A Secret For My Children

I have a game that I play each day with my children. It is a game, but it is one that I take quite seriously.

Each day I ask my children if they want to know a secret. And each time I ask they come running over to me and sit in my lap. You just never know what little nugget of wisdom dad might share this time.

In a very soft voice I whisper "The Secret is" and then I pause. Almost invariably their tiny faces look at me attentively and I finish the sentence with these words:

"I Love You."

Oftentimes my son will issue a sigh of exasperation and say "I already know that secret." That is part of the game in which he pretends to be irritated.

So you ask, what is the point of the game. The point is this. I want to do everything I can to ensure that my children never ever doubt my deep and abiding love for them.

Life can be quite cruel. Life can be hard and it can be tough. There will come moments of self doubt in which they question themselves. There will come moments in time in which they go on their own search for answers.

Right now I am trying to help provide them with a rock that will always be there to cling to. When things seem darkest I want them to be able to look inside and remember the love of their father. It is part of why I take blessing my children so very seriously.

On a side note I am waiting for the day when one of them tells me that it is not a secret. And with that allow me to bid you a good evening from paradise.

A Eulogy for Myself

The day of the funeral was quite hot. I gave in to the local minhagim (customs) and wore a black suit. In a different time and place they would have asked me if I was dressed up in a poor imitation of Belushi and Akroyd, but not here.

Standing graveside in the California sunshine it was quite clear that I had a different role and a different purpose. Here I was part of the communal support that we offer the mourners. My job was to help my friend and his family say goodbye to a beloved father.

I listened to his children speak about him and smiled at the stories they told. I heard about a good man, a kind man, a family man, a mensch who went out of his way to improve the world around him. I witnessed the tears of the mourners and looked to my left and right.

At the age of 37 I have been to more funerals than I can count. I have helped to bury more than one friend and the parent(s) of more than one friend. The morbid checklist reads something like four fathers and three mothers are all gone now.

In short I have heard quite a few eulogies, but I have never heard an unkind word said about the deceased. Call me narcissistic but hearing them always makes me wonder what people will say about me.

Will they say good things. Will my memory be a blessing. Will they cry real tears or will someone think to themself that I never quite lived up to my potential, that I never quite climbed the ladder.

Will they be honest and talk about a man who was at times stubborn and intolerant. Will people hear the stories about the temper, or will it be couched in terms like (Jack was a real Taurus). What impression will those who never knew me come away with. What impression should they come away with.

I am quite honest with myself. Of course I want people to mourn the giant. Of course I want people to speak about the tremendous void that my absence will create, a hole that cannot be filled. Who wouldn't want their ego stroked this way.

You know, a lawyer friend of mine once told me that he advised against writing these types of posts because you never knew when someone might try to use your words against you, but I digress.

Here is the most important thing to me. Here is what must be said at my funeral or I will have failed:

"He loved his family and was a good father."

That is it, the rest is commentary.

Porsche 911 beats 'Vette and Viper

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- In testing the most expensive group of cars the magazine has ever purchased, Consumer Reports rated the Porsche 911 as the top high-performance sports car.

The 911 was tested against the Chevrolet Corvette Z06, the Dodge Viper and 11 other performance vehicles in a competitive test of luxury sports cars.

The prices of the cars ranged from $45,545 for a Lotus Elise to $105,855 for a Mercedes-Benz SL550.

Consumer Reports, published by the non-profit Consumer's Union, purchases all the vehicles it tests for the magazine. The vehicles are bought anonymously from retail auto dealers.

Cars are tested on public roads as well as at the magazine's test track facility in Connecticut. Cars are put through a variety of tests, including high-speed maneuvering, braking and cornering.

The scoring system used for these cars was different from that generally used by the magazine for minivans and sedans, said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center.

While the scoring was still heavily weighted toward safety, including emergency handling, factors like acceleration were given more importance than, for instance, trunk space, Champion said.

Comfort, convenience and day-to-day drivability were still factors in the rankings, though.
Performance battle

"The 911 wowed us enough with its acceleration, handling, and braking for us to rate it our top sports car," said Champion. "The 911 is also easy to drive, but its much less expensive Boxster sibling performed almost as well."

The 911 cost about $87,500 as tested. The Corvette Z06's price was about $77,000.

The Corvette impressed the magazine's test drivers with its powerful acceleration and stable feel. The magazine called its handling "less precise" than the 911's, though.

The magazine called the Corvette Z06's predicted reliability "Poor," which prevented them from actually recommending the car in spite of high scores for performance and comfort.

The V-10-powered Viper ranked as the fastest car ever tested by the magazine with a 0-60 time of 4.2 seconds. But it was only a tenth-of-a-second quicker than the Corvette Z06 and beat the 6-cylinder 911 by just two-tenths.
What can I say. I'd be happy to own and drive any one of these cars. Actually, the truth is that I figured out a while ago that if I didn't send my kids to school I might be able to afford to drive one of these, for a couple of months or so.

In The End

"In The End"

(It starts with)
One thing / I don’t know why
It doesn’t even matter how hard you try
Keep that in mind / I designed this rhyme
To explain in due time
All I know
time is a valuable thing
Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings
Watch it count down to the end of the day
The clock ticks life away
It’s so unreal
Didn’t look out below
Watch the time go right out the window
Trying to hold on / but didn’t even know
Wasted it all just to
Watch you go
I kept everything inside and even though I tried / it all fell apart
What it meant to me / will eventually / be a memory / of a time when I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn't even matter
One thing / I don’t know why
It doesn’t even matter how hard you try
Keep that in mind / I designed this rhyme
To remind myself how
I tried so hard
In spite of the way you were mocking me
Acting like I was part of your property
Remembering all the times you fought with me
I’m surprised it got so (far)
Things aren’t the way they were before
You wouldn’t even recognize me anymore
Not that you knew me back then
But it all comes back to me
In the end
You kept everything inside and even though I tried / it all fell apart
What it meant to me / will eventually / be a memory / of a time when I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
I've put my trust in you
Pushed as far as I can go
For all this
There’s only one thing you should know
I've put my trust in you
Pushed as far as I can go
For all this
There’s only one thing you should know
I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter"
Linkin Park- Hybrid Theory

12 Year Old Jewish Girl Beaten Unconcious; Bystanders Ignore Pleas For Help

There is something very seriously wrong with people who are willing to just sit back and watch something like this. The driver should be fired.

A 12-year-old Jewish girl who was beaten unconscious and robbed by anti-Semitic yobs on a bus has spoken out at her disgust that no-one came to her aid.

The girl, who does not want to be identified, was stamped on several times in a racist attack lasting around five minutes while on board a 303 Metroline bus in Mill Hill, north London.

At 6.30pm on August 11, she and a friend were sitting at the back of the bus when a group of around four girls got on at the Concourse, Grahame Park estate, and asked them if they were English or Jewish.

They both replied they were "fully English".

One girl in the group asked the victim for money, but she said she did not have any.

She and her friend tried to leave the bus at Mill Hill Broadway but were blocked by the gang who searched their pockets and stole a bracelet.

