Friday, March 31, 2006

Fun Photo Day in the Middle East

(Hat tips: R2JB and KickBoxer)

First, from R2JB:
Caption from AP:
Ultra Orthodox Jews in prayer shawls use a mobile phone and a camera to take pictures of the sunrise as it is seen from Masada, a cliff overlooking the Jordan River where Jewish rebels defended a fortress from Roman soldiers in 73 A.D., in this early Monday May 24, 2004 file photo. Talks are under way between Mirs Comunications Ltd, an Israeli subsidiary of Motorola, to introduce a " Kosher phone " to Jewish communities in the United States and other nations possibly later this year. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov/FILE)

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All right reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
R2JB notes:
"Looks like the AP does know the word 'rebel' after all."
Heh.

And from Kickboxer, the best photo of the year:
HAHAHA!!! :)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

What an Honor!

Ben's latest at OKS.

Dumbest Study Ever

Wow, check this out. (emphasis mine)
In the largest study of its kind, researchers found that having people pray for heart bypass surgery patients had no effect on their recovery. In fact, patients who knew they were being prayed for had a slightly higher rate of complications. Researchers emphasized that their work can't address whether God exists or answers prayers made on another's behalf. The study can only look for an effect from prayers offered as part of the research, they said. They also said they had no explanation for the higher complication rate in patients who knew they were being prayed for, in comparison to patients who only knew it was possible prayers were being said for them.
Umm, what!? They're doing a scientific study on *prayer*?! Wow, this is so stupid, I don't know where to begin... so I'll just quote the article:
Critics said the question of God's reaction to prayers simply can't be explored by scientific study.
Um, duh?

For fun, though, let's quote another piece of the article - maybe this is the real reason:
Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School and other scientists tested the effect of having three Christian groups pray for particular patients, starting the night before surgery and continuing for two weeks. The volunteers prayed for "a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications" for specific patients, for whom they were given the first name and first initial of the last name.
Heh. Everyone knows you need their first and middle names and their mother's names... and maybe it would help if the people praying were, oh, I don't know... JEWISH?! ;)

(Chill, just having some fun. This was too stupid a study to ignore, though.)

Slowly Getting Back to Blogging

Whew! After a whirlwind week, things are finally starting to slow to normal. Elianna had her first doctor's visit today (went perfectly, bH!), and Serach seems to be doing quite well - getting out of the house and walking around a bit. I'll probably spend the next couple of days posting a little and reading up on a lot; responding to all the wonderful and kind commenters; and writing about whatever else I said I would along with a bit about what is going on in Israel.

There are also a couple of exciting announcements coming up in the blogosphere that have been developing for a while, but you'll just have to wait and see for those... ;) Anyways... more to come soon!

Oh - and of course, pictures. :)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Do the Math

A quick post on the Israeli elections, in which a Sharon-less Kadima dropped from an originally projected 40+ seats to 28...

Kadima has 28 seats; Labor has 20. The Arab parties have 10, and Meretz has 4. 28 + 20 + 10 + 4 = 62 seats. You need 61 for a majority in the Knesset. Does this somehow not scare you, and if not, why not?!

Meanwhile, had it been the same numbers, but Sharon leading the charge, I'd be saying precisely the reverse. Ariel Sharon, for all people (including myself) may have disagreed with his policies, had a certain trustworthiness in at least one aspect: Were something needed to be done to protect the State of Israel and its Jewish identity, he would have done it - no matter the political consequences. Ehud Olmert, on the other hand, may be as equally dedicated to the State and its people, but he is first and foremost a politician - one who I do not trust to carry out operations such as "Defensive Shield" or similar if the need arises.

The only issue that will hold back this new government from doing whatever it feels like will be the split between Kadima and the others over fiscal policy; if Olmert caves to Peretz's demands, the country will head to financial ruin, and Olmert knows it. His only other option is to go with Shas, Likud, UTJ, and the Pensioner's Party, and strike deals all over - but then his desired disengagement will be difficult to accomplish. Instead, he'll probably go with the left, and cave somewhat to Peretz, leading to disaster in every major aspect of the State.

Ugh.

Pictures Coming

Ah, the tragedies of life. On Friday, I was able to take a number of pictures of Elianna, with the batteries finally dying that afternoon. On motzei Shabbos (Sat night), I got the camera on long enough to snap the one picture currently on this blog before it shut itself off again. That night, I went home, uploaded the pictures to my computer, and went to sleep. The next day, I got a ride into the city with OD and SIL and their kids to visit Serach. Another good friend had gotten there about 5 minutes before us and was already holding Elianna. I snapped a few more pictures with my supposedly fully charged batteries, and then the batteries died again.

SIL was kind enough to give me their extra rechargeables to use for the next few days, so I put the batteries in the case - the new Canon Powershot A510 my mother had gotten us hadn't come with a case, so I was using the case from my old Pentax, which was big enough to hold the camera and extra batteries. In general, I'm the type who loves taking pictures, and when I have a reason to have a camera on me, I keep the camera with me. I also didn't want to leave it in the room while Serach was sleeping, so when the friend and I went to get some "lunch" at 4:00, I took the camera with me.

Unfortunately, we discovered that the cafeteria a couple of buildings over in Mt. Sinai was closed already, so after a minute of debating, I calculated I had plenty of time to go to midtown, eat, and get back. Worst comes to worst, I could take a cab back if Serach wants me to. As we were about to walk into the restaurant, the friend asked why I was holding the camera - I told her why, and added that this way I can see the pictures of Elianna I had already taken (come on, new dad... :) ). We headed to Circa, and though it was almost closing, we were able to get some food and sit down to eat. When we were about to leave, Serach (who'd called once while we were on the way there) called again and asked that I take a cab back and to bring her some dessert. I bought two black-and-white cookies, they put them in a bag, and we left.

The friend went her own way to go shopping, I got into a cab and went back. My father called me and was talking to me about the crazy UConn/George Mason game most of the way, and I was still on the phone when I walked into Serach's room, holding the cookies. About 20 minutes later, I wanted to take a picture - but couldn't find the camera. I spent the next while continually looking around the room for it... but as you can guess, never found it. I called 311 and filed a lost item with the Taxi & Limousine Commission, but have yet to hear anything. My mother called Circa, but they didn't find anything; I'm reasonably certain (as is the friend) that I was holding it when we left. The likely place I left it was the cab. It's too bad the TLC wouldn't let me describe the driver ("we don't have a box for that information") - he sticks out quite a bit. He's short, white, with an Islamic goatee... and pigmentation on most of his face that's black. That would help identify the cab, but alas...

Thankfully, the camera does have pictures on it. If anyone would find it and turn it on, they'll not only see pictures of a newborn baby, but a picture of the awning of Mt. Sinai hospital. If they put two and two together, they might think "Oh, this must be someone's who just had a baby at Mt. Sinai!" That of course requires someone trying to return it as opposed to keeping it, but there's at least some hope.

