My Closest Call

My closest call came about 30 years ago. The incident occurred on 12/7/89. It was 11:30 p.m. on a Thursday. Kris was pregnant with Chad. She got a craving for pizza, as did I. I walked the 2-3 blocks from our house to the main boulevard in Woodland Hills, CA.

On the way back I heard the words, “Hey buddy, slow down.” At the corner, 300 feet from our house, he stopped me with a gun. I could see it shining under the streetlight. He was on my left and his companion was in a pickup truck on my right.

When I saw the gun, time slowed down to almost a standstill. This felt dreamlike but it was real. I prayed fervently and quietly.

The gunman asked for the pizza and my wallet. I tried to be as gentle and non-confrontational as I could.

Then I handed him the pizza and my fanny pack which had about seven dollars and change. That was what remained from the 20 dollar bill I had taken for the pizza. The pack had nothing else, as, again, I had walked not driven to the pizza place.

Thank God, at that point, they took the money and drove away. I returned to the restaurant where they empathetically gave me a free pizza.

I remember these events vividly, as I easily could have died at 44. My dear Kris would have been suddenly widowed. My dear daughter would have lost me at nine years of age. My dear son would have never seen his bio-father. I am so thankful for the blessing of life, L’Chaim.


We all experience heartbreak. We may have had relationships or a relationship that died through no one’s fault. We may have had ups and downs in a long term relationship that caused a deep well of sadness and regret. We all have our moments. It’s best described as being human.

In his brief ministry on earth, Jesus Christ, who led a sect of Jews, talked about his heartbreak over the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. that occurred long after his crucifixion. That included the destructuon of the precious Temple. Having visited Jerusalem, in April of 2019, for me, it’s a city one just falls in love with.

There is a regret when you leave Jerusalem that is hard to explain. It’s the hilliest major city I have ever visited. Living in California I love hills and mountains. They speak to my soul of God’s artistry.

The Wailing Wall seemed other worldly. It was a place bathed in prayer. I miss it.

Jerusalem, which means the city of peace, is simply the most beautiful place I have ever seen.

Why I Love California

From the age of ten I was an avid Rose Bowl watcher. That included the parade and the game.

As a seven year old from Dayton Ohio, my dad took me to Columbus to watch the Ohio State Buckeyes play football. He had actually been a boy scout usher in that stadium on opening day, October 7, 1922. It was the biggest thrill of my early childhood. The color. The game. The cheering crowd.

The Rose Bowl contract was between the Pac 10 and Big  10 ( Ohio State’s conference). So, I watched.

But I became engaged with the magnificent skyline and climate in Southern California. I had never lived anywhere with mountains. They painted the  horizon in the Rose Festival. To this day I can see the mountains and a few minutes away the Pacific from our home in SoCal.

I suppose the attachment goes deeper than that. My forebears were Middle Eastern, desert people. My 100 per Ashkenazi Jewish DNA leaves me more sanguine in SoCal’s desert climate, where we have lived just short of 43 years. I thank God we have been able to settle in a place this beautiful.


In 1978 my spouse, Kristine, and I spent the year in Ventura. Our mutual love for tennis drew us to the Forum in LA for the tennis season of the LA Strings. 

I suppose psychologists might tell us both, that, watching a sport we loved was a bit of a return to our childhood, when, play was the center of our lives. Certainly sports draw people away from the difficulties of everyday life, towards something playful.

Our joy included watching two of the most remarkable players of that generation, Ille Nastase and Chris Evert. They were a sensational draw for the city of Los Angeles in the midst of a tennis boom.

Chris was likely the finest female tennis player on clay who ever lived. She also won numerous majors besides the French and had an historic rivalry with Martina Navratilova. Chris and Martina understood the game so well, to this day they are both superb, international, broadcast journalists.

Ille, a Rumanian standout, won the French and the US Open. He was the first athlete Nike signed to a professional contract. The fluidity of his strokes and how bad he could make good tennis players look characterized his game.

It was not only his game that was creative. He was both a comic, at times, on court and wrote several novels upon retirement. 

Ille could be a little too playful. In fact, one of my fellow ushers at church, while only a college student, was employed to chauffer Ille and keep him “out of trouble.” He ran for Mayor of Bucharest years after he played and the townsfolk may have had the same concern as that title evaded him.

The Delight of Water Skiing

I was oh so fortunate to waterski as a kid. It was a relief from my emotion-charged adolescence. I could actually drive a vehicle before I was sixteen. I could enjoy the beauty of a sun-filled day on a mirror smooth Biscayne Bay in Miami, FL.

