Welcome to my Blog - What Is A Blog?

A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. ... Your blog is whatever you want it to be.

For many years I have kept a journal, which I don't write in as much as I once did. I have an inner yearning to communicate with the world through writing and pictures Part of my motivation is to leave something behind to a world that has given me so much - a mom, dad, brother, grandparents, a loving wife, high spirited and gifted sons, close friends and loyal customers. Most of us have had some help along the way to get where we are. In my 12 step program, step 12 is about giving back to others. I hope there are posts here that will warm your heart, make you smile and make you think. That is what my blog is all about. I hope you enjoy it. Ken

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Remembering our friend, Ozzie.

He lived with us and knew us all quite well - all four members of our family: Annie, Adam, Isaac and me. Although he liked us boys, he had a special relationship with Annie. She understood him and he understood her. Maybe it was because of their big hearts but I really never knew for sure.

He went by Ozzie and came to the United States from Scotland in the early 90's. He settled in Omaha, Nebraska where Annie was introduced to him by his brother named Cody. Ozzie was homeless and needed a place to stay. From the moment she laid her eyes on him, Annie felt a mothering instinct to take him in and give him a hand. She fell in love with his beautifully appointed face and small button shaped nose. She put us on notice to make room for a new family member. Ozzie travelled back to Minnesota with us, where Annie sent him to school to get a good education and learn his manners. One of Ozzie's teachers told Annie that he was very intelligent but if she wasn't consistent in disciplining him, his propensity to be hard-headed would soon prevail.

He had long brown hair and chocolate brownie eyes. Sometimes people made fun of him because he had short legs and arms. But Ozzie didn't care. If someone wanted to tease him they'd quickly find out that even though he was small, he wasn't afraid of anything or anybody. Annie came up with a nickname for Ozzie; she called him "Scrappers."

Throughout the years, if someone was in the wrong, he'd go out of his way to make things right. Ozzie always spoke his mind; he never held back. Whenever Annie needed to run an errand, he always was happy to come along and keep her company. If someone approached Annie, and Ozzie had a bad feeling about that person, he'd go to any length to protect her, even if it meant laying down his life.

Over the fifteen years that Ozzie stayed with us, he became great friends with the boys. He was almost always in a good mood and loved hanging out with them. Adam and Ozzie would take walks down to the Marina in the summer; Isaac and Ozzie liked to play ball.

When we brought home our new Springer Spaniel puppy, almost three years ago, Ozzie was the first member of our family to embrace her. He showed her where to stay and introduced her to the kids on our block.

On Tuesday of this week, we had to say goodbye. Ozzie told us it was time for him to move on; he said he had to travel someplace far away; he wouldn't say where. He thanked all of us profusely for all the love and care we provided him and said he could never repay us. We begged him not to go but his mind and heart were set. It was time for him to go. He told us not to be sad, that he would keep in touch and stay in our hearts.

We're grateful for the time we had with Ozzie. He was a blessing to the Tuvman household and will be missed!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Settling Down and Breathing Easier

In yesterdays blog, I shared a letter to a great writer, Syl Jones, who I admire.

He got back to me and said he's more than happy to help me write a column about anti-Semitism with a specific twist towards the Upper Midwest. Most people see Minnesotans as "so nice." And to re-affirm this, I want to say that I've made some very special friends in MN, many in the 12 step program. But like any Coin, there are two sides. There's the "nice" side and the "repressed angry" side. I'd say I'm a nice person but my Side B can be pretty tough on others.

I'm going to just let my experiences simmer a bit before I start writing a column. Mr. Jones did say "Are we living in an age where right-wing political movements have suddenly make it okay to hear the comment you heard at The Dakota?"

For me, it's been a busy year - gratefully so! I came back from TX with our home all dismantled. Annie decided it was time to remodel our upstairs bathroom. The linoleum was all cracked and the plastic tub was cracked. So she bought a new tub and had the floor and shower area tiled. I came home to a big mess. There was a new granite top blocking the walkway from the garage into the family room and a new lamp between my side of the bed and the bedroom wall.

After being away for two weeks, I'm tired and it's hard for me to handle the unmanageably of coming home to a chaos! Oftentimes I've got too much going on internally and need order around me to relax. For me, order is good. We'd had a snowstorm and the cushions on the lawn furniture had not been taken inside so in order to save them, I decided to go to the laundromat and use an industrial machine to wash them. My younger son was supposed to change the oil in his dirt bike but that didn't get done either. And the snow blower wasn't attached to the tractor. I guess that's why households need "a man in the house." Flattering to some but not to me. The combination of all these things caused me to get uptight and become irritable. The anti-Semite, at the Dakota, added fuel to my fire!

But I'm happy to report, lawn furniture cushions are clean and stored, bathroom (I painted the ceiling and walls) is almost done, we used the truck to pull Isaac's dirt bike to get it started (didn't want to start in the 20 something degree weather) and we changed the oil. We got the snowblower attached- so things are in order at the moment.

Tuesday morning I received a call from Isaac, our 17 year old. "Dad, I crashed the Durango into a snowbank." I should have first asked if he was okay but I didn't. He proceeded to say "there's anti-freeze dripping all over the place." "Is it drivable?" I asked. "No dad, I smashed the front end pretty good." "Okay, Isaac. I'm not happy with this news. This is the second accident you've had in the past 6 months. You're obviously moving too fast. Leave the car and get to your first class." My plans for the day were suddenly changed. Instead of going to work, I drove to the Arby's parking lot, where our truck was sitting. I called Triple A to get the car towed in to our mechanic, hoping not to make a claim BUT after he called me he reported extensive damage. "Ken," he said, "you're kid did a good job - the car's going to need a new radiator, oil cooler, fan, a/c unit and bumper and a bunch of body parts."

