I Hate The Holiday Season

Yes that is right. I hate the holiday season.
  • I hate being told to be of good cheer.
  • I hate reading about the fake war on Xmas.
  • I hate being assaulted by all of the crass commercialism.
  • I hate being told that we should be nicer now than during the rest of the year.
  • I hate emails that are blindly sent out without regard for whether the message is of interest to all of the recipients.
  • I hate all of the stupid decorations. Gaudy is not cool and I don't care if they are Jewish or Xtian. I dislike them all.
  • I hate fighting crowds at the mall.
  • I hate reading about knuckleheads shooting each other over a video game system.
  • I hate the stupid elves that try and get my children to take a picture on Santa's lap. Don't they know that I wished Death upon Santa.
  • I hate knowing that my cousin the Grinch rolled over and gave in.
  • I hate most Elmo toys. That little red fiend's voice grates on my nerves.
  • I hate all of these stupid battery operated toys that beep, squawk and whistle. The next person who gives my kids one of those toys is going to wake up to the sound of a marching band outside their home.
  • I hate the stupid holiday music. If I could I'd kick that little drummer boy right in the ass. And that kid who made that dreidel out of clay can bite me too. What the hell is up with a clay dreidel, the best are made out of wood.
  • I hate fake snow. I don't like the real stuff, but the fake crap is even worse. I live in California for a reason. If you need snow to feel like you are a part of the season get the hell out of here. There is too much traffic anyway.
  • I hate, I hate, I hate.
Phew. I feel better now.

Is This The End of The Wiggles

"SYDNEY, Australia - The lead singer of the hugely popular children’s group The Wiggles announced Thursday he will stop performing after being diagnosed with a chronic condition that causes dizziness, fatigue and nausea.

In a video-recorded statement, Greg Page said a little-understood disorder called orthostatic intolerance had left him debilitated.

“It’s not a life-threatening condition by any means, but it is one that’s going to be with me for the rest of my life,” said Page, 34, who is known for his bright yellow T-shirt. “It means that I’ll no longer be able to sing and dance as I want to, and as a result I’ve decided to stop performing with The Wiggles.”

Page, who helped found The Wiggles in 1991, handed his yellow T-shirt over to his understudy, Sam Moran, who has been performing with the group for more than a decade as a backup singer and dancer.

“I’ll miss being a part of The Wiggles very much, but this is the right decision because it will allow me to focus on managing my health,” Page said."

Call me a curmudgeon, but The Wiggles just won't be the same without Greg. Can you imagine the Rolling Stones being fronted by someone other than Mick.

Help a Brother Out- A Request For All Who Read This

I stumbled onto a video at Shoshana's blog that gave me an idea. If you watch the video you'll see that it is a commercial for an insurance company, but I like the overall message and it gives me an idea.

Here is my request for everyone who reads this post.

I'd like to ask that we all take a moment to help someone out. It doesn't have to be someone you know, nor does it have to be a stranger. All I ask is that we each take an opportunity to do something nice for someone else.

A few examples/ideas from the video and my own thoughts:
  1. Hold the elevator door open.
  2. At Starbucks pay for a cup of coffee for the person behind you.
  3. Let that guy on the freeway on-ramp get ahead of you.
This is all kind of spur of the moment impulse, but just for the heck of it, let's try it. Let's see if we can't make a few people smile and help to improve the world around us.

If you feel like it you can blog about this or leave a comment about what you did. Let me know what you think.

A Few Random Thoughts about Life and Blogging

My grandfather ZL" used to say that you cannot screw an old head on young shoulders. He was so right. I miss him still and always will, but at the same time I always feel his presence.

He also used to tell me that life is not a sprint, but a marathon. He was so right, but it is still so hard for me to be truly patient.

I should be more patient with my posts. Some of them should and could be so much better. All I need to is spend more time rewriting them, but I just don't want to. I don't really know why, but I really find it hard to force myself to spend time polishing them.

Been at the beach a half dozen times recently. I parked my car and sat on the sand and listened to the sound of the sea. Had a strong urge to go sailing, I still have such wanderlust.

My daughter gives the best hugs. She just throws that little body into it. I love her so much. I love how she puts her head on my shoulder and goes to sleep. So much trust and so much faith in me. It is an awesome responsibility.

My son does it too. It is hard to believe that these little guys look at me as having all of the answers. They are growing so quickly.

If one more person tells me that I need to give to charity XYZ because of the season I may have to punch them in the nose. Screw the bleeping season, give because it feels right. Besides where are these people the rest of the year.

I wonder how the survivors of the tsunami are doing. Hundreds of thousands of people died. Amazing to think about how one moment they were here and in the next they were gone. Mother Nature reminds us all the time about how small we are.

Feels like more than a couple of bloggers are hanging up their hats, or at least giving it all a rest. And I am still here. I don't say that to gloat, not in the slightest. I say it because I have had this feeling for years now that I would be one of those people who would watch all of their friends die.

