Wednesday Night Roundup

Here is what we placed up for your pleasure.

Should Autopsy Photos Be Made Public

One Large Bug

Alzheimers May be Related To Diabetes

Desperate for Attention

And as a sidenote two posts from Tuesday that are still drawing a lot of interest and one that no one responded to.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Parents- List Your Child's Most Irritating Toy/Show

The Politcs of Muhammad Ali

Should Autopsy Photos Be Made Public

Yahoo! has an interesting story about autopsy photos. I want to share a couple sections with you.
"COLUMBUS, Ohio - Connie Ayres lost her 16-year-old daughter in a car crash in 1996. The next year she learned that a county morgue was using the autopsy photos in a slide show to help fight drunken driving.

Ayres' outrage helped lead to restrictions last year on the display of autopsy photos in Michigan — one of at least 10 states to enact laws in recent years to prohibit coroners from releasing pictures or other death records to the public.

The slides of Ayres' daughter were shown as part of court-ordered morgue tours for people convicted of drug- or alcohol-related offenses.

"I felt like the government has no right to use my daughter as an administrative tool, as a tool for punishment," the Michigan woman said."

This sounds like it could be a slamdunk, after all who would want to upset the survivors. Why would it be necessary to make the photos public.

But we need to stop and consider this for a moment.

What is the purpose of an autopsy. It really is a simple matter of determining the cause of death when it is not clear how someone died and if television is any guide it apparently is of great interest, just look at the shows that covered it: Quincy, CSI, Crossing Jordan etc.

In any case the article helps to provide an answer or two that are worth considering.

"Supporters of such restrictions say the release of autopsy records could compound family members' pain, and they worry particularly about the possibility of gruesome morgue photos being posted on the Internet or published.

Ohio and Pennsylvania are considering such restrictions.

"My concern is with the dignity and privacy and respect of the individual and the family left behind in a very unfortunate situation," said Dr. Lisa Kohler, medical examiner in the Akron area's Summit County.

Open-records advocates say that keeping the records available to the public is crucial to making sure that coroners, often elected officials supported with tax dollars, are doing their jobs right.

"The overall effect is to undermine public confidence in the conduct of the office because all of its work is conducted, without check, in private," said Frank Deaner, executive director of the Ohio Newspaper Association."


"But state Rep. Scott Oelslager, a Republican and open-records advocate, said he sees no justification for the bill.

"We should be erring on the part of openness," he said. "People pay for the coroners and these notes, and we should make public records as open to the public as possible."

Charles Davis, a University of Missouri journalism professor and director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, said that coroners can make mistakes and that releasing autopsy photos and other records could enable family members and the media to learn the truth."

There is merit to an open process and to transparency, the trick is trying to find the right balance.

One Large Bug

Be happy that you don't encounter anything this big outside of the movies. I wear a size 12 boot but this is a little bit too large to just squash.
"LONDON - A scientist in Scotland has discovered tracks made by a huge water scorpion 330 million years ago, the first of the species ever discovered and the only evidence showing it could survive outside of the water, according to the journal Nature's edition to be published Thursday.

Martin Whyte, a lecturer in the Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield, discovered the fossil of a hibbertopteroid — a type of scorpion — in Scotland's Midland Valley.

"There has been in the past discussion centering around hibbertopteroid gills, feeding structures and limb strengths and whether or not these animals could come out of the water. Here at last is independent evidence that they could," he told The Associated Press.

According to Whyte's analysis of the fossil, the creature was a six-legged water scorpion measuring 5 feet long and 3 feet wide. The length of its stride indicates that the animal was crawling extremely slowly. Evidence that it was dragging part of its body suggests that it was probably moving out of water, Whyte said."

Alzheimers May be Related To Diabetes

I found this story to be very interesting.

"WEDNESDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Could Alzheimer's be a form of diabetes?

That's the tantalizing suggestion from a new study that finds insulin production in the brain declines as Alzheimer's disease advances.

"Insulin disappears early and dramatically in Alzheimer's disease," senior researcher Suzanne M. de la Monte, a neuropathologist at Rhode Island Hospital and a professor of pathology at Brown University Medical School, said in a prepared statement.

"And many of the unexplained features of Alzheimer's, such as cell death and tangles in the brain, appear to be linked to abnormalities in insulin signaling. This demonstrates that the disease is most likely a neuroendocrine disorder, or another type of diabetes," she added.

The discovery that the brain produces insulin at all is a recent one, and de la Monte's group also found that brain insulin produced by patients with Alzheimer's disease tends to fall below normal levels.

Now her group has discovered that brain levels of insulin and its related cellular receptors fall precipitously during the early stages of Alzheimer's. Insulin levels continue to drop progressively as the disease becomes more severe -- adding to evidence that Alzheimer's might be a new form of diabetes, she said."

You can find the whole story here.

Desperate for Attention

Well it seems that my self-appointed number one fan is desperate for my attention. In between the time that I last posted about our correspondence I received 18 different emails from him. I feel so loved and appreciated that I thought that I needed to share some of the best material with you.
Oh Jack, you poor little boychik. Calling a well known writer and speaker who you do not even know a "lunatic," I guess that is "not" a personal attack. Why don't you listen to your own rhetoric and learn what the mitzvot are all about? Your blog is a total waist of time. I spent a few minutes looking at it
My dear friend I am ever so grateful for your regular and consistent correspondence. You keep telling me what a waste of time (should I mention that you used the wrong waist) reading my blog is. Apparently you have a lot of time or you find it far more compelling than you care to admit.
Frankly, from what I have briefly read, you should be
arrested for child abuse and I just may forward your
waste of a blog link to social services in California.
How kind. I always have appreciated those people who are able to carry on a real dialogue that deals with fact and not fiction. You have watched far too much television and are under the misguided impression that people take you seriously.

When you didn't receive an immediate response to your comments you must have been really upset because that is the only rational explanation for sending so many messages in such a short period of time.

Let's take a look at some of your other comments.
You are a typical liberal who gets all hot and
bothered because of deserved personal attacks on you. If you were lucky you would have married a woman like me and been educated.Exactly who would you like me to blame and attack for that evil?
Society? Your parents? The drugs you may take?
If I was married to you it would be viagra but only because I love you. Will you please let me make up my shortcomings and marry me. I promise to let you cook and clean, it will be a traditional marriage, the kind you like so much.
You are an embarrassment
to Torah values, Judaism and Hashem. When I showed my
husband your blog, he said, "This is a man who is
totally untalented, morally confused and cannot write
for any website, so he posts his own worthless
Wow. I thought that you said that reading my blog is a waste of time. You are trying not to stroke my ego, but when I read that you shared this with your husband I was flattered. Of course he is upset by me. It is understandable that when you show him how much time you spend trying to contact me that this would happen.
By the way, how come I don't see my last letter on
your garbage blog? Did you post it as yet?
Patience, patience my dear. I am flattered by all of this attention but you aren't going to get your way by trying to beat me up/
I am still waiting. If you aren't man enough to help me then maybe someone else is. Tell them to email me at
"Lynne Gold" or
You got it baby. I would hate to deprive you of your needs.