Driver didn't open doors

One girl hit the victim around the face with her phone, slapped her several times, grabbed her hair and pulled her to the floor, where she was kicked and stamped on. She was left with a fractured eye socket, bruising and swelling to her face and chest.

"All I remember is her stamping on my face," she said. "Me and my friend were screaming. Then I blacked out. There were four people on the bus who didn't do anything."

After regaining consciousness, the girl and her friend tried to pull the bus doors open to escape.

She said: "The driver heard the attack and didn't open the doors. A boy opened the doors for us and I ran off."


How To Make a Baby- A Kids Book

Boing Boing has a link to one of the most interesting kids books I have seen in a while.

These pictures are among the tamest in the book. I am certainly not prude, but this book is a little out there.

Or maybe not.

You make the call.

A Quick Roundup of Posts

Here is a snapshot of what I blogged about:

If You Died, Who Would Take Care Of Your Children
Frum & Gay

CNN Reporter- You Left Your Microphone On
Not All Values Are Equal- Moral Superiority

Another Day, Another Funeral- It is Elul


You might also enjoy reading these older posts:

The Supermarket
I Yelled At G-d
The Search For Answers About Our Ourselves

If You Died, Who Would Take Care Of Your Children

If you ever want to kill a conversation. If you ever want to change the tone into something more somber and muted ask a parent if they have made plans for where the children would live if something happened to them.

It is a frightening topic. It is a hard topic. It is uncomfortable to consider what would happen to your children if they were to lose their parents. It is painful to think about a future in which you do not participate.

It is a discussion that you have to have. As a parent you have to take the time to consider all of the angles. If the worst happens, who gets the kids. Who do you trust to raise them. If the worst happens is there someone who can provide for them. Is there is friend or family member who you can rely upon to take care of your children.

Will they respect your wishes and impart the same values upon them that you would. And assuming that you have someone in mind that you would like to act as a surrogate parent, will they be capable of taking this responsibility on.

One of my sisters and I recently spent time talking about this. We live on opposite coasts. She is on the Frigid East and I am out here in the Sunny West. Neither one of us is likely to pick up and move any time soon so if anything happened there is a good chance that the kids would find that their worlds had been turned upside down in every possible way.

Of course this is only a hypothetical, a worst case scenario that we hope never develops into any sort of twisted reality.

But you know the old saying, people plan and G-d laughs. As we head into another new year I ask again to be given the opportunity to see my job through. At a minimum I need another 100 years or so.

I'd like to meet my great-grandchildren. Is that so much to ask for.

Frum & Gay

**Welcome to the ten minute post. Yes, that is right. This post was composed in ten minutes. Let's see if it actually makes sense.**

The impetus for this particular post is a result of the discussion taking place
over at A Whispering Soul. I'd like to pick out a couple of sections and briefly comment on them.
"The Orthodox community has been notoriously slow in dealing with issues they are uncomfortable with, or which they would like to pretend do not exist (domestic abuse, childhood sexual abuse, etc.). With regard to the issue of homosexuality, I am certain there is a great deal of homophobia that comes into play in the Orthodox world. The advice normally given by Rebbeim in the past to "just get married and it will go away" clearly indicates a lack of understanding of the issues involved on the part of the Rebbeim, not to mention being horribly unfair to the individual concerned and their unsuspecting spouse.

With the recent coming out of the principal of Flatbush Yeshiva, who has stated that he can no longer be Orthodox, and the film Trembling Before God, which explores the lives and struggles of "gay Orthodox Jews, " and with more young Orthodox Jews coming out, Orthodox Jewry is being confronted with the issue like never before. In the last year alone, I have heard four different shabbat sermons delivered at different shuls on the topic. Most advocate compassion. While that is a start, it is not enough.

No, I don't know what the answer is, because there is no answer. I have a hard time believing that HaShem would seemingly be so cruel as to expect someone to lead a life without love or a life of celibacy, but the Torah is also fairly clear. In the end, we don't know HaShem's reasons, and really it doesn't matter what the reasons are. I guess what I would like to see is for Orthodoxy to better understand the issues involved and see beyond the homophobia; to set up a framework to allow those who want to stay Orthodox but not indulge their sexuality to not feel left out of the community; and not to shun those who struggle."
I appreciate MCAryeh's candor and his sensitivity. It is not a black and white issue, no matter how badly some people might want it to be. If you maintain the immutability of Torah than the matter would in theory have an easy answer. You can be homosexual, you just cannot act upon the desire.

To me it is not that simple. I cannot accept nor believe that there is an omnipotent creator who set up this sort of stumbling block for people. I cannot accept nor believe in answers such as "G-d has a plan, we just don't know what it is."

Comments like that tend to infuriate me. I once heard someone tell a group of survivors something similar. I wanted to throttle him. Are you trying to tell me that survivors of one of the greatest horrors ever seen by mankind should be comforted because they are part of some unexplainable celestial plan.

No Way. It is unacceptable.

At some point in time you have to wonder about it all. You have to ask yourself if the concept of immutability is valid and even if it is, has man corrupted it. That is, if man is fallible have we gotten it wrong. Have we made a mistake in our understanding and interpretation and are we passing this mistake down through the generations.

What do you think?

CNN Reporter- You Left Your Microphone On

Not All Values Are Equal- Moral Superiority

Dennis Prager has another good opinion piece here.

"Last year at UCLA, I debated a professor who argued that Israel and the Palestinians were moral equivalents. He is not alone (especially on college campuses) in his lack of understanding of the immoral nature of the Islamic enemies of America and Israel.

Thus it is important to remind people once again about the moral world inhabited by the people we are fighting, whom President George W. Bush calls the Islamic Fascists. Societal examples:

– The Islamic Republic of Sudan, in its attempt to force Arab/Muslim rule on the largely non-Arab and non-Muslim population of southern Sudan, has led to the killing of well above 1 million Christians and animists and black (i.e., non-Arab) Muslims, in addition to the widespread enslavement, rape and torture of those people.

– No major international Arab or Muslim organization has condemned the Sudanese government’s mass murders that border on genocide.

– The leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran has repeatedly denied the Holocaust and repeatedly called for the annihilation of Israel. As the 6 million Jews of Israel do not plan a mass exodus from their ancient and modern homeland, such annihilation would in fact mean another Holocaust.

– The holy center of Islam, the Muslim country where the holiest Muslim sites are situated, is Saudi Arabia. That country bans the practice of any religion other than Islam, amputates hands of thieves, does not allow women to drive a car, mandates what women wear outside of their homes and is the only country in the world to feature a weapon on its national flag. Women were treated considerably better and had more civil rights in ancient Rome, not to mention ancient Israel, than women living in the holiest cities of Islam today.

– Virtually every Islam-based country decrees the death penalty for any Muslim who converts to another religion.

In other words, every country that calls itself “Islamic” is morally inferior to just about every country in North America, South America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, almost every Asian country and many African countries.