There were only about 5-10 pictures on the camera that I hadn't yet uploaded, and thank God I'd already done the all-important first pictures - or I'd be going nuts. For now, we have my mother-in-law's camera to use (nice, big, pretty screen, camera itself doesn't work all that wonderfully - when will people learn that it's the pictures that matter!?), and when I figure out how to upload the pictures, I'll be able to put some more good ones up. In the meantime, if anyone finds a Canon camera in a Pentax case...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Elianna :)

Elianna Rachel Goldish, about 36 hours after her birth, being held by her sabba (grandfather) for the first time.

Woah

So much to blog, so little time...!

Upcoming posts, once Serach & Elianna (!) are out of the hospital...

  • Thank you post to a lot of people.
  • Responding to all the comments - should be fun! I bunch of people asked questions/made statements in the comments and via e-mail that I want to answer, so I'll probably do them all at once.
  • The story behind the spelling. ;)
  • An account of our adventures at Mount Sinai and my adventures on the Upper East Side.
  • The story of the camera, which is now missing... (thank God I'd already uploaded the first day of pictures to this computer!)
  • Continue the series on "How I Met Serach"
  • And much, much more!
Woah. There are also a multitude of great posts around the blogosphere, some exciting (blog and blog-type) news to share coming soon, March Madness, politics, and just about everything else. Keep checking back, posts will be coming up in spurts at strange times...!

Thanks again for all the warm wishes, kind offers, and everything else. Serach & I both really appreciate it, and Elianna just keeps eating, sleeping, and cuddling. :)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Behind The Name, and Update

Thank you again to all the commenters, linkers, signers, and the like who've wished us mazel tov - we really appreciate it and are quite flattered. Most importantly, they brought extra smiles to myself and Serach - so thank you very much. Serach and the baby are still in the hospital and doing very well, thank God - it was a C-section, so they'll be there until tomorrow. I came hope to get some sleep and take care of a few things today (no, no, not a blog roundup... ;) ), but figured I'd post this quickly.

There are many more details and the like to come iyH, but in the meantime... a quick explanation of Elianna's name. The name Elianna is not for anybody; we really like the name, and very much like what it means (my God answers her/answered her). It means something now (and in the past) for Serach, and it means something for Elianna in the future. Serach also really liked the name Rachel (as did I), and wanted that as the middle name. Add in that Rachel Imeinu (the matriarch) is famous for having her prayers answered, and it has a further meaning that fits well with Elianna. I very quickly noted that it is also the name of my aunt, Rochel/Rochelle Goldish, who passed away about two and a half years ago, and as I was very close with her when I was in Israel for two years, it would be nice to be naming the baby in her honor as well. I hope to write more about her at some point in the future as well; she was truly an incredible woman.

Pictures and more to come soon!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

And Our Baby's Name Is...

Elianna Rachel Goldish!!! :)
[rachel as in ra ra ra!, not run]

As SIL wrote in the previous post, she was born at 9:29 A.M. Friday morning, and weighed 7 pounds 12 ounces and was 19 inches long. She and Serach are bH healthy, and both have been getting plenty of rest (Elianna a bit more than Ser). We had the baby at Mount Sinai on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and through a series of fortuitous events I found a shul called Orach Chaim on Lexington Ave. between 94th & 95th Streets and they graciously offered to have me name her there.

Thanks to everyone for your beautiful, warm, and kind (and funny!) wishes, whether via e-mail, the blog, or of course, OnlySimchas. Hopefully we'll get some pictures up in the near future... and of course, more details to come later. Thanks again!

Haveil Havalim #63 is up!

Haveil Havalim #63 is up at R' Chaim HaQoton, and though I haven't had a chance to read it, I'm sure it's amazing. After all, it starts off wonderfully! ;)

A quick definition of HH:
Haveil Havalim is the carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It’s hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Soccer Dad. The term “Haveil Havalim”, which means "Vanity of Vanities", is from Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, which was written by King Solomon. Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other “excesses” and realized that it was nothing but “hevel”, or in English, “vanities.”
Check it out!

Last week: Me-Ander hosted #62.

Next week: I'm Haaretz, PhD hosts #64 - e-mail submissions to her at jewishstudent at gmail dot com.

Technorati tags: , , , , .

Friday, March 24, 2006

Serandezand...

Mazel Tov to Serach and Ezzie on the birth of their daughter this morning!! Cutie weighed 7-12 at birth and is 19 inches.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Out of Control

Following up on this post by SIL, check this out. To the right is
"A youth hits a press photographer with a burning cloth during clashes following a demonstration in Paris."
Underneath is
"Youths kick a demonstrator during clashes following a demonstration against the first job contract in Paris."
Normal. In typical French form, what is the Prime Minister planning on doing about it? Giving in:
Villepin has said he is ready to discuss modifying the most criticized aspects of the measure: the two-year period during which an employee can be fire and justification for the firing. Currently, none is needed.
Okay - so Villepin has actually done a decent job until now of standing up to the unions and the threats; but he should be presenting the unions with ultimatums, not the other way around. Either they do something about the demonstrators who are rioting, or there will be no further discussions. If the unions claim that they are not involved in the rioting, then they should have no problem with the police using as much force as necessary to stop the vandalism and thuggery of the rioters.

France is spinning out of control, and quickly; have they not learned that appeasement is the wrong way to negotiate?!

Kadima "Militants"

Wow. The AP crosses a whole new line...

AbbaGav: No, this is not a Kadima-bashing election post. It's an AP-bashing post. Get a load of this out-of-control moral equivalence:

kadima_militants
Militants of the Kadima party stand next to portraits of acting prime minister Ehud Olmert, right, and ailing prime minister Ariel Sharon at the Kadima headquarters in Jerusalem Wednesday March 22, 2006. The centrist party Kadima (forward in English) was founded by Ariel Sharon in Nov. 2006 after leaving the right-wing Likud party and is the front-runner in the polls for the upcoming March 28 general elections. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
We've known for quite a while now that AP, along with most news services, has implemented a policy of calling terrorists "militants" and then euphemistically demoting the militants down to activists before any text hits the wires. It's enfuriating to read carefully worded stories about "a suicide activist who apparently was killed in a blast today inside a crowded..."

But this isn't enough. Now they are taking political activists of centrist Israeli parties and calling them militants. Kadima terrorists can't be far behind -- and that is not election commentary either.

Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

How I Met Serach, Part IV: The "Sister"

This is Part IV of a series about how I proposed to Serach. Part I is here, Part II is here, and Part III is here. I'm currently giving the background of the story...

During night seder, November 26th, 2003...
[beep] Ez: Hey B, what's up?

B: Hey - whatcha doing tonight?

Ez: Actually, remember that girl Serach I told you about? I'm meeting her for the first time tonight.

B: Oh! Is it a date?

[pause]

Ez: Umm... no, I don't think so...

B: You sure? Kinda sounds like a date... (!) Eh-zeeee!!

Ez: No - I don't think it is. We're just meeting up.

B: O-kaaaay!!!

Ez: Okay, gotta get back to learning before Jon kills me. Byee!

B: Byeeeeeeeeee!!!
Ah, B. My dear friend B. It's time to go back into the past a bit...