Tuesday Night Roundup of Posts

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Parents- List Your Child's Most Irritating Toy/Show

From the News

Hate Mail

The Politcs of Muhammad Ali

Reader Feedback- She Thinks that I am a Boy Part 2

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

A quick question for my readers. How many of you have seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show?
And if so, when is the last time you watched it?

Parents- List Your Child's Most Irritating Toy/Show

Ok parents I have a post that is just for you. There are two parts to it.

Most of our children have received at least one toy that we cannot stand. It may not have always been that way, but sooner or later there is one toy that you just cannot stand.

The second part is tied into television shows. Children can watch the same show 17,987 consecutive times and not get bored. Scientists have proven that many of these same people grew up to watch and participate in The Rocky Horror Picture Show each week. On a side note, I have to make a separate post about this.

In my case I would have to say that the toy that I grew to despise was a talking barbecue. It was loud and obnoxious and in the middle of the night it would suddenly turn on and scare the crap out of me.

It is two am and all of a suddent there is a freaking barbecue yelling at me about not burning the hot dogs. It is a good thing that this thing didn't exist when I was in college or I can guarantee that it would have caused several people to have a complete breakdown.

As for a television show I would have to say that I learned to love and then hate the Wiggles. The Wiggles who dressed up in costumes that resembled Star Trek uniforms grew to be exceptionally irritating, in large part because I found myself whistling their tunes beneath my breath or singing their songs around the office.

It is a little embarrassing to try and explain why I am singing "Do The Monkey" or "Hot Potato, hot potato."

What about you? What do you have to add to this list?

From the News

Record year for hurricanes part of a natural cycle

Natural climate conditions, not global warming, created the record-breaking 2005 tropical storm season, the nation's top hurricane experts said Tuesday.
A Deadly Kiss

Christina Desforges, a Canadian teenager allergic to peanuts actually lost her life after she stole a kiss with her boyfriend who had just consumed a peanut-based snack. The allergy that affects just over a percent of the population caused the 15-year old to go into anaphylactic shock despite an immediately administered adrenalin shot. The girl eventually died four days after the lethal kiss of respiratory failure.

Berenstain Bears co-creator dead

Stan Berenstain was 82In more than 200 books, the Berenstain Bears, written and illustrated by Stan and Jan Berenstain, helped children for 40 years cope with trips to the dentist, eating junk food and cleaning their messy rooms.

Hate Mail

If you buy into the argument that there is no such thing as bad PR I suppose that you could make the argument that hate mail is a good thing for a blogger to receive.

During the two weeks that I have been blogging I have posted somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000 posts. Those 3000 posts generated 19.21 comments and led to the creation of 1,768,987 pieces of hatemail.

If you say that each piece of hatemail contained roughly 125 words you can see that I could easily use those words and create a book the size of War and Peace. I should add that one of my fans told me that "I was a horuble writer and incapeable of writing War and Piece."

I am rather disappointed that they disappeared because they made me smile. I briefly played around with the idea of writing a screenplay titled War and Piece. It was going to be the tale of this lady and this fellow. The lady had three daughters and the man had three sons and they had this crazy housekeeper. It was going to cover their lives but I couldn't think of anything funny so I dropped it.

For that matter there was the mail I received in which I was told that I am neither witty nor funny. It was so disappointing. All this time I thought that I was and that if I only learned how to tell a funnier joke than The Aristocrats I would be famous.

A friend of mine wanted me to tell the story about the small start up he worked for and the short man who ran it. He was this pasty faced buffoon who could have starred as the Emperor in the The Emperor Has No Clothes. A diminutive, petulant and punitive man he was a bully who was insecure in his own skin.

I thought about really getting into that and realized that it bored me, but not as much as being stuck in cleveland would.

The interesting thing about hate mail is that so many of the people who send it continue to keep reading me. I am intrigued by that. There is something kind of funny about people who say that they hate you yet refuse to stop reading you. They must be jealous or maybe it is because I own them.

Ok, enough of this.

The Politcs of Muhammad Ali

Daniel Pipes has a very interesting column about Muhammad Ali. I was rather disturbed by what Pipes wrote about Ali. In part I was disturbed because I have considered myself to be a fan of his and some of the things in the essay made me shake my head.

Some of what I read was new to me and while I think that Pipes is well educated and informed I wonder about the veracity of these claims. They may be accurate or maybe they are not. If anyone can provide confirmation I would be interested.

Here is an excerpt:
"As he aged, Ali did become more devout, but in unfortunate directions. He declared himself against "the entire power structure" in America, which he declared was run by Zionists who "are really against the Islam religion."

I surfed around and found some other comments that were attributed to him that were far more disturbing and aggressive in their tone.

Anyway, if anyone knows anything more I am interested.

P.S. I am well aware of the circumstances surrounding his refusal to serve in Vietnam, it is the statements about Jews and Zionism that I wonder about.

Reader Feedback- She Thinks that I am a Boy Part 2

In part one of this series I regaled you with the interesting and informative email I received from a reader who has an obsession with yours truly. Now I present to you the newest remark.


Only a sick little boy like you would post someone's private email to you, although I am not offended at all nor surprised. You are very troubled and need some serious therapy. After looking at your blog briefly, I can only say that I am not surprised that you are such
a loser in life.

Why don't you post your mother's phone number so that I can call her.

Lynne "Susan Gold"berg
Boca Raton, Florida

My dear Lynne "Susan Gold"berg I am ever so happy that you decided to reply to my post, but I must admit that I am sorely disappointed that you didn't do so by posting here.

It is gratifying to see that you are so attracted to me that you cannot stay away, especially in light of the text that Bill provided from one of your dear Irwin. Surely you understand that by making contact with me you opened yourself up for analysis.

I am sure that it makes you feel good to call me sick and troubled. If I had embarrassed myself as badly as you have I might want to lash out as well. I might even publish your email for no other reason then I can. It is silly and juvenile but that seems to fit with your modus operandi.

If it pleases you by all means email me or post insults here as I enjoy reading your petty attempts. Perhaps you might even offer something of substance that we can discuss, but chances are that a member of Mensa such as yourself is too advanced for me.

One more thing, will you marry me. I am down on one knee begging you. Please, please do me the honor of being my bride or groom, Lynne is one of those gender neutral names. However I am game for anything, so what do you say.

Will you marry me on a bus? Will you marry me on a train or while walking in the rain? Will you marry me in a car, or sing with me on my guitar.