No Muslim country treats non-Muslims and their religions anywhere nearly as decently as any Western non-Muslim country (including Israel) treats Muslims. That is why tens of millions of Muslims immigrate to non-Muslim societies and virtually no non-Muslim immigrates to any Muslim society. In every Muslim country, non-Muslims are either systematically persecuted at worst or treated as inferiors at best.

Individual examples (in just the last five months):

– “A German court sentenced a Turkish man to more than nine years in jail yesterday for the ‘honour killing’ of his sister. . . . The murder of Hatun Surucu, 23, who was shot several times at a bus stop in a Berlin suburb last year, shocked Germany. . . . Forced to marry a cousin in Turkey as a young girl, Ms. Surucu later broke with her Turkish-Kurdish family in Berlin and was living independently with her 5-year-old son, to the intense disapproval of her relatives. . . . Public outrage at the murder was exacerbated when some teenage boys at a school with many pupils from immigrant families . . . reportedly openly applauded the killing, condemning the victim for having lived ‘like a German.’” (The Guardian, UK, April 14, 2006)

– “Men using machetes attacked worshipers in three Coptic [Christian] churches in the port city of Alexandria [Egypt] on Friday morning, killing an 80-year-old man and wounding at least six other people, the police there said.” (International Herald Tribune, April 15, 2006)"

Click here to read the rest.

A Short Film about Jerusalem

Click here.

Another Day, Another Funeral- It is Elul

Another day, another funeral. I don't remember where I first heard that line or even who said it. Heck, maybe no one said it. Maybe I just made it up and don't realize that I can take credit for it. It doesn't matter all that much.

In a couple of hours I will be heading off to another funeral. A dear friend's father has passed away and so I will join the community and do what I can to try and help his family ease the pain.

I got the news not long after I completed the post about my parents purchasing their plots. You could call it odd coincidence because the reality is that people do pass away each day. I don't mean to make light of this or to sound callous. You can attribute some of this to the poor mood I am in.

It is Elul and it has its own impact upon me. I remember being quite little and learning about the so called book of life, judgement being rendered upon who would live and who would die. It has stuck with me, or should I say that I have always wondered about a couple of things.

The thing that really sticks in my craw is the question of why people would die so close to Rosh Hashanah. For some reason the idea that they fell short of seeing another new year bothers me. I don't know why. If they would have lived just a couple of days beyond the new year I would feel better.

I don't know why this bothers me. I can't quite put my finger upon it, but it does. I feel edgy and unsettled.

A number of years ago I considered how many of my friends had already lost a parent. There were quite a few. By the time I was 21 I knew more than a half dozen whose mother or father had died. I don't know if that really is all that unusual, but it seemed like a lot.

Now at the age of 37 it is not so uncommon. Today I'll stand at the grave and look around. The strange thing is that as we age I see us all beginning to look more like our parents. There are a few more wrinkles and streaks of gray in hair and beards.

Later on at the house we'll form small groups and discuss the state of affairs and I know that part of that conversation will include talking about life insurance and how we are trying to protect our children's futures, just in case.

Sorry, I Thought He Was a Jew

This story is so very sad in so many ways. But at the same time it makes me quite angry. Daniel Pipes writes:

An Italian named Angelo Frammartino, 25, espoused the typical anti-Israel views of a far-leftist, as he expressed in a letter to a newspaper in 2006:

We must face the fact that a situation of no violence is a luxury in many parts of the world, but we do not seek to avoid legitimate acts of defense. … I never dreamed of condemning resistance, the blood of the Vietnamese, the blood of the people who were under colonialist occupation or the blood of the young Palestinians from the first intifada.

Actively to forward his beliefs, Frammartino went to Israel in early August 2006 to serve as a volunteer with ARCI, a far-leftist NGO, working with Palestinian children at the Burj al-Luqluq community center in eastern Jerusalem.But on August 10, he was stabbed in a terrorist assault at Sultan Suleiman Street, near Herod's Gate in Jerusalem, twice in the back and once in the neck. He died shortly after, only two days before his planned return to Italy. The killer, soon identified as Ashraf Hanaisha, 24, turned out to be a Palestinian affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad. A resident of the village of Qabatiya in the Jenin area, Hanaisha apparently planned to attack a Jewish Israeli but made a mistake.

Damage control soon followed. The Palestinian Authority's news agency, WAFA, carried a statement by the Burj al Luqluq community center condemning the murder in no uncertain terms: "Nothing could describe our emotions for what happened. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Angelo, they have our deepest sympathy." Several Palestinian NGOs then organized a vigil in Frammartino's memory. For her part, Hanaisha's mother launched an appeal, via the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, for the forgiveness of her son.

In response to this outpouring, Frammartino's parents did forgive Hanaisha. From the family home in Monterotondo, the father, Michelangelo, said that "he welcomes and appreciates, despite the undeletable sorrow, the plea for forgiveness made by the murderer's mother" and he expressed a hope that the parents' gesture "will bring to an end this extremely sad story." The father went further, telling the Corriere della Sera newspaper that he felt no hatred toward his son's murderer:

Angelo was working to promote peace. The message he sought to convey is greater than anything else. … the circumstances confirm that Angelo was a victim of the war, of the injustice in the world. When we are talking about a situation of tension, absence of common sense dominates. I do not feel hatred because Angelo's thought, the principles that always motivated him, were definitely not of hatred or revenge.

Comments:

(1) These signals from Qabatiya to Monterotondo and back amounted to a curious and despicable pas de deux, with each side remorsefully implying things would be just fine if only Hanaisha had killed his intended victim: "Sorry, I thought he was a Jew," reads the headline in La Stampa. The Palestinians conveyed a message of "Excuse us, we did not mean to kill your son," while the family replied with a "Understood, we accept that you made a mistake."

What the hell is wrong with this family that they can just ignore the murder of their son. How can they be so cavalier about this. It makes me angry because it comes across as if they believe that Jewish blood is cheap. The inconsistent and hypocritical stand is part and parcel of why peace is so hard to come by.

Let others pay for add-ons while you ride free

I snagged this from Book of Joe. Drop by and tell him I sent you over. He has some good material.

Damon Darlin's July 22, 2006 New York Times story about letting other people do your heavy lifting got my undivided attention.

Here's his piece.

    What the Naïve Consumers Don't Know, Can Help You

    "When Xavier Gabaix and David Laibson open a hotel room minibar, they see among the tiny liquor bottles and European chocolates a perpetual battle between companies charging hidden fees and the sophisticated consumer trying to avoid them.

    The two economics professors -- Mr. Laibson at Harvard and Mr. Gabaix at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton -- have looked at how companies hide fees and costs. They found that sophisticated consumers have somehow learned how to game the system by having enough naïve consumers around to subsidize them.

    The smartest strategy, they say, is for the sophisticated consumer to choose the service with the most hidden charges and highest add-on prices, but then avoid paying those added costs. ''The sophisticated consumer takes advantage of that,'' Mr. Gabaix said. ''The naïve pay all the fees.''

    Companies hide add-on costs, of course, because it is lucrative. Hewlett-Packard sells inexpensive printers and makes its profit on high-margin replacement ink cartridges that can cost half as much as the printer. The fastest-growing segment of Wells Fargo's banking business is income from fees, up 14 percent in the latest quarter.

