Thursday, May 31, 2007

Lunch at Prime Grill

In case you can't tell, it's been a busy week. Between vacation, shock at what goes on when we're gone, and just plain old work deadlines (raise your hand if you like "fund[s] of funds"!), blogging took a back seat this week. But now, things are finally slowing down to a normal pace. Busy season is still about 8 months away, the Indians and Cavs are on a roll (Saturday night could be quite the celebration downtown if neither loses a game for the next three days), and my manager took us out to Prime Grill for lunch.

Life is good. Now who wants to open up a fund of funds with me?

Buckle Up

Growing up, my father would often be driving my friends and myself to different places - baseball, swimming, basketball, whatever. He would always say that he wouldn't start driving until everyone had their seatbelt on, much to the dismay of some friends, particularly those whose own parents weren't as insistent. I never understood the other parents or kids - it's not a big deal to put on a seatbelt, and it's pretty clear that it can save your life. I was happy when I was in Israel and they finally started putting out really powerful ads on the radio and TV encouraging people to wear belts, seeing as more people die in car crashes than terrorist attacks each year there. And now, I'm happy to see this excellent ad (posted on Chaim's blog) by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, who was almost killed in a car crash a few months ago because he wasn't wearing his own seatbelt. It's simple, honest, powerful, and to the point.

Another small note: Unbuckling for "just a few seconds to grab something from the back" in a moving car is extremely dangerous. We know people who have been hurt badly in those few seconds. Moreover, just the fact that you're reaching around makes it that much more likely that the driver will be distracted or otherwise unable to see and get in a crash. Wait until the car is stopped, and don't start driving again until the person is buckled. The three seconds of waiting won't kill you; riding without a seatbelt might.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rest Well, Larry

It's been a busy day, which means very little time to post. But I can't help but comment quickly on the Cavs-Pistons series. Larry Hughes, the Cavs' starting point guard, will be missing tonight's game after getting injured in the beginning of the the previous game, a Cavs win.

If you do a quick calculation, you may realize a very simple truth: The Cavs are 3-0 against the Pistons in the playoffs when Larry Hughes doesn't play much. They are 1-6 when he does.

Rest well, Larry.

Conspiracy Theory Day

Ok. So I was I was talking to Ezzie (or thinking about talking to him) about having a new section for this blog dedicated to conspiracies. I don't know about you, but I love reading about them. This is a great one and alot of fun.

So to get this rolling, I am putting up a video that was sent to me. It is, ofcourse, about 9/11. The newest conspiracy craze thats rockin the nation. Now, I don't know how the New York skyline looks like, so can someone tell me if this video makes any sence. Its BBC report on the collapse of WTC 7, BEFORE it happened. The video claims that the building is still standing behind the reporter. She gets cut off, then it returns to what looks like the same shot with the building collapsing. So the question is, are these two buildings in the seperate shots the same? Enjoy.



Come up next... Where was Ezzie November 22, 1963?

Flattered

Ah! I leave for just a weekend, and people start saying all these nice things about us?! Oy. It's not like I'm dead!! I'm extremely embarrassed and flattered simultaneously. Perhaps we'll have to start embarrass some guests with stories of their own greatness... :)

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Thank You to Ezzie, Serach and Elianna

This is my chance.

As Ezzie's away and will be unable to monitor all accolades or other forms of praise or entertainment, I figure now would be an excellent time to say thank you for the time he has put into this blog.

Due to geographical location, not everyone has the pleasure of meeting the Goldish family. I have had that honor and can personally attest that they are among the warmest, kindest people you will ever find. As a student, I can appreciate how awkward it is to sit at a dining room table of people you don't know very well and consider whether this thought would be appreciated, whether you should refrain from making that comment, and worrying overall whether the hosts will be upset by something that you say or you have said. It's generally a very tricky line.

In the Goldish house, that line doesn't exist. Mostly because you don't feel as though you're a guest, but rather as though you're part of the family. You enter the door, bearing your basket of candy (one of the more appreciated gifts, I find) and all is alternatively madness or serenity. If it's madness, grab a ladle or chef's hat and join in (no, don't. Ezzie would mind. He cooks, did you know? Quite well, too.) Wander about and find the adorable baby, Elianna, who clicks aloud and does her best to entertain you. Elianna is almost like a tourist attraction. People come to the Goldish house simply to see her (I suppose that's a slight to the proud parents. Ah well!)

As for Serach! Have you considered Serach, my dear friends? Consider the amount of time Ezzie puts into his blog. Actually, don't consider it, as it is potentially quite frightening. Ezzie is always online. I know this personally. He's always open and willing to chat with others, particularly when someone is feeling down or hurt or is in need of a kind word. He helped run the JIBS this year, meaning that he stayed up to extraordinarily late hours of the night and early hours in the morning. He is our aggregator, posting link roundups and intriguing analyses of events I don't understand, mostly sports-oriented. He does all this, and obviously this has a heavy time component. We must thank Serach for giving Ezzie up and allowing him to do this. The blog world truly appreciates it.

The Goldishes are a warm, generous, kind family. Their hospitality is famous and never a matter of clandestine frightening phonecalls. They are open and honest; they'll tell you if it's a bad week for them and leave it be. The conversation at their house is always interesting. Education, politics, sports, idealism; all this can be discussed at the drop of a hat. And there are always people who have their personal experience to add to the mix. They've met many different types of people from many different sects of Judaism and they treat them all kindly, making no distinction between different affiliations.

The Goldishes believe in people. They believe in knowing people, being kind to people, giving up their time to aid people, if that's possible, above all things people. As an out of towner who is unable to reciprocate adequately, all I can say is thank you.

Please join me, then, in the comment thread, in saying thank you to the Goldishes (and then they shall be pleasantly surprised when they return home!)

Friday, May 25, 2007

SerandEz Hiatus

SerandEz are going on a very short vacation, the first since... well, since ever. Ser has made Ez promise not to bring along his computer, so from Sunday morning until Monday night at the least I won't be blogging. While for most blogs that's really not a long time, for this one, it generally is. Perhaps some of the other contributors will finally resurface and write something [coughCOUGH]. Meanwhile, we hope everyone enjoyed their Shavuos as much as we enjoyed ours (and we have a couple of stories to tell!*), and hope that everyone has a wonderful Shabbos and a nice, relaxing Memorial Day weekend.

Fitting for this weekend is Reb Abe's lone post [to date] [cough] on this blog, which he wrote last Memorial Day.

* 21 guests over 3 meals. Lesson One: It's really not so bad having a ton of guests as long as you're invited out for the last meal. Lesson Two: It's really nice to eat, have enough guests to daven mincha in your house, and then sleep until ma'ariv.