Oh well, the beat goes on. Isaac's currently w/out wheels and he's going to have to pay 1/2 of the $500 deductible. I want him to feel the pain of pulling money out of his pocket to experience what it takes to pay for all this stuff. (He has a job). I even had him call the insurance company to report what happened. I told him "Isaac, the Durango isn't a toy. It's almost two tons of steel that can cause grave harm. This isn't like thrashing around on the snowmobile where you can be going 50 miles an hour and suddenly stop on a dime." It didn't help that we'd had a big ice storm and then snow on top of the ice making the roads very slippery.

My grandfather used to tell me when I was moving too fast, "Kenny, the slower you go the faster you'll get there." May he rest in peace!

I'm enjoying sitting amongst my family in Omaha and banging out these words on my laptop. Annie and I have made-up and I'm breathing a little easier.

Thanks for reading this. I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving Holiday!

p.s. After almost 3 years, my BMW motorcycle restoration project is finished! It's a classic airhead, a 1982 BMW R65LS (looks like a Fokker Triplane).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A letter to a journalist about bigotry and predjudice

I just finished writing a short letter to a terrific writer and well accomplished journalist, here in MN. It's about the ugly face of prejudice. His name is Syl Jones and he has a website: http://www.syljones.com/index.html

He's one of the better writers about social injustice. Here's my letter:

Dear Syl,

I’ve always read and enjoyed your editorial comments in the Star Tribune.

We met a long time ago when I self published a book called “Wellness and Weight Loss, Ten Things You Need to Know" and gave you a copy to read.

I live in Shorewood and moved here from CA in 1994.

Over the years, you’ve captured, in the written word, the epitome of the passive/aggressive persona’s of many a Minnesotan. As an American Jew, I've experienced more than my share of anti-Semitic slurs by “whitey,” if you will.

I didn’t choose to be Jewish but was born this way. Since it’s a good religion with a deep and wide history, I choose to remain a Jew.

So, here’s why I’m writing. I was at the Dakota Jazz club on Monday to see one of my favorite musicians, Duke Robillard. His website: http://www.dukerobillard.com/

At the Dakota, on the main floor, we were seated adjacent to a table with another party. As we were seated, before the show started, a man and his maybe son in law were discussing World War II. I don’t know where and how this came up but at some point I heard the older man, a lawyer, talking about a German who ran a bar in Wayzata. Then the kid made the statement that “there aren’t any Jews in Wayzata.” The old man adds, “yea Klaus stacked ‘em up high” in his bar.

My hearing isn't as good as it used to be but I heard it. Had I not been feeling slightly under the weather, I’d have called him on it. But I did not. I’m sorry I did not. After awhile, though I think the old man realized a Jew was seated beside him. He started coughing and I kept saying to myself, “I hope you die you SOB.” That’s how I felt.

I’d like to write a story to submit to the Star Tribune or the LA Times to share this story.

I’d like to tie it in to my father being a World War II Veteran, a Jew, who served our country, who was shot down in his B17 after bombing Stuttgart and then was captured as a POW for almost two years. I’d also like to share about my mother and father in law, from Poland who endured the atrocities of the Holocaust and were held in inhospitable places like Auschwitz and Dachau.

My tongue must be too sharp because every time I’ve written a letter to the editor, it never gets published in the STRIB.

I guess I’m writing and venting because I’d sure appreciate some words of encouragement on how to write a story that could get published in a National Newspaper. I do write feature articles for the BMW Owner’s News magazine and Melody Beattie, bestselling author of books like CoDependent No More has been my writing mentor. I’ve been working for the past 4+ years on a story about my addicted son called “Magic Sam’s Disappearing Act.” In it I tell my story about how I've managed to cope and stay sober while, at times, going through living hell. http://melodybeattie.com/welcome1.html and her Grief Website: http://melodybeattie.net/ (grieving any loss? A great site).

Living in MN, I sometimes feel like I’m a magnet for these anti-Semites because every now and then I have these ugly experiences.

I’m wondering if I wrote something, maybe timed towards Holocaust Remembrance Day, if I could send it to you to have you critique my story so an editor could take a look and say “I like this and I’m going to run this in my paper.”

Finally, I’ve been dividing my time between MN and Houston (for work). I visited the Houston Holocaust Museum last Sunday and filmed this clip with my FLIP video camera.

What I don’t include in this video, when you see the box car that was used to transport my people to the death camps is that the German Railroads charged the Nazi’s passage for transporting men, women, children and elders on their one way trips to the death camps. Pretty sick, huh?

WARNING: Powerful Video - Not for the faint of Heart


On that happy note, thanks for providing your email address so I could vent, write and get this out of my system for the time being. I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving holiday!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Juicing For Life

Are you taking care of yourself? Is it work, work, work; go, go, go and never stop? Too many of us become products of our jobs, work cultures, the demands of our children, and the pressures we put on ourselves to succeed and keep up our pace on the hamster wheel of life. How about letting your Blackberry get you moving in the morning? Yes it's true!

Being in a big hurry, many of us eat Fast Food - Instant Breakfast - McMuffins, Donuts, Candy Bars, Mountain Dew. Many people have a cigarette and coffee for breakfast!

Education!!! Get informed before its too late. I know we're all gonna die someday but it doesn't have to be so soon! Many major health ailments can be prevented just by being aware of what you eat. There have been times when I've visited someone at the hospital, in the heart center because of a heart attack or bypass surgery. I've thought to myself, it's the big Fast Food institutions of America that sent this person here.

But let's not blame the "system." Here's a way to help turn yourself around. A minimal investment - not a lot of work - and a great new idea on how to avoid the big clean-up that comes with juicing.

