Thursday, November 30, 2006

Phase III: The Disappearing Teivah

I received an email with this excellent piece from R' Yaakov Horowitz. Read the whole thing - it's truly a top-notch essay. Excerpts:

At one point in the session, Rabbi Orlewik and I were sharing the podium while responding to a series of hard-hitting questions. Then, someone got up and asked us to share our thoughts regarding the subject of the Internet (to-ban-or-not-to-ban?).

At that time, there was a great deal of discussion in the broader Orthodox community about how to respond to the challenge of the Internet, and an immediate hush passed through the audience. You could have heard a pin drop in the room as three hundred sets of eyes focused on Rabbi Orlewik and myself. Well, my mother didn’t raise a fool, so I boldly stepped forward, firmly grabbed the microphone ……… and passed it to Rabbi Orlewik.

And:

With the advent of technology, I propose there simply is no teivah anymore. I think that we are deluding ourselves if we think that our children are protected by the fact that we screen what comes into our homes (as we most certainly ought to) and enroll our children in fine yeshivos.
There's plenty more. Read the whole thing.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet

A woman in our firm passed away today from brain cancer. The head HR person was walking around a couple of hours ago, obviously extremely shocked and saddened by the turn of events, clearly distraught by what had happened. When he said the name, it rang a bell, but it didn't click right away until Serach sent me a text message and I read this post from Eema2Four:
I received a phone call that just a short while ago Leah bat Isabelle was nifteret.
The levaya will be held on Friday, BE"H.
Not only was Leah an old friend of Serach's family from Monsey, she had a small impact on my life as well. When I first tried getting a job here, she was one of the people who put my resume in to the Human Resources department, which helped keep my name fresh in their eyes and eventually led to my getting the job here.

:( Baruch Dayan Emet. May her memory be a blessing...

Jewish Economics & Religious Partners

I would like to get back to the Jewish Economics series I started a few weeks ago; this being the end of the month, and our finally having kept track of just about everything we spent money on, I should have an idea of how this month went and have at least one month's worth of data. It is absolutely mind-boggling how it adds up so quickly, even when I think we do a good job of projecting our expenses.

Meanwhile, I wanted to make one quick note about work. I don't blog about my company, and am not doing so here, really - I just found recent events interesting. Our company's primary managing partner, who is Jewish but not religious, announced his retirement recently. The person he is nominating, and the Executive Board seems to be unanimously in favor of to replace him is a religious Jew. This means that a religious Jew will be the top man in what is one of the, if not the, largest branch of one of the largest accounting firms in this country... and nobody blinked an eye. And while our company has quite its fair share of Jews and religious Jews which may make it less of a surprise, I think the reaction would have been much the same no matter what race or religion the new managing partner would have been. I think that's a great positive of this firm. It truly seems to be all about performance (and obviously, attitude), and doesn't seem to have some of the back-stabbing and games you hear about from some other places and in other professions.

I often hear people complain about their work environment, and perhaps if you ask me in the middle of March, I'll complain as well. But so far, so good.

Big News for Downloaders

This will make things very interesting: (via Judith)

Bittorrent is going legit, with deals inked with several major production companies for pay for downloads.

And here's a model of how bittorrent works if you've never been sure how to visualize the process.

This could have quite an impact on a number of industries.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

If Only He Were Alive Today...

100 SerAndEz points to whoever can tell me who said this:

"After 2000 years of exile, the Jewish People has emerged traumatized. The source of that trauma has been the constant insecurity and fear that characterized most of the Diaspora, in most parts of the world. It is a product of landlessness, massacres, periodic expulsion and flight, persecution by tyrants and abuse by the Church and Mosque who encouraged antisemitism to satisfy their own insecurities and political desires. …Physical security for the Jews has traditionally been improved in a number of ways: usefulness, mobility, bribery and assimilation. Psychological responses to this insecurity and trauma are well known: self-hatred and blame, identification with and appeasement of abusers, obsessive fantasy of a future paradise on earth. These solutions and responses are so integrated into the Jewish psyche that they have been passed down from generation to generation, displaying themselves even in relatively free societies, even in America and the recently liberated homeland, Israel….Despite its significance to the Jewish Nation, the State of Israel has failed to alleviate most of this trauma, and has not reduced the levels of antisemitism - it has simply allowed antisemites to masquerade themselves under the new banner of "anti-Zionism". We cannot expect antisemitism to disappear - Jewish existence and Jewish philosophy will always be threatening to its children: Christianity, and Islam... The trauma and insecurity, on the other hand, is within our power to diminish - should we decide to do so…And what is anti-Zionist? It is the denial to the Jewish people of a fundamental right that we justly claim for the people of Africa and freely accord all other nations of the Globe. It is discrimination against Jews, my friend, because they are Jews. In short, it is antisemitism….The antisemite rejoices at any opportunity to vent his malice. The times have made it unpopular, in the West, to proclaim openly a hatred of the Jews. This being the case, the antisemite must constantly seek new forms and forums for his poison. How he must revel in the new masquerade! He does not hate the Jews, he is just 'anti-Zionist'!..."

The Mob Mentality in Blogging

In the post below, I stated
[Shouting people down] is essentially a low-grade form of speech terrorism - designed to disrupt and disturb the lives of anyone around it, hurting the victim of their tirades more than anyone else. It keeps the victims from spreading their ideas, and keeps anyone who wants to hear them from hearing their ideas. It restricts all dialogue. It is, quite simply, wrong.
To some extent, blogging is the complete reverse of a mob squad. Online, all voices can be heard. There is no true "shouting down" of another, which is (usually) a very positive effect. Unfortunately, though, there are some people who do practice a form of shouting down others, even on blogs. This can be done in any number of ways, all of them simply contemptful to different degrees. Some accomplish this by degrading others while in dialogue; some call people names; a few make false claims as to the opinion of another, then proceed to mock it; others simply misrepresent what the person was saying or trying to say, or spin the focus of the person's point to something else entirely. Sometimes, this is done innocently - the blogger simply misunderstood what the person was saying, and they proceeded to attack that misunderstood point - but all too often, this is done specifically to mock or degrade the other person and his/her ideas.

But thankfully, the blogosphere is quite large, and while there are those who do practice such mean-spirited stupidity, it is quite easy to avoid them. I've always liked Miriam & PsychoToddler's answers as to why they love the J-blogosphere:
It's like a place you drop in on and numerous interesting conversations are going on. You know most of the people there -- or even if you don't know them, you are welcome to join in the discussions. You can go to one table and talk about politics; another one and have an earnest discussion about religion. ...

A while back I described blogging as "targeted socializing." I can have conversations with people anywhere about topics that are actually of interest to both of us. I'm not confined to the nonsensical small talk of people I happen to come in contact with in the real world. And when the conversation becomes boring, I leave. In the real world, I'm often stuck staring at someone who really doesn't interest me.
In the blogosphere, you can always walk away whenever you want... and your voice can still be heard. Perhaps it won't ever be heard on that blog again, but that's fine - it doesn't need to be. People tend not to respect blogs which mock and show disdain for others. Those who do respect such blogs are likely not the people whose respect you'd want to look for, anyway.

I think that one of blogging's biggest strengths is its ability to let any voice be heard. Yes, there are those blogs and bloggers who have been shut down by other people knocking down their sites, by people threatening them in "real life", by dictators and governments, etc. - but even these are rare, and what cannot shut a blogger down is the mob mentality. A blogger cannot be shouted down by a group of immature morons, whether they are college students or grown-ups sitting at their desks. Blogs are a place where one can say their piece and state their opinion - clearly, calmly, confidently.

