Keyless Entry: The Movie

I am pretty good with technology. It all started with the Commodore 64 and I have tried to keep up ever since. It’s not that I know so much about technology. I’m just not afraid to press buttons till I get what I want. The goal is, and if this were a movie it would be a classic line of dialog, Never let the machine win. So it was especially humiliating when I locked my keyless entry fob in the trunk of my new car when I first got it.

My daughter and I had just shared a lovely meal. It was the sort of evening you flash back to when remembering the simple joy of being with those you love. We swapped eyeglasses and ate off each other’s plates in the kind of on-screen actions that establish the relationship between characters.

But the night was about to go from “It’s a Wonderful Life” to “The Matrix.”

After dinner, we went to the car. I opened the trunk just by touching it; this was doable because I had the key fob in my purse. I put my purse in the trunk as did my daughter. And here we would cut to a shot of our purses strewn in the trunk because it is essential to the plot that we don’t have cab fare.

You see, as long as the fob is on your person, you have security access to open the doors and operate the vehicle. So I figured putting the fob in the trunk was covered.

Not so fast, Private Benjamin.

Before I closed the trunk, my daughter said ominously, “Get the key.”

Next came my famous line, “We don’t need no stinking key.” (Sound effect of trunk slamming shut.)

A slow-motion sequence played in my mind with garbled sound as I went to the driver’s door and pulled the handle. It normally releases to a sequence of lights, beeps, and screens like something out of “War Games.” But this time…nothing. I was locked out of my brand new keyless car. The access code, which can be entered on the exterior door panel at times like this, was stored in my smart phone—you guessed it—in my purse. In that moment my phone was smarter than I was. The code eluded me and I didn’t have on my ruby slippers.

Fortunately, we used one technology to save us from another. My daughter had her phone in her coat pocket. I called the Ford dealer to get the access code. He asked for my Social Security number and the cat’s name. But when he told me the code my face contorted into a quizzical double take.

“Is that some kind of dealer master code?” I asked.

“No, lady, that is the only entry code for your car,” he said, evidently forgetting that he was speaking with Sigourney Weaver.

I instantly knew that the number he gave me was wrong. Like Jason Bourne, I recalled that my real code was an even number that contained two prime numbers followed by an integer and its square. I just couldn’t remember what those numbers were.

I fatalistically entered the dealer’s code into the car door as violins from the “Psycho” soundtrack screeched in my head. I yanked the locked door handle to no avail and did a Harold Lloyd impression, running around the car trying to open every door.

At this point I was in a dream sequence with my own mother invoking one of those Yiddish expressions that sounds like she is about to spit. “It’s bashert. It’s destiny,” I heard her say in a gauzy sepia tone.  Suddenly, her face morphed into Obi-Wan Kenobi. The force would soon be with me. The dealer was on his way to take us home and retrieve the other key fob. (Like Meg Ryan’s fastidious Sally, I had put a lockbox on the front door so we could always get into the house.)

I waited for our ride with the resolve of Sarah Connor. The machine would not win; it was a tie. The power of technology equaled my mastery of it. But why did this ill-fated episode happen? I imagined, in menacing handheld footage, that the delay was for some greater good. Would we have gotten into an accident if not for this diversion in our travels through Middle-earth?

“It’s bashert. It’s bashert,” I heard in an echo chamber. As God is my witness, I will never leave the key fob in the trunk again.

America the Beautiful

Oh beautiful for denim skies,

the oceans green with envy.

The West so near.

The East so far.

Mexico and Canada

come close but no cigar.

They can’t forget the Indian

or England.


America, your enormity,

your typical nonconformity.

The union of separatists

formed your independence.


America, your exiled immigration.

Your truth self evident:

United States of

uncontrolled experiment

to see

if we

can ever

live together.

Digitized We Fall

Photo credit: GBlakeley

If the nation is divided, blame computing. A nation digitized against itself cannot stand. When we invented the computer we started down a slippery slope by reducing information to data—a series of binary on/off switches. Everything became zero or one, plus or minus, yes or no…us or them.

In the process of digitizing information, we have also distilled knowledge and understanding to extremes. Once you express ideas in absolutes, the next step is to think that way. Life imitates information. So now we have red states and blue states and politicians pandering to their “base,” which is not really the base at all but the fringe. We’ve got a left wing and right wing but the body politic is missing its core.

Remember the proverbial pendulum that would dependably swing back when things got out of hand? That grandfather clock has been replaced with a digital readout. It’s not just a metaphor. Technology changes how we view information. Sure, a digital watch tells exact time—it’s 11:47:03. But precision is no substitute for context. The reliable hands of an analog clock pointed to the hour in relation to the day. We saw what time it was and what time it wasn’t.

No more. Today we calculate but we don’t figure. We advance but don’t progress. Taking things to extremes, the Internet connects like-minded people so they can communicate, commiserate, coordinate, instigate. This gives radical causes a louder voice. The media comply with publicity in a quest to sensationalize events into big stories. Everything achieves “controversy” status. We used to have talking heads but now they shout.

Through this polarized filter we see the world as a snapshot but not the whole picture, like a digital photo distorted by poor resolution.