For a long time, I had a friend Bracha, whom I (along with many others) called Bracha B, or often simply "B". We were friendly since I was in high school (she is a year younger than I am), and had become exceptionally close as we each went through hard times when we were in Israel - for me, it was a rough Shana Bet (second year in Israel post-high school), for her, a rough beginning to Shana Aleph (first year). One call, right around Sukkos of that year, was one of the major catalysts of our relationship. The highlight: My saying to her, after she gave excellent advice and listened to me for about an hour...
Hey, Bracha - I never realized you're not a ditz!
Brilliant, right? For some reason, after a few minutes of apologizing and trying to explain that one, she (kind of) forgave me, even if has she never let me live it down. Then again, I will always tease her about the time she called me in a panic because she'd just burned off some of her hair, but I digress... Over the rest of the year, save about 6 weeks in the middle, we would speak quite often, and this continued over the summer and into the next school year, when I was in Lander and she was in college at home. We had become so close, we considered ourselves to be brother and sister - one of the ironies being that her birthday was exactly the same as my [biological] sister. Bracha was, and always will be, one of my best friends, and she really is like a second sister to me.*

*
Just to clarify, there was never any chance Bracha and I would date. Long story, but it was never even a thought in our minds...

So... Bracha B was very excited about my "meeting" - and decided she would call me later on in the night to see how it went. She had heard quite a bit about this "Serach" girl, who had (gasp) interfered on occasion with "our" talking time, and was interested in learning more. Meanwhile, I thought nothing of it - I was wearing my gray OJ hooded sweatshirt (really comfortable), my Skechers slip-on shoes, and hadn't shaved in who knows how long.

After night seder with my good friend Jon, my talk with my 'sister' Bracha, and Ma'ariv, I headed out to meet Serach for the first time. Little did I know that I'd be meeting a new best friend...

Ezzie: I'm writing the story as I remember it, and unfortunately that sometimes results in skipping some details. When I remember them, I'll try to fill them in; possibly in the comments, possibly in the posts if it won't make it too disjointed. If anything is unclear or you have any questions, feel free to ask! Serach won't admit it, but she's been reading the story - maybe she'll fill in some of the details and her perspective at some point. I'm still hoping. :)

Prof. Justice: Selling Security?

Ezzie's note: Charlie, even you and DovBear would like this one, I think.
Previously by Prof. Justice: Holiday Correctness, Terminate Tookie, Fire & Hire, Democrats' Investment in Defeat, Dubya Not So Dumbya, State of the Obstructocrats.
SELLING SECURITY?

Now that Dubai Ports World announced its intention to sell the British company, P & O, the purchase of which triggered a symphony of opposition, the issue of who should be permitted to operate, control, manage or have access to our ports appears to have lost some steam. The debate itself, however, remains on the fast track of debate. Unfortunately, after listening to several weeks of opinions, arguments and political discourse, I have yet to achieve clarity on this issue, let alone form an opinion. When I first heard this reported, I dismissed it the same way I would have had a person living in Iowa claimed to have been abducted by aliens: “Yeah, right.” But the very thought that a middle east company, ostensibly wholly owned by the United Arab Emirates government, would be operating or managing six of our major ports is indeed alarming.

Publicity of the DP World deal instantly generated sharp criticism from the overwhelming majority of congressional Democrats and Republicans. Unlike the usual bitter partisan rhetoric, however, they were clamoring in unison to oppose it. Even traditional media opponents lined up behind each other in agreement. It is a strange day when the New York Times, the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post all concurred. Stranger yet, Rush Limbaugh squarely differed from that of conservatives. And perhaps the most bizarre spectacle came when President Bush and former President Carter both concluded that the deal posed no security concerns to the United States. As baffling as these responses may be, perhaps the most perplexing issue, which I have yet been able to convincingly answer, is whether the resulting hysteria was grounded in reality or merely emanated from a gross distortion of an ordinary business transaction.

One week after the media broke the story, the president, seeking to reassure us, stated, “We wouldn’t go forward if we were concerned about the security of the United States of America.”

You’ll forgive me, but considering that he’s already had me scratching my head because of his failure to effectively address and deal with border security, the prescription debacle and Harriet Miers, “trust me, “ isn’t very comforting. Nor is it reassuring that the Treasury Department defended its approval by asserting that the deal presented no security risk. This becomes more apparent after learning that several of the basic security provisions typically required when any foreign company does business in the U.S. were waived. For instance, DP World would not have been required to keep a copy of all documents generated on our soil and be made available for inspection upon demand by authorized government officials. Another provision waived for DP would have required the presence of an American liaison or “overseer” to monitor all its business dealings with the United States.

To begin with, it should be precisely understood what DP World’s “take over” of the six ports really means. Our ports are actually owned by local governmental authorities. As for the ports’ security, nothing would have changed. The Coast Guard, the Customs and Border protection control and other various local law enforcement agencies would have continued to be in exclusive control of all security, inspection and safekeeping issues. All that DP World would have been responsibility for is “terminal operation.” A terminal operator merely arranges for the logistical operation of terminal cargo, i.e., to protect cargo while ensuring that it gets from one location at the terminal to another at the terminal and holds it until it is picked up. In addition, DP World would not have been the only company managing terminals at our ports. We have many foreign port companies operating at terminals throughout the United States. In fact, DP World would have been managing only one of the five terminals at the New York and New Jersey Port Authority and only two of fourteen in Baltimore. Homeland Security officials have explained that the terminal management process is a minor portion of the security process. Containers carrying cargo are screened before they even leave the port of departure. From there, Homeland Security determines what containers should be searched based upon a risk analysis. A management company has no part in that process.

Yet, there appears to be good reason for concern. It isn’t merely an issue of profiling to be wary of a middle east government owned company having being permitted anywhere near our ports. True, we have British, Danish and other foreign companies performing port management duties, but then again, the source of our security concerns have not emanated form those countries. While it is true that not all Muslims are terrorists, indeed most are not, virtually all terrorists are fundamental Wahabists. Even the 9/11 Commission Chairman, former New Jersey Governor Tom Keane, opposed this deal. His commission determined that two of the nineteen hijackers were from the UAE and that the UAE was the primary financial facilitator of 911 by permitting money to flow through its banks which then provided the funding to the homicide-bomber savages.

Several days before the completion of this deal, the Australian government issued the following alert to its citizens: “We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the United Arab Emirates because of the high threat of terrorist attack. We continue to receive reports that terrorists are planning attacks against Western interests in the United Arab Emirates. Commercial and public areas frequented by foreigners are possible terrorist targets.” The UAE was one of only three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban as the official government of Afghanistan. Our “friends” the Saudis and Pakistan were the others. They also were active participants in the shipment of nuclear components to Libya, North Korea and, yes, Iran. They refuse to recognize Israel and actively participate in an Arab boycott against it. In fact, DP World, which is entirely held by the UAE government through the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCZC), actively participates in the Arab boycott. Government officials have made it clear that the UAE remains in effect, is enforced and will continue to be enforced. They even have an office dedicated to examining certificates of origin as a means of determining whether a product or any of its components were made in Israel. U.S. law prohibits companies from complying with such boycotts and, last year, fined companies on several occasions for boycott-related activities all of which were connected to the UAE government. As if this were bad enough, the UAE continues to maintain a close association Hamas and have promised to increase their aid to them now that Hamas is in power. Lastly, in a recently released U.S. military document, a June 2002 message from Al Qaeda to UAE government officials, warned that during the previous three years, their operatives successfully infiltrated key UAE government agencies.

