Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Latest Book Adventure

One of the scholarly pursuits I enjoy is arguing Constitutional law. Yeah I am a big law geek. Can't help myself. So it should come as no surprise that everytime a Supreme Court Justice writes a book I read it, well with exception of anything written by Justice Thomas. He may be on the Supreme Court but I still remember the Anita Hill hearings and I won't give that man one more penny of my money than which of my tax dollars happens to pay his salary.



Meanwhile, I have read everything byJustice Sandra Day O'Connor and Justice Stephen Breyer. Recently Justice Antonin Scalia came out with a new book all about how to read and analyze law, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.

It is a look into the mind of one of our most prolific and "conservative"  justices. He dissects the different ways to interpret law and breaks everything down into succinct blocks. It looks like its going to be an interesting read...Yes I said looks like. Something tells me this book is going to take awhile to read through and absorb, which is fine. It's well over 600 pages

For example, the preface of the book opens up with a quote from Justice John Marshall...

"Where the mind labours to discover the design of the legislature, it seizes everything from which aid can be derived; and in such case the title claims a degree of notice, and will have its due share of consideration."

Well at that point my brain began to hurt and I had to put the book down for a minute or two....yeah its going to take more than an afternoon to get through this book. But I am always up for a challenge and hey I might even learn something along the way.

Here is Scalia as he appeared last weekend on Fox News Sunday.




Qi en Pace,


Elise

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Book Review: Judgment Call

I know, I have been on a reading riff lately. It just so happens that many of my favorite authors have released their summertime books all within weeks of each other. The latest good read is by J.A. Jance, Judgment Call.

Jance writes the Sheriff Joanna Brady series. Her latest novel  finds our heroine, the twice elected sheriff of a small town in Arizona, facing a rather puzzling murder mystery. The victim, the highschool principal, seems to live the life of a nun. A semi-nun, by the way, who never goes on line, has no email and never heard of social media. A woman who has no known family, no known friends and no known acquaintances outside of her job. To make matters even more frustrating it seems that Joanna's daughter is caught up in some typical highschool drama, which actually gets in the way of solving the homicide. In the meantime, Joanna also learns about a long ago death, that has implications for her, her family and several prominent people in her very small town.

Yes I like this series because the hero is a woman. A strong woman, who obviously has a supportive spouse, teenage daughter issues and a rambunctious toddler thrown into the mix. In other words, the character lives a real life. And as a true modern woman, she has learned that she can't have it all, but what she does have, she appreciates. She is also that law enforcement officer who  excels at doing the right thing. Something we all aspire to.

You can go back to the beginning of the series and enjoy the character developments; the love triangles; the parent-child relationships; the town upheavals and politics. Or you can dive right into this latest novel. Happily Jance writes her stories so people can understand her characters without needing to delve into their literary past. But make no mistake if you choose to start at the very beginning it will definitely be a worthwhile dalliance.

Qi en Pace,


Elise



Sunday, July 22, 2012

Needlepoints and Creating Treasures

I used to frequent the needlepoint store in my hometown. I loved their canvasses and the fact that they used old fashioned yarn for their projects. I was truly at a loss when they closed up shop and moved to the hinter lands of Connecticut. I then went on line and found the Elizabeth Bradley website and created numerous pillows out of her beautiful canvasses. I had wanted to create one of her "rugs" but unfortunately everything got truly messed up. I ended up throwing the project away....I know cringe....but sometimes I get so frustrated that is truly my response. Not proud of that...but there you are.

Rose Canvas

After that sad episode, I decided to try my hand at knitting. And as anyone who knows me knows, when I put myself into something I practice and work at the craft until I get it right. So for years I knitted and created: hats, socks, sweaters, coats, scarves, blankets, layette sets, etc. You name it, I knitted it. Both for my family, my parents, for Project Linus, Soldiers Angels and Operation Gratitude. Recently though, I have had enough.

I had bought yarn with the idea that I would knit a layette for a friend and I just couldn't do it..I looked at that yarn and felt nauseous. I told her to let me know where she was registered and I would buy the baby something they wanted instead. She didn't mind. Honestly she might have even been happier, since I took something off their "need" list.

Happily, I just sent the yarn off to Operation Gratitude so others could knit scarves for our service personnel. But I have gotten bored. Yes I have been reading alot....Yes I like to write and have three blogs now. This one, my autism blog and a political blog (warning if you read it, it is center right on foreign affairs and pretty liberal on social issues). Still something was missing....I needed another type of creativity to keep me happy.

