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 seven and I start to feel like a human again.

My therapist says that part of my problem is that I bury my problems. She says that I like to choke my pain so hard that I can't feel it. Personally I don't know what the fuck she is talking about. If it didn't hurt so goddamn much I wouldn't need to rely upon Messrs Miller, Heineken and Bud.

It is not like I am stupid or completely unaware of that I have a problem. I know that things aren't quite right. Healthy people don't drink themselves into oblivion. A fifth of vodka and a handful of Ambien doesn't lead to a good nights rest. On the other hand going thirty or forty hours in between shut eye isn't all that good for you either. So you pick your poison and hope for the best.

Heck, that guy Pete in accounting has been popping Prozac for the last 11 years. Tell me what good it has done for him. I'll tell you the difference between me and him. I know that I am screwed. I know that sooner or later I am going to become a friend of Bill's. Sooner or later I am going to wake up and find me a sponsor because if I don't I am going to die.

You want to know how to tell that your dreams have died. It is when you can speak about death like I do. Most people do what they can to avoid that day. Me, I look forward to it. I am not afraid to die. It looks pretty damn peaceful to me and that is something that I am in desperate need of. I can't remember the last time I was truly relaxed. Why wouldn't I want that.

I won't bore you with the sob story about how I got here. I am not interested in your pity. I don't want to serve as political fodder for some crazy liberal. I don't need them to take advantage of my situation to further their own agenda. And I sure as hell don't need the disdain of those who don't understand how your own head can fuck with you.

That is a road that I have been down a couple times too many. See there was a time when I though that maybe the way to get myself healthy was to try talking to a couple of the boys. Jimmy told me that if I stopped acting like such a pussy I would feel better. Max had more empathy. He said that I just needed to get laid.

I wouldn't bother with seeing my therapist but for a court order. So now every Tuesday afternoon I head down to the VA and spend an hour engaged in mental masturbation. That is what it is. Nothing more than head games disguised as medical treatment. I am still waiting for the therapist to figure out that our therapy sessions come right out of the movies. Sometimes I tell her stories from The Deerhunter. Sometimes I act out parts of The Godfather or Goodfellas.

It is my own inside joke. I think that it is pretty damn funny. You want to know the sad part. Sometimes I think that she has figured it out but since she doesn't care what happens to me it is easier to just let me fuck around.

Speaking of "fucking around" that is a word that apparently bothers her. She doesn't like the word "fuck." She gave me a speech about it being undignified, non descriptive, lacks shock value and in general is inappropriate. Here is the thing, I kind of agree with her. I don't use it to swear. If it is a part of normal, everyday speech all it loses its power. It is not all that effective. Maybe I'll make a real effort to give it up. I don't really know.

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 ever pee or poop when the baby comes out?"
"Dad, who stuffs the babies inside the vaginas?
"Why don't they fall out of the vaginas?"
"Can you have a penis and a vagina?"
"Can you give birth with a penis?"
"Where were you when I was born?"

These were relatively easy to deal with. The hard part was the comment he made. On the way home we stopped at a grocery store to get some milk. While we were in the store we passed a woman who was quite well endowed. My son looked pointed at her chest and said "she must have a lot of babies at home."

It was one of those "dayenu" moments. If he had said this quietly it would have been enough. I won't bore you with the whole sordid tale. Suffice it to say that the only way he could have been louder would have been to have announced this over the PA system. "Huge boobs on aisle 12!"

To quote Steve Hartman, "We move on."

Later on in the car we spent more time talking about the baby making process. He wanted a step-by-step guide to intercourse. Do you stand/sit/lie down? Does it tickle? Does it hurt? Do you need to be a father to do it? Do women get pregnant the first time you do it? etc.

I asked him if the reason he wanted to know all about this was so that he could get a girlfriend and then tried not to laugh. He has told me on numerous occasions that he doesn't like girls, that he won't ever get married and that he wouldn't mind if his sister went on more vacations without him.

This led into another discussion about why he has to go to his sister's dance classes. He thinks that they are boring. I explained to him that when I was a kid I had to go my sister's dance classes too. My father happened to be standing there during this part of the discussion. He was rather surprised when his grandson berated him.

