Facebook, taxes, and new opportunities

In General Information on June 13, 2011 at 10:17 am

Day Fourteen of Our Meatless Shugyo


No, the effort was not born out of asceticism.  One should always eat according to one’s financial ability.  The Talmud cautions us, “A rich man who eats only hard bread and salt will come to believe that the poor can subsist on a diet of stones.”  This week, Torah reminded us how, during the Exodus, the Hebrew people longed so desperately for meat (instead of the mannah they ate in freedom) that they pined for the “good old days” back in Egyptian bondage.  Consequently, G-d sent meat, in the form of wayward flocks of quail, in such abundance that the people sickened of it as the meat rotted between their teeth.


I hope the effort will prompt invention born of necessity as I plan and prepare daily meals that are absent of meat.  The celebratory steak at the conclusion of our shugyo will, no doubt, will be delightful…appropriately eaten on American Independence Day.


Fade…and dissolve


When I launched Phyne Dyning last October, I also launched its page on Facebook.  We had toyed a bit with Facebook pages of our own until a long-time friend, whom we “invited” to the social media scene made this observation:


“You have to admit there is something a bit cloying and more than pathetic about people our age posting their every move and thought on Facebook…like angst-driven teens.”


We took down our pages the following day.


Sixty-five percent of high school students sincerely believe they will be famous during their lives.  As nighttime comic and variety host, Jimmy Kimmel, observed:


“And so they shall.  Each of them already has a Facebook page and a Twitter account.  Think of it as “micro-fame.”


Devotees of social media probably do not recognize the similarity between the CB radio craze of the late 1960s and early 1970s and online social media.  The CBer’s “coffee break” morphed into “Tweet-ups” and “10-4 good buddy” morphed into “OMG”, “LOL”, and “BFFs”.


The CB craze eventually died and its accoutrement phraseology became campy and kitsch stereotypes for the decade when rock music died and hipness re-emerged as conspicuous consumerism.


Phyne Dyning will keep its Facebook page, but only in a brownout format.


Rendering to Caesar


During a break in last night’s newscast, a helpful public service announcement informed me:


Just because it is summer and school is out, does not mean your children cannot still have a free, nutritious lunch.”


YIKES!  Are parents so obsessed with buying more “stuff” that they do not have time to make lunch for the kids?  What do kids make of their place in the family when “Mom” and “Dad” appear to care more about buying things they cannot afford…to impress people they do not like?


Or, is it less about consumerism than it is about rendering to Caesar?


Recent articles in the Des Moines Register stated that local property owners would see hikes in property taxes.  One estimate placed the hike at about $140 more annual taxes on a $100,000 home.


According to the Register, in another article, the average sale price of a Des Moines home is about $158,000.  These average homeowners will likely see a property tax increase 1.58 times the cited $140 increase…or $221.


The average family of four spends about $225 per week on groceries.


The Register did not provide source quotes from officials warning of increased taxes that would indicate which week out of the year a family would simply have to do without groceries so they could pay their property tax increase.


Consequently, sending the kiddies to eat summer lunches at the school may be the only recourse for parents…


…unless they choose to add their balance due to the over $660,000 in locally delinquent property taxes.


A “free” nutritious lunch…indeed.


New opportunities


Temple B’nai Jeshurun hopes to bring back its popular Jewish Food Fair next May and the Phyne Dyner has been asked by Temple leaders to coordinate the effort.  Historically, the food fair had been a major Temple fundraiser and was very successful in fostering good will between the Jewish and non-Jewish communities.


The fair has been on hiatus for two years.


The proposed, renewed food fair will have a companion cookbook so fair patrons can recreate favorite dishes from the fair in their own kitchens.  Local media and advertising guru, Ira Lacher, conceived of the concept and the Phyne Dyner thinks it will be a wild success and a big draw for our fair.


After consulting with the Temple leadership, Phyne Dyning decided to put his own cookbook project, Shabbat in One Pot, on temporary hold in favor of producing the food fair companion cookbook.


My one-pot cookbook will remain ‘in the can’ until the food fair book is completed.  Also, Phyne Dyning will hold back on publishing some of his favorite recipes that are likely to become menu items for the food fair…


…for the same reasons that Coca Cola does not publish its trademark recipe.


There is never anything wrong with putting one’s personal ambitions behind those of the greater good.


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