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Showing posts from February, 2007

When Your Dreams Die

My therapist said that "I lack coping skills." It is a nice way of saying that she doesn't approve of my choice of antidepressants. I have several that I enjoy. Unlike the shit that she wants me to take, these are prescription free. My drug of choice is of the liquid variety. It is fast acting, doesn't cost much and best of all, easily found. I never worry about late night freak out sessions because I can always get a taste and that is reassuring. And you know that when you "lack coping skills" it is nice to find things that can dull that edge. I apologize for being so manic. That is what they call it, isn't it. I mean my behavior. If I am not careful I get so wound up that I can't hold still and I can't shut up. I pace around the room chain smoking and muttering to myself. That is why I like to keep some of my buddies chilling in the fridge. During those moments when I can't decide to laugh or cry I can always rely upon them. Six or seve

Volunteers Needed for JBlogosphere Purim Podcast

Jameel the Waffle King has information on how you can participate in the first annual JBlogosphere Purim Podcast. Don't be shy. Join in the fun. Click here for details. Ok, since some of you are lazy I'll provide them here too: We've set up a number on GCast for people to call into and record onto. You just call, record, and hang up. If you're in the US: 1-888-65-GCast. Internationally it says +1-305-437-8719. The ten-digit code is C1MAURP1ZZ; The PIN is PURI. Punch those in slowly, it doesn't register if you do it too fast. You can listen to whatever you record before saving (and you can delete it before submission). Please press 2 to save - thanks! The unofficial trailer:

A Six Year Old Wonders

Last April my son and I broached the topic of how babies are made . It was an interesting moment. I wasn't embarrassed or upset by it. Just kind of bemused. I very much enjoy these conversations with him. I find it fascinating to see the wheels in his head turn. I still maintain that he is far smarter than I am. It is only by virtue of life experience that he has not yet surpassed me. Tonight he brought the topic back up. I am not really sure what prompted the discussion. I just know that he must have spent some time wondering about how everything works. So I gave him the down and dirty explanation. To use a silly analogy I gave him enough information to make a basic watch but not enough to craft a Rolex. For a very brief time my explanation was sufficient and then the dam broke. A barrage of questions was unleashed upon me: "Dad, babies don't really come out of tummies do they." "Dad, how big is a vagina? Could I still fit in one?" "Dad, do mommies

Podcasting Post Part II

Hi folks, I am having a few technical difficulties making this work. I'd like to be able to embed the player within my posts but that doesn't seem to be working as the player doesn't render within the posts. When I put the code in the sidebar it works just fine. The question I am mulling is whether to place it there on a "full time" basis. I think that I'll let the idea marinate inside the old noggin for a while and then make a decision about how to proceed.

Jack Tests Out Podcasting

Hi folks. As promised I have decided to try a new podcasting service. You can plan on these being similar to my written posts. The topics will be random and varied. You'll never know what to expect because I speak off the cuff. Hopefully I won't bore you too badly. OTOH if you find my podcasts to be a good sleep aid please let me know and for a small fee I'll help ensure that you don't spend the quiet hours counting sheep. Subscribe Free Add to my Page

Defining Apartheid

I have been thinking about the charges that Israel is an apartheid state following the many excellent posts on the topic by Joel Pollak. Joel will soon be participating in a debate on this topic. He also has a great list of 26 thoughts around the apartheid charge - one of the best apartheid posts on the blogosphere. Apartheid was a legal framework by which whites (a minority) sought to ensure their continued political and economic domination of South Africa. It was based purely on race – South Africans were divided into 2 groups – whites and non-whites (blacks, Indians and colours). There were two components to Apartheid – grand apartheid with its goal of political separation, and petty apartheid which sought to segregate whites from non whites. Both components were equally important and intertwined for one could not succeed without the other. Grand apartheid was to be achieved by creating separate political realities for whites and non whites. This was done by revoking the cit

Monday Night Madness

It is fast and furious here at the Shack. Here is a quick roundup of recent posts: Moses. Keywords. Music and More Honorary Citizenship for Anne Frank The Origin of Garden Gnomes You Never Comment on My Blog And a couple of old posts. The Story of Two Souls The Car Salesman Death- My Son Asked Me Not to Die