"Grandpa, you didn't teach my daddy that dance class is boring." I stifled a laugh. It was clear that in my son's mind he saw my father as ultimately being responsible for his having had to go to dance class.

That is about all the energy I have for writing now. It is time for this old man to get some shut eye. See you all in the AM.

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.

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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 citizenship from non-white South Africans reducing the ‘legal’ population of South Africa so that the whites would be the demographic majority. Homelands called Bantustans were created and these were eventually to become separate independent states. Blacks were to either be physically moved into these homelands, or nationally tied to them (i.e. they would become a citizen of the homeland that they might have never set foot in; and not a citizen of South Africa). Naturally, even blacks that were not yet assigned a Bantustan, were denied suffrage (i.e. they were denied the right to vote).

Legislation was passed to legally separate blacks from whites in all aspects of daily life. The separate public amenities act ruled that blacks and whites would receive separate public services. Blacks and whites were to have separate education, medical care, transport and beaches. The legislation even pervaded to the use of parks – blacks could not sit on the same benches as whites and they could not even use the same water fountains used by whites.

Laws were also passed prohibiting blacks and whites from having sexual relations. This was policed to the extent that a white could be incarcerated for allowing a black of the opposite sex to sit on the front seat in their car.

Apartheid ensured the domination by a white minority over a black majority in every apsect of their daily lives. Blacks could not participate in the political process, they were forced to study in languages selected by the government and their education was geared towards making them useful labourers for their white ‘bosses’.

It is thus easy to see that Israel is not an apartheid state. All citizens of Israel (whether Muslim or Jewish, Arab or European) have equality before the law. There is nothing close to resembling the separate provision of amenities – Muslims and Jews use the same hospitals, Muslims and Jews use the same public transport, Muslims and Jews all vote in Israeli elections, Muslims and Jews can run for election etc etc. Muslims in Israel can choose to study in the language of their preference and Arabic is even one of the national languages of Israel. In apartheid South Africa, although blacks made up over 80% of the population, not a single African language was recognised by the state.

Click here to read the rest of this excellent post.

13 Photos That Changed The World

Neatorama has a list of of 13 photographs that they feel changed the world. What do you think?

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 wall, body trying to become one with the stone. I was trying so very hard to get to a spiritual place that I find so very hard to hit. It was a very personal moment, incredibly hard. What I said, what I wanted doesn't matter. What matters is that I felt like I was part of two worlds. One was a rational place in which my wants and desires were not tied into any sort of higher power. The second was something different. I don't quite know how to describe it other than I truly felt like I was in the presence of something greater than myself.

Davening is hard for me. It often feels like a chore. Someone once tried to tell me that it is because I am not open to God. Personally I think that it is bullshit. I can't buy into it. My davening is a mix of Hebrew, English and some sort of silent meditation. It is a melange that makes sense to me. I figure that an omniscient/omnipotent being can make sense of it all.

Don't know if this makes sense to anyone else at all. I just know that I go with my gut. It makes the most sense. Some of my greatest experiences have come from loud, raucous and spirited moments in various minyanim. I smile when I think of Shabbos Mincha in BKR.

Back to my comment about the post at RWAC. The Moshe he describes is interesting because he is a contradiction. I like that. It seems far more real to me. He is not a saint who does no wrong. His temper gets him in trouble. Even he who had direct contact questions God. It just makes him more real to me.

More on this at a later time. Now for a sampling of keywords that led some people to my blog.
random thoughts
alligator vs bullfrog sounds
dennis wolfberg
when i was 17 i was very young man song lyrics
orthomom's blog
how do you make a hard boiled egg ask your mom
we are all made of stars song meaning
numbers that have meaning
morality and religion, socrates
frum sex and spanking
love my besheret
johnny and june forever in love
origin of gnomes
Here is a list of some of the songs I listened to this evening.
Kicking Bird's Gift
John Barry- Dancing With Wolves
King Without A Crown
Part Man, Part Monkey
Bruce Springsteen
Raise Your Hand
Bruce Springsteen
I Feel Free
Derek and The Dominoes
Space Oddity
David Bowie
What Is and What Should Not Be
Led Zeppelin
Friends In Low Places
Garth Brooks
I Can't Quit You Baby
Led Zeppelin
Ofra Haza
Tainted Love
Soft Cell
Johnny Cash
I'm The Grumpy Old Troll
Dora The Explorer
And now for one more comment. How many times can Rulon Gardner cheat death. Oy vey.

