Blame Lost Jobs on Robots and Automation

Donald Trump won the Presidency in large part, by promising to bring back jobs by mostly clamping down on trade.

But the truth is that trade has very little to do with the loss of jobs. The real job loss culprit isn’t trade—it’s automation and robot employees.  And I would be very surprised if Trump clamps down on either.

The new labor sheriff coming to town—Andrew F. Puzder, Trump’s pick for Labor Secretary, won’t be clamping down on automation or robot employees either.

The current chief executive of CKE Restaurants Puzder had this to say to Business Insider this past March about robot employees: “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case.”

Yes, that’s what he said, folks. So it doesn’t sound like Puzder will be looking to replace robot employees with warm bodies anytime soon.

Trump won a seemingly political victory when he convinced Carrier to keep 800 jobs in Indiana.

And yes, Trump may have convinced Carrier to save jobs. For now.

But here’s what you might not know. Carrier plans on taking advantage of all those Trump tax cuts and incentives, totaling some $16 million, and investing it in automation.

And sure, automation could create some new jobs, but those jobs will require retraining. People with obsolete skills will have to reposition themselves and be retrained for different careers. Job training is essential in addressing skill gaps to prepare the current and future workforce with the tools they need to compete in an increasingly automated America. But Trump’s got no plan on the table for job training at all.

Additionally, the U.S. doesn’t have any kind of national productivity policy or commission in place to identify opportunities and policies for improving productivity.

According to a recent McKinsey Report, existing technology could automate 45 percent of activities people are now paid to do, and the World Economic Forum has estimated that five millions jobs will be lost by 2020.

Boston Consulting Group recently reported that it costs barely $8 an hour to use a robot for spot welding in the auto industry, compared to $25 for a worker—and the gap is only going to widen.

And in 2013 and Oxford study reported that work automation will put 47% of existing jobs in the U.S. at “high risk,” meaning human workers in those jobs will be replaced by robots within 20 years.

So it’s time to stop blaming immigrants, trade, offshoring, China, and Mexico on lost jobs.

Blame it on scientific genius, high-tech innovation, robotic process automation, advanced manufacturing, and hugely successful machinery efficiencies.

What we really need is a President who has the guts to tell the truth about the future of work, not one who thinks he can sell us a Trumped-up myth and pretend that he and he alone will bring back jobs, “real quick,” and make America great again.

Because history has proven, our technological advancements are what will continue to make America great. There’s no possibility of going back in time, and Trump knows it.

American Industry is at its highest level in history. It’s not the industry that’s in decline. The decline is in factory employment, due primarily to automation and increased efficiency.

And for the record, the U.S. unemployment rate in December was among the lowest percentages since 1981, as follows:


December 2016: 4.7%

January 2009: 7.8%

January 2001: 4.2%

January 1993: 7.3%

January 1989: 5.4%

January 1981: 7.5%

The truth is America has never been wealthier. The real problem is that the middle class, “the forgotten people,” are not the beneficiary of that wealth.

Why? Because, while the middle class gives up ridiculous amounts of their salaries to the government, the wealthy minority, like Trump and his ilk make sure they use any and all means to avoid paying taxes whatsoever.

And Trump has no plans to do anything about that carnage.


Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Since the 1700’s, the United States press has held government officials, corporations, and institutions accountable to the American people for secret practices, wrongdoing, and corruption.

Investigative journalism has not only helped to keep government honest, but it has also sparked public outcry on many exposed wrongdoings, often resulting in reforms.

Trump’s declaration of media failure and vows to punish them is an eerie reminder of authoritarian regimes around the word and their brutal silencing of the press.

Trump has relentlessly attacked, undermined and disparaged the Democrats, American citizens who didn’t vote for him, the news media, and most recently the intelligence community. Trump actually compared our United States intelligence officials to Nazis.

Everyone knows that authoritarian regimes start with muzzling and locking down their media and adversaries to ensure absolute rule and repress any insurrection.

If they don’t like the message? They shoot the messenger.

Then they go after their citizens and their foes.

I have always taken for granted our free and independent press. And every morning while reading The New York Times, I discover some article that provides me with a better understanding of the world and in many cases of my own country.

But there are plenty of Americans out there that don’t know much about public affairs. And a lot of them don’t regularly read a newspaper.

But let’s be clear. We need media watchdogs.

The media’s job is to be the public’s eyes and ears. They help to maintain law and order, call out blatant untruths and uncover injustices and lies.

It is NOT the media’s job to provide powerful people, including President-elect Trump a safe haven or a hall pass.

Should the media have turned their backs on the problem of lead in the Flint Michigan water?

Or should the press have turned a blind eye to price gouging by pharmaceutical companies?

Stand-up journalism holds feet to the fire and demands accountability and vigilance. If the media sees something, they need to report something.

Trump’s chew toy of the month is CNN, calling them fake news. He has in the past barred the Washington Post and The New York Times from events, and he has denigrated multiple media outlets and continues to try to silence the press.

It seems painfully obvious that if it’s not pro-Trump news, it’s fake news.

And according to a recent article in The New York Times, the Trump administration is now considering ejecting the press corps from their on-site cubicles in the West Wing.

This action would basically prove that Trump is not willing or won’t allow his presidency to be held accountable. Think of it this way: When the cat’s away, the mice will play.

I find it terribly disconcerting that Trump continues to denigrate and try to constrain and control our media.

In shutting out the press, he is willfully, if not purposefully trying to mislead and deny the American people of the information they deserve to know.

It appears to me that Trump and his team will do anything and everything to avoid accountability. The POTUS shouldn’t be able to fly under the media radar.