On the other hand, since 9/11, the UAE has been ostensibly our best Arab ally in the war against terror. They have taken substantial measures to close the holes in their financial system that permitted the flow of money to the 9/11 terrorists. They work closely with our intelligence agencies to provide significant intelligence resulting the prevention of terrorist operations, disruption of terror network cells and even the apprehension of terrorists. In addition, the fundamental Wahabist terrorists can come from anywhere. The shoe bomber, Richard Reid, was from Brittan. Should we stop doing business with British companies also?

I understand that there are foreign diplomacy concerns for the President to consider. In the event, inevitably or otherwise, that either preemptive military action in Iran or defensive military action in Israel becomes necessary, we would need access to their air and/or naval bases. I realize that in the end we may need “allies” in that region of the world and the UAE is one of the most helpful of the Arab countries. But make no mistake. Ultimately, they will have their best interests ahead of ours and like it or not, they have to maintain diplomatic relations with Syria, Saudi Arabia and even Iran. So, when it is in their interest to align with us, they will, and when it isn’t, is there any doubt with whom they be affiliated?

Finally, President Bush, for his part, made some colossal blunders. First, he didn’t know of the deal until approximately two weeks before the media did, and even after learning of it, he permitted it to be completed as if it were business as usual. In the context of our sensitivity to terrorism and security issues since 9/11, his failure and that of his administration to anticipate and address the public outrage is inexcusable. Unfortunately, the modus operandi of this administration is that when challenged, it often takes weeks, sometimes months to respond. And even when they do, they often fail to sufficiently and effectively communicate with the American people. Simply reiterating, “Trust me” or “If the deal does not go through, what kind of mixed message does that send to other countries?” just doesn’t work.

Is it possible that the President’s only justification for his insistence that the deal presented no security issues one of political correctness? Sure, anything’s possible. Not likely though. It seems to me there are far more effective ways of accomplishing that goal, not the least of which is vigilant law enforcement and national security measures. Having said that, Arabs and Arab countries must nevertheless recognize that we have real, legitimate security concerns emanating specifically from Muslim fundamentalists, political correctness be damned. In the end, it could very well be that this deal would have been business as usual without incident. If so, then the hysteria over the deal would have been for naught. Then again, such a deal could indeed lead to catastrophic events. So I suppose that my question ought to be...

Is it worth the risk?
Professor Justice practices Criminal Law in New York, teaches trial advocacy, and is a Professor of Business Law.

Israel Lobby

Though pretty much everyone under the sun has written a response to or comment on the recent idiocy from Harvard, this article in today's Wall Street Journal is a nice sum up of the issue at hand. One great line at the end that is worth quoting directly:
Americans don't support Israel because of the strength of any lobby; Israel earns American support the hard way, for the very reasons the Boston cabbie cited several decades ago.
Read the whole thing.

The best specific response I saw, by the way (and there were many good ones) was in Monday's Best of the Web. A quote from there - again, read the whole thing:
Walt and Mearsheimer's method of analysis presumes Israel's guilt. Every past or present Israeli transgression is evidence of its wickedness, whereas Arab ones, if they are acknowledged at all, are "understandable." This approach paints a highly misleading picture. It is anti-Semitic in effect if not in intent.
Exactly.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 3/22

Not much time to write now, as I have an interview this morning... and I still need to get a haircut, shave, shower, and get to the city. My friend who just got engaged in LA crashed here last night after his plane was delayed for a couple of hours before having an originally unplanned stopover in Kansas - fun fun, right? A good friend of mine who is a very talented photographer took the pictures at this friend's engagement party - and they're really great shots. Wish I could have been there...

A few others have roundups of sorts today - Daled Amos has his usual midweek middle of the night roundup which is quite good, Judeopundit has his Linkim, and SoccerDad puts together some of the posts on the Israeli elections and Coke Blak, along with some carnivals. Included is the Kosher Cooking Carnival, which will next be hosted by Sarah (she of the beautiful images) - be sure to send in your submissions!

And now, on to the rest of the roundup...

*Post of the Day*
Great catch by Meryl Yourish.
Treppenwitz has a hilarious post on... toilet size. Kind of. :)

Avi Green notes that ex-President Carter is furthering his lack of credibility. This one's pretty outrageous.

Stacey gets hiJacked by a monkey. Ha!

An old but good post by Pragmatician.

Robbie questions himself - touching post...

AOL contacts JBM, who has a few worthwhile links because of it.

CrossCurrents discusses the issue of charedim not voting in the WZO elections... and I'm inclined to disagree on this one.

As usual, DryBones puts things into perspective.

LifeinIsrael notes the hypocrisy of the UTJ e-mail campaign.

SephardiLady wonders about whether we should prioritize our tzedaka.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What's Bringing People Here

I don't normally do this, but I found it a bit strange when I saw what was sending people here today. First, there were a couple of weird searches: "valerie krum pork" (I'm the first hit) and "let children smoke" (where I'm third - the exact quote is "NOT to let children smoke", but whatever...). I'm honestly not sure which is more disturbing, so I'll let y'all decide.

More interesting was a link I received from MSNBC. Apparently, MSNBC has assigned someone to find interesting links in the blogosphere, and put them all on their website. The latest edition of the Kosher Cooking Carnival is what this writer stumbled on, and I'm curious as to how that happened, but it brought to mind a few questions about the blogosphere and its relationship to the mainstream media. Here's an excerpt from an e-mail I sent this writer:
If you don’t mind my asking, I’ve always been curious – do the blogs of traditional media outlets get readers? It seems as if most bloggers would be somewhat ‘distrustful’ of such a blog; instead of viewing it as just another blog, with more behind it, they seem to view it as “just another wing of the MSM, disguised.”

While people respect the news outlets themselves, or blogs themselves, they don’t seem to like the combination of the two. When a post I wrote was put into Opinion Journal [this post, here], it got respect (and hate mail :) ). And obviously, bigger blogs have their own respect, even if most of it remains in the blogosphere. But blogs such as the one the WSJ created, and this one [the MSNBC blog], seem to be somewhat unknown. Is this the impression you get as well, or am I way off?
What are your impressions of blogs that originate with major news organizations? The only one I can think of that is very popular and well-read is James Taranto's Best of the Web from the Wall Street Journal, but according to Taranto, that's not really a blog. Does being attached to a major news outlet limit the ability of someone to be a true blogger while working in that capacity? To me, it both gives them credibility and limits them at the same time. I wonder how most people react to a blog like that.

Health Watch

(Hat tip: Mom)

Two interesting links from my mother, both in the Wall Street Journal... the first one is important to everybody, the second may be good for many bloggers (hmm, I wonder who this may apply to...).

Storing Medical Information:

The Problem: Personal information isn't immediately available in a medical emergency.

