Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Eating Well in Boston, Again (2020)

   I was thinking on how best to introduce the new places I think are the best in the Boston area to eat, and realized my original introduction still captures the exact tone I wish to set. So, here it is again:

   “I don’t think it’s a big secret that I love to eat good food. I think that it’s an improvement from my previous position of just loving to eat…nearly any food. As I age and grow wiser, I try to make better decisions on how I treat my body and that starts with what I put in it. That said, when I’m at home I follow a strict diet and try to give myself a fighting chance to enjoy my later years. This also has the benefit of make those times when I indulge purely for the joy of taste, less detrimental to my overall plan.

   I don’t eat out too often, but when I do I’m very selective in where I go and what I eat. I look for places that can present healthy choices  (relatively speaking considering how I eat at home) without sacrificing extraordinary taste. Once I find such a place, they gain a loyal customer…and I gain weight (LOL!).” 

   I have decided to showcase my current favorite places to eat. If you live in the Boston area (or the Brattleboro area as one of these places is in Vermont), treat yourself and check these places out. If you don’t live here but find yourself visiting for a bit, treat yourself and check these places out. I present them in no specific order…except that I have saved the best for last, so if you can’t restrain yourself on knowing what place I love the best, skip to the bottom.

1.) Joe's 320 Cafe - West Roxbury, MA

   I love breakfast. It’s one of my favorite meals of the day and nobody does it better than Joe’s. I admit that I don’t know his secret. After all, how many variations of eggs and toast are there? Yet, somehow, Joe manages to set his a cut above the rest and separate a good breakfast from a great breakfast. If you are a regular reader here, then you already know I’m a potato head and Joe’s “breakfast potatoes” makes you wonder why someone would ever prepare potatoes differently and call them anything other than, potatoes. Also, sourdough toast is something you don’t find at many other places (I know, I’ve looked) and I’m still just at the tip of the giant culinary iceberg I’m floating you here. Joe does lunch also, but honestly, I have never passed on the opportunity to order breakfast here, even at lunch time. I can say that one of my sons swears by the lunch menu and like me, he’s BIG on great food.

   There is so much I could say about this place. I think I’ll start by saying that I live in Boston, and nearly every Sunday (that we are able), we drive to Brattleboro…just for lunch. Think about that. I could say it’s just for the food, but there is so much more going on here from the postcard scenery to the craft beers brewed right at the restaurant, this is a day trip we always look forward to making. The menu, both food and beer, change every often to keep things fresh, but eating (and drinking) here are never a disappointment regardless of what is (or is not) on the menu.

3.) Dumpling Kingdom
- Allston, MA

   I would ask what list would be complete without the best Chinese food in town, but seeing as how I had not listed any Chinese restaurants in my first post, it’s rather a silly question. I’ll just say that of you like Chinese food, you’ll love this place. You will quickly understand that the places you have been eating are just doing it wrong. That’s the best way I can describe their food from other Chinese food places, and it may not be true…they might be just doing it that much better that other places simply taste “wrong.” All I know is that I wasn’t a big dumpling eater until this place. I start off every order with the egg fried rice and round it out with either sautéed string beans, spinach with garlic, or Shanghai bok choy with garlic. Just remember if you ever order all that together (I could never conceive of being that hungry) either bring plenty of friends, or have lots of time, as they are very generous with the portions.

4.) Veggie Galaxy - Cambridge, MA

   If all the awards they’ve won and articles about them hanging on the wall in their foyer wasn’t enough to let you know this place is special, then trust your gut after it thanks you for stopping here. People like to crack jokes about vegans and vegetarians but I assure you there is nothing funny about this place. Quite the contrary, they take making unforgettable food very seriously. They make breakfast. lunch and dinner, but just as I have never had lunch at Joe’s, I have never had breakfast here. Also, like before, I have a son (not the same one as before) that swears by their breakfast (and yes, he is a vegan). Just by the very fact that of you are not a vegan or vegetarian, you will still love this place, should be all you need to hear to drop in and treat yourself to some excellent food that is actually good for you.

5.) Coast Cafe
- Cambridge, MA

   Let me sum this up in a few words so that you understand very quickly (before I really go deep) what you’re getting into here…southern-cooked soul food.

   I have been living and eating in Boston for a long time, and had never heard of this place before a year ago, and had never eaten there until a few months ago. I heard about in passing conversation with a friend, but that was a conversation…that was just passing. It wasn’t until I needed food for my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday party that things got serious.