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 congressman said.

Seventeen House members from both parties have signed on as co-sponsors. It would make Anne Frank only the seventh person to be granted honorary citizenship in the history of the country.

The others are Winston S. Churchill; the Marquis de Lafayette; Mother Teresa; the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who worked to save Jews in World War II; William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania; and his wife Hannah Callowhill Penn.

Relatives of Anne, who died at age 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945, said they were not so certain that this would have been the family’s wish.

“I cannot see the point,” said Bernd Elias, a first cousin and president of the Anne Frank Foundation, a charitable organization based in Basel, Switzerland. “She saw herself as Dutch. That is the country she wanted to be a citizen of.”

Mr. Elias said his cousin would no more have wanted to become an American citizen “than she would have wanted to become a Cuban citizen.”

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 popularity of gnomes spread fast.

"With his red hat, his lantern, his wheelbarrow and his basket on his back, he is the very image of the miners who used to work in this region," Reinhard said.

"He's small enough to worm through the mineshafts and always full of the joys of life."

Germany was in the throes of the industrial revolution and workers on their Sunday off found they liked having a decorative touch to add to the garden where they would sit and relax before returning to the daily grind.

Before long, garden gnomes had conquered all four corners of the world.

For Reinhard, the reign of the gnomes reached a low point in the days when the communist regime in East Germany banned them because they were considered a capitalist symbol, although they were happy to export them to the West in return for hard cash.

Since the mines shut down in this region, gnome manufacture has become the lifeblood of the village. And there is no shortage of work -- Reinhard estimates there are more than 18 million garden gnomes in Germany alone."

Want to read more? Click here because the old Yahoo! link is now dead.

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 endless reasons why and if I were you I wouldn't spend any time trying to figure out what they are.

What you really need more than anything else is passion. If you don't blog with passion you are going to have a tough time gathering readers. Readers flock to passionate posts and passionate bloggers.

It doesn't have to be a particular topic, just blog passionately and you'll see things change. At least I think that you will.

In any case, the real point of this is emailing me to complain that I never post on your blog isn't going to make me do it. It might even chase me away, or maybe not.

Stuff You Might Want To Read

Here are some links to some old posts that caught my eye:
The Search For Answers About Our Ourselves
Building The Blog
Blog Questions We Ask Ourselves
Bad Blogging- Also Known As This Stuff Sucks

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 how I do it.

It is not a new feeling. I am not really sure when it started. Maybe it was back in college or maybe it was earlier than that.

I live a lifetime inside my head. I think too much. Not about everything, but some things. Sometimes I get stuck in a rut. Sometimes I can't help but look around and wonder why I didn't do things differently. Why have I always chosen to take the hard way.

These feelings are not limited to me. I know that others have them. I know that I am not alone. Even though some days I feel like I live in my own world, a universe apart from others.

The pain and the frustration are universal. The anger, the shame and the hurt are shared by others.

Some people tell me that when things get tough I should think of my children. They say that if I think happy thoughts the bad things will go away. Maybe it works for them, but it is not so easy for me. I don't get through the day because I am a father, a husband, a son, a brother or any of the labels some affix to me.

I get through the hard days because I don't know how else to do it. I get through the hard days because I don't know how to give up. I get through it because I live in my head. Because when things get really bad I find the dream. I find the dream and I live it, even if it is inside my head.

There is a soundtrack that goes with it. A score that resembles an action/drama/comedy. Sometimes the music is sad, sometimes it is upbeat. Sometimes it just is.

I feel frustrated. I work so very hard and what comes of it. I tell my children to remember to work hard, that nothing comes easy. I tell them to push and to pull. I remind them that luck is called luck because it is fickle. You don't know if it is going to go your way so you have to make things work for you.

So I sit here and feel disgusted at the words I am typing. Trite cliches. Stupid comments that I want to erase from my screen.

I won't.

Not tonight.

I feel foolish, but better. The venting helps. The blog still serves its purpose and with that it is on to the next post.

