My Penis Died

My oh my do I love my son. He consistently makes me smile and laugh, with the intermittent bouts of screaming. He is a miniature version of myself, smaller. smarter and with more energy. The Pentium to my 386.

Today he had me close to doubled over with laughter on a couple of occasions. He called me into his room because he was very excited about something. I moseyed on in and he said to me:

"Abba, my penis died."
"Oh, I see. How did it die," I asked.

"First it was really big and it was standing up. And then it became soft and fell down," He replied.
"So let me ask you a question. Were you touching it before it got really small."

"Yes, first I did a thing to it like this and then after a while it died."
"Ok, I see. Let me tell you a few things about how your penis works and let's see if that works for you."

"Ok abba."

A little time passes and he comes to find me to ask me a new question.

"Abba, what happens to your penis when you die?"

Ok, this is a variation on the theme of death that I had already covered. This I should be able to handle. And then it occurred to me that at 4.5 he takes much of what he is told literally so I paused for a moment to consider how to answer the question. As I paused he asked me a new question.

"Abba, do you feel ok?"

I smiled and said that I did and asked why he asked that question.

"Because you make a funny face when you are thinking hard."

Boy, the child is observant and smart. I was about to offer answers to both questions when I was saved by a new thought. He wanted to watch Scooby Doo and I consented. In part because I hadn't come up with a satisfactory answer to his question of what happens to your penis when you die.

It is not that I am stumped, but as I mentioned I want to be careful in my answer because he is literal in his understanding of some things. This is the boy who looked at the Mary Poppins DVD, saw Dick Van Dyke's face covered in soot and called him the black man. Actually he asked me about the black man in Mary Poppins and for a moment I was stumped because I couldn't think of a single character who wasn't white.

I am waiting for the day in which my daughter asks me these kinds of questions. Of course if at 4.5 she talks to me about a dead penis someone is going to find out that I can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.

Crusing Corporate Cuisine

Ah yes, the eternal dilemma, where to eat lunch during the work week. In Silicon Valley the answer has been cleared up, sort of. Read this article or settle for my excerpts to understand this.

``Apple's the best,'' said Joseph Ruff, a programmer at Mountain View start-up TellMe Networks. ``The egg burritos, they make them nice and spicy. Network Appliance -- that had a pretty good salad bar, but it was smaller than Apple's.''

Want navrattan korma with raita, chutney and naan? $5.29 at Cisco Systems. Need something to drink? Sun Microsystems stocks 20 flavors of Odwalla juices alone. Feeling guilty? Yahoo boasts sustainably harvested seafood and antibiotic-free chicken.

Marc Marelich, eBay's general manager of food services, often sees outsiders slipping in to eat at the new cafe. And no wonder -- they can get ahi tuna salad tossed on the spot, spicy Tunisian chili with lamb and beef, or Yucatan fish tacos with pico de gallo.

At San Jose semiconductor maker Atmel, which a few years ago decided not to construct its own cafe, employees have found a prized alternative to brown-bagging it. Sales reps, engineers and even the chief financial officer cross the street to eat at BEA Systems' Tuxedo Junction Cafe. One Atmel engineer dines there so often -- three or four times a week -- that a cashier mistakenly gives him the 10 percent discount for BEA employees.

John Lawn, editor in chief of Food Management magazine, said Silicon Valley's corporate cafe scene serves some of the best food in the country. ``You'll find a cafe that's as nice as any commercial restaurant in Chicago or San Francisco, maybe better,'' he said.

Of course, you'll also find some that are worse.

Amy Flores, spokeswoman for Agilent Technologies, offered this opinion of Agilent's cafe: ``All I know is it's sometimes good, and it's sometimes bad.''

And last year, Intel decided that too many employees were avoiding lunch at the company's dining hall, which facilities planning manager Mike Dowd described as ``battleship gray'' with menu offerings ``maybe a notch above hospital and school cafeterias.''

So the cafe splashed its ceiling with paint the color of nacho cheese and revamped the menu to include inari and ebi sushi. It also lowered prices.

Now, Dowd said, ``We have more employees who are willing to have their friends come over to our house to eat, rather than go to theirs.''

Google, by far, has become Silicon Valley's most sizzling lunch site -- as elusive as French Laundry, the Wine Country restaurant where would-be patrons must call two months in advance to get a seat. Ruff, the 39-year-old TellMe programmer, has been begging a college buddy who works at Google to bring him as a lunch guest for the past year.

Pretty cool stuff.

New Design Could Transform 1st Bike Ride

I thought that this article was very cool.

"Three Purdue University industrial designers who tapped into memories of their own childhood cycling misadventures have built a bike that ditches the training wheels but keeps rookies stable.

Called SHIFT, it slowly transforms from a tricycle to bicycle configuration as the rider pedals faster, then returns to trike formation as the rider slows down.

Lead designer Scott Shim hopes the design, which won top honors recently at an international bicycle design competition, can help children slowly gain the skill and courage to pedal off on their own.

The design features a single front wheel and two slim rear wheels that are initially splayed outward to stabilize and prevent the rider from toppling over. As the rider accelerates and leans forward, the rear wheels shift inward, narrowing into a single wheel surface that essentially makes it a two-wheel venture.

As the bike slows, the rear wheels tilt back to the tricycle formation."

The Presbyterian Church & Divestment from Israel

I haven't written on this topic here because I felt that others had done a very good job, if not better than I could do on it.

But I read a post yesterday that has stuck with me and thought that I would at least bring it to your attention.

It comes from Robert Avrech and can be found here. I want to quote a few passages that I think are noteworthy.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is planning a divestment from businesses that invest in Israel. Jewish groups have tried to talk with them, but to no avail. The divestment move is picking up steam.

Let's take a look at the world. In the Sudan there is wholesale slaughter against the blacks of Darfur by Muslim Arabs. Iran, dedicated to the destruction of Israel, is building a nuclear bomb. A clear threat to world peace. North Korea, perhaps the most repressive state on planet earth (and that's saying a lot considering that there are twenty-two Arab dictatorships) manufactures famine on a regular basis where untold hundreds of thousands starve to death in annual cycles. Algeria has had a vicious civil war going for over twenty years and four-hundred thousand men women and children have been slaughtered.

The non-Arab Berbers seem to get the absolute worst of it -- their throats are slit in public by Muslim fanatics. In Saudi Arabia the state financed Madrassas teach Wahhabism and that turns Islamic kids into suicidal terrorists. And of course, Saudi women are still not allowed to drive cars. Kurds in Northern Syria are literally stateless, unable to obtain Syrian citizenship, thus unable to go to school, get jobs, or travel abroad. They live truly wretched lives.

The Arabs in Israel teach their children that the Shoah never happened and suicide bombers are revered as heroes. All over the Arab world women are treated like cattle and homosexuals face public beheading. Freedom of religion is unknown in every single Arab state. Christians are persecuted and gee, haven't you ever wondered why the Arab states are Judenrein? They have actually achieved Hitler's dream. In Cuba, the Democrat's favorite dictator, Fidel Castro, continues to ruthlessly feed his dissident citizens into a brutal gulag, and --

--and the Presbyterian Church decides to make economic war on the democratic state of Israel!


And the post goes on to ask why. And that is the ultimate question. Why Israel? Why is there no mention of any other country such as those listed in the post.

To be fair here is a link to the Presbyterian website about this topic. But if you go to this link you will find a detailed response that I am going to pull a couple of sections from.