Maybe it is because of the longevity in my family. Maybe it is because both of my grandfathers discussed how hard it was to see so many friends and family pass on. And maybe it is because I have already lost several friends, but I just see it happening to me too.

G-d willing I'll live a thousand years in good health and so will the people I care about.

Taped Brokeback Mountain this evening. If I get a few moments I'll try watching it later this week.

I was glad to hear that the trainer was ok. What a scary experience. Think about how big a whale is. It is one of those situations in which you realize that you don't always have as much control as you might like to think you do.

But at least he didn't smoke crack and get attacked by an alligator.

There is more to say, but it is far too late to keep writing.

More Powerful than a Great White Shark

It was big. It was mean. And it could bite a shark in two.

Scientists say Dunkleosteus terrelli might have been "the first king of the beasts." The prehistoric fish was 33 feet long and weighed up to four tons. It had bladed jaws, a flesh-tearing feature that the sharks it preyed upon had not yet developed.

Now scientists have learned Dunkleosteus had the most powerful jaws of any fish ever, its bite rivaling that of T. rex and modern alligators.

The creature lived 400 million years ago.

"Dunkleosteus was able to devour anything in its environment," said study leader Philip Anderson, at the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago.

Fast and powerful

Scientists already knew Dunkleosteus was the dominant predator of its time.

But Anderson and Mark Westneat, Curator of Fishes at the Field Museum in Chicago, used a fossil of the creature [image] to make a computer model of its muscles and its bite. They conclude that could chomp with 1,100 pounds of force, which translates to 8,000 pounds per square inch at the tip of a fang.

And it was quick, opening its jaws in just one fiftieth of a second. That action would have created suction to draw prey into its mouth.


Hummer Loses To School Bus

Maybe we need to ship a few of the big yellow beasts overseas.


Abba Museum- The Shack Creates a Movement

On the heels of this post (Did You Listen to Abba?) comes news that the city of Stockholm is going to create an Abba museum.
"A museum dedicated to Abba is set to open in Stockholm in 2008.

The museum will feature outfits and instruments used by the band, along with handwritten lyrics.

In a statement, the band said: "It is nice someone feels compelled to take on our musical history."
Can you hear the drums Fernando. A simple 20% of the gross sales for the first five years will be considered adequate compensation.

Movies Use The Same Scream Sound Effect

I thought that this was interesting. My thanks to Panopticist for this.

"In 1951, a sound designer on a Gary Cooper western called Distant Drums needed to overdub a scream onto a scene in which a man is killed by an alligator. He brought a contract actor into his studio and rolled tape as the man did six brief, anguished screams in one take. These screams were then added to the Warner Brothers sound library, and over the next couple of decades they found their way into dozens of Warner Brothers films.

In the mid-'70s, a young sound designer named Ben Burtt gave these sounds a name: "the Wilhelm scream," after a character in one of the earliest films that utilized the sounds. A couple of years later, Burtt was hired to work on a film called Star Wars. As an homage, he overdubbed the scream onto a scene in that film. Then he overdubbed it onto a scene in The Empire Strikes Back. And Return of the Jedi. A fellow Lucasfilm sound designer began using the Wilhelm too, in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, among other movies. And thus a film-geek in-joke was born. In the last 30 years the Wilhelm has been used winkingly in dozens of movies and TV shows, from Reservoir Dogs and The X-Files to Aladdin and Return of the King. More details are at Hollywood Lost and Found.

The video below is a compilation of dozens of Wilhelms from the last half-century."

A Mosaic of My Black Eye

Make your own.

The 100 top TV catchphrases? D'oh!

TV Land has compiled a list of the 100 greatest catchphrases in TV. Here is part of the list:

- "Aaay" (Fonzie, "Happy Days")

- "And that's the way it is" (Walter Cronkite, "CBS Evening News")

- "Baby, you're the greatest" (Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden, "The Honeymooners")

- "Bam!" (Emeril Lagasse, "Emeril Live")

- "Book 'em, Danno" (Steve McGarrett, "Hawaii Five-O")

- "Come on down!" (Johnny Olson, "The Price is Right")

- "Danger, Will Robinson" (Robot, "Lost in Space")

- "De plane! De plane!" (Tattoo, "Fantasy Island")

- "Do you believe in miracles?" (Al Michaels, 1980 Winter Olympics)

- "D'oh!" (Homer Simpson, "The Simpsons")

- "Don't make me angry ..." (David Banner, "The Incredible Hulk")

- "Dyn-o-mite" (J.J., "Good Times")

- "Elizabeth, I'm coming!" (Fred Sanford, "Sanford and Son")

- "Gee, Mrs. Cleaver ..." (Eddie Haskell, "Leave it to Beaver")

- "The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat" (Jim McKay, "ABC's Wide World of Sports")

- "The tribe has spoken" (Jeff Probst, "Survivor")

- "Would you believe?" (Maxwell Smart, "Get Smart")

A Tax Shelter

BOZEMAN - Call it recreational robbery: An out-of-state resident sets up a dummy company in Montana, buys a motor home under that company name and escapes tens of thousands of dollars in sales taxes.