The Solution: Store it on your cellphone or hand-held device. You can enter critical information -- such as names of physicians, emergency contacts, insurance, prescriptions you are taking and any allergies you have -- yourself. Use your phone's memo function, which will save it in your address book. Medical personnel are increasingly trained to check a cellphone's address book for contact info.

There's more, with some new inexpensive ways of keeping such info being sold online. Click the link for more.

Sleep issues:

Staying up late and sleeping until noon usually seems like normal teenage behavior.

But there's increasing concern among doctors that many teens may actually be suffering from a little-known sleep disorder. The problem, called delayed sleep phase syndrome, isn't well known and is often underdiagnosed, but it may afflict anywhere from 360,000 to several million teens and young adults, according to a 2004 review article in the medical journal Sleep. One of the gravest concerns, researchers say, is that it is often misdiagnosed as attention deficit disorder, depression or a behavioral problem that is treated with prescription drugs. The sleep disorder, however, can usually be treated without drugs.

DSPS is believed to be the result of the body's internal clock -- called the circadian system -- getting stuck in the wrong place, causing kids to stay up late. As kids enter puberty, circadian rhythms that affect sleep begin to change, which is why most kids' bedtimes shift about an hour later as they get older. But for reasons no one understands, some kids experience more dramatic changes as their internal clocks shift forward too far. Those kids can't fall asleep until the early hours of the morning, but still have to get up early for school, so they have to get by on just a few hours of sleep each night.

There are plenty of people, particularly teens and young adults, who have trouble with sleeping at normal times. I can't imagine any bloggers who have this problem, posting in the wee hours of the morning, catching just a few hours of sleep a night... but check out the whole article. It's very interesting. I've actually done the 'stay up, change the sleep cycle' routine many times, though I do it in one shot (by staying up straight through for 2 days). The problem is, that works for about 2 days before you get yourself right back to the late schedule again.

I've often wondered whether for someone like me it makes much of a difference; I function quite well on an average of about 5 hours a night, and so what if they're at weird hours? Is it that most people need 7+ to function, but if you're fine without it, then it doesn't make a difference; or is it unhealthy in the long-term for someone to live years on an average of 5 hours? Anybody know?

Reading Rainbow Hour

I think Serandez readers will appreciate this book, Our Culture, What's Left of It (by Theodore Dalrymple) whose essays include subjects such as what happens to a society when individuals stop being responsible for their own lives; when everything from the past is discarded just for being the past (PROGRESS!); what happens when people live entirely in pursuit of pleasure and hedonism; and the grave dangers of political correctness. He writes about his experinces in the UK, although it is a warning for the US of what might be. (It may not be so far off - I recently had to answer some questions on a government form and they wanted to know if I needed help with anything else - among them finding friends...)

Also, related - check out this Dennis Prager article from the JWR.

Read This Story Carefully

By now, many of you know what happened earlier today in Israel. A quick recap: Israeli police shut down parts of the country and engaged in a high-speed chase between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, chasing a van of Palestinians that had a large bomb inside. The Palestinians were on their way to carrying out an attack.

So how did such a thing happen, just a week before Israeli elections? Israel has locked down the borders with Gaza and the West Bank specifically to stop something like this from happening during the lead into elections - how did they get in? Oh, that's right - because of Israel's humanitarian gesture:
Reflecting the jitters, Israel has banned Palestinians from entering the country until after the March 28 election, and greatly restricted movement through the Gaza Strip's main cargo crossing. With the closure causing shortages of bread and other essential items in Gaza, Israel allowed the crossing to temporarily reopen Tuesday.
This is not the first time such a thing has happened - not by a long shot. Go through Ze'ev's archives, he has noted this many times in the past 6 months. And yet, Israel continues to make such gestures, despite their continuing reprecussions on the people of the State of Israel. The question is: Why?!

The simple answer is: the United States of America.
Amid concerns of violence, Israel reopened the Karni crossing, the main gateway for Gaza's imports and exports, for a second straight day in an attempt to alleviate a food shortage in the area. The crossing was opened on Monday, but closed after about 30 minutes due to Israeli security concerns. Militants have attacked Karni in the past. Israel has closed the Karni crossing for most of the past two and a half months, warning of more attacks.
Under an agreement brokered by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in November, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to boost cargo traffic through Karni. The accord was meant to give momentum to peace efforts after Israel's summer pullout from Gaza. But the deal was never implemented.

The United States, concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, has been pressing the sides to work out an agreement on Karni's opening.

Ah, but the humanitarian side in Israel? People getting blown up for going to the mall, getting a slice of pizza? Apparently, that's not as important.

Disgusting.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 3/21: Ha!

I just spent the last little bit catching up on my blog-reading (woah), and there were some outstanding posts out there. Which is, quite simply, why there's no roundup today. It would be like doing Haveil Havalim on one of the craziest weeks, but even bigger. That's nuts! Therefore, apologies to those who've sent in submissions (and to everyone else, you're always welcome to!), but I'm starting fresh today/tomorrow.

And, I keep saying I'm going to continue the story of How I Met Serach, and I will - as soon as I have a chance to sit down and write it! For a number of reasons, I want to not only write it well, but make sure that it's as accurate as possible. I don't want to skip anything important, either, which is tricky, as some parts flow into later parts, even though they're weeks apart.

Throw in that things are quite busy around here, thanks to all the engagements and the like around here, and it's just incredibly hectic. I think we now have over 10 weddings coming up of friends whom we're really close with - and we're not the type to call everyone our close friends. This should be the only problem I have! :)

And now, on to the roundup:
Umm, did you not read the beginning? It said: Which is, quite simply, why there's no roundup today. Really, it's quite straightforward.
Have a great day!

Monday, March 20, 2006

A Sad Day

No, no, nothing serious. But it's still a sad day.
Paul Tagliabue is retiring as NFL commissioner in July after more than 16 years on the job. The 65-year-old commissioner has led the league since 1989, when he succeeded Pete Rozelle, and agreed last March to stay to complete the television and labor deals.
The NFL is by far the best sport in the country, if not the world. This is primarily because of how well it is run - keeping both owners and players happy while providing the best possible product to fans, along with a true belief that any team can have a shot at a championship within a couple of years - if not every year. It will be sad to see Tagliabue go... and though I *wish*, my mother's questioning e-mail will *not* be happening:
Which one of my sons is applying for this job?

SPORTS / PRO FOOTBALL | March 20, 2006
Tagliabue to Retire as N.F.L. Commissioner
By JUDY BATTISTA
Paul Tagliabue, who has presided over the league during a period of remarkable prosperity, will retire in July after more than 16 years on the job.
Apparently, since it's happening this year, it won't be Condoleeza Rice's, either. A shame, because she really wanted the job, and she'd probably be really good at it...

Time To Move

Ben's latest line is up at Our Kids Speak.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Interviews with a J-Blogger #3 is up!

Chaim's new blog has its third interview, this time the BlogFather of Jewish Music blogging, Hassidic Musician of BloginDM. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but the beginning looked good! :)

Remember, you can submit your own questions to Chaim for the people he's interviewing next, so keep it in mind...