Here we go . . . in the pictures above, you'll see (2) of the four ingredients that went into my concoction last night, that will last me at least three days. Fresh carrots, apples, beets and celery. I learned if you use a produce bag or a plastic grocery bag and line the container that catches the by-products from juicing - the pulp, etc. that when you're done you just tie up the bag and no clean up because all the waste stayed in the bag. Very nifty trick after using a juiceman for years and spending extra time cleaning up.

How does it taste? Ummm Gooood! The apples add a nice sweetness to the mix - 6 apples, 6 carrots, 2 red beets and 4 stalks of celery. The short benefit I get from juicing: my gums and teeth feel better, I'm cleaning out my large & small intestines - the vegetables contain a lot of vitamins and cleaning agents that help to clean my colon - think rotor-rooter and buildup along the walls of your colon. (not making any claims here - not a doctor)!
Energy level increases. Mood is better.

Take a few minutes to read the story below that explains more "why" juicing is a good idea. I purchased a Brevere juicer at Bed Bath & Beyond - while in line a lady gave me a 20% discount coupon - I'd also bought a comforter for the Airstream and a Temperpedic pillow (another blog).
This juicer is around $150. I'd recommend it. It's quiet and gets the job done fast.

The Benefits of Juicing

In Seattle, Washington or in trendy Southern California, on any given evening you can find men and women, still dressed in their business attire, sitting at a bar, unwinding after a long day's work. they place their orders, with choices ranging from straight carrot juice to combinations of all sorts of fruits and vegetables: wheat grass, kale, dandelion, cucumber, cabbage, celery, beet, lettuce, parsley, mango, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, cranberry, grapefruit, and apple. Juicing, meet the baby boomers. Welcome to yuppiedome. Say hello to the mainstream. "Can I get you a papaya, mango cooler?"

Once confined to the fringes, to earthy-smelling health food stores, to wooden-floored co-ops, to the infrequent vegetarian restaurant, juicing and fresh juice have finally stepped out into the open. Rather than having to search for freshly-juiced fruit and vegetables in specialty stores, today in San Diego, California, you can have fresh carrot juice delivered to your door every morning. And in many grocery stores across the country, you can now buy pints, quarts, and half gallons of fresh-squeezed orange juice or recently-pulped carrot juice.

Thousands of other people are juicing fruits and vegetables themselves. With an investment of few hundred dollars, anyone can set up their own in-home juice bar. Then, with a little patience, time and perseverance, it's possible to make fresh juice a regular part of your daily diet.

The trend couldn't come at a better time. Recently. the National Cancer Institute began a campaign to get people to do one simple thing - EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. Specifically, the recommendation was to eat five servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables a day, and their reasoning was simple: a diet high in fruits and vegetables will prevent or cure a wide range of ailments.

Breast cancer, cancer of the colon, esophagus, stomach, lungs, ovaries, and rectum - pick and ailment these days, it seems, and researchers somewhere are searching for chemicals in plants that will prevent them, or offer a cure. These plant chemicals, known as phytochemicals, are the cutting edge of nutritional research because they hold the keys to preventing some of our most deadly diseases, such as cancer and heart disease, as well as some of our most common, like asthma, arthritis, and allergies.

In some ways, this isn't news. For years, epidemiological studies that compare disease states and diet in large populations of people have already been bearing out the value of a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Such studies, which have been done in Africa, China, the Mediterranean, Russia, and elsewhere have shown that in cultures where the diet consists of fruits and vegetables, making it high in both carbohydrates and fiber, a number of diseases that afflict North Americans simply don't exist. For example, during more than 30 years of study, British researchers working in Africa didn't find a single case of such common ailments as diverticulitis, hernia, cancer of the colon, or cancer of the prostate. The only reason that they could attribute to the lack of these diseases: differences in diet.

But these studies (more than 150 have been done in the last decade) don't really prove that it is diet that makes the health difference There are simply too many other factors that may influence health to make the studies conclusive. Is, for example, the lack of disease because of the subjects diet or, instead, is it because they live in a relatively unpolluted environment? If it is diet, which part of their diet, specifically, is making the difference?

There are the questions that led researchers at the National Cancer Institute, at the department of Agriculture, and elsewhere, to begin looking for specific substances in foods that could be providing protection against disease. In the process, they have found quite a few.

A tomato, along with vitamin C, vitamin A, and several minerals, also has 10,000 other chemicals in it, most which researchers are trying to isolate, identify, and study.

The phytochemicals that researchers have uncovered are changing the way we think about food, especially fruits and vegetables. for example, broccoli contains a substance that may prevent - even cure - breast cancer. Citrus fruits have substances that make it easier for your body to remove carcinogens, thus decreasing the chance of contracting cancer. Grapes contain a phytochemical that appears to protect each cells' DNA from damage. Similarly, a number of green vegetables contain phytochemicals that appear to offer protection against cancer-causing substances. The list goes on and on: bok choy, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, rutabaga, turnip greens, red beets, peppers, garlic, onions, leeks, and chives are but a few of the vegetables that appear to have cancer-preventing phytochemicals.

The problem, though, is that most of us don't eat enough fruits and vegetables to reap the benefits they offer. For example, although the National Cancer institute recommends five servings of vegetables and three of fruits each day, the truth is this: The average American eats only 1 1/2 servings of vegetables and, on average, no fruit on any given day.

Maybe the business men and women who frequent trendy juice bars, the company that delivers carrot juice, and the grocery stores that are beginning to carry fresh fruits and vegetable juices are on to something. Possibly, juicing could provide the answer to fixing our fruit and vegetable deficient diets.

Really, it isn't a new idea. If you study the traditions of most juicing programs, you discover that the vegetables being studied at various facilities around the country are often the same vegetables that have been juiced for years. Collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, rutabaga, peppers, carrots, and cabbage are not only vegetables being studied for their phytochemical content, they are also the vegetables that are most commonly juiced. Not only are researchers looking into the cancer-prevention capabilities of citrus fruits, grapes, and apples, these are also the fruits that we most often associate with fruit juicing.