6. It should be noted that this action was taken as part of a larger commitment of the PC(USA) to human rights and social justice all around the world. It should be further noted that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is not singling out Israel and Palestine alone for observation and critique. The PC(USA) regularly publishes an annual report regarding human rights around the world, and has spoken specifically about issues of justice related to North and South Korea, Rwanda, Taiwan, Central American states, and many others, including the United States. Assembly actions regularly make comment on issues of religious liberty in many countries, including other Middle Eastern countries. The PC(USA) believes that, through such actions, important perspectives and informed glimpses of difficult situations are made available to the church and the wider community to inform responsible engagement with the world.

I take issue with this item because all it says is that they have spoken out about the actions of these other countries, but unless I am mistaken they have not taken actions such as the steps they are considering levying against Israel that they are considering now. It seems hypocritical to me and less than honest to include this kind of statement.


  • Although the decision to “initiate a process of phased, selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel” may be presumed by some to invite comparison of Israeli policies with those of apartheid South Africa, the assembly has not asserted any moral equivalency between the two. The two situations are distinct. The focus of this action is to explore use of a proven tool of economic pressure to motivate real change in Israeli policies and movement toward peace.
  • Again, the assembly’s action calls for a selective divestment, and not a blanket economic boycott, keeping before us our interest in Israel’s economic and social well-being where these do not inflict suffering on Palestinian or Israeli people.

Ok, a selective divestment. I am very curious to see how they determine what companies are considered to be ok and which are considered to fall short of the mark.

I haven't any problem with criticism of Israel or any country, but I like to see balance and when it is so easy to point out that it is missing I grow concerned.

I could point out further inconsistencies, but I think for now there is plenty of evidence of why there is a problem with their proposed actions.

I hope that they review this and carefully consider their actions because at the moment it makes it appear that there is special treatment being reserved for Israel and Jews in general.

Naked Pictures of Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie

Just wanted to see if the old attention "I am a Google Whore" trick works.

Woman Convicted of Rape

When I saw the headline I had to read the article. It is not something that you expect to read. Click here or read this:

"In a landmark case a 23-year-old woman has been convicted by a Bergen court for the rape of a 31-year-old man.

The woman was sentenced to nine months in prison and ordered to pay NOK 40,000 (USD 6,385) to the man.

The incident occurred on Jan. 4 last year in a Bergen apartment. The man testified that he fell asleep on a sofa and woke up to find the woman performing oral sex on him.

The woman eventually admitted sexual contact but claimed that it was voluntary and that the man was willing and smiled.

The case has attracted attention and is the first time a Norwegian woman has been charged with raping a man."

I am really kind of curious about this. Not to sound callous, unsympathetic or I don't know what, but this is peculiar. First, if it was reversed I would imagine that the punishment would be more severe.

From a different standpoint, there is no doubt that men can feel violated and that we can be hurt and upset by unwanted attention of a woman, but this just throws me a little.

I wonder if he was so upset that he insisted on pressing charges or how this came down. Curious.

A Sex Slave

It seems oddly appropriate during Pesach to consider for a moment the various institutions of slavery that still exist today. There are many examples that can be given such as the children that are kidnapped to serve as camel jockeys in the UAE and the status of women who are sold into slavery to serve as sex slaves.

The following article has a rather innocuous headline Migrant Women Trapped in Europe's Sex Industry that to could have and should have been more powerful.

"LONDON (Reuters) - The money Rosa was earning in a Turkish shoe factory was not enough to support the three children she had left behind in Ukraine.

Then her new friend in Turkey, Katerina, told her she could earn $700 a month as a casino waitress in Bosnia and convinced Rosa to come home with her to Moldova and then make their way to Bosnia.

"I began to think of all the things I could do to change my life to help my children, my family."

As the time came to leave Moldova, Katerina said she had a problem with her passport and would join Rosa in Bosnia a week later. At the station, she introduced Rosa to a Romanian man who would accompany her.

Rosa felt something was wrong when she said good-bye and Katerina just turned away.

"I pushed my feelings aside," said Rosa, who declined to give her real name. "I don't usually trust anyone, but I told myself that sometimes you have to have faith."

Rosa paid Katerina $300 to get her a job but a criminal gang had already paid Katerina $700 to make Rosa their slave.

She was smuggled across Europe in cars and once in a fold-away bed on a train, was sold and resold, beaten, raped and forced to work in brothels.

She was afraid to escape because her captors had kept her passport, home address and photos of her children.

Rosa was freed months later in Britain when police raided a sauna she was working in. But her captors are still at large."

In some ways it is hard to believe that things like this still happen, but they do and they happen here in North America too as well as in other parts of the world. Here is the next part of this story.

"Poverty, war, open borders and domestic violence are prompting increasing numbers of people from eastern Europe and beyond to seek work in the wealthy West.

With governments tightening limits on immigration, women desperate for work in bars, shops and hotels have come to rely on crooks to spirit them across borders using false identities.

"The profits are huge and the money the traffickers wave in potential victims' faces would certainly outweigh the salaries they can expect by staying at home," said Richard Danziger, head of the counter-trafficking unit of the International Organization for Migration in Geneva.

On the wrong side of the law in a foreign land, some of the women find themselves forced into prostitution. They are powerless to resist their captors. Many have sex with up to 30 men a day for months on end.

OUT OF SIGHT

The trade in people for forced sex has mushroomed into a $12 billion industry to rival drug trafficking and gun-running. Because the victims are locked in rooms or moved around in secret, it is almost impossible to trace them.

It also makes quantifying the problem virtually impossible. Five years ago, the British government estimated that as few as 140 or as many as 1,400 women had been smuggled into the country and forced to work as prostitutes.

Social workers say the problem has grown alongside lurid Internet sites and flyers plastered on the walls of phone booths fueling a demand for unprotected and risky sex that few women would willingly supply.

"There is definitely too much work to deal with," said Anna Johansson of the London-based Poppy Project, which helps women trying to leave prostitution. "We're getting referrals from Birmingham, Sheffield, Liverpool, from all across the country."


The world can be a very cold and unforgiving place. So during a time in which I celebrate my freedom I feel that it is important to bring things like this up to raise awareness and to ask that we all try and do what we can to help make it a kinder and gentler world.

Take a moment to look around your community and see if there is a way that you can give something back. It doesn't have to be much, clean up a beach/grafitti, help tutor children, whatever. Just do something. The little bits add up.

And don't forget about the people like these poor women who slip through the cracks. There must be things that we can do to help them too.

Sidewalk Art

Cindra tipped me off to this.

When A Fool Speaks Part 2

This past December I offered When A Fool Speaks for your consumption. It reviewed the ridiculous and inane ramblings of Irwin Graulich about why he loves Christmas and why people who ask that we observe the proscriptions of the Constitution as being wrong. Silly us, we understood the Constitution when it discussed a Separation of Church and State and the reasons why.

Esther's post on Jewlicious tipped me off to his latest nonsensical and illogical rant in which she discusses his explanation for why single Jewish women are not married.

According to our dear man the reason is because

In fact, attention all single women who want to marry. Do you know why you wonderful ladies are still alone most nights? Because, in general today, the idea of dating a conservative, God forbid Republican male, is the equivalent of dating a chimpanzee!

I am astounded by such a strong opening line. Insipid, vapid and meaningless come to mind. But I was dumb enough to read a little more to try and understand the man's point.