Krum (as a Bagel) wrote an interesting post on a similar subject a few weeks ago. Check it out.

Hypocrisy on Campus: Mob Rule

[From the SFGate, via Instapundit]

[Ez: excerpts] America's college campuses, once thought to be bastions of free speech, have become increasingly intolerant toward the practice. ...

While academia has its own crimes to atone for, it's the students who have become the bullies as of late. A disturbing number seem to feel that theirs is an inviolate world to which no one of differing opinion need apply. As a result, everything from pie throwing to disrupting speeches to attacks on speakers has become commonplace. ...

The fact that the rioting students could be heard yelling, "He has no right to speak!" was telling. Apparently, in their minds, neither Gilchrist nor anyone else with whom they disagree has a right to express their viewpoints. In any other setting this would be called exactly what it is -- totalitarianism. But in the untouchable Ivy League world of Columbia, it was chalked up to student activism gone awry. While condemning the incident, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger has yet to apologize to Gilchrist or to conclude the supposed investigation into the affair. In other words, mob rule won the day.

One of the lines that always bothered me was, "Well, we have freedom of speech in this country, so I can say whatever the heck I want!" First of all, that's not true whatsoever. You can get jailed for yelling 'Fire' in a crowded area, saying 'Bomb' on a flight, or for certain hate statements. You can't say 'whatever you want'. Second, there's the issue of should you say whatever you want. Common sense and life experience should tell many people that the answer to this is an overwhelming NO. Third, a person has to think about whether it is fair for them to be speaking, knowing that their speaking affects the ability of everyone around them to do so - after all, while humans have progressed immensely, we still can only truly listen to one person at a time. That's where the idea of "taking turns speaking" came from.

Unfortunately, to many, this last point is completely ignored. Even if they acknowledge it to be true, they feel that because they are "right" and the other person "wrong" or "evil" or who knows what, they have 'more of a right' to say their piece as opposed to the person they are talking over. Before you shake your head and think 'Yeah, what a jerk!', realize that you've probably done the same thing at some point in your life: You were in an argument, the other person was saying their piece, and you raised your voice a drop higher and proceeded to drown them out with your point.

Of course, the difference is, you probably stopped doing this on a regular basis after high school. And on the occasion where you do it as an adult, you probably realize that it's wrong. These people have not. (And now you can shake your head in disgust.) Their hypocrisy is astounding: They often claim to be battling for the rights of one "opressed" group or another, yet practice opression to do so. It's mind-boggling. It is essentially a low-grade form of speech terrorism - designed to disrupt and disturb the lives of anyone around it, hurting the victim of their tirades more than anyone else. It keeps the victims from spreading their ideas, and keeps anyone who wants to hear them from hearing their ideas. It restricts all dialogue. It is, quite simply, wrong.

Ironically, the only way to stop 'people behaving badly' is to police their actions and take away them. I have said in the past that in the case of terrorists, they should - to some extent (much like other criminals) - lose certain rights accorded to the rest of us by virtue of their actions. We don't let criminals or terrorists walk the streets where they can commit the same crimes again. In the case of disruptive protesters, the only way to stop them may be to restrict them from coming to these events, by banning them from events, and by removing any and all violators. This now restricts their speech, and they will complain exactly that. And the answer should be simple: Learn how to act like a grown-up, and you can come back. Until you do, you can stay in time-out.

Opportunity Knocks

One of the interesting facets of blogging is the opportunities it opens up for a person. For me, at least, not only have I met countless other people, and through them, met others, but blogging seems to have given me a number of business opportunities that I otherwise may not have had. In the last 24 hours, 10 of which I was sleeping, I've been introduced to a few business opportunities and have been informed of a few events that I likely never would have had I not started blogging.

While those opportunities are great, and I hope to take advantage of some of them in the present and future, they're not as enjoyable as the first opportunity I mentioned: Meeting some incredible people. Yesterday, I had the chance to have lunch with the lovely and intelligent Chana, who is under the false impression that I know the world. (That would be Serach who does - really. A headhunter we once ate with wanted to hire Serach on the spot after they spent hours playing Jewish geography.) It was a great lunch, even if that nut Jameel called right as we were sitting down and disturbed us.

This motzei Shabbos, I'm not yet sure if I can attend the melave malka being thrown by BeyondBT. [We have the aufruf of FFD & FFW on Shabbos to attend!] I've met both David Linn & Mark Frenkel, will soon be repaying David the debt I owe him at Sushi Mitsuyan [again!] and attended the (excellent) Shabbaton a few months back which also had a small melave malka. If you're around Kew Gardens Hills, are in the Five Towns/Lawrence area, or even if you're as far away as Baltimore and drive really fast*, you can easily make this melave malka. The details are at BeyondBT. If we end up making it, I hope to see you there! :)

* I've done it in 3:00 without stopping. Normal people can do it in 3:15-3:30...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Lost Art of Pager Texting

Picture it. Mid/late 90's, and teenagers have yet to enter the age of the cellphone. (gasp) So what did we have? How did we survive? Well, we had something called a "Pager." It was quite in interesting gadget for those of us that remembered it. A caller would call your pager number, and leave his number. Your pager would then go off with that person's number. Cool huh? Ya, it got cooler. You see, now-a-days, cellphones or even other electronical gizmos allow text messeging with no issue, for a small price ofcourse. Our pagers did not have a text option... or did it?

It was either some genius, or some really bored teen, developed a way for each number to be read as a letter. So instead of putting in your phone number when calling, you would quickly dial a series of numbers (and IIRC the # sign for spaces) into short sentences. Here is the conversion:
A=2
B=8
C=6
D=0
E=3
F=3
G=6
H=4
I=1
J=6
K=15
L=7
M=177
N=17
0=0
P=9
Q=2
R=12
S=5
T=7
U=11
V=11
W=111
X=?
Y=4
Z=2


Some of these might seem weird, but you need to remember, that digital numbers on the pager looked like a calculater, and the number 4, looked like an H missing the left leg. The A is 2 because a 2 looks like a Times New Roman lower case a. You will also notice that many of the numbers obviously repeat itself. Well, there was no real way to avoid this and the reader would have to try different ways of reading the messege till they got it. Eventually, you would get used to a certain number sequences, and have no problems reading it. Here is an example:

111133 is WIFE.

The reader would probably need a bit to see wheather thats a W, a U, V, I's or L's. Most of the time, it isn't a problem since you read the word in the context of a sentence, and you can pretty much figure it out. I remember, my wife, then my girlfriend, and I would page one another during the day with silly little messeges:

1 177155 11= I MISS U
434 611713 = HEY CUTIE
143= The Universal "I love you"
6211 1773 1114317 11 637 401773 = CALL ME WHEN YOU GET HOME

or sometimes, when we had a fight and I would not apologize, I would get a:

1 4273 11= I HATE U

Those were fun days. I miss paging my wife. There was something special getting a pager messege, much more then receiving a call today. I guess it has something to do with the person actually taking some time to figure out something cute, creative and short to say. Also, with the cellphones, you sometimes don't have the patience to talk to anyone. With the pager, that wasn't an issue. This system is also handy if you want to write something to someone without anyone reading it later. You can pretend to be some secret agent. I know Ezzie likes to pretend he's one.