I had always had the disadvantage of my small frame in athletics, even in the tennis game I loved. But with skiing, my small size gave me a lower center of gravity and a greater affinity for gymnastic maneuvers. This watersport was in my exceedingly finite, athletic wheelhouse.

But that wasn’t all. Though, I was borderline worthless in shop, I actually made a fair, slalom ski I used for years.

 I would slowly approach the wake and then using its height jump it. Then in slalom manuevers, I’d weave back and forth behind the boat bending my ankles to lower the back of my head and torso  toward the back of my ski. A high, rooster tail of water would stream behind me relative to how low I bent.

A half century of care with my back, which went bad in my twenties has kept me from that sport I so loved. But, the memories still refresh me.

H. Robert Rubin, best-selling, Amazon memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel, How Did I Get Through This? and Please Save the Third Dance for Me, all available on Amazon.

A Surprising Obituary

I was reading a New York Times obituary yesterday and came across one about a famous linguistics professor who died two weeks ago. He had the unique gift of writing beautifully for lay people as well as linguists. Like many writers he loved words, their unique twists, the changes in their meaning with time and the like.

I read he was a fellow Californian teaching and writing in Northern, CA. Then as the Times often does the obit writer addressed the man’s early life. I read his date of birth. It was exactly the same as mine. I was stunned. My heart dropped into my stomach.

I suppose the odds against that occurrence were large. I enjoy the obits and  had read hundreds of them. Never had the decedent been born even close to my own date of birth. I guess it just brought home how imminent my own death could be.

Friar Fan Frustration May Be Over

It’s a kid’s game, baseball. I have followed it since I was a ten year old kid playing competitive ball. Playing helps you to understand how hard it is to hit a well pitched baseball. It sure was for me.

I’ve followed the Padres for 26 years. Lots of frustration. Their best team in 1998 played unfortunately, the best Yankee team I have ever seen, losing all four games in that series.

As I watched Fernando Tatis, Jr. make two great plays at shortstop today, helping the team to sweep the reigning world champions, I was convinced this team can flat out PLAY. They had to beat three solid starters to sweep.

Manny Machado hit the go ahead two run homer. Emilio Pagan closed with three straight outs, notching our seventh straight victory. It caught me by surprise when I was touched.

It isn’t springtime with lots of hope; it’s the halfway point of a shortened season with lots of proof. Go Pads! Get to that series with the last two standing.


I don’t understand atheists. Do atheists have an explanation of how something was created from nothing? Do they have an explanation for how some of their believing colleagues,  who were born again, have transformed their lives? Can they tell me why when I hear the most notable atheists debate believers, the atheists seem far quicker to produce anger and ridicule?

I believe if your eyes and heart are wide open you will hear God’s voice and change. You say I cannot prove his existence?

As the wonderful Christian writer and emeritus mathematics professor at Cambridge, John Lennox, has noted, the only bona fide proofs in science are in mathematics. The changes wrought in the lives of believers may not be proof, but they are compelling evidence. Don’t you think?

Another Bit of the Bits and Pieces from My Medicolegal Work

So in my 2.5 years in Baltimore as a medical examiner, many of our autopsied cases came right off the street. With all the strange aromas, nothing was worse that an unbathed alcoholic who didn’t quite make it found on those streets. They were a sad, sad element of life in Baltimore in the mid-70s

One day as I entered one lung of an alcoholic in an autopsy, something discolored and ugly opened up in the lung. I was concerned but hoped as I worked in public health, that it was just another “bullet” I had dodged.

As I should, I followed up in those mid-70s with a PPD skin test to establish if I might have TB. It was positive but in that case, Thank God, it simply indicated my immune system had worked effectively. No lesion could be identified. Nonetheless I took the drug INH for a year to be assured there was nothing smoldering in my chest that could get serious.

That experience with an infectious hazard is one of the reasons, at 75, I have huge respect for the potential of COVID-19 to wreak turmoil in our lives. May God bless all of you with good fortune through this period of risk.

The Value of College?

College? What do you really gain besides a better shot at material wealth? A lot.

It is a brief, peaceful respite before the onslaught of the real world. It is the transition from adolescence to adulthood. College, at least for me, had lessons for the rest of my life.

Despite preparing to go into healthcare with a set of requirements, I majored in history. I studied the history of all kinds of things. Science, Russia. Germany. The city. The Renaissance and Reformation. The world. It broadened and deepened me.

I dated women in a more serious vein. It was not always just puppy love. I had my heart broken. It was exceedingly painful. But that also deepened and broadened me.

Were my four years of time and money wasted beyond the greater chance to accumulate stuff? No. By the grace of God, the years had a real impact on my overall sense of well-being. College amplified my zest for knowledge, for reading, for writing and for relationship. At it’s core it enhanced my search for truth