Oh Lynneeeee Lynn Lynn, you do make me grin. :)

Reader Feedback- She Thinks that I am a Boy

I received an email yesterday that made me chuckle. I laughed because of the amazing insight this reader showed. It was profound and really clever.

She was upset because of what I had to say about one of her favorite writers, Irwin Graulich. Graulich you may recall provided the reason why some single Jewish women are single. Check out this nugget.

"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!"

And here is the amazing commentary from my new friend Susan.

Dear Jack

Dear Jack

I happened to come across your blog and was especially interested in what you had to say about one of my favorite writers, Irwin Graulich, who wrote an article about Jews and Christmas. All I can say is that I would bet a fair amount of money that you are not married. Your foolishness shows that you have not grown up and are still a little boy inside.

That is why you still get called up to the Torah as a "bachur"--a little boy. Your immaturity and lack of common sense was obvious in everything you wrote about Mr. Graulich's brilliant piece. It gave me and a friend of mine a very good laugh. It was actually better than Comedy Central.

Keep masturbating at your computer Jackie boy, because no decent girl will ever have you for long. You are just a big bad joke.

I guess your little Yiddishe mama did not do such a good job! She certainly isn't getting any naches from you.

Susan Goldberg
Boca Raton, Florida
Dear Susan, Susan,

Is that how they do it in Florida. ;) The reason that people resort to personal attacks is because they haven't any substantive comments. They cannot argue based upon fact and are forced to assemble straw men arguments. I hope for your sake that this letter is a joke and not an example of who you really are. All my love to you and watch out for hanging chads.

In case any one is interested I wrote two posts about Graulich. You can find them here and here.

Monday Night Post RoundUp

Will They Know Me- I Am Going To Die

Life is a Journey

Brand Awareness

A Focus on The Shmata Queen

Things I missed By Not going to Yeshiva

Pete Rose & The Hall of Fame

Sportsmanship- Being a Good Sport

Will They Know Me- I Am Going To Die

Among thinking people there is a fundamental question that is asked about our place in the world. Who are we? What are we doing here? What does it all mean? How can I be a parent? Will my children ever really know me as my friends do or are they destined to see me as nothing but their parent.

Ok, that is more than one question but it hits on a central theme of who am I and why am I here. I don't spend much time wondering why I am here. I am. I live and I breathe and while I walk the earth I might as well enjoy myself.

For me one of the tougher questions is tied into my children. I sometimes wonder how they will see me. By the time that they are old enough to really start asking these questions on a deeper level I will most likely be in my fifties.

What kind of man will they see? I won't look like I do now. In my mind's eye I see that 19 year-old boy who wore a flat top and had a rock hard body that was chiseled and solid courtesy of hours spent swimming and lifting weights. I see the boy who drove a '69 Dodge Dart Swinger, a '77 Camaro and a '77 Chevy Impala.

I see a free spirit. I see a shirtless tanned body and a pair of shorts and I remember knowing that my parents had never been like me, that they were so very serious and different. I remember thinking that they couldn't know what it was like to be so madly in love that it made their heart ache and their lungs burn. I remember thinking that they had never partied as hard as I did or laughed as much.

Now at 36 I look back and smile. I was immature and short on life lessons and I suspect that my children will look at me through similar eyes. Sometimes I find that to be difficult. Sometimes it bothers me that my children will know me so very differently than others do and other times it makes perfect sense.

One day I am going to die. One day my physical presence here will end. The light in my eyes will be extinguished and there won't be anything but memories of me. I don't need to leave a legacy of stone, no building need be erected in my honor or memory.

The only legacy that I need is that provided by my children and any offspring that they may have. It is a weird thought and a strange corner that I am trying to explore. I am not sure that any of this makes any sense, but...

I'll come back to this topic again. It is something that I will revisit.

Life is a Journey

This evening my son and I sat down as is our custom and spent some time discussing his day. I like to hear what he has to say about the world he lives in. I want to know his thoughts, understand his concerns and take care of of his fears.

His opening question was "did you win?" He asked because I had just returned from the gym where I had spent a couple of hours playing basketball. In some respects it wasn't much of a question as it was really more of a statement. He still thinks that I am bigger, badder, better and stronger than anyone.

It is kind of an empowering feeling. It really makes me feel good. I want to enjoy this moment for as long as I can because one day he will realize that I am just a man. That is ok, but we can wait. I also am trying to impress upon him that exercise is always going to be important. Exercise your mind and your body or you could win this award.

He pressed me about the gym so I told him that my team won. For that matter we won six games in a row. It was a great day at the gym, there is nothing like running the table. It just feels really good. The big boy was really excited about this and asked me if we won because of me and I was pleased to be able to tell him that we won the first game because I tipped a shot back in.

I was pleased because I did it and because it gave me another opportunity to speak with him about hard work and effort. He is still a little young for some of the lessons I want to review with him but it is never too early to start teaching.

What I told him was that life is a journey, it is a big trip that you go on, an adventure that you get to live every day. And as his eyes got bigger I talked to him about how sometimes there are people who are bigger, stronger and smarter than us. There are always going to be people that have more talent but there are ways to make it more fair.

Actually I said that there ways to solve the imbalance and then I realized that he wasn't following so I flipped to the easier concept of making it more fair. Part of the way that you do that is to be tenacious, persistent, stubborn and determined to do the best that you can. When you do those things, when you keep at it and you don't quit good things happen.

They happen because many people are unwilling to do that. They give up. When it gets too hard they just drop and run away. And that provides others with an opening to succeed.

New post coming right up.

Brand Awareness

Adweek by way of Yahoo reports the following:
"Hershey's is the most powerful brand among U.S. consumers ages 13-49, followed by M&M's, Reeses and Oreo. Is it any wonder, then, that Atkins was the least-liked among 1,079 brands surveyed, according to "BrandPower," a new study conducted by Genius Insight, New York.

"Dieting does not have positive connotations—it's about sacrifice," said Paul Jenkins, partner, Genius Insights. "What's not to like about candy? At the end of the day, it's comforting."

The "BrandPower" survey, now in its sixth year, contacted some 2,900 people online over the course of six months, ending Nov. 15, and asked them to rank brands based on likability and awareness, respectively. It then averaged those numbers, along with demographic factors, to come up with the final rankings. The survey also ranked brands by several demographic categories, including race, sex and three age groups: 13-20, 21-33 and 34-49-year-olds.

No. 5 overall in the "BrandPower" survey was Sony. Though the company has been taking its lumps in terms of global profits, Sony still dominates consumers' minds, placing top among non-food brands, ranking No. 1 among men 13-49 and No. 3 in likability.

The rest of the top 10 includes, in order, Kellogg, Kleenex, Kraft, Nestle and Google."