So there you have it. Thats what we used to do back in my high school days. I'm really not sure how many people actually did this. I know my group of thugs did it, and they got it from somewhere else, but I also know there were quite alot of others that had no idea about it. Anyways, it was fun. And that's all that is important.

30 Bonus Ezzie points to whoever can decipher this:

41112124 119 2170 1190273 401112 8706 62177337

Video of the Day

It's just one minute, but it's awesome. Check it out at Shoshana's "other" blog.

The idea of how every little action we do affects what everyone else does is not only perfectly shown, it is so incredibly true. When people see the others around them acting a certain way, that will in turn cause them to act a certain way - for good or for bad. Harking back to the discussions here about New York, it isn't that New Yorkers are necessarily 'bad people' - it's that everything is so rushed here, people are forced to ignore what goes on around them much more, and those little things - the ones that make all the difference - simply don't happen. But that doesn't mean we should stop trying.

Interview With... Me!

Jewish Blogmeister has posted the interview he did of me. I thought he asked some good, interesting questions. If you have any you'd like to add or follow up on, feel free to put them in the comments [there or here] and I'll answer them. The same applies to any comments you'd like to make. Enjoy, and let us know what you think!

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 11/28: Black Keyboards

It's amazing how much the details matter in life, and how people ascribe their own level of importance to details. Women across the world will get upset or insulted if a man doesn't understand the difference between their 18 pairs of black shoes... while men get frustrated that women think football is "just a bunch of men running into each other!" It's the details that matter in life.

I never thought that using a new keyboard would be such a great difficulty. The keys are actually great, the option and shortcut buttons as good as or better than what we had... but the keys and keyboard are all black. The old one? White. Now, this normally isn't a big deal, and it actually looks nicer on the desk in front of the monitor. But... it's hard to see at night! The living room isn't the brightest, and I don't always want to have a light on nearby... but I can't see the keys well. I don't often look at the keyboard, but every once in a while I glance down - but now, this doesn't help me and I'm making a lot more mistakes than normal. So often, the little details matter.

And now, on to the Top 10 [or not] from the J-blogosphere:
And now, rounding out the Top 5:
Enjoy!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Snoopy & Math

(Hat tip: Mommy)

I want this.

This was not only the best toy I ever owned as a kid, it played an incredible role in making school a complete joke for me for about 15 years. (That's a good thing.) I learned more from this little toy than from some of my teachers... and my teachers weren't bad.

It is interesting how much of what we learn, skill-wise, is based on the little things we do in life - playing with a calculator toy, from sports, from dolls, whatever. Often, we don't realize it. On occasion, we think, "Where do I know that from?" and then laugh, realizing it's from something like a board game, an old joke, or some weird story. Learning in school is important. Learning from life is far more so.

Build-A-Bomb Workshop

(from James Taranto's Best of the Web)
Toys 'R' Us

Israeli paratroopers and intelligence agents raided an explosives lab in the West Bank city of Nablus, reports YnetNews.com. "In the lab, the forces found teddy bears with wires hanging from them, apparently slated to be used as explosive devices."

It's reminiscent of a tactic the Soviets used in Afghanistan, which Charles Bork and Gregory D'Elia described in a 1983 Yale Free Press article:

"Butterfly bombs" are a remarkable Soviet contribution to warfare. They consist of two plastic petals around an explosive charge, and are dropped from helicopters to a gentle landing on the ground. The seemingly intriguing toys spark a child's curiosity.

"Butterfly bombs" are representative of Soviet strategy: they do not admit to any difference between a civilian or military population, which is reasonable, since over 95% of the population opposes the Soviet regime. The Soviet response to guerrilla warfare is to terrorize the population, to attack the base of support for a resistance cause.

Always innovative, the Palestinians have brought us the Build-a-Bomb Workshop.

Sick, sick stuff. This is yet another reminder that those who carry out terrorist attacks are interested in killing, period. It has nothing to do with a "struggle" or trying to bring their plight to light, or any other garbage excuse the media gives them. They simply want to kill.

Prof. Justice: Election Reflection - Understanding It (Part I)

(Note: This is the first of a four-part series)
Although the sting of November 7 is waning, three distinctive emotions pervade my thoughts: annoyed, troubled and frightened. Liberals claimed it was a tectonic realignment to the pre-1994 republican revolution. Conservatives, except for the President who resembled a deer in headlights, claimed it was well-anticipated. In fact, some have suggested that it wasn’t nearly as bad as they though it was going to be. Okay, if you say so.

There’s no mistaking that losing both houses was a very big deal. But it’s also worth noting that losing thirty-plus House seats and six Senate seats is actually below the post-1930 average for the “six-year itch” in a two-term presidency. It’s common knowledge that the party controlling the White House always loses Congressional seats in midterm elections. In 1938, Roosevelt lost seventy-one House and six Senate seats. In 1958, Eisenhower lost forty-seven House and thirteen Senate seats. In the sixth year of Kennedy/Johnson, Democrats lost forty-seven House seats and three in the Senate. Nixon/Ford lost forty-three in the House and three in the Senate. Even Ronald Reagan lost five House seats and eight Senate seats in his sixth year in office. So considering that this midterm election occurred during what the predictably subjective media proclaimed are an undisputedly unpopular war and a stagnant Republican party, I’d say the Republicans could have done much worse. Actually, the Dems should have done a lot better because pollsters reported that people apparently trusted Dems over Republicans on three stalwart conservative issues: cutting taxes (42% - 29%), controlling government spending (38% - 21%) and reducing the deficit (47% - 22%).

Incidentally, in the two midterm elections during the Clinton years, Republicans gained forty-nine House seats and nine Senate seats. And that was after having lost ten House seats when Clinton was first elected in 1992. As Ann Coulter pointed out, that’s only the second time in the twentieth century that a party won the White House but lost seats in the House which means that “however you cut it, this midterm proves that the Iraq war is at least more popular than Bill Clinton was.”

In the Senate, the Dems scored a one-seat majority by a margin of 8,942 votes in Virginia and 2,847 in Montana. A switch of just 1,424 votes in Montana would have kept the Senate Republican. Speaking of that one-seat majority, it’s funny how mere months after having been thrown under the Democrat bus for being a lone voice in supporting the President on his Iraq policy (that must be the “big tent” they keep referring to), Joe Lieberman will return to the Senate in control of their power as the “Independent” fifty-first seat. So they better be nice to him. Amazingly, he did it by insisting on victory in Iraq despite having ten percent of the Republican pro-Iraq vote in the blue state of Connecticut. Conversely, RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) Lincoln “chafing” Chafee, Jim Leach and John Hostettler all voted against the Iraq war and were defeated. A number of other races were also extremely tight. A less than overwhelming margin in the House and a one-seat majority in the Senate is not exactly a “tsunami” as PMSNBC called it.

Nor was this a repudiation of the Iraq war. The Associated Press reported that “three-fourths of the voters said corruption and scandal were important to their votes . . . Iraq was important for just two-thirds.” More telling is that fifty-nine percent of voters expressing “disapproval” of the Iraq war, many dislike Bush’s policy because it’s not aggressive enough. In other words, millions of Americans desire a more intense and more focused approach to crushing the terrorists, even if it means more troops in the short run. I dare say those same Americans are even less in favor of fighting a kinder, gentler, politically correct war.

