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Showing posts from June, 2006

My Grandfather Laid Tefillin

My zayde came to the United States in the early 1900s. He left the pogroms and challenges of living as a Jew in Lithuania for the promise of a new beginning in the United States. A tailor by trade he made his way to Chicago where he was determined to make sure that he and his children were as American as those around him. Many of the old traditions were left behind but not all. Family legend relates the tale of his father coming to America to visit his son. He had been here but a short time when he found my great-grandfather eating treif and declared that America was no place to be a Jew and with that he picked up and returned to Lithuania. It is thought that he died prior to the Holocaust but that remains somewhat unclear. Here in the states my great-grandfather worked hard to support his family. Although he no longer lived as an observant Jew he made sure to teach his children about all of the holidays and made sure that they never went to school nor worked on yontiff. His chi

Because I Wouldn't Get a Tattoo

I just might have to try a pair of tattoo sleeves . Thanks for the tip Houston .

A Simple Difference Between Boys & Girls

I have 17,000 younger sisters. Ok, maybe 17,000 is an exaggeration but I am my father's only son and on more than one occasion complained to him about not having a brother. As a parent I have noticed many differences between my son and daughter. At the moment there is one that stands out from the rest. Why do little girls love shrieking so much. My daughter has a high pitched scream that could wake the dead. My son never did this or anything close to this. Don't get me wrong, I love my children equally. But I also love the ability to hear and a couple more banshee screams and I might become deaf.

He is Smarter Than the Average Bear

"GOLDEN, British Columbia - A freedom-loving grizzly bear named Boo smashed a heavy steel door and barreled through two electric fences to escape a second time from a resort near this south-central British Columbia town. Boo was recaptured Friday, two weeks after breaking out of an artificial den at the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, but escaped from tighter confinement within a day, resort spokesman Michael Dalzell said Tuesday. "It's unbelievable," Dalzell said. "We thought there was no way, it was absolutely impossible, but he found a way. It was basically like breaking out of Fort Knox." He said the bear bashed a nearly 400-pound steel door off its four bolts, destroyed an electrical box while tearing through two electric fences and scrambled over a 12-foot fence anchored with 2 feet of steel below ground. "I think he just kept charging it (the door) and charging it until it broke off its bolts," Dalzell said. "Everything was completel

The Secret to Living Past 80: Make it to 65

Simple advice, don't you think. "In aging, as with many things in life, it's best to take things one step at a time. Doctors conclude in the July issue of Harvard Health Letter that one of the best ways to help ensure you'll live past 80 is to first set your sights on making it to 65. The Harvard Medical School publication also finds that according to various studies, Americans are living significantly longer and healthier lives than just a few years ago. This is good news for the country's aging baby boomers, or "abbies," as the researchers call them. The raw numbers But America will have to play catch up if it wants to match the health and life expectancies of some other countries. The latest figures from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics state that life expectancy in the United States is 77.6 years. This is a significant improvement from 1990, when life expectancy was 75.4 years, but it's lower than some other countries

Thoughts About My Grandfather

Even thought it has been a relatively short period of time since the loss of my grandfather it feels like it was forever. I suppose that this is due to some of the things that happened prior to his death. In August it will be three years since my grandmother died and looking back it is easy to see how her loss weighed upon him and helped to accelerate his decline. When my grandfather was happy there was a twinkle in those soulful blue eyes of his. It was joined by a smile that always made you wonder what kind of mischief he was about to get into. It is the same kind of look that people say I have. My buddy G says that whenever I get that look he knows it is time to hold onto his wallet and prepare himself for some kind of trouble, mostly the kind that involves way too much fun. I suppose that you could call my grandfather a bit of a rascal. He loved to read and spent hours absorbed in books, but had little interest in being tested upon his knowledge. School was never his thing

The Couple That Pees Together

If you have accused your spouse of not giving a crap this is for you. Happy Valentine's Day sweetheart. Thanks for the tip Gail .

