Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Rooted In Judaism?

What Christmas Day Means To Me

Would Christmas even exist if it were not for the teachings of Rabbi Hillel the Elder (110 BCE-10 CE)?

Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus by Christians worldwide. In order to understand how Judaism may behind this religious holiday celebration we need to understand more about Jesus and what influenced his teachings through his upbringing.

It's no secret that a young Jesus went to synagogue in his formative years. Being a Galilean from Nazareth we can assume Jesus learned of the most predominate teachings of that time. Those of Rabbi 'Hillel the Elder'.

Most scholars link to the similarities of what Jesus later said and that of his earlier teachings of Rabbi Hillel. There are several examples. The most clear example was when Jesus said in Matthew 7:12- “do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”. This nearly parallels Rabi Hillel's words, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah;"

Another example from Luke 7:33, " Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.” This too reflects the same teachings Jesus was taught in synagogue by the words of Rabbi Hillel who taught, “Whoever would make a name loses the name… whoever makes use of the crown perishes.”

Rabbi Hillel also taught, "Pass not judgment upon thy neighbor until thou hast put thyself in his place." In Luke 6:37 Jesus spoke saying "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.”.

Where Jesus differed from his mentors was on women's rights. He also tended to be outspoken more so then any other rabbi of his day. As we all know this led to his crucifixion. It is at this point Judaism and Christianity separate paths. One line of religious thought is, had he not been crucified he would have went down in history as one of the great Rabbis. As a result of him dying on the cross he became martyrized. As such a whole new religion sprung up called Christianity. Thus giving birth to the Christian holiday called Christ-mas.

Where things get off base is when people tend to assume Jesus wanted a religion based on him rather then his teachings. I am of firm belief Jesus would not be well pleased and would discourage this. He thought of himself as a teacher and a prophet. Not someone separate or any more important to God then anyone else to whom he spoke. Nor that others couldn't do what he did.John 14:12-14 "Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these...".

John 10:34 "Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'?"

Psalm 82:6 "I said, 'You are "gods"; you are all sons of the Most High.'

Galatians 3:26 "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.."

What Christmas Day Means To Me
It's a day to reflect on Christ teachings. Not a day to worship the man. All too many of us focus on Jesus the man at Christmas and not on his teachings that he gave his Earthly life up for. It's quite clear Jesus' main purpose in life was to educate. Not to cultivate a new religion.

Call him a prophet. Call him a great Rabbi. Call him what you will, but we should understand he valued his words and deeds much more then he valued his own life. It is on this day we should be reminded to focus on these rather then Jesus the man. We should seek to emulate his teachings, the way he treated others and the things that he had done. I think he would want it that way.

I'll leave you with this NPR broadcast...

Christmas Eve Yule Log

Have a VERY Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Santa's vBlog

Merry Christmas Everyone

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Santa's Not PC!

Everyone remember this poem?"The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!"
So what's wrong with this picture?


[Associated Press December 13, 2012] "The self-published Pamela McColl of Vancouver, Canada, has a mission for her story, to protect children and their parents from the ravages of smoking. She mortgaged her house and sunk $200,000 into her telling of the 189-year-old holiday poem, touring the states..

McColl said she ran into supporters during her travels, including children who fret about Santa's health."

Oy Veh

Friday, December 14, 2012

Allen Organ's 2012 Christmas Concert

This is special to me. Because I had a background in electronics, I once worked at Allen Organ in the "Final Inspection Department" as a first inspector. Trust me when I say they produce one of the finest instruments made in the world. Talk about being fussy.. they absolutely were.

"Allen Organ Company recently held their 2012 Christmas Concerts on December 6th, 7th & 8th. These concerts are performed annually by Allen staff members, family members, and some associates. They have become a fixture in the Lehigh Valley, helping to get the holiday season started for many in the area.

Approximately 1,600 people attended Allen's 2012 Christmas Concerts. As is Allen's tradition, proceeds from the concerts were donated to local charities, this year divided between the Allentown Symphony Association, the Community Music School, and the Lehigh County Conference of Churches.

Organists Aram Basmadjian and Barry Holben utilize both an Allen Q475 Classical Organ and an Allen LL-324Q-SP Theatre Organ to play this familiar holiday tune."

Deck The Halls performed by Macungie Freight Train

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rail Transportation Study (Mine) II

Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr. wants to form his own task force to study rail travel. With that in mind I decided to do my own rail transportation study. Best part is, mine won't cost anybody a dime. Since I don't have horse in the race mine might be a whole lot less skewed then those who possibly stand to personally gain in some way with this tentative $659 million dollar project.

Side Note: After it's completion it is estimated to cost $11.7 million in operation deficits yearly, according to one study..

Inventorying What We Already Have Available
Bieber BusesBieber makes 13 trips from Kutztown between 3:45 AM and 9:30 AM with an additional 6 more up until 8:00 PM. I will focus on those commuter hours for purposes of this analysis.