And there is nothing illegal about it.

In California, where a majority of RV buyers are escaping a sales tax as high as 8.75 percent, depending on where the buyer lives, law enforcement officials and lawmakers are crying foul at this loophole.

Some Montana officials, however, don't see it as a crime; they see dollar signs. Private business wins by gaining out-of-state business. The state wins by getting more registration fees.The perceived problem has gotten so much attention in California that that state has created a law-enforcement program specifically to deal with it.

The California Highway Patrol has a program called Californians Help Eliminate All The Evasive Registration Scofflaws, or CHEATERS, which asks people to report California residents suspected of having a vehicle registered in another state.

California Highway Patrol Officer David Constantini runs the program created in 2004 to combat California's diminished sales tax revenue.

"We're missing out on a good $10 million a year, and that's being very conservative," Constantini said. "It's very frustrating."

Fees, taxes less than 1% of California's

A $350,000 motor home bought in California would include more than $30,000 in registration fees and taxes. The same motor home bought in Montana would cost less than $300 a year to register, according to the Montana Department of Motor Vehicles. And there would be no sales tax."
Click here to read the whole story.

Love Without End, Amen

"I got sent home from school one day with a shiner on my eye.
Fightin' was against the rules and it didn't matter why.
When dad got home I told that story just like I'd rehearsed.
And then stood there on those tremblin' knees and waited for the worst.

And he said, "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us."
He said, "Daddies don't just love their children every now and then.
It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen."

When I became a father in the spring of '81
There was no doubt that stubborn boy was just like my father's son.
And when I thought my patience had been tested to the end,
I took my daddy's secret and I passed it on to him.

And he said, "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us."
He said, "Daddies don't just love their children every now and then.
It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen."

Last night I dreamed I died and stood outside those pearly gates.
When suddenly I realized there must be some mistake.
If they know half the things I've done, they'll never let me in.
And then somewhere from the other side I heard these words again.

And he said, "Let me tell you a secret about a father's love,
A secret that my daddy said was just between us."
He said, "Daddies don't just love their children every now and then.
It's a love without end, amen, it's a love without end, amen."

George Strait

The vanishing holiday bonus

"We're seeing the holiday bonuses disappear," says Brian Drum, president of Drum Associates in New York. "Thirty-five years ago, when I first dealt with a lot of companies that used to pay the so-called Christmas bonus, it was a gift. Today, as companies are becoming larger and consolidated, they are giving because it's performance-related." Tying rewards to the performance of the company serves to motivate workers, employment specialists say.

Nowhere is that more evident than on Wall Street. Bonuses are reaching the stratosphere, rising an estimated 10 to 15 percent this year over 2005. Those rewards can average $1.7 million for managing directors of Wall Street banks. For top-tier bankers, they can swell to $20 million or more.

"The financial-services industry has the notoriety of paying the highest bonuses," Mr. Drum says. "They can be multiples of a person's salary. In the more industrial companies ... probably not a lot of bonuses are given out."

Many companies have also changed their fiscal year so it no longer coincides with the calendar year and the holiday season. Some end their year on Nov. 30. for others, it's March 31. "It kind of takes you away from paying a bonus," Drum says.

In a 2005 survey by Hewitt Associates, 59 percent of companies said they would not award holiday bonuses. But more than three-quarters of firms offer performance-based bonuses that must be reearned each year.

Among 1,500 small businesses, 39 percent plan to give employees holiday bonuses this year, according to Constant Contact, an e-mail marketing service for small businesses. That is up 2 percent from last year.

"For small businesses, cash flow and cash management are more difficult issues," says Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact. "It is harder to see out to the future and understand where cash will be next quarter and next year. It takes more confidence for a small business to pay a bonus."

Whatever a company's size, employees are frustrated by a "lack of clarity about how one qualifies for that bonus," says Bill Kuntz, vice president of Princeton One, an outplacement firm. "They want to be treated fairly and have clear expectations."

Many companies do a poor job of communicating with their employees about the direction and goals of the company and that can harm productivity and morale. Especially if you are employed by a company in which it appears that the rewards of the hard work of the company are not shared by all.

Still, Bob Kustka, president of CHR Partners, a human resources consulting firm in Norwell, Mass., expects changes: "Bonuses are going to come back into vogue in the next few years as the war for talent heats up," he says. "The new workers entering the workforce, the millennials, will be harder to keep. They don't have the same level of loyalty [that] previous generations had. Therefore organizations will be looking for innovative ways to keep those workers." Already he sees gaps in accounting, engineering, and nursing.

Mr. Kustka notes another factor that could strengthen bonuses: the need to redistribute profits. "A lot of people are critical that CEO pay has risen between 300 percent and 400 percent. How do you justify that, when the average worker over the past 20 years has seen a decline in earning power and CEOs have seen immense growth in their earning power?"

