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

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.

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