The Fall Cometh

Reading on my balcony in Deerfield, every few minutes my eyes are drawn skyward to the sound of a jet, or of a southbound flock of Canadian Geese.

Autumn has sneaked into the Midwest. Hopefully it will grace my home shores of the Strawberry Coast soonish.

I don’t find many here in Illinois who share the sentiment, and I acknowledge that my joy at the coming of Fall is colored by the mild and pleasant winters of the California Coast rather than the lake effect blizzards that punctuate the season hereabouts. 

For me, the sharpening chill of October evenings makes me think of sweaters, thick socks, and a good book with a cup of something hot. It means fast boat rides on windy chop, migrating whales, and the constant tang of the Pacific in the air. It means comfortable camping in tent and RV, a banket across my legs before the campfire is kindled.

It is meals in a Sukkah, a giddy dance with the Torah, the ranks of children knocking on our door on Halloween, Thanksgiving dinner, Chanukah lights, carols, movies, and school breaks with my son. It is the World Series, my son’s basketball schedule, and bowl games. 

Fall is first and foremost an affirmation of life in the maw of the oncoming chill. And for that it will ever be my favorite season.

Fly on, old friends, I think as another flock honks southward. May you find peaceful flyaways far from the engines of airplanes.


Theft in progress

When you bring your entire team into a Starbucks in the morning, take up all the seats, don’t buy anything, and drive the other patrons away, you are committing theft from the proprietor as sure as you are if you are shoplifting.


Special Meals

One big upside of ordering Kosher meals: the little extra bit of TLC it affords me from the cabin crew on a long overwater flight.



When traveling, I always try to sample local cuisines, and I have yet to find a reason to exclude fast food from that maxim, provided that I can avoid pork, shellfish, and the mixing of dairy and meat. When in New York, I tried Shake Shack; in Tianjin, I enjoyed jian bing; in San Diego I developed a love for Mexican fast food, and in Los Angeles, the food trucks.

In Texas, we are offered Smash Burger, Whataburger, and Sonic. Yes, these choices are available elsewhere, but they’re difficult to find in California, so we sampled.

The results were not unsatisfying, but they did little to edify our diets or our spirits. If anything, I came away from this trip more convinced than ever that my long-term trajectory to a greater observance of Jewish dietary law was the right path – as much for my heart as for my soul.


Scheduling Fail of the Month

I find it ironic that whoever came up with National Grilled Cheese day did it in the middle of Passover.


Kosher Nostra in Tokyo


Tsukiji Hongan-ji
Tokyo, Japan
December 23, 2006

Guarding a lady (Paris Hilton, who was either a genuine lady or on her most gracious and classy behavior that day.)

This was the launch of the Motorola RAZR handset in Japan, just in time for the holiday. It was a massive pink tent in the courtyard of Chuta Ito’s elegant Tsukiji Temple, the venue and its setting creating an incredible contrast of the modern and the classical, the western and the eastern, the temporary and the permanent, and the earthly and the heavenly.

I think I subconsciously understood and appreciated all of this at the time, but I was really focused on making sure the event went smoothly (we had around 1,000 guests) while feeling deeply guilt-ridden about doing it on a Shabbos. It was also the heart of ten days away from home and family, capping off a total of a month’s worth of trips to Tokyo from Beijing to ensure everything went smoothly.