We the people need to be alarmed at his media accusations and attempts to muzzle the press. If there is no transparency, there is no truth.

It’s up to the public as a whole to keep the pressure on Trump and his administration to ensure that the Constitution and our nation’s laws are adhered to. And that no one, not even—and especially, the President of the United States, is above the law and/or the scrutiny by the media.

CNN is not fake news, people. This is a major and very real news organization doing their job.

And thank God they’re not going anywhere.

Facts matter. A free press is more essential now than ever before.

From left, right and center, we need to back the media up, not shoot them down.

History is proof that without an independent press, our free democratic society is at risk.

A Girl Can Dream

I delightfully watched three of my grandchildren at their indoor swimming lessons yesterday.

Several young girls had set up a table in the lobby, outside of the pool area to raise money for their basketball team selling water, snacks, and rubber bracelets. I purchased some chips, fruit bites, cookies, and a bracelet. My son-in-law bought a bracelet as well.

On the walk back from swimming, my four-year-old grandson asked me what the bracelet said.

“A girl can dream,” I replied. “Why only a girl?” he countered. I explained the girl basketball thing.

“Why did Daddy buy a girl bracelet? He’s a boy.” His daddy replied that he supports girls even if he’s a boy.

“Tell me what it says again,” my grandson inquired, as his teeny hand held mine tightly. “A girl can dream,” I answered softly.

Another question from my grandson: “What’s a dream?”

I tried to describe a dream as best I could. My explanation wasn’t as easy or fluid as I thought it would be.

Then I asked him if he had a dream.

“I’m too little to have a dream,” he answered decidedly.

“You’re never too little to have a dream. Or too big for that matter,” I responded.

He was quiet for a second, his face was thoughtful, and his mighty brain was churning.

Then he looked up at me and told me that he knew somebody with a dream.

“Who?” I queried.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream that the world should be nice,” he responded.

I was blown away by his proclamation and had completely forgotten about the following MLK Day.

“Wow,” I answered genuinely shocked. “Yeah, you’re so right; Martin Luther King had a dream!”

“No,” my grandson replied assertively; his pint-sized pointer finger aiming straight my way. “Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream.”

I looked down at his beautiful innocent face confused.

“He was a Jr.,”  he emphasized.


Buh Bye 2016

When I launched The Teri Tome in 2015, I wasn’t sure how and how much of my life’s experiences I would have the courage to share with the cyber world.

As the founder of, an international news website, I had some experience with putting myself out there, but not in the same soul-baring way I was now preparing to do.

The Teri Tome was my way of opening a small window into my soul; my life, my experiences. In cracking open that window, I hoped that one miraculous day I would finally find healing in my own words.

For me, 2016 started out promising but ended with the tragic hit-and-run death of my Aunt Barb.

In between the promise of a new year and the heartbreaking loss of a loved one, yes, 2016 was full of hopefulness, loving family, and the ecstatic news of a coming birth. And then there was that God awful Presidential election. And sure, the sun peeked out amidst the clouds from time to time.

But 2016 has come and gone, and I am still missing that unnamed someone nearest and dearest to me; my lost and most valuable family treasure. I thought for sure that 2016 was the year we would reconcile. And I never mustered up the courage to send any of those 2016 letters I wrote to my estranged mom.

Lost family…lost opportunities…another lost year.

In 2016, I tried my hand at poetry, recipes, drawing and blog fiction.

LET ME REPEAT: BLOG FICTION, which means conjured up. I reiterate the obvious definition because there seems to be some confusion out there from a handful of haters.

I have happily accepted all the bricks some have thrown at me for my posts written from truth.

I get it. The truth hurts.

But the fiction? Give me a break.

And yes, I would agree that there is often an element of truth in fiction.

But my imagination is sometimes all I have left when life’s truth overwhelms me.

And sure, I threw some politics and other fun antics into the mix.

But to be truthful, the soul-searching dark stuff is always lurking in the back of my mind. Those damn niggling memories keep me up night after sleepless night.

That heartbreaking stuff that I inevitably wake up in a sweat remembering, and have to turn on the lights—no matter what time it is, to write them down.

It’s not like I would forget them if I wrote them down the next day, but I guess putting them to paper at that moment is like writing them away so I can try to get an hour or so of uninterrupted sleep.

So as I happily bid a Bye Felicia to 2016, I took a look back at some of my best-read blogs from the past year and selected the following Top Ten Teri Tome picks based on how many times each post was viewed and shared. The truth, the fiction, and the downright forgettable.

And a heartfelt shout-out and thanks to all of my dedicated readers, who helped me bring life to my writing, my experiences, my feelings, and my very soul.

And to all the haters? Take your sticks and stones and get lost.

Haters are always gonna hate. Nothing anyone can do about that. As someone who was bullied as a child and well into her teens, I know first-hand how painful rejection can be.

But ever the optimist and forever my own strongest ally, I pushed through whatever life, and the haters threw at me.

David Brinkley once said, “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him.”

Your words of encouragement went a long way in giving me the courage to write on, even when the haters threw their bricks.

I took all those bricks and created a mighty Teri fortress.

The Teri Tome is sometimes sarcastic, oftentimes ironic, and once in a while downright depressing.

But make no mistake about it: The Teri Tome is my truth, my perspective, my memories. And I will live and die by my Teri Tome collection.

So to all those haters out there who so desperately tried to compromise my liberties, my safety, my relationships, and indeed my very soul.

You might have succeeded in taking what you wanted and or what you needed. And you may have shut me out of your lives, and you may even have succeeded in shutting down the very essence of who I once was. But you will never be able to shut my mouth.