Eliyahu Asheri Deserved Better

Eliyahu Asheri had a mother and father. Eliyahu Asheri had siblings. Eliyahu Asheri had every reason to look forward to a long and healthy life. Sadly Eliyahu Asheri is not going to be able to enjoy that life. His family will never know what he could have become. His siblings will grow old without him and his parents will join the sad and solitary club of parents who have lost children. There are no words that I can offer them to ease their sorrow. I cannot say that he died so that others could live. I cannot provide any sort of tribute or meaning that they can use to assuage their pain and for this I am sorry. I don't compare believe in comparing tragedies as it is a fools errand but I think that in this case there is a reasonable exception to be made. In a suicide bombing one could say that there is a certain randomness to the act. The victims just happen to be there. The kidnapping is a bit different, at least it feels different to me. It feels different because there

Awkward moments abound in penis pump trial

Sorry, this headline is too good not to bring to your attention: Awkward moments abound in penis pump trial "BRISTOW, Okla. - Serving on the jury in an indecent-exposure trial unfolding in this conservative Oklahoma town has been a giggle-inducing experience. Former Judge Donald D. Thompson, a veteran of 23 years on the bench, is on trial on charges he used a penis pump on himself in the courtroom while sitting in judgment of others. Over the past few days, the jurors have watched a defense attorney and a prosecutor pantomime masturbation. A doctor has lectured on the lengths the defendant was willing to go to enhance his sexual performance. The white-handled sexual device sits before the jury box for hours at a time. Occasionally an attorney picks it up and squeezes the handle, demonstrating the "sh-sh" sound of air rushing through the contraption's plastic tubing. The jurors sometimes exchange awkward looks and break into nervous laughter when the testimony

A Few Mumblings About Construction

There is something to be said for remodeling your home on a day when it is over a 100 degrees and you cannot leave the house. There is something to be said for remodeling your home on a day when it is over a 100 degrees and you cannot leave the house and you have two small children at home with you. There is something to be said for remodeling your home on a day when it is over a 100 degrees and you cannot leave the house and you have two small children at home with you and one of those children is sick. That something is ^%E^&U&^UI^$ &$$)@^@ )YIHG)JBOT^T$U*()U*$)$*UI#!!!!!!!!

What To Do With Old Record Albums

If you are of a certain age there is a good chance that you have a fair amount of viny floating around your home. I suspect that there are a quite a few visitors to the Shack who remember taking trips to the "Record Store" as well as remember the fun of playing a '33' at '78.' You might also remember that there was a time when scratching a record was not a good thing. If you are like me you still have a ton of old record albums floating around that you are unwilling to part with. Perhaps you have tried to replace those old albums with the CD version. If you have any sort of collection this can be a costly endeavor. Well now it appears there is another alternative that you can consider using. THE LP-TO-CD RECORDER STEREO SYSTEM. This combination recorder and stereo system allows you to preserve classic vinyl records by recording them to CDs. It takes a few simple steps to faithfully transfer an LP to a CD-R or CD-RW, and at any time during recording

I Almost Feel Badly For The Burglar

I meant to blog about this a while ago. ST. LOUIS, MO -- A burglar picked the wrong home to invade Thursday morning. The intruder had a knife, but the homeowner he encountered pulled out a gun and started shooting. After breaking Willie Brown's window, the burglar walked upstairs into a bedroom where Brown was sleeping. But after grabbing Brown's wallet, the knife wielding thief received an unexpected and unwelcome surprise when Brown opened his eyes. Brown said, "He was standing right at the door. He said, 'I got a knife. Don't move.' I said, What? 'I got a knife. Don't move.' Don't move, huh? You got a knife? Okay, you got a knife. And I shot him." He said, "Whoops!" "I said it's too late for whoops now. I'm going to put a whoops to this 38."


I was wrong about disengagement. Yes, let the record state that I was wrong. At the time I had thought that it was going to be a painful but necessary step in trying to bring peace. I didn't see it as having immediate results, but saw it as being something that would be part of the process. Instead I have been proven wrong. The rockets still fly and the attacks continue and the world basically ignores what is going on. And now with the kidnappings it is time to show a very strong response. The terrorists need to see that the consequences of their actions lead to a response that is too painful to endure. It is time to go back in and retake Gaza, or at least large sections of it. It wasn't a great situation before, but it is worse now.

Dear Soccer Hating American

I received the following email: Dear football hating american. The only reason that you hate the beautiful game is because your bloated and overindulged country is pathetically bad at it. True football is beauty and art that is beloved by the world. Unlike that silly game you play called football. watch and learn well and maybe one day your country will learn how to be a part of nations. Hmm... I am tempted to post your email address so that you can be overrun by the hordes of the shack. My minions shall feast upon your mortal soul and you shall know no rest. Ok, that was a little dramatic but so was your note. You'll notice that I only posted a fragment of it which works because you write in fragments. I don't know if English is your second language but I hope that it is because your writing is like soccer, atrocious to watch. I have watched the cup and laughed at the antics and bad acting of the so called players. I laugh at the flops and falls as they beg the officials