    Consumers see fees everywhere, in their cellphone and credit card bills, mail-order invoices, mutual fund statements, car rental and hotel charges. Actually, most consumers (particularly those who do not start their Saturday mornings reading financial advice) do not see them or they spot them too late. And that myopia perplexed the two professors.

    Economic theory says shrouded fees should not happen. A competing company should come along and tell consumers just how bad its competitors are for extracting those fees. Epson should be telling the world how much Hewlett-Packard charges for ink. Marriott should be pointing out Hilton's parking fees and phone surcharges. But that rarely happens, and Mr. Laibson likens that to the dog that did not bark for Sherlock Holmes.

    ''My view of the world is that people usually make smart choices, but sometimes they make mistakes,'' Mr. Laibson said. ''Why doesn't the market fix the problem?''

    In a paper appearing in The Quarterly Journal of Economics with the academic title of ''Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets,'' the professors say that price-cutting and educational advertising do not always benefit the bargain-seeking consumer. A company would hurt itself if it described how its competitor loads on the fees, they said.

    They argue that drawing attention to the rivals' fees just alerts the sophisticated consumer that the rival is actually offering a better deal. Transparent Hotel could advertise a no-added-fees $100 room and point out that Nontransparent Hotel really charges $145 for its $70 room. If a consumer goes with Nontransparent and avoids the add-on fees, he ends up paying less, the economists said. He would advise going to the hotel with the lowest room rate and avoid any fees, assuming -- which economists love to do -- that factors like location and safety are equal.

    The result for the well-meaning company is harsh. Its advertising might hurt the rival in the sense that consumers pay fewer fees there, but it is increasing the number of sophisticated consumers and teaching them to choose the other guys. It is unlikely to draw in the sophisticates. ''That business won't make much money once you understand how the world works,'' Mr. Laibson said. ''What's the benefit to the company?''

Click here to read the rest.

The Ginsu Knife

Ladies and gentlemen old Jack is a very happy man today. And if you are of a certain age you might even understand why.

The simple reason behind my joy is because I finally picked up my own Ginsu Knife. It took more than 30 years, but I finally got "the kitchen cutting tool that can "cut through a nail, a tin can and a radiator hose and still slice a tomato paper thin."

The story of the Ginsu Knife is one that I enjoy because it reminds me of my childhood. There is so much campy kitschy stuff tied up in this and the Ginsu Knife is right at the center of it. Thanks to the magic of the Internet I even discovered some relevant material.

This website provides a decent background on the people who developed the Ginsu Knife. I love this part:
"In fact, many of their colorful, "catch phrases" ("But wait, there's more", "Isn't that amazing", "Now how much would you pay?" Don't answer!", "Act now and you'll also receive...", "It'll slice onions so fast that there isn't time to cry," etc.) are still remembered, used, and parodied today."
I am guilty of using a bunch of those old lines. I am tempted to offer up a confession about when and where, but think that I just might save that for later.

I'd write more, but I am on hold with the Flowbee people now. Just take a look at this fine piece of salon equipment and tell me that you aren't jealous.

Ok, here is a different confession than the one I considered making above. I used to wonder if there was a way to use the old "Flowbee" as a tool for pranks. The juvenile in me wondered if I could just walk up to someone and vacuum up a little chunk o'hair.

Back in the days of mullets and big hair it had a very funny feel to it. I suppose that you can see clear evidence of my love for slapstick comedy. Of course if that was ever really done I might be slapped with a stick, so it is probably best left to my imagination.

But wait! There is more.........


My Parents Purchased Cemetery Plots

(Playing in the background Drown In My Own Tears- Ray Charles The Best Of Ray Charles: The Atlantic Years)
Take a look at the pictures. They are from the cemetery that my parents plan on using.

It looks relatively nice. The rolling hills, palm trees and a sea of green grass give off a pleasant aura. From my monitor it doesn't give off the cemetery vibe.

How do I describe that vibe, that feeling that you get at the cemetery. I don't recall ever discussing it with anyone, so I am not sure that I have a frame of reference that is not related to pop culture.

I can't say that this is like Scooby Doo, Thriller, the Three Stooges, Freddie, Jason or any one of the assorted sitcoms, flicks and plays that use a cemetery as a scary setting.

(Playing in the background Somebody's Crying by Chris Issak)

Maybe it is because I have been to so many funerals, but cemeteries don't frighten me at all. At worst they sometimes make me sad, but that is usually when I am there to help bury a loved one. Otherwise it is hard to put a finger on how they make me feel. It feels a bit sterile, sort of like a very solemn Disneyland. You know that there is more going on than what you see. You know that if you could just pull back the curtain there would be quite a show, although this really is one place that you don't want to see how they make the magic happen.

So mom and dad have picked the place they want to hang out in. Their so called eternal resting place. When they called to let me know that they had purchased plots I assumed that it would be close to other family members. Call me lazy, but I was hopeful that I could do the circuit at the cemetery. Forgive the pun, but why not try to kill several birds with one stone.

That is not the case. It figures. Here in the land of eternal sunshine and gridlock I foresee a future in which in order to visit my family I am going to spend time on two or three freeways.

(Playing in the background Grievous and the Droids by John Williams)

Ok, the reality is that I probably will not try and visit my great grandparents, grandparents and parents all on the same day. At the moment I am blessed to have two living grandparents as well as both parents. And in theory if all goes well I have a good thirty years or more before my parents go.

With a time frame like that there is a lot that can happen. New mediums of travel can be developed, the burning river in cleveland might be cleaned up and George Foreman will make his 36th comeback.

It is a little surreal knowing that my folks have taken this step. Let's face it, you never really are ready for your parents to die. I know that it is going to happen one day. Just as surely as my son asked me not to die the day will come for all of us, myself and my parents included.

(Playing in the background London Calling by The Clash)

I won't apologize for wanting my folks to hang around as long as possible. Why wouldn't I want to take advantage of the opportunity to continue learning from them. It took more than a few years for me to realize that they did know something after all. It took more than a few years to realize how foolish I had been in not trusting them more when I was younger, but that is youth.

Sometimes it is hard to understand that your parents were young once and that they might know a little bit about where you are today. So I suppose that I'll take a moment to consider what else I can learn from them and with that this post is finished.

Hezbollah Didn't Win

Amir Taheri's opinion piece states that Hezbollah Didn't Win. In it he outlines the case for why they didn't win and how some people are under the misguided impression that they did. Let's take a look at one selection:

"...Let us start with Lebanon.

Immediately after the U.N.-ordained ceasefire started, Hezbollah organized a series of firework shows, accompanied by the distribution of fruits and sweets, to celebrate its victory. Most Lebanese, however, finding the exercise indecent, stayed away. The largest "victory march" in south Beirut, Hezbollah's stronghold, attracted just a few hundred people.