Previously:
Mobius of Orthodox Anarchist.
David Bogner of Treppenwitz.
Coming Up:
Ren Reb
DovBear
IsraellyCool
Enjoy!

Haveil Havalim #62 is up!

Haveil Havalim #62 is up at Me-Ander, and Batya wants you to go take a gander!
She managed to write the whole thing in rhyme - who knows how she found the time!

A quick definition of HH:
Haveil Havalim is the carnival of Jewish blogs -- a weekly collection of Jewish & Israeli blog highlights, tidbits and points of interest collected from blogs all around the world. It’s hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Soccer Dad. The term “Haveil Havalim”, which means "Vanity of Vanities", is from Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, which was written by King Solomon. Solomon built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other “excesses” and realized that it was nothing but “hevel”, or in English, “vanities.”
Check it out!

Last week: Jack's Shack hosted #61.

Next week: Reb Chaim HaQoton hosts #63 - e-mail submissions to her at rchaimqoton at gmail dot com.

Technorati tags: , , , , .

Why I'm Smiling Lately

No, this isn't a meme... just a bunch of reasons I'm harried but happy these days...

Two good friends from OJ got engaged: Effie Markowitz to Erica Stock of Fairlawn, and Avrami Groll, aka "Reb Abe" - the first commenter ever on this blog - to Dina Tendler of Los Angeles.

The two of them are also in the "tzaddik" (righteous person) class of friends that I have; I think one has to meet them to fully understand, but the amazing favors that the two of them do for people, and the constant smiles and joy on their faces while doing them, is astounding. Sometimes, it's the little things that count: Avrami, though he has an EZ-Pass, will specifically go through the cash lanes of tolls at night so he can wish the tollbooth operators a good night. Effie, though he was running on no sleep and no energy, insisted on walking Serach and I the 15 minutes back to our apartment (with Erica) when we ate by his family recently - then didn't want to let me get him a drink of water, feeling it was too much trouble. And there's no show with either of them: They're perfectly genuine, sweet guys who got incredible, sweet girls.

You'll get to hear more about Avrami when I continue the series on "How I Met Serach" (hopefully tomorrow!) - he stars as himself playing a great tzadik. :)

Oh, wow - that was quite a tangent. More things that make me smile...

Hanging out with good friends who are happily dating. It's cute to see a couple that is clearly enthralled with one another, and it's great when you can spend time with them - even if they'd rather stare at and shmooze with each other and pretty much forget that you're there most of the time. (Of course, that's part of the fun for us, but I digress...)

Going to an old friend's wedding. This one's a bit weird, because I haven't seen the guy since my own wedding. I missed his engagement party, and I felt really bad about it, but I'm really looking forward to this wedding. He's a great guy, we were pretty tight when we were roomates for half a year, and picked up where we left off when I came back to visit for a day the next year. This is one of those times where I wish I had more time to really keep in touch with more people... I do a pretty good job overall, I think, and I know I should be better about it. Hopefully, I'll do a better job in the future.

Friends, period. Whether it's watching the glee on a 21-year old guy's face as he scarfs down all our candy from Purim, or having another one call me in a panic to help write something up for them in 15 minutes - and then thank me, because apparently that "saved their job" - it's funny how people don't change all that much. They're the same people, doing the same things, but on higher levels. Most of all, though, it's nice to realize how great all your friends are, and how much they care.

Nice people. I've had numerous people over the past few weeks do an incredible amount of work - on my behalf (mostly in terms of job searching). I've never met many of these people in my life; and some have no clue who I am. Some are bloggers, some are not - but the favors they've done for me are so numerous I haven't even had a chance to act on most of them yet. I now have about 4 different versions of my resume, with different people having redone the entire thing; each has so many plusses it's hard to determine which one is best. (Not my original... :) ) Wow - thank you, for those who know who you are.

March Madness. Forget that I'm running a great pool (okay, I'm stuck in the middle of the pack), and that it's sports. You don't need to be a fan to appreciate the heart and emotion that goes into these games: Watch a "Cinderella" team in a close game against a national powerhouse and tell me you're not excited. Watch the agony of a senior whose dream - and possibly career - just ended and tell me you don't feel pained. Watch the thrill of a bunch of kids you'll never hear about again as they pull off a stunning win and tell me you're not thrilled. You can't. I can't. You want drama? This is drama. And when it's all said and done, after each game, even if your bracket just got busted - you smile. It's pure entertainment.

Smile! :)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Still Down

Right after my post yesterday, my blog went down again. Now, it seems to be up - but only partially... I have to contact Blogger at some point and ask them what's up, but it brings to mind an interesting question - how would someone react if their blog disappeared - and they couldn't retrieve it?!

I'm not sure how I'd react... somewhere between disappointment and acceptance and being really, really, really sad. (Yeah, wide range...) How about you?

Of course, I'm not even sure the comments work right now - but if they do, I'd be curious what you think...

This is even more frustrating as I had a lot I wanted to write about recently; I had a couple of really good posts in my head. Argh!!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Boss Button

It's not my fault that I haven't blogged since early yesterday - Blogger had to "replace filers" that were bad, so I couldn't access my blog for the last day or so. I'm also a bit busy right now, doing very important things - like watching Ohio State vs. Davidson. Yesterday's games were craaaaazy.....!!

Of the 79 brackets in my pool, 3 have lost a Final Four team - and one lost his champion (Syracuse). All of my brackets are doing pretty well so far - I had Montana on 2 of 6, and UW-Milwaukee, where I almost took classes when I was in 11th grade, on 3 or 4 of my brackets.

All right - back to the game! CBSSportsline lets you watch online for free any game that's not on TV where you are, which means you can watch three of the four at every time slot, switching back and forth. And, as my friend pointed out, they have a feature called the "BOSS BUTTON". If you're at work, and your boss is coming by, you hit the Boss Button and an extensive spreadsheet pops up to show that you're "hard at work".

Pure genius.

UPDATE: Iowa goes down, which is pretty good for me - I had NW State in a couple brackets, and Iowa out by the Sweet 16 in all of them I believe.

J-Blog Proposal!!

I've never seen this before... NJD logged himself onto StepIma's blog and proposed to her on it - and a few hours later, she saw it and responded YES!!!

MAZEL TOV!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Madness

The last few days have been a bit hectic here at SerandEz... Purim was our calm day! I was helping a friend draft his arguments for law school for a while this week (see, you finally got mentioned), along with helping another guy write the last paper he needs to graduate. This morning, I drove my friend to the airport at 5am - he's flying out to LA a day early to surprise and propose to the girl he's been dating!! :) Woohoo!! He's one of two good friends getting engaged today, and it works out quite well. He left me his car for the next 5-1/2 days, which means I can drive to the other one's engagement party - otherwise I'd have missed it. His own engagement party will be in LA, which means I couldn't go anyway; but at least Serach's sister will be dropping off something on our behalf since we're not there.