Ennio Morricone

The man is a master. I love his music. Someone get my horse.

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 the SUV screaming obscenities at you. I try not to do it. Not because I am afraid of road rage but because it is just a waste of time and energy. Upon occasion people yell at me. Sometimes I know why and sometimes I haven't a clue. Sometimes I blow them a kiss or start laughing hysterically. It makes them crazy.

With my luck I'll do this and find out that they were trying to help me, "Hey Jack watch out for that ditch!"

Boy won't I feel smart after that.

Ok, back to work. Back later.

The Truth Laid Bear

Is it just me or is this place in semi-hibernation.

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 you are using a restraint to ensure that he is safe."

The instructions do not spell out what happens after that. But NASA spokesman James Hartsfield said the space agency, a flight surgeon on the ground and the commander in space would decide on a case-by-case basis whether to abort the flight, in the case of the shuttle, or send the astronaut home, if the episode took place on the international space station.

The crew members might have to rely in large part on brute strength to subdue an out-of-control astronaut, since there are no weapons on the space station or the shuttle. A gun would be out of the question; a bullet could pierce a spaceship and kill everyone. There are no stun guns on hand.

To read the full story just click here.

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:
Psycho Toddler
Jameel The Waffle King
The Shmata Queen
Books and Beliefs
Israel Matzav
If I remember I'll have to check this in about 30 days or so to see if there is any significant variation.

Haveil Havalim #108- Get Lost Edition

Chaim has let it out of the hatch. Check it out here.

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 links slot machines in Nevada and builds like a state lottery from a base of $5 million. The odds of winning? Nearly 17 million to one. You have a better chance of being killed by an asteroid striking Earth..

2. "...and if you do, we might not pay you."

While on vacation in Lake Tahoe in September 1996, Cengiz Sengel stopped to show his wife the lights of Reno, Nev. They walked into the Silver Legacy casino, got a $20 bag of quarters and headed straight to one of the slot machines. A few pulls later, three jackpot symbols popped up in the windows. The Sengels jumped up and down, hugging each other as fellow slot players rushed over to congratulate them. They had just won nearly $1.8 million. Or so they thought. A supervisor, claiming the machine had malfunctioned, denied the Sengels the payout. The couple appealed all the way to the state Supreme Court, which this June ruled against them.

Effie Freeman can sympathize. In 1995, she put $3 into a slot machine at the now — defunct Splash Casino in Tunica, Miss., and was stunned to see red, white and blue ducks line up, signaling a $1.7 million jackpot. But the state gaming commission ruled that it didn't count because the machine had gone into "tilt" mode.

3. "We promise more than we deliver."

Twenty-seven years ago only seven states had lotteries, and only Nevada allowed casinos. Now 37 states have lotteries, and 28 have casinos (including Indian gaming). Why have policy makers and the public allowed gambling to flourish? One reason is the notion that it creates jobs and commerce.

But research suggests the downside far outweighs the benefits. "The economy as a whole would be much better off had we not allowed [casino gaming] to expand," says Earl Grinols, a University of Illinois economics professor. Figuring in a broad range of factors — crime, lost productivity, bankruptcy, social services and regulatory costs — Grinols determined that each pathological and problem gambler costs the public $13,600 per year; the total works out to $180 per citizen. That more than negates the industry's economic benefit, which Grinols estimates at $50 to $70 per citizen.

4. "We know everything about you."

Casinos have developed sophisticated techniques for targeting and profiling repeat gamblers. Harrah's Entertainment (HET) has led the way, hiring marketing experts and a Harvard professor. In 1997, the company began gathering details on players when it rolled out its Total Gold frequent-gambler cards (now called Total Rewards) and has built a database of 19 million customers. Players insert the cards into slot machines or hand them to casino supervisors when they play table games. The cards are marketed as a prestige item that helps players accumulate comps such as free rooms, meals and show tickets. But the real purpose is to track the habits of each customer and tailor a marketing plan that will keep players coming.

If you're a big bettor, you'll find that casinos know all kinds of creepy information — just enough to push your buttons."

This won't stop me from going to Vegas but then again when I go I expect that I am going to lose. So I never take more cash than I am willing to lose. At this point in time I enjoy Vegas for reasons other than gambling- shows, restaurants etc.