So I have returned to needlepoint. I found this terrific website called NeedlepointUS. They have the most wonderful tapestries from Europe with every theme imaginable. They use a different wool then I had been used to, but I am learning how to sew with it and the projects look really nice.

Actually I now have two projects that I am working on. I initially was very ambitious and bought a wall hanging of the Lady and the Unicorn. It has proven rather unwieldy and frustration did set in. However, I held my own and didn't throw this canvas out. I have packed it away for another day. In speaking to the website's owner, she implored me not to toss it and that if I had real problems they have people that would finish or fix it for me.....I am going to wait, stay calm, and maybe once I finish a smaller piece I will return to this overambitious project.

I wanted a light hearted canvas.  I bought something bright, sunny and fun. I chose a smaller albeit not tiny  picture with beautiful colors that is a reminder of spring. Here is what I have begun....


Vase de Fleur



This is what is waiting for me in the wings......



The Lady and the Unicorn


I see busy fingers in the years to come.


Qi en Pace,


Elise

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Book Review: The Fallen Angel


For those that love espionage, mysteries and international politics thrown into the mix, the latest by Daniel Silva is a great read. The next installment  in  Silva's Gabriel Allon series, The Fallen Angel, does not disappoint. Allon is oft compared to another fictional hero, the incomparable Jack Bauer of 24 fame. Meanwhile for Silva fans, there is also a Gabriel Allon movie in the works.



In this latest installment,  our Israeli-super-spy is thrown into the middle of a possible Vatican scandal. This seemingly isolated incident ends up taking Allon on a ride from Catholic politics to stolen antiquities, to funding of Hezbollah terrorists. Along the way Allon once again stops numerous terror attacks, kidnaps an Iranian terror mastermind and brings down an arch international criminal enterprise. All done to the backdrop of gorgeous European vistas and the world's holiest sites.

Hezbollah rally in Beirut
One of the more intriguing aspects of Mr. Silva's works is how he mixes real fact to make his stories seem to jump right out of the news pages. In this episode he brings in the latest struggle between Jews and Palestinians....historical reality. He discusses not only the advent of Holocaust denial by the Arab world, but the latest attempt to delegitimize the Jewish State with the  ignoble ignorance of Temple denial. The new and rather insulting move by the Arab and Moslem world to deny that the Temple of Solomon ever existed and that the Jews have no claim to Jerusalem.  It is why archeological digs are so important. These sites prove beyond a doubt that  David's City actually existed and that the Jews are  indigenous to the area. It is as one of the characters describe so eloquently "a new form of war."


What the reader also learns about in this novel is the extent of the criminal corporation known as Hezbollah. Silva takes his readers on a journey into the underbelly of terror funding and how the European continent is ground zero. We learn about the extent of  the Iranian terror network and the easy with which they operate. 
 
It is one thing to read about terror and the Iranian connection in a novel. It is quite another issue to have your novel come to life. Yesterday, Iranian operatives blew up a bus full of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. Weeks earlier Hezbollah operatives had been arrested planning terror incidents against Jews and Israelis throughout the EU. Yesterday was also the anniversary of the bombing of the Buenos Ares Jewish Center which killed over 90 people. Argentine investigators linked that bombing directly to Iran.


I have to admit, it is very disconcerting when a novel comes to life. It is odd to juxtapose make-believe and the news. I had to keep reminding myself which story is fake and which is real...It is indeed off-putting when the two worlds meld together, especially when the stories are about hate and evil. Yet the reality is what people need to understand. In many ways this novel is a good lesson for the reader. While we may want to escape and read about inane and foolish things, we know deep down inside that a shadowy world exists. It is those few brave souls that inhabit this world of specters that truly stands between us, evil and oblivion. 


This is the world of Gabriel Allon. He is a fictional character dedicated to protecting freedom and liberty and the lives of the innocent.  But in the back of your mind you know that there are real life Allons, as there are real life Jack Bauers, out there. And yes sadly, as we see, they cannot be perfect all the time. All they can really do is their best. To them I want to say thank you. It's the least they deserve.





Qi en Pace,




Elise

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Prada and Schiaparelli Together At Last

Evening jacket 1937


 I admit it, I am late to this exhibit. ...