Despite the Dems’ desperate attempt to convince us otherwise, this election was not a massive anti-conservative wave. Many “moderate” Republicans in the Northeast and Midwest lost. And conversely, many of the Dems’ gains consisted of conservative Democrats like North Carolina’s Heath Shuler, who is pro-life, pro-gun and anti-tax, Pennsylvania’s pro-life Bob Casey and Chris Carney, Maryland’s Jim Webb, who served in the Reagan administration, and Indiana’s Sherrod Brown. Moreover, nine states passed referendums protecting individual property rights by limiting government’s power of eminent domain. In eight states, voters approved state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. And in the very blue state of Michigan, where voters reelected a liberal Democrat governor and two liberal Democrat senators, voters passed a ballot initiative to abolish affirmative action by a margin of fifty-eight to forty-two percent.

So, it certainly appears that America is a center-right country, rather center-left. In 1994, Republicans won Congress by nominating strong conservative candidates in long held Democrat districts. Now, Democrats did the same. They ran candidates who painted themselves as “pro-life,” “anti-gay marriage,” “born-again Christian,” and “anti-tax.” Of course, it wasn’t necessary for any of them to actually demonstrate these beliefs. All that they needed to do was campaign on them. In other words, liberals dress up as conservatives to get elected, but govern as leftists. Conversely, Republicans get elected by being conservative, but govern by pandering to the left. Why they do that is beyond me. Probably not in any small part due to the left’s persistent vilification of conservatives by the libs in Washington, the media and those in Lollyha-ha land as mean-spirited, racist, bigoted homophobes. The inescapable conclusion is that America is more conservative than it is liberal.

Dems are notorious for incessantly refusing to disclose their true agenda because they know that doing so would impede their being elected. In so doing, they dupe many into thinking that their positions accurately reflect what they believe. Yet many people who voted for them only did so as their way of expressing frustration with the President’s half-baked approach to “staying the course,” and his insistence on granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens and resistance to vigilantly controlling the borders. Of course it didn’t help that he spent money like a drunken sailor. The Dem candidates were conspicuously vague about their positions and were particularly careful not to mention the taxes they intend to raise. The exception was their pledge to lose the war, weaken our troops and embolden our enemy faster than the President.

Cool Money-Saving TechMology

These are all good to know. (Hat tip: Cousin Noah)

We didn't have a keyboard yesterday, as our previous one got into a fight with a bottle of caffeine-free Coke, further proving my assertion that only regular Coke should exist. Blogging will resume shortly...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Interviewing... Me?

That's what Jewish Blogmeister is doing. Check out his interview with Life-of-Rubin, and if you have any questions, feel free to send them to JBM. (I've never been interviewed before - how cool! :) )

Friday, November 24, 2006

Islamic Extremist TV

Hey Ezzie

Anyways...

I could not even watch it all. Someone tell me what happens.

No Leftovers?!

Sorry, everybody. We have no more turkey, no more stuffing... I'm not even sure how many people we had, but it was somewhere over 25. The food was excellent, the company great, and everyone had a great time. A special thank you to Pobody and her non-commenting friend for coming early and helping out, then staying late and basically cleaning up while the rest of us were still shmoozing. I think I'd get killed if I posted any of the (very few) pictures I took, but we'll see. :)

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Cooking Time...

The menu today is, in fact, the same as last year. Last year's returnees seem to be happy with that, so that's a good sign. So far, we have 20 "Yes" answers (including Serach, Elianna, and myself), a couple of "Probablys", a bunch of "Maybes", and a lot of "I may/probably will drop by after the one I'm going to". Basically, it's going to be packed. I should probably start cooking, no? :)

It should be a nice wide demographic again this year, too. We have a number of people from Monsey (woah), at least one each from Miami, Cleveland, Providence, Memphis, Phoenix, Montreal, Ottowa, Chicago, Los Angeles and Milwaukee, a number of people from around Kew Gardens Hills, a few from Brooklyn (nebach), and probably a bunch from other places I can't recall offhand. The menu:
Yellow split pea soup
Stuffing
Salad bar
Cranberry sauce
Sweet potato/regular potato concoction

Chocolate pecan pie
Apple Struzel
TURKEY
Today's NFL picks:
Miami (but Detroit to cover)
Dallas (but Tampa Bay to cover)
Kansas City (and cover)
Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Elianna at Play


Admit it. You just smiled. :)

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Ezzie's Blog Roundup 11/22: Life to Death

Following up on Pobody's Nerfect's excellent post below, life consists of numerous stages, each different from one another, each building on the previous one. Well, these posts are also from different stages in life, and all are remarkably different:
  • 5) XGH has a new baby boy! Mazel Tov!
  • 4) Daled Amos has a discussion with his 7-year old and an old discussion with his class. They get the message... or do they?
  • 3) R' Gil (Hirhurim) questions whether the Rambam was independent or dependent, leading to the old question of how people can choose to be dependent if they hold like the Rambam.
  • 2) Jonathan Rosenblum (Cross-Currents) has an excellent piece about charedim doing... Dale Carnegie? It's truly fascinating and eye-opening.
  • 1) Robert (Seraphic Secret) talks with an old friend in Efrat. A friend who shot a terrorist trying to blow himself up in a supermarket.
Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

4 Stages of Life

NOTE: You may need to click on the picture to see it.

So I was just gonna post the picture and let it speak for itself, but Ezzie thinks I have some sort of wisdom which i should let out. Sorry if I don't live up to your standards... my wonderful college seems to be melting my brain.

If you haven't yet clicked the picture, do so now. Then come back for the Shiur*.

Pshat* is....
You start life fully dependent on others. A baby doesn't need to be brilliant to know that if he wants to be fed, he'd better start crying to let someone know.

Life moves on. Baby grows up and turns into... a hyperactive young child whose energy is mainly without cause, but which is exaggerated with the help of sugary pop. (That's soda where many of ya'll come from.) Anyhow, young child can probably locate the soda all by himself, and even pour it and drink it without any help. 'Course, he did need a bit of adult help.... Dad drove to the store, payed with money he earned at work, twisted off the cap cuz it was a bit stuck, and washed the dirty cup afterwards. But hey- this kid is learning to be independent!

Life moves on a bit more. Boy grows into teenager, and after a bit more moving on he's a full-fledged adult. Ah, 21 and legal. And legal means... fully responsible. The adult is supposed to be self-sufficient, both in regards to his needs and his moral decisions. That means that in the event that he'd act a little irresponsibly and knock back a few too many beers... he's still responsible for any dumb mistakes he does in his inebriated state.

Life continues to move, whether we like it or not. Middle age sneaks up, followed by the senior years. And sadly, as youth slips away, many people also watch their health go with it. And as their physical and/or mental abilities deteriorate, they return back to the dependent state of infancy.

Now for the Drash*....
I'd say it's a fair guess that most SerandEz readers are in the beer stage of life. (I'll count that as ages 18-60, even though its a bit earlier than the legal and senior ages.) While it is true that we are quite independent at this point, it's important to note that we shouldn't be. What do I mean? Sometimes we think, "I'm an adult. I can handle my problem's alone. I shouldn't ask for help." This applies to men who refuse to ask for directions despite being 80 miles the wrong direction, women who are crumbling under the stress of running a family and/or working, and the general public who have trouble admitting they need help or advice. Our Sages tell us, "Da'agah B'lev Ish Yaschena," which is loosely translated to mean that when a person is struggling internally, he should speak about it to someone who can listen and/or offer advice. And if Chazal* are telling us that, I guess it's time to take down the barriers and face up: Independence is not equal to isolation. We were created to interact, and we should take advantage of all that others can give to us.
Translations:
Shiur - lecture
Pshat - simple meaning
Drash - deeper explanation
Chazal - our Rabbis of blessed memory

Learning from Storytime

Today was one of those days where I simply have nothing to write about. Instead, enjoy the stories of The Maggid of Bergenfield. I especially like this one... it is really too bad that (while this guy is a fictional extreme) more people don't have such a positive attitude about little "negatives" that happen, particularly on the first few dates. From some of what I have heard, there are some singles who are almost unforgiving in how they view their date's actions on the first couple of dates.