Now that I got that off my chest.

Back to The Teri Tome Top Blog Posts of 2016.

By the end of 2016, I had written 42 posts. Out of the 42 posts, 24% of them represented the Top Ten Posts, and have garnered anywhere from 12,710 hits for #1, to 3,602 for #10.

Now I’m not sure if these are impressive numbers or not, but they’re good enough for me.

Anyway, here are the links to my Top Ten Teri Tome Blog Posts for 2016.

Drum roll, please… But before the drum roll, I want to say a HUUUGE thank you to all my readers for sharing your precious time with me. I wish you all a very happy, healthy and blessed 2017.


DEFINITION OF MARKETING: When I was asked to write an article clarifying the difference between marketing, advertising, public relations, branding, telemarketing, and strategic planning, I had a difficult time cogently explaining the distinction between all of them. The only way I could think of doing it was to use my single daughter as the end product. (Note to daughter: Please don’t kill me.)


FISH AND DISHING—GIRLS’ NIGHT IN: I was blown away that this post was so popular. The older I get, the more I enjoy hanging out in my house. But the best part is doing it with my girlfriends.


WORLD DAUGHTER’S DAY: This one was another surprise. But since the passing of Carrie Fisher, and then the following day the death of her mother Debbie Reynolds, I have read article after article about the can’t-live-with-them-can’t-live-without-them relationships that so many mothers have with their daughters. But that’s not the case for me. To be clear, I love my daughter more than life itself.


DRINKING ALCOHOL. HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?: The popularity of this post did not surprise me at all. And since it was written on December 20th, it has garnered tons of hits and shares. I guess I hit a nerve. And speaking of nerve, it took a lot of it for me to talk about what plenty of people are thinking.


MOTHER’S DAY AND RALEIGH: MY BROTHER DISGUISED AS A DOG: To be sure, every dog has his or her day. But my dog Raleigh’s sole purpose on this earth was to protect and love me each and every day of his life. The first and only animal I ever owned saved me in more ways than I could ever express in this blog post.


WE ARE ALL FLINT MICHIGAN: My water sucks. And I can’t help but wonder how many others are drinking tainted water and have no clue. Now I’m not a fan of Trump, but I’d like him a whole lot more if he would delve into why our nation’s drinking water is so bad—BIGLY.


JEMIMA KHAN’S CONTROVERSIAL MELANIA TRUMP COSTUME AT STAR-STUDDED UNICEF HALLOWEEN BALL: The popularity of this post kind of hurt my feelings. As the self-proclaimed Queen of verbiage, I wrote less than 100 words for this post. And it got thousands of page views. Huh? I guess a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, or in this case, a thousand hits.


THE TERI TOME—MY TOP 20 POSTS IN 2015: I was thrilled this one made the top 10 because I get to press instant replay on some oldie but goodie posts.


REST IN PEACE, AUNT BARB: On November 27, as my Aunt Barb walked across a Minneapolis street with my Uncle Lou, she was hit by a speeding car which fled the scene after the horrific accident. She passed away the following morning, November 28, on their 52nd wedding anniversary. Boy, do I miss her.


LET THEM EAT CHEESE—FOR DESSERT: How this post crept into the top 10, I have no clue. I guess a lot of people like cheese. With a side of panforte, crispy raisin pecan bread, and some dried fruit mostarda. Go figure.

And because I am obsessed with the number 18 (see why here), I had to know what blog post graced my favorite number.


FARRAH’S BLANKET:  Okay, so #18 ( which is the Hebrew word for life) gave me the chills. This short story was written about my late mother-in-law, who survived the Holocaust. She was and still is a daily reminder of her goodness despite the trauma she endured.  Sadly, one thing that we’ve learned is that we seldom learn from history.

Happy New Year and l’chaim.

Not a Creature Was Stirring, Not Even a Mouse

What’s your very first memory?

I often ask this question to family, friends, and colleagues.

The answer to my question never fails to enlighten me and speaks volumes about the person remembering.

Here’s mine:

My First Memory—December 25, 1957

It was late Christmas night and Mammy, (pronounced May-me), and I were sitting on the couch admiring what I thought was a truly magnificent Christmas tree.

Mammy was my grandmother—my surrogate mother. My mom was divorced, and very young when she had me, so Mammy was raising us both. I never knew my father.

Mammy used to explain to me that when I was a baby I was confused and couldn’t figure out who was the Mom.  Mammy used to call herself Grammy around me, but when I was old enough to speak, I bestowed upon her the weird name of Mammy.

According to Mammy, at ten or so months old I had brilliantly managed to come up with a name that was a cross between Grammy and Mommy.

Mammy was also divorced, so I never knew my grandfather. And Grammy Nadeau, my great grandmother, was a widow and lived with us too.  And like my father and grandfather, I never knew my great grandfather either. Grammy Nadeau was sleeping that Christmas night and my mom was on a date.

Mammy was busily crocheting an afghan. Almost sixty years later I still have that afghan. I curl up with it nearly every night and wrap myself in Mammy’s memory.

Back to my first memory: Christmas night 1957.

I was four years old, and my head rested on Mammy’s shoulder. I was trying to be especially quiet because Mammy was preoccupied with her crocheting, and I was hoping that if she forgot that I was there, I could stay up a little later. I closed my eyes and was drifting off until Mammy began to softly poke my arm.

When I looked up at Mammy, she had a mischievous look on her face, as she put her finger up to her mouth to shush me. She then took her finger off her lips and pointed toward the tree.