As most men mature, they tend to depart from the secular college brainwash, based on 1960's liberalism, and become somewhat more conservative. The macho caveman DNA starts to break down the indoctrinated feminization of the well educated male. Men are forced to go out into the real world to become corporate hunters, especially if they eventually plan to have a family.

Women are totally different, despite what elite college professors believe about the similar natures of men and women. As women get older they become more liberal, until they wed. Single men generally go towards the right, while single women head left; another one of God's little tricks to make the mating process more complex.

It warms the cockles of my heart to see such insight but I would be curious to see proof of some sort other than one person's opinion. It is weak and unsubstantiated.

These results can be proven in real life by studying any of the most popular dating websites of the day; the present Jewish favorite being www.Jdate.com. With the exception of a majority of Orthodox women, virtually every woman's political viewpoint in her "dating profile" is liberal or left.
Anyone who knows anything about statistics knows that you have to provide numbers to use as a sample. Our boy here doesn't bother to provide any of this. We don't know if there are 3 million female subscribers to JDate and whether he reviewed all of their profiles, or if he made his weak assumption based upon the three he bothered to look at during the five minutes of research he conducted.

The disqualification of a Jewish Republican male from a date is the reason why many men stay registered Democrats, while secretly voting otherwise. Let's be clear. Unless a guy hides the fact that he voted for George W. Bush, he will almost never get laid. Telling the girl's parents at a Passover Seder that he voted Republican, places the potential suitor into the same category as a Nazi sympathizer (sic).

Who does this man speak with. Has he been locked in a closet. Where does he come up with this. People fall in love all the time regardless of political beliefs.

Within the Jewish community we have a million discussions about interfaith marriages because they are rampant and a regular part of life today.

The argument that Jews will not marry Republicans and that Jewish women are all liberal is flawed and fallacious in nature.

Maybe next time he can come up with a real topic and real evidence to support his allegations because this was so bad it was laughable. And that is my five minute response to this.

Buffaloed By The Buffalo

Here is a short update to yesterday's post about the renegade buffalo as well as a picture of the policemen who took them on.



Remember folks, never try and tackle at buffalo at the shoulders, you always should go for the legs. ;) Ouch.

The Junior High Legend of the Hula Hoop

When I was a younger man, so much younger than today, I never needed anyone's help in anyway. Oops, must have been possessed by John Lennon for a moment. ;)

When I was in junior high one of the slightly older boys told us a big secret about girls. To give some context, I might have been 13 and he might have been just about 15.

He told us that if we wanted to find a girl who was good in bed we needed to find someone who was really good at using a Hula Hoop.

I remember being very impressed with this information but not having the slightest clue as to what she would do with that thing in bed. Of course I wasn't about to share my ignorance by asking, so I just nodded my head and agreed.

And that is just one of the things I learned about girls/women from the guys who hung out on the corner in my neighborhood.

I Feel Your Pain And I Share My Own

In a month I am going to reach the one year anniversary of my blogging experience. Happy early bloggiversary to me.

As I sit here and consider what I have learned and what I have experienced I have few words that are sufficient to express my thoughts in a way that is clear and truly descriptive. There are times when words fail me and all I can do is shrug my shoulders.

But you cannot see the shrug nor the quizzical look upon my face.

So many of the blogs I have read deal with raw human emotion, pain that is indescribable. Sometimes I can feel it emanating from the page as if I am some kind of codependent. It is a virtual howl and I wonder if the wave that smacks me has completely engulfed the writer. And then again I wonder if my reaction is solely based upon my own experience, if my own background is the source. I am not always sure.

On April 17th 2004 my parents left for New Jersey to attend to the birth of their of fourth grandchild. And on April 28th my father was taken to the emergency room where he was placed on a ventilator and then admitted to the hospital.

He had a series of things happen at once and like a house of cards his body began to collapse and shut down. When my sister called to tell me to start looking into flights it was because we were not sure if he was going to live.

I made arrangements to fly out the next day, but only after I was given pseudo-assurances that he would live long enough for me to make a few arrangements at home. Foremost among them was lying to my grandparents about why I was making an unscheduled business trip across the country for an undefined amount of time.

I couldn't take a chance on upsetting them until I knew what was happening and there wasn't time to try and figure out whether to take the two other siblings that live here with me. I hopped on the plane and prayed that he wouldn't die before I got there.

As the plane landed I was on my cellphone confirming that I hadn't flown 3000 miles to escort his body home. When I heard that he was still alive I exhaled and ran to the rental car facility. As I drove through unfamiliar territory I cursed the drivers around me and made my way to the hospital.

The sky was somewhat grey and forbidding, but the reality is that it might have been blue and free of clouds, but I couldn't see it. My overactive imagination pictured me going into battle. Clad in armor and a broad sword, or wearing white trunks and a pair of 16 ounce gloves it didn't matter. I was there to rescue my father. I was going to pull him out of the burning building, I was going to kill the evil people that had locked him up in captivity, I was going to be the hero because he would do it for me.

And then I stood at his bedside and for a moment I wasn't 35, I was 5 or 6, maybe 7. It was early Saturday morning and I wanted him to wake up and play with me, but he kept snoring. Only this time the familiar snore was missing, there was no breathing noises other than that the machine made and the occasional grimace across his face.

His arms and legs were in restraints and he looked far smaller to me than I knew he must be. Even though I had long been able to look him in the eye and had been big enough to borrow his clothes for close to 18 years I had trouble seeing him as being so small. It was hard and even harder was knowing that I couldn't go into battle.

I wanted to. I was ready to fight, but I couldn't do it in the manner I wanted to. The help that I was able to give was of a different nature.

It is a year later and my father, baruch hashem is still with us. He survived the experience, he beat the odds and my doctor friends have all confessed that they really did not expect this outcome.

I have written about this numerous times because it was a profoundly disturbing experience. For a long time I waited for the other shoe to drop. There were so many little things that happened alongside the big things, so many challenges and we managed to overcome them. The truth is that I always expected to and that is in large part because of the man he is and what I have learned from him.

There are some things that happen that you just have to deal with. Life does not always have a happy outcome, but you keep going because you cannot lay down and die.

As I sit here and reflect upon the past year I am in the position of holding my breath again. My grandmother is not doing well at all, she is hanging by a thread. I could get that telephone call today, tomorrow or maybe in five years, I just do not know.

But it is hard not to tread water, it is hard not to worry and allow this to impact how I go about life. My grandparents have been married for just short of 71 years. I worry about how this will impact my grandfather.

If things go one way I could end up losing two grandparents within a short time of each other. And none of this takes into account the other grandfather who has his own health issues.

I love all my grandparents very much and know that it is a matter of time before I say goodbye. It is not a secret, I have written about it. I try not to harp on it because there is only so much that I can do. It is smarter and more productive to focus on the positive and to take advantage of the time we have and not worry about things that are out of my control.

And for the most part I have been relatively successful in doing that. I expect that part of the reason that this has been more prominent in my thoughts is for the following reasons:

1) The anniversary of my father's experience.
2)
The conversations regarding my grandmother's doctor's appointments last week and this week.
3) Pesach- It is one of my favorite holidays and I cannot have it without enjoying the memories of past seders. I cannot not think about my great grandparents and grandmother, their presence was missed but not forgotten.

But back to the initial topic. In truth I have to say that I have been very lucky, just fortunate that I have not had as much tragedy in my life as others. I thank G-d for what I have been given and am appreciative of it all. There are others who have dealt with far worse.

All that being equal is it so wrong for me to ask for some more time to share with the people I love.