The Guide to the Stern College for Women

Chana has written up a guide to Yeshiva University's women's division, the Stern College for Women. It covers just about everything a person would likely want to know before attending Stern, from the perspective of a student who has been there for one year; she discusses campus life, extracurriculars, the different programs, some of the teachers and classes she had, and a lot more. It's quite thorough and notes what different types of people may like or dislike about the school, including her own likes and dislikes. If you're considering attending Stern, sending your daughter there, or just are curious to know more about it, it's a great (and interesting) read.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Phone Call

I'm sitting here, watching baseball, reading about the Cavs getting burned by a terrible non-call, tracking my fantasy baseball team, and talking to people on GChat when Serach's cellphone rings. Serach is watching the 24 finale with our friend Stoner next to me on his computer (I'm on my work computer, our home computer is getting fixed by Dell, supposedly), but hits pause to go answer the phone, wondering who could be calling at midnight.

A second later, she hangs up. "It's Elianna." Elianna, meanwhile, has been up for about half an hour, and is sitting on the floor playing with my cellphone. Serach goes over to her laughing, "Troublemaker!!" Elianna just looks up and smiles innocently, holding the phone.

She's the cutest. [Note to FFW: Sorry about the 5-second call you may have received. That was Elianna, too.]

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Roadtrip in a Picture Pile

Thank You

For this. This blog is really a blog about everything or nothing, depending on how you look at it. It's flattering that so many people think it's the best of its (non-)type. Thank you all so very much.

But again, the most important aspect to the JIBs (and one of the primary drives of this blog, really) are to point out what's out there. The JIBs may be over, but the nominees and winners are all still listed on the JIB site. Go on over and see what else is out there. The J-blogosphere is a huge, wonderful community with so many different people of all types. See what's out there. I said it better last week:
This is what the J-blogosphere is - a compilation of posts, thoughts, opinions, emotions, rantings, pride, feelings, happiness, and heartbreak from people. Jewish people. People just like us, people nothing like us, people we know, people we'll never know. This is why the J-blogosphere exists, and this is why these "awards" exist - to show off some of our best stuff, to show what there is in this small but ever-growing sphere of ours, and hopefully, to make that many more people aware of what we have and we're doing.

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 5/22

Too busy to post, but here are a few interesting reads and the like out there:
  • R' Ally has his hilchos dating in 7 simple simmanim. It's sad that so many of the people we know ignore at least half of these rules. (Note: He has a tendency to speak slightly tongue-in-cheek.)
  • The second edition of Mr. Bagel's mystery bloggers (where there are pics of part of a blogger and you have to identify who is who) is up!
  • Ha'azina asks God why!? This will be the saddest thing you'll read for a long time.
  • Scraps is moving on and no longer holding back.
  • RaggedyMom's food looks goooood...
  • The great J-Carnivals from all over: J-Pix 7 was a while ago, but I forgot to post it then; that doesn't mean the pics aren't amazing. Haveil Havalim #117 (!!) is up at the Shack, and has become a ridiculous source for so many segments of the J-blogosphere; and for all those scrambling for last-minute recipes, Kosher Cooking Carnival #18 (wow - that was fast) is up over at Batya's.
Enjoy, and if I don't have a chance to post again before tonight, a wonderful Chag Sameach to all!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Is This The Next President?

Thanks to the invitation of a friend and former blogger, I was able to listen to Rudy Guiliani speak today at the New York Sheraton near my office. I wasn't sure what to expect, to be honest; as this friend knows, I'm currently not favoring anybody in the 2008 elections, though I have already decided which candidates I do not like and why.

The room was small, holding perhaps 300 people, but was full. I was surprised by the large number of Orthodox Jews there, particularly Chassidim, including one old family friend; there must have been over 30 frum people there. The stated purpose of the gathering was to show the strong New York support Giuliani has, then having him speak and answer a few short questions.

After a few others spoke (generally short and well) about his leadership, a few of his accomplishments as mayor and how that translates nationally, and the support they were giving him, Giuliani himself spoke. [I'm not going to mention much of what he talked about in this post - perhaps a later one if/when I get a transcript.] I was surprised by a number of things, starting with his demeanor. I expected him to be cheesy and extremely political/guarded with certain sound-byte type statements... but he wasn't at all. He was actually interesting, speaking in a very straight-forward way about what he thinks needs to be done and why, and explaining that nothing is perfect. He also was honest - particularly in the Q&A - about issues which he doesn't yet know enough about. One of the most important features was his ability to give detailed, explained responses and statements - essentially the reverse of what many (on both sides) have been complaining about Barack Obama and a few of the Republican candidates.

As one person noted in an e-mail list I'm on, he's finally gotten past trying to play a lot of the political games, and has started to simply say "Look: This is what I believe, and [if applicable] did for eight years as mayor. This is how I'd do it to accomplish the same goal when I'm President." More importantly, he's not trying be anything he's not anymore, which I felt he was doing as recently as about a month ago. He also discussed a couple of points which I think are very important, notably that the Republican Party shouldn't approach elections with numerous states viewed as losses before they've even begun; as I've discussed before, even if the GOP won just the strong Bush states and picked up NY and one tossup, they can win the election. Just by being able to challenge in the other states makes it almost guaranteed that the GOP can win; sweeping a few turns the election into a landslide.

Obviously, his biggest problem is winning a primary against right-wing conservatives. The fact that he's "electable" will sway many; if he can imply that social issues should be states issues, he'll pick up a lot more. One of the most important points of the night was noted by a man seated behind me in conversation: Whatever he himself may feel on abortion, while he was mayor, Giuliani's record was actually decently conservative - both reducing the number of abortions by a large margin and reducing funding for it.

It will definitely be interesting to see how this election season continues to shape up, and obviously it's way too early to be definitive about favorites. But for the time being, at least, I'm substantially more inclined to vote for Rudy Giuliani than I might have been. Will he be the next President of the United States? Time will tell.

Are You Crazy?

That was the common theme I heard this weekend: From my brother, my mother, my sister, and many others. And maybe I am.

Motzei Shabbos at about 10:30 I left my apartment. 2:00am this morning I finally got back. In the middle, I went with two good friends of mine - Da Kirsch (whose annual NFL draft predictions I post) and ASLove, both of whom I first met in Lander - to Cleveland, Ohio. We went pretty much for one reason only: To watch the Reds and Indians play in Jacobs Field. The two of them are trying to visit a number of ballparks over the course of this season, and this weekend they had decided to go to Cleveland. Seeing as how I'm a big Indians fan and originally from Cleveland, they asked me if I'd like to join; Serach graciously allowed me to go away for the day, even though we generally only have weekends together; and so, we went.

We left Passaic at 12:39am Saturday night, and after a couple of stops along the way, much rain, and a little traffic, made it to Cleveland at about 8:00 in the morning where we hit one of the best Starbucks in the country. No, they're not all the same. At that point I called my parents and asked if they'd like guests for breakfast.
Mom (suspiciously): Who?

Ez: Me and two friends.

