Most Popular Posts of 2007

I just realized that I haven't provided the end of the year roundup of the most popular posts of 2007. In order to provide the most accurate and comprehensive report we had three of the seventeen long time readers review the logs and tabulate the totals,

A couple of ground rules to cover with you. We mulled over whether to include blog carnivals among the totals, After careful consideration we said what the hell.

I have hosted Haveil Havalim about 11 or 12 times now. These posts always are among the most heavily trafficked not only when they are originally posted but long afterwards as well. For the sake of example these all continue to drive traffic here.
Haveil Havalim- The Plain Edition,
Haveil Havalim #106- Terrible Twos Edition
Haveil Havalim #54 Big and Beautiful
Haveil Havalim #61- Call Me Roger Maris
Haveil Havalim #72- Handed Down From the Mountaintop
Haveil Havalim:Number 97 A Sunday Special
And now here is a rundown of some of the most popular posts of 2007 based upon traffic numbers.
  1. What Are Your Favorite Song Lyrics?
  2. The Sopranos Finale
  3. How to Make Hard Boiled Eggs
  4. Saddam Hussein Execution Video
  5. Besheret- The Concept of Meeting the Perfect Mate
  6. Cruising At 34,000 Feet
  7. Today Is Link To Jack Day
  8. Morality Without Religion- A Comment to The Self-Righteous
  9. Name a Song That Makes You Cry
  10. Alone In The Dark
  11. Pressured into Parenthood- A Guest Post
  12. Teach Your Boy to Pee Like a Man
  13. Why The Baal Teshuva World Irritates Me
  14. How Personal Should A Blog Be?
  15. Going Commando
  16. The Day School Dilemma- Paying For Private School
  17. The Ginsu Knife
  18. A Little Digestive Distress- Chicken Vindaloo
  19. The tears that do not fall
  20. I Am Puzzled By Some Things
  21. What do you Call Your Blog?
Also just for the heck of it I am going to include some of my own favorite posts of the past year. They may not have been the most popular, but I like them.
The Golden Age Of The JBlogosphere
A Play In Three Acts
Jack And The Missionary
The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants

Where Babies Come From

When Does A Cow Not Say Moo

Name Five Movies That You Can't Stand

Who Remembers Richie's Pizza?

Taking Stock of Life- A General Accounting

Suha Arafat Wants To Share Her Wealth With Me

My Wanderings

Jack Versus The Hacker

It Is Only Two Bucks

The New Coke of Blogging & Random Thoughts
Is Your Life What You Expected It To Be?

What Is The Hardest Thing About Blogging?

Why I Quit Blogging
Ok, I have grown tired of going through the archives. This should do it for now. Happy New Year folks.

Almost Another New Year's Eve

Sometimes the hardest post to write is the one in which I try the hardest to be the most profound. I am not sure why I bother, ego I suppose. It is nice to feel pride in my creation, to look at it and know that I have produced something beautiful. But that defeats the primary purpose of this blog which is to serve as a record of my thoughts and feelings regarding a particular time or event.

I rather enjoy being able to search the archives to see what I wrote about on this day last year. I mulled over trying to do a similar roundup to the one I did last year but frankly I just didn't have the time to do it. Maybe I'll get around to it later, but I doubt it.

It is well after midnight here and I am wide awake. I enjoy this time of night immensely. And now for a musical interlude courtesy of my iTunes shuffle. I'll let you dear reader identify the song:
I hear the drizzle of the rain
Like a memory it falls
Soft and warm continuing
Tapping on my roof and walls.

And from the shelter of my mind
Through the window of my eyes
I gaze beyond the rain-drenched streets
To England where my heart lies.

My mind's distracted and diffused
My thoughts are many miles away
They lie with you when you're asleep
And kiss you when you start your day.

And a song I was writing is left undone
I don't know why I spend my time
Writing songs I can't believe
With words that tear and strain to rhyme.

And so you see I have come to doubt
All that I once held as true
I stand alone without beliefs
The only truth I know is you.

And as I watch the drops of rain
Weave their weary paths and die
I know that I am like the rain
There but for the grace of you go I.
These milestone posts are kind of fun, even when I feel like I have got nothing left in the tank. I am privileged to have some of the finest friends anyone could ask for. For years we gathered every New Year's Eve and celebrated. The first official party was twenty years ago. We were in college. Those of us who went to school out of state made a point of coming home for the party. It was important. It was special. It was needed. It was where we reconnected and reaffirmed our friendship.

Perhaps that sounds goofy, or strange or melodramatic. But it is accurate. Through the years the party grew in size. We met new girlfriends/boyfriends and shared our lives. There was laughter and there were tears. Over time the girlfriends/boyfriends morphed into husbands and wives. Some of the marriages ended in divorce. Cancer took one of us, suicide took another. Some of us lost parents and we held their hands and later we cheered when their children appeared.

Twenty years later the party is no longer a given. It survived a good 15 or sixteen years of uninterrupted celebration, but eventually things got in the way and we failed to keep it going. Ok, that is not entirely true. The streak was broken but we did bring it back a time or two and we'll do it again.

The party is not dead, it is just waiting for someone to take charge of it and make it happen.

And that ties into something I told my son today. We had a long conversation about life. I told him that it is important to remember to take control of life or it will take control of you. I didn't say that we can control everything. I told him that there are a lot of things that happen that you can't control, but you can control how you react to them.

I explained that we can do our best to try and guide our lives and do the things that we want to do, that make us happy and that is why school is important. Learning is a tool. It is something that we can use forever to help us do things that make us feel alive and involved.

Just before the kids went to sleep I took an extra moment to give them another kiss and another blessing. I told them that you can make your dreams come true, even if you have to go to Texas, Kalamazoo or Kathmandu. All you need to do is believe, make a plan and execute it.