"Another brand that faces challenges, at least based on those surveyed, is Levi's. The jeans brand ranked No. 4 overall among consumers age 34-49 and No. 39 overall. However, it was No. 70 among 21-33-year olds and dropped to No. 82 among the 13-20 demographic. "They've thrown a lot of money and creativity at those groups, but it's not sticking," said Jenkins. "It's a strong brand, but it's not where it should be."

A Focus on The Shmata Queen

If you are not reading The Shmata Queen you are missing out.

Try these posts:

The Sound of Music

Helen Reddy Or Ruth Buzzi

It Used to be Cool But Now I am Embarrassed

Things I missed By Not going to Yeshiva

What does Rashi say about this.

Pete Rose & The Hall of Fame

SI has a story worth mentioning. First the link and excerpts and then comments.

"NEW YORK (AP) - Pete Rose's eligibility for the baseball writers' Hall of Fame ballot expired Monday when the 2006 candidates were announced, a group that includes Cy Young Award winners Orel Hershiser and Dwight Gooden.

Albert Belle, Will Clark and Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen were among 14 first-time candidates on the 29-man ballot. Bruce Sutter is the holdover who came closest to election, falling 43 votes shy last year.

Following an investigation of his gambling, Rose agreed in August 1989 to a lifetime ban. The Hall's board of directors voted unanimously in February 2001 that anyone on the permanently ineligible list couldn't appear on the BBWAA ballot.

Rose, baseball's career hits leader, applied for reinstatement in September 1997 and met with commissioner Bud Selig in November 2002. His efforts to end his suspension appeared to falter after he admitted in his 2004 autobiography, "Pete Rose: My Prison Without Bars,'' that he bet on the Cincinnati Reds while managing the teams in the late 1980s.

First-year candidates include pitchers Rick Aguilera, Alex Fernandez, Doug Jones and John Wetteland and infielders Gary DiSarcina, Gary Gaetti, Gregg Jefferies, Hal Morris and Walt Weiss.

To gain election, a player must be selected on 75 percent or more of the ballots. Sutter was on 66.7 percent of the ballots last year, followed by Jim Rice (59.5), Rich Gossage (55.2) and Andre Dawson (52.3)."

Pete should have been a gimme. I am a little torn about this because part of me thinks that he should be there in spite of what he did. One of the things that I loved about Pete Rose is that he played the game because he loved it. You don't play for as long or as hard as he did unless you do and that love for the game seems to be lacking these days.

But if you know any baseball history then you are familiar with the Blacksox and this knowledge should be enough to stop you from being as foolish as Pete was. I suspect that if he had shown some remorse or contrition for his actions he might have found a way to the hall, but he has not and he is the one who agreed to the ban. Pretty sad stuff.

The complete ballot for the HOF for this year includes the following players:

Rick Aguilera, Albert Belle, Bert Blyleven, Will Clark, Dave Concepcion, Andre Dawson, Gary DiSarcina, Alex Fernandez, Gary Gaetti, Steve Garvey, Dwight Gooden, Rich Gossage, Ozzie Guillen, Orel Hershiser, Gregg Jefferies, Tommy John, Doug Jones, Don Mattingly, Willie McGee, Hal Morris, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Jim Rice, Lee Smith, Bruce Sutter, Alan Trammell, Walt Weiss, John Wetteland.
Off the top of my head I am not sure if any of these guys really deserve it. Dave Parker destroyed Steve Yeager, so you can say that I am still angry years later. I have to look at the Bulldog's numbers because I think that Orel might fall a little short, but he is a favorite player and a good guy so I'd like to see him get in.

Too many other things to blog about so I am going to have to end this now, but I may return to it later.

Sportsmanship- Being a Good Sport

I was very disappointed when I read this article.I am a firm believer that athletics can teach you many life lessons but what is being taught below is not right.

"ST. LOUIS (AP) - A study of youth sports found evidence of cheating, taunting, even intentionally trying to hurt an opponent.

And the bad behavior wasn't limited to the kids. Some coaches admitted yelling at athletes - even verbally abusing them, and some players said they were struck.

Among the findings:

- Nearly one in 10 young athletes admitted cheating.

- 13 percent said they have tried to hurt an opponent.

- 31 percent had argued with an official.

- 13 percent had made fun of a less-skilled teammate.

- 27 percent had acted like "bad sports.''

"Even more disturbing is the number of coaches whose behavior fosters unhealthy climates,'' said Brenda Bredemeier, another author and associate professor of education at Missouri-St. Louis.

Seven percent of coaches encouraged athletes to cheat, and 8 percent encouraged their athletes to hurt an opponent, the young athletes told researchers. No coaches admitted either encouraging cheating or injury.

But more than one-third of coaches said they yelled at players for making mistakes, and one-fifth made fun of a team member.

Four percent of athletes said their coaches had hit, kicked or slapped them."

Sunday Night Roundup At the Shack

Ok bloggers, I am listening to Brad Paisley sing Mud on the Tires and itching to Two-Step. Really, I am and it is one of those dances that I can do and feel cool and there are too few of those.

Here is what I pumped out this evening:

Two Kinds of Pain
Searching for My Muse
Professor in Your Pocket
The Internet's Impact Upon Sex & Relationships
Schnappi das kleine Krokodil

And if you are wondering what is churning up the stats as most popular here is a sample:
Interfaith Relationships- Jews and Christians Misunderstood Again
Sex At the Synagogue- An Oral Report
Happy Holidays is An Appropriate Greeting
The Story of Two Souls

Lailah Tov from LA

Two Kinds of Pain

As I mentioned the other day, I am trying to start working on Fragments of Fiction again. Here is an old section that I am looking at again.

Life offers two types of pain, one physical and one mental. Man still hasn’t found a tougher prison than the one he encages his mind in. There is no greater pain than the mental anguish we inflict on ourselves and there is no tougher warden than the person we see in the mirror. For some there is no midnight reprieve, the governor doesn’t offer clemency. There is only one way out and no two people can share the path.

We all live in our secret worlds, but some of us never have the strength to leave our shelter and walk under sunny skies.

I used to.

I used to live in a place I called paradise. I could look out on the world and from my window and gaze upon waters that called out to me. Deep blue seas that embraced me like a child in the womb. The seas were always calm and at night they would gently rock me to sleep.

But it wasn’t real. I didn’t live on a boat. I didn’t live on the beach or remotely close to the water. It was all an illusion, a mindfuck that I created to make myself happy. The problem was that I hadn’t realized it. I didn’t have a clue as to how precarious my own happiness was and once that was shattered I knew nothing but darkness. I wandered aimlessly in a fog, not knowing where I was going or what I was doing. It didn’t matter, I didn’t care.