Mom: (after quick explanation of why we're in Cleveland) [laughing] Are you crazy?
There's going to a "Mom-and-Pop" place for breakfast, and there's actually going to Mom and Dad for breakfast. When we finished davening we had bagels and scrambled eggs, courtesy of Mom (we don't trust Dad to make anything since he burned macaroni), then headed out a little while later. A quick shiva call at a friend, a quick stop at Kinneret for pizza just because you can't go to Cleveland and not have the best kosher pizza there is (thank you Gloria), and we headed to the game. There's something to be said for free parking just a few blocks from the stadium which allows you to leave without hitting traffic or large crowds. :::cough NY stinks cough:::

My friends were wearing their Yankees regalia, which elicited a few good-natured barbs from Tribe fans and one hilarious exchange from a Mets fan, who walked over as if he were sweeping them away. There were a nice amount of respectful Reds fans in the park, but overall it was a nice Indians crowd of 32,524. We had decent seats behind home in the upper deck looking up the third-base line ($18), and were a bit disappointed that the ushers wouldn't let us move down to the lower bowl in the 7th. We also checked out the Monument Park - something that as a Clevelander you never do, really, but they wanted to; the Home Run Porch; and walked around the stadium a bit, of course pointing out the Lebron James shrine that is the "Q" next door.

The Indians won 5-3 thanks to some great pitching from Paul Byrd, clutch hitting from Jhonny Peralta* and Josh Barfield*, and a spectacular throw by Kelly Shoppach to gun down Ryan Freel trying to steal 3B with one out, two on, and the Reds trying to rally. In a purely ironic twist, Travis Hafner not only played first, but ended the game with a diving stop. If you've seen "Pronk", you know that there's a reason he normally plays DH.

After the game, we stopped at my buddy Groovin' whose wife recently gave birth to a baby girl, then headed over to the kosher Subway, where we picked up foot-longs for the way. Yum. Finally, we started heading back to New Yawk, getting stuck in almost two hours of traffic on I-80, and after we passed the traffic I let Love drive and was basically dozing on and off the rest of the way.

It wasn't that crazy. :)

* Barfield and Peralta are both on my team in the fantasy league all three of us are a part of. They were 3-8 with 2 runs, a HR, 3 RBI, and a SB for me, while I thought I had Aaron Harang (loser with 5ip, 5er, 10h/w allowed) benched but didn't; Brandon Phillips was okay for Love with a solo shot, but disappointed him by striking out in the crucial 8th inning; and DaKirsch was seriously saddened by Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez, who went 2-8 for him. Not only that, but Sizemore got caught stealing for the first time all year.

Places in Life

I went on a quick trip this weekend and haven't been at a computer since Friday (!), so here are two great pieces to read:
Lady Light has written the story about how she became frum, and it's fascinating and interesting.

Baynonim (hat tip: Princess D) has a very interesting [draft] piece questioning where people - particularly singles - view themselves in terms of the community spectrum. The comments are interesting as well.

The JIB winners have been announced!!
Enjoy!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Brown Gives Back

Sports players often get a bad rap, and some deservingly so. It is worthwhile to mention those that are doing the complete reverse, including the Cleveland Browns' star WR Braylon Edwards, who recently pledged $1 million to 100 kids' college education... and wisely, too.

Edwards' latest plan -- he also endowed a $500,000 scholarship at his alma mater, the University of Michigan -- isn't complicated. In December 2006, he picked the 100 recipients after his foundation combed through 1,000 essays submitted by eighth-graders who had been recommended for the program by their teachers.

After deciding on the pool of kids, Edwards set the guidelines. Every child involved in the program needs to maintain a 2.5 grade point average throughout high school. They must do 15 hours of community service every year until they graduate. They also can't have any unexcused absences. If they do all this, Edwards will help pay for their college education.

I like that he's not just throwing away the money, or throwing money at the kids - they have to work hard for four years and then they can have some of college paid for. The reactions from some of them - and their parents - when he came to meet all of them and talk with them shows how much of an impact this will have:

One girl told Edwards he couldn't imagine how much this opportunity meant to her. Another boy echoed a similar sentiment. Finally, a mother approached Edwards and said she hadn't even thought about college for her son until the boy was chosen for this award. At best, she figured, her son would have to go to a trade school.

That possibility nearly stunned Edwards.

"How do you have a kid in the eighth grade who doesn't even have the possibility of going to college?" he said. "That's crazy."

Kudos to Edwards for making a difference.

Hitch?

Anyone going from Kew Gardens Hills (or thereabouts) to Teaneck or Passaic on Motzei Shabbos? I could use a ride... my e-mail is the blog name at gmail dot com. Thanks!

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 5/18

A few good reads:
  • Sephardi Lady reminds us about life insurance;
  • Jameel is back to giving constant war updates, as the situation in Israel gets steadily worse;
  • Krum asks a great question: Why is there no animosity between the community of Waterbury and its Orthodox influx, but there is in the Five Towns - when if anything, the reverse seems more logical?
  • Via Shoshana and the Princess, this article at Jewcy on the sex education debate is a must-read. It's the only article so far to actually give a basic alternative to the new OU site which so many seem to be criticizing.
  • Ben Chorin has an interesting post criticizing today's educational institutions. (via Gil)
  • I think SoccerDad is right about what ails the O's, though from the seven games they played the Indians you wouldn't know it. The Tribe won if they scored more than four, lost if they didn't.
Enjoy!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My Daughter the Thief

Thank God we have one of the cutest girls to ever walk the earth. Even her new favorite word is cute, though she's doing things on purpose just to use it. (In case you didn't guess, it's "Uh-oh!") But we found out yesterday that's well on her way to a criminal future...

Our babysitter took Elianna to Amazing Savings to buy a few small things. Elianna was in her carriage the whole time, happily babbling at whatever she saw as always, saying "Awoo, awoo" to all the doggies... and birds, and squirrels, and every other animal which apparently all make the same sounds as dogs do. [Try and correct her and she'll give you a look, then say again, "Awoo", but more sharply - like "No, stupid, it's this."] While they were on the way home, the babysitter heard something fall out of the carriage, so she stopped to pick it up... and was shocked to find a little .49 cent flashlight, still in its packaging. She looked at Elianna, and what was there? Yet another little flashlight! Apparently, as they were squeezing down the aisles of Amazing Savings, Elianna had lifted two flashlights from the racks and placed them in her lap where the babysitter wouldn't see.

Our babysitter was too embarrassed to bring them back, so we'll have to do so at some point. But now we have to educate our little one that crime never pays. :) Hey, at least she shakes her head at us when we shake our own heads and say "Noooo, Elianna...!"

Jewish Economics - Getting Started

Before I got married, I was speaking to a few different people about the cost of living. One of my rebbeim summed it up nicely: You need to have about $30,000-35,000 for your first year of marriage, living conservatively but comfortably, with the low end being closer if you do not own a car (as we do not) and the high end if you do. But, if you'll ask many young couples to be how much they think they'll spend, most will estimate numbers in the low-to-mid $20k range. I have - and still do - show friends who are thinking of marriage a breakdown of their expenses, and the numbers never cease to shock them... and I only list the basic monthly expenses, leaving out items such as food, clothing, and entertainment.

Why are they so surprised? Part of it is a basic math error they all make: They take their own expenses, add them together, and figure that since they're buying certain things as a couple, they save money. And while all of that is true, they miss out on basic differences that they weren't paying before but our now. A single 22-year old friend calculated yesterday that she needs less than $10,000 a year to live (she has a very low rent)... and she was right when we checked her numbers. Even if most people similar to her live a little more extravagantly, their expenses at similar ages (without a car) are less than $15,000. Double that and subtract a bit and you get that low-mid $20k range mentioned above.