All of this raises the question, what else is there in the wisdom of juice therapy that, up until now, have traditional nutritional research overlooked or ignored? For example, juice programs often tout the value of adding chlorophyll to your daily diet. Chlorophyll, a substance found exclusively in plants, has a structure similar to hemoglobin, the substance in blood that is responsible for transporting oxygen. During the 1940s, researchers found that consuming chlorophyll enhances the body's ability to produce hemoglobin, thus improving the efficiency of oxygen transport. Since the 1940s, however, there has been little research into the value of chlorophyll.

Or, for another example, consider fresh juice's ability to deliver another important group of nutrients, know as enzymes. Enzymes are your body's work force. Acting as catalysts in hundreds of thousands of chemical reactions that take place throughout the body, enzymes are essential for digestion and absorption of food, for conversion of food stuffs into body tissue, and for the production of energy at the cellular level. In fact, enzymes are critical for most of the metabolic activities taking place in your body every second of every day.

Fresh juices are a tremendous source of enzymes. In fact, the "freshness" of juice is one of their key features, because enzymes are destroyed by heat. When you eat cooked foods, whether its meal, grains, fruits, or vegetables, if the food is cooked at temperatures above 114 degrees, the enzymes have been destroyed by the heat. Since fruits and vegetables are juiced raw, the enzymes are still viable when you drink the juice.

Coincidentally, many of the phytochemicals that nutritional researchers are focusing their attention on are either enzymes, or more often, they are substances that help build or activate enzymes that play essential roles in protecting cells from damage.

In addition, fruit and vegetable juices are good sources of the traditional nutrients. Citrus fruits (grapefruit, oranges, etc.) provide healthy portions of vitamin C. Carrot juice contains large quantities of vitamin A, in the form of beta carotene. A number of green juices are a good source of vitamin E. Fruit juices are a good source of essential minerals like iron, copper, potassium, sodium, iodine, and magnesium, which are bound by the plant in a form that is most easily assimilated during digestion.

Plus, since juicing removes the indigestible fiber, these nutrients are available to the body in much larger quantities than if the piece of fruit or vegetable was eaten whole. For example, because many of the nutrients are trapped in the fiber, when you eat a raw carrot, you are only able to assimilate about 1% of the available beta carotene. When a carrot is juiced, removing the fiber, nearly 100% of the beta carotene can be assimilated.

Finally, fruits and vegetables provide one more substance that is absolutely essential for good health - water. More than 65% of most of the cells in the human body are made of water, and in some tissues, for example the brain, the cells can be made up of as much as 80% water. Water is absolutely essential for good health, yet most people don't consume enough water each day. Plus, many of the fluids we do drink, coffee, tea, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages and artificially flavored drinks each contain substances that require extra water for your body to eliminate. Fruit and vegetable juices are free of these unneeded substances and are full of pure, clean water.

The remaining question is how far will the trend go? So far, the National Cancer Institutes attempts to promote the health benefits for fruits and vegetables have only affected a relatively small segment of society. But, as more and more is written about the long-term health benefits of fruits and vegetables, as increasing numbers of people learn about the possibility of preventing and curing cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and a host of other diseases by making dietary changes, the fruit and vegetables trend and the popularity of juicing will continue to grow. Who knows, maybe someday it will be hard to find a seat during happy hour at your local juice bar.

Looking for a juicer? Check out DiscountJuicers.com with low, low prices on juicers. They also provide information to help you select the juicer that is right for you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Curbing Rashness - one of my character defects

When I speak or act hastily, my ability to be fair-minded and tolerant evaporates on the spot.

Being fair minded and tolerant is a goal toward which I must work daily. My 20 hour drive to Houston (and I took breaks along the way) still left me emotionally "drunk." Not physically but emotionally. I did what I needed to do yesterday to get back on the beam - slept, exercised, got some nourishment and attended a 12 step meeting last night. As things go, I have a friend, Rabbi Mordechai Grossbaum, who gave me a call, out of the blue, last night. Somehow my name came across his mental radar screen and he gave me a call - after I'd slept, exercised and eaten. We chatted for over 30 minutes. I was so pleased to hear from him! We just talked about what's been going on in our lives - as friends. How special is it when we drop what we're doing to pick up the phone, call a friend, and ask how they are doing?

At the meeting last night, the moderator talked about how his life was before sobriety: Lived in a place where you pay rent by the week, did not respect himself and others shunned him, was miserable and had no solutions to solving his problems. He came into the program, not by his own choice, but once there decided to give it a try. This guy was clean cut and wearing a pin-striped button down dress shirt, nice slacks and Allen Edmonds shoes. He has a job and life is going a lot better for him.

I only bring this up because my life is a lot more positive today than it was 25 years ago. I consider myself very, very lucky to be in the spot where I find myself. Today, my message and tone is directed at my being grateful for being able to accept myself for who I am and for the terrific friends and family in my life.

With that said, I often find myself running on a fast track - too many things to do and not enough time. Trying to cram all I can into a day. This obviously has its downside. Sometimes when I get moving too fast, it's hard to "be here now" for others. This is a character defect I need to work on. But right now, in my solitude, I'm in a place where I can look introspectively and just say to you: Your friendship is important and valued and please let me know when I do something that comes across as being rash and insensitive.

Have a great day!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yom Kippur, Why we Fast and a Tribute to my Mother in Law

I'm going to make this short and sweet: First of all Happy New Year to anyone observing the Yom Kippur holiday! La Shana Tova (Happy New Year)
Yom Kippur is THE most significant date on the Jewish calendar. Otherwise known as the Day of Atonement it is a day when we refrain from eating for 24 hours from sundown today through sundown tomorrow.
Why do we fast, you may ask? The short answer is so we can focus our attention on God and simply contemplate our gratitude for being here. I'm grateful for sobriety, reasonably good mental and physical health and that my wife and boys are doing well. I'm also grateful that my parents and mother-in-law and immediate family are doing reasonably well. In short, to me, it's about gratitude and a time to reflect and make amends to anyone I've hurt over the past year. So, if I've said something to offend you, I would like to make amends for my transgressions!!!