I should add that in the morning I promised to help the big kid look up the word execute in the dictionary. And I should also add that the little genius asked me if the rabbi knows what it means.

I may manage to come up with another post or two before the new year comes, but if I don't let me say Happy New Year. May 2008 be a better year for all of us and the one in which we see the fulfillment of our dreams.

Jews- The Interdenominational Melee

Sometimes I wish that I could spend my day blogging because there is just too much to blog about. Unfortunately I haven't won the lottery yet so I have to limit the amount of time in which I sit here.

Not to mention that I intend to watch my Lakers take on the hated Celtics so this post is going to be shorter and a bit rougher than I would like it to be. On a side note this is one of the things that I like about blogging. I like to do kind of a free flowing, thought association, compose at the keyboard kind of a thing. It may not be as elegant, eloquent or as pretty as I'd like, but it has its own advantages. More on that later. You can find some insight on my thoughts about this at Why I Blog.

Three recent posts caught my eye:
All JBloggers are not the same
Interdenominational smackdown
Exploding Myths
All three of these posts touch upon differences in opinion, some of them quite severe. As I read through them and the comments I wondered how many people just reacted. Did they mean what they said. Did their choice of words convey an accurate portrayal of their opinion.

Sometimes it is hard to tell. Maybe they did mean it exactly as I understood it. And in some cases that was tinged with disappointment. But my purpose is not to point fingers or chastise, rather it is to say that it is this interaction with others that I appreciate. Especially from shall we say, a religious perspective. It is not uncommon or unusual to have persons of differing political opinions gather and speak upon a topic.

Religion, er, Jewish denominations is a different bag altogether. RWAC's comment serves as a good example as to why you rarely see interdenominational gatherings.
But the cost is high: Either the integrity of Orthodoxy or the unity of the Jewish community will pay the price. I will either sell out Orthodoxy or bash everyone else.
To be clear, I am not bashing RWAC. As the 17 readers of this blog know the good Rav not only provides good blog fodder, he has good taste in film and I like him. I think that we could be friends. Pause for the cyberhug of friendship. Oy, does that sound cheesy or what.

Anyway, the Jblogosphere provides an excellent forum for us to gather and exchange ideas, especially for those people who are hesitant to engage in these types of discussions. It is the Marketplace of Ideas at work and that I think is a very good thing for all of us.

Family Pictures

Want to see some great family photos? Click here. If you haven't been to cleveland these will help give you a feel for the place. ;)

Hat Tip to R.R.

Abandoned By The Jblogosphere?

Smooth Stone has a post that is worth a read. What do you think?

Haveil Havalim #147 Is Live

Click here.

Bhutto's Death- Shots Fired From a Grassy Knoll

Pakistan is a just a mess. There are 16 different versions of how Bhutto died, err assassinated. If I am not mistaken the media has issued the following reports:
  1. She was shot. The shooter then blew himself up.
  2. She died from the shrapnel from the suicide bomber.
  3. She banged her head on the sunroof of the car.
  4. As she passed through Dealey Plaza shots rang out from the grassy knoll.
It feels a bit like an episode of South Park. Let's see what CNN has to say about this:
(CNN) -- Conflicting reports about what caused the death of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto are fueling questions about the circumstances of her assassination.

Bhutto's political party disputed official versions of the incident, accusing the government of lying. Video footage of Thursday's attack on Bhutto contains a murky shot of a hand firing a pistol three times, but the Pakistani government said Bhutto -- who was standing through her vehicle's sunroof -- was not hit.

The latest explanation Friday by Pakistan's Interior Ministry said Bhutto, 54, died from a fractured skull after hitting her head on a piece of the vehicle.

Immediately following the gunfire, a suicide bomber ignited explosives near Bhutto's motorcade.

An Interior Ministry spokesman, Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema, said Bhutto "fell down or perhaps ducked" and apparently hit her head on a lever connected to the car's sunroof. Cheema added that the lever was stained with blood.

Cheema's version of events conflicts with that of the government-run news agency Associated Press of Pakistan, which at first quoted the Interior Ministry as saying shrapnel from the bomb blast killed Bhutto. The suicide bomb killed more than 20 others, and at least 100 were wounded.

On Thursday, an initial report from the Interior Ministry said Bhutto died of a gunshot wound to the neck.

Bhutto's death did not result from a bullet or shrapnel, Cheema said, and nothing entered her head.

Dr. Mussadiq Khan of Rawalpindi General Hospital, who treated Bhutto before she was declared dead, said she had "a big wound" on the side of her head "that usually occurs when something big, with a lot of speed, hits that area."

By the time Bhutto was brought to the hospital Thursday, she "was not breathing, she did not have a pulse," Khan said, and her eyes were not responding to light. Doctors tried unsuccessfully to revive her by cardiopulmonary resuscitation, he said.

At a news conference, Cheema showed the video of Bhutto in the vehicle, standing up in the sunroof and looking out at the surrounding crowd.

Farzana Raja of Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party said the government's explanation is "a pack of lies," and she offered another explanation. "It was a sniper shooting," she said, also accusing the government of a "total security lapse."

CNN national security analyst Ken Robinson, who worked in U.S. intelligence in Pakistan during the Clinton administration, said he suspects Bhutto's enemies are attempting to control her legacy by minimizing the attack's role in her demise.

"They're trying to deny her a martyr's death, and in Islam, that's pretty important," Robinson said."

I Have Always Enjoyed this

Why Is She Afraid of a Snow Man?

Tuesday night my daughter and I spent time reading books together. After a while she grew tired of the stories and asked if I would look at some pictures with her.