Separation of Church and State- Fuzzy Logic

I just finished reading an article about the Odessa, Texas schoolboard decision to introduce a bible class into the public school.

Barring any hurdles, the class should be added to the curriculum in fall 2006 and taught as a history or literature course. The school board still must develop a curriculum, which board member Floy Hinson said should be open for public review.

The board had heard a presentation in March from Mike Johnson, a representative of the Greensboro, N.C.-based National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, who said that coursework designed by that organization is not about proselytizing or preaching.

But People for the American Way and the American Civil Liberties Union have criticized the council, saying its materials promote religion.

Johnson said students in the elective class would learn such things as the geography of the Middle East and the influence of the Bible on history and culture.

"How can students understand Leonardo da Vinci's 'Last Supper' or Handel's 'Messiah' if they don't understand the reference from which they came?" Johnson said. The group's Web site says its curriculum has received backing in 292 school districts in 35 states.

Call me crazy, call me paranoid, but I have a hard time buying the story they are trying to sell here. If you go to the website of the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools you can make your own determination about their objective. I didn't have to read much further than the biography of their president to become concerned. Look at this section:

Like most Americans, Ridenour believed teaching Bible in public schools violated separation of church and state – a common myth she would soon learn had beenpropagated by liberal organizations, such as the ACLU

The code word in that snippet is liberal where it is used as a pejorative term. But I took issue with her introductory message where she said:

The world is watching to see if we will be motivated to impact our culture, to deal with the moral crises in our society, and reclaim our families and children.

Please help us to restore our religious and civil liberties in this nation.

The underlying message here is not the instruction of the bible as a foundation for understanding art or history, but that it is a tool to teach morality and it is clear that this is nothing more than a sordid and sad attempt to circumvent past decisions to separate church and state.

No one has lost their religious or civil liberties here, that is a joke and con job.

Let me add that having an endorsement letter from Jesse Helms is not something that is going to thrill me, but I digress.

And even if I was interested in considering such an idea I would be far more excited if there was a real cross section of people supporting this, but there is not. It is a religious right initiative and something that they are entitled to try, but I would feel better if they were open and honest about what they are trying to do here.

There is simply no place for this in the public school system.

My Daughter

This past weekend my daughter officially became nine months old. She has now been out of the womb as long as she was in it.

Compared to my son I haven't written about her all that much. In part that has been due to her age. For a long time there wasn't much to say about her other than normal baby development stuff.

But for a while now she has really been making tremendous strides in showing her personality and interacting with the world around her.

Long time friends of mine have said for years that they couldn't wait to see what happened if I had a daughter. They giggled and laughed about it, come to think of it most of the people who made such comments are female. What is it that they think they see.

I suspect that it is case of Daddy's girl and I must confess that I can see that happening. When I walk into the room she gives me a huge smile and rocks back and forth to get my attention. She loves to sit in my lap and pull on my nose, or ears or mouth. She studies me so intently, I wonder what she is thinking.

We laugh and play and I read her stories and tell her that her daddy will always be here for her. When the little boys stare at her I glare at them. I have to practice for when she is older. It is one of the reasons that I work out so hard, when she begins dating I need to be big enough in my 50s to intimidate the young men that come calling upon her.

I remember going on a date many years ago in which my date's father took me aside for a little conversation about how I was to treat his daughter. He looked at me and explained that he wanted her to be treated with respect and dignity. I agreed, didn't argue at all and then he told me that he once was a boy and knew how boys think and that for that reason I couldn't bullshit him.

I said that I wasn't trying to and he said that if I meant that I would always stare at her eyes and not other parts of her body. I can remember wondering at the time if I had been so obvious, or if he was just guessing, but I didn't argue with him.

And now I can see myself saying something similar on my own daughter's behalf.

I saw her early this morning, around 4:30 am so I got a chance to give her a hug and a kiss before I left for work. As she went back to sleep I couldn't help but stare at her and smile.

She is so busy trying to learn how to walk now. I know that it won't be long and I know that it won't be long until she can speak. I am looking forward to sharing special time with her as I have done with my son.

What can I say, I am in love with my daughter. She is so special to me.

Hybrid Animals- Liger, Zorses and More

I read an interesting article on ABC News.com today. It was about hybrid animals. I have provided an excerpt here for your review.

April 21, 2005 — When it comes to the birds and the bees, sometimes Mother Nature slips some surprises.

Species don't always stick to their own kind when getting down to business. The results are often compromised offspring who can't reproduce, but occasionally can. And when they do, some biologists worry they can pose a threat to existing species.

Take Kekaimalu, the hybrid offspring of a false killer whale and a bottlenose dolphin who lives at Sea Life Park in Hawaii. Last week, park officials announced that the "wholphin" gave birth to a healthy female calf. It was the third birth for the 19-year-old wholphin and a combination of Kekaimalu's mixed genes and those of a male Atlantic bottlenose dolphin.

Are combinations like wholphins natural? Some biologists argue that anything that's possible in nature is natural and that interspecies mating has long played a role in evolution. Others, however, say such couplings are often the unhealthy result of human interference and, if unleashed in the wild, can threaten the rigor of existing species.

"Species are adapted to specific conditions," said Susan Haig, a wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and a professor at Oregon State University. "So I think it's important to maintain the integrity of species."

Whether or not they pose a threat, hybrid mammals continue making appearances both in controlled settings, such as zoos and farms, and in the wild.

"Some people think that what we've got is what we've got and anything new in the mix is bad," said David Hull, a professor emeritus of philosophy and biology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. "But evolution is still in motion and always will be."

Breeding between species is rampant among plants and less complex animals that lack a backbone. It's only among the higher mammals, the ones as Hull says, "most people pay attention to," where it remains fairly rare.

Hybrid mammals may be rare, but they are memorable. There is the liger, a hybrid of a female tiger and male lion (alternatively known as a tigon, if the mother is the lion). The hybrids have manes like a lion, the sleek bodies and stripes of a tiger, and the 1,000-pound heft of a lion."


It really is kind of interesting to me to see how nature interacts as well as the manner in which human interaction affects things. Take a look at this.

To create work animals with greater strength and agility, people have bred mules (sterile combinations of horses and donkeys) and zorses (a horse-zebra hybrid). And in an effort to create a terror-fighting tool, Russians have experimented with breeding combinations of jackals and husky dogs to form a hybrid with elite bomb-sniffing abilities.

Biologists have even turned to mixed breeding as a way of preserving a threatened species. The Florida panther was declared endangered in 1967 with just 30 animals remaining in the state's forests and swamps. By introducing Texas cougars to the region in 1995, scientists provided new mates to the threatened animals that were a close genetic match. The two species mated and the Florida panther's population — and genes — were preserved, at least in slightly mixed form.

Animals of different species have also been known to find each other without any human prodding. White-tailed deer and mule deer can mate and create offspring, as do domestic cattle and bison, cattle and yaks, wolves and dogs, wolves and coyotes, and coyotes and dogs.

In fact, in recent years, a policy battle has raged over the protection of the red wolf, which, some biologists have argued, is actually a hybrid of the gray wolf and the coyote, not a distinct species. Hybrids are not protected under the act so this has created some confusion.

"Hybrids are not protected under the Endangered Species Act, so the red wolf has been ripping open politics over that act," said Haig.



Perhaps I'll blog more on this later.

Feedback From The Readers

Dear Jack,

I really enjoy your posts about your life with your children, mostly because I have children and have no life. How do you do it?

Regards,

Mike

Dear Mike,

Balance, tenacity and dumb luck. Heck, I do not know how I do anything, I just do it.