But couples are different. Whether they were living at their parents or in an apartment with friends, their rent - one of their largest costs - will be higher. They will now be paying much higher amounts for medical insurance, which many were not paying for before. Small expenses that some were lucky to dump on parents' credit cards no longer can be dumped... and then there's the landline, the internet bill, the gas and electric bills... and so on. There's the high cost of having guests, of making Shabbos, of making some Yom Tovim. A Shabbos in our house can range from $40-$150, depending on how many guests we have, though I'll grant that we made a conscious choice to have lots of guests. [As the same rebbe said, "There are some expenses that while on the face of it seem unnecessary are necessary for how you want to live your life. If you feel it is important to have guests, that may be an expense worth taking on and you'll have to cut in other areas."]

$30,000-35,000... and we're just getting started.

Out of curiosity, how much did you or do you think it would cost a young couple to live (take into account city/neighborhood - obviously the ranges are slightly lower, but not much lower, outside of NY-NJ)? What about a single person in their early 20's [undergraduate], or in their mid-late 20's [working/grad school]? [I'm leaving married with kids for later on.] Are you or were you surprised in either way once you hit a certain point in life, whether marriage or something else, by the rise or fall in expenses vs. your expectations?

Live Everything

I've long felt this, and thanks to a friend, now see it written oh so well:
i beg you... to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a foreign language. don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. and the point is, to live everything. live the questions now. perhaps then, some day far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer... ~ rainer maria wilke

Sderot Under Attack

Akiva's got a lot more, from updates to pictures and video.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

iHearSafe

(Hat tip: Mommy) This is great. A woman in New Hampshire didn't like that her kids' iPods were so loud, and was concerned that their hearing would suffer permanent damage. So...
Christine came up with another idea: these earbuds, which replace the earbuds on the iPod or any other music source. They limit the volume to 80 decibels, or 85 if bass or treble boost is turned on. For comparison, a standard iPod goes up to 120 decibels; the European version is limited, by law, to 100.
Read the whole article, it's really fascinating. As an aside, though, the danger of high volumes is so often ignored, particularly at frum celebrations. Bands play at deafening - literally - levels, and there have already been a couple of cases where babies lost their hearing. The answer is not "bring earplugs" (though we do for Elianna, and you should for your kids), it's telling bands to turn it down - or you won't pay them. I've never understood why they go so loud - the best weddings with the best music are almost always the ones where the band isn't too loud, and the ones who play too loud simply sound bad. But it's time for responsible people to start making it clear to the bands that if they don't turn it down, they don't get paid: It is that simple.

The Best III - Posts (and why it all matters)

I [All-Around] & II [Class, Specialty]

Gold, Silver, Bronze

Before I pick my own favorite posts, I have to say that I just couldn't pick a Best Overall Post. I have maybe 7-8 that I like more than the others, but that's not the point. Many people - including myself - have discussed and debated why the J-blogosphere matters, whether the positives outweigh the drawbacks, and so much else - but really, this is why it matters. The range, styles, emotions, opinions, feelings, and views on these posts are incredible. The topics, almost all having nothing to do with one another. And yet they are all up for "Best Overall Post" of the J-blogsophere, and deservingly so. This is what the J-blogosphere is - a compilation of posts, thoughts, opinions, emotions, rantings, pride, feelings, happiness, and heartbreak from people. Jewish people. People just like us, people nothing like us, people we know, people we'll never know. This is why the J-blogosphere exists, and this is why these "awards" exist - to show off some of our best stuff, to show what there is in this small but ever-growing sphere of ours, and hopefully, to make that many more people aware of what we have and we're doing.

Sof davar [the end of the matter], it is not so much the blogs themselves, but the posts which we write on them that truly matter. A special thank you to the JIB Committee, in particular to the man who did far more work than anyone else, Akiva, for helping to show off that which makes up this little community we share. Finally, to all readers - old and new:

Welcome to the J-blogosphere.

And now for the posts:
Those were my picks, anyway. Hope everyone enjoyed the JIBs, and normal blogging shall commence tomorrow. Apparently, I spoke too soon yesterday... :)

The Best II

(continued from earlier) [usually only putting in links the first time for each name]

Gold, Silver, Bronze

Specialty Awards:
Class Awards:

The Best

The JIB voting closes in about 12 hours or so, so be sure to get your votes in before then. It appears that SerandEz will be placing fourth in the "Best Large Blog" blog category and in the middle of the pack in the "Best Jewish Religious Post" category, but we're running neck-and-neck for what I've said is my favorite category, "Best of the Rest". Be sure to check out all the categories, blogs, and posts here.

Now that the voting is about to end, here are my own personal picks for each category...
Gold, Silver, Bronze

All-Around Awards:
Specialty Awards: ...to be continued - work calls.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

O, Jerusalem

I'm just going to point to one of the better posts I think I've written, which was what I wrote last year on this day... about the same day four years previous. As there are so many other good posts that have or surely will be written elsewhere in the J-blogosphere, I will just point to R' Ally Ehrman's excellent post which sums it up so well. R' Ally is married to my cousin, and they live with their wonderfully cute children in the Old City of Jerusalem, so he's possibly the best type of blogger to read in honor of Yom Yerushalayim.

Excerpt:
Today is Yom Yerushalayim. I love this day because for the last 16 years I have been living in the Old City of Jerusalem and I LOVE it. I do my best never to leave, even overnight. The Midrash compares Jerusalem to our mother. I feel eternally connected to Jerusalem as to a mother. I would not have had this merit if not for the great miracles of 1967.
I'd be remiss if I didn't also link to a recording of the recapture in 1967 which also includes a transcript.

Live-Blogging a Missile Strike

Akiva is updating continuously his chat with a friend in Sderot - you know, that city that keeps getting hit by missiles but nobody cares because Israel isn't doing anything to stop them? Yeah, that one. Excerpt:
Shlomo: Another warning... Oy!! Missile hitting

me: Stay safe, enough photos, are you in a safe place?

(dead air!!! where is he??? no response to multiple pings!!!)

Shlomo: almost was just killle, kasssm ell 20 yard aawywera, help, househitnxt t12 me. 20 yards awy1!Q#!$34

me: YOU THERE, YOU OK???

Shlomo: no...near heartr atcck. har to dbeare beathe. oh my god. i t waa so close
(via Bob Miller) Shlomo has written more about it here, along with an 8-second video he took which ends with a missile hitting his neighbor's house.

SerandEz Returns!