Now, of course, there are horror stories, and that's not what I'm talking about. But it seems that some people get dumped after a date or two simply because the other person 'doesn't see it' or for some minor perceived action or statement that either really doesn't matter or was completely misunderstood, and that's a shame. Then, of course, there are those people who strike people from their "lists" (ugh) before they've even gone out based on some secondhand information that may or may not be true and often really isn't that important. And, finally, there's the "well, since we already know everything about each other before we went out, we have no way of starting conversation" issue. As a commenter put it on Esther's blog:
If someone whom I know and respect would want to fix me up, I would assume that the person they have in mind is fairly appropriate for me in terms of intelligence, life view, attractiveness etc. I might want to know a couple of points of interest - maybe where they are from, or what they do, or like to do - but more so we could have something on which to start the conversation.
Anyways, when Serach and I met, the night before Thanksgiving, three years ago (!!), we knew very little about each other. We'd talked a bit on the phone, but that was pretty much it. And while there were surely a number of faux pas that night, we let them slide... and thank God, life has worked out quite nicely.

Redux

So, who remembers last year? (Probably nobody who reads this.) We're hosting Thanksgiving yet again this year! Anyways, we're doing it again this year, and this time, we *might* even have enough room. Of course, it will be a slightly different crowd this year, as a few people who came last year have other obligations (getting engaged/married/dating someone from far away very seriously does that sometimes), but it should be just as fun. We should also have a bit more time to prepare, as my company informed us that not only are we off Thursday and Friday, but we end at 3:00 tomorrow as well. Nice.

We're probably going with a similar menu to last year as well. Last year, we had about 5 people who were definitely coming, and a lot of "maybes" or "probably nots", yet somehow ended up with 18 guests. This time, people are a bit more decisive, with a bunch of "yes" and "probably" responses and a number of "Sorry, my family is making me come to theirs..." or "Stupid **** made their wedding on Thanksgiving! Can you believe it?!" A few others said they'd probably stop by for a bit after their other parties.

So, what are you doing this Thanksgiving, if anything? Who's stopping by SerandEz? :P

Monday, November 20, 2006

Starving in the Land of Plenty

It seems SerandEz isn't the only site discussing eating disorders. Aish currently features 2 articles relating to anorexia. The first offers a heart-wrenching story with a message of hope and also promotes awareness of EDs.

The second is a excellent piece on the tension between the body and the soul.

Missing Israel

Let's forget for a moment that I missed a wedding I really wanted to attend, or that my esteemed co-worker IPayTooMuchForMyHair just returned from a wedding that very same day, or that my sister Verv is currently there for 12 days looking into future aliyah possibilities (and thank you to all those who kindly offered help and assistance). I miss Israel.

On that note, WestBankMama has up her roundup of a number of wonderful "Only in Israel" stories, including this one. I've already read a number of them - they're wonderful. Enjoy!

The 4-Year Old Barber

At Our Kids Speak.

Modesty Tailors

UPDATED (twice)
The heavyweights of the haredi Lithuanian yeshiva world gathered Saturday night in Jerusalem to warn an audience of thousands of male, married yeshiva students that haredi women's dresses are too short, their wigs are too long, and their sweaters, shirts and blouses are too tight.
I saw this first at Town Crier, and my first thought was, "Well, it looks like they're finally going to discuss what is and isn't true modesty - good for them! No more 'Hot Chanies'..." I skimmed the article, laughed at some of it ("modesty tailors"? "The Guardians of Holiness and Education"?! Are you kidding?), and didn't pay much attention to it.

But after reading Shoshana and David's excellent posts [read them!], I realize I didn't read it closely enough. Not only were singles restricted from this gathering, but so were all women. That's like having a meeting about a school without the teachers, or a hospital without the doctors. (Or having a politician call for a draft that the Army doesn't think it needs. Ugh.) Then there were the really strange lines:
"Each and every father and husband has an obligation to vigilantly ensure that his wife's and daughters' dress is in accordance with the laws of modesty."
I could go on about this, but it will never compare to Shoshana's great rant on it. Suffice it to say that the last thing I want to be doing every day is "vigilantly ensuring" that Serach's dress is in accordance with the laws of modesty. I mean, seriously: I might as well kill myself now. More importantly, I think that Serach does a fine job dressing herself. I'm with Trep also on the 'activists' who volunteered to check out stores and advise them on what is and isn't modest:
Yeah, I'll bet. I can already see the men lining up for the arduous task of standing outside the dressing rooms to give the thumbs-up or thumbs-down to the outfits as they emerge. Way to take one for the team, guys!
Heh. As I commented by Shoshana: Ahh, Judaism. Whatever happened to you?!
UPDATE: Heh. Looks like other have made the "Hot Chanie" connection as well...

Others on this subject: Orthomom, Ask Shifra (the creator of the term "Hot Chanie"), and Jewish Blogmeister.

And now, Ayelet, with a different and interesting perspective.

With All Due Respect...

I'm usually a fan of President Bush [see here], but I feel like this picture is too funny for people not to come up with their own captions for. (BagelBlogger is usually the one who has the great caption contests.)

Anyways, insert your own in the comments.
Hey, have you ever read My Pet Goat?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Helping & Helpless

This (super-short) post by RenReb reminds me of a thought I've had many times, particularly about something from a few months ago...

I think that one of the worst feelings a person could have is helplessness. I've always liked helping people, and - over the course of my life - I think I've done a decent job of helping people. (Yay me!) But I've always hated the times where I knew that I simply couldn't help, or where helping involved doing absolutely nothing - just staying out of the way while the worst would pass.

Then there are the times where you do help, or try to help, but it doesn't pan out - whether helping someone make a connection, find a job, find an apartment, even find a shidduch, or the like. While you've done what you could, you feel as if there was more you could have or should have done [however illogical or untrue] to help the person. In some cases, it works out anyway - they find another apartment, another job, another person to fill the position - and the feeling passes. In other cases, you know that the person is still looking, still struggling... and while you would love to help, you simply cannot. You just don't have the ability, the connections, the skills, or maybe just the time necessary to help the person. Of course, it eats at you and eats at you, and while the person would laugh at how ridiculous the idea is - "You were trying to do me a favor!" you still have that nagging guilt that you could have done more, that utter feeling of helplessness that you failed in helping this person.

The best feeling in the world is when you know you've made someone else smile or helped someone be just a bit happier, or a little less stressed. When you know you can't do that, it stinks.

I'm sorry.

More Sushi For David

David, God loves you. And wants you to have free sushi. There is no other rational way to explain how the Steelers came out of Cleveland with a win today. None at all.

Hey at least the Buckeyes won. (Our team got crushed this morning.)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Picturesque Life

I thought this concept video was really well-done, really nice, and pretty cool and sweet.