If you are in New York City, go right over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is a terrific exhibit by the Costume Institute. They take two icons of fashion, Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada,  and juxtapose some of their most famous creations. It is very interesting to see just how much "new" fashion plays off the classics. Honestly I found myself loving the Schiaparelli clothes alot more than Prada..however, there was this one flapper style dress by Muccia that was just magnificent. (The purple dress below.)






From the Met

One of the more enchanting parts of the exhibit was how the two designers discuss their fashion philosophies. Of course you couldn't have Schiaparelli actually partake, since she passed away in 1973, but they had the incomparable Judy Davis play her in the vignettes.

Then for those who love true extravagance and artistic flair in their clothes be prepared, because the exhibit was actually staged by Baz Luhrman of Moulin Rouge fame ....



and the upcoming remake of The Great Gatsby.




The exhibit is available for one more month, until August 19.

Qi en Pace,



Elise

Yeah I came home with the book of the exhibit and the refrigerator magnets too...couldn't help myself.




Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book Review: Night Watch

I just finished the latest book by Linda Fairstein called Night WatchThe title is a play on a very famous painting by Rembrandt. Ms. Fairstein specializes in high crime murder mysteries that brings in interesting historical and social details. Once again, she did not disappoint.

Her female protagonist, Alex Cooper, is a top notch assistant district attorney for Manhattan. Her specialty is sex crimes. The expertise that Alex shows is the real life expertise of the author. Ms. Fairstein started the sex crimes unit at the Manhattan district attorneys office, which became the prototype for these departments nationwide. (Some of us are old enough to remember a criminal justice system devoid of Ms. Fairstein's innovations.) So the court scenes, the crimes, the law and how the DA deals with victims and perpetrators is staight from true life.

This particular addition to the Alex Cooper series takes place on two continents. You begin in the south of France, where of course Alex ends up in the middle of a murder mystery; to Manhattan Island where the possible future President of France is drawn into high profile sex crime (sound familiar? Think DSK.); to the new age of drug smuggling, which by the way, has nothing to do with South and Latin America.  The legal machinations, tabloid exploitation and political expediency of the event is laid out clearly for the reader. The time and effort the lawyers, police and forensic experts take in caring for the victim, while trying to elicit the truth of the matter, makes you feel comfortable that our legal system really does work and is staffed by descent and honest people. Fairstein takes you on an interesting journey.

What is also thought provoking,  is how she resolves the outcome of the alleged rape. This, of course, leads you to believe that this is probably why DSK was sent back to France, instead of living out his life in a maximum security prison in New York State. Certainly you could assume it is all conjecture on her part. It is afterall a novel. Yet having been a prosecutor for decades, the author has an idea of what may or may not inhibit a case's presentation in a courtroom.

The other entertaining aspect of her novels are the historical details, including a slice of life that you would never think about. In this case it is the "star-rated" restaurant business. She takes you into the highly competitive and driven orbit of the world's gourmands, all of whom require perfection in their food, drink, atmosphere and experience. Furthermore, you are brought into the era of  prohibition's rapscallions, learning the secret effect this period had on the NY restaurant industry. Needlesstosay, as a self-proclaimed history buff, I found this all quite alot of fun.

If you are looking for a quick paced exciting story, one that will keep you guessing to the end, I recommend this book as the perfect summer novel. Actually, I read it in one afternoon...just couldn't put it down.


Qi en Pace,



Elise






Tuesday, July 10, 2012

3-D Sidewalk Art


This is a picture from the first International 3-D Pavement Drawing Festival in Israel. Read about it HERE.

You have to look real close to see what is actually going on. I was taken aback for a moment until I realized that the entire picture is really one dimensional. It's just amazing.....


Qi en Pace,


Elise


Feel Good Film of the Day: Baby Pandas at Play



Thank Brilliant-computer-sis for this one. She sent it to cheer me up....me being ear-infection-grumpy-person.

Yeah it worked.

Qi en Pace,


Elise

Ear Infections Are No Fun Especially When the Doctor is an Ass

Oh,  I came down with an ear infection last week. Pain... OMG.

I called my doctors office.

The receptionist asked which one of my docs was my regular physician. I told her. Oh he wasn't on call that day. Well I can see anyone I told her. She told me to hold. She came back on the phone, apparently after speaking to the office manager or the doctor on duty and told me...