As you may or may not have noticed, I've actually started writing a few things here and there, now that I have some time. I'll try not to have too many days like yesterday (what, 5 posts?), but there are a number of topics I'd like to start on/get back to/expand on, in addition to still linking what I feel are the important, good, and entertaining posts out there. I still do work, but now that busy season is over I also have a life, which is nice. Some of what will be coming up on SerandEz over the next [insert unrealistic period of time here]:
  • Jewish Economics - the series I started and never continued is coming back! Again, the focus will be mostly on what I know, which is young couples and students, et al, but most people should appreciate at least some aspects of it. You may even understand the $54,000 question a bit more afterwards.
  • Back to Basics - this applies to so many aspects of life, but particularly in the differences between Charedim, yeshivish, Modern Orthodox, etc. Everyone wants to "fix" the problems (particularly the ones in the 'other' communities), but I think that to do so, we not only need to identify the problems, but get back to the basics of why everyone has taken the path they have. I think we'll see that we're all way more similar than we think, the questions are how the paths grew so far apart - and that starts from the beginning.
  • How I Met Serach - the JIB-nominated (and defeated!) series will return! Parts I-VIII are in the sidebars - on the left you can click on those weird looking things, and you can just click to the "How I Met Serach" and all of them will be there in reverse order.
  • New header(s) - Finally! I need to talk to our resident artistic geniuses and figure this out a bit more, but we have a couple of ideas. I assume I care more than anyone else about this. :)
  • Other stuff - Cavs, Indians, Browns, politics... all that stuff everyone hates but me and a handful of others. Too bad.
Thanks to everyone who has stuck around these many months of rare posting, and as always, feel free to comment away. One of the most enjoyable parts of blogging is when there is good, friendly, productive and entertaining discussion. We like to think that this is a good place for that. :)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Go CAVS!!

It looks like I'll be heading to tonight's Cavs-Nets Game 4 with my brother, my good friend and sometime contributor/commenter DGEsq., and perhaps GS. If he says no, anybody else want to come? $20, we have one more ticket!

UPDATE: GS has Mets tickets. G, you can make it here by then, no?

UPDATE2: Well, G, you can breathe a little better. The guy never showed up. At least we didn't spend any money... but what a piss-off. Ah well.

UPDATE3: AAAAAAAHHHHH!! I'm not sure if I should be incredibly mad, because we missed an amazing Cavs win 87-85 led by Lebron's 30/9/7, or content in the knowledge that as a Clevelander, had we been there, they would have somehow lost. It's sad that this is how we think, but we know it's true. We're a cursed people.

New York Bar Listens to Congressmen

(from Congressional sources) As a follow up to this story...

I didn't have a chance to post this before I left for the game, and it appears CWY is one of the lucky recipients already, so I'll just post an excerpt of the letter - he has the whole thing.
At the time when the Board made its decision several months ago to offer an accommodation for Tisha B’Av, we were not able to offer a laptop program on the alternative testing date. The Board is currently revisiting the issue of whether it is feasible to conduct a laptop program on Thursday, July 26, 2007. If it is determined to go forward with a laptop test site for candidates being tested on Thursday and the demand is high, a lottery may need to be conducted.
Excellent news, and thanks to the Congressmen behind it - Ed Towns and Anthony Weiner.

What is the $54,000 Question?

And why does Ezzie need $54,000? [Ez: Not "need". "Could use." :) ]

This question has been troubling me for a few days. Possible answers:
  1. Wants to start a new blog, SerandEzandFiftyFourThousandDollars.blogspot.com
  2. Wants to buy a used Lotus ESPRIT for the Holy Hyrax.
  3. Wants to sponsor a Kiddush at shuls all around the world in honor of winning a JIB award
  4. Needs a slush fund to run for the 5Towns school board against Pamela Greenbaum
  5. Needs to buy Serach a present because she's fed up with Ezzie blogging every single second of the day.
Suggestions?

The Chareidi View? "Sub-Par"

As an almost perfect follow up to yesterday's post, here are two recent statements that strike at the heart of the mindset of many in the Charedi and yeshivish worlds. To me, the second is more troubling, in that it is coming from a Rav who is well-respected and listened to by many typical American students who go to Israel for a year or two. Please go and read the entire e-mail conversation from #2 - your jaw will drop.

{UPDATE: I almost forgot this excellent post by R' Horowitz on the same subject.}
  1. (excerpt from Harry) When Rav Steinman was asked about ‘men who had left the yeshivas and cannot find themselves either here or there…would it be possible to set up a yeshiva for them where they would also learn a trade… his repsonse was,
    ‘You are saying that since he is already not good, then we should send him to learn a trade? That is merely adding poison to poison. A trade is poison.’
  2. (excerpt from Moshe) [bold mine]
    AL: so to insinuate that somehow we are 'sub-par' and not as good as those in Yeshiva to the point that you advise girls that should they really want a Torah home that they should only seek out a certain kind of boy- is hurtful and harmful to those of us that are precisely looking for that kind of girl.

    Rabbi B: I see. However, the truth is precisely that: you ARE sub-par!! However, don't worry, most girls don't understand a word about what I am speaking. So many many of them are exactly like you: they have no idea what real Torah is all about and so are very happy to marry a working boy so long as he opens a sefer from time to time.

    AL: Far be it from me to challenge Rebbe- I am a big believer in das torah- but I cannot feel that in some way that you classify us as second class- and frankly, I cannot understand why.

    Rabbi B: I don't see what the problem is. Your desire to have a comfortable life of gashmiyus has caused you to convince yourselves that learning one hour a day is acceptable. However, it most certainly isn't.

    AL: I wonder if Hashem sees things that way also.

    Rabbi B: Of course He does.
I'm not sure where to start, so I won't. Feel free to in the comments, though. As a note, and this was part of my point yesterday, this is not how all Charedim (such as my cousins) think and act.

Again, be sure to read the full e-mail conversation (and comment there if it's specific to the e-mail).

Video of Children in Sderot Running to Bomb Shelter

(Hat tip: Akiva) Wow. This is very interesting to watch... what I find the most interesting is the kids' amazing reactions: Not only do they all immediately follow instructions and run to the shelter, they start singing a song about it in the shelter (to the great amusement of their teachers). It's saddening and incredibly cute at the same time.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The Chareidi World's Surprising Education

I mentioned previously that my cousin, a Charedi rosh yeshiva in Israel, came to visit last week. I also mentioned that I was incredibly surprised by some of what he told me, while dismayed and unsurprised at the rest. The reason is simple: Education.

Harry Maryles penned a post this past Friday that I both agree with and now have to disagree with at the same time. His core point:
One of the goals of any decent mass educational should [b]e educating them to live and work in the society in which they live. It should educate them enough so they can eventually be prepared to compete with the rest of society on a level playing field in the work force. But The Charedi system does not do that. They practically ignore it. And in fact they perpetuate the problem, [m]uch of it of their own making.
This is only true to an extent, and primarily among the boys and not the girls. Moreover, a lot of it is not necessarily the educational system per se, but how people perceive they are supposed to live.