   Of course, I went back to my friend to nail down some details (good looks Ray!) and set aside some time to go by and test the product (note when someone uses the word “product” when talking about something, you’ve entered another level of “whoa.”). We had some budgetary concerns due to planning this giant party, but we wanted the best value for our money…and some decent food. Well, after ordering a couple of plates of what we figured we’d like, it was evident that what we ordered went way beyond “decent” and the budget wasn’t our concern anymore…getting more of that food was, a lot more.

   Listen, there are those few moments in life when you look at your significant other and have a moment of shared astonishment, neither one of you quite able to grasp that what is happening is indeed, happening. The first bite of this food was exactly that.

   Fast-forward past all the details and prep and we find ourselves at the day of the party and the food is set up and we are ready to roll. Let me take a moment to add that Coast’s catering deals are second to none and their commitment to great service, treating you like family, is a reflection of the warmth, love, and kindness that they prepare their food with ( “food from the soul” as they say) that make this place the very best of the best (thank you Tony!)

   But wait…there’s more.

   The real story here starts with when it came time to serve the food. Most of the family came from down south, so we made sure to have a good variety of food to please everyone. We also got more than what our actual guest count was and were a bit worried that we may have ordered too much…but in retrospect, it was foolish of us to think every person in that room wouldn’t have the exact same reaction to the food we did when we first tasted it.

   We expected people to take a plate home. Most everyone took three to four plates home. To this day, all anyone talks about in regards to the party, is the food.

   Now, scroll back up and read all the reviews again, then realize this place is the BEST on the list. Marinate on that.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Withering Constitution

   We are nearing the end of history. I have not spoken of prophecy here much and know full well that many people embrace many different beliefs. If you are among those that do not believe in biblical prophecy, you probably should start. A huge part of it is facilitated by the drastic reduction of our civil liberties and freedoms. If you think that it can never happen here in the good ole’ US of A, you haven’t been paying attention to world history, or even the history of our own country…which is rapidly unfolding , even as I write this.

   Let’s start with the First Amendment. It affords us the freedom of religion.  There wasn’t much of that back in 2011 when a California couple was fined $300 for holding bible study in their home. A condo association in Florida banned bible study and the playing of Christian music in March 2018. A town in Pennsylvania banned bible study in a home with a threat of a $500 fine (per day!) in July 2018. A man was threatened with eviction from his apartment in October 2018 after bible study was banned. How far off are we from a time when holding church in your home will be outright illegal?

   It gets worse though. 

   Banning religious worship in your private residence is just the pebble in the avalanche. The merging of church and state, where the state dictates and regulates religion is where we really blow the First Amendment to smithereens. How far off are we when the President vows to close the gap between church and state? How close are we to religious oppression when the prevailing thought is that only Christians should serve in government?

   How long will the First Amendment guarantee the freedom of the press if the narrative is constantly pushed (and believed) that the press is the “enemy of the people?”

   How long will the First Amendment protect the right to public assembly when 19 states have already introduced legislation that criminalizes peaceful assembly and public protest? I’d say not long at all, especially when the President himself calls for the loss of citizenship and jail time for anyone burning the flag…a protected action under the First Amendment.

   The Second Amendment grants the right to bear arms. In light of all the recent school shootings, the push to confiscate firearms and impinge the ability to purchase them is a daily headline. A disarmed populace cannot defend itself from government abuse. If you think governments never abuse their citizens then, again, you have not paid attention to history.

   The Fourth Amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures…but the NSA and Homeland Security has some nifty loopholes to get around that. Add to that the newly nominated Attorney General (William Barr) is against freedom and actually thinks the Patriot Act should go further than it does. 

   The Fifth Amendment says we are not to be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process. A more expansive Patriot Act will trample all over that, and the President (Trump) won’t even blink since he is also against due process (as he stated when talking about taking away guns first, and worrying about due process later!). Can we not see how close we are?

   The Sixth Amendment gives us the right to a speedy and public trial buy an impartial jury. Yet in 2011 the military was given power to detain us citizens without a trial. In 2012 the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was signed into law and permits the indefinite detention of American citizens, without a trial. This law has NOT been repealed, so Trump has this very power, now…today. In fact, he re-authorized it just this year!

   The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment of the citizens. Our current president is a supporter of torture and promised in 2016 to expand torture laws. Now, you might be thinking to yourself that those laws only apply to non-US people suspected of acts of terror, but don’t forget that they apply to anyone accused of acts of terror against the USA, even American citizens.