Initially Hezbollah had hesitated between declaring victory and going into mourning for its "martyrs." The latter course would have been more in harmony with Shiite traditions centered on the cult of Imam Hussain's martyrdom in 680 A.D. Some members of Hezbollah wished to play the martyrdom card so that they could accuse Israel, and through it the U.S., of war crimes. They knew that it was easier for Shiites, brought up in a culture of eternal victimhood, to cry over an imagined calamity than laugh in the joy of a claimed victory.

Politically, however, Hezbollah had to declare victory for a simple reason: It had to pretend that the death and desolation it had provoked had been worth it. A claim of victory was Hezbollah's shield against criticism of a strategy that had led Lebanon into war without the knowledge of its government and people. Mr. Nasrallah alluded to this in television appearances, calling on those who criticized him for having triggered the war to shut up because "a great strategic victory" had been won.

The tactic worked for a day or two. However, it did not silence the critics, who have become louder in recent days. The leaders of the March 14 movement, which has a majority in the Lebanese Parliament and government, have demanded an investigation into the circumstances that led to the war, a roundabout way of accusing Hezbollah of having provoked the tragedy. Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has made it clear that he would not allow Hezbollah to continue as a state within the state. Even Michel Aoun, a maverick Christian leader and tactical ally of Hezbollah, has called for the Shiite militia to disband.

Mr. Nasrallah followed his claim of victory with what is known as the "Green Flood"(Al-sayl al-akhdhar). This refers to the massive amounts of crisp U.S. dollar notes that Hezbollah is distributing among Shiites in Beirut and the south. The dollars from Iran are ferried to Beirut via Syria and distributed through networks of militants. Anyone who can prove that his home was damaged in the war receives $12,000, a tidy sum in wartorn Lebanon.

The Green Flood has been unleashed to silence criticism of Mr. Nasrallah and his masters in Tehran. But the trick does not seem to be working. "If Hezbollah won a victory, it was a Pyrrhic one," says Walid Abi-Mershed, a leading Lebanese columnist. "They made Lebanon pay too high a price--for which they must be held accountable."

Hezbollah is also criticized from within the Lebanese Shiite community, which accounts for some 40% of the population. Sayyed Ali al-Amin, the grand old man of Lebanese Shiism, has broken years of silence to criticize Hezbollah for provoking the war, and called for its disarmament. In an interview granted to the Beirut An-Nahar, he rejected the claim that Hezbollah represented the whole of the Shiite community. "I don't believe Hezbollah asked the Shiite community what they thought about [starting the] war," Mr. al-Amin said. "The fact that the masses [of Shiites] fled from the south is proof that they rejected the war. The Shiite community never gave anyone the right to wage war in its name."

There were even sharper attacks. Mona Fayed, a prominent Shiite academic in Beirut, wrote an article also published by An-Nahar last week. She asks: Who is a Shiite in Lebanon today? She provides a sarcastic answer: A Shiite is he who takes his instructions from Iran, terrorizes fellow believers into silence, and leads the nation into catastrophe without consulting anyone. Another academic, Zubair Abboud, writing in Elaph, a popular Arabic-language online newspaper, attacks Hezbollah as "one of the worst things to happen to Arabs in a long time." He accuses Mr. Nasrallah of risking Lebanon's existence in the service of Iran's regional ambitions.

Click here to read the whole story.

Haveil Havalim #84 is Live at Me-Ander.

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim is up at Me-Ander.

Math Can Be Useful

Really, it can help you understand how to create a 3D fractal.

Here is some basic information:
Menger’s Sponge - named for its inventor Karl Menger and sometimes wrongly called Sierpinski’s Sponge – was the first three dimensional fractal that mathematicians became aware of. In 1995 Dr Jeannine Mosely, a software engineer, set out to build a level 3 Menger Sponge from business cards. After 9 years of effort, involving hundreds of folders all over America, the Business Card Menger Sponge was completed. The resulting object is comprised of 66,048 cards folded into 8000 interlinked sub-cubes, with the entire surface paneled to reveal the Level 2 and Level 3 fractal iterations.
OTOH, if you have some time and patience and no math ability you just might be able to do this yourself.

Is Islam Compatible With the West

Newsweek has an interview with Anjem Choudary.

Here is some background:
"Anjem Choudary, 39, has been associated with two such organizations that have been outlawed. A lawyer from Ilford, East London, and a longtime Muslim activist, he was a leader of Al Muhajiroun, a U.K.-based group committed to the creation of a global Islamic state. Al Muhajiroun was dissolved in 2004 and its founder, Omar Bakri Mohammed, deemed “not conducive to the public good” by the British government shortly after he fled to Lebanon in the wake of the July 7, 2005, London bombings."
Some people may consider this to be unfair, but I am going to cite one section of the interview. The line in bold is Newsweek's question.
Is there an inherent conflict between being British and being Muslim?
If British means adopting British values, then I don’t think we can adopt the British values. I’m a Muslim living in Britain. I have a British passport, but that’s a travel document to me.
This very troubling to me. If you have a nation that is full of immigrants you hope that they eventually assimilate and become a productive part of society. That doesn't mean that you have to give up all of your traditions and values, but rather that you include and incorporate those of your new country as well.

This man doesn't see himself as being British. It is just a place that he is living. Think about it. This is rife with potential problems.

The Pancake Fanatic

Chavez rips U.S., Israel during China visit

I don't trust this man at all. He is not playing a game. We need to be careful and vigilant. He is looking to make himself into a real player in world affairs.

"BEIJING, China (AP) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez slammed Washington on Friday for opposing his bid for a U.N. Security Council seat and condemned Israel's strikes in Lebanon as comparable to the acts of Adolf Hitler.

"The left-leaning Chavez also said Venezuela wants to expand ties with China, giving Beijing a bigger role in its oil industry and drawing on the communist government's experience in modernizing its economy.

President Hu Jintao on Thursday endorsed Venezuela's campaign for a Security Council seat. The bid has unsettled Washington because of Chavez's efforts to foster relations with North Korea and Iran. U.S. officials are backing Guatemala for the seat instead.

"The U.S. government has employed every means to block my country from joining the Security Council," Chavez told reporters. "The American imperialists are trying to stop us."

Chavez condemned Israeli attacks in Lebanon since July 12 that have killed civilians. He compared them to the acts of Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, and said Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for genocide before the International Court of Justice.

"Israel is doing the same thing as Hitler today," he said. "We give our sympathy to the Arab people and condemn Israel."

Chavez has made similar remarks about Israel recently and has scaled back ties with the Israeli government while also building close relations with Iran.

Earlier this month, Chavez withdrew his country's top diplomat to Israel to protest its attacks in Lebanon and its actions toward the Palestinians. Israel, which responded by calling home its ambassador, has criticized what it calls Chavez's "one-sided policy" and "wild slurs."