As an example, I am going to use my cousin's family. He is a 49-year old who - in addition to running his own yeshiva for boys who struggled in more mainstream charedi institutions - teaches and speaks around Israel and the United States. His wife works, though I'm drawing a blank as to what. They have 10 children, four of whom are married, one engaged, and those are the ones I'm going to focus on.
  • Son 1 (24) : I have to start with his wife to make sense of this. When I first met her, she was 20 and had already passed 13 of the 15 tests required to be a CPA in Israel. Since then, she not only was well-regarded in her firm, she caught fraud in the process of auditing a client. Perhaps you have to be an auditor to understand how incredible this is, but I can assure you that this is amazing. She then continued jumping up the ranks in her own firm before switching to another (with yet another promotion). And she's 23. Her first boss once asked her if her husband was as smart as her, to which she responded "smarter". The boss asked my cousin if he'd come and give a shiur to the accountants in the firm every day, which he does. The shiur went from 2 to 4 to a nice number of accountants each time fairly rapidly. Even after she left the firm, the boss told my cousin to continue giving shiur in the firm.
  • Son 2 (23) : He works with some of the students in his father's yeshiva in the morning, and in the afternoon works with kids ranging from 7 - 20 years old who have different problems. His wife works in special education.
  • Daughter 1 (21) : She is currently in the process of trying to get her (very good) job back, which she had to leave when she had twins 3 months prematurely. Thank God, the twins are doing very well.
  • Daughter 2 (20) : She learned videography and video editing, and then wisely decided to teach her husband videography. They videotape weddings and other simchas together, each taking their respective sides, and she then does all the editing herself.
  • Daughter 3 (19) : Currently engaged, had originally wanted to do English (which she's always enjoyed), but was offered an opportunity she couldn't refuse and will be going into pharmaceuticals instead and should become a pharmacist.
To some extent, this shows the successes of the Charedi educational system. But - as many would be quick to note - all is not well. I can't recall the exact contexts, but on a few occasions, my cousin and I mentioned different issues, and I stated that those are tremendous flaws in the educational system - and he remained silent, nodding almost imperceptibly, seemingly agreeing with the assessment, trying to figure out how to fix those problems in his own head.

One interesting tidbit: My cousin noted that when taking the CPA, his daughter-in-law and her friend were easily the first two finished, to the amazement of the older, secular accountants in the room. While he says they were at a disadvantage for a bit in the workplace, they were at an advantage in terms of the tests themselves, having been taught a completely different way of thinking through the issues.

The problems in the Charedi world are not that they cannot compete with the rest of society... though that is true for many. It is also not that they ignore the problem - they do not. The problems are a few, but almost all trace back to one: The perception among your 'average' Charedi household that working is at best a b'di'eved. It seems clear that the top learners, the ones who can not only learn but speak, work with others, and teach, can earn respectable if not very good salaries. These are the same ones whose wives can be a part of the secular world - and do well in that world. Their families do well and are self-sufficient. An extremely important factor is that should the wife lose her job for a period of time, while any family would be hurt by this, they can withstand the brunt of it while she finds another and not go deep into debt.

But the average yeshiva student cannot do the same. They cannot command decent salaries for their teaching, for their speeches. They end up earning very little from their kollel checks, and should their wives lose their jobs they are forced deep into debt. There is no safety net, and they do not have the capacity to compete with the rest of society should they ever have to. They do not have the basic knowledge, and while a genius may be able to pick up a trade fairly quickly and compete, most people cannot without the basic knowledge, education, and information necessary.

The Charedi world, at least some of it, actually is aware of and trying to figure out solutions to the problems that exist. In doing so, they are coming up with solutions that are not merely short-term, but long-term: For example, the pharmaceutical option that my cousin is taking is something that they added when they recognized not only the need for pharmacists, but the opportunity for the girls who would choose [or more accurately, be chosen for] that option.

At the same time, they have a long way to go, and the largest worry is that their flaws and problems will overtake them before the solutions can be found. Perhaps the most important factors are that the Charedi world not point to a few success stories as representative of the whole population, or point to the slight improvements and think that the job is done. I know that my cousin is not like that, and surely there are more like him... but are there enough? Time will tell.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Why They Can Win

Bill Simmons, one of my favorite sportswriters (not that that takes much since most of them stink, but he's really good), has a great piece on his 'blog' today about the NBA Playoffs. He's referring to the Warriors, but this applies to all teams:
Well, the basketball playoffs are just as simple. If you made a list of the top five things that invariably kill playoff teams in May and June, it would look like this in some order:

1. Can they control the boards when it matters?
2. Can they bury their foul shots in crunch time?
3. Can they get a defensive stop when they absolutely need one?
4. Can they maintain their poise at the most crucial times?
5. Can they get quality shots when it matters?

He then proceeds to show how the Warriors can't really do any of the above. Meanwhile, I thought it would be good to apply that to the Cavs, whom he notes can beat the Pistons and he "wouldn't want to face now".
  • 1) Yes. They've out-rebounded the Nets 100-69 in the first 2 games of the series, and that's why they won despite shooting terribly and the Nets shooting lights out.
  • 2) Um, no. This is their Achilles' heel, though it has drastically improved (particuarly Lebron) over the last month or so.
  • 3) Yes. They've shut down the Nets in the 4th quarter, holding them to 37 points combined in the two games in the final quarter, 84.5 per game overall. They did that to a lot of teams to end the season, too... and as Simmons noted, having Lebron, Hughes, and Pavlovic (who worked all year on his D) on the court at once makes perimeter passing really tough for other teams. The three have 13 steals over the first 2 games.
  • 4) Yes. Though they have allowed all six games this playoffs to get interesting, they've succeeded when they needed it the most and won every single one.
  • 5) Yes! This is possibly the most important difference from last year, where they did against the Wizards but not against the Pistons in Games 6 & 7. They've done a much better job at either freeing up Lebron or having everyone else not just stand around but get their own open looks.
Will their free-throw shooting sink them? I don't think so. Granted, the Pistons are a better FT-shooting team than the Nets, but they're not spectacular; and their rebounding is actually only in the middle of the league, behind New Jersey, while the Cavs are only behind Utah. Both the Cavs and Pistons hold teams to a low FG% (44.5 and 44.8), but the Cavs hit more threes and give up very few while the Pistons aren't quite as good at either. The Nets are slightly worse than the Pistons in those except own 3's, where they're one of the better teams in the league.

Assuming the Spurs hang on in the West (granted, not an easy assumption), they're actually only 17th in the NBA in rebounding, but make up for it with better shooting and better defense. The Cavs did beat them both times this season, however, shutting down the Spurs' offense and holding them to under 30 FG's in each game - a total of 79.5 points per game. Can they do the same in the playoffs? We'll have to wait and see... first come the next couple wins against the Nets.

Evaluations Day/Week/Month

Oh, this is going to be fun...

Today, I get to fill out my own self-evaluation, which is one of the hardest things to do. Try writing up your own self-evaluation on any part of life, then hand it to someone else. You'll be sure that you're coming off as an egotist or completely down on yourself. Or you'll balance those but feel it's not a true, fair evaluation. Wouldn't you?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bright Beginnings

This is incredible, and in my opinion, so incredibly important. See R' Horowitz's intro and the PDF of what a workbook would look like.
I am very pleased to present to you a PDF prepublication sample of the “Bright Beginnings Chumash Workbook”. The purpose of this booklet is to assist educators and parents in their quest to help their children become independent learners by teaching them language and grammar skills in a thoughtful, educationally sound manner. ...

