Search The World... In Briefs!

Friday, May 27, 2016



     So who are you caucusing with these days? The answer to that question seems to be of primary concern. But what is a caucus, and why are we so sad after one? I don't have too many opinions about politics, at least that I can share in mixed company. Instead I found myself curious about the actual nomination process.

     Most of the time, after all the primary elections are over, the delegates go to their party's convention, wear a bunch of silly-looking hats, hold up a sign with the name of their state on it and everybody goes home happy. There are a lot of balloons, more than at a "Kate Plus 8" birthday party. There are close-ups on the Jumbotron of fawning blonde attendees, rapt with attention during the speeches. This year at the Republican Convention, the delegates may arrive with a huge case of buyer's remorse.

     The 2016 Republican Convention may feature close-ups on the Jumbotron of men who feel disenfranchised, with that look on their face that asks, "Did you happen to notice what I did with my franchise???" Men who are wondering if their hands are big enough to be good Republicans.

     At their own convention, Democratic delegates will be thinking, "I really do NOT care for socialism, because the word itself makes it sound like I might have to invite people over and possibly clean the house." Regardless of your political affiliation, if you still have one after all this, there are things that you should know about the nomination process.

     A caucus differs from a primary election in that the process is an open debate held in person in each polling district of a state. During the Iowa Caucus neighbors in each precinct discuss the merits of their preferred candidates for 30 minutes and try to convince the others to endorse their choice. If after that time no merits are actually unearthed, they vote anyway. In some states, the delegates who attend the convention are bound to vote the way they did in the primaries or caucuses, and in others they are allowed to change their vote once they have had a chance to sober up. This approach would work less well in New York, where we do most of our caucusing with a two-by-four.

     There has been some talk of a "brokered convention," where no candidate finishes the primary process with a majority of delegates and the winner is decided by subsequent balloting. We used a broker when we sold our condo in Bedford Hills during the best "buyer's market" in decades. True enough, after paying off the bank and his fee, we were indeed broker than before.

     A "super delegate" is a Democratic party leader or state politician who is awarded an automatic seat at the convention and the privilege to vote for whatever candidate they wish, regardless of the choice their state is pledged to. A super delegate is so strong that he or she does not think to himself, "I wish I was from Iowa instead of Massachusetts, where the sign weighs a whole lot less."

     The process is confusing and fraught with political pitfalls. All I know is that at this moment, senior Trump campaign officials are hard at work trying to iron out their positions on tough issues to tackle if Hillary Clinton is their opponent in the general election. Namely, how will they broach the question of who's wife is hotter?

Friday, May 20, 2016



    I hope you and your family had a nice Easter Sunday this year, in whatever way you chose to celebrate it. Easter came and went at our house with a minimum of fuss, and only a few extra calories. The same could not be said at a mall in New Jersey, where a costumed Easter bunny went viral in a fistfight with an angry dad. At first I thought, "What is this world coming to?" And then I remembered what holidays were like at my house when I was growing up: six kids and a whole lot of candy- it's an explosive recipe that could far outstrip anything grown Easter bunnies can do at a mall.

    Back then my parents took us to a magic show and Easter egg hunt that they used to have at the Mount Kisco Country Club. I remember that even as a ten year-old, grown people performing magic tricks seemed a little silly to me. Pouring a pitcher of milk into a newspaper? That is nothing more than a great way to completely ruin breakfast- the newspaper is shot of course, and who wants to put milk in their coffee tasting like a bunch of bad news? And if you spill the milk? Well there's no use crying about that I guess.

    The Easter egg hunt didn't go much better. There were a bunch of plastic eggs hidden all over the grounds, and each one had a prize or a piece of candy in it. I know my Mom and Dad thought it would be fun for us, but the minute they blew that whistle, a zillion kids elbowed me out of the way and descended upon those eggs like a swarm of bees.

    And I have never been great at finding things, you can ask my wife. Where is the spaghetti sauce in the refrigerator? I've been looking for five minutes. It's right in front of my face, she tells me. That comment is of limited value, since I took the time to locate my face, and directly in front of it is NO spaghetti sauce. She comes in, moves a couple things around, and presto Prego! She holds it up to me so close I can read that it contains 13% of my daily requirement of potassium. NOW it's in front of my face, I call out to the back of hers.