So I took Mammy’s cue and gazed at our sparsely decorated tree, adorned with a single strand of blinking lights, a teensy bit of tinsel and a few ornaments, most of them home-made.

Underneath the tree sat my treasured present from Santa Claus.  She was the most beautiful doll I had ever seen. I named her China because she had the silkiest long, shiny black hair, and a flawless porcelain face.  It must have been an expensive doll—much more than Mammy or Mommy could afford.

Anyway, China was sitting under the tree, wearing a red organza pinafore that Mammy sewed for her which to my delight perfectly matched the red Christmas dress she had designed for me.

As I sat looking curiously at the doll under the tree, wondering why Mammy was pointing and shushing, I noticed a tiny mouse sniffing around China. I looked up at Mammy terrified, but she was smiling ever so softly, still shushing me with her pursed lips.

So I looked back at the mouse with a different eye—from Mammy’s tender perspective.

As a child, I was entirely molded by those three women in my life. What they saw I saw. What they felt, I felt.

Mammy had no problem with the little mouse—it was just a baby after all, and so I was all right with it too.

The mouse sniffed around my doll and then snuggled in its lap.

I looked at Mammy’s bright and smiling face, as she lightly kissed her index finger and then playfully touched the tip of my nose with it.

Taking my cue from Mammy, I lay my head back on her shoulder, watched the baby mouse sleeping and then closed my eyes, and drifted into my own peaceful sleep.


Drinking Alcohol. How Much Is Too Much?

I recently went to my allergist to be retested for certain fruits that have lately been causing me extreme stomach pain, lip throbbing, nausea, and internal palpitations.

As I breezed through filling out the medical forms, one question, in particular, gave me pause. How many alcoholic beverages do you have a week on average? I lied. Bigly.

After my tests, my doctor wrote down the following fruits to avoid: Cherries, blackberries, peaches, plums, and grapes.

She further explained that as part of getting older, my body chemistry is going through a change, thus all of the new allergies I have developed. The cursed female change wasn’t enough? And hello. DID MY ALLERGIST JUST SAY TO AVOID GRAPES?????

“What about wine?” I asked her hesitantly.

“Yeah, I’d definitely stay away from wine for a while,” she said like it was no biggie.

Whoa. Stay away from the vino?

Before I could fully process her suggestion, my allergist followed it up with: “As a matter of fact, I would like you to stay away from all alcoholic beverages for at least a month.”

I was speechless, so I just gave her a super ugly grimace.

Yikes! Her dictate swirled around in my head. This is what she’s asking me to do a week before Christmas???????

Could I actually go cold turkey for a whopping four weeks?

Okay, maybe I could, but definitely not until after the New Year.

After the New Year, I reiterated to myself. But not a day before.

Okay, so I’m at the allergist because my stomach pain is so bad I can’t sleep, I’m throwing up in the middle of the night, my lips are regularly throbbing and swelling, and I have an incessant metal taste in my mouth.

And I’m resisting my doctor’s recommendation, because?

My brain was turning and churning. As I mentally processed if, how and when to stop drinking, I asked myself: Why do I drink?

Easy enough to answer.

I drink to relax, I drink to celebrate. I drink to calm down. I drink when I’m lonely. I drink because it’s hump day, Friday and Saturday. I drink because it’s Monday. I drink because it’s snowing, storming, sunny, cloudy. I drink because it’s my birthday. I drink because it’s someone else’s birthday. I drink because it’s Mother’s Day. I drink because it’s Father’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve… Dang, I drink for any old reason.  Plain and simple: I like to drink…in a boat, with a goat, in the rain, on a train, in a house, with a mouse. Here there and anywhere.

My allergist interrupted my rambling thoughts: “It seems to me that you’re unnecessarily obsessing over my suggestion. If having a drink is that big of a deal, and you can’t let it go, then have one drink, and don’t beat yourself up over it.”

Gee, thanks, Doc. One measly cocktail.

I responded to my doctor with: “One drink a day? One drink a month? Define one drink.”

“Remember that this is your decision and your decision alone,” she replied. “You’re in control.”

“I’m not sure I am in control,” I weakly blurted out, shocking myself at my honest candor.

And therein was the elephant-in-the-room question: Was I in control of my drinking or was my drinking in control of me?

“Go home, think about it, and do some research,” my allergist suggested as she led me out of her office.

And as most of you know, I am the fact-finding Queen. So I dug right in…

Below is everything I wanted or needed to know about alcohol abuse but was afraid (or just didn’t give a hoot) to ask:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, moderate drinking is defined as up to 7 drinks a week for women and 14 drinks per week for men. [There goes that gender gap again.]

Heavy drinking is defined as consuming 8 or more drinks per week for women, and 15 or more drinks per week for men. [Eight lousy drinks per week? Uh-oh.]

Binge drinking, the most common form of excessive drinking, is defined as consuming 4 or more drinks during a single occasion for women, and 5 or more drinks during a single occasion for men. [Do the number of hours per a single occasion change this statistic up at all?]

In the United States, a standard drink contains 1.2 tablespoons of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in:

  • 12-ounces of beer (5% alcohol content). [Don’t drink it. Don’t care.]
  • 8-ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content). [What’s a malt?]
  • 5-ounces of wine (12% alcohol content). [Aren’t there 8 fluid ounces to a cup?]
  • 5-ounces of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey). [Yikes, no wonder those martinis always do me in.]

Most people who drink excessively are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent.  [Whew. Good to know.]

The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2010 were estimated at $249 billion, or $2.05 a drink. [what’s a couple of bucks here and there?]

