Saturday, March 31, 2007
The Odyssey & Alternate Side Parking
Thursday morning I'm supposed to fly back to New York, while SerandEl, B, and JB head to Baltimore. SerandEl will spend Shabbos with some family there, while I will be stuck in NYC but was graciously invited by our friends FFD & FFW to join them for meals. Sunday, after working a few more hours, I'll drive down to Baltimore for the last days which - since it's a Sunday - will hopefully be a lot less eventful than Sukkos was. If you're in Shomrei, feel free to say hi.
And to top it all off, when Ohio State beats Florida on Monday night, I'll know that had UNC defeated Georgetown, I would have won both the pool I run and the one my brother-in-law runs. Instead I'll be coming in third in both... and my father (!!) who can't tell you a single player's name in the tournament [not even Greg Oden!] will win the latter.
Working 12-hour days on Pesach really bites, by the way... but not as much as alternate-side parking in KGH. As of Friday, I picked up what I believe is my 5th or 6th such ticket since I got married (less than three years), and I don't own a car. This one I knew I would get the night before - there simply were no spots on the 'good' side of the street, and there's no way I would get one of the ones that would open up the next morning (which are almost zero anyway). For what? For "street cleaners" - monstrosities that go down the middle of the street, kicking the dust to the sides of the street, accomplishing absolutely nothing but causing plenty of pollution and padding the city's coffers with fines.
Well, at least I get the Yom Tov days off. Chag Sameach, everybody!
Friday, March 30, 2007
Indian Summer... and Fall
They scored more runs than the Red Sox. They pounded more extra-base hits than the Yankees. Their starting pitchers threw more innings, and had a better strikeout-walk ratio, than that vaunted rotation in Detroit.The article is a fascinating analysis. Check it out.
Their leadoff hitter (Grady Sizemore) led the league in extra-base hits. Their cleanup hitter (Travis Hafner) led the league in slugging. They had three different starting pitchers tie for the league lead in shutouts.
And they outscored their opponents by 88 runs -- a bigger margin than what four of the eight playoff teams, including the the World Series champion Cardinals, and two 90-win teams registered.
There is only one question really worth asking about the team that did all this, the Cleveland Indians:
How the heck did they ever have a losing record (78-84) last season?
On Dec. 20, 2002, Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska shared a byline on a Washington Post op-ed titled "Iraq: The Decade After." Biden and Hagel, both of whom had voted two months earlier to go to war with Saddam Hussein's regime, warned that it would not be an easy undertaking and that America had to be prepared for a long-term commitment:How quickly we've forgotten, and how easy is it for any foe to simply wait us out, knowing we can't stomach any drawn-out battle, particularly in this incredible information age.Today President Bush remains committed, while Biden and Hagel are among the leaders of the effort to retreat. Their "decade" turned out to last barely four years.
Although no one doubts our forces will prevail over Saddam Hussein's, key regional leaders confirm what the Foreign Relations Committee emphasized in its Iraq hearings last summer: The most challenging phase will likely be the day after--or, more accurately, the decade after--Saddam Hussein. Once he is gone, expectations are high that coalition forces will remain in large numbers to stabilize Iraq and support a civilian administration. That presence will be necessary for several years, given the vacuum there, which a divided Iraqi opposition will have trouble filling and which some new Iraqi military strongman must not fill. . . . Americans are largely unprepared for such an undertaking. President Bush must make clear to the American people the scale of the commitment.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Go Tribe! & My Team's Makeup
The categories in the rotisserie-style 12-team league I'm in are standard: AVG/R/HR/RBI/SB for hitting, ERA/WHIP/W/S/K for pitching. Each team has one player at each position and two "Util" spots which can be anybody; 7 active pitcher spots; and a total of 22 players on the roster, plus two disabled list spots (which aren't available until the season is about to begin). I had the third overall pick in the draft, which I wasn't too thrilled about, but it worked out pretty nicely in the end:
Hope the formatting there is okay. Anyways, as you can probably guess, I have the strongest pitching as of now, with four quality closers (nobody else has more than three closers, let alone quality ones) and a very solid starting rotation anchored by Johan Santana. I plan on putting Josh Johnson on the DL when I am able to, then picking up and DLing Cliff Lee, then picking up Jake Westbrook. (I'm not biased, really, even if that means I'll have four Tribe starters. :) ) Apparently, when we drafted, only 2-3 guys knew that Johnson had just gotten hurt. Oh well. Harang will likely start almost exclusively on the road (2.98/1.26), Westbrook at home (2.88/1.28). My hitting isn't as strong as I'd like to be [and I was forced to go against my 'draft hitting, pick up pitching' mantra], but it's still solid all-around. I think Josh Barfield (.319 outside of PETCO, now playing in a much better lineup) may be my biggest steal, while I don't think people realize just how good Lopez and Teahen are, even if they know they're good. By biggest worry is Ryan Garko getting at-bats, though they should be able to find a spot for a top prospect who had 45 runs batted in in just 50 games last year... after having just one previous major-league at bat. Johjima was as good as anyone else once Martinez and Mauer were picked; Bay and Holliday are stars to count on; and I'll probably start three of the Alou/Wigginton/Feliz/Byrnes/Thames group every day based on matchups, or pick up other people. Wigginton especially gives me plenty of flexibility.