Moving ahead: Annie's mom, Rachel Rosenberg is a survivor of the Holocaust. As she gets older (now 87) and sees less survivors are around to tell their stories. She gotten more "into action" and speaks in front of children. The note above is a thank you letter from a young girl who was moved by hearing Rachel tell her story.

Last night, Rachel spoke to a small group of men and women at an Al-anon meeting. Her story is powerful and in a nutshell here are the key points she made to the group.
  1. She lived in a small village in Poland. Her father was a cattle buyer and mother a seamstress. There were 6 children (3) boys and (3) girls. One afternoon, the Germans, along with dogs came and rounded up all the Jews in the village and relocated them to a large ghetto in Warsaw. She wanted to take a few things with her but was not allowed to.
  2. After moving from camp to camp (around four) she described her experiences at Auschwitz. She rolled up her shirt on her left sleeve and showed the group her tattoo. She lost her name and became a number. Everyone became a number and every morning there was a roll call for them to line and be counted. Some of her comments: "They would shoot you for no reason. We lost our faith because we knew there would not be a tomorrow." "We worked from sunrise to sunset and were always hungry - I was hungry for five years."
  3. Her biggest hurt: "when they took my little brother away from me and sent him to the gas chambers. It's a hurt I will never get over."
  4. A labor pool was needed to work at a munitions factory in Czechslovakia. Rachel was loaded in a boxcar and it took 6 days to get there. She doesn't remember if she was given any water but does remember at the end of the day, the guards would open up the box card and feed them a teaspoon of sugar. She had long beautiful brown hair. As she worked at the munitions factory, a German guard called her number and took her with her to a small cell. Rachel was certain this was it - she was going to be shot. Instead, after sitting for six hours, the woman guard game in with a big pair of dull scissors and cut all hair. She gave her a dirty bandana to cover her head.
  5. The conditions were horrific. "I didn't have a home for five years, was hungry all the time, and lived in fear."
  6. Liberation: "My parents and brothers had all been killed. I found my two sisters. We somehow found our way back to our small village in Poland but there was a Polish family living in our home. We knocked on the door and asked them if we could get some family pictures hidden in the basement. They let us in to get the pictures. On our way back to Czechsolvakia, somehow we lost the pictures, so I don't have any pictures of my family at all."
  7. On coming to Omaha: "We had nothing. When we came to Ellis Island, we had no money, we didn't speak your language, we had no family to claim us, no place to live, we had nothing! We were sponsored by the Jewish Community Center in Omaha where eventually they lent us $90 to rent a store where my husband, who was a tailor, opened his business. At that time we had our oldest son and all of us bought cheap cots, a small ice box and a hot plate. We had our store and lived in the basement. We hired a lady who spoke English so she could communicate with the customers. We got a big job from Boys Town. Carl and I worked from eight in the morning to ten at night sewing and fixing the clothes. When we finished, we were given a piece of paper. I showed it to a lady at the JCC and asked her what it was. She said, Rachel, you just made $250 - we're going out and finding youa house to buy! So we bought a house across the street from the store."
  8. When asked how did she survive? "I don't know how I survived - I honestly don't know."

Rachel and Carl went on to learn to speak English, they built up their business into one of the most thriving tailor shops in Omaha, raised (3) children, put them through college and re-acquired their faith in God. It's an amazing story.

How did she survive? - I know the answer . . . first let me say this - I married a child of the Holocaust and have friends on Facebook that are also children of survivors.

How did they do it? One quick example: my late father-in-law, Carl Rosenberg, author of "As God Is My Witness" made a promise to his mother that if he survived the horror of being a slave and internment and the target of sadistic treatment by the Nazi's that he would tell the world what happened. He was relentless too! Everytime I saw him all he wanted to do was keep on telling his story. I'm not sure how he did it but his experiencing so much loss caused him to get stronger and stronger about surviving. I really don't know how anyone could do it but my hat is off to any survivor from the Holocaust and from other forms of abuse.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Antique Aircraft Lands on The Road and Thinking Outside the Box

PIONEERTOWN – Famous for old West shoot-'em-up films and galloping horses kicking up dust down Mane Street, Pioneertown got an unscheduled visitor who dropped in from the sky at 9 a.m. Saturday. While en route to Big Bear from Palm Springs, a pilot experiencing mechanical difficulties used Pioneertown Road as an emergency landing strip. Calling the landing "controlled," the pilot, Dan Espensen of Palm Springs, stepped out of his aircraft unhurt.

"I was ready to cross over the mountains into Big Bear when I heard an engine noise getting louder and louder," said Espensen. "Experiencing loss of power, I attempted to reach Yucca Valley Airport."


I call him Danny. We've been friends for over 30 years! I met him when I was learning how to fly at Santa Monica Aiport, back in the late 70's. Back then, before we got immersed in our careers and families, we'd go flying all the time and became good friends.

An opportunity arose and Danny acquired this airplane - a 1940 something Funk aircraft, similar to a Piper Cub. He bought it cheap and you might say it was a "fixer-upper" but that would be an understatement.

Soon thereafter, Danny, my brother Paul and eventually I moved out to Palm Desert for some work opportunities. Amongst his possessions, Danny rented a trailer, took the wings off his sad and neglected looking Funk and trailered her out to the desert. I'm going to estimate that it took Danny at least 15 years to get this airplane into airworthy condition. It was a complete labor of love for Danny. From what I remember, the fabric covering the wings and fuselage had to be re-covered twice (the first person he took it to used the wrong sealant and it spoiled the fabric). He had to get the airframe inspected, the cables replaced, along with many other components that make an aircraft go - engine, propeller, wheels, brakes, upholstery and flight navigation instruments. But Danny is persistent and persevered: he restored it to a level that, in my estimation, paralleled how it must've looked when she rolled out of the Funk brother's factory in Kansas in the mid 1940's.