Okay, I was on a research roll. So I kept on trolling:

    • Do you really want a drink or are you drinking out of habit? [To be clear, I really want a drink.]
    • We live in a very boozy world. [You got that right Jack!]
    • Being sober does not mean you have to spend the rest of your days living like a nun. [Then why am I feeling one with Mother Theresa?]
    • If you look carefully, you’ll see there are loads of people out there leading full and happy lives without alcohol. [Carefully is the operative word.]
    • A glass of wine has similar calories to a slice of cake. [I’d rather drink my calories. Just sayin.]
    • The body can’t store alcohol, so it metabolizes it right away and gives it priority slowing down your metabolism. [As Bob Dylan would say: The slowest now will later be fast.]
    • The Arthritis Foundation has linked alcohol to inflammation of the joints resulting in arthritis. [So what if I can’t open a jar? That’s what husbands are for.]

All kidding aside, after my extensive research, I decided to dip my probably arthritic toe into the no alcohol water. No plunging head first for me, though. Not yet anyway.

Starting today, until January 2nd, I have imposed a new alcohol rule on myself: No more than one glass of wine a day, any three days per week. And never two days in a row. So the end result is that I am going to consume no more than three glasses of wine per week through January 1st. Yes, I can, yes I can.

Okay, I hope I can, I hope I can.

And on January 2nd? I’ll keep you posted on that.

A Rose by Any Other Name

In light of all the anti-Semitism that has been seeping and creeping up since the recent presidential election, it got me thinking about Judaism, Christianity, and why I feel so loathe to discuss religion.

And talking politics isn’t much better. Certainly not right now. Both of these topics are better left private.

Except most people close to us know who and what we are. Should our religion or politics define us? Make us loved or hated? Respected or denigrated?

The constant and continuing turmoil around the election results has been disheartening and worrisome. Swastikas here, Confederate flags, there, and dissension everywhere.

It’s the holidays. We should be jingling, rejoicing, singing, wrapping, and planning for family get-togethers. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, right?

And yet, our nation’s recent political divisions have brought out the worst in us, prompting me to ask myself a weird-for-a-Jewish person question, as I poured over The New York Times this morning:

What would Jesus say about all of this?

A long time ago, and in another life, I had a close and loving relationship with Jesus.

If you know me or have read any of my blog posts, you know my family dynamic, which consisted of my Catholic grandmother, mother, and me, aka the fatherless child.

It was the three of us, not so much living, but more like surviving together on Huron Street, in Bridgeport Connecticut.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, so to speak.  Except we were Mother, Daughter, and Afraid of Ghosts.

Soon my great-grandmother joined us, and then we were a family of four. And a mighty four we were.

Four strong willed, faithful Catholic females struggling to stay afloat in a swirling sea of men, with Jesus at the top of the food chain.

For any Catholics that might be reading this post, you get the Catholic thing. Fish on Friday, fasting before mass, confession, mortal vs. venial sins, and all of the other stuff Catholics do.

But I don’t want to talk about all that. I want to use this blog-post opportunity to discuss Jesus and how I felt about Him all those many years ago.  And how I still feel about Him today.

I would first like to start out by saying that were it not for Jesus, I’m not sure who or where Teri would be today.

Because my Jesus was all about love, which included everyone; especially the scorned, the sick, the forgotten, the poor, the forsaken. Jesus was all about solidarity and unity. He would never tolerate hate, bigotry or bullying.

My Jesus reached his hands out to everyone, and He would never discriminate.

And lest I should remind you, Jesus was the only male in my life. And what a fine specimen and example of an exemplary man He was.

He loved the marginalized. He blessed and exonerated all sinners. And as long as I had Jesus in my life, I knew I could get through anything.

Jesus was kind, loving, compassionate, and just. But my Jesus was also sad, and maybe even frightened. Because He knew, He was going to die. Jesus understood and accepted that all of us have sinned. All of us are imperfect, and yet He still loved us.

No matter how disappointed I felt about myself back in my other life, I knew Jesus was on my side.

Because Jesus wasn’t judge-y, and would NEVER pick out some, but not others, to heal, to feed, or to bless.

My Jesus was omnipotent. And I believed with all my heart and all my soul, the first couple of sentences in the Apostles’ Creed: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.

A lifetime ago.

When I was thinking about converting to Judaism, it was the most painful and difficult decision I ever had to make in my life thus far.

And when I spoke of converting to my Christian friends, they would remark on how hard it was going to be for me to give up Christmas.

Giving up Christmas was going to be the least of it.

Giving up Jesus was what was going to be near impossible. He was going to be my sacrifice, my lifelong penance.

As I sat before the Bet Din, a panel of three Rabbis, sitting high above me on a stage, I ironically and irreverently, thought of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Three.

While  I sat below the Jewish holy three, the men who had the power to authorize or deny my application to join the Jewish people, my thoughts reverted to what had occurred earlier in my already very long day.

I woke up to snow. I snuggled with my son. I had an argument. My punishment was no car.

So I indignantly walked to the bus stop and waited. And waited. And waited. I transferred three times. Three buses. And then trudged three long blocks in the slushy snow. Ignoring the irony of the threes was impossible.

And now here I was, cold and wet, facing three Rabbis who would decide my religious fate.

The Bet Din had prepared three questions for me, explained my sponsoring Rabbi.

Three questions.

It was out of my hands, I recall thinking to myself.  It’s in Jesus’ hands, I instinctively reassured my weary self.

My turning to Jesus was reactive. I was always in Jesus’ hands. Those beautiful, delicate, blessed hands, marred by ugly bloody holes.

My thoughts of Jesus were interrupted by my first question:

“Tell us about your religious background.”