   The Fourteenth Amendment allows citizenship to anyone born or naturalized here that is subject to USA jurisdiction. President Trump is actively trying to get rid of this. How tenuous are our rights when the Constitution can be amended by executive order? 

   People are so caught up in Democrats versus Republican, they don’t realize that BOTH parties are slowly taking away our constitutional rights. They don’t realize that once those rights are gone, they are never coming back. They don’t realize that biblical prophecy is facilitated by the erosion of these rights. They don’t realize how very close we are to the close of history.

   It’s time to wake up and realize that salvation is real and we need to do everything in our power to spread the gospel. Prophecy is not going to change, so we must.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Your Health: Back To Basics

   I have written extensively about health and fitness on this blog, but the subject never gets old and is never dated. In fact, the older we all get the more important our health becomes. It is my hope that all I have written before on the subject has inspired someone in a positive way. This post is also meant for inspiration, but I want to present it very simply for anyone feeling down and unmotivated…thus a “back to basics” approach.

   Recently I have been exposed to a very effective program called O2X. I have used it to inspire myself and jumpstart a lifestyle change that is rooted in the basics of health and fitness. These four simple pillars revolve around diet, exercise, rest and attitude. 


   No matter what your health or fitness goals are, your diet plays a profound role in it. When I say “diet”, I’m not talking about any particular program, but instead simply referring to the food you eat. Most of us don’t make the best choices all the time, so it’s probably safe to say there is room for improvement. Eating “healthy” has become debatable these days with so many people going vegan, but what can be agreed upon is what it means to eat unhealthy…especially when talking about the extreme (fast food all day, everyday). 

   Balance your food with a good mix of protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables. Depending on your goals, these mixes should vary, but the basic start is to have the mix, instead of neglecting one or more categories.


   This is the part people most focus on, to the detriment of the other factors that go into good health and fitness. I’m an advocate for being active, regardless of what physical activity you do, it’s better than not doing anything at all. That said, get regular with working out. 

   Get specific with moving your body. I once read that Bruce Lee would purposely park in a far space in a store parking lot just to increase the distance he had to walk to get to the store. It sounds inconsequential, but all those trips to the store add up, in a good way…not to mention that walking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. You’d be surprised what an hour of walking can do for you, especially if you take an extreme approach to it.

   The basic start to exercise is to do something that increases your heart rate and makes you sweat, making sure to properly warm up and recover.


   You may not believe this or even agree with what I’m about to say…but proper rest is probably the most important component to the entire health and fitness discussion.

   Regardless if you are working your body through exercise or abusing your body through lack of exercise and improper diet, your body needs time to recover and heal…from whatever you are putting it through.

   Many people have sleep disorders, and of those that do…some are completely unaware they are afflicted. Sleep disorders double your risk for cardiovascular disease and getting into an auto accident, and triple your risk for mood and anxiety disorders. If you know you have a sleep disorder, get it treated…all others get checked out to see if you do, or make sure you don’t.

   The benefits of proper rest are tremendous (the list is extensive and my fingers are tired, so google it). The basics of sleep is that adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. Adjust your schedule to achieve this, or get as close as possible.

   Sometimes people look at their health and fitness in slices instead of looking at the total picture. A lot goes into maintaining ourselves and even more with improving ourselves. 

   You might be looking at your life, keenly aware of the negativity in it, and thinking you are not where you want to be with your health and fitness. You may not know how to get where you want to be, how to begin, or where to even get the motivation to start. 

   Fitness doesn’t have to be a war, but sometimes it is, and we have to embrace the warrior within us for our daily taste of victory. That’s just one attitude that might work for you, there are others. Adopting the right attitude that commits you to the basics presented here is exactly where you should start. 

   Stay positive and focused with the goal of creating a better you today than you were yesterday. Take yourself back to the basics…and build from there.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

In God We Trust…?

   Funny how our money says that when, through its use, leaves little room for trust in God at all. Am I saying we should endeavor to live life without the use of money? Absolutely not. I’m just pointing out how we inject God into the strangest of places, and then wonder why His influence seems to be missing from our society.

   Patriotism seems to be the latest thing sweeping the country, or should I now say nationalism? People are wrapping themselves in the flag, if not completely embracing the ideals the flag actually stands for. Through the divisiveness of our social commentary, being loyal to God and country is becoming something of a fashion trend…figuratively speaking. But is it still God and country, or are we actually moving to God IN country?  See, “and” suggests there is a separation between the two, while “in” is indicative of both being merged.