Chavez said Friday he was invited to visit Syria but hasn't set a date. "

A Halloween Surprise

The Hebron Massacre

Jameel has an interesting post about The Hebron Massacre of 1929 .
"Since today, August 24th, marks 77 years since the Brutal Massacre and rape of the Jewish Community of Hebron, I thought it would be important to provide the following recently found letter from a survivor who recounts the horrors of the pogrom. The letter's author requests that his surviving children read the account every year to recall the survival and the massacre:

"Just one thing, my dear children, may you live and be well, I ask of you that you put away this letter for the generations. Each year, at an agreed‑upon day, you should all meet and give thanks and praise to God, blessed be He, who saved your parents from this great catastrophe, and each one of you should make a generous contribution to charity. The miracle took place on Shabbes, Torah portion Ekev, the 18th day of the month of Av, 5689 [August 24, 1929], in Hebron."

Following is an introduction, and then the letter itself."

Click here to read the whole thing.

Mumbai's "Hitler" eatery Update

Here is an update to this story.
"A restaurant named after Adolf Hitler that enraged Bombay's Jewish community will soon have a new moniker, its owner promised Thursday.

Puneet Sablok said he would remove Hitler's name and the Nazi swastika from billboards and the eatery's menu after it had angered so many people. He had previously said the name and symbols were only meant to attract attention.

"Yes, I have decided to change the name. I never wanted to hurt people's
feelings," said Sablok, who made the decision after meeting with members from Bombay's small Jewish community.

"Once they told me how upset they were with the name, I decided to change it. I never wanted to create this controversy or hurt people with this name," said Sablok. "I don't want to do business by hurting people."

Hitler's Cross opened five days ago and serves pizza, salad and pastries in Navi Mumbai, a suburb of Bombay, also known as Mumbai.

Bombay's Jews had called the theme of the restaurant offensive, and demanded a name change. There are about 5,500 Jews in India, with about 4,500 of them living in Bombay."
I am happy see this.

Spammers Can't Spell Or Can They

Here is a little question that has been bothering me lately. If you have an email address and or spend any time online at all you have received all sorts of spam.

Apparently there are a ton of pills that I can take that will endow me with the privilege of being called tripod. Not only that, but these will make me the most incredible lover of all time.

Of course there are other messages that offer me pills that will give me more hair than Cousin It, thicker and fuller too. And there are the proverbial mystery shopper notes that offer opportunity to be paid to shop.

Here is my question. I understand that English is not the native tongue for many of the authors of these notes so it makes sense that there would be grammatical errors. But what I don't understand is why so many include complete gibberish. For example:
Give her an opportunity to spread rumors about your enormous size.
Expect an explosion in your intimate life very soon - guaranteed! Find
what you need
gjg-9tkjg=89978yujooopki0i908786876587
509y5ithkkhokhh
What the hell is up with that. It doesn't look like a tracking or referral code. I just don't get it.

What Israeli security could teach us

Jeff Jacoby has a good piece about how the US can learn from Israel. Emphasis in bold is mine.

"THE SAFEST airline in the world, it is widely agreed, is El Al, Israel's national carrier. The safest airport is Ben Gurion International, in Tel Aviv. No El Al plane has been attacked by terrorists in more than three decades, and no flight leaving Ben Gurion has ever been hijacked. So when US aviation intensified its focus on security after 9/11, it seemed a good bet that the experience of travelers in American airports would increasingly come to resemble that of travelers flying out of Tel Aviv.

But in telling ways, the two experiences remain notably different. For example, passengers in the United States are required to take off their shoes for X-ray screening, while passengers at Ben Gurion are spared that indignity. On the other hand, major American airports generally offer the convenience of curbside check-in, while in Israel baggage and traveler stay together until the security check is completed. Screeners at American airports don't usually engage in conversation with passengers, unless you count their endlessly repeated instructions about emptying pockets and taking laptops out of briefcases. At Ben Gurion, security officials make a point of engaging in dialogue with almost everyone who's catching a plane.

Nearly five years after Sept. 11, 2001, US airport security remains obstinately focused on intercepting bad things -- guns, knives, explosives. It is a reactive policy, aimed at preventing the last terrorist plot from being repeated. The 9/11 hijackers used box cutters as weapons, so sharp metal objects were barred from carry-on luggage. Would-be suicide terrorist Richard Reid tried to ignite a bomb in his shoe, so now everyone's footwear is screened for tampering. Earlier this month British authorities foiled a plan to blow up airliners with liquid explosives; as a result, toothpaste and cologne have become air-travel contraband.

Of course the Israelis check for bombs and weapons too, but always with the understanding that things don't hijack planes, terrorists do -- and that the best way to detect terrorists is to focus on intercepting not bad things, but bad people. To a much greater degree than in the United States, security at El Al and Ben Gurion depends on intelligence and intuition -- what Rafi Ron, the former director of security at Ben Gurion, calls the human factor."

Click here to read the rest.

Lone Soldier: Combat

I found this to be quite interesting. Thanks to Seraphic Secret for the tip.
"After finally being called to emergency reserve duty two weeks ago and much indecision on the part of the officers of how we would be utilized in the raging conflict, my unit was assigned a complicated mission. We were to penetrate some ten kilometers into Lebanon and root out and engage Hezbollah guerrillas that were concentrated in bunkers on a mountain slope facing northern Israel. Intelligence and aerial photographs described a site that was heavily fortified and defended by several cells of well-trained and equipped jihadists. Despite a sustained aerial bombardment by the air force, Katyusha rockets continued to be launched from the area into Haifa, Nahariya, Tzfat.

The decision was made that the launchers could only be destroyed and the guerrillas eliminated by ground troops."

Click here for the full story.

Japanese Chair Ejector Video

Japanese Game Show- Silent Torture

Some of the game shows in Japan are so far out there. This video is of one called edition of Silent Library - a Japanese game show in which the contestants endure hilarious torture but are not allowed to utter a sound.

I don't quite understand how people decide to participate in some of these things, but...

Tip: Boing Boing

Teaching Children Not To Quit

One of the things that I love about my blog is that it is indeed an online journal. It is a place that provides me with a snapshot of moments of my life. I especially enjoy reading about my children and the experiences that we have shared together.

I have had the chance to document my son's love for Scooby-Doo as well as his blasphemous belief that Scrappy Doo is cool. I recounted some of my daughter's antics, my son's religious questions and discussed some things that I want to teach my children.

I love my children. Each day I look forward to seeing them. I love the look they give me when I give them their blessing. I get so much out of that. There is nothing like feeling those little arms wrapped around my neck and hearing "I love you daddy." I get choked up just thinking about it.

And it is because of this burning unconditional love for them that I am able to deal with some of the harder things in life with a smile. With beautiful kids like this, how can I not. This brings me to the topic of the post, teaching children not to quit. It really is a continuation of my post Teaching Children To Lose Gracefully.

The reality is that life is not fair and at times it can be quite hard. One of my responsibilities as a parent is to help them gain coping skills. They have to learn how to fail. They have to learn what to do when their best effort does not produce the result that they want and how to learn from these experiences.

It is hard lesson to learn and I cannot say that I have any magic formula. But I have been working with son on helping him learn that failure is not a license to give up. It is a reminder that whatever we were doing was not working and it is time to find a new angle. To make it more interesting I have tried to help him look at this as being a game.