Moses. Keywords. Music and More

Over at Rabbi Without A Cause there is a post called Musings on Moshe Rabbeinu’s Yahrtzeit . Here is my profound and insightful comment, it was interesting. No really, I mean that sincerely. I very much enjoyed it. Moshe Rabbeinu is quite the character. From time to time I have wondered just how much of a character he was. It is hard not to be skeptical. It is hard not to wonder about the validity of the stories. Sure there are times when it is easy for me to just accept, to go on faith. Ultimately I believe in God. I am Jewish because I choose to be Jewish, not just because I was born a Jew. But I know a little something about people. Sometimes we see things that aren't really there. Sometimes we see things that we want to see. About once a month I read about people going to visit some odd or obscure object that supposedly looks like the Virgin Mary. That is a whole topic in itself. I remember one moment I had at the Kotel. I was pressed up against it, literally face to the

Honorary Citizenship for Anne Frank

Too little, too late. I just don't see a reason for it. There are other ways to honor her memory and the other victims too. " He first enlisted a friend , Representative Steve Israel of Long Island, a Democrat, in efforts to have a commemorative stamp issued in her honor by the United States Postal Service. The Postal Service, however, informed them that it issued stamps only in honor of deceased American citizens or “American-related subjects,” a permitted category that has allowed stamps produced in honor of Mickey Mouse, Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk. Representative Israel proposed honorary citizenship in 2004, but the bill died. Then a few days ago — prompted in part by the release of documents earlier this month showing that Anne Frank’s father tried desperately in 1941 to obtain a United States visa to leave Nazi-occupied Holland — he introduced it again. “The best way we can honor Anne Frank in death is to give her what her father sought for her in life,” the cong

The Origin of Garden Gnomes

This old post still receives a hundred or so hits each month. Here is a little excerpt about the Garden Gnome. And Might I add that I am not a fan of placing them in my yard, but it takes all kinds of people to make the world go round. "GRAEFENRODA, Germany (AFP) - With his jolly face and little paunch, Reinhard the potter resembles the garden gnomes he produces by the dozen in this little village in Germany where, they say, the phenomenon began. Reinhard Griebel grew up surrounded by gnomes in Graefenroda, tucked in the forests of the eastern German state of Thuringia. This village of 3,500 people claims to be the birthplace of "nanus hortorum vulgaris", or the common garden gnome, which local folklore says was dreamed up by a local potter in 1880. The craftsmen of the village, including Reinhard's great-grandfather, wasted no time in capitalising on the idea and, in the land where the Brothers Grimm created Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the

You Never Comment on My Blog

I decided to run this old post again. It was a simple email. You never comment on my blog. I was a little nonplussed by this. I wasn't exactly sure how I wanted to respond. I have blogged about comments and written about how many blogs I visit . I came up with a goofy word for what you need to retain and expand your readership. I have also blogged about how responding to comments is among the most time consuming parts of blogging. When you write to say that I never comment on your blog I have to ask why are you blogging . Perhaps the problem is that your blog is not user friendly . Perhaps it is just bad blogging . Maybe you should read my list of ways to build traffic to your blog . Or maybe you just have blog envy . The thing is this. Begging for comments is not a good strategy. It doesn't play well and it tends to be uneffective. You probably have a fair number of lurkers . Some people just don't like to post comments. There are endles

Self-Doubt On a Sunday Night

This post was going to be called the death of a blog. It was going to be about how some bloggers just don't have it in them to keep going. That is not a value judgment. It is not a comment about them personally, just a general remark about blogging. Blogging can be tough. It is not always easy to find material to write about. If you have a narrow focus it is really challenging to consistently come up with posts. In some ways I have taken the easy road. Random thoughts- what the hell is that. It is just a cover I use to allow myself to write about anything. Maybe I am being too hard on myself. That is usually how it goes. I am my own worst critic. You can't beat me up because I do it better than any of you could possibly hope to. Perhaps with the exception of certain family members. But even then I am the one who decides to let or not let things bother me. I am the one who stares at the guy in the mirror and wonders if he has really got what it takes. Some days I wonder ho