Evolution of Dance

This was worth watching again.

Tiger Versus Crocodile

Michelangelo Meets McDonalds


Soccer Fans Are Problematic & The French are Worse

I have written about the dull game here, here and here. Now we can add this to the list:

PARIS, Nov 24, 2006 (AFP) - A French police officer — a black man in plain clothes — shot dead a Paris-Saint Germain football fan after being turned on by a mob during racist violence that followed the team's defeat by Israeli side Hapoel Tel-Aviv.

Antoine Granomort, who was in custody Friday morning, fired his handgun into a threatening crowd near the Parc des Princes stadium late Thursday after seeking to defend a French fan of the Israeli club from attack, police and witnesses said.

A 24-year-old man was killed and a 26-year-old who was wounded is in serious condition in hospital, police said.

Five fans were in police custody Friday morning and face possible charges for "racist and anti-Semitic insults", police said.

"Four young people presumably from the Jewish community were rounded on by a group of supporters of PSG. They decided to separate, and one of them Yanniv Hazout was chased by attackers ... The mob grew to some 100 people," said state prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin.

"A plain clothes officer from the transport police, Antoine Granomort, told Monsieur Hazout to stand behind him and then tried to keep the crowd away using his tear-gas canister.

"The crowd hurled insults — dirty Jew, dirty nigger — and monkey cries and raised Nazi salutes. Some shouted 'Le Pen for president'," he said.

According to Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy: "One of the attackers hit him on the head and another kicked him in the groin, and he fell to the ground. He got out his gun after stating he was a policeman — though in what exact circumstances I do not know."

"(The officer) fired in legitimate self-defense in order to protect his physical person. He had come to the aid of a man in accordance with our rules of engagement, and he had no choice but to shoot," said Patrice Ribeiro of the Synergie police union.

"I am sorry that there is a dead PSG fan but one has to say that these people are racists who attacked a police officer because he was a man of colour," said Joaquin Masanet of the UNSA-police union."

France has some very serious problems. It is a society that is on the verge of a major upheaval.

Haveil Havalim- Thanksgiving Edition

Haveil Havalim #95 - Thanksgiving Edition- It is live at Smooth Stone.

Random Thoughts About Blogging

Blogging is something that anyone can do, but very few do it well. Mind you when I say very few it is a number that is relative to the total number of blogs. How many blogs are there now?

Technorati says that they are currently tracking 60 million blogs and that more than 175,000 new blogs are created each day.

Think about that. That is an incredible number. It is huge, just immense. It leads to many questions.

How many of those blogs are good. How many will last more than a few months, let alone a couple of years. How many of the good ones will be able to maintain a high level of quality.

Life is different in cyberspace. Some might say that bloggers age in dog/blog years. With a little less than three years of blogging experience I am already an old timer, a real alter cocker.

When I look at the corner that some of us call the Jblogosphere I am still amazed by how many newcomers there are each day. New blogs and new aggregators show up like clockwork. If you are one of those people who enjoy finding new blogs there is no shortage.

Instead your enemy is time. It is an impossible task to keep up with all of these blogs. There simply are too many to follow, especially if you get hooked on a few.

Have you ever noticed how some of the really big blogs can get away with publishing garbage. Once you hit a certain size it becomes fairly easy to find shortcuts because you know that unless you consistently tank you will always have an audience.

Here are the shack the posts that receive the most comments are those that are about blogging. When I ask people to comment on their blogging habits/practices I always get a much larger response. Should I assume that this is because people like talking about themselves.

Blogging is addictive. Some people just cannot get enough of it. And some people get too much. For a while it is one of their favorite things to do and then one day they just get sick of it and then they give up.

I don't know about you, but I am quite curious to see what happens to blogging over the next five years.

The Moon Is Following Us

One of the quirks that we Angelenos share is that we tend to refer to our freeways in a slightly different manner than large numbers of the population outside of here.


"I was stuck on the 405 for hours" or "Traffic on the 10 westbound is not all that bad."

In my experience other parts of the country generally eliminate using "the" in front of the highway/freeway number. Not that it matters, but this always sounds strange to me.

The setting for this particular post is the 405. In particular the southbound ride from the Valley into the Westside. That is where I was when from the back of the van my son announced "the moon is following us."

It made me smile. The moon holds a special place in my heart because I know that those I love the most share that same moon with me. Even when we are far apart I know that the distance is bridged by that shiny object in the sky.

I tried hard to explain this to my son, but I am not completely sure if my explanation made sense to him. I hope that it did. I love to answer his question about life and the world around him. I love feeding the fire inside him. I love to see that inquisitive look on his face, especially when I see the excitement he holds. It just makes me smile.

And so does the moon. I didn't bullshit him or make up a ridiculous story. I am completely serious about the moon. No matter what country I am in I know that the people I hold in my heart share that moon with me.

I have spent many hours sitting quietly in moonlit fields. It is one of my great pleasures in life to find a place where the city lights do not interfere with the moon. I love lying on my back and looking at a starry sky. I have been fortunate enough to have spent time in places where you are amazed by how many millions of stars you can see.