I think he gets it. I intentionally am not letting him beat me at all of the games that we play. Sometimes I beat him. He still doesn't like losing, but he realizes that he will not lose every time. I rather suspect that it won't be all that long before I have to try hard not to lose. His mind works so quickly.

My daughter is a little too young to get too deeply involved with this, but I am not sure that I am going to have to talk to her about this. She adores her big brother and is forever trying to imitate him. As I watch her chase him around the house I see such determination. She is tough.

I suppose that the real point of this post is just to say again how much I love my children. What a joy, what a blessing. I am so very thankful for them.

Zionist Jedi Tricks

Palestinian military forces were befuddled this morning when they were confronted by the world famous but seldom scence "Zionist Jedi Tricks."

In the picture above a man finds that the Zionist control of the force is indeed strong.

Ok, time for a confession I wanted to make some sort of Foghorn Leghorn joke but I just couldn't come up with one. Oh well.

An Inspriational Father

Ezzie tipped me off to this story. Here is a clip of the story and a video to go with it. Wow.
Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. on a bike. Makes taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father? Not much--except save his life.'


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Is Dangerous

There is no question in my mind that this man is a very dangerous individual. Memri has a transcript of a speech he gave last week.

I am going to cite the end of it:
"If you want to have good relations with the Iranian people in the future, you should acknowledge the right and the might of the Iranian people, and you should bow and surrender to the might of the Iranian people. If you do not accept this, the Iranian people will force you to bow and surrender."
This may be a lot of rhetoric and bluster, but with leaders like this I like to play it safe. He is a dangerous man. Iran isn't playing games and if the world doesn't wake up it will be to our detriment.

Iranian Cartoon Exhibition Opens

Solomonia has the story about the opening of the Iranian Cartoon Exhibition. For those of you who are too lazy (and you know who you are) here is a link to the Memri story from Solomonia and an excerpt from the transcript.
"Following are excerpts from a news report on an exhibition of Holocaust cartoons in Tehran, which aired on the Iranian News Channel (IRINN) on August 17, 2006.

Reporter: As the war in South Lebanon comes to an end, the Holocaust cartoon exhibition is held. It is attended by artists from 61 countries all over the world. The exhibition, held at the Museum of Palestine Contemporary Art, presents 204 works of art. The Holocaust issue, the international circles' ignoring of the truth, and the injustice inflicted upon the Palestinian people are the main topics dealt with by the artists.

[...]

Mas'oud Shoja'I, exhibition curator: We have received 1,193 works from 61 countries. This proves that people throughout the world, and cartoonists in particular, know how to distinguish between the oppressor and the oppressed.

Reporter: In the time that elapsed between the announcement and the opening of the exhibition, Zionist circles severely attacked the Holocaust exhibition website twice. The exhibition's management received thousands of threatening e-mails and offers to money to prevent the exhibition, but to no avail. Nothing could prevent the exhibition.

[...]

The participation of renowned cartoonists, such as the Australian Louis Pelder (sic), Carlos Latuff from Brazil, and Ekton (sic) from Turkey, shows that the presentation of the Holocaust issue has been very significant and effective.

[...]

Holocaust - the collective burning of people alive - was mentioned twice in the course of history. The first was in Yemen, in the time between the prophecies of Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad. Back then, many Christians were burned alive, at the king's decree, because they refused to renounce Christianity and become Jews. After World War II, claims about a holocaust were raised for the second time in history. This was nothing but a myth - a myth about the killing of six million Jews. Elham Gouran, IRINN."

The Liberal Brain

This is just for fun.

Some Reasons Why T-Mobile Irritates Me

  1. The inability to change a rate plan without being subjected to a contract extension. There is something unfair and rotten about this. It is a bit like taking money from a loan shark. You can pay him back but you are forever tainted.
  2. Reception, Reception, Reception. I still drop calls in far too many places.
  3. Customer Disservice- Sorry, too many uninformed CSRs and too many minutes spent on hold and or navigating your voice jail system.
And this is just a partial list.

A Real Case of Penis Envy

As all my long time readers know old Jack has a thing for bizarre stories. My pal Chaim tipped me off to this one. If you haven't visited his blog go check it out and tell him that I said hello.

And now for stay tuned for the double feature you have been waiting for.

"Aug 19, 2006 — NEW DELHI (Reuters) - An Indian businessman born with two penises wants one of them removed surgically as he wants to marry and lead a normal sexual life, a newspaper report said Saturday.

The 24-year-old man from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh admitted himself to a New Delhi hospital this week with an extremely rare medical condition called penile duplication or diphallus, the Times of India said.

"Two fully functional penes is unheard of even in medical literature. In the more common form of diphallus, one organ is rudimentary," the newspaper quoted a surgeon as saying.

The surgery was expected to be challenging as both organs were well-formed and full blood supply to the retained penis had to be ensured to allow it to function normally, he added. "

Setting aside all of the cracks that my juvenile mind wants to make I have to say that I can only imagine how challenging something like this must be. For those who are interested in learning more about how this happens here is what the article says.

"There are about 100 such reported cases of diphallus around the world and it is known to occur among one in 5.5 million men, the newspaper said.

It is caused by the failure of the mesodermal bands in the embryo to fuse properly. The mesodermal bands are one of three primary layers of the embryo from which several body parts are formed."

How Stuff Works

I love this site. It has some pretty cool articles. Here are links to some that I enjoy:

How Moonshine Works.

Breaking Out: A Dozen Great Escapes

How Kissing Works

How MapQuest Works

Mumbai's "Hitler" eatery angers Indian Jews

Some people lack common sense.
MUMBAI (Reuters) - A new restaurant in India's financial hub, named after Adolf Hitler and promoted with posters showing the German leader and Nazi swastikas, has infuriated the country's small Jewish community.

'Hitler's Cross', which opened last week, serves up a wide range of continental fare and a big helping of controversy, thanks to a name the owners say they chose to stand out among hundreds of Mumbai eateries.

"We wanted to be different. This is one name that will stay in people's minds," owner Punit Shablok told Reuters.

"We are not promoting Hitler. But we want to tell people we are different in the way he was different."

Paint me slow and stupid give me an example of how he was different, aside from the megalomaniac "I am a mass murderer intent on taking over the world" different."

A huge portrait of a stern-looking Fuehrer greets visitors at the door. The cross in the restaurant's name refers to the swastika that symbolised the Nazi regime.

"This place is not about wars or crimes, but where people come to relax and enjoy a meal," said restaurant manager Fatima Kabani, adding that they were planning to turn the eatery's name into a brand with more branches in Mumbai.

Sure. Next thing you know there will be a sign saying "Eating means Freedom." What a naive fool.

A Recent Roundup

Here is what has transpired on this blog recently:

Blogstration and Blogfusion

When a Mannequin Kicks Your Ass

Negotiating for Prisoners

Call Me Ishmael- In Search Of the Perfect Post

A List Of Things About Me

Blogstration and Blogfusion

In the course of composing more 250,000 posts I wrote about Blogstration and Blogfusion. If you are curious you can find the short post here.

When a Mannequin Kicks Your Ass

Ok, I am laughing pretty hard at this.
"Attack of the Mannequins" might sound like a horror film title, but, for some shoppers, it could also be a documentary.