    I think it might be fun to organize an REAL Easter egg hunt- If we're going to call it a "hunt" let's use actual guns and shoot at them! Maybe I haven't thought this through very well, but they shoot clay pigeons don't they? And where do you think clay pigeons come from? Clay eggs, duh. It certainly isn't any less sporting than "sportsmen" insisting that they need AK-47s to hunt deer.

    What if the whole controversy surrounding the Second Amendment to the Constitution was the result of a typo, and recently discovered manuscripts by Thomas Jefferson explained everything? "The weather here in the summer is much hotter than in Englande, and I am weary of our stricte dress code, which prohibits the wearing of shorte-sleeved garments. I am gratified that I had the foresight to include in our Constitution the right of all Americans to bare arms." Back then they stuck an extra "e" at the end of every other worde.

    Anyway, Easter is supposed to be about bunnies, not deer. It's a nice, wholesome family day. But I do note the irony of that little Hannibal Lecter moment where you bite the ears off the chocolate bunny first thing out of the gate. Thank goodness he can't hear what you're planning to do next, which is to chew his little candy eyes off. You ate him senseless!

    My favorites are those little eggs that have a malted-milk ball in the center. I could eat about a hundred of those. Every year my wife says she is going to cut down on the candy, but she can't take the crying and stomping. Plus, I convince her, eggs are a GREAT source of protein.

Monday, May 16, 2016



      I don't know about you, but I'm ready for some warm weather, and I know it wants to get here soon. But we're sending mixed signals- as I drive around Somers I see that there are many people proudly sporting their Christmas lights. If you are one of those people, and you already have your Christmas tree lit up for next year, I couldn't be more impressed with your alacrity and zeal. This is certainly a great time to rejoice in the upcoming holiday season. However, if you simply forgot to take the lights down, there may be a whole lot of other things you probably forgot to do, things that don't light up to remind you. I would start with last year's taxes.

      I'm hoping that global warming will raise our temperatures in time for Easter Sunday. It would be a welcome change from the nor'Easter Sunday we had a couple years ago. How do we know that spring is finally here? There are many signs, for those of us who are highly attuned to the rhythms of nature. Frogs are croaking, crocuses are crocusing. Today I heard the lovely call of the Eastern bluebird. It actually turned out to be somebody's cell phone, but the cell phone at least was blue. The tweeting of birds is everywhere, although somewhat drowned out by the tweeting of Donald Trump. 

      What is that springtime refrain I hear? Is it the praying mantis, sounding his mating signal? No, it's me sneezing incessantly. I am allergic to tree pollen, bush pollen, shrub pollen, cactus pollen and actress Tracy Pollan. The fact that I can sneeze 20 times in a row while completing the Sunday Times crossword puzzle is nothing to sneeze at. Come to think of it I may also be allergic to Will Shortz.

      I don't know how the tree pollen gets into my house in the first place- I dead-bolt the doors every spring and never open them unless I see two forms of ID, and I don't have any trees in my house. I do have a small cactus, which I have been trying to kill for three years by not watering it. Not only is that not working, but it has grown a new shoot in the middle that makes it look like like it's trying to communicate something to me in sign language.

      Another rite of spring: green food in the cafeteria where I work. It's disturbing to see green pizza, and I complain to the food service manager, assuming that it's been there for a few weeks. Of course, I had forgotten that it was St. Patrick's day, and everything is green whether you like it or not. I do not. I don't even like the fact that some vegetables are green in the first place. Even the cauliflower was green this year, thanks to a twitter campaign: #cauliflowersowhite

      And take a look over there, it's the colorful cardinal, showing off his plumage to attract a mate! All I know is that if I wore a bright red suit with a lot of feathers, mating season would be a whole lot different, certain questions would be asked, and possibly some Streisand music would be involved. Call me old-fashioned, but I don't need a lot of surprises during mating season.

      Everybody's mood has lifted with the spring thaw. Except my boss- I forgot to set my clock ahead this year and my alarm didn't go off in time. It's not totally my fault- some clocks in the house change automatically, like the computers and the cable TV, some things don't, and some I already changed THEN they sprung ahead automatically. Luckily, I have a biological clock that goes off around June.