I'd write more, but before I get to bed I need to go outside and just stare at the sky.

The most influential figures in American history.

From the Atlantic I present:

The most influential figures in American history

1 Abraham Lincoln
He saved the Union, freed the slaves, and presided over America’s second founding.

2 George Washington
He made the United States possible—not only by defeating a king, but by declining to become one himself.

3 Thomas Jefferson
The author of the five most important words in American history: “All men are created equal.”

4 Franklin Delano Roosevelt
He said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and then he proved it.

5 Alexander Hamilton
Soldier, banker, and political scientist, he set in motion an agrarian nation’s transformation into an industrial power.

This list also includes Babe Ruth, Herman Melville and Elvis.

Happy Thanksgiving

My Brother- A Lesson in Simple Physics

Many years ago in a galaxy far far away called high school there were numerous groups of people. In everyday parlance we refer to them as cliques. If memory serves in The Outsiders they were referred to as the greasers and socs (pronounced soshes).

At our school there were several different groups but we didn't use any of the aforementioned names. In fact the names that we used don't really matter.What does matter is that there were people there who thought that bullying was an appropriate behavior. It is a sad reality of not just school, but life. Bullying is something that some people just don't grow out of.


My brother and I were pretty lucky as we didn't have too many issues with other kids. That doesn't mean that people didn't try and pick on us. They did, but it usually didn't work out well for them. As my grandmother used to say we come from a long line of stubborn that you really don't want to be on the wrong side of.

Still, things happened. It wasn't like we walked around with signs broadcasting our nature.

During my brother's junior year of high school he began dating a girl who was new to the school. We good naturedly referred to her as the "Yeshiva Refugee." Up until that year she had attended some all girls religious school but for some reason she had left it and enrolled in our school.

I certainly was surprised by this as were our parents. It wasn't something that any of us were upset about, but since she came from a more religious home it surprised us. Apparently it surprised some of the boys from the old neighborhood too.

During an after school visit with my brother they made it clear that they didn't approve of it. They told him to end it and made all sorts of threats. It is more than 20 years since this took place and I still don't know exactly what happened. What I know is that there were a few of them and just my brother but I can offer some educated guesses as to what happened next.

My brother would have told them in very colorful terms to try and engage in some anatomically impossible activity and then he would have tried to help them engage in some unusual chiropractic efforts. He probably gave as good as he got, but he was just one person and they were many.

As the big brother I admit to still being a little upset about this. My job has always been to help to protect all of my younger siblings. If I had been there I might have been able to have helped him out. I have always felt badly about this.

In any case, this was the first of a number of nasty incidents that progressively got meaner. But it also led to my teaching my brother a simple lesson in physics.

It goes a little bit like this. Anytime you apply pressure you must always remember that eventually it must find a release. And you must also remember that even though you think that you have control of where the energy will be expended it could easily be sent a different direction.

It took a moment for my brother to understand where I was going with this. Our nature is simple. If you attack us you can expect that we will come after you with both barrels blazing. In those days that usually meant that we would make like Bruce Lee and send out Fists of Fury.

However in these circumstances that really wasn't working the way that we wanted it to so we opted for the next option.

We found out where the boys went to school and we contacted the headmaster and the rav (rabbi) at their parent's shul. In the frum world it is amazing just how fast pressure can be applied.

Simple physics allowed us to redirect the pressure. Just when they thought that they had my brother by the short hairs we showed them otherwise.

Some people think that intimidation is an effective tool for generating change. The question is do they really have as much leverage as they think that they do. It can be a very painful experience to find out otherwise.

I have to run now. I need to call the man and see what he remembers about all this.

A New Fragment

Fragments of Fiction is a story that I have been working on, more off recently.

There was a time when I used to love seeing a movie with a happy ending. There was something very satisfying about watching the hero/heroine miraculously overcome some incredible challenge and ride off into the sunset.

It was very "Norman Rockwellish." It just fit the image of how I thought life should be. Life was always going to throw out a few hurdles to get beyond, but why shouldn't I be able to glide over them and land ever so softly on the far side.

But time has a way of teaching you that you aren't Baryshnikov. You can't pretend to be Michael Jordan and soar over the problems of the world below. Sometimes you slipped and instead of soaring you flew face first into the hurdle. It is a good reality check, having the breath knocked out of you.

You can call me a pessimist, but what I really learned was that most of the time things didn't work out for the hero. He got there too late to save the girl. In spite of his best efforts to hold on she slipped out of his grasp and went tumbling into the abyss below. It was reality and so was the knowledge that the last thing he heard from her lips was a scream of terror. The last look in her eyes was the shock she felt that he just hadn't come through.

The hero had failed.

I know. I have a dark side that comes out. I wasn't always this way. I said it before. I liked happy endings. I really did. But the naivete was beaten out of me and now I know better.