Liveblogging the Oscars

Ok, it is a bit of a misnomer to say that I am liveblogging the Oscars. I don't really care all that much about them. I love going to see a movie. I very much enjoy a lot of the behind the scenes crap that they tell you about the flicks. But I am just not that into sitting still for 17 hours of nonsense. In my younger years I appreciated it all much more. Nonetheless I turn it on for a bit and then turn it off. Busy doing some work around the house. iTunes is playing Nobody Does it Better by Carly Simon. Prior to that I listened to Tom Jones sing Thunderball. Just call me Bond. This past Thursday night I got jammed on the fabulous 101. Three hours of traffic forced me off at Gower. Cruised down Hollywood Boulevard and then got stuck by the freaking Kodak Theater. Stupid Oscar pavilion was blocking my way and slowing traffic. More irritated by the stupid people who stood in the middle of the crosswalk staring up at the rainy sky. In case you were wondering I was the guy in t

How to Deal With Crazy Astronauts

Ok, let me rephrase that to say this is how NASA intends to deal with crazy astronauts in space. Are you ready for it? Duct Tape. CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) -- What would happen if an astronaut became mentally unstable in space and, say, destroyed the ship's oxygen system or tried to open the hatch and kill everyone aboard? That was the question after the apparent breakdown of Lisa Nowak, arrested this month on charges she tried to kidnap and kill a woman she regarded as her rival for another astronaut's affections. It turns out NASA has detailed, written procedures for dealing with a suicidal or psychotic astronaut in space. The documents, obtained this week by The Associated Press, say the astronaut's crewmates should bind his wrists and ankles with duct tape, tie him down with a bungee cord and inject him with tranquilizers if necessary. "Talk with the patient while you are restraining him," the instructions say. "Explain what you are doing, and that y

Strom Thurmond & Al Sharpton

This story is kind of wacky. NEW YORK (AP) - Genealogists have found that civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton is a descendent of a slave owned by relatives of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, a newspaper reported Sunday. More information can be found here .

Who Sends Me Traffic

Being a stat junkie I have installed a total of 1,762,098 different stat counters that I use to measure traffic on my blog. I know about page views, unique users, popular pages, popular posts etc. Today I decided to check on the sources of my traffic. These run the gambit from people who stumbled onto the blog through search engines, other blogs, aggregators and refugees from cleveland. Instead of listing all of the sources of traffic I have decided to list the blogs that send me the most traffic. I thank you all for your help. Please feel free to continue visiting and telling others to visit my corner of cyberspace. Please go visit these bloggers and tell them I sent you. And now in no particular order I present the following blogs: Treppenwitz Psycho Toddler Orieyenta DovBear Jameel The Waffle King The Shmata Queen Books and Beliefs Ezzie Paula Irina Israel Matzav If I remember I'll have to check this in about 30 days or so to see if there is any significant vari

The Wise Men of Chelm? Nope It is Peretz

Credit for the photo goes to Effi Sharir / AP Peretz- It is time to step down. Just make sure that you take your fancy glasses off first.

Ten Things the Gaming Industry Won't Tell You

SmartMoney has a story that some people need to paste to their nightstands. I am going to grab a few of the items. It is up to you to use the link to read the full commentary about each one. 1. "You can't win..." Everyone knows the house has an advantage. But most casino patrons don't realize just how heavily the odds are stacked against them. Take keno, in which you pick a string of numbers, hoping to match them to what the casino randomly generates. The house advantage is at least 25%, increasing with the more numbers you pick, says John Alcamo, author of Casino Gambling Behind the Tables. The odds of hitting, say, the 10 spot — a string of 10 numbers — are nine million to one. (Getting killed by fireworks is nine times more likely.) Despite those odds, a $2 bet usually pays off at only $50,000 to $200,000. Slot machines are popular because they offer a shot at a big jackpot for little investment. For example, $3 gets you a chance at the Megabucks jackpot, which

I Still Want A Castle

I don't know about you, but I still want to live in a castle . It would be so freaking cool. Of course I'd have my own suit of armor to wear. I'd have it updated to fit with the times. It'd come with a plug for my iPod, spot for a DVD, GPS and some other bells and whistles. I have Q working on it even as we speak. In the interim I just might have to visit one of the Irish castles listed below. Ashford: or 800-346-7007. Belleek: or 011-353-96-22400. Blarney: or 011-353-21-438-5252. Bunratty: or 011-353-61-360-788. Dromoland: or 011-353-61-368-144. Humewood: or 011-353-59-647-3215. Knappogue: or 011-353-61-360-788.