Batting Pos Batters H/AB R HR RBI SB AVG C
147/506 61 18 76 3 0.291 (Sea - C) 1B
54/185 28 7 45 0 0.292 (Cle - 1B) 2B
151/539 72 13 58 21 0.28 (Cle - 2B) 3B
114/393 70 18 69 10 0.29 (KC - 3B) SS
169/617 98 11 52 44 0.274 (Was - SS) OF
163/570 101 35 109 11 0.286 (Pit - OF) OF
196/602 119 34 114 10 0.326 (Col - OF) OF
150/562 82 26 79 25 0.267 (Ari - OF) Util
104/345 52 22 74 2 0.301 (NYM - OF) Util
89/348 61 26 60 1 0.256 (Det - OF) BN
147/603 75 22 98 1 0.244 (SF - 3B) BN
122/444 55 24 79 4 0.275 (TB - 1B,2B,3B,OF) Pitching Pos Pitchers IP W SV K ERA WHIP P
68.1 7 36 95 1.58 0.79 (Min - P) P
78.1 4 36 104 2.30 0.92 (Sea - P)
65.1 3 30 73 3.44 1.16 (Col - P) P
68.1 4 35 75 0.92 0.78 (Bos - P) P
233.2 19 0 245 2.77 1.00 (Min - P) P
234.1 16 0 216 3.76 1.27 (Cin - P)
192.2 12 0 172 3.22 1.17 (Cle - P)
157.0 12 0 133 3.10 1.30 (Fla - P) BN
88.1 7 0 35 3.57 1.19 (Cle - P) BN
189.1 11 0 147 3.61 1.28 (LAA - P)
(Note: I drafted Willingham thinking he was still C-eligible; as he is not, I dropped him for Thames.) Nu? Any holes, steals, etc. that you see or know of? Anyone I should think about getting if they're still available (and don't say "Albert Pujols" please). Who did I grab too early?
Making Room at Our Pesach Tables
[Argh. I can't concentrate long enough to write a real post. Busy season stinks.]
The point of this post was to point you to an amazing letter to (and follow-up by) R' Yakov Horowitz. Please, PLEASE, think about this. Thank you.
Quick sum-up of what I was going to write: My cousin is a charedi Rosh Yeshiva. He surely would love to be spending his seder discussing Torah with his brilliant sons, who I seriously think will be leaders in the future (as he is becoming now). Yet he spent the seder focusing on his divorced sister's little kids, bringing them the most joyous seder they could have, playing games and cracking jokes, pretending to be different makkos (plagues), and handing out candy for correct answers to basic questions about Pesach. I don't think he gave or heard more than one typical dvar Torah the entire meal... the closest was when the 12-year old son of hers wanted to tell over what he had learned. That was his focus - her kids first, so they could feel comfortable, then his own, who were already. They were the most amazing and memorable sedarim of my life.