I shook my head yes and she took my hand and led me to the mantel to review the holiday cards. She inspected each picture and added a little comment "that is cute," or "I like the doggie" etc.

Eventually we came to a picture in which a little girl was trying to hide from Santa Claus. My daughter took one look at it and asked me "why is she afraid of the snowman?"

I guess that Santa is still afraid to show his face around here.

Catch A Tiger By Its Toe Eeny Meeny Miny Doh!

Authorities still haven't determined if these guys were taunting the tiger. Regardless it is a tragic event.
SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- The last minutes of a 17-year-old boy's life were spent trying to save his friend from a brutal tiger mauling at the San Francisco Zoo, only to have the animal turn on him, police and family members said.

Carlos Sousa Jr. and his friend's brother desperately tried to distract the 350-pound Siberian tiger, but the big cat instead came after Sousa.

"He didn't run. He tried to help his friend, and it was him who ended up getting it the worst," the teen's father, Carlos Sousa Sr., said Thursday after meeting with police.

The heroic portrait of Sousa and a timeline of the dramatic Christmas Day attack emerged as officials revealed that the tiger's escape from its enclosure may have been aided by walls that were well below the height recommended by the accrediting agency for the nation's zoos.

San Francisco Zoo Director Manuel A. Mollinedo acknowledged that the wall around the animal's pen was just 12½ feet high, after previously saying it was 18 feet. According to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the walls around a tiger exhibit should be at least 16.4 feet high.

Mollinedo said it was becoming increasingly clear the tiger leaped or climbed out, perhaps by grabbing onto a ledge. Investigators have ruled out the theory the tiger escaped through a door behind the exhibit.

"She had to have jumped," he said. "How she was able to jump that high is amazing to me."

Mollinedo said safety inspectors had examined the wall, built in 1940, and never raised any red flags about its size.

New studies confirm chest compressions alone

"Two large-scale studies published in the Dec. 18 issue of the American Heart Association’s medical journal, Circulation, report that the chances of surviving cardiac arrest are no better – and may be worse – when bystanders perform mouth-to-mouth breathing than if they press on the chest without interruption. n part because of the hesitance of bystanders to initiate CPR, survival rates following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest have remained dismal and virtually unchanged despite several changes of the CPR guidelines over the past four decades. In the two latest studies, research groups from Sweden and Japan compared survival rates of cardiac arrest victims after bystanders used either traditional CPR with mouth-to-mouth breathing or Chest-Compression-Only CPR.

Both studies found no statistically significant difference in survival rates. The Swedish study, led by Katarina Bohm, RN, of the South General Hospital in Stockholm, analyzed outcomes of nearly 10,000 cases, while a team led by Taku Iwami, MD, at Japan’s National Cardiovascular Center in Suita, Japan, looked at the outcomes of 4,900 cases of witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Robert Berg, MD, professor of pediatrics at the UA College of Medicine and a member of the Sarver Heart Center Resuscitation Research Group, co-authored the latter study."

For the full story please click here.

Iranian Jews slam 'emigrant stunt'

Those wacky mullahs are behind this story. I don't believe for a moment that the Iranian Jews are serious.
(CNN) -- -- The well-publicized landing of 40 Iranian Jews in Israel on Tuesday spurred glee among some Israelis and the immigrants themselves and drew public scorn from a surprising quarter in Iran -- two officials from its centuries-old Jewish community.

One of them described the emigration as a "misinformation" campaign and defended their lives under the government of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The arrival in Israel was publicized as the largest single group to arrive in Israel from Iran since Iran's Islamic Revolution, and the immigrants traveled via an undisclosed third country. Other Iranian Jews have immigrated to Israel over the years.


Blogger Karmel Melamed responded here.

"You may wonder why the Jewish community leaders in Iran are so willing to praise the regime that is holding them hostage. The answer is simple...duress! They say whatever their captors tell them to say or else all Jews in Iran will suffer unknown persecution. For this reason, comments made by Motamed and other Jews in Iran lack all credibility.

If we are to believe the Jewish leaders in Iran and accept their words that Iran is a paradise for Jews to live in, then why has the once 100,000 strong Jewish community dwindled down to 20,000? Why have thousands of Jews fled Iran since 1979 and been forced to leave billions of dollars in assets behind if the regime is so fair and gives rights to Jews? If Iran is such a just and fair country to the Jews, then why do Iranian Islamic laws, have separate punishments for the same crimes depending on whether the victim is Muslim or not, or whether the offender is Muslim or non-Muslim? For example, in the case of rape...if the man is a Muslim and the woman a Jew (or any non-Muslim) the man will face no penalty, except pay the woman compensation if it was a very violent rape. But if a non-Muslim rapes a Muslim woman, the only punishment he will face is execution!

Are Soul Mates Real or Fabricated?

What is a Jew to do on Christmas? Well if you skip the movies and Chinese food you just might find yourself sitting around the house with other Jewish friends.

And as you watch 16 boys and 7 girls of assorted sizes and ages run in circles you might find yourself contemplating the great mysteries of life such as:

Will they ever get tired?
Could they scream any louder?
Boy I am glad that my son isn't behaving like that. Don't they teach him anything.
I wonder if they have any ice cream. I really like peppermint.

Or instead of being lost in your own world you might fall into the group conversation about whether there is such a thing as soulmates or besheret. I have tackled the topic in a few different places and from different angles.

Given the things that I have seen and experienced during the past number of years it is a topic that I wrestle with. Apparently more than one of my friends are as well. I can't say that I am completely surprised by this. Some of it makes perfect sense to me. Most of us are somewhere in our late thirties or early forties. We're no longer newly graduated from college or for that matter grad school. And with very few exceptions we are all parents.