We expect to go to print in a matter of weeks and are planning to release the first Chumash booklet, which will contain the entire first half of Parshas Lech Lecha in the summer of 2007. Please help us maximize the effectiveness of this workbook by sharing your input with us.

Please post a comment at the bottom of this column with any suggestions for improving the format of this workbook. Here are some questions that we had when producing this booklet. Your feedback responding to these questions, or any other questions/comments would be most appreciated:

He then has a list of questions. Check it out and help the future of Jewish education.

The Very Best

I don't have time to write about it at the moment, but the voting has opened for the final round of the JIB Awards!! This blog is nominated for Best Large Blog, Best of the Rest (my personal favorite), and Best Jewish Religious Post for A Hitch & A Prayer. I actually voted for Chana's Off the Derech, which is slightly better than Scraps' Proud Member of the Tribe, rather than mine, which I don't think was as good. In addition, the Purim Podcast that Jameel put together and I assisted with is up for Best Podcast (single episode). That one really honors the J-blogosphere as a whole for contributing to. Enjoy, check out the nominees, and don't forget to vote for your favorites!

Something Completely Different

Ezzie is supposedly very busy these days (I heard a rumor that he is asking for change on street corners, but don't tell) so he asked me to put up a guest post in his blogging absence. Since his other guest posters have seemed to find their guest posting responsibilities satisfied by posting pictures and arguments about cool cars, and I have nothing to say about that (I leave the topic of cars to my brother), I decided I would post about a much more interesting matter - Grey's Anatomy (I think Sarah is all caught up so I can discuss the show freely now).

So, first of all, can I just say that I was not so thrilled with the new spin-off? It was basically the same exact story lines already emerging in the first episode as the original, but in California. And unfortunately, while Tim Daly looks pretty good (not to mention Taye Diggs), he just can't compare to McDreamy and McSteamy, an unbeatable dynamic duo if I ever saw one.

Second, I don't understand why George and Izzie can't just keep their hands off each other. Doesn't Izzie respect the fact that George is married? She wasn't so interested in him before he found Callie. She's certainly pretty enough, I'm sure she could find her own guy (and all of this being said, I do feel bad for her about the Denny thing, but I don't think George is the answer). I really like Callie, and I think she and George deserve a fighting chance without Izzie around. And, btw, I think Callie could do better than George - he totally doesn't deserve her. She's way cool and, let's face it, he's kind of a dork.

Third, what's going on with Alex and the no-name chick? Is this going to be another Denny situation - a doc falling in love with his patient? I've never really understood Alex anyway, but all the more power to him, I guess. What a situation to walk into - no history, no baggage without a memory. Maybe I'll pay a good neurosurgeon to knock some guy upside the head and give him a clean slate.

Finally, poor Meredith. I'm finally starting to like her, she's finally not just a huge bundle of teary, falling-apart, knitting mess, and now McDreamy's career is being held back because of his relationship with her. And, her step-mom gets killed off, which drives a huge hole in the extremely newly-forged relationship with her father. Poor thing, I actually feel sorry for her, and am rooting for her for once.

(Oh, just one side note, so I don't forget anyone - I'm totally with Christina for not wanting the big fancy-shmancy wedding. My advice is to elope.)

So, there you have it - my wrap-up of Grey's Anatomy, totally the only show on television I feel like spending time watching. Anyone else want to offer their take?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Happy Birthday to Jack

Its Jacks Shack birthday today. Everyone wish him a mazal tov..............or else.

Why I Blog

Okay, not quite. But in a conversation with a friend earlier today, she casually mentioned how much she realized she's 'gotten out of' blogging, and I've always answered the same when some friends ask why I blog, or what I 'get out of it'. One of those gains is friends - not that people blog to make friends, but that blogging makes them friends anyway; people who are like-minded in important areas, whether their values, ideals, or some other area, are naturally attracted to their blogs. The skeptics are attracted to the skeptics; the Torah blogs to one another; the nasty folk tend to crowd certain blogs; and the nice people generally spend their times on the nicer people's blogs.

I didn't start blogging to make friends. I blog because I enjoy writing, I really enjoy the discussion, I enjoy seeing all the different viewpoints on issues, and there's definitely comfort and calm in knowing that there are so many others who struggle with so much in so many different areas - whether they're similar to my own struggles or not - and that they are trying to work through them as well. It's also been interesting to see the connections I've made, being published has its own perks, and of course the couple of dollars that have trickled through have been a nice bonus. It's fun to have nights like last night, where I'm sitting at a cousin's wedding, and whether because of something that was on my blog or just the fact that I have one a number of conversations start up on different topics - whether science and Torah, politics, sports, or something else - all of them starting or ending with "you can't blog this!"

But perhaps most importantly, in the process, we've made plenty of friends while strengthening other friendships, and that's the icing on the cake. While there's certainly something extra to the ones we've met - from the "Family & Friends" to the "KGH & Baltimorons" groups to others who've managed to make the trek to SerandEz to those we've met elsewhere, it's true as well for the ones who have forged strong contacts through the blog, e-mail, GoogleChat, and the like.

Thanks, everybody.

PS I think that this post says a lot about what this blog is really about. You'll see soon enough how that's reflected in the makeup of the blog itself, hopefully, though we're still working on it. Hope y'all will enjoy!

Ezzie's Blog Roundup, 5/9: Caring

So much I'd like to write about, but I apparently still do have some work after April. Ah well. Meanwhile, four great posts out there today that I've read so far:
  • Aidel Maidel is married. Eating with her husband. Mazel Tov!!
  • Chana on popularity and people. Excerpt:
    But more importantly, it means that I shouldn't judge by the divide; she may be popular and I will never be, she may believe in a light I think is long gone, she may be passionate about things I can't feel for- but it doesn't matter. Because in the end, we're the same. We're all the same.

    We are all lonely people looking for those who see a side of us that's different and unique, who think that we matter and respond when we tell them a truth about ourselves. We're looking for the people who are interested in us; the ones who think that we're worth knowing.

    We're looking for the people who care.
  • Pearl needs some freelance work: Can you help?
  • Jew-ish is going to Israel, and wants to know what she should do there. Go give some suggestions!!
Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Post of the Day

Psychotoddler, on his father's yahrtzeit:
I would like to respond to an email I got recently from Neil Harris asking me to expand on how blogging has actually gotten me closer to my community. I think for many bloggers, the exposure to so many diverse points of view and so many skeptical posts has had a negative effect. They've questioned their faith and their practices and become turned off, or bitter, or both. I must admit that early on I used this blog to vent to the two or three people who read it and left comments.

However, after the venting was done, I really began to reassess my relationship with Judaism and frumkeit in general. I realized that, bitter as I might be at times, my arguments, once laid out clearly and precisely, really held very little water. I was, shall we say, immature. I wanted this or that, and I just needed to stamp my feet a little. And then I realized that maybe I didn't really need everything I wanted.