I have walked in a world of darkness for more years than I care to remember. Some days are better than others. Sometimes when I feel the sun beat down upon my back I forget about the past and for a moment I feel hope.

I hate it. I hate feeling like I have a chance to get back what I lost because it forces me to relive losing it all. It feels like a dagger has been shoved into my back and I can't quite reach it. It burns. It burns. It burns.

Sometimes the only way that I can make the burning go away is to pound on my heavy bag. Pop, pop, pop, pop...I try to stay focused and try to find a rhythm but more often than not I just start hammering the bag. With every swing I try to pound it into sand.

It helps... a little.

Somewhere there is a person inside me who is screaming in anger and frustration, or maybe that roaring noise I hear is not in mind. Maybe it really is me.

A Kissing Test

Your Favorite Posts- Greatest Hits of the Blogosphere

*A quick administrative comment. Some people are still submitting their entries so it is likely that this will be updated at least a couple of times. There are a couple of formatting issues that are wreaking some havoc, please bear with me.

Also, please note that this was not limited to any particular topic.

Hello and welcome to the Your Favorite Posts- The Greatest Hits Of The Blogosphere. Before we begin here a couple of comments to share with you. Most bloggers appreciate the interaction between themselves and their readers.

With the exception of The Shmata Queen every blogger that I have ever spoken with has told me that they really appreciate receiving comments on their posts, especially those posts that they feel very good about. Yet, the funny thing about blogging is that sometimes our best work is overlooked.

And that is where this comes in. It is a chance for our greatest hits to see a little sunshine again. Or if you want to go with a different analogy, it is similar to a reunion tour put on by an aging rock band. It is just one more chance to repackage the old stuff and try to sell a few more albums.

Anyway, without further ado I am happy to present Your Favorite Posts- The Greatest Hits of The Blogosphere.

Outside the Box
: Summer jobs

Since I’ve bought my camera, I’ve been approaching total strangers and asking permission to photograph them. I’ve even had some “business” cards printed with the URL of my blog. When I ask permission to take a photo, I give the person a card.

To read it all click here.

Sarah's View: Behind The Smile

My blog is a creative outlet so along with the mostly positive and happy things there is the odd melancholy post.
While I do prefer expressing things through images, photographs & designs sometimes only the words can truly express a feeling. Usually these attempts get written down, forgotten or thrown out. Not this time!

To read it all click here.
Here is something many bloggers aspire to do.

Yaldah Publishing: The Birth of a Book Part 1

"It all started on Thursday, July 28, 2005.

I received an e-mail with the subject “submission/query.” It wasn’t the first query I’d received, but it was the first one that caught my attention. Why?"

To read it all click here.
Am Echad? עם אחד?: The Miracle of Israel

"In the seven weeks of being an Israeli citizen, I can firmly say that I have discovered the miracle of Israel. The miracle of Israel is -- drum roll please -- that anything gets done and that this country keeps running. Is it because of the security situation that I say this?

To read it all click here.
Knockin' On The Golden Door: Pay Now, Die Later

"I was reminded this morning of something that really pissed me off on my last flight.

It used to be that you could request a bulkhead seat for extra legroom, and all you had to do was be willing and able to assist others in the event of an emergency.

I have no problem with that. In fact, I..."

To read it all click here.
Judeopundit: Some thoughts on Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

"I think it makes sense to separate the word "Anti-Zionism" from the word "Anti-Semitism." The latter term refers to hostility or prejudice directed at the Jewish people. We tend often to identify "Anti-Zionism" with "Anti-Semitism" because..."

To read it all click here.
The Hall of the Goblin King: An Old-New-Age Judaism

"R' Micha Berger has a very interesting post over on his Aspaqlaria blog, about differences between the Semitic (=Jewish, Eastern) and Yefetic (=Greek, Western) perspectives on the world."

To read it all click here.
Bagel Blogger: Bodgey Bagels Caption Contest Number 4

Click here to see the entrants.

The Grouchy Old Bear couldn't come out of hibernation long enough to pick one post so he sent over a bunch of links and this comment.

"Sorry, can i have one for every 500 posts? 2500 posts gives me 7 favorites."

and my response

Ok, I have more than 4,000 posts, this should help. ;)

From DovBear:
Why the J-Blogosphere Matters
This is not a complaint about my wife
In Praise of Men
On Baseball in General, and Pesach in Particular
12 Tribes, 70 Faces, Pluralism in Judaism
NY's Funniest Rabbi offers a three parter:

My Name Is Natah, My Name Is Natah 2 and My Name Is Natah - Last Installment.
pearlies of wisdom: Bloggers... A Class of Their Own

"Class, I'm TorontoPearl, and today I will be your substitute teacher."

Boos and hisses, grumbles and mumbles can be heard.

"Where's the regular teacher? Why is she missing? Did she give you a hint as to what she's up to?"

To read it all click here.
westbankblog: On Holocaust Remembrance Day, M16's, and a New Respect for Veterans

"Four years ago, during the intermediate days of Passover, a terrorist broke into the Gavish home in Elon Moreh and killed four members of the family. After analyzing the details of the incident, the army came to the conclusion..."