So it makes sense to me that we have reached a place where we look around and take stock. Much of your younger years is involved in trying to reach various milestones. There is always something just ahead that you need to work for. And then you reach this place where you are sort of, kind of settled.

It is not that there aren't challenges to be overcome or things to do, there are. But things are different. We have been through so many of the battles and survived so many wars that you can't help but realize that you are not the person you once were. Unless you have no self awareness you have figured out who you are. You know yourself more intimately and better than you did when you were younger.

When my friends ask if I believe in soul mates it makes me wonder about their relationships. Are they still happy with their partner? Are they feeling unfulfilled? Are they growing together or are they growing apart?

Call me a skeptic, but I don't believe that all of these couples are going to survive. If statistics are to be believed than some of them are going to most assuredly collapse.

But none of this delves into the question of whether soul mates are real or a fabrication of the movie industry/society/etc.

I can't give you my answer right now. Ok, I could but then I'd risk the wrath of the soon to be seven-year-old boy who is waiting for me to help him finish building the Lego Jet.

Back a bit later.

Magic Johnson- All Class

Bill Plaschke has a nice column about Magic Johnson. I have run across him a couple of times and every time I did my experience was very similar to the one that Plaschke describes. Here is an excerpt from the piece.
"Hovan, in town for a medical conference, was shopping on Rodeo Drive with family that included his 9-year-old daughter Emily and two nieces.

Across the street, the girls saw a giant man in a white sweatsuit whom they immediately recognized.

"It was Magic Johnson, and they started begging me to cross the street and take his picture," Hovan said.

The first thing that struck the doctor was, how are these little girls so familiar with an athlete whom they never saw play? How did they even know Magic Johnson?

Then he realized his nieces, who live in Southern California, know him from their father being a longtime Lakers fan. And his daughter knew him from watching him on the TNT studio basketball show, seeing his Magic Johnson Theatre and visiting one of his Starbucks.

"I thought, it's amazing how this man's impact spans generations," he said.

Having been ignored by his only other encounter with a pro athlete in his life -- Johnny Bench once blew him off -- Hovan turned down the girls' request.

"I didn't want them to experience the pain of being brushed off," he said. "And I didn't want them to change the opinion of one of their heroes."

Johnson had stopped at a crosswalk light, and the girls kept insisting, so Hovan finally gulped and walked over to him.

"The first thing I noticed was, he was all by himself, nobody around him," Hovan said.

The next thing he noticed was that Johnson didn't try to run, or hide. In fact, when Hovan shakily introduced himself and the girls, Johnson actually came to them.

"He bent down and hugged them," said Hovan. "He asked how they were doing. He put his arms around them and got ready for the picture."

At which point, the camera's button stuck. Of course it stuck. Isn't that always happening to common folk looking for photos of famous folk? The camera breaking just long enough to remind everyone of their place in life, the famous folk walking away in a . . .

"But that was the thing," said Hovan. "He didn't walk away. He stayed there and talked to the girls while I fidgeted with the camera."

While Hovan fidgeted, other pedestrians noticed the pausing Magic and hustled over for their own photos. Then a busload of foreign tourists abruptly pulled up and dozens disembarked to join the scrum.

"It was just awful, I felt so terrible, I held Mr. Johnson up just long enough for him to be swarmed," said Hovan.

Johnson stayed and waited until Hovan fixed the camera and took the photo, then stuck around to take care of everyone else, at which point the doctor noticed something else.

The entire time, Johnson never stopped smiling. He never stopped chatting. He embraced and engaged and touched everyone.

"He went far beyond any measure of responsibility that a public figure should feel," said Hovan. "He stayed far longer than was reasonable."

Surely there was a reality show camera around there somewhere?

"That was the interesting thing," said Hovan. "Nobody was with him. Nobody was watching. There was no reason he needed to stay there other than, he was just being himself."

Will Smith angry over Hitler comment

Here is an update to the Will Smith post. I hope that this is accurate.

"It is an awful and disgusting lie," Smith said in a statement Monday provided by his publicist. "It speaks to the dangerous power of an ignorant person with a pen. I am incensed and infuriated to have to respond to such ludicrous misinterpretation."

"Adolf Hitler was a vile, heinous vicious killer responsible for one of the greatest acts of evil committed on this planet," read the statement.

I Still Hate The Holiday Season

Want to know more? Click here.

The Plastic Surgeon

Here is one more item I really don't need.

Kermit With an Attitude



Hat Tip To: Worse Than Yours

Haveil Havalim #146

It is live over at Soccer Dad's Juke Joint.

Will Smith- Hitler Tried To Do The RIght Thing

I have been a fan of Will Smith for a long time. I think that he is a fine actor and he has always seemed to be a good guy. Until today I don't remember ever reading anything about him that made me shake my head in disgust.

But the comments he made in a recent interview make me wonder what the hell is wrong with him. Take a look at this interview:

Remarkably, Will believes everyone is basically good.

"Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today'," said Will. "I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good'. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming.

I agree that most people are good. I don't believe in original sin or the idea that we are all naturally sinners. But I also believe that there are evil people in the world and Hitler ranks right up there.

It is patently wrong to try and excuse Hitler's actions by saying he did what he thought was right. You don't excuse the rapist by saying that she asked for it and you don't excuse mass murderers by saying that they thought that they were doing the right thing.