Maybe there was a way for me to still be me and yet be a better Jew. Sure, I met my share of heretics and skeptics in the blogosphere. But I also met many inspiring people. People who had many of the same excuses and yet overcame them. People who had quite a bit less than me and yet were happy. People who, surprisingly, were willing to listen to and even laugh at my little tantrums, and in the end say it was OK, and who left me feeling petty and selfish. And that's really the best kind of mussar.
Amen. And may his father's memory be blessed.

A Few Good Reads

Some important/interesting stuff out there:
  • IYWI notes an important event: All of Israel in Black. You don't need to be there to raise awareness, so check it out.
  • XGH hilariously draws the mesorah.
  • Jameel writes about davening (prayer), kavanah (concentration), and how much people in the past struggled with both.
    Excerpt: We learn two very important points from this Gemara:

    1. The Amoraim, the Rabbis from the Talmudic era were in fact, human beings just as we are, and had the exact same trials and tribulations with Kavvana that we face today. (And they weren't even ashamed to admit it, nor was it covered up by the gemara). This message is important for both FFBs and BTs alike.


    2. Kavvana is extremely difficult to attain or maintain in davening, regardless of outside interferences. Add in some ordinary distractions and its close to impossible.
    My own addition: 3rd lesson: The Gemara left in 'embarrassing' facts about great Rabbonim so others could be inspired. Hmmm...
Enjoy! Don't forget to check out the pics of us and Elianna from the parade, which Jameel shoved down the blog by writing about cars. Whatever.

The Holy Hyrax knows nothing about cars

Recently, part time blogger, "The Holy Hyrax" used space on Ezzie's blog to tell us why he thought the "Delorian" was the coolest car of all times.

(I'm rolling my eyes just thinking about it).

He enumerates the following lame reasons:

1)First of all, its from the 80's and I'm a nut for anything from the 80's. Infact, I'm wearing a Mega-Man T-shirt, one of the coolest Nintendo games from the 80's, right now.

Yay. The 1980s. Yes, the 1980's were cool, but that doesn't mean "everything" from the 1980's were cool. I can think of some really stupid things from the 1980's...and the Delorian was one of them. It used to stall all the time. And Mega-Man was LAME!!!

2)It can fly and hopefully it really DOES travel through time. But with the congestion on the LA freeways, I don't know how I would ever get to the necessary speed.

It flew in the movie, but can it also be a submarine? Huh? Can it core a apple?

3) It looks awsome.

AwEsome is with an E. You missed an "E". As in "Ezzie" -- the guy who lets you blog here.

4) Was used in one of the coolest movies ever made.

OK, Back to the Future was a cool movie, I'll grant you that.

5. The gull-wing doors prevents your wife from ever sending you to the grocery market since you probably won't be able to exit the vehicle in those tiny parking spots.

Other cars have the same feature...coming up! Just a few more sentences...

6) No pansy colors to choose from. Just one. GRAY. A MAN's color
and

Sorry Hyrax, but when you drive a mega cool sports car that costs more money than the whole JBlogosphere put together, there are no such things as "pansy colors."

7) You inlaws for sure would hate it which is always a plus for anything.

Big deal. They could hate any number of cars...including this MUCH COOLER car.

I present, the Muqata Guide to REALLY cool sports vehicles...


The Lotus ESPRIT.
With YESHA optional Bulletproofing available, you can drive this car ANYWHERE.

Feel like exploring Eilat? Just flip the switch and it goes underwater...



More cool cars coming in future posts...

(Even if I'm blogging on Ezzie's blog about sports cars, my blog still turns towards Eretz Yisrael)

SerandEz at the Parade

Yes, it appears my sunglasses were sliding down. They were doing that all day, and I can't figure out why. And yes, I know I can't smile for pictures. Okay? Hmph.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Elianna at the Parade

She had the time of her life at the Salute to Israel parade yesterday...
And yes, she IS the cutest, as a number of wide-eyed high-schoolers, cops, and others told us over and over. :)

Certified

No, no, not me. But the JIB finalists are in everything but the Best Posts categories, after the voting tallies were painstakingly reviewed, the fake and doubled votes discounted, and the final list put together. See the complete list of finalists here, and the final round of voting begins at 10EDT this Wednesday night and will last for one week. Good luck!!

As a note, there were a few hundred false votes that were caught in the categories that are certified. This does NOT mean that the blogs who received the votes cheated; it is our suspicion that in almost all the cases, it was others cheating to try and skew the votes to make people look bad or to knock other people out. Thankfully, very few categories and blogs were affected, and hopefully the finals will be 'clean'. Good luck to all!

Back to Normal

It's so nice to have Sundays off, to not have to stay until 9 (or 3am)... Busy season went well, the client, manager, and senior all liked me, etc. And that's pretty much all y'all will hear about it. :)

Back to normal! Maybe I'll even start writing real posts again...!

Anybody know how to upload camera phone pics and video? It's a Motorola Krazr.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Parade...

...rocked. We ended up not just watching, but marching along with my father-in-law's school, which was basically bringing up the rear of the parade. But after everyone else had passed there was a really nice addition to the parade - a LOT of really nice motorcycles. I mean really nice. The only time I've seen a better group of bikes was in Milwaukee when Harley celebrated its anniversary... and this was close.

But more importantly, the parade itself was amazing, and save a handful of Neturei Karta losers and a couple dozen other losers, it was pretty packed on both sides of the street for all 30 blocks or so. Pictures and perhaps some video later... on to a wedding!

Facets of Israel & Other Random Thoughts

  • Looks like it's going to be a packed day today, as SerandEz plan on stopping in the city for brunch, having some fun at the Israel parade, and finally hitting Brooklyn for a friend's wedding. If you're at the parade, feel free to find us and say hi. We'll be the ones with the super-cute baby. :) Alternatively, just look for the guy who could really, really use a haircut, holding a Canon Powershot.
  • It was fascinating (in addition to just great) catching up with my charedi cousin over the weekend. There are so many stereotypes and notions about the economic situation and educational issues in the charedi world that are simply false... while others are all too true. But the assumption that some are not being dealt with is also false... while again, others are all too true. The next 5-10 years will be telling. More on that later in the week.
  • The first round of voting for the best posts in the JIB Awards ends tonight! I've noted my own favorites already, and if you haven't yet voted, SerandEz contributor Pobody's Nerfect needs just a handful of votes to squeeze into the finals in Best Overall Group C for Pobody Ever Needs to be Nerfect and in Best Jewish Religious Group B for Metamorphosis of a Teenage Punk. The same is true of my own series in Group B on How I Met Serach. Go, check out some of the other great posts that were nominated, and vote!
  • For more on Israel in general, the blogroll (still under construction) has the list of most of the Israeli blogs I generally read.
  • Go Cavs!!! The NBA sucks, by the way. If you're the Nets, aren't you outraged that they're forcing you to jump from a clincher Friday night to playing Sunday and Tuesday... then waiting until Saturday to play a Game 3?! Ridiculous.
  • Finally, a wonderful pair of happy birthday wishes to my father [who claims to be 31, but hasn't looked 31 since he was about 22] and (maternal) grandfather [who is proud of how he's doing at 86]. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! As Grandma Cleveland likes to say, "...and many more happy and healthy ones. Love, Grandma" - even if it's on an answering machine.

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