It's a cute Shabbos by us, with a few guests including both couples we helped introduce that are married. You may have read about my good friend/"sister" B in the How I Met Serach series (which I hope to get back to this week), and her husband will show up later in the series, and DGEsq has written on this blog once and will write some more in the future.

Let me know what you think of the video, and have a wonderful Shabbos!

Rivalry Weekend

Ohio State over Michigan in The Game.

Browns over Steelers in... well, the climb out of last-place game.
Ah, football. Gotta love it.

Hold the Presses

(Hat tip: Meryl)

I think this may be huge. Meryl: [Ez: spliced/emphasis by me]

Glenn Reynolds says there’s good news on oil shale, and points to an article that says the Feds have given three oil companies the go-ahead to work on shale.

They should have talked to this Israeli company instead:

HAIFA, Israel, Nov. 7 (UPI) — The Israeli process for producing energy from oil shale will cut its oil imports by one-third.

A.F.S.K. Hom Tov presented its oil shale processing method on Tuesday, outside Haifa and just down the street from one of the country’s two oil refinery facilities.

“Because the patents for this process belong to (the company), Israel is the most advanced in the world in the effort to create energy from oil shale,” Moshe Shahal told United Press International.

How much is this all going to cost? $17 a barrel.

It would cost about $17 to produce a barrel of synthetic oil at the Hom Tov facility, meaning giant profit margins in a world of $45 to $60 per barrel crude. Yearly earnings are forecasted to be between $159 million and $350 million, Shahal said.

Of course, the sweetest part in all of this is that if the Israeli-patented process goes global, the Arab nations lose a significant part of the oil threat. Canada and the U.S. have large, untapped oil shale reserves. Score another one for Jewish scientists.

Score for Israel, score for the United States, score for the entire world. It's not alternative energy, but it's a heck of a lot better than the current situation.

In Time for Shabbos

Kosher Cooking Carnival #12 is up at Renegade Kosher.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Perceptions

Sometimes, you learn something about someone else that really makes you say, "Wow." I often learn a little bit more about some bloggers - from who they are in real-life, to what they do, to specific things they've done, to how they act... and sometimes, those "Wows" are for the better, while occasionally (sadly) they are for the worst. Today, I learned something about another blogger that blew my mind.

Some people really go out of their way to do what they think is right - not because they have an ulterior motive, not because they get something out of it, not because they have a vested interest in it. Just because it's the right thing to do. They put in extra effort to understand a culture that's not "theirs", simply because they think it will help them understand situations that much better - again, when there's no reason for them to do so in the first place. Wow. I wholeheartedly applaud such good, good-hearted people.

On a somewhat related note, I was discussing perceptions with another blogger recently, and we wondered how close a blogger is in real-life to how they seem in the blogosphere. I am of the opinion that you can figure people out pretty easily in general (and perhaps even do, right Shoshana, Chana?) - even those who like to have fake personas - except perhaps the ones who specifically put forward true parts of themselves while keeping a chunk in reserve (see some of the contributors at SerandEz).

One person I spoke to even - only half-jokingly - suggested that to "solve the shidduch crisis", everyone should have a blog. It would help people really find people they match up with. [And, let people weed out those who they don't want to date.] Heh. I know MCAryeh has gotten shidduch offers from his blog, and Amishav kind of uses his blog for dating... Well, it would definitely be interesting to read, anyway. :P

Anyways, do you think people can 'figure each other out' through their blogs?

Exposing Anti-Semitism... Nice. I Like

I have not yet seen the Borat movie, and still don't know if I will (I feel like I've seen half of it in clips, anyway), but a note on Sasha Baron Cohen, the brainchild behind "Borat" and "Ali G". People complain that some of his stuff is anti-Semitic (say, "Throw the Jew Down the Well!"), that it incites people against Jews, etc.

I (and I'm sure I'm not alone) have always thought these people completely miss the point, and not only because he's so obviously Jewish, or because his Khazakstanian is really Hebrew with a bad accent. His point, as a surprise comedian, is to get people to express their hidden feelings and biases when they think that the person they're talking to agrees with them fully. The problem is not that "Borat" is singing that we should kill all the Jews to free "his country", the problem is that a bar full of people join in gustily and sing right on along with him. The problem isn't that he says he wants to go "Jew-hunting", the problem is that the guy he asks about it says he wouldn't mind, but the government would.

Sick of some of the stupid criticisms he's received, Cohen spoke out today and said basically the same thing. It's a good piece, check it out. Meanwhile, here's an excerpt: (He keeps kosher! Who knew?!)
In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, the 35-year-old British writer-actor defends his controversial film, saying, "I think part of the movie shows the absurdity of holding any form of racial prejudice, whether it's hatred of African-Americans or of Jews."

"Borat essentially works as a tool," says Baron Cohen. "By himself being anti-Semitic, he lets people lower their guard and expose their own prejudice, whether it's anti-Semitism or an acceptance of anti-Semitism."

In fact, Baron Cohen, a devout Jew who keeps kosher, says his parents "love" the Jewish humor in Borat. And his 91-year-old maternal grandmother even went to a midnight screening in Israel, then called him at 4 a.m. to compliment her grandson and to discuss the movie.

So what led the Cambridge-educated funnyman to mine this particular brand of humor? Baron Cohen says studying a major historian of the Third Reich, Ian Kershaw, whose quote, "The path to Auschwitz was paved with indifference" got him thinking.

"I know it's not very funny being a comedian talking about the Holocaust, but I think it's an interesting idea that not everyone in Germany had to be a raving anti-Semite. They just had to be apathetic."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Elianna Sleeping

I'm too lazy to write anything, so here's a cute picture of Elianna sleeping. :) This is her new thing - she starts with her hands behind her head like she's on the beach, then turns on to her side like this and curves her body backwards like elbow macaroni, the 'wrong' way of the crib, with her face right up against the edge of the crib (we've since added a bumper and other stuff to it). And of course, she's the cutest! :)

You have to love how she knocks all the toys out of her way onto the 'other side' of the crib so she has room...

Post of the Day

PsychoToddler's Am I Flipping Out? is a great one. I'm feeling a lot better today, so I'm back at work catching up on some stuff. In other good news, our kitchen is about 98% done, and our apartment is finally starting to look like... a home. :)

Remarrying Her Husband

Mazel Tov to [Jewess with Horns'] Chana on marrying her husband. Again. When they've been married the whole time, except for maybe four days last week. :)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Muddled Words

Want a fascinating read? Read this post at At the Back of the Hill that has some of the goings-on from the Knesset. It's Deputy Minister Ephraim Sneh, primarily, with interruptions from a number of Arab MKs throughout. Excerpt from BOTH:
[Arab MK Ahmed Tibi starts screaming...]

Deputy Minister Sneh: On Nov. 7, from an orchard on the outskirts of Beit Hanoun, rockets were fired towards Ashkelon. On the next morning, we received warning that it would happen again, and therefore two artillery volleys were fired to that spot. As a result of a technical fault in the second volley, tens of innocent people were hit. We see this as a grave issue, a catastrophe, and a failure. I assume that those who fired the rocket on Ashkelon, if they would have hit dozens of innocent people, they would have seen it as a success.

MK Tibi: [screams] You're just clearing yourself! [unintelligible]

Sneh: No, no, Tibi - that's the difference of our cultures; that's the whole thing; that's the difference in our values.