Then, of course, there's the (other) real madness: March Madness!! As of last count, there were 50 sheets in the pool I run, and anywhere from 20-50 more sheets coming in from Chofetz Chaim and Lander right before the games begin. 1st place could be getting $300 or more, the way things are looking... very nice. It would be especially nice if I would win, considering I don't pay for my first sheet. This is the first time I'm doing multiple brackets (3 each in my pool and my brother-in-law's), and it's primarily because Ohio State has a #2 seed. I have to pick them to win a bracket in each pool, because... well, because that's who I'm rooting for, and since they're a #2 seed, they actually have a decent shot. But... I have to do my regular bracket, too. So now I have 6 brackets, with 4 different winners (UConn twice, Ohio St. twice, Villanova, and Texas, unless I change one to Duke just to cover myself - but I hate Duke).

Will I win? Who cares! (Okay, I do, and Serach would be pretty happy.) It's entertaining to watch and follow every year - last year, I watched the first 3 rounds on my computer; this year, I have to see what I'll do.

Let the Madness begin!!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Megillah Thoughts (Mine)

DB & Romach both tagged me with this meme, and it's really interesting, so... here are the thoughts that ran through my head during megillah. I don't know if they meant day or night, so... I'll do two, one for each of them and one for each reading.

Nighttime:
Maariv: Oh, they turned the whole place sideways. Funny - this setup is a lot roomier, and makes a lot more sense than the normal way. Only in Lander could screwing things around actually make it better. :::sigh:::

1) He's laining? What happened to the other guy? Uh-oh, this means a lot of oys, like the b'mitzvoysav he just said. Are you yotzei if it's a really yeshivish laining? Wouldn't it be funny if someone corrected him and made him say 'oh'? Will he get the emphasis right at least? Actually, last time I lained, I remember he was pretty good about dikduk - he just sounds really yeshivish about it. Well, that's not as bad, I guess...

2) 127 - it doesn't seem to mean 'a lot', but an actual 127 - it even repeats it. Where did the Persian Empire get out to? Was it really that big? 127 provinces? Must've been small provinces.

3) He's forgetting trup in the first perek? Uh-oh. Why did he stop as if it was the end of the perek a pasuk early? (Yeah, I'm kind of critical of baalei kriah...) He's picking up the pace, nice... He just blew the eichah tune. Ouch.

4) Wow, these women have it bad. Waiting around for the king... why was it considered okay when Dovid did it? Something about how they asked? Whatever.

5) If Esther was just a na'arah, does that mean she was about 12-13 years old? That would mean that Mordechai told her not to tell about herself - but big deal, it's like getting a little girl to keep a secret. Though maybe that is a big deal. But what did she do that any 12-13 year old girl wouldn't? Told everyone to fast? All right, but a strong-willed, dedicated girl would do that... impressive, but not like "Wow". Even the visiting the King under threat of death - I dunno, is that such a big deal when your entire nation is under threat of death? It's not a little thing, but... argh, I wish I could go back in time and see how all of these really happened myself so I could understand them!!
Not done yet... keep going:
6) Oh, the first Haman. I guess I'll bang. Woo. Hoo. (YAWN) Glad they only do this twice. I wonder if it will be like last year, where nobody realized and the guy just kept going. Heh.

7) Hmm... "their laws are different" - but not their names. Interesting.

8) Messed up eichah tune again. Oy.

9) Where did Mordechai get a copy from to give to Esther - and why couldn't she get one herself? And (this happens every year) why is 3/4 of the megillah the setup, and the main part so short near the end?

*) Ironically, I noticed the exact same thing as DovBear - Mordechai's saying, "Perhaps this is why you became queen!" I thought, "Heh - Jews have been coming up with the 'maybe it's because of...' ideas for thousands of years..."

10) How could (according to that story that Haman's sister hit him with garbage and killed herself) anyone possibly make such a mistake? Did Haman and Mordechai look alike? Hmm - maybe it was a covered carriage. But then people wouldn't see who's getting honored. And they should still see it's Haman leading the carriage. It sounds like Mordechai went straight back to the gate - did he change back to sackcloth? When?
Still not done!

11) It says, "Haman niveis" - does this mean he left? Cowered? It has to mean something. Why would he then stand up to beg for his life? Shouldn't he stay prostrated? And what does 'lichbosh' mean here? It doesn't make sense for it to mean sleep with or rape - I can't imagine that there weren't other people in the room serving the king and queen and the #1 man. But capturing makes no sense for the same reason. Unless it's only maidservants and the like in the room, and no guards, because of who is inside... I've never really understood these psukim [and the medrashim etc. don't help at all].

12) Ooo, missed that - gotta read quickly... watermelonwatermelonblahblahblahblahblah

13) It's not so hard to say all of these in one breath... and the chassidish guy across from me pronounces stuff less yeshivish than the baal koreh. Weird. Did they hang them after they were dead? That's kinda gross.

14) Dad always boos by "mas" (tax). Heh - what a conservative. :) Should I? Will anyone get it? Nah - they probably don't even realize what the word means, or if they do, they won't get it. Ah well.

15) All right, enough walking around at 1mph in a circle. Can we finish maariv? WHAM!! There we go. :)
I'm tagging Chana, Xvi, Fudge, and PsychoToddler with the night one!

Still Busy, But...

Check out DovBear today - he's got a link to an old post with hilarious commentary, and a few other great posts. But the best line he had today was this one in one of the comments sections about getting Shaloch Manos:
As Shifra said last year, it's a very fine line between "Hey! Why doesn't anyone like me?" and "What am I going to do with all this !@*#@&$# crap?"
Thankfully, we fell right on that line, so our egos are intact and we won't get too fat. :)

Busy Day

Plenty to blog about, but I'm busy at the moment. There should be a couple of posts up at some time this evening... meanwhile, if you haven't started it yet, check out the series (in the sidebar) about how I met Serach which I started recently. Part IV will hopefully be written sometime tonight.

Enjoy Shushan Purim!!

CRIB Awards

HAHA!! Jameel, with the help of AirTime it seems, has set up the CRIB Awards, given to the best parody blogs of this Purim season. Check it out, and vote for the guy who parodied me!* (Not the guy who parodied DovBear, who is already shilling for votes - and bashing CrossedCurrents. Geez...)

* Even my mother thought it was a perfect parody. That's pretty good.

Purim Recap

It was awesome - while being calm and peaceful. Or perhaps because it was calm and peaceful. Not only would I venture that I enjoyed and got more out of Purim than most people, because they were drunk, I'll remember it as well. Isn't it funny how that works?

How was your Purim?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Matanos L'Evyonim

I was having trouble figuring out where to do Matanos L'Evyonim (gifts to the poor - on Purim, we are required to give, beyond what we normally give, enough charity to at least 2 poor people to buy a simple meal). Serach thought of a good one, so if you haven't done it yet... Keren Devorah is a worthwhile fund to give to. I've discussed Mrs. Debbie Rennert, a'h, in the past, so... if you can, the Rennerts could use your support. Thank you - have a wonderful, freilichen Purim!!

On a Happier Note...

Here's a great joke we received in our e-mail today. It's a forward, but we got it from Kickboxer, so she gets the hat tip. It's also right in line with this blog's beliefs, so...