Having Older brothers linked to being gay

I thought that this was interesting as well. Older brothers linked to being gay "Having one or more older brothers boosts the likelihood of a boy growing up to be gay--an effect due not to social factors, but biological events that occur in their mother's womb, according to a study published Tuesday. In an analysis of 905 men and their siblings, Canadian psychologist Anthony Bogaert found no evidence that social interactions among family members play any role in determining whether a man is gay or straight. The only significant factor was the number of times a mother had previously given birth to boys, according to the report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Each older brother increases the chances by 33 percent. Bogaert said that assuming the base rate of homosexuality among men is 2 percent, it would take 11 older brothers to give the next son about a 50-50 chance of being gay. In a previous study, Bogaert and his colleagues estimated that about

The Commodore 64 lives on

I thought that this was kind of interesting. I never had one, but a lot of my friends did. FRESNO — Robert Bernardo spent a week this spring traveling the Pacific Northwest, trying to save part of yesterday's future. The high school English teacher swung through Portland and Astoria, Ore., and then on to Ethel, Wash., to drop off a collection of antiquated computers — a PET8032, three VIC-20s, an SX-64 portable and a Commodore 128D.Then on his way home to the Central Valley town of Visalia, Bernardo packed his white Crown Victoria with three more SX-64s, boxes of software and a couple of printers. With any luck, this agglomeration of decades-old circuit boards and dusty disk drives will allow Bernardo to reboot a handful of computers made by the long-defunct Commodore Business Machines. In an era when a home computer's power is measured in gigabytes, Bernardo still counts kilobytes as a devoted Commodore user 12 years after the last machine was assembled. Once the larges

You Never Really Die

Today I explained to my son that as long as people remember you then you never really die. Death is a hard concept for children. It is hard for adults. The finality of it all makes it very hard to deal with. Some people just don't. During the past couple of days I have been handling many of the responsibilities that surround an event like this. I have spent time reviewing paperwork, shuttling family members to and from the airport and so much more. In the course of reviewing some of the associated paperwork I came across the civil marriage license for my grandfather and my grandmother. I took a moment to review it and was surprised to see that she had a different maiden name listed on it than the one I knew her by. It caught me by surprise and withouth thinking I yelled "grandpa" and then waited for the standard reply. I waited even though I had realized that there wouldn't a reply long before the echoes of my initial cry disappeared. There wasn't time to

Inventions You Might Not Need Or Want

Here are a few items that you might not need or want but should know about. Why? Why not. Ear Wax Camera/Cleaner " The Nap Helmet " Long subway rides in the mornings can be tiring, and sleeping in a seated position can be bad for your health. So that's why The Nap Helmet got invented. Put this baby on your head and pop the plunger onto the window as you dose off. Use the Head Bath cap for thicker and fuller hair. Simply amazing, aren't they.

Two Books I Enjoy

Rare Words Words That Make a Difference

Gilad Shalit

Gilad Shalit is the name of the soldier that was kidnapped by terrorists and is currently being held for ransom. Here is a short roundup of posts that you should read about this subject: What Gilad's father is thinking One Soldier's Life. Keep Him in Your Prayers Channel 1 breakdown of Terrorist infiltration Hamas leadership in Syria apparently behind kidnapping I want to go back to David's post and cite something he said there. "I am also a father of a Gilad. In a few short years my Gilad will be donning the uniform of his country and will potentially be asked to walk in harms way. I know with absolute certainty that there is no price I would not pay to secure the release of my son if (G- forbid) he were ever taken hostage by the enemy. I would endanger the lives of 100... or even 1000... other people's sons, and would throw open the doors of every prison in the land if it would mean having my precious son home again safe and sound. I would eve

A Cure For Your Headache

The BBC is running an article about this device: " The hand-held device creates a short-lived electromagnetic field which 'interrupts' the migraine. At the American Headache Society meeting research ers said the device was effective in treating nausea, noise and light sensitivity. UK experts said the findings were interesting but warned it needed to be tested in a much larger study. People who suffer from migraine headaches often describe seeing showers of shooting stars, zigzagging lines and flashing lights, and experiencing loss of vision, weakness, tingling or confusion. These neural disturbances or 'auras' signal the onset of migraine headaches. The device, called TMS, delivers a strong electric current through a metal coil, which creates an intense magnetic field for about one millisecond. The theory is that the electrical charge interrupts the aura phase of the migraine before it leads to headaches." Call me skeptical, but this device looks l

Dream Walking

Sometimes dreams can be invigorating and sometimes they can be quite cruel. Much of this depends upon your attitude. I dreamt about my grandfather all night long, but it was only when I awoke that I realized again that he was gone. I choose not to be bitter. I have so many memories. I'll share more here later.