   Many may not see the wisdom of the separation of church and state, so therefore do not see the danger of church in state. God has always offered himself as a choice and to that end, has given us free will to make that choice. So what does it say about us, or more specifically, those that profess to abide in godly ways, if God is no longer a choice, but a mandate?

   Do we really want to move our country from a constitutional republic into a theocracy? You may think I’m overthinking this, but when faith becomes the basis for how we govern the people and is injected into every decision of policy, is it not a theocratic model we have embraced? Perhaps there is nothing wrong in that, but I see little “freedom” in being told who to worship, how to worship, and when to worship….because ultimately that is where every theocracy ends up.

   We must understand that we need not embrace a theocratic state in order to preserve our morality.  Yes, our laws against murder are absolutely grounded in “Thou shalt not kill”…but how do you stand up against abortion, but remain silent about unjust police killing? How do you champion the sanctity of life, while loading your rifle for the hunt? How do you profess to speak for those without a voice, but turn a deaf ear to those with voices pleading for your help? Wrapping yourself in the bible doesn’t make your position more tenable, it simply makes your hypocrisy more repugnant.

   Alabama is poised to vote this November on the placement of the Ten Commandments in public schools and government buildings in an effort to shatter whatever separation exists between church and state. Where is the “freedom of religion” in that? It’s more like the freedom of ONE religion, at the expense of all others. I won’t even go down the rabbit hole of the daily breaking of those commandments by the very people seeking to mandate them…all the while claiming this to be a Christian nation, but showing it instead to be a nation of hypocrites.

   We don’t need mandated morality to combat the woes of our society, we need moral people living by example…specifically THE example, as shown by Christ. Unfortunately when this is pointed out, Christ becomes outdated and gets marginalized. He ceases to be our creator and instead becomes a very nice man that meant well.  How quickly He is abandoned by those upholding Him.

   It doesn’t seem to me that there is much trusting in God, despite what our money says. Instead it seems we trust in what we want and how we want things to be, and if wrapping ourselves in “faith” can get that for us, so be it.  

   I’ve never seen Malcom X as prophetic, but “by any means necessary” has become the modus operandi of our society, and the only thing sadder and more frightening is our inability to understand how very lost we are becoming because of it. In God we surely do not trust…but we absolutely should.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

What Would Jesus Do…?

   A serious question, for those that profess to love and follow Him, that likely isn’t asked enough and when asked, probably isn’t answered with any serious intent. Now I realize that everyone doesn’t have the same religious views, so this post obviously isn’t going to resonate with everybody. In fact, it is written for a very specific audience to provoke a very specific response.

   We like to divide ourselves. Oh, we lament about the divisiveness of it all, yet willingly set ourselves apart from each other with all kinds of labels. These labels often reflect what we do or what we believe, so as to easily identify what we are about. For example, if you call yourself a Christian, it’s expected that you are one that follows the example and teachings of Christ. Unfortunately it seems our society has mislabeled many of us and many of us have mislabeled ourselves. Taking the given example, it makes no sense to call oneself a Christian if you do not live your life in agreement with Christ.

   Some say religion is politics and the barrier between the two is razor thin. I say…what would Jesus do? Do you think if Jesus walked the Earth today that He would be going to the polls and pulling a lever for His favorite candidate, or would He be doing the same thing He did before…and minister to the masses about how to attain the Kingdom of Heaven? Would He help the poor, feed the hungry, heal the sick? Or would He lobby government representatives to enact legislation that reflect His political beliefs?

   I don’t recall Jesus getting involved in the politics of Rome…until he was taken into custody to account for all the good he had done.

   So forgive me if I’m perplexed by the agenda of those that have been labeled, and label themselves, as Evangelicals. To evangelize is to preach the gospel and convert people to Christianity. I don’t recall Jesus ever converting anyone through force, but instead through example. I recall He lived by the Ten Commandments, but did not seek to have Rome enforce them. Today it seems there is a concerted effort to make America into a theocracy instead of maintaining it as a constitutional republic. There is no need of human legislation to enforce the law of God. If Evangelicals are truly reading their bibles, then they should be living by faith knowing that God is fully capable of enforcing His laws, and judgement is soon coming. That being the case, their only question should be…what would Jesus do?