Harry Potter Questions

Elie has a list of questions that he'd like to ask JK Rowling . On a side note here are a couple of comments. I am fan of Harry Potter. I very much enjoy the books and will be sad to see the series come to an end. One of the ways that you can measure the success of the series is by looking to see what groups lay a claim to Harry. A couple of examples that jump to mind. I have seen essays that promote the idea that Harry is Jewish and essays that promote the idea that he is Christian. I think that it'd be kind of fun to poke at both groups by producing evidence that Harry is a member of some sort of pagan religion. Imagine the looks some people might give if they found Harry worshiping a plant or goat. Anyway, I am looking forward to reading Deathly Hallows when it comes out. Updated With Harry Potter/Jewish links Harry Potter and Judaism What’s so Jewish about Harry Potter? Harry Potter is Jewish!

That Is A Lot Of Calamari

(New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries/AP Photo) WELLINGTON , New Zealand Feb 22, 2007 (AP) — A fishing crew has caught a colossal squid that could weigh a half-ton and prove to be the biggest specimen ever landed, a fisheries official said Thursday. The squid, weighing an estimated 990 lbs and about 39 feet long, took two hours to land in Antarctic waters, New Zealand Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton said.

Things Like This Always Happen To Me

I don't know about you but I strive to help all people. The first thing I do when I hear the sounds of trouble is grab my sword and run to do battle against evil doers. OCONOMOWOC, Wisconsin (AP) -- A man says he broke into an apartment with a cavalry sword because he thought he heard a woman being raped, but the sound actually was from a pornographic movie his upstairs neighbor was watching. "Now I feel stupid," said James Van Iveren, who has been charged in the case. "This really is nothing, nothing but a mistake." According to a criminal complaint, the neighbor told police that Van Iveren pounded on the door and kicked it open without warning February 12, damaging the frame and lock. "Where is she?" Van Iveren demanded, thrusting the sword at the neighbor, the complaint said. "Where is she?" The neighbor told police Van Iveren became increasingly aggressive as he repeated the question, insisting that he had heard a woman being raped. The

My Wanderings Part 2

( part one is here ) I learned a lot from number three. The most important lesson was to learn how to duck, tuck and roll. Her idea of marriage counseling was to fling the first object she could find at my head. The devil better pray that number three goes somewhere else. One wrong move and she'll use that pitchfork to explore areas of his anatomy it wasn't made for. Don't get me wrong, number three had her good points. She lit my fire like no one else. When we were kids we used to fantasize about finding a woman like her. Sometimes the boys and I would sit around telling stories. You could always guarantee that one of us would speak about that girl . She was the one who did things that would get you arrested in 37 of the 50 states. Funny thing about these stories was that girl never seemed to live anywhere close to our neighborhood. If you asked how they met it was almost always on vacation. I can remember thinking that if I couldn't marry that girl at least I co

Suha Arafat Wants To Share Her Wealth With Me

Folks I received another one of those friendly notes in which the author explains that in exchange for my help I can receive a sizable sum of money. If you have been following the blog at all you know that upon occasion I have engaged these scam artists in conversation. The latest is so ridiculous I can't begin to explain it. Anyway, I received the note below yesterday. I haven't edited it in any way. What you see is exactly what I saw. This item from National Association of the Deaf has been forwarded to you by Mrs Suha Arafat Yasser. Dear Friend, I am Mrs. SUHA ARAFAT, the wife of YASSER ARAFAT, the Palestinian leader who died in Paris. Since his death and even prior to the announcement, I have been thrown into a state of antagonism,confusion,humiliation, frustration and hopelessness by the present leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the new Prime Minister. I have even been subjected to physical and psychological torture. As a widow that is so trau