Pesach isn't just about being neurotic or about one's own self and family and own minhagim and chumros and what explanations we can come up with for the different topics in Maggid. It's about inclusiveness, about ALL of the Jewish nation leaving Egypt together. So include others, especially those who may be feeling a bit alone, a bit down. It's the prerequisite to starting the seder, anyway:
Kol dichfin yaysay v'yaychal. All who want, come and eat.Don't just think about it. Actively search and call those who may be looking for a little company. It's not charity - it's kindness. Chag Sameach, everybody!!
Two+ Great Posts for Pesach
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Chutzpah in Arabic
Chutzpah is a Yiddish word defined as unbelievable gall; insolence; audacity. These are the exact descriptions that come to mind when I heard the following quote from Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal in relation to Israel’s acceptance of the Arab summit’s “peace plan”:
"If Israel refuses, that means it doesn't want peace. Then (the conflict) goes back into the hands of the lords of war."Wow, I guess Jews and Arabs must be related because I have never heard such Chutzpah in my life.
Here, the foreign minister of a country who is one of the world's largest oppressors of civil rights, is stipulating what Israel’s intentions are for peace. Why don’t we take a little look at the Arab World’s intentions for peace. Please entertain me: Let's see, how about the 2 planes that were flown into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 that were hijacked and piloted by Saudi nationals. What exactly was the intention of Peace there? Let's examine the beheading of Daniel Pearl that was posted all over the Internet and media, carried out by a terrorist organization, headed by - you guessed it - a Saudi National. How about the suppression of basic human rights in Saudi Arabia, more specifically the suppression of women’s rights. I find it ironic that Jimmy Carter writes a book about Israel’s “apartheid” yet women in Saudia Arabia are not allowed to so much as drive a car or walk around unless wrapped in a sheet. I wonder how they would deal with Cindy Sheehan in Saudi Arabia. I am guessing she wouldn’t be invited to sip tea with King Fasil; no, I think she would have a much more unsympathetic audience for her antics.
Let's see, hey Jimbo, maybe you should entitle your next book “Saudi Arabia - Civil Liberties, not suppression of basic human rights”. Oh wait, that would eliminate half the donors to your “Carter Institute”. If you think I am kidding, just ask the parents of the Saudi Arabian school girls who burned to death when their school caught fire. When the girls were running outside the burning building to escape, some of them g-d forbid had their hair uncovered. The PEACEFUL modesty patrols blocked off the girls escape and sent them back into school to “cover up” thereby insuring that they would be consumed by the inferno inside.
I find it ironic that the deal that Israel “must accept” at the Arab summit stipulates the return to pre-1967 borders, East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, and the Palestinians retaining their right of return. Okay, how about the “right of return” for all the Israelies from Arab countries who were forced out of their homeland when Israel was established in 1948. How about our right of return and compensation to the properties confiscated in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, and Iran. The Jews in Israel would never imagine making such a request, yet the Arab world has no issue demanding that a homeland be handed to the Palestinians on a silver platter and then asking for seconds on desert. Hey Hamas, it's wakeup time. Yes!, you actually have to build a homeland. Yes!, you have to Plant trees, create infrastructure, schools, and health care systems. I think what you want is what Israel has created, but apparently you are not willing to put the time and effort into creating it yourself. Suicide bombings are so much easier to carry out than actually building a homeland. That is right - I cam calling you out as being lazy and I think the latest sewage mudslide in Gaza is making me look prophetic. Your demands for Israeli peace are all a ruse and this fellow descendent of Abraham is not falling for it.
Hey, word to Minister Saud al-Faisal: If you in the Arab world are serious about peace, perhaps you can discontinue your beheading, hijacking, terrorism, religious fundamentalism, and oppression of women and make some tangible step in negotiations with Israel as opposed to the typical rhetoric that you continue to espouse.
Mazel Tov Week
The Birthday Girl & Her Daddy
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
The Essence of Liberalism
While the right wants to reward beneficial choices and discourage destructive directions, the left seeks to eliminate or reduce the impact of the disadvantages that result from bad decisions.
Every important element of the liberal program stems from the one central goal of assisting the unfortunate. Pushing for high taxes, expensive social programs, universal health coverage, lunches and breakfasts in the schools, income redistribution, affirmative action, reparations, a higher minimum wage, more generous foreign aid, multiculturalism, gay marriage, protecting endangered species, animal rights, enhancing entitlements, affirming prison rights, providing generous benefits for illegal immigrants – all these leftist imperatives arise from a common commitment to protect the powerless and uplift the unfortunate.It's a really great piece overall - read the whole thing.