Depending on the bus size, each bus holds from 49 to 56 passengers. For the sake of this discussion I'll use the figure of 50 passengers per busload. This means currently there are 650 seats available between 3:45 AM and 9:30 AM.

Anyone who has taken the Bieber into NYC also realize that they always have a standby backup bus to accommodate additional passengers if the need arises. On more then one of our trips into NYC, Bieber used the backup bus. Meaning more then 50 were accommodated on that regularly scheduled run. No one is denied a seat who wish to leave on one of the runs which are scheduled 15 minutes to 1/2 hour apart.
Trans-bridge BusesI will use the NYC runs that depart from their terminal in LVIP. They have 15 runs between 4:10 AM and 9:30 AM. So they are making another 750 seats availableThis brings about 1,400 riders into NYC daily.

My Conclusions
(1) Commuters who claim they are so interested in mass transit fail to use what is already available. They whine about the clogged conditions on I-78 but still insist on sitting in their cars. Why not get out of their cars right now and take the bus? It seems to me if your not using public transportation now, why would any of these be any more likely to take a train?

(2) If these drivers already don't like the bus, which in Bieber's case makes only one stop between Allentown and NYC, they certainly will object to a train making dozens of stops. Also considering they'd have to delay their travel even further by having to switch trains in New Jersey I simply don't believe they'd use this rail system.

(3) It is highly unlikely all 1,400 riders would switch from their current bus seats to board trains. So you'd need 1,000's of commuters into addition of those who presently use buses.

(4) Ask me why we should invest $659 million in a rail to High Bridge, New Jersey when you can drive the 20 miles into High Bridge, NJ only 28 minutes away and catch the train which is there already! Or from Allentown it's 42 miles in 52 minutes. Too far to drive you say..

(5) Well then drive to Hellertown or LVIP which is less then 10 miles from Phillipsburg. Sure beats driving from Allentown for the 91 miles for 1 3/4 hours into NYC yourself.

(6) Private bus company's are making profit from these runs. Why should taxpayers foot over $11 million every year in deficits when we already have efficient transportation that creates profitable jobs and businesses? Note that these didn't require millions in taxpayers' $'s for their initial startup costs.

(7) The rational is because people have moved to this area from the 'big city' there is now is a transportation need. Well people come and go. Housing developments move from time to time to other areas. Buses can reroute to serve those needs. Once those tracks are laid, they cannot be moved.

(8) Buses currently leave the terminal every 10 to 20 minutes during peak hours that fits the requirements of their ridership. How many trains would it take to schedule all these back to back departure times? The obvious answer it would be impossible.

(9) Here's a sample of what most likely the train schedule will look like. It's the old LVRR passenger train time table from 1952 (page 5).

Note on page #5 there were only three trains a day that left Allentown for New York City (5:18 AM, 6:49 AM and 9:09 AM). Each of the runs to New took between 2 hours and 25 minutes to 2 hours and 42 minutes. Consider that this was w/o switching trains in High Bridge, NJ. and to a third train going into New York City itself as the current plans are indicating.

My Final Thoughts On This Matter
From the standpoint of economic costs, travelers' commute times nor passengers' scheduling requirements, does any of this meet the criteria to bring this project to a successful conclusion.

Yes I would like to see passenger trains once again. But as long as drivers willing to sit 30 minutes waiting to get in the Lincoln tunnel. Driving around Manhattan for another 20 minutes to their $20 a day parking decks. You'd most likely have to pry their cold dead hands from their steering wheels before you'll get them on public transportation. Until buses can no longer handle capacity, then and only then could a see a need for alternative mass transit.

Fortunately I will always have yesteryear's memories of the gorgeous views from the train ride into NYC when I was a kid. It's sad, really.

Here is a video from 1955 when Jim Lantz retired from being the engineer of the famous Black Diamond train for Lehigh Valley Railroad

Here's Why The LVRR No Longer Exists

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Alternative Energy From Poop

There are naysayers who walk among us who are down on supporting alternative energy research. What if we could generate electric while getting rid of waste products that require even more energy to transport and process in order to avoid gunking up our land and streams? "Researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory are developing a mobile reactor they say will one day play a crucial role in helping people after natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy. The reactor can convert kitchen and bathroom waste into a high energy fuel that can be made at home and used to power generators during a power outage. Ben Gruber reports."

Video Courtesy "Reuters

Sometimes even a Sh**ty idea can be...
(Feel free to insert your own punch line.. I know ya wanna)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween At Knoebels 2012

~ REPOST With Updates ~No, I'm not getting paid to plug this.
No, I'm not affiliated with Knoebels
I like to support a family run business such as Knoebels and thought you might be interested.Owned and operated by the Knoebel (pronounced kuh-NO-bel) family.
Who also run a lumber operation next to the park.
* Free admission
* Free Parking

In 2012 "Hallo-Fun Nights" are..