To read it all click here.

Thar be Harry Potter news below. Arrr!
Soccer Dad: I asked her for some happy news and The way back machine and the israeli palestinian conflict
Elie's Expositions: Of Wallets and Wonders

"It already feels like Pesach has been over for months. It's hard to believe that just two weeks ago, we were still just conducting the second seder - or starting chol hamoed for those in Israel. But if you would, allow me to turn time back just a bit and relate a incident that happened to me on"

To read it all click here.
Daled Amos: Driving to Cincy With Disney

"This past Motzei Shabbos, we loading up the van and off we went to Cincinnati to visit family. We generally average about 12 hours drive time, so this time around we borrowed a portable DVD player from a friend to keep our 6 year old daughter "occupied". We brought along a selection of good wholesome DVD's for her to watch--mostly..."

To read it all click here.
I haven't inserted too many comments in here, but this next one is begging for it. The mystery blogger asks Am I flipping Out? With a blog name like PsychoToddler what do you think. ;)

Why don't you decide. Read The Year In Review and let him know what you think.

In less than three years of blogging I have more than 4,000 posts. It is fair to say that I am prolific. A while back I stumbled onto a blogger who seems intent on surpassing that. I have to give him credit because the quality of his posts is quite good. Check out the situation.
Israel Matzav: A history lesson, Studies in despair and

YNet tries to figure out why Yigal Amir stays in the public light.

"This ignores reality, and is not going to change anyone's mind. If I believed that Yigal Amir murdered Yitzchak Rabin, I would be all in favor of locking him up for life, and I believe that 99.9% of the country (or more) would agree with that. The problem is that I am far from convinced that Amir had a fair trial or that he committed the murder.

For those of you who are close-minded, stop reading now and leave - you won't listen anyway."

To read it all click here.
The Muqata: IDF purchases mezuzot with American military aid money.

"Thankfully, the IDF is now making a sound military investment and is installing mezuzot in the Ministry of Defense. And since the money is coming from..."

To read it all click here.
Shiloh Musings: Deals Will Be Deals

"Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beteinu is denying that he made a deal with the Likud Party."

To read it all click here.
Last April there was a discussion here at the Shack that touched upon Jewish superheroes. I am not the only fan of comic books.
Seraphic Secret: Superman & Me

"As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, one of life's greatest pleasures was saving up my allowance and buying what I wanted with it--and there was only one thing I ever wanted--"

To read it all click here.
SimplyJews: A new solution to excessive femininity

"Oops, this was a mistake. The Elders are not of the studying type, being as they are more of an outdoorsy, pro-active field operatives' style. That is, unless it is about..."

To read it all click here.
The Ignoble Experiment: I am Alive


My Dead

“Only the dead don’t die”

Only they are left me,..."

To read it all click here.

Walking on Fire: Achdut

cast through a river of fire
eternally reverberating impressions orienting
into time
something essential, something true
blended together as one
igniting with life
a metamorphosis divine
some celestial darkness into endless light

Achdut on my website with music and dancing hebrew letters made of empty spaces.

To read it all click here.
Jewish Atheist: Memories of an Orthodox High School Romance

When I first saw her, I already had a girlfriend. She was so different -- small and tan, her slightly Asiatic features making her exotic among the other..."

To read it all click here. Or perhaps you might enjoy:

How I Left Orthodoxy

The names may be similar but they both have their own styles. The thing is that this next blogger is kind of shy and a little hesitant to share his thoughts. ;)

Sweet Rose: Lines and Ladders

"There is a person in my life right now, that every time I talk to him, he gives me something to think about. Sometimes it is about something I have read, sometimes it is about human nature, sometimes life in general, sometimes it is about my own life. The last category are the ones that keep me up at night."

To read it all click here. Or perhaps you'd like to read about an adventure.

"2) People from Cleveland rock. (That's for Ezzie, and Jack.)"

I don't know about that...Click here to read the story.
Raggedy Mom: On Children

As the year progresses with Ann in preschool, it is bittersweet to see her make friends, become attached to her morahs (teachers) and generally be . .

Click here to read the story.
A Mother in Israel: Yawn

"As in so many parenting articles, the author of this one presents a false dichotomy. Either you admit that you..."

Click here to read the story.

And for those of you who live life on the fringe of society here are a couple more.


“Would you take your only son . . .?” Or perhaps you might be interested in a series on raising a child with disabilities. Take a look at:

Park your ego at the door: Links to my series “On raising a child with disabilities”
Everyone needs a good adventure.

A bit of Light:Our Adventure

"We tried to get off, but the flight attendant wouldn't let us. It was too late. We were stuck and going to...."