Diana Newton, 51, of Westminster sued the J.C. Penney Co. last month after she was allegedly thwacked on the head by a department store dummy.Newton said she was ambushed by a legless female mannequin at the company's Westminster Mall store, a skirmish that left her with a bloodied scalp, a cracked tooth, recurring shoulder pain and numbness in her fingers.

The alleged attack was the latest in a string of mannequin mayhem incidents nationwide.

"There are a slew of lawsuits like this," said mannequin manufacturer Barry Rosenberg, who joked that stores should run background checks on dummies before letting them mingle with shoppers.

Most of the cases involved mannequins toppling over onto customers, but an Indiana woman claimed she caught herpes from the lips of a CPR training dummy. She dropped her lawsuit against the American Red Cross in 2000 after further tests revealed that she didn't have the disease, according to news reports.

The alleged Westminster Mall incident happened nearly a year ago in the women's department at J.C. Penney. Newton said she wanted to buy a certain blouse, but the only one in her size was being worn by a mannequin.

When a salesclerk tried to remove the garment, the dummy's arm flew off and struck Newton's head, according to her lawsuit, which was filed in Orange County Superior Court and seeks unspecified damages.

"I felt a burning sensation," she recalled. Then, blood cascaded down her face, she said.

Paramedics arrived and patched her gash. Feeling woozy but stable, Newton drove home, then had someone take her to Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach for further treatment.

" 'My mom got beat up by a mannequin' was the joke around my house," Newton said."

Negotiating for Prisoners

You may recall that when Hizbollah first kidnapped the soldiers Nasrallah said that the only way to get them back would be a prisoner exchange. Well we all know where this led and now we find ourselves in a poor position.

There is a questionable ceasefire in place and the soldiers still haven't been returned. There are rumors that they spent the war locked in the Iranian embassy in Beirut or that they were spirited off to Syria and or Iran. It is not clear, at least not to the best of my knowledge.

Not unlike so many others I very much want them to be safely returned to their homes and families, but I am quite concerned about what message would be sent by this. In fact I am not sure that there is any real way to support this.

Israel went to war and did not come back with them. Their kidnapping is not the only reason for the war, but it is part of it. What I am most concerned about is whether negotiating their return serves as an incentive to the terrorists to continue conducting these operations. Somehow, someway there has to be a solution that doesn't involve giving that kind of hope and incentive away.

Beyond that, let's take a look at who Hizbollah wants released. One of the main guys is Samir Kuntar:

"Abu Abbas, the former head of a Palestinian terrorist group who was captured in Iraq on April 15, is infamous for masterminding the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro. But there are probably few who remember why Abbas’s terrorists held the ship and its 400-plus passengers hostage for two days. It was to gain the release of a Lebanese terrorist named Samir Kuntar, who is locked up in an Israeli prison for life. Kuntar’s name is all but unknown to the world. But I know it well. Because almost a quarter of a century ago, Kuntar murdered my family.

It was a murder of unimaginable cruelty, crueler even than the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, the American tourist who was shot on the Achille Lauro and dumped overboard in his wheelchair. Kuntar’s mission against my family, which never made world headlines, was also masterminded by Abu Abbas. And my wish now is that this terrorist leader should be prosecuted in the United States, so that the world may know of all his terrorist acts, not the least of which is what he did to my family on April 22, 1979.

It had been a peaceful Sabbath day. My husband, Danny, and I had picnicked with our little girls, Einat, 4, and Yael, 2, on the beach not far from our home in Nahariya, a city on the northern coast of Israel, about six miles south of the Lebanese border. Around midnight, we were asleep in our apartment when four terrorists, sent by Abu Abbas from Lebanon, landed in a rubber boat on the beach two blocks away. Gunfire and exploding grenades awakened us as the terrorists burst into our building. They had already killed a police officer. As they charged up to the floor above ours, I opened the door to our apartment. In the moment before the hall light went off, they turned and saw me. As they moved on, our neighbor from the upper floor came running down the stairs. I grabbed her and pushed her inside our apartment and slammed the door.

Outside, we could hear the men storming about. Desperately, we sought to hide. Danny helped our neighbor climb into a crawl space above our bedroom; I went in behind her with Yael in my arms. Then Danny grabbed Einat and was dashing out the front door to take refuge in an underground shelter when the terrorists came crashing into our flat.

They held Danny and Einat while they searched for me and Yael, knowing there were more people in the apartment. I will never forget the joy and the hatred in their voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades. I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. “This is just like what happened to my mother,” I thought.

As police began to arrive, the terrorists took Danny and Einat down to the beach. There, according to eyewitnesses, one of them shot Danny in front of Einat so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see. Then he smashed my little girl’s skull in against a rock with his rifle butt. That terrorist was Samir Kuntar.

By the time we were rescued from the crawl space, hours later, Yael, too, was dead. In trying to save all our lives, I had smothered her.

A man like Kuntar does not deserve freedom. The cost is too high.

Haveil Havalim #83 is Live

You can find it over here.

Call Me Ishmael- In Search Of the Perfect Post

"Call Me Ishmael." Thanks to Herman Melville I cannot take credit for the opening line of this post, but I can thank him for helping me to set the tone. I am on a journey, a quest to find the perfect post. That is my own white whale.

I rarely am ever satisfied with my writing. It is always lacking. The rhythm, the rhyme, the tone, the words are not quite what I want. I feel like Tantalus. The eloquence I seek is always just beyond my reach.

As I surf the blogosphere I come across others who do such a good job turning a phrase. I stumble onto writers whose command of the language is superior to my own and in turn I am reminded of just how hard I need to work to improve.

If memory serves Robert has said on more than one occasion that writing is rewriting. I understand and appreciate that. Writing can almost always be improved upon. It is a practice that I should take on. I should spend more time rewriting and revising my work but...

I don't do it because I don't like doing it and in my blog I feel that I can get by without it. I blog by feel. I write what sits on my soul and I do it through a style that I think of as being stream-of-consciousness.

You, the reader are granted access to my unedited thoughts. Ok, that is not completely true, there is some minor editing. But the reality is that there really is very little of it. It passes from my mind to the keyboard and there you have it.

It is a topic that I have touched upon in previous posts, why I blog that is. I would be lying if I said that I didn't care about comments. Ultimately I write for myself and would continue even if no one said anything, but that doesn't mean that I don't appreciate the feedback and the dialogue.

In terms of comments the most popular post I ever created is called What Do You Call Your Blog. In my experience the posts that receive the most feedback usually are about blogging.

In my search for the perfect post I have learned many things. The most important of these lessons is the reminder that writing is an exercise and like other exercises it can be improved upon. My suggestion is to read, read, read and write, write, write.

Read as much as you can. Look at how others construct their posts, their stories, their sentences and their novels. But never forget to just keep writing. The More that you do it the Easier it Becomes.

Words On A Page

 Added a few words on a page, some well written, some less so but all with purpose in mind. Can't win the Pulitzer every time, for certa...