CellPhone Contracts- Sunday Music

I was about to rant and rave about the stupid *^&%^*$%*^ cellphone contracts and decided to share some of the songs I listened to instead. So without further ado here they are:
Weekend in New England- Barry Manilow
Whiskey Lullaby- Brad Paisley & Allison Krauss
Kashmir- Led Zeppelin
Walk On- U2
Where The Streets Have No Name- U2
Ain't Got You
- Bruce Springsteen
I'm On Fire- Bruce Springsteen
Don't Give Up-Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush
Barracuda- Heart
Beth- Kiss
Feel Like Making Love- Bad Company
One Less Set Of Footsteps - Jim Croce
Home Sweet Home- Motley Crue
I think I love you- The Partridge Family
Thunderstruck- AC/DC
Loaded- Primal Scream
Vincent- Don McLean
Long Walk To Freedom- Ladysmith Black Mambazo
The Mans Too Strong- Dire Straits
Our House- Madness

My Beard

When I think back on my childhood I can remember wondering how long it would take to grow a beard. I used to wonder if it was something that took a really long time or if I could do it overnight.

Growing a beard was something that I thought was pretty cool. In part it was because I thought that anyone who grow a beard was an adult and could do adult things and in my mind that was something I wanted.

Little did I know that one day I would become a modern version of a werewolf. If you asked me when it happened I don't think I could tell you. One day I was this clean shaven kid and the next day I was covered from head to toe in in thick black hair.

We all know how cruel children can be. Fortunately I have very sharp teeth to go along with the fur so the comments were kept to a minimum. For some reason people find howling and barking at the moon to be disconcerting. Maybe they are just jealous of my coat. With a beard like this you don't really need a jacket. That is a plus.

Then again I do remember the time that James, Bill and Manny kept attacking me with strips of duct tape. It was very uncool of them. Later on I'd repay them by delivering pizzas, or should I say that beneath the cheese lay a fine coating of the secret ingredient.

Ok, if you are wondering that is not really me in the picture. I have plenty o'facial hair and a reasonable amount covers the rest of me. The beard is an intermittent adventure. By that I mean that I spent a good deal of the year clean shaven. The beard is something that I grow every now and then.

Sometimes I cut it off and wear it as a goatee and sometimes just a mustache. The mustache is an infrequent guest. I look ridiculous in it. The beard works, but the mustache is something else. Wife, kids, family, friends and strangers fear it.

The thing with my beard is that frankly I get bored and decide that I don't want it anymore. Since it only takes a couple of weeks to grow it again I usually don't think twice about cutting it off.

When I am follicly enhanced people treat me differently. In a pair of Levis, boots and bandanna I play the role of construction worker or biker. It is kind of nice to do this at the mall or other stores as people tend to give me the right of way. If I wear slacks and a white shirt I can be certain that people ask when I received smicha or at least a guarantee that I'll be called on for the minyan.

These things happen less frequently when I am cleanshaven. Not that I really care all that much either way. Being cleanshaven has its ups and downs too. Certainly it is easier to eat. The beard is a magnet for crumbs, sauces of all types and miscellaneous particles from the universe.

Not just that but the beard is so strong that I can't feel these things hanging there, not unless I am completely soaked, but that is a different story altogether.

My daughter likes to play with my beard. She enjoys grooming me. She brushes my hair and then fixes my beard so that I can be beautiful. I tell her to be careful how beautiful she makes me because then all the girls will chase me. She says that I shouldn't run from them and that it is ok if they want to kiss me because girls like to kiss boys.

I told her it is ok for other girls to like doing that and that she can wait until she is 30. She told me that she doesn't want to kiss any other men besides her abba and maybe grandpa, but she is not sure.

Then she told me that my beard tickles her face and asked if I would shave it. I told her that I'd think about it and then she told me that she knows that means no. Damn, the girl is 3.5 and she has me figured out. I better come up with a few new tricks real soon or I am going to be in big trouble.

And now if you'll excuse me I have to go trim this beast a bit. I'd rather not look like bigfoot.

Jewish GIs in Iraq

CNN has an interesting story about Jewish soldiers in Iraq. Jews in Green also often has some interesting stories.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- In the waning sunlight hour of a chilly winter afternoon, a chorus of Hebrew prayer rises from a small, fluorescent lit room on the outskirts of Baghdad.

Friday sunset marks Sabbath, or Shabbat, for observant Jews at U.S. Army Camp Striker, Iraq.

Leading the Shabbat service is Chaplain Andrew Shulman, one of just three ordained American rabbis serving hundreds of Jewish-American troops stationed throughout Iraq.

"Being deployed away from home brings people to the chapel," says Shulman. "You don't have a lot else going on a Friday night here. Back at home, you are competing with the movies and the long weekends and everything. Here, people are really looking forward to breaking up the monotony of the week."

U.S. Army officials estimate that fewer than 1 percent of the some 16,000 service members in Shulman's 3rd Infantry Division identify themselves as Jewish. But the chaplain often travels by Black Hawk helicopter to perform Jewish rites for troops who request them anywhere in the country that was once home to ancient Babylon.

"Hanukkah was a really busy time around here," Shulman says. "Babylon had a very special place in Jewish history. This is where we were exiled 2,400-2,500 years ago. To come back and have the Hebrew language wafting through the halls of the chapel, it is special."

Holidazed

It is another Saturday night and I am back at the keyboard clickety- clacking away destination unknown. G came home today. Technically the old man doesn't live here anymore, but if you ask him he'll tell you that LA is still home.

I am looking forward to hanging out with the big guy and he is big. Just short of 6'4 with arms like a gorilla, and hairy like one too. Hee hee, I am laughing just thinking about it. He knows about the blog but hasn't ever seen it. It is a good thing because with those simian like arms he could smack me from 6 feet away, and he would.

There aren't too many people who aren't called mom or dad that have known me longer than he has. When my son heard that G was going to be coming over he asked me if we were going to act like little boys again. I guess he remembers watching the two of us wrestle on the floor last year.
G turns 39 next week but I can assure you that the wrestling will continue for as long as we are physically capable of doing so. Since he is pushing 40 I promised to take it easy on him.