Dear Jack,

I am getting married soon and was very interested in reading your post about sex and children. My girlfriends and I often speak about this because we do not want to be the wife that doesn't put out anymore. Most women do not want to admit to this, but it is a known fact. Keep posting.

Regards,

Kathy

Dear Kathy,

You are going to make some man very happy and I suspect some women very angry, but what do I know, I am just a 30 something dad from Los Angeles.

Jack,

I have asked you numerous times to blogroll me and all you do is belittle me in your posts. What kind of man are you?

Screw you,

Ted

Dear Ted,

You are an attention whore who would be better off diddling the post man or haunting a house. How much do you charge, the Engels place is available. Can't wait until I get your next note.

Dear Jack,

Happy Passover. Enjoy your holiday and I'll enjoy my pizza.

Breadly yours,

Sam

Dear Sam,

Thanks for the good wishes.

Herd of Buffalo Disrupts Traffic in Md.

"PIKESVILLE, Md. - A herd of buffalo somehow got loose and wandered around an upscale neighborhood Tuesday, disrupting traffic and alarming homeowners before officers managed to corral them in a tennis court.


More than a dozen police cars and a police helicopter were used to herd the roughly 10 beasts, authorities said.

"Somehow they figured it out; I've got to give a lot of credit to the creativity of our officers," police spokesman Shawn Vinson said.

Authorities have identified the owner of the buffalo but did not release the person's name immediately."

Now there is something that you do not see every day.

If You Wanted To Embarrass Yourself

If You Wanted To Embarrass Yourself you could roll down your car window and sing Roxanne along with The Police being especially careful to hit the high notes with Sting in your best falsetto voice.

You could even act it out and then suddenly notice the woman in the car next to you laughing hysterically.

I don't know anything about this, I am just saying that you could do this, if you wanted to. Not that you would want to do it, but if you did and it did well then....

Shomer Negiah- Loses to Alcohol and Hormones

I am not a big proponent of being Shomer Negiah for a whole variety of reasons. I came across this story on YNet and thought that I'd give it a little play here.

"PETACH TIKVA - Regulars at a Tel Aviv-area pub catering to the ultra-Orthodox community say it enables religious youngsters to experiment with a more liberal, wanton lifestyle.
The popular hangout, Meidale, offers revelers a strictly kosher menu, but also serves as a meeting place where ultra-Orthodox males and females can mix freely and discover the joys of sex.

The pub makes ultra-Orthodox youngsters feel at home and gives them an opportunity to mingle with a variety of people, says “Zvi” (not his real name.) None of the pub’s attendees would permit themselves to be identified by their names.

"It's a place any haredi (ultra-Orthodox) can feel comfortable at," he says. "We don't feel alienated here."

Sex in the bathrooms

One of the pub's main attractions for Zvi and his friends is the chance to meet women. After all, members of the ultra-Orthodox community are forbidden from approaching females on the street, while couples meet only five times before getting married.

Zvi says he takes advantage of the opportunity to engage in sexual activity at the pub, although he frequents the pub to make friends.

"It's easier to make out with an ultra-Orthodox girl who's looking to breach the wall," he says.
Zvi says he does not look for full-blown sex, but admits some of his friends do just that. He says he recently came to the pub with a friend who ended up having sex in the bathroom with a girl he just met.

"The girls here drink a little and open up," he says."


I can't say that I am surprised to read any of this.

Blogrolling Stuff

I have written about blogrolling on a number of different occasions, but in the past each time was really because of one other blogger who wrote a number of different emails to let me know that he was going to unblogroll me.

I found the whole exchange to be kind of funny. They were really bent out of shape because I hadn't reciprocated by blogrolling them. I had more or less forgotten about the situation until this weekend when I received a new email from someone else who said that they were going to unblogroll me for the same reason, I hadn't reciprocated.

As I mentioned in my reply I hadn't the foggiest idea that they had blogrolled me so the news that they were intent on pulling me out was the first time I had heard about it.

I also asked them what the purpose of their blogroll was. Is it just a tool to try and gain readers or is it a way to keep track of the bloggers you really like to read.

In my case I use it to follow blogs that I like to read, but it is not the only way that I follow those blogs so if someone is not blogrolled it is not a sign that I do not like their blog. I really do not spend any time considering whether I have or have not blogrolled someone. If you ask me to blogroll you, I may. I have done it on a number of occasions.

I think that the problem with the blogroll is tied into the obsessive need to track the stats. Who is coming to my blog, why are they coming, are new people coming, am I popular etc.

It would be dishonest for me to say that I do not enjoy following my stats, but it is tempered by the reasons why I blog. This place is my little corner for venting, crying, laughing and expressing myself. If no one commented I would still be here doing my thing.

I prefer the interaction. I appreciate the time that people take to read and to remark, but that is not enough to drive me to continue my blogging.

In short, the person that this is really directed to knows who they are and should take this in the sense that it is meant. It is not spiteful, angry or sad, just a simple comment to say that I hadn't a clue about any of this until you unleashed that silly email. And yes, it was silly. There are better places to concentrate your energy and frustration than upon whether you are blogrolled or not.

British Boycott of Israeli Educators

The Guardian is reporting that the vote regarding the academic boycott we wrote about last week has been successful. There are a number of different issues at work here that are of concern.

One of them is the attempt by the organizers of the vote to railroad this through by the timing of it so close to the Passover holiday, tied into that is the lack of debate on the topic and the third is the question of free speech.

Here is a short excerpt from the story.
"The Association of University Teachers today voted to boycott two Israeli universities over their failure to speak out against their government.

Delegates at a conference in Eastbourne voted, against the wishes of the executive, for an immediate boycott of Haifa University, which they accuse of restricting the academic freedom of staff members who are critical of the government, and of Bar Ilans University, which has a college in the disputed settlement Ariel.

The boycott, which is now official union policy, will follow a plan prescribed by a group of 60 Palestinian academic and cultural bodies and non-governmental organisations, which calls for British academics to severe links with Israeli institutions but to exempt Israelis who speak out against their government's policies towards the Palestinians.

The executive had asked delegates to defer the debate until the facts of the cases included in three motions were confirmed. A third boycott, against the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was dropped as delegates queried the evidence of accusations it had evicted Palestinian families to build dormitories.

There were cheers as the motions were passed. Shereen Benjamin, from Birmingham University, one of the authors of the motions, told EducationGuardian: "It is a much better result than we'd dared to hope for. What it does is put the issue on the agenda at a higher profile than it's ever been.

"As an educator I applaud that people are discussing this ... We think the boycott of Haifa will send a clear message about academic freedom in Israel."

At the end of the vote, delegates angrily demanded to be able to voice their opposition to the new policy and to the cutting short of the debate, due to lack of time, so that no opposition other than from the executive was heard.

Alastair Hunter, a delegate from Glasgow, speaking from the back of the Winter Gardens conference hall, where the debate took place, called the motions "divisive". He said: "I am disgusted we were not given a chance to debate fully."

It is a race but you cannot See the Finish Line

In the past I have written several times about my grandparents. I am one of the lucky people who has had them around for my entire life. As of May 9, I will be 36 years-old and my grandparents will all be 91.

Ninety-one years-old. It just blows my mind. They were born during World War I and lived through the Depression, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, The Moon Landing, Watergate, the rise and fall of communism, 911, two Gulf Wars and a boatload more.