I gave the holy three the cliffs notes. I stuttered, faltered, and jumbled up my sentences. My family of females, Bridgeport Connecticut, my Salvation Army clothes, our tenement apartment, the nuns, bake sales, weekly mass, my grandmother’s rosary beads, my love of St. Ambrose Church. My Holy Communion, my Confirmation. The whole shebang.

I turned to my sponsor, who was to the left of me, as he gave me a worrisome sideways glance.

Second question.

“Why would you denounce your religion, to join one that is in the minority, the often persecuted, the sometimes reviled?”

I again turned to my sponsor who this time did not return my gaze. I looked up at the Bet Din. The three Rabbis looked sternly down at me.

I spoke of my sick son, the unhappiness of some, the wishes of others, my faith, my sponsoring Rabbi and his wife whom I had grown to love and respect. My newly discovered congregation of friends, whom I had come to rely and count on. I spoke of my lost family, my dead grandmother, my lost self.

The faces of the Rabbis softened. I could see my pain in their eyes.

“Last question,” one of the holy three muttered, barely audible. He’d lost his edge. They all seemed to.

I sat shivering, thinking about how many hours it was going to take me to get home. I was longing to hold my infant son; to rock and hum him to sleep with his favorite song, my favorite song, and my grandmother’s favorite song. The three of us all with the same favorite song.

“You speak so assuredly of your faith. When you talk of your Catholic upbringing, we see your light. Tell us about Jesus and the role He will play in your Jewish life.”

I swallowed hard. The Bet Din wanted me to speak about Jesus.

The words, they just spilled out. My sick and dying grandmother denied of her last rights because she was excommunicated, my prodigal status, my love of Jesus—a Jew, who was poor, uneducated, adored by so many, then crucified.

I blurted out the morning fight, no car, three buses, my son’s surgery, the snow, the hopelessness, the loneliness.  I told them that Jesus was going to love me and keep me safe—today, tomorrow and always. Jewish, Catholic, whatever. Jesus wasn’t going anywhere.

Because that’s who Jesus is. He doesn’t forsake. He doesn’t leave. He loves, He nurtures, He heals.  All of us, not just some of us.

I was on the last question roll.

I explained to the holy three that Jesus was everything hopeful; a constant reminder that even in the ugliest of times and despair, He teaches us that there is beauty and light and redemption. I was never going to give up on Jesus. And Jesus was never going to give up on me.

And then I sat back in my chair, letting the holy three above me know that I was finished.

The Rabbis looked at each other, one sank in his chair. I again turned to my sponsor. Both of his hands lightly covered his forehead; his elbows bent low to the table.

My nose was running, and I didn’t have a tissue, so I used my damp sleeve as I watched the Rabbi’s squirm.

Then the middle Rabbi spoke. His words were kind and soothing. He applauded my resolve, my strength, my faith, my love of my son.

The other two Rabbis nodded in agreement and approval, including my sponsor.

And then it was over. I was on my way to being Jewish. Everything yet nothing had changed.

I took the over three-hour bus ride home, all the time, writing, rhyming, transferring, praying. I wrote and rewrote the following letter to Jesus, to God, to the only Father I ever knew:



When I finally got home, my son was already fast asleep. I was heartbroken to have missed him. I needed his warmth, his life, his love.

I quietly and reverently tiptoed into his room, still wet from my trek. I laid next to his crib and hummed our favorite song, Oh Holy Night.

Rest in Peace, Aunt Barb

On Sunday night, November 27, as my Aunt Barb and Uncle Lou were walking across a street, my aunt was hit by a speeding car which fled the scene after the horrific accident. She passed away the following morning, November 28, on their 52nd wedding anniversary. No words can ever express how much I loved her, and how her love for me healed my whole being.  Rest in peace, Aunt Barb.

Dear Aunt Barb,
I never knew anyone kinder or gentler than you
Your goodness shone brightly from the inside out
Your selflessness was your gift to all of us
Your caring attention which you so lovingly bestowed was unsurpassed
Your compassion, your beauty, and your purity was undeniable
I was so blessed to have been loved by you
So privileged that I held a special place in your heart
I adored you and cherished your opinion and your perspective
I saw a different Teri through your eyes
And I was ever thankful for your dignity, your calm demeanor
Your saintly way of helping me to see my specialness
I was looking forward to years and years with you
But life is cruel
And my future years with you are gone
You are forever missing from me now
The only thing I can cling to
Is the ever presence of your angelic spirit
And your resplendent soul
Rest peacefully
Watch over me Aunt Barb
And when you see my grandmother
hold her in your loving arms
until I see you both

Thanksgiving on Black Friday


Thanksgiving has traditionally been the one holiday where, like it or not, families get together, chow down, throw shade at each other, and oh yeah, give thanks.

Mothers, fathers, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces and every other iteration of family and friends travel here there and everywhere to get together for some clan time.

Some of this “time” will inevitably be dysfunctional, but we all still participate.


Because good, bad, or ugly, at the end of the—in this case—Thanksgiving Day, we’re all kith and kin together. Hopefully.

And if you’re fed up or irked by a particular family member, remember this:

Just because they look like you, doesn’t mean they are you.

As challenging and painful as the day might turn out, most of us are celebrating Thanksgiving with our peeps.

We can all agree on two Thanksgiving Day things: Some familial dysfunction, and a hassle getting to your destination.

And while we can maneuver around family characters, there’s no getting around the holiday traffic.

Traveling on Thanksgiving Day is plain old horrendous.

And if you come from a divorced family, or are married and or involved with someone, everyone puts the guilt trip on you to show up for their Turkey event.