I said it before, there are two kinds of pain and mental is far worse than physical. You can always find a way to escape physical pain, but you can’t run from your own mind. Philosophers had long ago figured out that hell existed, that there was a devil, except he wasn’t a guy with horns, a pitchfork and a tail. The church had made that guy up. The devil was someone familiar with you, someone who knew your most intimate secrets and your darkest fears. The devil knew you, knew how to torment your soul.

The devil knew all this because he was, he is…you.

That’s right, the devil is not supernatural. There is no Lucifer, no Satan, and no Beelzebub. It would be better for us all if he did exist. No, the devil is just a man, a person that lives inside us all.

See when they wrote the bible and told the story of getting banished from the Garden of Eden they were not talking about a mythological place, they were referring to the end of innocence. They were talking about that time when life hits you in the mouth, knocks you down and beats you senseless. They were talking about getting hurt in places that bandages don’t stick, cuts that you cannot stitch, they just keep bleeding. And even if you manage to stop the bleeding that stinging sensation never really does go away.

Searching for My Muse

I have been working on Fragments of Fiction or should I say tinkering with it. I haven't really jumped back into it...yet.

I want to, I really think that I need to get back there and start pounding it out again but I just haven't been able to get myself into that place that I need to be to present the material I need.

Fragments of Fiction is just that. It is bits and pieces of fiction wrapped around pieces of my life and people I know. I don't think that this is any different from any other writer. You tend to write about what you know about and go from there.

The thing about Frags is that at this point in time it is not what I would characterize as a happy story. It may end up being a happy tale and it may very well have a happy ending. I am not sure yet because I haven't mapped it out. I really should do that. I really should plot it out so that I have a roadmap to follow but that wouldn't be in character and part of me is really fighing that.

The thing about Frags that grabs me is that I think that the best material has been written when I have taken myself back in time to that dark place so many of us have experienced. It is that cold and desolate place you hit when your heart has been broken and you have trouble seeing daylight. It is a place where you look around you and wonder how anyone can be happy and smile because you just can't conceive of it.

I think that when I open up the vault and dive down into the depths I find the best material, or maybe not. The good news is that I am having trouble getting there. It is hard for me to make myself feel that miserable. In part it is because I have a certain maturity and perspective on life that I didn't have when I was 20.

My children do such a fine job of making me smile that it is hard to be upset. When I think about all of the blessings in my life it is tough to really stay depressed. There are things that make me angry. There are things going on right now that light my fire and not in a positive sense. So I suppose that I could latch onto that anger and use it but I am not sure that I want to do that.

Do I have to use passion to create. Do I have to rely upon finding those happy/sad places to make myself produce at the higher levels. I am not sure. It is something that I think about because I am interested in learning more about myself. It may be egocentric, it may be narcisstic, but I find myself to be a fascinating subject. So what.

Life is a growth process and if you are not doing what you can to keep growing in some fashion you are setting yourself up to die. If there is one thing that I know it is that when I die I want to die knowing that I never stopped trying to learn about myself and the world around me.

Who is rich? He who is satisfied with his lot.
Ethics of the Fathers 4:1

Professor in Your Pocket

Also from a recent edition of Newsweek comes Professor in Your Pocket. This is another article that deals with the impact of technology on society. I found it to be interesting.
Professor in Your Pocket

"Nov. 28, 2005 issue - When Duke University junior Eddy Leal took a research trip to Puerto Rico recently and missed his macroeconomics lecture, he didn't sweat it. The lecture is usually attended by about 75 students, so his professor was unlikely to notice his absence. He didn't worry about falling behind, either. When he returned from his trip, Leal went to a Web site specially designated for Duke students and downloaded the lecture (which the professor had recorded and uploaded using an iPod) onto his personal computer. In the relative tranquillity of his dorm, Leal learned about models of government surplus. "It isn't the same as being there," says Leal. But for the chance to go to Puerto Rico, it was close enough."
I think that there are a multitude of advantages to being able to download a lecture and listen to it as many times as needed to try and understand a concept, but it doesn't substitute for being there.

The ability to interact with the professor and other students is a critical component of education. You miss out on a lot when you take that out of the equation from both an educational and social standpoint.

The Internet's Impact Upon Sex & Relationships

I am always interested in learning how the net impacts our lives. Here is a Newsweek story that deals with this. Here are a couple of selections for your review.
A sex columnist explains how the Internet has revolutionized our love lives—and why cyber breakups hurt just as much as real-world splits.

"Nov. 23, 2005 - Is the Internet transforming our sex lives as much as the birth control pill did? Yes, says Regina Lynn,'s 'Sex Drive' columnist and the author of a new book about modern sexuality. Thanks to e-mail, blogging, instant messaging, Web cams and the myriad ways we now have to stay in touch electronically, Lynn says we are in the middle of a new relationship revolution. "Forget what they told you about defense departments and universities. The Internet has done more to help us upgrade our sex lives than any other technology in history," says Lynn in "The Sexual Revolution 2.0" (Ulysses Press). And she's not just talking about porn or dating sites. Lynn contends that having constant e-contact has created new kinds of relationships and increased intimacy in existing ones. The Web has been particularly liberating for women who, she says, might not cross a crowded bar to ask a guy out, but might e-mail him first or boldly flirt via instant messaging.

There is a downside, though: keeping a lid on all those steamy notes and blogs out there in cyberspace. By default, we're creating "a transcript of a lifetime," says Lynn. And now, instead of just burning a box of old love letters, she says we may have to find "50 ways to delete your lover." Susanna Schrobsdorff spoke to Regina Lynn about the pleasures and perils of love in the digital age. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: Has the online world changed our sexual behavior as much as the pill?
Regina Lynn: I think it already has changed us almost as much as the pill, and will continue to. It is perhaps more gradually—we're already used to using e-mail and we take it for granted that we can talk to each other and build relationships—love and friendships—with people all over the world. But it's a big change. Women feel safe to do more sexual exploring online and a shy guy might find he's got the ability to seduce in e-mail. The Internet is about communication, which is the foundation of relationships.

You say that relationships are “real” even if they are conducted mainly online.
The Internet is the tool we're using, but there's still a person on either end. Online relationships kind of happen inside out whether it's e-mail, or instant messaging. The anonymity of online lets people get right to the heart of the matter first and then they start backing out to the more superficial, this is what I do for a living, this is where I live.

How have Internet relationships changed in the past few years?
People are meeting in puzzle or role-playing games more than in sex chat rooms now. Places where you are engaged in shared imaginative experiences with other people tend to give rise to other kinds of relationships. And because of the skills required for these games it often means the people who are coming just to troll for sex have been weeded out.