My Wanderings

They don't pay me to work at the carnival guessing people's height/weight anymore. The carnies don't like losing to the rubes. They find it unseemly to let more than a couple of people walk off with an oversized stuffed teddy bear. It doesn't matter that in order to win the rube had to drop 12 times as much as the bear cost. It is the principle of the matter. Rubes are rubes. They're suckers and every carnie knows that suckers deserve what they get. At first the life of a carnie appealed to me. I enjoyed the hustle and bustle. I liked the variety, never did want to spend too much living in anyone place. For a while the carnival life suited me just fine. But the story of my life is that of someone with a restless spirit. I can only stay in one place for so long before I get that itch to wander again. That probably explains why I have been married so many times. For some reason wandering eyes are frowned upon. Each time I explain that it is biological. It is a genet

This Song Makes Me Dance

Every time I hear Get Up Offa That Thing by James Brown I have to get up and dance. Sadly I am not much of a dancer. I can two step and do a variety of slow dances. If I am at a Bar Mitzvah/Wedding I can do a mean Kazatzky, but then things get a little ugly. More on this later.

What Should I Blog About?

(Temporary Sticky Post New posts can be found below it.) Hello Dear Reader, It has been a while since I last asked this question. What should I blog about? I am open to hearing any suggestions/requests that you may have. The floor is now open.

Most Popular Posts of the Past 30 Days

Just reviewed my stats and came up with a list of the most popular posts of the past 30 days. Here is a sample of the posts on the list. I love this kind of useless trivia. Haveil Havalim #106- Terrible Twos Edition What Are Your Favorite Song Lyrics? The Paradox of Choice and the Secret to Happiness The Day School Dilemma- Paying For Private School Children of the '70s Raise Your Hands yalla ya Nasrallah - song from Israel Three Days in Israel- Graphic Images The Ginsu Knife Today is Link To Jack Day Morality Without Religion- A Comment to The Self-Righteous

Tuesday Morning Tunes

If you borrowed my iPod here is a list of what I have listened to this morning. And It Stoned Me Van Morrison Baby Please Don't Go Van Morrison Bright Side Of The Road Van Morrison Right Now Van Halen Love Walks In Van Halen Panama Van Halen Hot For Teacher Van Halen Pride (In The Name Of Love) U2 All I Want Is You U2 Maybe I am amazed Paul McCartney Living In The Promise Land Willie Nelson Who Are You The Who Goodbye To Romance Ozzie Osborne

President's Day Roundup

Here is a partial roundup of recent posts. What Should I Blog About? Regrow Lost Limbs Save Rent- Live In Your Truck One Blogger's Confession Part 98,876 When Parents Die Blast from the Past: My Grandfather Laid Tefillin Playing Games With Telemarketers

Regrow Lost Limbs

This article is pretty cool. NEW YORK - Researchers are trying to find ways to regrow fingers — and someday, even limbs — with tricks that sound like magic spells from a Harry Potter novel.There's the guy who sliced off a fingertip but grew it back, after he treated the wound with an extract of pig bladder. And the scientists who grow extra arms on salamanders. And the laboratory mice with the eerie ability to heal themselves. This summer, scientists are planning to see whether the powdered pig extract can help injured soldiers regrow parts of their fingers. And a large federally funded project is trying to unlock the secrets of how some animals regrow body parts so well, with hopes of applying the the lessons to humans. Take a look at this: Up to about age 2, people can consistently regrow fingertips, says Dr. Stephen Badylak, a regeneration expert at the University of Pittsburgh. But that's rare in adults, he said. Spievack, however, did have a major advantage — a br

Save Rent- Live In Your Truck

From the LA Times: After a long day of film classes, working at the Apple Store, rock climbing at the gym and finishing homework in the student union, Cal State Fullerton senior Andy Bussell heads home — to a white Toyota Tacoma with a twin-size mattress in the truck bed, a camper shell for protection and black curtains for privacy. The 26-year-old has been living in his truck for nearly 19 months, skirting rules against sleeping in vehicles while otherwise living the life of a mainstream student. What started out as a way to save some cash has turned into a journey of self-reliance and independence. "Even though I had a good job, I was tired of living paycheck to paycheck and not making any headway with my credit cards," he said. "I've learned that I can push myself, break down my own boundaries. I've been able to learn that I can change and adapt to different kinds of situations." Just checked out Bussell's blog . Apparently he is a MOT and a pa