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: http://www.ashford.ie or 800-346-7007.

Belleek: http://www.belleekcastle.com/ or 011-353-96-22400.

Blarney: http://www.blarneycastle.ie or 011-353-21-438-5252.

Bunratty: http://www.shannonheritage.com/Bunratty_Day.htm or 011-353-61-360-788.

Dromoland: http://www.dromoland.ie or 011-353-61-368-144.

Humewood: http://www.humewood.com/ or 011-353-59-647-3215.

Knappogue: http://www.shannonheritage.com/Knappogue_Day.htm 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 complaint said that, with the sword pointed at him, the neighbor led Van Iveren throughout the apartment, opening closet doors to prove he was alone.

The neighbor later played for police the part of the DVD he believed Van Iveren heard downstairs."

For the full story please click here.

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 could be her brother. The way I figured it she came from a rich family. Who else could afford to be on vacation that often.

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 traumatized, I have lost confidence with everybody in the country at the moment You must have heard over the media reports and the Internet on the discovery of some fund in my husband secret bank account and companies and the allegations of some huge sums of money deposited by my husband in my name of which I have refuses to disclose or give up to the corrupt Palestine Government. In fact the total sum allegedly discovered by the Government so far is in the tune of about $6.5 Billion Dollars. And they are not relenting on their effort to make m e poor for life. As you know, the Moslem community has no regards for woman, hence my desire for a foreign assistance.You can visit the BBC news broadcast below for better unde rstanding of what I am talking about. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3479937.stm http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3995769.stm I have deposited the sum of 18 million dollars with a security firm abroad whose name is withheld for now until we open communication. I shall be grateful if you could receive this fund into your bank account for safe keeping and any Investment opportunity.This arrangement is known to you and my personal Attorney.He might be dealing with you directly for security reasons as the case may be.My Attorney lives in London (UK) because i want him to be far away from my country Palestinian for the fear of my Governemnt. In view of the above, if you are willing to assist for our mutual benefits, we will have to negotiate on your Percentage share of the $18 mi llion that will be kept in your position for a while and invested in your name for my trust pending when my Daughter, Zahwa, will come off age and take full responsibility of her Family Estate/inheritance.If you are honest, I am going to entrust more funds in your care as this is one of the legacy we keep for our children. In ca se you don't accept please do not let me out to the security and international media as I am giving you this information in total trust and confidence I will greatly appreciate if you accept my proposal in good faith.You are to contact me on this email address( mrssuha@pc.nu ) and send me your full names andyour contact telephone numbers,cell number for my attorney to contact you for us to proceed immediately.Please expedite action is needed. Yours sincerely Mrs Suha Arafat


Here was my response:
Dear Madam Suha,

I was so very pleased to receive your letter from the National Association of the Deaf. I am fluent in multiple signs including flipping the bird so this note spoke loudly to me.

My heart breaks when I think of your situation. It is with great joy that I undertake this event. I might even have to set sail on my ship the Altalena to help you. I have my own crew, the Stern Gang so it would be easy enough to engage their support.

I wonder if I might set my attorney in motion. The honorable Sharon Bibi of the Bank of Levi Eshkol has represented me for years. It seems to me that it might make sense to contact him. He is wise, discrete and an able man who can take care of facilitating a proper place for the funds.

Since I am a man of means and wit I would ask that you give me 27.3%. In addition as I am a spiritual man I will require that you also donate funds to several charities, such as the JNF.

What can we do to push this along?

Kind Regards,

Jack Yerushalmi
In response I received two more notes.

Dear Jack Yerushalmi,

Thanks for your response. I have given your email address to my lawyer Mr Christopher Hall who is base in the UK London to contact you for the full detail.