The US Postal Service has created a stamp with a picture of Senator Hillary Clinton to honor her achievements as the First Lady of our nation. In daily use it was shown that the stamp was not sticking to envelopes.

This enraged Senator Clinton, who demanded a full investigation. After a month of testing, a special commission made the following findings:
  • The stamp was in perfect order.
  • There was nothing wrong with the applied adhesive.
  • People were spitting on the wrong side.
Heh. :)

Don't forget to check out the latest spoofs - Purim Parody Carnival central is @ the Muqata!

An Open Letter From Meryl

WARNING: This is not the happiest of posts, but...

It's possibly the best, and most heartfelt, piece of writing I've seen in a very, very, very long time. Meryl Yourish, you are a very impressive woman, and everyone needs friends like you.

Read her post, but consider waiting until after Purim to do so. Really.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup: PURIM!!!!!

Continuing from the previous post, which had a bunch of great posts, here are the things to keep in mind for Purim that other people talked about... (most of these are very short, so don't think this will take you all day - and some might even give you a few good pieces of Purim Torah!)

The best post on Purim this year:
Orthomom's. Don't let Purim get out of hand - and I'm not talking about drinking at all.
Orthonomics has it much simpler than her mentor.

Orthomom has another good one about not being stupid.

Gil goes through the halachos of tying your shoelaces according to all shittos - heh.

PsychoToddler gets up too early... which may explain this post. Gotta love the pics!

RenReb's pic is similar... and it's like an anti-rant, which is fitting for Purim. Or it was, until the middle. Which reminds me: This post was incredible.

Sarah may have the best pic of all (not surprising, considering it's a photoblog...) <*8-D

Stacey's kids are CUTE!

SoccerDad explains the past week's Haftorah - fascinating.

Treppenwitz has a touching post.

Judith has a whole bunch of good links.

I think you have to be in YU to get LabRab's... because I'm lost. :)

Pearl, Shoshana, and I'm sure all the rest of the J-Blogosphere all say... HAPPY PURIM!!!
Enjoy!! :)

PS Sorry if I left anyone out... but just take a drink, and you won't know the difference. Just do it responsibly, mmkay? Chag Sameach!!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, Pre-Purim: Things To Keep In Mind

I've had a major headache all day, rare for Ta'anis Esther (the fast of Esther), which is one of the easiest fasts of the year. Hence the lack of blogging today... but that hasn't stopped others from blogging about the fast and the most fun holiday of the year, which begins in about 45 minutes. A few of them have important reminders and points about Purim and Ta'anis Esther, so please take the time (if you have it!) to check them out.

DovBear tells us why we fast today.

E-Kvetcher gives us some perspective on the fast.

DryBones tells us about Purim in his usual cartoon form.

A beautiful story by Shtender of Hayom - plus a couple pictures.

MCAryeh reminds us all to keep in mind that which makes us happy.

Maven Yavin has a nice case of V'nahapoch Hu - Elder of Ziyon is just flipped out.

R' Horowitz of BeyondBT reminds us of all the reasons NOT to let children smoke, even on Purim.

CharlieHall learns an important lesson from the Megillah.

Chana has a couple fun links and the most important thing to buy for Purim this year. Heh.

Some drinking advice from R' Zev Kahn on BeyondBT.

A d'var Torah from R' Lam on BeyondBT explaining why the Megillah must be read in order.

Elie says be a good example to all those around you. They're paying attention.
There are more, but I gotta run to Ma'ariv - Chag Sameach!!! Eat, drink, and be merry - but keep your head on, please! WOOOHOOO!!!!

Only Simchas?

(Hat tip: Kickboxer)

Check out OnlySimchas today - it's cute. I like the ads, too.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

How I Met Serach, Part III: The Irony

This is Part III of a series about how I proposed to Serach. Part I is here, and Part II is here. I'm currently giving the background of the story...
Rrring...

Ezzie: Hey, Ari, what's up?!

Ari: Hey Ez! [skip through conversation] ...are you by any chance dating yet? I know a girl I think would be a great match for you. I think it's a great idea.

Ezzie (laughing): No, no... I'm not looking to date now. It's the kind of thing where if something fell in my lap, maybe I'd consider it - but I'm definitely not looking into getting set up right now. But thanks - I appreciate it.
This is one of three calls I received around the same week from different people, each about another girl. While it was very flattering, it was a bit surprising - I was 20 years old and very much against the "marrying young" concept. I couldn't understand why anyone would think it wise or prudent to marry at the age of 20, with 3 years of college ahead of them and no money to speak of.

A few weeks later, the story with Serach began. After the OnlySimchas incident, we had kept in touch via e-mail or AIM (Instant Messenger), and we spoke on the phone a couple of times as well. As anyone who's ever met Serach knows, communication is not something she struggles with. Ever.

Over the next few weeks, we started talking a bit more and more. She was asked to represent Touro's Women's Division at some NCSY events across the country, so she was travelling on weekends a bit, and was sent at one point to Seattle for a weekend. My brother OD and sister-in-law SIL had asked me to babysit for my nephew Ben one night that weekend, and Serach called me to see what was doing. As my phone either had poor reception in the basement or perhaps it was simply dying, I had her call me on the house phone. We ended up talking most of the time I was there, for about 2 hours. My nephew was sleeping part of the time, playing well on his own, or - a couple of times - got on the phone and "talked" with Serach. It was, as always, great to speak with Serach; yet, for some reason, I still wasn't thinking anything of it.

I did joke that she had to get me some Starbucks from Seattle - specifically, a venti caramel latte. For some reason, she didn't think that would be very wise, but she wanted to know what it was I liked. Later, she called me back about something - but she called my brother's home phone. SIL answered, and Serach (confused) asked to speak with me. She was informed that I had already left, but now my sister-in-law and brother were equally confused.

At some point, Serach needed some pictures to be edited from her best friend's engagement party, but if I recall correctly, didn't have a scanner or way of doing it herself. Somehow, and I'm really vague on what actually happened, that played a role in what was to happen, but I honestly am drawing a blank. Perhaps Serach will fill us in at a later date...

Anyways, Thanksgiving was coming. I had grown up never really having "celebrated" Thanksgiving, but the aforementioned Jon had invited me to his (incredibly entertaining and crazy) home for Thanksgiving dinner. Serach's sister had a baby that week, and her parents were headed to Los Angeles for the bris, and Serach had to decide whether or not to go as well. Her options were to come to Jon for Thanksgiving, then head to a friend for Shabbos, or to fly to LA. Meanwhile, she was already planning on staying at a friend in Queens that Wednesday night whom she hadn't seen in a while.

Serach and I decided to meet up that night, after night seder and maariv were over. But that story will have to wait... I hadn't yet realized it yet, but the woman I was to marry was falling right in my lap.

Ezzie: I'm writing the story as I remember it, and unfortunately that sometimes results in skipping some details. When I remember them, I'll try to fill them in; possibly in the comments, possibly in the posts if it won't make it too disjointed. If anything is unclear or you have any questions, feel free to ask! Serach won't admit it, but she's been reading the story - maybe she'll fill in some of the details and her perspective at some point. I'm still hoping. :)

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