[Tibi and other Arab MKs start yelling wildly]

Sneh: I promised you that you wouldn't like what I had to say. ... You cannot evade the point that when we hit civilians, we see it as a failure, but those who shoot at us see it as a success; that's the difference, you cannot evade that!
He makes excellent points regarding both military and moral responsibility in the face of attacks. Read the whole thing.

The King and I... and OD

Well, last night, the Cavs played the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. After trying last week to find cheap tickets on all the usual sites (EBay, StubHub, Craigslist...), we kept coming up empty. Finally yesterday we called the box office, hoping that perhaps some tickets came back, and were told that there were a whole bunch of scattered pairs of seats in the 300- and 400-level sections. I thought I asked if this included the cheap $10 seats and the woman said yes. So, though I was still not feeling well, and though it was just 1/2 an hour until gametime, we drove to the subway and went to the Garden.

Of course, it was the middle of the second quarter, we had to walk all the way around Penn Station in the damp cold, the shoes I was wearing (my regular pair seems to have run away) had a tiny hole in one, and my brother OD walks faster than some people run (including himself), so I wasn't doing too well. And, of course, they didn't have tickets left in the $10 range, and said they hadn't since they went on sale in September. Wonderful.

So, we went back outside (yet another mistake) and asked a couple of cops what the laws were about scalping. [In Cleveland, once you cross the street you're allowed to sell.] We got three different answers, plus one cop who basically said, "If I don't see it, it's okay. You can probably check over there (pointing) or there." But the basic answer was it's illegal within 1000 feet, plus most of them are fakes in NYC, especially to a game like this one. So that was out.

We decided to walk back in and ended up watching on a screen, shmoozing with a security guard who was watching as well. Wow - LeBron is that good. [Meanwhile, I was feeling worse and worse - standing/walking around for a couple of hours including outside in cold, rainy weather when you're trying to get better is not wise...] Aside from some trouble with Nate Robinson and a miracle 30-footer from Jamal Crawford, the Cavs' D was pretty solid, and though they shot poorly, it was - after all - the Knicks, and the Cavs held on 102-96.

I really think that Mike Brown may be very underappreciated. The Cavs lead the NBA in rebounds per game, are second in rebound differential per game, and are fourth in blocks per game. Those are all signs of a good defense. Steals can be deceiving, as some teams get them by gambling on D, so I'm not worried about their lack of steals. Moreover, they have Larry Hughes - who led the league two years ago - and Lebron, who is always up there, so they should end up near the top there as well. (The two of them had 5 last night between them.) The Cavs have yet to be outrebounded in a game, and are a few missed free throws from being 7-0 (an overtime loss to Atlanta and a close loss to Charlotte are their only losses). They're even cutting down on turnovers, with 21 over the last two games.

The Cavs are obviously a force, simply with the presence of LeBron. But, much like the greats before him, the team fundamentals need to be down pat - especially defense - for that to have a serious shot a championship. (And the new "motion offense" ain't too shabby, either!) The Cavs are getting there fast.
GO CAVS!! :)

Ten Li HaKippa Shnia

[lit: Give me the kippa (for) a second.]
UPDATE: I thought I'd posted the second story before, but I couldn't find it when I searched for it. SoccerDad said I definitely had, though, so I gave it another look - here it is. It's more detailed (and better written) there.
WestBankMama has asked people to submit some of their "Only in Israel" stories, and - having spent two years there hitching at least a few times a week - I have plenty of good ones. Here are a couple of my favorites... and they happened within a couple days of one another.

During my second year in Israel, I was in a yeshiva that was just up the block from my charedi cousin who has seven children. (The oldest is getting married this Sunday!! And I'm missing it... :( ) I used to go over there quite a bit, and I was there the day the two older girls were getting a large new desk in their room. A couple of secular-looking Sephardi men were delivering the desk, which was huge and heavy (thankfully they lived just half a flight up), and putting the top on the desk in the room. My cousin's daughter, who was probably about 16, offered the men drinks - one was in the room, the other in the bathroom. The man in the room gave her a heartfelt thank you and drank the water before returning outside; she waited near the bathroom with another cup for the other man to come out. When he came out, he washed his hands, motioned to my head for my kippa, took it from my head, put it on his own, and started saying asher yatzar with more kavanah (lit: intention; concentration/intensity) than I'd seen most people do in a long, long time. He then took the proferred cup, said a shehakol, and handed back the kippa as he was taking his first sip. As he left, I gave my cousin a look like "Wow, that was cool!" She smiled, shrugged, and said, "A lot of them are like that!"

Later that week, I was waiting in the rain [yay, rain!] for a hitch (or tremp in Israel) from Jerusalem to the Shoresh/Beit Meir stop on the highway. After a few minutes, a nice sporty car pulled up, driven by a mid-20's, handsome, well-dressed Tel Aviv-style businessman, with the longish slicked hair and complete with a Bluetooth in his ear. He said he was going to Tel Aviv; two secular punk teens asked if he could drop them at Latrun - no problem. A charedi Israeli-American asked about being dropped somewhere else - no problem. I asked about Beit Meir, and he wasn't sure if he was passing it (most people aren't familiar with the stop, which you have to pass to get anywhere but Mevaseret), but the secular kids explained better than I could that not only was he going right there, but it's the easiest place to drop a hitchhiker. We start driving, when suddenly the two secular kids (one Ethiopian, wearing a hooded sweatshirt like mine, the other white/ashkenaz) start badgering the driver:
"Nu, we need to say tefillat HaDerech!!"
While the other religious guy and I felt a little dumbfounded that the secular kids were the ones to think of it, the driver agreed and flipped down his visor for his tefillas haderech (many people keep a small copy of it in their cars behind the glare visors). Much to his surprise, it wasn't there, but the other two were persistent:
"Do you know it ba'al peh? (by heart) Surely you do..." [Ez: I sort of do, but I always feel like I'm skipping a word or two.]
The driver responded in the affirmative, but before he started, the two teens needed something - the Ethiopian quickly put on his hood, while the other - realizing the sweatshirt he was wearing didn't have one - asked me to put mine on so he could borrow my yarmulke. Meanwhile, the driver pulled a kippa right out of his pocket, put it on, and then began. As he would say each few words, the teens would repeat them loudly after him - with intensity - and they did so until he finished. Upon finishing, they handed back the kippa, thanked me and the driver, and stuck their headphones in their ears until my stop, where they showed the driver where the pull-off was.

Only in Israel.

What Will the Aliens Think Now?!

Welcome to Kentucky Fried Earth.
The company unveiled a new brand logo Tuesday that includes bolder colors and a more well-defined visage of the late Kentucky Fried Chicken founder, who will keep his classic black bow tie, glasses and goatee. As part of publicity for the new logo, KFC commissioned a giant, 87,000-square foot version of it that can be seen from space. The massive logo consists of 65,000 1-foot square painted tiles that were laid out in the Nevada desert over 24 days.
I'm sure the astronauts are going to be getting KFC cravings now...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cartoon of the Week (Last Week)

I saw this last week (via Judith), and it's just too good not to post (posting has been light at SerandEz due to lack of time and health).

Sadly, there already have been instances of this in the media, as Judith linked to there.

I still hope that most people actually see through such garbage.

All right - I think I'm going to go work on a practice write-up now. Yeah, that's how we accountants roll, baby.

Selling Liquor in an Old Home

We went to my grandparents for supper last night, and in the course of conversation, my grandfather told us a couple of hilarious stories regarding a cousin's grandfather in Canada.