Pictures, Videos and Memories

This morning I woke up with a sour taste in my mouth. I rolled on my side and looked on the floor for the bottles that must be there. I looked and looked and didn't see them. It wasn't a dream, it wasn't a nightmare. My grandfather had died, that was the reality. So I rolled onto my back and stared at the ceiling. I wasn't thinking about any one particular thing at all, just let my thoughts drift where they may. So many memories of the moments I spent with my grandfather and of the conversations we had. A short time later I was on the phone delivering the news to more relatives. More tears, more cries asking me to say that it wasn't true and more sharing of grief. Again I felt like the angel of death. Maybe I wasn't administering it but I was the messenger and that had its own share of challenges. My uncle shouldn't have had to hear that he had lost his brother by telephone, but we don't live in a small town world. And so I created a new memory. If

The Bearer of Bad Tidings- One Less Set of Footsteps

Earlier this week I wrote a post called The Father Leans On The Son . In it I spoke of my concern about my grandfather's health and some other issues tied into it. Earlier this evening I received a call at around 7:30 PM in which I was told that the paramedics were taking my grandfather to the emergency room. I took five minutes to change clothes and grab a book and then headed off to my parent's house. I wasn't sure if they had taken his ID and since the hospital is all of five minutes from my folks I figured that I had the time. During the drive over I asked my grandfather to hold on a few minutes longer or maybe I prayed for five more minutes so that I could speak with him again. I am not completely certain. What I do know is that the time passed quickly and before I could blink I was inside the ER. One of my younger sisters and BIL arrived moments before I did and together we waited for a nurse to give us an update on his condition. It was a short wait, not more

A Roundup of Random Thoughts

Top Ten Gadget Lists & More No, You Cannot Cancel AOL The Father Leans On The Son Supervolcanoes Study says spider web developed just once The World Cup is Over Sleep Sex Is No Joke Too Many Sequels Summer Solstice You Live In A Christian Country- Deal With It

Top Ten Gadget Lists & More

I love this kind of stuff . I have to share a few of the pix with you Keep all your secret documents safe with this shocking suitcase — 80,000 volts to be exact. The electric shock alarm is activated at the push of a button via remote control. A built-in secondary 107db alarm keeps would be thieves away. Available in brown or black colors, this suitcase comes packaged with 16 batteries and two remotes. Next ARES Defense Systems when you need a light that also works as a .410 shotgun. Next Why carry your sleeping bag when you can wear it . Next For those of you who have lost your turntable I present the Record Runner .

No, You Cannot Cancel AOL

You have to love this customer service. (Audio file) Click here and here as well. Here is a partial transcript: AOL REPRESENTATIVE: Hi this is John at AOL... how may I help you today? VINCENT FERRARI: I wanted to cancel my account. AOL: Sorry to hear that. Let's pull your account up here real quick. Can I have your name please? VINCENT: Vincent Ferrari. CLOCK READOUT - 00:30 AOL: You've had this account for a long time. VINCENT: Yup. AOL: Use this quite a bit. What was the cause of wanting to turn this off today? VINCENT: I just don't use it anymore. AOL: Do you have a high speed connection, like the DSL or cable? VINCENT: Yup. AOL: How long have you had that... VINCENT: Years... AOL: ...the high speed? VINCENT: ...years. AOL: Well, actually I'm showing a lot of usage on this account. VINCENT: Yeah, a long time, a long time ago, not recently... CLOCK READOUT - 01:47 AOL: Okay, I mean is there a problem with the software

The Father Leans On The Son

Life never slows down. It doesn't stop and it doesn't wait. No matter how badly you try to hold on and no matter how desperately you beg for it to just give you a moment to catch your breath you are forced to accept a simple truth. Life continues. In the midst of your glory and in the middle of your pain life continues. The river just never stops flowing. Ozymandias I met a traveler from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read, Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed, And on the pedestal these words appear: "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level san


And while we are on the topic of science I'd like to share this too. Sometimes the world reminds us how very small we are. "Lurking deep below the surface in California and Wyoming are two hibernating volcanoes of almost unimaginable fury. Were they to go critical, they would blanket the western U.S. with many centimeters of ash in a matter of hours. Between them, they have done so at least four times in the past two million years. Similar supervolcanoes smolder underneath Indonesia and New Zealand. A supervolcano eruption packs the devastating force of a small asteroid colliding with the earth and occurs 10 times more often--making such an explosion one of the most dramatic natural catastrophes humanity should expect to undergo. Beyond causing immediate destruction from scalding ash flows, active supervolcanoes spew gases that severely disrupt global climate for years afterward."