They had no room for me and was sending me to urgent care instead or I could wait until tomorrow to see a different doctor. Excuse me? You tell a longtime patient that the doctor can't see you even if you are in pain. That you can go run around looking for a place in another town half an hour away or wait another day to see one of their doctors.....remember the operative word here  is "ear pain"....oh no I don't think so...

The receptionist said if "I didn't know which I wanted I could always call back once I made up my mind."

I told her that she can rest assured "I wasn't going to fucking ever call back"...Yeah not the best way to handle the situation but you know pain is pain and tough nuts to this unfeeling bitch...

I kept hearing her say...."excuse me...excuse me"... as I hung up the phone.

Hubby did offer to take me to the emergency room of our local hospital at that point.

However, before sitting for five hours in the emergency room I decided I would call the boys' pediatrician and asked if they could recommend someone for me. (They are part of this huge doctor group that includes all disciplines of medicine.) Got a name. Called.

Lo and behold they were able to fit me in and had someone see me. Yes I had to wait 1 and 1/2 hours, but they didn't turn me away. They didn't know who I was. They had no record of me. But they heard I was in pain and they found a place for me.

Once in the patient room, the visit took all of five minutes. (Too bad the old doctor didn't have the time....shmucks.)

Doc looked in my ear. Yep big infection. I told her what antibiotics work best for me. She wrote the prescription. I shook her hand and told her it was nice to meet her.

She is now my new doctor.

Do doctors not understand that customer service is important and helping people is their job?

By the way, this is not the first time I had issues lately with this office. This is just the last straw.


Qi en Pace,


Elise




Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cinderella's Glass Slipper Goes Couture

Louboutin does it again...taking an iconic fairytale image and turning it into  the must have shoe of the season. Only 20 pairs will ever exist. Can you just imagine the shoeaholics scrambling to be one of the "chosen ones"?

The Cinderella shoes are covered in lace and Swarovski-crystals to create an illusion of transparency.



Qi en Pace,


Elise

Positive Tweet or Post Day

I have come to the realization that so much that we put on social media is very negative. I know that we use twitter and facebook and our blogs to vent. It quite frankly is what keeps us mentally healthy at times. But I think there comes a time when you overload on negativity too. So I have declared today, at least for me #positivetweet and #positivepost day. Here are some of my latest....













And here's just one from my political profile...




I also find that people become bogged down by the challenges of our differences instead of how our differences make this a better world.







Think up some positive tweets of your own and share them with everyone. Spread the positive energy.

Qi en Pace,


Elise

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Good Luck Charms and a Birthday Wish for the USA

I admit it I am superstitious. Not the superstitious where you are afraid to break a mirror, have a black cat cross your path or walk under a ladder. Well the ladder issue is not superstitious that's just being cautious. Let's talk reality here, do you want crap falling on your head from whatever the handymen are working on when they are standing on a ladder? No I didn't think so...

Anyway, as you walk into my house you are greeted with things that I think bring luck into our abode...My version of Feng Shui.

You are greeted with a mezuzah on my front door. Jewish households are commanded to remind themselves of God's presence..inside you will find a portion of Deuteronomy....handwritten according to religious law as outlined in the Torah.

This mezuzah is made out of Jerusalem stone. It is a replica of one of the Gates of the Old City.

Then you will see the following items in my foyer:

Tree-of-life Hanukkah menorah. The tree of life is another name for the Torah. What Christians call the Old Testament.



Hamsa... the crystal engraving ..also known as a "Yad or Hand of God." The blue stones are from Turkey (a present from a friend). They too are Hamsas. The blue is meant to keep the evil eye away. If you travel through Arab countries you will find that many of their doorways are painted blue as well. The Crusaders by the way were characterized by blue-eyes. You do the math.



Chinese-Lucky bamboo. I have had this plant for almost six years now. So far so good.....




This is my Ketubah- my Jewish marriage certificate. The words used in the Ketubah are thousands of years old. While many in today's day and age choose to write their own Ketubah with a more modern imprint, we chose to go the traditional route. Actually the ketubah is the first known written document outlining a women's rights in marriage. It is actually the first object in direct line of sight when you open the frontdoor. By the way, it sits next to hubby's chair.




But ultimately the absolute first thing you notice when you come to my front stoop is this......





People need to be reminded just how lucky they are to be free and once in a while it wouldn't hurt to remember the price that has been paid for that freedom too.







 By the way...HAPPY BIRTHDAY USA....forever may you be that shining light upon the hill....




Qi en Pace,



Elise