Mrs Arafat
Here is the subject line from the next note:

Information from Mr Christopher Hall the lawyer to Mrs Suha Arafat From Palestinian
Attention Jack Yerushalmi,
You sound real and ready to listen to the cry for help
of Mrs Arafat and i must say i am very impress and i
will always prefer to work with you. The private
organisation in costodian of this fund is in Holland
Nertherland,it will be of a great favour towards the
completion of this transaction if you will be dealing
with them as the beneficiary bearing in mind the
sharing ratio of 30 percent of the total fund of 18
million United states dollars.
You will be dealing with the diplomats of this
organisation who are special attachees to the
I will suggest that you speak with me on this no and
let us get knowing and trusting each other, telephone
no as follows+447024066333.
Mr Christopher Hall
Here is my response to "Christopher Hall."
Dear Mr. Hall,

The Netherlands are among my favorite. You are a dear klotzok. If you would be so kind to place your finger in a dike I am sure that we can make this work.

As I mentioned in my initial note in order to work together I need Arafat to agree to a few things.

1) A donation to the Hadassah Hospital and a note apologizing for all terror activities.

2) Agreement that should either party default they will be forced to spend time in cleveland.

3) And last two more charities must be included. A small donation to the Church of the Tree Frog and the Church of Charles Cheese.

Can you agree to these terms?


Let the games begin.

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 genetic thing. I can't help it, god made me this way and lord knows that I don't pick fights that I can't win.

You'll forgive me if I skip around a bit. You'll indulge my need to ramble because...I am going to do it anyway. You know, that is almost word for word how my second wife described me. She said that she wasn't going to bother trying to work things out because she knew that I was just going to do it anyway. Sometimes I miss her. She had her good points. Cooked well, kept the house clean and even after the divorce was happy to help keep me and my pal feeling ok. Main problem with her was that she just couldn't shut up.

The third wife was a mistake. Never get drunk with a broad you hardly know in Vegas because stupid shit happens. You know those stories about the wack jobs who meet someone and get married three hours later, well I can wear that hat too.

Here is what our wedding night was like. I was playing craps at one of the smaller casinos downtown. I like them better because they don't have the crowds. The tourists don't hang out here. It is a place for the locals. You don't find the rubes down here. There is not enough glitter to catch their eye. Besides the rubes are too stupid to go somewhere that offers a better chance to win. Morons, all of them.

It wasn't like I was winning, but I wasn't losing either. I was in between shows and my cash was dwindling. The casino was the last place that I should have been but then again I thought that it might be the night that I could bust things open. I didn't need to win all that much. I figured that if I could triple the $500 I had on me I'd have enough to pay rent. I hadn't thought about anything beyond that.

I don't know when she arrived at the table or who spoke to who first. It was probably her. I have a habit of ignoring women. That probably helps to explain why I have been married so many times. Did I mention that there were only about three of us there? It was late afternoon. Too early for the night owls and just about too late for the senior citizenry.

She was wearing a faded blue dress and her jet black hair smelled like the mountains. Our first conversation was a cross between flirting and a fight. That must of have done something for her because she didn't leave the table. By this point we were in between shifts for the casino cocktail waitresses. Since there was no one around I was my normal charming self and asked her to go get me a beer.

If I close my eyes I can see the flames shoot out of her nose, or maybe it is the scar on my head acting up. Old number three showed her appreciation by flinging an ashtray at me. I never saw it coming. It knocked me right on my ass. I am not sure exactly what happened after that. I know that she hurried over to check on me. I told her to move a little close so that I could get a better view and she threatened to chuck that thing at me again.

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
Van Halen
Hot For Teacher
Van Halen
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
All I Want Is You
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 brother, Alan, a former Harvard surgeon who'd founded a company called ACell Inc., that makes an extract of pig bladder for promoting healing and tissue regeneration.

It helps horses regrow ligaments, for example, and the federal government has given clearance to market it for use in people. Similar formulations have been used in many people to do things like treat ulcers and other wounds and help make cartilage.

The summer before Lee Spievack's accident, Dr. Alan Spievack had used it on a neighbor who'd cut his fingertip off on a tablesaw. The man's fingertip grew back over four to six weeks, Alan Spievack said.

Lee Spievack took his brother's advice to forget about a skin graft and try the pig powder.

Soon a shipment of the stuff arrived and Lee Spievack started applying it every two days. Within four weeks his finger had regained its original length, he says, and in four months "it looked like my normal finger."

Spievack said it's a little hard, as if calloused, and there's a slight scar on the end. The nail continues to grow at twice the speed of his other nails.

"All my fingers in this cold weather have cracked except that one," he said.