I also told him that it is about time we broke out the cigars and liquor again. Neither one of us would consider ourselves smokers. When I was twenty I smoked a pack of Marlboro Reds and decided that I didn't like it so I never had another cigarette. Somewhere around 24 or 25 we got into cigars and scotch. So for a few years we'd spend a couple of bucks on different brands and just enjoy ourselves.

A good cigar is something that I truly enjoy but not anything that I do with any regularity. I don't think that I have had a cigar since the last bachelor party I attended. For those who are keeping track that was about 2003 or so. But lately I have had a real urge to bust out the Zippos and just enjoy a rare treat.

One of these days I'll have to share a few more cigar memories, there are some good ones.

I don't know about y'all, but I am ready for the holidays to go away. I am tired of the crowds and sick of the music. I don't need to hear any more stupid comments about the reason for the season. I don't need any more pushy salespeople, obnoxious solicitations for charity or stupid commercials.

The Grinch is my hero.

Had a long discussion with a dear friend about love. More specifically we talked about the love of your life and what to do if you decide that you are not with them. Maybe I should make that into its own post, but first I should finish are you smarter than a rabbi.

Are You Smarter Than A Rabbi? Part II

Hello and welcome to to Are You Smarter Than a Rabbi Part II. For those who are late to the party may I recommend that you read the first part by clicking here. Before we get started I'd like to refer back to a comment from the first post.

Kol Ra'ash Gadol provided an answer to my son's question. If he wasn't so young you'd probably find his response to be kind of rude.

Here is what KRG said:
Tell him that I told you that girls aren't jealous not to have a penis, because all out parts are neatly tucked away where they can't get hurt. And I'm a rabbi, so I can be smart about some things like that.
bwah-hah-hah-hah-hah! [rofluIwm]
My son's reply to this was to ask if she knew a lot about a penis because she had a father or brother. I didn't ask him to clarify, but it was clear that his disdain for girls overrode his respect for rabbis.

If you want to see something funny watch his face when you tell him that one day he'll think that girls are fun and interesting. Anyway, back to the matter at hand.

Son: I think that you are smarter than the rabbi.
Dad: I appreciate that, but it is not important to me.

Son: It is to me.
Dad: Why?

Son: Because you're my dad.
Dad: Thank you. But really it is not that big a deal.

Son: I get it. You think that the rabbi is stupid and you don't want to hurt his feelings. You are being nice.
Dad: No. I don't think that the rabbi is stupid.

Son: You told me that rabbis are people.
Dad: Yes, rabbis are people.

Son: Sometimes people do stupid things, so maybe the rabbi is stupid.
Dad: Yes, sometimes people do stupid things, but that doesn't mean that the rabbi is stupid.

Son: Can I ask the rabbi?
Dad: What do you want to ask?

Son: I want to ask him if he has ever done anything stupid?
Dad: That is not such a nice thing to say. You shouldn't ask that.

Son: You told me that I could ask the rabbi anything.
Dad: You can, but that doesn't mean that you should ask a question that is going to be offensive.

Son: What does offensive mean?
Dad: It means that some questions will hurt a person's feelings. So you shouldn't ask him those.

Son: Right, because if he is a stupid rabbi he is really going to feel badly.
Dad: No, because we don't want him to think that we are calling him names.

Son: Moshe's father said that the rabbi belonged in Chelm and that he wears ugly ties
Dad: That is not something that we should talk about. Moshe's father did something that wasn't nice.

Son: Your ties aren't as ugly as the rabbis.
Dad: I don't wear ties that often.

Son: I know, but they aren't as ugly as the rabbis.
Dad: Ok, let's get something straight. It is not nice to talk this way. We don't judge people by how they dress, just by what they do.

Son: But dad, he bought those ties and they are ugly. That is judging him based upon something he did.
Dad: Listen to me, this is not a conversation that I want to have with you. It is not nice and we are not supposed to talk about people this way.

Son: Can G-d talk to people this way.
Dad: G-d can do whatever G-d wants to do.

And before he could confound me with anymore questions I offered to buy him an ice cream cone. Sometimes that kid kills me.

Zohan- I'll Probably See it

He has the worst Israeli accent I have ever heard, but I'll probably go see it.

Kosher Cheeseburgers Meet Breakfast Sausages

Ezzie and Babka have posts that remind me that the world is continually changing. One of these days someone is going to promote all of these products alongside a big heaping glass of soy milk.

Stay Tuned for Smarter Than A Rabbi Part 2

Part one is here. The second part is forthcoming.

It Made Me Spit Blood

The first time he hit me in the mouth was a shock. It was a sucker punch. I didn't see it coming. In school they would have said that it rang my bell and it did. For a moment I wasn't quite sure where I was or what had happened. I suspect that he hit me another time or two, but I am not really sure.

Maybe that is why I fell. I'd like to say that I took his best shot and laughed it off, but that wouldn't be entirely true. As I felt my legs go out from under me I reached out, fumbled for something to hold onto. With my right hand I managed to grab onto an arm, or maybe it was a shoulder. I am still not real sure.

But what I do know is that I pulled him down with me. It wasn't intentional. Just a case of dumb luck but sometimes dumb luck is all that you need because I landed on top of him. And then it was on.

Two guys clutching, scrambling, grabbing and cursing at each other. I didn't know who he was or why he had hit me. I just knew that I was angry and that the jackass who was responsible was still trying to send me on an unplanned vacation.

Truth is that I am in desperate need of some time off. Too much happening. Too many things going on. Trying to stay in control and realizing that there is only so much you can do. However a trip to a rehab facility is not my idea of a good time so I was most uncooperative.