Human Rights Watch
Sarah has the details:
Hillel Neuer of the non-governmental organization UN Watch goes into the UN Human Rights Council and tells them what he thinks of them.Check out her post for more commentary.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Another J-Blogger Gets Sued
UPDATE: I see SIW is ahead of the game as usual and already has it up.
But for those who enjoy great photography, the fourth edition of J-Pix is up at Chaim's; there are some really great shots and talented Jewish photographers (professional and not), so check it out.
America's Top 50 Rabbis?
Sunday, March 25, 2007
It's nice to be important, but it's even more important to be nice.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
The Birthday Girl :)
Friday, March 23, 2007
From Down Under
Thursday, March 22, 2007
History and its Importance
There is an attitude of “Who cares? There is no wisdom to [history], etc.”
R’ Jacob Emden writes on this, and takes issue with this and says there IS a value to the study of history and someone engaged in Torah should have an understanding of history, even secular history. There is an obligation to know history. You have to know at least Jewish history. In order to understand Chazal, halakha, etc, you need to understand history.
New Customer Service?
Hello,I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens, but this is encouraging at the least.
My name is Mike,
I’m a Technical Analyst located at Dell corporate headquarters in Round Rock, TX. I’m part of an internet outreach team developed to interact with the online community regarding technical questions and issues that customers face with Dell products. I read your post and wanted to see if I could be of any help. I can definitely empathize with your situation, I’ve been in the tech industry for many years and have seen all kinds of failures, but the one thing that always remains constant is the frustration of having a downed computer. I understand from the post that the fan has gone out on your machine which is causing it to overheat. I also read that you’ve had this fixed a few times before so you’re worried about it happening again, but while you’re out of warranty. That would be a real concern for me as well so I want to see what can be done for you. If you can get back to me at email@example.com with this topic in the subject line, ATTN: Mike B. (overheating system), I’ll get back to you ASAP. I hope to hear from you soon.
Dell customer advocate
On The Other Hand...
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The King's Resurgence
Brian Windhorst of the Akron-Beacon Journal, probably the most knowledgeable writer in the country about Lebron James, has an excellent article on ESPN discussing Lebron's sudden resurgence over the past month. In the article, he questions what exactly it was that 'set Lebron off':So then perhaps there was a column that proved to be the final straw. Maybe it was a private call from Wade or another peer. Maybe James' bed at a posh Beverly Hills hotel was particularly comfortable. Whatever it was, something cracked Feb. 15 in Los Angeles.I think it was none of those. On February 14th, the night before that game, I called up my brother. "I think that tonight was the best thing that could have happened to the Cavs", I remember saying. The Cavs had just lost 99-98 to the Jazz - in Utah - on a terrible non-call at the last second when Sasha Pavlovic was clearly fouled at midcourt as he was running down the court to take what would have been the game-winning shot. They were furious, and had no problems stating as much to anyone who would listen.
No, I don't have it, I just need to hear if anyone has experiences with it
The final gene that the article mentions is "called ASPM and also involved in brain size, clocks in at 5,800 years. That was just before people established the first cities in the Near East and is well after Homo sapiens attained their modern form."
Interesting. What's the Hebrew year again?
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Thought for... Thought
If ignorance is bliss, why don't we all choose bliss?Chardal sent me an excellent response (slightly edited) which I really liked:
Ignorance is nothing. It is knowledge which can go either way.Points worth pondering...
My husband is a liar and a cheat. He has cheated on me from the beginning, and, when I confront him, he denies everything. What's worse, everyone knows that he cheats on me. It is so humiliating. Also, since he lost his job five years ago, he hasn't even looked for a new one. All he does all day is smoke cigars, cruise around and bull**** with his buddies while I have to work to pay the bills. Since our daughter went away to college he doesn't even pretend to like me and hints that I may be a lesbian. What should I do?Signed: Clueless
Grow up and dump him. Good grief, woman. You don't need him anymore. You're a United States Senator from New York. Act like one.