Click here to read the story.
Editor's Note: I mulled over whether I should include any of my own posts here. The hardest part is trying to decide which posts to highlight. On the right side of the page I have set up a few drop down menus that list some of my personal favorites. Feel free to peruse that, there is some good stuff in there. It is a mix of serious and the not so serious.
And there you have it, the first and possibly only edition of this particular roundup. There are some excellent posts here. If you liked this and want to see it continue let me know.

Send Me Your Best Post- Greatest Hits of The Blogosphere

I want to do something new. I am interested in compiling a new roundup of the Greatest Posts of the Blogosphere. There are some other bloggers who have similar operations going on, but let's face it, in a world of 1 billion blogs there is room for a couple of these.

Here is the idea. Send an email to Talk to jack now at sbc global dot net with your favorite post and I'll do the rest.

Three Almost Random Thoughts

Millions of people are outraged by OJ's latest move. Millions of people say that they are going to refuse to buy the book and will refuse to watch the special. Millions of people will reluctantly watch the special. It is like a train wreck or car accident. You don't really want to stop, but you do anyway.

One of the reasons that people love James Bond is because he is human. No special powers, just training and some cool gadgets. Oh, did I mention the cool car and the beautiful women. It is easy to pretend that you are him.

Chuck Norris is one bad dude.

The Dilemma- Do You Tell

My children and I have an ongoing discussion about being a tattle-tale. They are good kids and for the most part they play nicely together. However like all children they have their moments when they just lose it and begin to fight.

Their mother and I try to let them work it out. We don't insert ourselves unless it is clear that they cannot resolve the issue.

Of course like most children they often engage in their own preemptive strike. Here are a couple of their favorites.

"Dad! Esther hit me!"

"Daddy, Jon took my toy!"

In case you are wondering, what I hear sounds more like the adults in the Peanuts shows. "Wah wah wah wah."

This has led to the grand conversation of trying to teach them not to be tattle-tales. It is not such a simple thing, because at the same time I am working hard to help them understand when it is not ok to keep secrets.

That leads me to my next hypothetical issue. If you know that there was an immoral, unethical, loser scum bag low-life hanging out with you in the blogosphere what would you do.

Would you point them out. Would you try and place a scarlet letter upon them. Or would you just ignore them.

What if they exhibited the same sense of denial and self-awareness as OJ. What if they paraded around pretending to be something that they are not.

Should you award them with the reward that they so truly deserve. Should you sail on over on a cyberspace boat and smack them. Or would that be too juvenile.

I wonder.

Gifts For The Children of The Obscenely Rich

For the entire list click here

Junior Off Roader Gasoline-Powered Vehicle for Two
Get an early start on teaching your kid how to drive a car with this gas-guzzling two-seater. Children can even tune into the radio with a fully functional removable tape deck, with speakers on both sides. The car shifts into three different modes and has adjustable leather seats.
Tires: 20 x 8.00 - 8
Fuel: Unleaded gasoline
Weight: 300/20 kg
Recommended for 7-year-olds to 12-year-olds

Lego Life-Sized Batman
This Caped Crusader can guard your child from all that lurks in the night. A statue stands 6'6" tall and is made of Lego bricks, with a yellow utility belt and heavy cape fabric. It comes in three parts to assemble.
Product dimensions: 24" L x 24" W x 78" H
Recommended for 6-year-olds and older
Tumble Outpost
This giant playset includes a lookout tower with double rock-climbing walls, a fire pole and a small play area below. Kids can go on a great adventure over a swinging bridge and either go to the upper-level clubhouse or end up in the jailhouse below. Other play features include a rope-net ladder, an earthquake landing platform and a turbo-tube slide.
Product dimensions: 35.5' L x 28' W x 15' H

Your Favorite Post Update

Here is some clarification regarding this post.

The idea is for you (the reader) to send me your best/favorite post from YOUR blog. This roundup is designed to serve as a way to showcase your work.

The topic can be about anything. It is your choice, your decision. All you have to do is send me an email with a link/URL to your post.

If you so choose you are also welcome to promote this on your blog. As a matter of fact, if you do a good job you might even win a free waffle courtesy of Jameel. ;)

And don't worry, there will be no more comments about the gun slingin chef. ;)

As was once said "Friends, Bloggers and Countrymen lend me your Posts!"

His First Time With A Woman

I miss so very many things about my grandfather. I miss watching the fights with him. I miss the stories that he told about the Jewish fighters. I miss his jokes and I miss the quiet moments in which we said nothing but enjoyed each others company.

I miss the trips to the steam room to schvitz and I miss going to the movies with him. I miss talking to him about my job and my life.

I miss the card games and the stories about the great battle of Victorville. I miss the tales of his time in the carnival and the adventures he had in New Orleans.

I miss the stories about how Kowalski showed up at my grandparent's door demanding to take my grandfather on in another round of pool and all the yarns about life in Chicago in the '20s.

I miss the stories about his friend Blinkie and so many others including his first time with a woman.

Grandpa was one hell of a storyteller. I only wish that I had half his ability.

Almost 20 years

Next week marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of this spot. Hard to believe, not many have kept going since then. I have barely kept up...