When his children and grandchildren approached him about moving to an old home when he was 90, he complained that they were for old people and refused to go. When he was 95, he finally agreed to go, but only if he was allowed to come and go as he pleased. He was told that this was fine as long as he would inform them of where he was going.

When he turned 100, he received a letter from Queen Elizabeth for his birthday (in the US, you can request one from the President). He didn't really speak English, so he would use this letter as his ticket to go anywhere. He'd walk out of the old home, stand by the bus stop, and wave his letter until someone stopped. One of the first times, a police car pulled up and asked, "Where ya goin', Gramps?" He just waved his letter, and then showed them a piece of paper with my cousin's address. They motioned to him to get in, and he sat in the back of the police car while they drove. When they got there, they made him stay in the car while they asked my cousin if she knew this man - she looks out to see him in the back of a police car at 100 years old. She said that it was her grandfather, and they let him out.

He used to like having a shot of liquor before every meal, so many of his descendants would bring him bottles of liquor as presents when they'd come visit. After a while, the old home complained to my cousin that apparently, he was selling shots of liquor to other patients! It wasn't so much that he was making money off of it as it's dangerous for some of the people he was selling to. My cousin asked him in Yiddish (my grandfather said it's much funnier in Yiddish),
"What are you doing?! How can you sell shots of liquor to elderly people?!"
"Nu - Purim time I'll give them out for free!"
":::sigh::: And how do I explain this practice of yours to the gentile nurses?!"
"Tell them I'll give the free shots out at Christmas instead. :) "
Just thought people would enjoy. I'm home today, after being sick on-and-off all weekend, especially last night; they're finally installing our kitchen today at least. That's a whole 'nother story (sorry, PN :P ), but suffice it to say: Don't get your kitchen through Home Depot. Short version: After 2 months of waiting, we still didn't get our counters, and the pieces they sent are slightly damaged, though once installed you won't be able to see it.

THIN

As a follow-up to the discussion about eating disorders and self-image a couple weeks ago, I was just informed of a new documentary that has been filmed showcasing girls in an eating disorders clinic and their struggle with weight and self-esteem, filmed by Lauren Greenfield.

Check it out.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

In A Weird Reversal...

The Cleveland Browns beat the Atlanta Falcons today, in Atlanta. Meanwhile, our football team lost 19-12 in a terribly played game by our offense and on a couple of plays on defense [including an INT going right off the chest of one of our guys into a WR's hands for a TD - ugh]. Despite a bad game, it still came down to our having the ball with 45 seconds left at about midfield with a shot to tie or take the lead, but our 3rd down play was just past the outstretched arms of our WR in the endzone, and on 4th they knocked the ball down to end the game.

Hey, at least the Browns won! Right, Jewboy? :)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mazel Tov!

Mazel Tov to Sephardi Lady on the birth of a child!

Middos vs. Frumkeit

[Translation, loosely: Manners vs. Religiousity]

Aidel Maidel has been back for a couple of weeks now, and she wrote a wonderful post tonight on dating and marriage.
It has taken me years to learn something very, very valuable. ...

The man you marry is the man you have to expect he will be for the rest of his life.

What do I mean by this? If you think that he is going to change or move up in his level of Yiddishkeit and observance (or anything for that matter), you can forget it. You have to be prepared to live the rest of your life with the man as he is now.
She has asked for people's opinions on the subject, so read her post and comment over there.

Also, read this post of hers from a couple of weeks ago. It is one of the most honest and gut-wrenching posts you'll ever read.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Slippery Slope? End-Around?

Anonymous had a fascinating comment on the post below, which linked to SJ's post regarding gender "choice" that may be starting in New York. Basically, if a person chose to be the other gender and followed through on this for two years, they could "become" the other gender. (Yeah, exactly.) Anonymous noted:
dont know if you realize but this is going to be the way that the liberals up in NY will be able to legalize gay marriage, all one "partner" needs to do i s act like the opposite gender for 2 years and they will be a the other sex.

slippery slope indeed!
That's fascinating, and seems to be logical. If a male "became" female, they could then theoretically marry a(nother) male, with no problem whatsoever. It's a very cute way around current laws.

Side note on the gender issue:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority also agreed last month to let people define their own gender when deciding whether to use the men’s or women’s bathrooms.
I think this will lead to a whole lot of perverts going into the wrong bathroom and then claiming they're of the other gender. Wonderful.

Bizarre

I saw this yesterday, but SJ put up a post about it. This is bizarre.

So is this at BagelBlogger - except it's more than bizarre, it's scary.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Not a Nazi

I must say, Loren, that post of yours' timing couldn't have been better. Loren said:
Attention all you Holocaust metaphorists:

Do you know how dumb you sound when you use such extreme language for lesser things? It displays your ignorance and / or trivialization of what the Holocaust was. Do you know how disrespectful you are to those that suffered through the real thing when Froot Loops for breakfast at Gitmo is compared to Auschwitz? Has Rabbi Marvin Hier ever raised this as an issue?

I understand the value of hyperbole, but you're doing it with a real hot button and it's not funny.* Some comments are out of bounds, like how you'd feel if I told a dirty joke about your mother.
Well, apparently, some people haven't realized this yes. I hate posts like this:

Earlier this evening, approximately 20+ police officers with their sticks drawn, accompanied by horses charged into the Mirrer Yeshiva building (Bais Yeshaya). They sprayed tear gas in the front of the building and the Bochirum were locked inside the building for quite some time. The Bochirum fought back by tossing Shtenders at the police, and the police retreated in defeat. The police then went to the Mashgiach, Reb Ahron Chodosh Shlita and spoke with him. R’ Ahron then went to the Rosh Yeshiva, Reb Nosson Tzvi Finkel Shlita and spoke with him. R’ Nosson Tzvi Shlita appeared outside his home and appealed to the hundreds of angry Bochirum to please go to their Dira’s and not fight back with the police.

They call Israel a democracy? In the entire world police would never think of entering a place of worship. As many of you might recall, when there were a hundred Arab terrorists holed up in a Bethlehem Church a few years ago, the IDF waited patiently for DAYS until they came out and surrendered.

Again I ask: When will these animals - with their Nazi style beatings be stopped?

[Ez: last bold mine] Um, excuse me? Their "Nazi-style" beatings? Are you kidding me? Let's throw out the fact that your version of the story seems skewed, biased, exaggerated, and full of false statements for a second. What about some background (courtesy of a commenter there who doesn't exactly seem to be pro-police):
you guys really do need to calm down. I also agree israeli police are biased against haredim but my husband and son were in there being held hostage for 2 hours and this is what happened according to them. 50 or so yerusahlmi bachurim were running from the police and ran to the b.m. to seek shelter. THey threw off their jackets and preteded to learn at shtenders. They are the ones who put “our” children learning in the b. m at risk.Beating the police does not teach our children anything about being an Am kodesh and certainly will not stop this parade. THe charedim instead should have had massive tehillim rallies every night at the kosel and let the Ribono Shel Olam take care of these behamos. and unfortunately the police does not know the difference between the charedi yerushalmi setting garbage cans on fire and my american son learning in the Mir.
Well, that's certainly different. Of course, the context shouldn't matter. To compare police trying to stop violent protesters to Nazi officers is despicable. As Loren said:
I hope a survivor whacks you across the face. Shut up, then read up!

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