trust of innocent investors in these institutions and to avoid problems of TRANSPARENCY.

11. Putin continues to play the strongman TSAR, posing at times like a bare chested Charles Atlas. Is he trying to reconstitute and rebuild the old empire now that Russian population stands at only 180 million?  Is he only trying to prevent the Ukraine’s (45M population) entry into the EU, or is this only a power play to serve as a diversion as he casts his eyes over all the other former republics of the USSR?
Putin's latest move is a $15 billion bailout which was accepted by beleaguered Ukrainian President Yanukovych.

12. Relief at the pump:  the US stands to surpass both Saudi Arabia and Russia in oil production as early as 2015.  Gas prices are coming down at the pump with regular selling in NJ for $3.20 per gallon.
In 2014, Toyota will be introducing a car that runs on natural compressed gas to cost about $1 a gallon to run. T. Boone Pickens has been seen driving a Honda Civic GX, available in 35 states and he wants you to know it.(click here).

Honda Civic GX, Third Generation
courtesy of Wikipedia

      Is the gas car the wave of the future? 

Stay tuned.

There is one caveat: The pros and cons of fracking are a hot issue and won't simply evaporate!

13. Kudos must go to an unsung teenage heroine: to 16 year old Malala Yousafazi raised in the Swat Valley of northwestern Pakistan. She was shot in the neck and head by the Taliban in a school bus as she left school for daring to flout and publicly denounce their orders banning girls from getting an education, going to the market, watching TV, listening to music, etc. The Taliban has leveled school after school killing students, teachers and innocent bystanders in the Swat Valley because the Taliban have embraced the violent interpretation of Sharia. Despite the Taliban’s threats, Malala continued attending her dad’s school for girls in Mingora. In 2009, she began “The Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl,” a blog for a BBC website. 

Congratulations are in order for Malala: In October, she was awarded the European Union's top human rights award, the Sakharov Prize and then named one of 6 recipients of the coveted United Nations Human Rights Award. The latter is granted every 5 years and counts Nelson Mandela and Amnesty International as prior honorees. 

 Please respond by posting  your comment  within the next 72 hours. It's a formidable task, but with your help, I think we can whittle our task down to ONE CLEARCUT CANDIDATE. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

3717 and still counting: Reverse syncing the ipod Classic and Rediscovering two musical giants : Pablo Rosenberg and the recently departed Hank Jones (1918-2010).

The ipod Classic with 80 gigs of memory

Milestones need to be publicized and celebrated.

So, why is this such a monumental event for me??

Two years ago, two cyber events happened just about simultaneously,

My 5 year old PC crashed as did my ipod. No problem for the PC.  I simply purchased a new one at Staples. However, it's not a simple matter when a carefully selected  collection of 3717 songs-suddenly disappears.

The collection was 5 years in the making... and I had good reason to be upset.

So, I invested a few dollars in an ipod recovery program and several hours later had my original 3717 back on board. One small problem arose: several albums came up as file/digital  numbers rather than as the usual analog/ letter signatures. Oh, well I could always go to my itunes library on the pc and id the elusive Pablo outstanding balladeer who serenades us in both his native Spanish and Hebrew.
Pablo Rosenberg in concert
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

So, now I being serenaded (on a you tube playlist) by Pablo and Shlomi Shabat  in their memorable La Ultima Noche and I highly recommend you discover this fabulous entertainer as I did over 10 years ago.

Miles Davis (followed by John Coltrane) is by far my favorite entertainer, judging by the number of singles of his on my Classic--close to 200 and still counting--representing about 5% of my digital library storage.

Hank Jones on piano
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Buried in the 3717 is one group, a gem of a trio, I had nearly forgotten. Its the Great Jazz Trio led by the awesome Hank Jones on piano  accompanied by Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams (1945-1997) on drums. Tony was a very young member of the Miles Davis band in the early 1960's.
Ron Carter Bass 
Courtesy of Wikipedia

The album I am listening to is At the Village Vanguard Again. Though recorded in the late 70's, it was not released until the digital age. Each of the five plays is a gem-- a model of loose, freewheeling, lilting uplifting, ever expanding rhythms.

Tony Williams, Drummer
Courtesy of www.lastfm

Each player is an outright star in his own right, yet when they combine, it is as if the rhythm of threesome is magnified three fold. The five I uploaded include: Hi-Fly, Sophisticated Lady, Softly As in a A Morning Sunrise, Wave and My Funny Valentine.

Kudo's to three classy classsics: Apple's ipod Classic and  two classical entertainers of the musical world:  Pablo Rosenberg and Hank Jones

Hail to the CLASSIC,