All in all, he said, "I'm quite impressed."

For the full story please click here.

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 participant on Birthright. Interesting idea to live in the back of the truck. Every now and then I have considered taking more extreme measures to save a buck, but this goes beyond what I was thinking about.

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 watching and waiting. You took the time the write so I'll take the time to remark is the unofficial motto."
I still try to abide by that. I like to show people that I have been by their blog by leaving a remark, but here is the thing. Sometimes I go to my default comment. What I mean by that is I leave some simple remark, two words like 'Nice Post' when I could have given them eight or ten.

Since Spring Training is on the horizon I'll go with a baseball reference. Sometimes I feel like a pitcher who has lost his fastball and is just trying to get through the inning. Instead of trying to fool the batter with a poor imitation of my heater I throw the change up. I try to avoid doing that as it doesn't really feel like the move of a crafty veteran.

So my promise to you is to try and do better. I'll try to leave you with more than the 'nice post' or 'well said' you have received. Or maybe I'll emulate my son and compose a post about the elegant simplicity of two word comments.

Wait and see.

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 the checklist.
  • Green tank top showing off chest hair that looked rather like it belonged on Austin Powers.
  • Holey shorts. Not blessed, nor filled with holes because DKNY thinks it is cool. Just moth eaten, smelly gym shorts.
Ok, that is enough nasty commentary.

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 Long Island's Orthodox Jewish communities - slandered her by calling her ugly and an anti-Semite.

Greenbaum, who is Jewish but not Orthodox, seeks to unmask the blogger known only as Orthomom.

"Every day that the defamatory material remains on the Internet for all to see, I continue to be harmed as more such material is posted,"she said in court papers."
I wonder who serves as legal counsel for Ms. Greenbaum as this is most likely going to be a waste of money. There are different standards applied to proving slander/libel for public figures such as Greenbaum. She is going to have a tough time proving that those conditions exist.

300,000 visitors suggests that the blog reaches quite a large audience. However a simple audit will show that this is a number that was achieved over time. It is not a measure of daily traffic. However Greenbaum has done a great job of providing free PR for Orthomom, as well as providing the rest of us with great blog fodder.

In short this is likely to be a big waste of time and money for Greenbaum. Stay tuned to see what happens.

If you are really interested in hearing other opinions you can check in at the Orthomom roundup. If you are too lazy to click around here is an incomplete list:

Krum as a Bagel
Just Passing Through
At The Back Of the Hill
Rabbi Without A Cause
Charlie Hall
A Barbaric Yawp
Suburban Kvetch
Meryl Yourish
Israel Matzav

Charles Barkley Versus Dick Bavetta

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 grave. I paused for a moment and looked up. I made eye contact with his mother and I won't ever forget the look of horror on her face. It wasn't supposed to be this way.

In all candor, most funerals pale in comparison to this. That is not to denigrate or marginalize the others, but they have been somewhat easier.

Back to the topic. This will sound silly, but it seems like my parents and many of my friends have aged overnight. With varying degrees we all see the affect of time upon our moms and dads. Most of them are hanging in there, but their ability to do things has diminished. Some of them are facing greater challenges than others.

It is not always easy to watch your heroes grow older. It is hard to reconcile how the man who used to effortlessly carry you around now needs your help with little things. And the deaths of the parents of friends weighs upon you because it is another reminder of the mortality of your own parents.

One day they will die. One day we'll lose them to whatever comes next. Call me selfish, but I am not sure that I'll ever be ready to say goodbye.

(author's note: I couldn't figure out how to end this. It might be because it is the middle of the night and I am tired. I don't really care why, I just have to go to sleep.)

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 one that you stand on.

I suspect that many of us go through a time in which we find our parents to be incredible pain-in-the-asses. I know that there was definitely a point in time where I wondered how they had survived so long. Ok, I was an ignorant moron. Call me the case study for the teenager who knew better than his parents.

The good news (at least for my parents) is that it was a short phase and then I realized that they knew so much and went back to the comfort of knowing that I could always ask mom and dad for help.

I don't much like asking for help. It grates upon my nerves to admit that I am having trouble. I prefer to try and work things out on my own. If it is offered I take it, but I still don't like it.

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...