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

VIDEO: RFID Credit Card Warning

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Today in History for October 6th

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dem' Jacksons Never Boring!


"JANET JACKSON is hiding a shock­ing secret from her fans – a $20 million wedding to her billionaire fiancĂ© ...

The 46-year-old beauty has secretly converted to Islam! "

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Origins of Labor Day

A series of short clips | The History Channel
Uploaded April 11, 2008

Video Courtesy "Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 689"
"A labor union representing 10,000 active and retired members
of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority."

U.S. Child Labor, 1908-1920
"A look at child labor in the early 20th century in the United States as represented through the photography of Lewis W. Hine. The film documents the use of child labor in industry, including the exploitation of children and the lower classes in American society."

Video Courtesy "Michael Jeffries"
"History and Humanities Instructor, graduate of Virginia Tech (B.A.) and James Madison University (M.A.); originally from the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia."

Information for the photographs can be found at "The History"

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Why A Woman's Work Is Never Done

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Bible Forbids...

Some Sunday thoughts...According to this article in the Huffington Post a few things the old testament in the bible forbids.."Tattoos- Leviticus 19:28 states: Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.

Getting Remarried- Mark 10:11-12 states: Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.

Working On Sunday- Exodus 31:14-15 states: "Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death

Women Speaking In Church- Corinthians 14:34-35 states: Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

Eating Shrimp, Lobster..- Leviticus 10-11 states: And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:

Losing Your Virginity- Deuteronomy 22:20-21 states: ... Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die:"

Personally speaking I've questioned whether "The Christian Bible" should include both the old testament with the new. Christianity began with Christ, who claimed to make all things anew.

The old testaments speak of a God that is demanding, vengeful, requires sacrifice, speaks of punishment by death and wars. The new testaments speak of an all forgiving God. One that is in total opposition to the other. How can you have one that is so diametrically opposed to the other and speak of the same God?

Therefore how does it make sense for Christianity to include both when one predates the other and is in total opposition?

The God of the new testament is all forgiving and loving of his children

Let's hope all that old testament nonsense is just that. As for me, I'd rather choose to believe in the latter.

What say you?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Allentown Pools- I Have A Plan

"The cost to close Fountain, turn Irving into a spray park and redo Cedar, Mack and Jordan was estimated at $10 million to $11.3 million, with those projects being done over the next seven years." MY PLAN:If the city is determined to choke up 10 or 11 million dollars, why not just buy qualifying city residents season passes to Dorney Park? The passes are good at both parks and currently cost individuals just over $100. I'm certain the city could negotiate a lower price in bulk. Even at $100 apiece 15,714 passes could be handed out each and every year for the next seven years.
(the intended time stated for completion of the project)
There a number of advantages:(1) The city eliminates their pool vandalism & legal liabilities. (2) Who wouldn't rather go to Dorney for it's rides & water park?(3) Why wait seven years to enjoy what can be had right now. (4) The city doesn't have to pay to maintain or for guards & security. (5) In seven years would we'd have to start all over again.I'm not all that hot about spending this kind of money in the first place, but if we're going to do it, might as well make it some place people really want to go. The city's already too heavily invested in the entertainment business. Leave it up to the professionals who do it better.
Anyone else see how few actually use the city's pools?
There's no way the city can compete. Today's population just doesn't sit around pools anymore. They haven't for some time. There'd certainly be less bored people hanging around the streets or the city pools on a hot summer day getting into trouble. People need to be kept occupied (entertained) or they get into trouble. That's a fact. You want to attract new people to Allentown? Want to help lesser fortunate inner city kids? Want to reduce vandalism and nuisance police calls? Want to provide the people a first class recreational area?
Offer them season passes to Dorney or at least a huge supplemental discount off season passes. If people object to the $11+ million intended to be spent on city pools, the city should ask themselves, how many folks do you think would still object if the city were to offer season passes to Dorney instead? I'd prefer we didn't spend this kind of money in the first place. But, if the city's so determined as to spend $11+ million, at least spend it on something a far larger number of people could get behind and will actually use. Don't even talk to me about funding not being available for this. We've all seen the magic happen when government planners get something in their heads time and again. Sports complexes, airports, casinos, entertainment venues, public TV construction, trails, private offices, hotels, restaurants and all kinds of other private business developments, etc. etc. etc. If not on this, then let us do none of those either. Those projects benefited a few well connected. At least this plan would actually be spent doing something for the people who benefited little or nothing from those.Except for the privileges of spending money on tickets or services to use them, the average person has received little or nothing in return.
Which Would You Rather? The Pool OR...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Most Awesome New Year's Eve Fireworks Ever!

London 2012

Video Courtesy "The BBC"