How many families do you know who strictly adhere to the every other Thanksgiving rule?

Now that we’ve established that Thanksgiving already poses a real dilemma for many, and is a downright miserable holiday obligation for others, I have two questions for you:

A) Why stress out on the day set aside for giving thanks?
B) Who says Thanksgiving has to be on Thursday?

Several years ago my husband and I asked and answered A & B and came up with our own way of celebrating Thanksgiving: On Black Friday.

No traffic, no scheduling dilemmas, no disappointed families, you can work pretty much all day on Friday, and best of all? No turkey.

But okay, we might still dish out some dysfunction.

Below are some of my Black Friday recipes should you want to change it up next year!

Deconstructed Thai Salad
Serves 8

1 can low-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
1 tablespoon yellow curry powder
1 clove garlic
Juice of 1/2 small lime
Splash of sriracha
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)

Place all ingredients above in a blender until very smooth. Taste it to make sure you like the combo. If not, add more peanut butter, curry powder or siriracha. Then put it in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then simmer until reduced and thickened about 10 minutes. Cool down completely. Refrigerate until ready to use.

6-8 small seedless cucumbers sliced
1 head of iceberg lettuce chopped
I pint of red cherry tomatoes whole
1 pint of yellow or orange cherry tomatoes whole
6 hard-boiled eggs halved
2 cups bean sprouts
16 ounces firm tofu

Place lettuce in the center of a large square platter, and then line up the other ingredients above in a row. Serve with dressing.

Perfect Bone-In Rib Roast
NOTE:  When ordering a Bone-In Standing Rib Roast, figure you will need one rib per two people. This will also  ensure plenty of leftovers.

So for 8 adults I ordered 4 Ribs (1/2 rack), approximately 8
pounds. The price for 4 ribs was $148.00.

Nobody said this was a cheap meal.

Bone In Standing Rib Roast – 4 Ribs (approximately 8 pounds)
1 stick butter, softened
Ground pepper
Kosher salt
Garlic powder

Place Rib Roast on a plate and bring to room temperature, about four hours.
Then place the meat in a roasting pan that’s slightly bigger than the roast itself.
Slather the whole roast with softened butter. Then add salt, pepper and garlic powder to the entire roast.
Preheat the oven to 350°F for at least 20 minutes.
The roast should be cooked at 350 degrees for about 2 hours to 2 ¼ hours, depending on your oven.
You will need to check the roast with a meat thermometer close to the 2 hour mark.
When the meat thermometer reaches 110 to no more than 120 degrees, the roast needs to come out of the oven (for a perfect combination of medium, medium rare and rare), regardless of how long the roast has been cooking.
Remember that the roast’s temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees after you remove it from the oven so remove it 10  degrees before the desired doneness. There is nothing worse than an overcooked rib roast.
Once you remove roast from oven, tent it with foil but put a hole in the foil to keep the crispiness of the outside of  the roast.
Rest the roast for about 10 minutes, and no more than 15 minutes, to let the juices redistribute throughout the  Roast and still be nice and warm. Also, if you decide to pour the pan drippings over it, the roast will cook a little  more as well.
If the roast still isn’t cooked enough for your taste, you can always slice it and then put part of it back in the oven  to cook it more. Better to under cook it than to overcook it. And you don’t even have to put on the heat, but you  do need to watch it carefully.
The slices taken from the ends of the roast will obviously be the most done, and the middle will be the least done,  so you should be able to suit the preferences of everyone at the table.
Also, remove the rib bones and put them back in the oven on high to crisp them up and then place them around  your roast.

If you want to serve your roast with au jus on the side, save the drippings and see the recipe below!

Killer Au Jus
¼ cup beef fat drippings from your prime rib
1 ½ Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Beef broth
Salt & Pepper to taste

Melt fat in skillet over medium high heat. Whisk flour into the beef fat, whisking constantly
while cooking, until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.
Pour beef broth into fat mixture, increase heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Boil mixture
until it thickens slightly, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Broccoli Timbale
Serves 8

4 Cups Broccoli florets
1-1/2 to 2 cups whipping cream
5 large eggs
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons chopped scallion (optional)
Nutmeg to taste (optional)

Steam the broccoli (florets only), for 4 to 6 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 2-quart baking or souffle dish, 6 to 8 timbale molds, custard cups, or ramikans (each holding about 1/2 cup). I used an 8 cup Charlotte mold, which has slightly flared sides, making it super easy to unmold my masterpiece.

Cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the mold(s); place in the bottom of the mold and then butter the paper.

Then prepare the Timbale mixture:
Place and beat 5 eggs in a bowl.
Set aside 1-1/2 to 2 cups of whipping cream.
Place the cooked broccoli in a food processor or blender and process with the eggs and cream until smooth.
The amount of cream you use will make the mixture more concentrated or more custard-like. I like to use 2 cups.
Season to taste with salt and pepper
Add a pinch of nutmeg if using
Add the scallions if using.
Pulse to mix.
Carefully spoon the Timbale mixture into the mold(s).
Cook the timbales in a water bath: Place them in a baking pan just large enough to hold them, pour in very hot water halfway up their sides and carefully place in the oven. For 1/2-cup molds, cook 15 to 25 minutes; for a 2-quart mold, or an 8-cup Charlotte mold cook 35 to 45 minutes, or until just set.
Carefully loosen around the edges and invert onto a plate.
Tip: You can make the timbale up to 2 days ahead, either in the dish or unmolded. Reheat for about 10 minutes in a 325-degree oven before unmolding.

