Judy's MIRTH & MEANING BLOG
(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?
Dura Europos synagogue wall painting depicting Jews leaving Egypt. The work of art is in the public domain
More than 3,300 years ago, God swept the Jewish people out from slavery in Egypt, where we had toiled for 210 years. He did not wait for a United Nations resolution on the matter – the Almighty acted unilaterally, and for this, we are forever grateful. Remembering the Exodus from Egypt is so central to Jewish life that we mention it in our prayers every day.
It’s 2:37 a.m., and while the rest of my family sleeps soundly, I am agonizingly, tediously awake. This is not a novel predicament. It has been going on so long that nowadays, I want a good night’s sleep more than I want almost anything in the world. I want it more than I want my kids to stop using “like” every third word. I want it more than I want to write a bestselling book that will put me in the highest tax bracket imaginable. I want it almost as much as I want peace in the Middle East.
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.
While I was diligently working to make my face fit to be seen at a swanky restaurant, my husband became impatient. I don’t know why. I had been in the bathroom only for an hour and a half. When he reminded me that we were in danger of losing our restaurant reservation, I cracked open the bathroom door and assured him that I’d only need another ten minutes. Fifteen, max.
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