Danny is proud of his Funk and has logged many, many safe hours flying her to different "fly-in" events that feature antique aircraft. He and his plane have been interviewed and written up in various antique aircraft magazines. It's a wonderful restoration.

So was it any surprise last week, when on his way to Big Bear, CA to meet some friends for breakfast that Danny manged to safely land his beloved airplane without any engine power? (I think not).

I believe thinking outside the box saved Danny's bacon. Before I tell you why, let me share something:

It does take some skill to fly an airplane BUT the requirements for staying "current" or put another way, maintaining an active pilots license are abysmally (very bad) low. The only requirement for staying current is a private pilot needs to pass an annual physical exam and make at least (3) takeoffs and (3) landings withing a 90 day period.

When we took flying lessons, part of our training occurred when our flight instructor would pull back the throttle somewhere over the ocean, near the Santa Monica mountains, and said, "your engine just quit, show me where you're going to land this airplane." Taken off guard, at first we're scared and then we learn from our instructor to try and find an open area. When we find it we're taught to set up an imaginary landing approach in the exact same way you'd approach an airport. There are (3) legs to make a landing. Commercial airliners embrace the same procedure. After locating the runway, you enter at a 45 degree angle and head downwind, paralleling the runway. Next, you turn either right or left, depending on which side of the runway you are approaching the field from and enter your "base leg." Your last turn is called "Final" where you're now flying into the wind and are heading straight for the runway to set up your landing. This is how it is done.

But think about it. Many active pilots, like Dan, who have been flying for over 30 years don't get re-current flight instruction - especially true when you own your own airplane. If you were renting an airplane, you'd be required to go up with a flight instructor and show him you are capable of handling the airplane and know how to navigate.

I think, many pilots, who have not had any flight training for a long, long time might forget about the "engine-out" emergency landing procedures and not thinking outside the box and facing an emergency, like Danny did, would get focused on finding an airport runway to land on.

So let's get back to Danny's flight to Big Bear. He's still climbing and he's about 6,000 feet above sea level, still climbing so he can clear the mountains to make it to the Big Bear airport that has an elevation of 6,750 feet ASL (above sea level). He has happy thoughts as he's thinking about the friends he's about to visit and all the catching up he has to do. He's thinking about his family and maybe just taking in the magnificent beauty of the desert - the deep blue sky contrasting with the tall snow-capped mountains and white desert sand below. But his thoughts are suddenly interrupted when he hears an unfamiliar rattling vibration coming from his plane. He puts his hand on the door, thinking maybe it's not closed properly. But suddenly, his tachometer drops way off and he loses power. His propeller is still turning but still he can't get the engine going beyond 400 revolutions per minute, hardly adequate to keep his plane flying.

Danny has to make a decision. He's going to land whether he wants to or not. Suddenly, his adrenaline kicks in, causing him to become extremely alert and focused - focused on his own survival. He quickly figures out he won't make it back to his hanger at the Palm Springs Airport and heads towards Yucca Valley, where there is a small airport. While slowly descending towards the earth (an airplane like this is light and glides quite well), he gets on his radio, dials in 121.5, the emergency frequency, and calls out "Mayday, Mayday." Quickly, an American Airlines pilot radios Danny back and asks "what are your intentions." Danny says, "I've lost power and I'm descending and plan to make an emergency landing at the Yucca Valley airport." The American captain squawks back, "keep it safe, good luck, and I'll radio Flight Following and let them know what your intentions are." Danny quickly squawks back a quick "Thanks," and gets off the radio so he can focus on his landing safely.

As he's descending he comes to realize that he does not have enough altitude to make it to the Yucca Valley airport. The mountains that precede the Yucca Valley airport are starting to look really big and he doesn't want to take the chance of wrecking his plane while trying to make the airport.

He's right over Pioneer Town, a city adjacent to Yucca Valley. He looks down, looking for a suitable place to land. He finds a paved highway that has a slight grade. Preferring to land uphill, to slow his plane down quicker, Danny notices there's a bunch of power lines and poles he will have to clear in order to land uphill. But on the other side of the highway, there aren't any power lines.

He decides to take this approach and goes ahead and acting as if he's going to land on a real airport runaway, visualizes the highway as the airport runway. He enters at at 45, turns downwind, then base and now he's lined up for final. On final and now at a much lower altitude, Danny sees a car travelling in the same direction as he's heading but the car is travelling faster than he. There' enough distance in front for Danny to land safely behind the car (can you imagine looking in your rear view mirror and seeing an airplane right on your tail?). Danny stays focused - as a matter of fact, the hair is standing up on the back of his neck. Totally focused, he sees a power pole and high tension wire on one side of the highway and banks his wingtip to avoid hitting it. He lines himself up and soon feels his wheels hit the smooth asphalt pavement and makes a safe 3 point landing. As he's rolling down the highway, he sees a bowling alley with a dirt parking lot and pulls over and gently applies his brakes. He comes to a safe stop. He gets out of his plane and let's out a sigh of relief. He is safe!

As he's standing beside his plane and using his cell phone to call the FAA to let hem know he's safe, a family approaches him with a couple of little kids. The little boy has the idea that Pioneer Town iss having an air show today and says "Mister, can I get a ride in your plane!" Danny smiling, looks down at the little boy, smiles and says, "Sorry sonny, not today."