   People are willing to abandon their moral compass if the off-road trip brings them to where they want to be. Essentially, it doesn’t matter how you get there, as long as you get there. “By any means necessary” doesn’t seem to be the way of Christ. I seem to recall He was very specific in the “way” and it was rooted in “truth” in order to have “life.”

   So as you read this and get all bent out of shape (or not), just remember that many people heard the words of Christ and chose to walk away…but they did not call themselves Christians or Evangelicals after they parted ways. If you are wondering if you have parted ways with the Almighty…all you have to do is first ask yourself, what would Jesus do? Then answer the question, as found in His word. You will either agree or disagree…how you label yourself after that is up to you.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Served…With Honor

   The country has lost a true American hero with the passing of Senator John McCain. His service to this country has been absolute and he is truly an inspiration to anyone looking to dedicate themselves to a life that looms larger than their own self interest. 

   There is very little I can say about Senator McCain that has not already been covered by the outpouring of tribute and memories from those that loved and respected him. Instead, let me take a moment to share some instances that have left a lasting impression on me that not only elevated my respect for Senator McCain, but my expectations for those wishing to truly serve at the highest levels of our nation.

   John McCain was an imperfect person. We are all imperfect people. The separation between McCain from most others in politics was the ability to not only understand his imperfections, but to fully embrace them as a means to consistently strive for a better version of himself. Too often people enter politics thinking there is no room for error and that any showing or acknowledgment of such is a sign of weakness. They could not be further from the truth.

   I grew up a Democrat and throughout my adult life I have steadily moved from the left to plant myself squarely in the middle. I feel that the only way to maintain balance and truly see the the world of politics is be able to look, at an equal distance, to both the left and the right. That said, I did not always agree with McCain politically, but he also left no doubt that despite a differing view, he truly wanted to make America a better place.

   There are four specific events that elevated my respect for McCain beyond what I already afforded him from his war service and sacrifice in Vietnam.

   The first was in an interview McCain gave wherein he expressed a deep regret and shame for his role in the Keating Five Scandal. His disdain for himself was palatable and a lasting scar, for himself, that reminded him to never lower himself to that level again. Too many politicians are shameless, and thus do nothing but continue to lower themselves farther and farther into an abyss of questionable behavior. McCain lived his days with regret regarding that situation which tells me he was a man of principal, that simply made a mistake. A person with no regrets is a person that believes they’ve made no mistakes, or feels nothing for the consequence of their mistakes. Beware of such people.

   The second was in South Carolina in his first bid for president. McCain compromised himself on his position on the Confederate Flag because he thought it would get him votes. Shortly after, he stood up publicly and admitted what he had done and reinstated his integrity by sharing what he really believed concerning the flag. His exact words…” I feared that if I answered honestly, I could not win the South Carolina primary. So I chose to compromise my principles. I broke my promise to always tell the truth.”

   Few politicians have the stones to stand up publicly, as a matter of conscious, and be truthful about who they are and what they have done to compromise their principles. How can anyone not respect a person that does this? How can anyone trust a person that could never bring themselves to do this?

   The third was during his second bid for president wherein he was at a rally and a woman spoke up about Obama being Arab. McCain, to the disdain of his own supporters, rejected this narrative and stood up for his political opponent citing that they just had differing views on how best to run the country. Right is right, and wrong is wrong. Integrity is standing up for what’s right regardless of the overwhelming number of people in the wrong. Your moral compass should not sway in the wind, but be a beacon for those that are lost in the storm. McCain was a beacon that day.

   The fourth was his infamous vote on repealing The Affordable Care Act. This was the ultimate expression of being a “maverick,” but also one of the biggest acts of moral independence ever seen on the Senate floor. It takes a form of courage, that is sorely lacking today, to oppose your own party because they refuse to legislate via the proper procedures. Politics has become so tribal recently, with very few realizing that the only tribe they should uphold is “American.”

   We need more mavericks in Congress, on both sides, willing to do the right thing no matter how unpopular it is. We need more people of conscious in government that regret their mistakes. We need more people of strong character that will step forward and confront themselves when they fall short of their own convictions. We need more people that will stand against hate and intolerance, even at the expense of their own political machinations. We need more people that will stand up for doing things the right way, even if that means standing alone against their own party.

   This country needs more people in government  like John McCain, that exercise integrity, duty, and honor… and will put the country first and work toward leaving it better than how they found it. Anyone professing a willingness to honor the memory of John McCain need only serve this country selflessly.

John McCain III served…honorably.