One Blogger's Confession Part 98,876

The rules of the blog are clear. This is a place for stark and brutal honesty. If I try to make this everything that I want it to be then I need to abide by the rules that I established for myself. OTOH, since this is my joint and I make the rules I can always change them. My son has knack for changing the rules. He hates to lose. It is age appropriate. If you are really interested in this topic you can read more about it here as I think that I am going to focus on the topic of this post which is my confession. And that confession has to do with comments. In an earlier post I admitted to being lurking challenged . " I try to visit as many blogs as I can , but time is fleeting and it can be a challenge. Nevertheless I make an effort. I also make an effort to comment. I am not much of a lurker. I am " lurking challenged ." Some of that is because I feel a bit of an obligation to comment and not be as voyeuristic as I could be by sitting in the background watchin

Old Man Pony Tail and Head Band Dude

Here is a public service announcement that is being sent out for general consumption. Take it for what it is worth. Men with thinning hair should remember that there comes a point in time when you cannot hide it any longer. There are two things that you really shouldn't do. First, there is no reason to try and loop the six remaining strand across your bald head. It is not fooling anyone. The second thing is directed to men with long thinning hair. There comes a point in time when the only way to try and camouflage your loss is to pull it back into a tight ponytail. That pony tail look is great if your name is Crockett and Tubbs or are a member of some Southern Rock band like Lynrd Skynrd. Otherwise it just makes you look like a foolish hick. Last comment. Dear Mr. Headband Dude, I certainly am not the arbiter of fashion, but I do know a few things. Hair bands have been out for more than a decade. Your particular headband was the highlight of your outfit. Let's go over

When Bloggers Are Sued

I am a little late to the party, but it seems that Orthomom is being sued. A public official that was criticized on Orthomom's blog is the plaintiff. Here is a clip from Orthomom's blog: "A LAWRENCE school board member fed up with anonymous kvetching about her on a blog is going to court to stop it from calling her a bigot and an anti-Semite. Pamela Greenbaum, who serves on the Nassau town's board of education, filed papers against Google over nasty comments posted about her on the Orthomom blog. In the papers filed Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, Greenbaum said she was "horrified" to discover that she had been labeled a bigot on the Google-owned blog after voting against using public funds for what she called "private school interests." "I was even more horrified when I discovered the blog reported over 300,000 visitors," Greenbaum said in court papers. Greenbaum alleges that Orthomom - which focuses on issues of interest to Lon

When Parents Die

Eighteen years ago my life changed in a number of ways. It was the year that I suffered through a broken heart. The year that M.B. committed suicide and the year that B's mother suddenly died and then so did A's father. We were only 20 but I didn't spend too much time thinking about mortality. I just shrugged my shoulders and went about my business. Since then I have borne witness to the loss of a number of others. There was another suicide, cancer robbed us of some good friends and of course the death of more of my friends parents. I have been to a lot of funerals. I have more practice than I want offering condolences to mourners. It is not easy. You do the best that you can to offer support and not intrude upon people during intimate moments of grief. I wrote about 'D' on more than one occasion. We buried him. I won't ever forget it. As a pallbearers we helped escort him to the grave. When the time came I took off my coat and shoveled the dirt into his

Text From a Post that I nuked

I didn't like the way that this was flowing so I am scrapping it and starting over. If you are lucky you grow up in house populated by loving parents who do all they can to take care of you. I used to think that this was a given, but I sadly learned a long time ago that some of us have parents who should be a failing grade. That is a topic for a different post. As a child you view your parents as being superhuman. It is hard not to. They seem to have answers to most if not all of your questions and are able to show you all sorts of really cool things. Who knew that mom and dad knew so many nifty tricks. At some point in your childhood you realize that the superheroes you call mom and dad have some shortcomings. Their super patience sometimes wears thin. Occasionally they might even yell at you and those tricks that were so cool at seven just don't play well anymore. Slowly but surely the pedestal that they stand upon shrinks until it reaches a point just slightly above the o