I want to underscore how thinking outside the box and using sound judgement saved Danny's life. If you've ever read aftermath airplane crash accident reports, there is a high percentage of pilots who might have survived had they not been so obsessed with landing at the airport. They reach a practical point where there is no way the airplane has enough altitude and speed to make the airport but somehow, false hope kicks in and it becomes an emotional game trying to make the airport and when they fall short, many crash and either die or are severely injured.

Danny realized he wasn't going to make the field. He quickly created a plan "B" that saved his life. There are many people who say how flying a plane or riding motorcycles is so dangerous. And the truth is, there are higher risks involved than say driving a car. Still, while no guarantees on who will live and who will not, good judgement and the right attitude are two important qualities to possess.

I spoke with Danny yesterday when he told me this story. I asked him, "how do you feel?" Danny says, "It's like being alive and being able to read your own obituary."

Please help me in congratulating Danny on his unbelievable experience in losing his engine and making the right decision that has provided me with the inspiration to write this short story.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to Harness Unmanageably

Un-manage-ability: adjective
that cannot be managed; governable; tractable; contrivable.

Every have too many things going on at one time? If so, read on . . .

I'm and ADD kind of guy - attention deficit - needs lots of activity to keep me motivated and focused - the byproduct of my ADD is lots of debris - cluttered desk, cluttered workbench in the garage followed by frustration and then hours and hours to clean things up. Would you believe that cleaning things up on the Outside helps me feel more calm on the Inside? Yes, it's true!
So what's going on? Well, let's see: my mother-in-law is coming for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the biggest holidays on the Jewish calendar. Judgement Day - Days of Reckoning - Days of Awe - A time to reflect and atone.
Every year this means a big production at the Tuvman household. Annie says the upstairs bedroom HAS to be painted and finished for mom before she arrives. Okay - fine . . . and the pocket door needs to be installed in the upstairs bathroom - okay too! In order to install the pocket door, some electrical wires need to be moved. So, Jack and Brad are here knocking out drywall, moving wires, drilling holes, making dust. I HATE being in the middle of all this stuff - YUK! Add a deck replacement (ours rotted after 20 years *wow, did I say 20 years? - getting old here - a journey, right?
Anyway, Captain Randy, his son Mitch and my younger son Isaac are pictured using an auger to drill 42" holes in the ground that will hold the deck footings. Oh yea, did I mention that buying my son a dependable Honda wasn't good enough? No, he couldn't handle the reliability of his Honda (way too boring) so he sold it and bought a 1982 Olds Cutlass - just needed a "little" work - like a starter, alternator, a new flywheel - which in admiration to Adam, he did on his own. (my dad suggested to Adam that he should take off the radiator cap and put a new car underneath it). But the latest is his transmission went out. So being the resourceful kid he is, he decides to do the repair on his own. Dad (me) suggests he take it to a store, let me front the $$ and he can pay me back for a "certified" transmission. But looking for short cuts, he finds a nicely painted transmission on Craigslist for a "good price." Kinda like the great deal a friend of mine got on a color TV back in the '80's from a guy on Adams & LaBrea - when he got home, he plugged it in and nothing came on, so he used a screwdriver to remove the back of the TV only to find a bunch of rocks on the insides!
Adam catches me off guard and wants to do the repair in our garage because the apartment where he lives won't let him work on his car there. "Sure," I said - "Just put a tarp down before you get started so you don't get transmission fluid all over the driveway." Adam says, "I will, dad."
So (3) big things going on at home - drywall/electrical upstairs, deck demoliton outside and car repair out front.
I'm outta here - I need a great escape. Thank goodness for the Airstream to the rescue. I depart only 20 minutes from home to Town & Country Campground to hole up for a couple of days. Gotta a lot of work to do and need to focus because my life is looking pretty unmanageable at home. After a day and a half of being alone, I chill out enough to come home feeling a little better. As I'm driving home I'm praying that Adam's had success putting in the transmission - please G-D let him have success with the tranny!!! I pull up and there he is - working futility trying to get the transmission in in a work area 8 inches off the ground. After three days of no success he finally throws in the towel. We get the car towed to Minnetonka Transmission where they're going to finish the job - Hallelujah!
So now the holes for the new deck have been drilled, the electrical wires have been moved - Jack's got the room patched and painted and the car is out of my driveway.
My big shining star appeared yesterday: Adam's girlfriends dad has a Chevy Cavailier he wanted to give her. After a week of pulling out the blown engine and putting in a rebuilt, Adam is successful! I take him to the DMV yesterday and we get the title transferred so now he has another car! The neat thing here is Adam, w/no mechanical training managed to put the new engine in, replace the bumper and gets the car running. There's a word to describe what Adam's done: Chutzpa - noun - Nerve, Audacity . . .
He came over last night to finish power washing the transmission fluid off the new driveway (aghh) and I help him wash the Cavalier and we put air in the tires. He wants to make it nice for his girlfriend. He uses our vacuum to clean the interior. It's getting dark - still a couple of glitches - like one headlight works and the other one doesn't. But that's another problem to solve on another day. In the meantime, I have a message for you: don't give up the ship - sometimes our toast lands "jelly side down" and everything looks dire. But hang in there - tomorrow is a new day - yesterday happened to be a "jelly side up" day. The construction guys are gone (for now), we're waiting for the bldg. inspector to sign off on the holes before Captain Randy starts building the deck and Adam's got wheels with his Cutlass being fixed! Life is beautiful :)!
p.s. there's more but enough sharing for today's blog. Go out there and make it a great day! Smile and shower your love and passion with someone who needs it! Blessings!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Riding Like the Wind

I'm excited! Annie and I were invited to one my BMW friends cabin on Shell Lake,Wisconsin.