With so much of our intimate communications, like e-mails, out there in cyberspace, are there new risks?
You have in the back of your mind, 'I now have no control over this.' If someone gets hostile or vindictive or becomes a stalker, they have digital copies of the love letters you sent them. I think the way to deal with it is to accept this and relax and not let it make you crazy. You can't say what if my writing is so good that he starts copying and pasting it to the new woman he's having an affair with? You have to let that thought go."

It is a whole new world. I have been conscious and conscientous about what I write because once you post it is out there and you have to assume that you can never take it back. I sometimes wonder what this all means in the grand scheme of things.

I like using my blog as a diary, but it is easy to see how someone would take snippets and segments to formulate an opinion that may not really be based upon a real understanding and instead is based upon a one sided perspective.

Schnappi das kleine Krokodil

Ok, so a short time ago I was out traversing Costco when I heard someone singing a familiar tune. It took a moment to place it and then I realized that it was Schnappi das kleine Krokodil. Now I never would have recognized Schnappi das kleine Krokodil were it not for my favorite Red Sox fan.

Now if only I could get that song out of my head.

The Second Level of Hell

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Second Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Low
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Moderate
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very Low
Level 7 (Violent)Low
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Very High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test

Recent Posts

War on Christmas

Sex in Synagogue

Selective Memories

Is There A Real War on Christmas

Salon has an interesting article called How the secular humanist grinch didn't steal Christmas.

I'd like to share some selections from the article and a few thoughts.
"In 1959, the recently formed John Birch Society issued an urgent alert: Christmas was under attack. In a JBS pamphlet titled "There Goes Christmas?!" a writer named Hubert Kregeloh warned, "One of the techniques now being applied by the Reds to weaken the pillar of religion in our country is the drive to take Christ out of Christmas -- to denude the event of its religious meaning." The central front in this perfidious assault was American department stores, where the "Godless UN" was scheming to replace religious decorations with internationalist celebrations of universal brotherhood.

"The UN fanatics launched their assault on Christmas in 1958, but too late to get very far before the holy day was at hand," the pamphlet explained. "They are already busy, however, at this very moment, on efforts to poison the 1959 Christmas season with their high-pressure propaganda. What they now want to put over on the American people is simply this: Department stores throughout the country are to utilize UN symbols and emblems as Christmas decorations."

Forty-six years later the conversation sounds very similar to what we hear today. And speaking of today here is another remark from the article.
"the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian right legal outfit co-founded by James Dobson, has ramped up its three-year-old "Christmas project," organizing over 800 lawyers to defend the sacred holiday. "It's a sad day in America when you have to retain a lawyer to wish someone a merry Christmas," says Mike Johnson, senior legal counsel for ADF.

Despite Johnson's lamentations, one can in fact offer Christmas greetings without legal counsel. Christmas trees are permitted in public schools. (They're considered secular symbols.) Nativity scenes are allowed on public property, although if the government erects one, it has to be part of a larger display that also includes other, secular signs of the holiday season, or displays referring to other religions. (The operative Supreme Court precedent is 1984's Lynch v. Donnelly, where the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that a city-sponsored Christmas display including a crèche, reindeer, a Christmas tree, candy-striped poles and a banner that read "Seasons Greetings" was permissible. "The display is sponsored by the city to celebrate the Holiday and to depict the origins of that Holiday," the majority wrote. "These are legitimate secular purposes.") Students are allowed to distribute religious holiday cards and literature in school. If the administration tries to stop them, the ACLU will step in to defend the students' free-speech rights, as they did in 2003 when teenagers in Massachusetts were suspended for passing out candy canes with Christian messages.

In fact, there is no war on Christmas. What there is, rather, is a burgeoning myth of a war on Christmas, assembled out of old reactionary tropes, urban legends, exaggerated anecdotes and increasingly organized hostility to the American Civil Liberties Union. It's a myth that can be self-fulfilling, as school board members and local politicians believe the false conservative claim that they can't celebrate Christmas without getting sued by the ACLU and thus jettison beloved traditions, enraging citizens and perpetuating a potent culture-war meme. This in turn furthers the myth of an anti-Christmas conspiracy.

"You have a dynamic here, where you have the Christian right hysterically overrepresenting the problem, and then anecdotally you have some towns where lawyers restrict any kind of display or representation of religion, which is equally absurd," says Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at Political Research Associates and one of the foremost experts on the religious right. "It's a closed loop. In that dynamic, neither the secular humanists or the ACLU are playing a role."

What we often see is the attempt by people to look at history through sentimental eyes. You rarely hear people speak about how good things are today, they always refer to the past as being better. But the thing is people self-censor and omit the negatives of the past and sometimes fail to recognize the privilege of the present.

"Charles Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center and the author of "Finding Common Ground: A Guide to Religious Liberty in the Public Schools," is one of the heroes of Gibson's book. Gibson writes about how he resolved a crisis that arose in Mustang, Okla., when, fearing a lawsuit, the superintendent of schools ordered a nativity scene cut from an elementary school Christmas pageant, infuriating many in the town. Haynes was eventually flown out to mediate. He had, writes Gibson, "made something of a career out of rushing in as if he were driving an ambulance, lights flashing and sirens blaring, after schools had made disastrous policy decisions on restricting religious liberty in schools."

According to Haynes, though, there is no war on Christmas. "I certainly wouldn't put it that way," he says. "The big picture is that there's more religion now in public schools than ever in modern history. There's no question about that. But it's not there in terms of the government imposing religion or sponsoring it, and that bothers some people on the right. They miss the good old days when public schools were semi-established Protestant schools."

In the last two decades, says Haynes, "religion has come into the public schools in all kinds of ways ... many schools now understand that students have religious liberty rights in a public school, so you can go to many public schools today and kids will be giving each other religious literature, they will be sharing their faith. You go to most public schools now and see kids praying around the flagpole before school."

The reason fights over Christmas iconography recur, says Haynes, is that "there are still some school administrators who are so afraid to deal with religion that they go too far in keeping it out, and it only takes a few bad stories in this era of the Internet for many conservative religious people across the country to think that public schools are hostile to their faith."

Ironically, when school officials do go too far, the ACLU is likely to challenge them, on the grounds that the government can neither promote nor restrict religious speech. "A lot of the things the ACLU does to help religious people and religious students are not high-profile cases; they don't get much attention," says Haynes. "The Christian student who is told she can't bring her Bible to school, the ACLU gets those kinds of calls, and often it doesn't become a lawsuit, but they will quietly tell the school you can't do this, you have to treat everyone fairly."

Indeed, one case that ACLU president Nadine Strossen loves to talk about is that of Rita Warren, a retired woman who calls herself the "Lone Ranger of the manger" and whose life mission is to put nativity scenes in public places. When she placed a plastic crèche on the lawn in front of the government building in Fairfax, Va., the government ordered her to remove it. Warren called the ACLU, and they discovered that the city of Fairfax had allowed others to erect displays on the property. "Once the government allows displays of any kind to be placed on public property, it can't then discriminate against some display because of the viewpoint," says Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia. "The government could not discriminate against her religious display any more than it could take specific action to promote her religious display. It has to treat us the same."

