President Obama isn’t much of a church-goer, having dropped that practice after moving from Chicago, but he does take time to publicly commemorate various religious holidays in the White House. Mr. Obama has koshered the White House kitchen for Hanukkah celebrations and hosts annual Passover seders, complete with gefilte fish and matzo ball soup. He hosts Iftar dinners in the State Room for Ramadan. Naturally, he and the First Lady light the White House Christmas tree and host the Easter Egg Roll.
(Image used with permission from www.knockknock.biz)
(This essay of mine appeared in the Wall Street Journal on March 8, 2014 and is reprinted with permission.)
Limiting the number of plastic bags that can litter the landscape or clog the oceans is a worthy goal, but laws that begin with good intentions often have unintended consequences. Consider what’s unfolding in Los Angeles. On Jan. 1, the city became the largest in the nation to outlaw the use of free plastic bags in retail grocery stores. Customers who arrive at the market bagless are charged 10 cents for each plastic bag to hold their purchases.
But apparently going after grocery-store bags wasn’t enough: A California State Senate bill (SB 270) is now attempting to outlaw free single-use plastic bags in convenience stores, pharmacies and liquor stores statewide. While the bill needs to clear both state houses and get Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval, it would impose the same dime-a-bag fee on customers throughout the state beginning July 1, 2015. Larger stores would also be required to set up recycling bins for those bags made of polyethylene and other materials that begin with the prefix “poly.” One wonders: Why would customers recycle bags when they need them for shopping?
My husband and I found a gem of a little book while browsing the gift shop at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. It’s called George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation, (Applewood Books) and in 30 miniature pages it contains a wealth of wisdom. The language may seem quaint but the ideas are timeless. Our first president found the time to record these 110 rules at age 14, not being distracted by maintaining Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts.
If there’s one thing that really steams my potatoes, it’s so-called “health experts” who warn me against eating chocolate. Next to my Jumpy Java coffee, chocolate is one of my essential food groups, the others being frozen yogurt; hamburgers grilled medium rare and slathered with onions; spinach calzones; and fresh, lightly sauteed broccoli. After all, I believe in a balanced diet.
“How’d you like to join our weight loss competition?” my chiropractor asked me, even though I was wearing one of my most slimming outfits. I politely declined—the last thing I need in addition to a spine that needs weekly ironing is to enter a weight loss competition with other patients.
(This article—my first for the Wall Street Journal—was published there on October 12, 2013.)
I belong to a small studio-style gym in West Hollywood designed with exquisite attention to feel-good sensitivity. The studio describes itself as “affirmatively productive, positive and helpful” on its website. “Our clients are given all the tools necessary for personal transformation. Spread love!”
I feel sorry for anyone who has to fly a lot these days. Flying on airplanes used to be exciting adventures, but that was before you had to get X-rayed, frisked and yelled out by TSA agents, who are often as stupid as they are tyrannical. And it’s hard to feel excited about flying when airlines are so flinty that they charge us for taking on our own luggage, for goodness’ sake, not to mention food, headphones, and seats with more than eight inches of leg room. It won’t be long before they’ll charge for breathing oxygen in the cabin.
I’m lying on a mat at the gym, bored out of my mind but still keeping up with an endless loop of ab crunches. Joey, the perky new instructor, has us doing this at warp speed. You know, just to get the heart rate up. I keep stealing glances at the clock – has it only been eight minutes? Oral surgery seemed to go faster than this.
In honor of our nation’s 237th birthday on July 4th, I dedicate this post to Philadelphia. I recently visited Philly, where I hadn’t been since I was a child, so this trip was like seeing it for the first time. I had traveled to this historically and culturally rich city for business but carved out a little time for some whirlwind sightseeing. Taking that extra time was one of the best things I had done for myself in a long time.
For reasons that mystify me, not a single university invited me to deliver a commencement address this year. This, despite my having emailed more than 450 such institutions, alerting them to my availability and modest speaking fees. Sure, I may not be famous in the crude, “Entertainment Tonight” sense of the word, but I challenge those more illustrious guests to match my qualifications.