Tonight at our seder I paid very close attention to all three of them. I watched and listened to everything they said and did because right now it feels like we are in a race that we know will end but we cannot see the finish line.

My grandmother is not doing real well. She has had a number of issues with her heart and the cardiologist has said that she expects that it will give out before the rest of her does. Sooner or later her card will be pulled and it will be time to say goodbye.

But life is funny in that you cannot really plan on too many things following a schedule. We don't know when it will happen, we can only guess and I am not someone who lives my life in fear. It could be years or it could be minutes, but it is hard.

It is hard to know that my children will just never know my grandparents the way that I do, that they will always see them as being old people. I remember when they could run with me and when they would get down on the floor and play with us. I remember them in their 50s and 60s and in some ways it is hard to reconcile the reality that the elderly people I speak with are the same people who pulled me in my wagon and baked cookies with us.

So I sit here soaking it all up, trying to do nothing but enjoy the time we have because it will end and then the memories will be all I have. But it is hard when I see my grandmother like this, knowing that mentally she is all there but physically she is losing the fight. Inch by inch there are little pieces of her being taken away. I try to do what I can to give her strength and support, but this is not a video game, I cannot give her some of my life force.

But I do what I can and I smile when I see the joy on her face when she plays with my children. It really is a time to eat drink and be merry, because tomorrow is a mystery.

Boycotting Israel- Might want to Think Twice

I thought that Gail linked to an interesting article regarding a proposal by some British academics to boycott Israel. When I have some more time I may provide more of my own comments. Suffice it to say that the driving force behind the boycott has missed the boat completely in her reasoning and assessment of why it is necessary.

The piece below spends some time discussing what you might have to give up if you are interested in a boycott.

Here it is:

"Pay attention, British professors. If you support the boycott of Israel proposed by some of your fellow academics -- and if you are to remain intellectually honest -- prepare for a radical lifestyle change. Firstly, unplug your computers. Good. Now switch off your interactive digital television sets. Well done. And now throw away your mobile phones. Excellent.

You see, Professors, these machines are not only the engine of the globalized, capitalist world but they also depend on technologies that have been produced by Israeli academics in the Zionist entity.

Also, I'm afraid you may not use the British Library because it has been computerized by Ex Libris, a Zionist company that was spawned by the odious Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

And if, God forbid, you develop problems of the small intestine, you may not pop the Zionist-invented "video capsule," which passes naturally through your body as it monitors this delicate piece of your anatomy.

You will, sadly, have to take it up your respective derrieres, Professors. As a matter of principle, of course.

All this boycotting, you see, is the logical extension of academic sanctions against Israel proposed by some members of your Association of University Teachers (AUT) at their meeting in Eastbourne, England, this week. Just visit the Web site of Egyptian-born Mona Baker of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. She set the standard by firing two Israeli scholars from the boards of her translation journals as a matter of high academic principle.

You will see that Ms. Baker's ambitions do not end with the academic boycott. Her Web site also includes a section entitled "Boycott Israeli Products & Services," which features dozens of global brands that, inconveniently, are not Israeli at all. The offenders presumably have earned their place in infamy by dealing with the Zionist entity, by being owned by Jews or by having Jews on their boards. They range from Coca-Cola and Nescafe to Johnson & Johnson and Estee Lauder, from Hugo Boss and Ralph Lauren to Selfridges and Marks & Spencer, from Kleenex and Wonderbra to Lancome and -- all marked for boycott.

Absent from Ms. Baker's list -- and here I think I can help -- is a set of global companies that are arguably even more culpable because they not only operate in Israel but also do most of their R&D there. IBM and Intel each have three R&D centres in Israel, Microsoft established its first non-American facility there and Cisco Systems has built its only non-American R&D centre in Israel.

Then there is Motorola, which has its largest R&D site in Israel, and News Corp, whose company NDS develops those neat interactive technologies for digital television.

There are many more.

The AUT boycott brigade has cause for concern. It knows that these companies are attracted not only by the innate brutality of the expansionist regime but also by the cunning of its university graduates (most of the R&D centres are located on or near Israeli university campuses). Proportionally, the Zionist entity has more university graduates than any other country, while its scientists, engineers and agriculturists publish more professional papers per capita than do their counterparts anywhere else on Earth. The result is that Israel has the largest concentration of high-tech companies outside Silicon Valley. But the ultimate sin is that Israel, which came to independence in the process of post-war decolonization, stubbornly refuses to become a failed state.

So dangerous has the situation become, dear Professors, that at your meetings in Eastbourne, you have set aside the small matter of your salary disputes. Instead, you and your fellow intellectual heavyweights will ponder far worthier matters. Like foreign affairs. Of course, you will not have to bother your turbo-charged minds with last week's UNICEF report, which shows that half of the women in the Arab world are illiterate and more than 10 million children in the region don't attend school.

The issue that will preoccupy you will be the aggressive imperialist apartheid state: a state that has nurtured the Palestinian universities and colleges in the West Bank; one that offers equal rights -- and access to its universities -- to all its citizens, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or sex; and which has educated tens of thousands of Palestinians at Israeli universities (several hundred a year still opt for an Israeli education). It is significant that Omar Barghouti, the Palestinian who is encouraging you and your British comrades to boycott Israel, is a doctoral student at none other than Tel Aviv University.

No, Professors, not all Israeli universities and not all Israeli academics would be boycotted by the AUT motion. Such a proposition was defeated 3-1 at the association's conference two years ago, and the boycotters are too smart to repeat past mistakes. The new motion, says one of its authors, has been "tactically" amended to get it passed. "We've got to be a bit more sophisticated," she says.

And sophisticated they are. They even had a dry run last December, when they met to rehearse their presentations and develop killer responses to potential critics.

Their sleek new motion -- which does not involve a single book-burning -- envisages sanctions against only the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University and Haifa University. And there's more: The boycotters generously offer Israeli academics the opportunity to buy themselves immunity if they are prepared to denounce their country, specifically, "conscientious Israeli academics and intellectuals opposed to their state's colonial and racist policies." Who could seriously question the integrity of your fellow academic freedom fighters?

But there are, of course, small obstinate obstacles in the way of you visionaries, Professors. Britain's academic institutions, for example, have not endorsed boycotting Israel's academic community. Indeed, when the Oxford don Andrew Wilkie told an Israeli PhD applicant that there was "no way [that I] would take on somebody who had served in the Israeli army," he was hauled before the university's disciplinary body and suspended without pay for two months.

Cambridge University's Professor Sir Aaron Klug, Nobel laureate and former president of the Royal Society, put me right when I asked him about the possible impact -- on Britain no less than on Israel -- of such a boycott: "How important is the AUT? That's the question you have to ask." He is no supporter of Ariel Sharon and his policies, but he does consider that the proposed boycott is "ill considered and doesn't promote anything at all." The AUT, he says, is out to attack Israel "but this is no way to proceed."

Sir Aaron is "not one who looks for anti-Semitism around every corner," he says, "but I do think there's an element of that here. It does give people who are anti-Semitic the opportunity to express themselves."

But relax, Professors. The AUT has solemnly concluded that there is a clear distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. They don't mind Jews. They just detest the Jewish state."

Passover

Pesach is almost here. It is a holiday that has a lot of meaning for me. It is filled with memories of friends and family, some who are no longer with us and some who are. It is a time for cleaning the house and taking stock of where things are at.

I can remember my great-grandather reading from the Haggadah and discussing the bitter herbs, only he always pronounced the h so it would sound like he was talking about my cousins, who were conveniently named Herb.