These stories rarely get much play, especially since the ACLU lacks a publicity apparatus that can compete with the religious right. "We're not in the business to defend ourselves as an organization," says Strossen."

Pretty Interesting stuff if you ask me. Funny that you never see any of these things remarked about in print or elsewhere. Maybe O'Reilly needs some new material.

Sex At the Synagogue- An Oral Report

Ok, I have to admit that I played around with multiple headlines for this story. It was hard not to get more creative but I think that there is enough real material here to warrant a mention without the juvenile humor.

Rabbi Marc Gellman is a columnist for Newsweek who writes upon various affairs. In his real life he is the senior rabbi of Temple Beth Torah in Melville, New York.

In a recent column he wrote about his thoughts about what is supposed to be a recent increase in the amount of oral sex between teens as well as about sex in general. I applaud him for speaking about this topic because I think that it is a worthwhile discussion, but I have to say that I am very skeptical about the assertion that there is some kind of tremendous increase in the amount of sexual activity in our youth.

I do not have any hard data to offer you, just my own thoughts and experiences and that which has been shared with me by my friends but I have a very hard time believing that there is some kind of tremendous increase. For that matter I do not believe that there is any more sexual activity now than in the past.

If anything I expect that there is more coverage and conversation about these topics. Some of the social taboos about discussing such things more publicly are not as firm as they once were, but on the whole, I don't buy it.

I went through USY, Camp Ramah and a number of other youth groups and let me tell you, there was sex and sexual activity. I know from friends who attended NCSY, AZA, BBYO and NFTY that there was sex.

Part of growing up includes a section of time in which you are in hormonal overdrive and for many people that includes experimentation with people you love and people that you really like.

I think that it is important to discuss sex and the ramifications of it with our children. I don't think that it should be presented as something that should be done just for fun or because you can but it is a grave mistake to pretend that it is not happening and or not going to happen just because we wave our fingers in someone's face.

And for my friends who taut being Shomer Negiah as a solution let me say that the unspoken secret is that this still doesn't prevent sex. It may slow it down or force more creative solutions to having it, but it still happens.

Selective Memories

One of the best parts of the blogosphere is the voyeurism. I readily admit that part of the attraction is the chance to pull up a chair and read about your lives. I enjoy the stories because some are things I relate to, some are tales about experiences I'll never have so I am forced to live vicariously through your words.

And might I add that while I really do enjoy some of these stories, there are some experiences that I never want to have. One day I may blog about that, but today is not that day.

What catches my fancy now are the posts about dating. During the last couple of weeks I have made a point of checking out posts abou dating because I find them to be interesting. Part of what I find so interesting about them is the one sided nature of these posts. That is not a knock or slam against anyone, it is a natural thing. When you only hear one side of the tale it is natural that the perspective regarding what happened may be a little different from that of the other people who were involved.

Dating really lends itself to this because often there are such divergent opinions about how the date went. I know from personal experience and the stories I have heard from friends (both male and female) that you never know just how you are going to be portrayed by the other side.

According to many of my female friends the classic example of the difference in perception is often related to sex. I have heard far too many tales about how he bragged/commented about how good the bedroom activities were while she silently rolled her eyes and wondered if he had a clue.

But I have to tell you ladies that I heard many stories from the boys about how bad you were in bed. What does this tell me? It says that people like to talk. Nothing profound there, just what you can call the nickel comment.

All of this does make me wonder about my past experiences. I wonder how many fond memories I have that are not shared by the others. How many times do we fall prey to selective memories. How often do we censor the things we do not like and leave only the good.

And for that matter how often do we censor ourselves on our blogs so that all we share are the positive attributes. I imagine that it is pretty consistent. Typically we do not introduce ourselves to others by providing a list of strengths and weaknesses.

It could make for some interesting experiences.

Hi I am Jack. I have a great sense of humor, a dysfunctional digestive system and horrible gas, etc. You get the picture. If we introduced ourselves to others this way it would probably establish a different sort of friendship/relationship.

I'd write more but it is almost time to light candles and I have to get the kids ready for Shabbos. See you later.


The Ancient Comes to Life

Gail gets credit for tipping me off to this.

2,000-Year-Old Seed Sprouts, Sapling Is Thriving

Ancient Seed

"Several ancient date seeds were taken from an excavation at Masada, a historic mountainside fortress, in 1973. In A.D. 73 Jewish Zealots took their own lives at the fortress rather than surrender to the Romans at the end of a two-year siege.

Carbon dating indicates the seeds are about 2,000 years old.

Hebrew University archaeologist Ehud Netzer found the seeds and gave them to botanical archaeologist Mordechai Kislev at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv.

The seeds sat untouched in a drawer in Kislev's office until last November, when Sallon asked if she could have a few to pass on to desert agriculture expert Elaine Solowey.

"I said, Thank you. What do you want me to do?" Solowey recalls. Told to germinate them, she said, "You want me to do what?"

Caught My Attention

Firm wants to rid Net of suffixes

"AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch technology company has breathed life into a project to rid the Internet of suffixes such as .com, and instead offer single names which can be countries, company names or fantasy words.

Such a system, which enables countries, individuals and firms to have a Web address which consists of a single name, offers flexibility and is language and character independent.

"The plan is to offer names in any character set," said Erik Seeboldt, managing director of Amsterdam-based UnifiedRoot.

UnifiedRoot offers practically unlimited numbers of suffixes, unlike the short list of suffixes currently in use. Its offer is different from other "alternative root" providers such as which offers to register names in front of a small range of new suffixes, such as .club and .law.

"We've already had thousands of registrations in a single day," said Seeboldt after the official opening of his 100-strong company which has installed 13 Internet domain name system (DNS) root servers on four continents."

Iraq says pullout will lead to violence

"TOKYO (Reuters) - Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari urged Japan on Friday to keep its troops in southern Iraq, saying an early pullout of coalition forces would lead to more violence by insurgents.

Zebari said his war-torn country had made progress on improving security, but added it faced a crucial period ahead of the December 15 parliamentary election.

"The difficult part has gone in my view. We're very close to reaching a more stable form of government and of security," Zebari told a news conference following a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

"Now, any premature withdrawal will send the wrong message to the terrorists, to the opposition ... that this coalition is fracturing and running, that their policies and strategies of undermining this process is winning."

He said he could not give a time frame for when the coalition forces would be able to leave Iraq, but added that it would be at least months after the new Iraqi government was formed.

U.S. defense officials said this week that the Pentagon planned to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, currently 155,000, to about 138,000 after next month's election. This could be reduced further to about 100,000 next summer if conditions allowed."