Half of a 5-pound bag of potatoes
Whole milk or whipping cream
Lots of Butter

Peel and cut up potatoes and cook until done.
Put potatoes in mixing bowl and mash or rice well.
Add butter and milk or cream to taste and mix with a beater until potatoes peak.
Put potatoes into a casserole dish and top with paprika.
The potatoes can be put directly onto a 35o preheated oven or put into the refrigerator until ready to cook.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown on top.

1 6 ounce package strawberry Jello
1½ cups boiling water
1 16-ounce can jellied cranberry sauce
1 small can of mandarin oranges
1 small can of diced pineapple
1 small can of peaches (cut up in bite size pieces)
2/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Dissolve Jello in boiling water. Stir cranberry sauce in bowl until very smooth. Blend with Jello and chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes. Fold nuts and fruit into a decorative glass bowl and chill until solid. You can decorate the top after it has set with some walnuts and mandarin oranges. I like to make a kind of flower design in the middle.
Serves 6

Baked S’Mores
1 package golden sugar cookie mix (Betty Crocker)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
2 milk chocolate bars (5 oz. each)
1 7 oz can marshmallow Fluff

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8”x8” square pan. Combine cookie mix, (with butter if it calls for it), egg and water in large bowl. Stir until thoroughly blended. Divide cookie dough in half. Press half the dough evenly into bottom of pan. Place each chocolate bar evenly into the pan. Take a clean tablespoon and wet it. Then take the back of the spoon and spread marshmallow crème to cover the chocolate. Drop the remaining cookie dough by tablespoonfuls on top of marshmallow crème. Spread lightly with back of clean spoon. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool at least three to four hours before serving. Cut into squares.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Times They Are A-Changin. But What About Us?


As I drove to my kickboxing class yesterday, Bob Dylan’s iconic song, The Times They Are A-Changin came on the radio.

Dylan’s call for change, written in 1963, couldn’t have been more prophetic. Less than a month after Dylan recorded the song, President Kennedy was assassinated.

I remember the first time I heard his haunting song about change, which was released in 1964. It came at a troubling time in American history. It seemed like our entire country had gone haywire.

Kennedy was dead.

His alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was shot to death on national television.

Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique catapulted the feminist movement.

The U.S. Surgeon General concluded that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer.  

Union leader Jimmy Hoffa was convicted of jury tampering.

Black teenager James Powell was shot and killed by a white off-duty police officer in Harlem, NY, prompting 8,000 people to take the streets, smashing windows, setting fires, and looting local businesses.

President Johnson launched a full-scale war against North Vietnam without securing a formal declaration of war from Congress.

In a collective act of defiance against the war, students burned their Vietnam draft cards and declared, “We won’t go!”

The FBI finally found the bodies of the three missing Freedom Summer volunteers, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, buried in a Mississippi earthen dam. Local officials refused to prosecute the case, causing federal investigators to step in.

The People’s Republic of China successfully tested a nuclear bomb, making it the fifth nation in the World with nuclear capabilities.

And Senator Barry Goldwater was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate, placing his conservative agenda in direct opposition to more moderate Republicans and declaring in his acceptance speech: “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

We will never know how different our country would be today had Goldwater won the election.

As I write this blog and look back on the events following the assassination of President Kennedy, I am reminded that time indeed marches on and maybe it even heals all wounds. I said maybe.

But, our country more than survived the tumultuous and turbulent 1964. What seemed like a doomsday year was just a tiny blip on the American screen. So I still have faith in America and my fellow Americans.

And yet here I was driving to a workout, 52 years later, with Dylan’s resonating words and gravelly voice covering me in a blanket of anxiety—and goose bumps.

Come gather around people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
And if your breath to you is worth saving
Then you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changing

Yes, indeed, times they are are a-changing. In ways that I both fear and welcome.

Let’s get to the bloody changes already. Because I am sick and tired of all the political ugliness.

And yes, in some ways I wish the media would change their monotonous tune. Because I’m sick and tired of all the spin spin spin for the sole purpose of ratings ratings ratings. And yet ratings aside, the media serves as an all-important watchdog. We all need to be vigilant in the coming days and months—including the press. Our lives and country depend on our vigilance.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon

For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no telling who that it’s naming

As I listened to Dylan’s soul searching song, it felt like he was singing about me. About 2016. About us.

And he had me captive audience in my ten-year-old car, asking myself a lot of things like:

Will Trump be receptive to moderating influences or will he merely listen to the last person he speaks to?

Will Trump do all the frightful things he said he would, to satisfy and appease his constituents, or will he reconsider his promises and do what is best for all Americans?

And Trump has on so many occasions bloviated, “We’re going to have so many victories, you will be bored of winning.”

Will we win? What if we don’t? And who is we? Am I part of the we party?

Will I be a bored loser or a bored winner?

For the loser now will be later to win
Cause the times they are a-changing

On the bright side, there’s always the 2020 election, which will start gearing up in early 2018.

Hell, for half the country it began on November 9.

I don’t know about you, but I’m so tired of it all. Maybe our elected officials are tired too.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s the battle outside raging
It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changing

And what about us as friends, family, strangers? How about us as fellow Americans?

How will we treat those who we have hurt us and who we have disagreed with? Will we be receptive to change? How will we react to policies that may not be best for all Americans? And how long will all this changing take?

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly aging
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
Cause the times they are a-changing

There is thankfully no deadline for mutual empathy, understanding, acceptance, or mending fences.

As I sadly hummed along with Dylan, all kinds of doom and gloom ran through my head. But then I thought back to 1964 and hummed it hopeful all the way to its end.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slowest now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fading
And the first one now will later be last
Cause the times they are a-changing