Study says spider web developed just once

I find science to be quite interesting. "WASHINGTON - Will you walk into my parlor, said a Cretaceous spider to an ancient fly. The classic spider's web, like Charlotte would have woven, was invented just once, way back in the Cretaceous period some 136 million years ago, scientists report. Called an orb web, it's the generally circular style spun by two major types of spiders, which had raised the possibility of the two groups evolving this form separately. But a paper in Friday's issue of the journal Science says a comparison of the spider genes related to web making shows that the orb web developed just once. Researchers led by Jessica Garb of the University of California, Riverside, compared orb-web building spiders in the genuses Deinopoidea and Araneoidea. Both build orb webs to catch prey and the deinopoids also include net-casting spiders that throw a modified orb web over their prey. Araneoids include the orb weavers such as golden silk spiders with their

The World Cup is Over

The US is out of the World Cup. Consider me one of 170 people who noticed but not one who cares all that much. Though one day I suspect you might see us dominating the sport just because we can, assuming that we don't all fall asleep.

Sleep Sex Is No Joke

Is it just me or does this look like it should be in the National Enquirer. Sex While Sleeping Is Real, And May Be No Joke "An extreme form of sleep-walking-having sex while asleep-is probably much more common than physicians have previously suspected, researchers reported here. "The important message is that this is a real entity," said Colin Shapiro, M.B., ChB, Ph.D., of the University Health Network in Toronto at Sleep 2006, the joint meeting of the Sleep Research Society and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Doctors and others, including prosecutors, need to take this reality into account, he added. "It's a more common problem than people have hitherto recognized." "I look at it as one form of parasomnia," he said in an interview. "People walk in their sleep, they talk in their sleep, they drive their motorbikes in their sleep, they eat in their sleep, and they have sex in their sleep." Dr. Shapiro and colleagues reported

Too Many Sequels

One of the diseases of the modern filmmaker is the need to make sequels to a film. In and of itself a sequel is not necessarily a bad thing and sometimes can be better than the original film. The problem arises when the company decides that in the name of profit they are going to just keep pumping out films and to hell with the quality. Here is a short stream of consciousness list of movies that went astray. Jaws - A classic film and a classic soundtrack. Without Jaws we wouldn't have had the fun of watching spin-off flick Orca . Of course we wouldn't have been subjected to such horrific movies as Jaws IV. Revenge of The Nerds - The first one was ok and kind of fun but by the time they got to number 4 it was just painful. Police Academy - First movie was fine. It wasn't spectacular but it was enjoyable. If I am not mistaken they are still making these films. Police Academy 27 rolls out later this week. Rocky - I admit to having enjoyed each one, but by the time th

Summer Solstice

Today marks the Summer Solstice . Wikipedia provides this explanation : "The summer solstice is an astronomical term regarding the position of the sun in relation to the celestial equator . At the time of the summer solstice, Earth is at a point in its orbit where one hemisphere is most tilted towards the sun, causing the sun to appear at 23.45 degrees above the celestial equator, thus making its highest path across the sky. The summer solstice is the day of the year with the longest daylight period and hence the shortest night. This day usually occurs on June 21 / June 22 in the northern hemisphere and on December 21 / December 22 in the southern hemisphere . The actual date changes due to differences between the calendar year and the tropical year ." I have been rather fond of the day for years, primarily because it marks the beginning of summer. Summer is easily my favorite season, especially early in the summer. There is something about early summer that just

Age and Be Happy

For those of you who are afraid of getting older I present this: Research Shows That Age and Other Perceived Adversities Don't Always Bring Us Down June 21, 2006 -- We may get creaky and cranky as we get older, but we can be happier than we were when we were young. So says Peter A. Ubel and other researchers at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Ubel has spent years researching how we cope with life, and how we deal with the circumstances we sometimes find ourselves in, and he reveals all in a book just released by McGraw-Hill, "You're Stronger Than You Think: Tapping the Secrets of Emotionally Resilient People." Ubel, director of the university's Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine, says people are wrong if they think sad circumstances condemns them to a life of misery. "They imagine that experiencing adversity, like a serious illness, or a disability, or aging, if you want to call that an adversity, will make them less happy