Rosh Hashanah

I suddenly became aware that Rosh Hashanah is upon us.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish 5773 New Year. Whoa!
According to Wikipedia, Rosh Hashanah started September 4, at sunset and will end September 6 at nightfall.

I am not very familiar with this kind of observance mainly because I am what you might call a  “fallen Jew”.
Just like a “fallen woman” I have lost my innocence “and have fallen from the grace of God.”
Like Eve, I was expelled from Eden for having the audacity to take a bite of the Forbidden Fruit. I reached for Knowledge and I lost my innocence.

Many people (mainly the hatted and bearded ones) conspire to keep you in the dark side of the moon, permanently turned away from the light of Knowledge.
The less you know they say, the better off you are.
If you press them with questions, they will feed you some obscure mumbo-jumbo and forbid you to cross-examine their assertions.

I could never accept this and that is why I am a constant thorn in the flank of the religious establishment.
I want to know why and how.
And I don’t want to hear of any “miracles”.

The minute somebody starts giving me improbable explanations, I lose patience.
The French say « Ce qui se conçoit bien, s’énonce clairement. »
What is well understood can be clearly stated.
In other words, a few well-chosen words should suffice to explain anything clearly.

God, according to monotheistic faiths, knows everyone of us. He knows who is good and who is bad, and he will punish the evildoers.
Pardon me for saying, but this is a mighty task.
The IRS (and its many desk jockeys) is struggling to keep accurate records of a few million people, so you can imagine how difficult it would be to keep track of about 6 billion people.

And all these wretched souls are constantly pestering him with demands.
They all want special favors.
Their mantra is “give me, give me”.
If I were God, I would be tired of this… and I think that he is.
That is probably why he answers so few prayers.

Me, knowing how busy he is, I don’t bother asking him for anything and I don’t trouble myself following any of his edicts.
It is an amicable arrangement and so far it has worked well.

Rosh Hashanah marks, I am told, the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, or in lay terms the beginning of the world.
On Rosh Hashanah, God opens “the books of judgment” and examines the file of each individual person.
Again, a mighty task.

“Judgment” is then “pending” and prayers and repentance are required.
In my case, I would take too long to atone for all my sins, and I am not that patient.

It is probably because I am not patient (or gullible enough), that I don’t believe and abide by any of these biblical fairy tales.

In any case, it is not too late for you sinners to repent. You have until Friday night.
Make the best use of it.

Me, I’ll be playing pétanque.


Damned if you do…

Being a big cheese is not what it used to be.
Many people exert themselves to become commanders-in-chief, but once in place, they find out that the job is not the cushy bed of roses they thought it would be.
In modern democracies, a head of state is seldom free to pursue what he wishes to do.
You might wear a big hat and carry a big stick, but you still need that pesky approval of Congress or Parliament to swing that stick.

poison_signDavid Cameron was willing to give his support to the US to punish Syria for its use of chemical weapons, but the British parliament had other ideas. They said no. The UK is not America’s poodle anymore.
And not much is being said in the US about their lack of resolve.
Now, (ah the irony) it is the Frog Eaters (those filthy cowards) who are willing to help Uncle Sam.
But you don’t hear much about this in the US press.
Many Americans are still in a “Freedom Fries” mood and they prefer fish n’ chips to filet mignon.

Barack Obama is now in the unenviable position of being damned if he does, and equally damned if he doesn’t.
After Iraq and Afghanistan the president would be inclined to avoid involvement in another conflict, but he is almost forced to make the unpalatable decision to go to war for fear of being accused to be a “paper tiger”.
And the US, being the champion of the free world cannot afford to make empty threats.

But getting involved in a conflict could have unforeseen consequences.

Nobody thought that the 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo would have such a bloody outcome.
In four years of fighting there was about 16 millions casualties in WWI, with France alone losing 1, 357,800 men.
By comparison, as of August 2013, there have been 3274 coalition deaths in Afghanistan, with 2161 casualties on the American side.

An American intervention in Syria, while morally desirable, could trigger a chain reaction and set the entire Middle East (the world?) ablaze.

Most European nations having felt the devastating effects of two world wars are not keen to get involved in another quagmire involving volatile Muslim nations.
But if nobody objects and punishes the criminals who used chemical weapons, what will be next? Indiscriminate (accepted) use of chemical weapons?

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.




Glen Ellen Inn

Once in a while (too seldom alas) I walk out of a restaurant feeling contented. And contrarily to what you might think, I like feeling contented.
For me to feel satisfied, the food has to be decent, the prices reasonable and the service attentive.
And that’s what happened yesterday when I took the missus to the Glen Ellen Inn, in Sonoma county.

It is about a 45 minutes ride from my place of residence, but I think that this eatery is worth the trip.
Don’t settle for a place, only because it is conveniently close. A decent eating-place is worth the trouble of driving for close to an hour.

IMG_2568The Glenn Ellen Inn is nestled in a green enclosure overlooking a small waterfall, and when you dine on the patio as we did, it is a feast for the eyes and the ears.

We showed up without a reservation and were greeted and seated without any ceremony.
The busboy and the waiter were diligent and in matter of minutes we were settled on the patio.
Bread and water showed up on the table immediately and were replenished as needed.

After a few minutes of reflection, Tamara and I placed our orders.
Tamara opted for the Artichoke & Gorgonzola Ravioli and I picked the Petit Filet Mignon & Prawns.
According to Tamara the ravioli were tasty and my Filet Mignon was tender and cooked to perfection. So were the grilled Tiger prawns.

My only quibble is that meat and prawns were drowning in a heavy brown sauce. Sauces ought to be light and discreet. They should never overwhelm a dish.
But overall, this is my only criticism.

Tamara indulged in a glass of Sauvignon Blanc reasonably priced at $7.95 and I had a cup of coffee.
As I said before, service was consistently attentive without being intrusive.

Tamara ended up with a Chocolate Mousse (that I also sampled) and it was light, smooth and tasty.

Overall cost: around $70.00 (tip included).

If you want a decent meal, reasonably priced and with good service to boot, proceed without hesitation to the Sonoma Glen Ellen Inn.