I'm excited because Annie came along! Riding solo is fun but having my partner along made it especially nice! Of course before heading out, we had to stop at the Hitching Post so she could purchase a new pink and white Scorpion full-face helmet with matching leather riding gloves. She wore my leather riding pants and High Vis Yellow riding jacket. I told her if she enjoyed the ride, we'd go up to Duluth, MN (Bob Dylan (near Hibbing)) to get her own Aerostitch riding suit and boots. It was a nice, sunny day with puffy white Cumulus clouds and not much wind. This followed a week of sweltering heat and violent thunderstorms!!! I only had to make one stop on the way - that was to the Minnesota Fairgrounds to pick up the photograph I submitted for the fine arts exhibition. I didn't think the picture was that great but since I'd been too busy to take the time to select the right photo, I just had one framed of a MN Winter sunset with lots of Snow in the background so I could get something entered. But this picture was not meant to be. Oh well, try better next time. One small "Kenny" problem when we picked up the picture . . . it was too big to fit in my pannier bags!!! So, being a good sport Annie sandwiched the picture between her front and my back. She held onto it until we arrived at the Petersen's place in Shell Lake (about at 2 hour ride). They were nice enough to take it home in their car. Niel is a retired engineer and holds several design patents - a real bright bulb! He's been restoring a 1940 something Piper Cub for the past ten years or so. It's near completion and Wow-Wee is it ever a beauty!!! He's been taking his time and meticulously restoring every detail so when it's completed it will be just like it was when it rolled off the factory assembly line back in the day. They invited us to spend the night. We had a good old fashioned Wisconsin dinner out in the backwoods - Walleye is what we ordered. I ordered tea and it wasn't hot so I asked the waitress if she'd bring me some hot water - she came back with a warm cup - she thought that would solve my problem - it didn't but, oh, well - sometimes you have to be a good sport! Speaking of good sports . . . how about Annie? She was the perfect co-pilot on the beemer. When we leaned right, she leaned too. She was calm and relaxed (unusual for Annie) . It was Zen-like - we were one! It was fun.
The picture of Annie and me is in front of a Cheese factory - we stopped and bought some Extra Sharp Cheddar and another loaf of Cheddar with Caraway seeds - yum - yum. That was the big MN weekend! Safe and sound - another reason to be grateful . . . didn't Neal Young sing "Long May You Ride Safely?" Thanks for reading my blog!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I would have never purchased this duplex in East Long Beach if I'd known about:

I would have never purchased this duplex in East Long Beach if I’d known about the beer chucking family living across the street from Iowa. The clan leader is Herman Reichsmueller, aka “Opa,” who once upon a time was a hog farmer. He’s short, stocky and sports a crew-cut. He has piercing blue eyes, wears wire rim glasses, and dresses in his Big Mac denim overalls. His son Earl, lives there too. Whenever I see him, there's a blank expression on his face behind his dark green aviator glasses. He hangs out at the local Moose Lodge reminiscing of his days as a paratrooper in Viet Nam. The name “Reichsmueller” is embroidered on the front of his military issue jacket.

Becky is Opa Herman’s daughter and Earl’s sister. She doesn’t drink but is codependent. Her son Ralph lives there too. He’s a loud, obnoxious party animal. His booming Vavoom like voice makes up for his shrimpy size.

I hear the screeching of tires rounding the corner. I look outside. It’s Ralph coming home from work. He drives a well-tuned VW Bug. It's got a loud exhaust system and a white Harley Davidson skull sticker slapped on the back window. He looks focused as he gets out from his car. He’s got a lit cigarette dangling from his mouth and a twelve-pack of Budweiser under his arm as he races towards the front door. He can't wait to plop himself down in front of the TV, drink his beer, and watch South Park episodes until passing out. My wife Ann says he works as an electrician at the Naval Shipyard. Who in their right mind would trust a guy like him with live wires?
I’d never have bought the duplex if I’d known about the church bells that sound off every half hour. Did I mention the school playground across the street? The sound of twenty-one kids, screaming in unison, is eating away at my emotional foundation. And the ball wall! Why do they have to start practicing at six in the morning? I’m starting to act like Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace; I need my nerve medicine to calm my jitters. Help me! I’ve been plucked from my peaceful life up in West LA and plopped down in Yuhuppitsville.

I told Ann over and over that buying a place on a busy corner across from a school was a mistake. But she wouldn’t listen. She fell in love with this cute little Spanish Duplex on Orange Avenue with its quixotic arches, brown mahogany front door, pink stucco exterior, and red tile roof.

The plumbing situation is another story. I love taking showers. Every time I’m in the middle of one, our tenant Penelope, who lives downstairs with her three young kids, decides to use the water too. The thrill is gone when she turns on the washer, draws a bath, or flushes the toilet. The water pressure, flowing like a mighty river suddenly becomes a slow drip, drip, drip. If she thinks my music’s too loud, she’ll bang her broomstick against the ceiling to send the message. She even complains about our Siamese cat running around upstairs. Talk about supersonic hearing! Jeez! Just because she’s lived her for twenty years doesn’t mean she owns the place. Give me a break!

I’d never purchased this house if I’d known about the local gang that thinks nothing of breaking into my metallic blue Audi and stealing my stereo every other week. My insurance agent has stopped taking my calls. I’m sleeping outside on the upstairs deck, with one eye open. I want to catch these bastards red handed and make them pay!

That’s why tomorrow I’m setting our place on fire. I know just what to do. I’ve hired Ralph to fix a broken light switch in the kitchen. I’ve asked him to come over in the evening, after I know he’s finished his twelve-pack. I’m sure he’ll get the wires crossed.

When Ann is at school and Penelope and the kids are away, I’ll flip the switch, grab the cat, and run. Sparks will fly and smoke will fill the air. I’ll hide until I’m sure the place is engulfed in flames before calling 911.

When the fire chief asks me for my story, I’ll tell him. Shaking my head back and forth, I’ll say “I’m such a schmuck! I knew I should have never hired that no good, beer drinking electrician!”