Adrenaline kicked in and inside my head I could hear Rage Against The Machine singing Bulls on Parade. It is not happy music. It is not the kind of sunshine and rainbows stuff that you sing with your children. This is seek out and destroy. Grab his right arm and dislocate his shoulder so that he can't hurt you again.

The days of the honorable schoolyard scrum are gone. If there was any doubt in my mind about that his sucker punch took care of it. Back then a guy who threw a sucker punch then faced a severe beating from a group of guys. It just wasn't done. If you wanted to be a man you acted like a man.

Not that any of this matters. If you force me to defend myself now I will use any and all means at my disposal. It is not melodramatic, it is reality.

It took a good two weeks for those bruises to heal. It is not a lot of fun to spit blood and even less to see it come from other unexpected places. But the physical pain isn't really the problem. Those scars eventually heal and fade away.

It is the mental and emotional distress that is the issue. The inability to sleep and the lingering unease in unfamiliar environments take a toll upon me and I just don't know how much longer I can keep it up.

A Different Sort of Children's Books







Slip Sliding Into The Office

One of the many reasons that I love living in Los Angeles is because of the weather. It suits me. Most of the time I can wander around in a t-shirt and shorts quite comfortably. But every now and then the weather gods decide to punish me. Today was one of those days.

It is raining here in the City of Angels. Thanks to the extra precipitation my morning commute was extended a bit longer than normal and my entrance into my office building more closely resembled rhythmic gymnastics than my ever so exciting sashay.

That is a sad attempt at trying to cover up that I slipped on a wet floor and slid into the lobby. I didn’t fall down as hard as I could have. No one will make any money off of a videotape of me sliding into home. For that matter it was relatively early and I am not sure that anyone noticed. Or if they did the selfish bastards didn’t bother to ask if I was ok.

So I picked myself up and shook off the dust and wandered over to the elevator and waited for it to arrive. As I stood there I took stock of myself and decided that nothing seemed to be permanently damaged. No broken bones and no bruises that I could detect.

Still, when I got to my office I decided that as a precaution I would stretch and then apply one of those sticky heat pads to my lower back.

I wore that sucker for a good three hours and then decided that it was time to remove it. That is when I learned that I have quite a bit of hair on my lower back, or at least I did. If I wasn’t awake before my self inflicted “wax job” woke me up.

And to be honest I have this sneaking suspicion that tomorrow I just might find that I am little bit sore. Sometimes aging is a lot less fun than it should be.

Are You Smarter Than A Rabbi? Part I

The almost seven-year-old hit me with a new series of questions today. I love it. I love his interest in the world around him and how it forces me to constantly think about what I believe and why and how to best explain things to him.

Sometimes the answers to these questions spur new questions or simple spin-offs about the original ones. And let's not forget how simple comments can lead to all sorts of new stuff.

You'll recall that in an earlier post I recounted his curiosity about body parts and whether they ever stop growing. I did my best to answer his questions without providing too much information. He doesn't always need to know how to build a watch, sometimes it is enough to just tell him the time.

Anyhoo, today we revisited a topic that I think is important. How to pee in a public restroom. As alluded to in previous posts there is an art to this and since most preschool teachers are female it is not being passed along as well as it should be. This really should be a separate post, but in the interest of space I'll try to condense it.

It seems that some people teach the boys to pull their pants well below their groin. It makes sense as if the rookies will often inadvertently urinate on their clothes. However, they will eventually be in a public restroom where it is not smart for little boys or big boys for that matter to stand at a urinal with their pal in their hand and their pants around their ankles.

I have spent a lot of time explaining to my son why he needs to learn how to take care of his business in a fashion that doesn't require following the aforementioned ritual. Earlier today I learned that he has paid attention to our discussions about this as well as the one from the earlier post.

While running errands he told me that he needed to make a stop so off we went. I drank three cups of coffee so the timing was good for me too. Once inside we waited for a free urinal. He went first.

Son: Dad, It worked.
Dad: What worked?

Son: I peed with just one hand.
Dad: That is good.

Son: I can do it with no hands. Want to see?
Dad: You shouldn't do it that way. You might pee all over everything.

Son: I know. I wanted to see if you remembered.
Dad: What if I had forgotten.

Son: I would have reminded you.
Dad: That is good.

Son: Can girls sit and pee in a urinal?
Dad: They could, but I don't think that they'd like it.

Son: They must be so jealous that they don't have a penis. (His words, not mine.)
Dad: You might be right.

Son: I am going to tell mom that you said she wishes she had a penis.
Dad: I'd rather you don't.

Son: Why?
Dad: Because I didn't say that.

Son: Why didn't G-d give girls a penis?
Dad: That is a good question. I'll have to think about it for a moment.

Son: Do you think that the rabbi would know?
Dad: I think that I can give you an answer that is just as good as the rabbi.

Son: Are you smarter than a rabbi?
Dad: Well it depends on what we are talking about. Different people know different things.

Son: Yeah, and you know more about a penis than the rabbi does.
Dad: Not always. Do you remember what a mohel does?

Son: Is the man that cuts your penis in half?
Dad: He doesn't cut your penis in half.

Son: If your penis kept growing forever it wouldn't matter if he did.
Dad: That is true, but we know that doesn't happen.

Son: I still want to know if you are smarter than a rabbi?
Dad: Why do you want to know?

Son: Because I already know that you are stronger than the rabbi. You could beat him up.
Dad: Why would I want to do that.

Son: Well when I was a baby he might have cut off all of my penis and then I'd be like a girl. Could that really happen?
Dad: No, that wouldn't happen. And for what it is worth your mohel is a urologist. That means he is a doctor who is an expert on penises. He did your cousin's bris. Do you remember?

Son: Yes. His mommy kept crying.
Dad: She didn't cry the whole time.

Son: She is your little sister, right?
Dad: Yes, she is.