Hair Today, Jewpe'd Tomorrow
The Snoody Baseball Player
Here in Brooklyn, we’ve got a lot of Orthodox Jews. And as you may know, Orthodox wives usually wear wigs, in keeping with traditional Jewish notions of feminine modesty (additional info here). Every now and then, however, you’ll see an Orthodox woman wearing a snood — basically a glorified hairnet (additional info here) — instead of a wig. And back in 2004, when there was a bit of a wig crisis, snoods were suddenly everywhere.
And that made me happy, because I love the word snood. It sounds like one of those inherently humorous Dr. Seuss words — snood, snood, snood. I’ve always hoped I’d have some occasion to work it into a Uni Watch article, and now I finally have.
What I never imagined (but maybe should’ve guessed) was that the snood-clad athlete in question would be Manny Ramirez. Check out the head wrap he’s been wearing for the past two days. That ain’t no standard-issue MLB do rag like the one he wore last year, and it ain’t that Nike skullcap he was wearing earlier this spring, either. That there, my friends, is a snood.
Monday, March 19, 2007
"...the things I really like best I keep to myself. I don't want to share them with other people because I want them to be mine, to keep and love and know about..."And so, we will cherish what was a rare evening out, watching and enjoying and spending time with some very talented friends. Thank you! :)
Sunday, March 18, 2007
J-Prank of the Year?
Too bad they couldn't have videoed his reaction to seeing the tape. :)
Saturday, March 17, 2007
my celebrity look- alikes
Friday, March 16, 2007
Survey on Niddah et al
The study looks at issues regarding Negiah (premarital touching) and Niddah / Taharat HaMishpachah (family purity). Niddah and Negiah play an important role in the every day lives of Jewish men and women. The collection of handbooks on this topic grows from year to year, yet we know very little about how Jewish couples, men, and women experience and observe Niddah and Negiah. Anecdotal evidence and our previous research have led us to conclude that many couples and individuals are experiencing difficulties with this aspect of the Halachah. We are inviting the Jewish community at large to participate in this important survey to shed light on these difficulties and explore some ways to address them. Given the intimate nature of these matters, this brief, online survey is totally anonymous, and no identifiable information is collected.Have a great Shabbos!
Thursday, March 15, 2007
I Hate Dell
This is one of the funniest articles I have ever read from the NY Times. I was going to excerpt parts, but it's so hilarious, I couldn't decide which parts to pick. Then I thought to copy the whole thing, but that may be illegal, so... just check it out.Yeah, Dell customer service sucks. And their computers alternate between being really good and... well, sucking. But read that Times link above - it honestly calms me down a bit. If it weren't so true, I'd probably laugh a lot harder.
Anyone who has ever had a DELL experience will love this. Old readers of this blog know I've had more than my share...
Anyway... the point is that our home computer is - once again - on the fritz. What's the problem? Oh, well: THE SAME EXACT PROBLEM WE HAD WITH THE LAST TWO! That's right - Dell insisted that they could only send me the same model to replace the previous ones despite our contention that "we'll probably have the same problem with this one!!!" After about a year, the fan breaks down, the computer consistently overheats...
Dell claims that their technicians have 'figured out a way' to install it so it's no longer a problem. That's nice - meanwhile, if it doesn't work, my warranty will run out. Plus, there's the old 'I really am not interested in getting back the same crappy computer that has a high probability of breaking down, especially when it's a 4-year old model and I can get a new one for half the price!' So... we're going to try and negotiate to get a Dell credit, I'll buy a really nice NEW Dell, and pray really hard that it never breaks down and I have to call them. If that happens... wow, I really don't want to think about that.
Let the Madness Begin!!
I can't even remember who I picked in half of these games... but GO BUCKEYES!!
Jameel - Kidnapped!?
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Orthomom Plays Squash
Hopefully, the judge thinks it is as clear as well.
Poland honors woman who saved 2,500 Jews
"Every child saved with my help and the help of all the wonderful secret messengers, who today are no longer living, is the justification of my existence on this Earth, and not a title to glory,
Jeez, posts have been light as of recent huh? Oh well, you gotta take that up with management. I am nothing more than a humble squatter here at serandez.