I remember my great-grandmother telling my sister and I that she was shikkered (drunk) when we knew that she was drinking grape juice. I can remember seders that lasted for what felt like weeks and the seders that grew shorter as my grandparents grew older.

Now there is a new generation at the table. I wonder what memories they will come to have.

Chag sameach to you all.

Darth Vader Has a Blog

I found the Dark Lord's blog over here.

Another Moment In Time

Last weekend we took our children to Disney's California Adventure. It was a lot of fun for many different reasons, primarily the joy of watching our children take it all in.

One of the things that I have enjoyed the most about being a father is watching my children grow and develop. My son is just about 4.5 and my daughter is 9 months old, so they are in two very different places. However they were both old enough to show their excitement at being there and interest in many of the things we saw.

As we walked through the park I watched both of their faces very closely just to try and soak it all up as they absorbed being transported into a new world. This was very different for them and they are not in a place or time in which magic can be explained. For now the Great Oz is a real wizard and they are not trying to pull off the curtains that conceal him.

It was a bit surreal to me to be one of the parents that I used to mock when I was younger. I was the guy carrying the backpack full of crap. I was the dad yelling for everyone to get closer so that I could fit them into a picture. I was the guy who at times looked like he was ready to run away screaming in the night.

By the time evening fell I was happy to be sitting at the restaurant with a glass of wine that was followed by three cups of coffee. It was very pleasant. We were even more pleased when they told us that our seats on the patio provided an excellent view of Disney's Electrical Parade because we had a goal of watching it with the children.

The hardest part about it was waiting for the parade. At one point in time my daughter got fussy so her mother decided to take her to see some of the shops. As they walked away I watched them and it wasn't hard to picture the day in which mother and daughter will really hit the mall together.

That left about 35 minutes for me to entertain my son. For a little boy he demonstrates remarkable patience and is quite good at entertaining himself, but some of that ability deteriorates with fatigue and by that point in the day he was quite tired.

So I picked him up and set him down in my lap for some father/son time. We spoke about the rides we had been on and what he had seen, the games that he played and what he really liked about the day.

As we spoke his head slumped against my chest and I could feel him beginning to consider the option of sleeping in my arms. But I didn't want him to miss the parade and was concerned that if he fell asleep that early he might wake up at 5 am the next day, so I made a point of keeping him awake.

I turned him around so that he was facing me and we could make eye contact. I told him how much I loved him and that he should never forget that. And then I spoke with him about learning and told him that for the rest of his life he should learn something new every day.

He listened intently and when I finished he nodded his head and with all the seriousness and sincerity a boy can muster he said "Daddy, I'll never forget that."

And you know what, I'll never forget that moment either. It is locked up in the vault in my head, a very special moment in time.

The Pope and The Jews- An Old Joke

The Pope and the Jew

Several centuries ago, the Pope decided that all the Jews had to leave the Vatican. Naturally there was a big uproar from the Jewish community. So the Pope made a deal. He would have a religious debate with a member of the Jewish community. If the Jew won, the Jews could stay. If the Pope won, the Jews would leave. The Jews realized that they had no choice. So they picked an elderly aged man named Moishe to represent them. Rabbi Moishe's Latin wasn't very good - in fact, he knew very little--but he was a man of great faith and well respected in the Jewish community. The pope agreed. What could be easier than a silent debate?

The day of the great debate came. Moishe and the Pope sat opposite each other for a full minute before the Pope raised his hand and showed three fingers. Moishe looked back at him and raised one finger. The Pope waved his fingers in a circle around his head. Moishe pointed to the ground where he sat. The Pope pulled out a wafer and a glass of wine. Moishe pulled out an apple. The Pope stood up and said, "I give up. This man is too good. The Jews can stay."

An hour later, the cardinals were all around the Pope asking him what happened. The Pope said: "First I held up three fingers to represent the Trinity. He responded by holding up one finger to remind me that there was still one God common to both our religions. Then I waved my finger around me to show him that God was all around us. He responded by pointing to the ground and showing that God was also right here with us. I pulled out the wine and the wafer to show that God absolves us from our sins. He pulled out an apple to remind me of original sin. He had an answer for everything. What could I do?"

Meanwhile, the Jewish community had crowded around Moishe. "What happened?" they asked. "Well," said Moishe, "First he said to me that the Jews had three days to get out of here. I told him that not one of us was leaving. Then he told me that this whole city would be cleared of Jews. I let him know that we were staying right here." "And then?" asked a woman. "I don't know," said Moishe. "He took out his lunch and I took out mine."

What Does G-d Look Like

I have written about prayer and G-d on a number of occasions. Most recently I wrote a little about it last night because it is something that my son has been asking me about.

Typically I do not read my posts. Once I have posted them I leave them alone and try to forget about them. Last night just before my son fell asleep he asked me if I could describe what G-d looks like.

It is an excellent question and I am really trying to remember if I spent any time learning anything that gave me any sort of handle on this. I just can't recall if there was such a time. I cannot think of the Classical Judaic Response to this question.

If you asked me what the Christian G-d looks like I would mention Jesus, although I don't think that if such a man existed that he would look so European. I rather imagine that he would be a little bit more semitic in appearance.

So I have been mulling over what images I have in my head and what kind of response I want to give. I would have said something last night but he basically fell asleep before I could answer.

My initial image is kind of the classic image of a very large, muscular man with a beard and long hair clothed in a robe or toga. But thanks to the wonders of Hollywood and the media in general it is not limited to that, sometimes it could be George Burns.

It is hard for me to articulate. There are places in which I feel G-d's presence, but not in a place that I can see G-d. It is similar to the feeling you get when you have someone in your peripheral vision. You can almost see them, but not quite. There is enough to feel their presence, to sense them, to feel like if you turned around you might bump into them, but not quite enough of an image to really capture.

And in the past when I have tried to focus on this image it ran away. It was grasping water in my hands. The harder I tried to grab ahold of it the less I retained.

So I am stuck in a place where I am not real sure. I like the idea of the "everyman" G-d where G-d looks rather ordinary, like anyone you meet on the street.

When I think about it hard enough I come to the place where Moshe Rabeinu is on Har Sinai and asks to see G-d's face but is turned down. That has always bothered me. The almighty should be able to create the almighty shield that would protect Moshe.

Truthfully it has felt a bit like a cop out, but like I said I think that this is ok. I almost prefer the everyman approach so that everyone feels like they are G-d like as opposed to a society of Sneetches who fight over who gets to wear a star and who does not.

And now I find myself in the same place I was in when I started. I can provide an answer for adults, I can provide an answer for teenagers and children, but young children, I am not so sure about.

I am going to have to consider this one for a while.

War Has Been Declared

It is official, I have declared war on the enemy. Fortunately at the Shack there are no Bipartisan politics, no filibusters or PACs to contend with. No lobbyists sully my floors, I run a totalitarian regime in which I am lord and master.

The master of the Shack has cast his gaze upon my adversary and found them lacking in couth, courtesy, honor, dignity, and most unfortunately they have no sense of humor. They find the Marx Brothers boring and the Three Stooges to be boorish. They refer to slapstick as being the province of little minds and little people.

And so the call to arms has gone out and it will be answered by all of good faith and true spirit. We fight for justice and we intend to plow salt into the land of the evil denizens. They will not ever try our patience this way again because we are going to remove their tiny brains from their bodies and pick our teeth with their bones.

Our cause is just and our time is now and most importantly in the name of all that is good and decent in this land we cannot wait any longer.