A threesome is not every man's dream!

A recent survey has poured cold water on what everyone believed till now was every man's dreams, by finding that though one in ten men would agree to have a gay threesome, if they were paid a 100,000 pounds for it, a whopping 83 percent of them would turn down an offer of sex with their wives and a sexy girl friend, even if the opportunity ever presented itself.

According to The Sun, the poll, conducted by women's magazine, Morealso, also found that 75 percent of men also claimed that they would remain faithful to their male friends and never sleep with their wives/girlfriends, even if there was a 100 percent guarantee of never getting caught.

And although women seem to think that men always beat around the bush when it comes to calling a relationship off, the poll shows that only 14 percent of men actually said that elaborate lying is the best way to call it quits. And, only 2 percent thought that using text messages to dump their girlfriends was a good idea.

However, when it comes to their family jewels, the survey showed that all men would rather lose their arm, than lose their penis.(ANI)

Confessions of a photocopier repairman

"Photocopier supplier Canon is warning customers to take better care of their office equipment during the Christmas period, claiming that the festive season traditionally leads to a 25 percent hike in service calls due to incidents such as the classic backside copying prank.

Such a stunt, a mainstay of the office party, often results in cracked glass on the copier, with 32 percent of Canon technicians claiming to have been called out to fix glass plates during the Christmas period after attempts to copy body parts went wrong.

Tim Andrews, a Canon employee from London, said: "We always fit lots of new glass to copiers after New Year due to 'rear-end copying.'"

In fact, Canon claims a shocking 46 percent of service calls are in response to non-work-related breakages.

Geoff Bush from the north of England said one case he'd attended, where a young lady had cracked the glass mid-scan, also jammed the scanner so that it wasn't until the machine was fixed and her colleagues all sober that copies of her backside starting pouring from the machine.

Partly in response to this trend--or perhaps because of the "supersizing" of the western physique--Canon has now increased the thickness of its glass by an extra millimeter.

However, one of the most alarming tales comes to us from service engineer Steven Mannion of northern England. "I had to repair a machine with a photocopy of a man's groin jammed in it," Mannion said. "

Goodbye Mr. Miyagi

"LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Actor Pat Morita, whose portrayal of the wise and dry-witted Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid" earned him an Oscar nomination, has died. He was 73."
Of course there were numerous other roles that he played, including his time on Happy Days.

"For years, Morita played small and sometimes demeaning roles in such films as "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and TV series such as "The Odd Couple" and "Green Acres." His first breakthrough came with "Happy Days," and he followed with his own brief series, "Mr. T and Tina."

"The Karate Kid," led to three sequels, the last of which, 1994's "The Next Karate Kid," paired him with a young Hilary Swank.

Morita was prolific outside of the "Karate Kid" series as well, appearing in "Honeymoon in Vegas," "Spy Hard," "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" and "The Center of the World." He also provided the voice for a character in the Disney movie "Mulan" in 1998.

Born in northern California on June 28, 1932, the son of migrant fruit pickers, Morita spent most of his early years in the hospital with spinal tuberculosis. He later recovered only to be sent to a Japanese-American internment camp in Arizona during World War II.

"One day I was an invalid," he recalled in a 1989 AP interview. "The next day I was public enemy No. 1 being escorted to an internment camp by an FBI agent wearing a piece."

Family Can be Stressful

It is close to midnight and I have survived another family dinner. I don't want to give any false impressions. I love my family and I enjoy spending time with them but right now there seems to be a higher level of stress than normal. I know the reasons why and some of them are things that I cannot help and perhaps that is why it is hard for me.

I am exceptionally lucky to have three grandparents. Each one of them is in their 90s. Within a few months two of them G-d willing will turn 92 followed by my other grandfather several months later.

From a mental standpoint all three of them are in good shape, although you can see the impact of age upon them. Their memories are not quite as crisp and there are little things that make it clear that they are not as young as they once were.

I am close with all of them. Each one of them has given me so much and asked very little in return so I am happy to spend as much time with them as I can because the end of the race approaches.

But I have to admit that I am finding some of the effects of aging to be hard. I admit that with a heavy heart because I know how much these changes bother them and I can't help but feel some guilt.

One grandfather and one grandmother are legally blind. One grandfather broke his pelvis around last March and since then has been forced to use a walker. I find it very hard to see him with the walker because he has always been fiercely independent, not to mention that in some ways I identify best with him. I see many similarities between him and myself.

The little things that we take for granted have gotten to be tough. As I mentioned he is legally blind so he is not able to read the paper and books the way that he used to. Since breaking his pelvis he has found it increasingly difficult to get up from a seated position and even putting on shoes is hard.

I help him with all of these things. I do it with a smile and he doesn't complain but I can feel his frustration. He used to tell me that if he had known that he was going to live as long as he has he would have taken better care of himself. I feel some guilt because I don't want him to be embarrassed and sometimes there is not much that can be done about it.

He has gotten stuck in his recliner a couple of times and in order for him to get out I had to basically pick him up.

The docs tell us that all three of my grandparents could keep on going for many years or it could all end tomorrow. I try hard to be thankful for the time that I have with them and to not worry about them but it is hard. One little fall and it could all come crashing down.

Did I mention that there is a severe hearing loss. What this means is that the normal roar at the dinner table is similar to sitting next to a running dishwasher. It is loud. It is noisy. There is a lot of clanking and crowing. You walk away from the table with a sore throat and question whether you had a conversation.

One on one the conversations are much easier. There is far less chaos and confusion and as I mentioned they really are pretty together.

Part of my stress is this fear that they are going to die, no the knowledge that they are going to die and that one day I will not have any grandparents left, just their memories. It is not how I want to live so I focus on the present, but I admit that sometimes it can be hard not to worry.

I am trying hard to make sure that they tell me their stories, my favorites and things that they never shared with me before. I want to be able to tell those stories too. I won't be able to argue as my grandfathers do about the best place to get a hot dog in Chicago, in part because they speak about places they ate at in their 20s.

I probably missed out on my opportunity to explore some of the bars in New Orleans that my grandfather used to hit in the 30's too, but such is life.

At a later date I plan on spending some more time writing my thoughts about my grandparents in more detail and certainly in a more polished manner. But for now let me say that even though things can be stressful I wouldn't have it any other way.

A Short Roundup of Posts that Caught My Eye

Dave covers the value of a Yeshiva education in a real life setting. Miriam discusses a different sort of Thanksgiving and BeFrank writes about real life experiences of a different sort.

Gail offers a Thanksgiving picture and Seraphic Secret continues their love story. More to come around the blogosphere or my world later.

Pallywood Posts

 I think a bunch of the posts about Pallywood that have been written and or linked here have to be updated. Probably a bunch of bad links, k...