Son: Did you make her cry?
Dad: When?

Son: When you were kids. Sometimes I make my sister cry.
Dad: No, I didn't make her cry and you shouldn't make your sister cry either. (Ok, so I stretched the truth a little. It is a shalom bayit thing.)

Son: Dad, when you peed it was really noisy.
Dad: I guess that I really had to go.

Son: Remember I told you that it would be better if our penises were bigger because we wouldn't have to stand so close to the urinal.
Dad: I remember.

Son: When you pee that hard you can splash yourself.
Dad: Did I? (looking down and not seeing any spots on my pants.)

Son: No, but that guy in the black suit did.
Dad: It is not nice to point.

Son: He looks like the rabbi. Do you think that you are smarter than him?
Dad: I think that we need to finish washing our hands so that we can finish running our errands.

Stay tuned for part two.

Liveblogging The Survivor Finale

I used to be a big fan of the show but over the last few years I have grown tired of it, especially the finale.

Why? Because every finale consists of people crying because someone lied to them. It is a show that is designed to force you to massage the truth. After umpteen seasons it is virtually impossible to come up with a strategy that hasn't been seen.

People are going to lie. They are going to promise you the world because they think that it will help them win a million dollars. Stop crying about the lies. Grow up and deal with it.

Haveil Havalim #145- Anniversary Edition

The 3rd anniversary edition is here.

I Love This Version- Ray Charles Ring of Fire

Saturday Night Music

I have received a lot of feedback asking for more lists of the music I have been listening to. I'll let you decide what I listen to while I work/exercise and what I listen to when I am trying to wind down.

Here is a recent snapshot of some of what I have been listening to on iTunes.
The Hustle- Van Mccoy
Funkytown- Lipps
Don't Stop- Fleetwood Mac
Tusk- Fleetwood Mac
And I Love Her- The Beatles
Norwegian Wood-The Beatles
Visions of Paradise- Mick Jagger
What hurts the most-Rascal Flatts
I Melt-Rascal Flatts
Ring of Fire on the Johnny Cash Show-Ray Charles
Seven Spanish Angels- Ray Charles and Willie Nelson
Danny Boy-The Irish Tenors
You'll Never Walk Alone-The Irish Tenors
Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Babe- Barry White
BOLERO-RAVEL
Mr. Brightside- The Killers
What I have Done- Linkin Park
Numb/Encore FULL-Jay Z and Linkin Park
Without Me-Eminem
Breathe- Prodigy
Lips Like Sugar-Echo & The Bunnymen
Adam's Song-blink-182
Don't you forget about me- Simple Minds

You Can Live Your Dreams

Life doesn't have to be a series of slaps in the face. Reality today doesn't have to be the cold reality of tomorrow. You can live your dreams. You can make it happen.

Hold on tight and don't lose focus.

Sometimes you are climbing the mountain but it always leads into the valley below.

My New Toilet

Great Moments In Parenting- Parts of our Body That Grow

The almost seven year-old boy and I have an ongoing ritual of talking about life and the things that happen. Many of the best conversations come just before his bedtime. In part that is because he is trying to stall and in part because he is already lying quietly in bed and in a thoughtful mood.

Here is a transcript from a recent conversation.

Son: I heard something at school.
Dad: What did you hear?

Son: Justin said that some parts of our bodies never stop growing.
Dad: What did Justin say?

Son: He said that our hair, our nails and our skin never stop growing.
Dad: Ok.

Son: Is that true?
Dad: You and I should spend a little time researching this. Do you know what that means?

Son: Yes. We'll go to the 'puter and look at the encyclopedia.
Dad: We don't have to use the computer. We can always go to the library and use the research books to find this information. (Have to make sure that he knows how to do things the old fashioned way.)

Son: Dad. Why don't our hands grow forever?
Dad: Good question. It might be hard to find a new baseball glove if they grew forever. Let's look that up.

Son: Ok. What about our feet? Why don't they grow forever?
Dad: I bet that it is tied into the same reason our hands don't. Let's take a look tomorrow.

Son: I am confused about something.
Dad: What?

Son: Justin told me that his brother said your penis can grow forever.
Dad: (Inside my head I hear Robbie The Robot saying "Danger Will Robinson) I don't think that it works like that.

Son: But dad, sometimes my penis grows and sometimes it does not.
Dad: I know. We talked about this and why it happens. Do you remember?

Son: I do. But what would happen if your penis never stopped growing?
Dad: Do you mean what would happen if you never lost your erection?

Son: Yes and what would happen if it keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
Dad: Your erection doesn't last forever. Remember I told you about how it helps make babies.

Son: Yes, but what if it did. What if it kept growing for the rest of your life. What would you do?
Dad: ( I wanted to say join the circus or start a harem, but I just couldn't do it.) I am not sure. what do you think would happen?

Son: I think that it might be hard to find pants to wear. But it could be really good.
Dad: Oh. What would be really good?

Son: If you had to pee really badly you wouldn't have to get so close to the toilet. You could stand really far away and just aim.
Dad: That might be nice.

Son: Tomorrow I am going to tell everyone that you and I want our penises to grow really, really big.
Dad: I don't think that this is the kind of thing we should share. Remember there are private parts of our body that we don't share.

Son: Oh yea. I'll just tell mom. She'll make sure that you drink a lot of milk so that your penis will keep growing.
Dad: Uh, ok. I think that it is time for bed. Get some sleep and I'll see you in the morning.

Son: Ok. I love you dad.
Dad: I love you too.

And now you see why sometimes these conversations can be a little tricky.

Lightning Is About To Strike

Lightning is about to strike again, not a doubt in my mind that we're going to see it live and experience in 3D. Some lips are bound to ...