I look forward to driving the enemy before me and to listen to the lamentations of his women. Or as someone once said to listen to the "laminations of his women." That makes me laugh every time I think of it.

And now on cue I hear "Have Fun Storming the Castle."

Prayer- A Conversation With G-d

I broke open a bottle of Charles Shaw Chardonnay this evening. I don't drink very often so it doesn't take much to give me a bit of a buzz and this evening was no exception. I am feeling pretty good and playing around with calling American Airlines and buying a ticket for the first place I think of, probably Maui.

Sometimes the manchild inside of me goes to war, there is a struggle to be who I am and to become who I want to be. This probably sounds somewhat contradictory and or confusing and it is, but that is me, confusing. The whirlwind you feel is me passing by.

My children are asleep in the other room and I am sitting here wondering how it all happened so fast, how did these changes occur overnight. On May 9 I am going to be 36. It is not old, not old at all but somehow it seems a little strange that I am a thirty-something that is that much closer to 40.

Not that I really mind, life is better than death and I have buried too many people. I know far too many people who should be alive walking the Earth and yet they are dead and buried. Some were taken by cancer, others by drunk drivers or other random acts. And those are just the people I know or should say that I knew. Had they lived they would be between 34 and 38 now.

I try not to spend too much time living inside my head. I try not to ask too many questions that I cannot gain a satisfactory answer too, but I cannot ignore the reality of the world around me. I cannot ignore the questions my children ask because I am not satisfied with the answers.

Tonight the younger, smarter version of myself and I discussed how to speak to G-d. He wanted to know how to do it. Could he use a telephone, would it be better to use my cellphone or does G-d respond better to email.

It was cool to realize that he had spent time thinking about this before he asked. When we cross the street he wants to know why I am worried about cars because in his mind I am too big for the cars to hurt me. He once told me that if a car bumped into me it would break and the driver would cry because I broke their car.

It made me smile. It was so innocent and another sign of his complete faith in me. It is a hard thing to live up to. At 4.5 he still considers me to be infallible, I have all the answers and I can do anything.

He watched me work out at home and I put on a bit of a show. It was better than lifting in front of my girlfriends because I was more focused on teaching as well as just showing off. Sometimes my son taps into the little boy that lives inside and I just go with it.

Between the two of us there is around 275 pounds of child running through the house. My daughter watches us closely and I can see her frustration in not being able to chase after us. She hates when we leave the room and always smiles big when we return. In a short time she'll be able to follow us and the games will change a little.

Most nights I go to sleep and have a conversation with G-d. I ask G-d for the same things as most people. Health and safety for my family, guidance for myself and the strength to do what I need to do.

I sometimes wonder if the answers I seek from him are right here in front of me. Sometimes I pray for the ability to recognize the truth I seek but not always.

Prayer is such a personal thing and it is so very hard for me. It requires so much effort because I waver in my belief. At times there is no doubt and then there are times in which it is so apparent, so clear to me that I cannot imagine how I ever doubted his presence.

I have rambled on enough about this for now.

You Never Know What Will be of Interest

One of the things that I find so interesting about blogging is that you never really know what people are going to find to be of interest. You can make some accurate guesses, but sometimes they miss.

I had thought my post about the music of Ugandan Jews would get more of a response than it did, at least from the Jewish readers. But few people appear to have read it.

I am not complaining, just find it to be interesting.

Is it Just Poor Manners

In the time since my prior posts on the the pope I have received a number of comments and several messages regarding Benedict and what he might do and why I should be more concerned about him.

I want to make clear that my position as a Jewish man is this. I have not forgotten 2000 years 0f persecution and antisemitic acts. I am well aware of the roll that the church has played and I had thought that I had made this clear in my prior posts.

For those few of you who know me in person you are aware that I am not a diplomat. I have little to no compunction to telling you what I think in terms that are designed to make your toes curl and your skin turn black. So it goes a little against the grain to be more politic in my comments.

However, I consider myself to be a realist and here is what I know to be fact. You attract more flies with honey and to begin a relationship with an attack is not a good way to open a dialogue. This is why I want to give Benny some time to speak his mind and to see what and where he intends to lead.

On the topic of poor manners and things that piss me off I want to give a little nod to Dov Bear who pointed the following story out to me.

Air Force Cadets See Religious Harassment

Here are a couple of excerpts:

"AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- Less than two years after it was plunged into a rape scandal, the Air Force Academy is scrambling to address complaints that evangelical Christians wield so much influence at the school that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment have become pervasive.

There have been 55 complaints of religious discrimination at the academy in the past four years, including cases in which a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and another was called a Christ killer by a fellow cadet.

The 4,300-student school recently started requiring staff members and cadets to take a 50-minute religious-tolerance class.

''There are things that have happened that have been inappropriate. And they have been addressed and resolved,'' said Col. Michael Whittington, the academy's chief chaplain.

More than 90 percent of the cadets identify themselves as Christian. A cadet survey in 2003 found that half had heard religious slurs and jokes, and that many non-Christians believed Christians get special treatment.

''There were people walking up to someone and basically they would get in a conversation and it would end with, `If you don't believe what I believe you are going to hell,''' Vice Commandant Col. Debra Gray said."

This is what I would call an example of Tyranny of the Majority.

"The superintendent, Lt. Gen. John Rosa, conceded there was a problem during a recent meeting of the Board of Visitors, the civilian group that oversees the academy.

''The problem is people have been across the line for so many years when you try and come back in bounds, people get offended,'' he said.

The board chairman, former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, warned Rosa that changing things could prove complicated. He said evangelical Christians ''do not check their religion at the door.''

Other critics point to a series of incidents, including:

--The Air Force is investigating a complaint from an atheist cadet who says the school is ''systematically biased against any cadet that does not overtly espouse Christianity.''

--The official academy newspaper runs a Christmas ad every year praising Jesus and declaring him the only savior. Some 200 academy staff members, including some department heads, signed it. Whittington noted the ad was not published last December.

--The academy commandant, Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, a born-again Christian, said in a statement to cadets in June 2003 that their first responsibility is to their God. He also strongly endorsed National Prayer Day that year. School spokesman Johnny Whitaker said Weida now runs his messages by several other commanders.

--Some officer commission ceremonies were held at off-campus churches. In a letter dated April 6, Weida said the ceremonies would be held on campus from now on.

Rosa and other academy leaders say some among the large number of Christian cadets -- nearly 2,600 are Protestant, some 1,300 are Roman Catholic, and about 120 are Mormon -- may not realize that evangelism is unwelcome among their fellow students. The corps of cadets also includes 44 Jews, 19 Buddhists and a few Muslims, Hindus and others. There are 15 chaplains and one rabbi."

One of the key lines in that story is "may not realize that evangelism is unwelcome among their fellow students." It just blows my mind that it wouldn't occur to people that telling others that if they do not share the same religious beliefs they are going to go to hell is unwelcome and or offensive.

That is a load of crap, but it is an example of how the majority can run roughshod over others with little to no thought or consideration about how the behavior impacts others.

I keep coming back to a few places.
  • One, it is reasonable to be vigilant about the world around us and how people are treated.
  • Look, but do not leap until you have a plan of action.
  • Dialogue is preferable to action, but do not be afraid to take action when necessary.
I have to return to the task of performing my normal employment functions so perhaps I will return to this later.

Lightning Is About To Strike

Lightning is about to strike again, not a doubt in my mind that we're going to see it live and experience in 3D. Some lips are bound to ...