Why do we reduce, produce, record and convey information in this way? Because it’s easy, fast and cheap. Where will it end? We need only look at our digital devices to know: We’re going to crash. That’s because digital and electronic systems function perfectly or not at all. It’s everything or nothing. A mechanical system on the other hand, like an old model automobile, undergoes a graceful degradation. It gradually becomes less efficient until it peters out. In the past, you could always prop the carburetor open with a pencil. But in the electronic world of black boxes, we have no role in how the car runs and little advance warning before it dies completely. This total system failure is what engineers call catastrophic degradation.

Depending on machines is frightening enough. Let’s not allow how we think to depend on them too.

Rebirth of a Nation

[Illustrators: Sudowoodo, terdpong pangwong]

I want to have a little talk with you about the birds and the bees. As you know, right now, your body politic is going through an awkward transition that brings with it strange desires, excitement and also feelings of uncertainty.

You may have noticed changes taking place that you didn’t expect and don’t understand. I want you to know that everything is going to be okay. We all go through this and it is perfectly normal, and in many ways a beautiful thing.

Remember when you were little and I told you that Republicans were made of frogs and snails and puppy dog tails, and Democrats were made of sugar and spice and everything nice? Well sometimes these two very different types of people come together and even go out with each other. I know you think this sounds pretty gross and you’re right to make that face.

But the reason we come together is to create a new nation, conceived in liberty. Remember when Fluffy had kittens? It’s the same idea. You see, it’s a natural cycle. Every four years we have an election. Don’t be embarrassed. These are the facts of life. In the election the Democrat meets the Republican. Then, a few months later, there’s a new birth of freedom as your Uncle Abe would say.

I know it all sounds very weird right now. When you grow up, after you are old enough to register to vote, you will meet a candidate and fall in love and make a new nation together too. I guess what I’m trying to say is, even though it doesn’t seem like it now, you will get through these growing pains, and when you do, things will get a lot better. I promise.

So now you know where you came from—you came from people. If you have any questions, ask your forefathers.

Gefilte Fish: A Poem

Illustration: michaarcher

Gefilte fish is not a fish.
Gefilte fish is a dish.

You can put it in the skin.
But it won’t be a fish agin.






Kirk Douglas and The Forverts

Remember the movie “Hester Street”? It was based on the writing of Abe Cahan, who was editor of the Yiddish newspaper, The Forverts (The Forward).  The link above is to a funny story about it as told to my daughter…

Kirk Douglas

On this occasion of his passing, take a moment to hear Mr. Douglas in 2002 singing in Yiddish when he received a lifetime achievement award. The song is Mayn Yidishe Meydele, My Jewish Girl, link below. You won’t believe his eloquent speech and presentation despite suffering a stroke. Such a poignant reminiscence perhaps only a gifted actor could convey.

Olev hasholem.

From Oy Vey to Olé: Lox, Eggs and Onion Frittata

This recipe solves an inherent problem with the classic recipe. You can scroll down below the recipe to read why.

Lox, Eggs and Onion Frittata


-6 eggs*

-1 medium onion, sliced thinly

-Nova (smoked salmon), about one slice per egg, cut into hearty pieces

-Fresh dill

-Black Pepper

-Light olive oil (and/or butter, optional)

-Cream cheese (optional)

*(2 servings, adjust quantities proportionately for your family)

This frittata is first cooked on the stove top then finished in the broiler: If your broiler is within the oven, position an oven rack up high, allowing room for your fry pan.

Heat olive oil and/or butter in an oven-ready fry pan. Saute the onions till they begin to brown. Add lox and cook briefly till opaque. Spread lox and onions evenly around the pan, minimizing flaking of lox pieces. Whisk eggs and pour in. Cook on stove top till eggs are almost set; the top will remain uncooked. Garnish with dill. Dot with cream cheese. Turn on broiler. Place pan under broiler for a minute or two to cook the top and brown and puff up the frittata, watching at all times to ensure it does not burn. Use oven mitt to carefully remove pan from broiler, and place on stovetop for a secure base. Use a spatula to gradually scrap around and under entire frittata with care so it can be removed from pan and served. Voila!

The story: Lox and eggs and onions (always plural with ands between!) is a classic breakfast combo, typically made with Nova and not actual lox. But it is basically scrambled eggs, resulting in a delicious but unappetizing looking meal. You don’t want an omelet because the lox and onion should be spread throughout the egg mixture and not concentrated as a filling. You could try cooking on the stove top, then flipping it, but that’s messy. The solution is to make a frittata cooked or finished in the oven, a beautiful, puffy preparation that solves the problem of an undercooked top. It does take some care to get the frittata out of the pan.

Counter top cookware note: A frittata can also be made in an air fryer with a round cake pan insert.

Christmas Cards

The holidays have just begun,
I see your card and raise you one.
Let’s go shuffle through the malls,
Look for deals to deck the halls.

I’ll bet that on this holiday
People still use layaway, and
Christmas clubs for shopping carts
With diamond gifts to meld our hearts.

In my hand I hold three kings.
Oh what joy a full house brings!

You Can Take the Girl out of Brooklyn, but…

You can’t take the Brooklyn out of the girl. (I know that “The Bronx” would have worked a lot better in this borrowing but I am not from there.)

Now I ask you, what does the sign, spotted on the Belt Parkway, mean? Does it mean you are leaving Brooklyn so you can just forget it? Or, my interpretation, you are never really leaving Brooklyn behind. To put it another way, “Fuhgeddaboudit? Fuhgeddaboudit!”