A Yom Hashoah Music Video

You Might be Dead But Your Body Can Still

CNN has the full story. I'll share the list with you. I think that they forgot to include mannequin and hat/coat rack. I have a few quick comments.
1. Get married (Some people equate marriage with death.)
2. Unwind with a few friends (Sure, I always keep a corpse to pal around with. They never interrupt me.)
3. Tour the globe as a scandalous work of art
4. Fuel a city
5. Get sold, chop shop-style
6. Become a Soviet tourist attraction
7. Snuggle up with your stalker
8. Don't spread an epidemic
9. Stand trial
10. Stave off freezer burn

Wanted: Women to eat chocolate For a Year

Who wants to volunteer for this.
LONDON, England (CNN) -- Scientists in the UK are seeking 150 women to eat chocolate every day for a year in the cause of medical research.

The trial, at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, eastern England, will test whether a natural compound found in cocoa, the main ingredient of chocolate, could cut the risk of heart disease among women with diabetes.

A Belgian confectionist has created the special chocolate bar containing high levels of flavonoids -- a plant compound that has been shown to reduce heart risk factors -- to be used in the experiment. Soy, another natural source of flavonoids, has also been added to the bar.

Participants, who must be postmenopausal women under the age of 70, will have their risk of heart disease tested on five occasions during the year to see whether change occurs.

"The hypothesis of this exciting study is that flavonoids may improve the level of protection against heart disease over and above that provided by conventional drugs," said Dr. Ketan Dhatariya, a consultant in diabetes at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

"If the trial confirms this, it could have a far-reaching impact on the advice we give to postmenopausal women who have type 2 diabetes."

For the full story click here.

Vocabulary Time Part 7

It is vocabulary time again. Here is part one, part two, part three, part four, part five and part 6. It is probably time to provide a list of the words that have graced your computer screen. You'll be able to find it beneath the current words.

Here are your new words:

Ollendorffian
gerascophobia
bathysiderodrophobia
hormephobia
cacoethes loquendi
cacoethes scribendi

And here is a list of the past vocabulary words we used.
saudade
Scaturient
Walpurgisnacht
barlafumble
defalcate
Dactylonomy
recrudesce
videlicet
temerarious
Tentiginous
Urinator
usufruct
Jackpudding
Jobbernowl
nikhedonia
quidnunckery
mancinism
macroverbumsciolist
mastigophorer
matutolypea
xenodochiophobia
Xenodochium
Knobstick
effulgence
divaricate

Haveil Havalim #163 is Live

I am pleased to announce that Haveil Havalim #163, the Best of The Jewish/Israeli Blogosphere is now live at Tzipiyah.

Bork, Bork, Bork, Sushi.

The following is a Guest post by The Waffle Master.

Floozle; chair
Harumbeldee: lamp
Brap: lightbulb
You've seen these words over and over in the Ikea catalog, yet the voice of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets
keeps ringing in my ears.
Turns out, the Japanese are having trouble with Ikea as well. (source: http://www.thelocal.se/11394/20080428)
Swedish do-it-yourself furniture giant Ikea has been ordered to give better instructions in Japan after a customer suffered minor injuries assembling a chest.
The man in Chiba, in suburban Tokyo, was hurt in the eye by a broken screw last July, the Japanese industry ministry said.

"The cause of the accident is believed to be the customer using an inappropriate size of straight slot driver instead of a cross slot," the ministry said in a recent report.

"But the instructions on the product failed to give enough information on what kind of screwdriver should be employed or to alert customers on the risk of building the product," it said.

Ikea has won legions of fans with its affordable yet stylish designs, but its no-frills self-assembly approach has also caused legendary tales of frustration.


Ikea's giving Chinglish a run for their money.

The Search

Assuming that I don't make any major changes this section follows Redemption.

"Last night, I said goodbye
Now--it seems year
I’m back in the city
Where nothing is clear
But thoughts of me --holding you
Bringing us near

And tell me
When will our eyes meet
When can I touch you
When will this strong yearning end
And when will I hold you again

Time in new england
Took me away
To long rocky beaches
--and you, by the bay
We started a story
Whose end must now wait

And, tell me
When will our eyes meet
When can I touch you
When will this strong yearning end
And when will I hold you again

I feel the change comin’
--i feel the wind blow
I feel brave and daring!
I feel my blood flow
With you
I can bring out
All the love, that I have
--with you there’s a heaven
So earth ain’t so bad

And tell me
When will our eyes meet
When can I touch you
When will this strong yearning end
And when will I hold you again"
Weekend In New England

Euphoria, that was the word. That was what I was feeling, euphoria, I was euphoric. I kind of liked that word. It is so bubbly and upbeat. And after having spent so much time suffering through life I felt like I had been given a second chance at life.

I'd like to say that this was enough to make me change who I had become, but that would be a lie. I had spent far too long acting like a miserable wretch to lose all of the baggage that came along with that. I still was drinking far too much, just not as often. The demon inside was more easily controlled, acts of uncontrolled rage took place with less frequency.

In some ways the hardest part was letting myself feel again. I know that it sounds like some kind of new age bullshit, but I started looking inwards. I began to try to and understand what I was, who I had become and how I could get beyond it all again.

That meant that I had to let myself feel the pain of the loss. I had to admit that not having her hurt. There was a gaping hole inside me that just ached for her. A few times I just broke down in tears. I cried because I had lost my love. I cried because I was ashamed of who I had become and I cried because I felt like I might be able to fall in love again.

"Time in new england
Took me away
To long rocky beaches
--and you, by the bay
We started a story
Whose end must now wait."
And thus began the search for her. I was terrified that I might actually find her and that she might actually take me back and I was terrified that she might not or that I couldn't find her. Just thinking about her made my pulse race and my heart pound.

I was so very afraid that the dream was nothing more than that. We didn't end things because we weren't in love anymore. For that matter, we didn't really end anything. We just kind of imploded or maybe exploded was a better term.

It is not easy to think about those last few moments. She tried so hard to reach me and I tried so hard to be cold and unfeeling. I won't forget the pain in her eyes and how I forced myself to laugh at her tears. Neither will I forget how the love in her voice turned to anger.

She told me that she knew me. She told me that no one would ever take better care of me and I remained silent. Perhaps she knew me better than I realized because she told me that I'd regret that moment and I have.

Reminiscing has its moments. You can get caught up in the good and the bad moments. It is almost easier to lock yourself in nostalgia than to deal with reality. But the time had come for me to leave the comfort of what I knew and venture out into the world.

And thus the search for her began. Armed with a yellow pad of paper and a phone book I began to copy down the listings of people with her name. It took me a week to gather up enough courage to start calling.

The first half dozen numbers were a complete bust. None of them were here. When I finished the last call I breathed out a heavy sigh of relief and leaned my head back on the couch and turned on my iPod and set it to shuffle.

The Gambler by Kenny Rogers came on and I began to sing along with him:
"You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when youre sitting at the table.
There'll be time enough for counting when the dealings done."
It was a goofy moment and I felt more than a little silly, but I was desperate to find a way to hold it all together. So I took it as a sign that I was doing the right thing and just closed my eyes.

Alone with my thoughts I imagined what I would say when she answered the phone and pictured different scenarios based upon her reaction. What would I do if I found out that she was married. Would I just congratulate her and fade off into the sunset or would I push on.

Inside my mind I saw myself dressed like a cowboy, but I was wearing a black hat. I don't care if the movies always show the good guy in white, it makes me look like a milkman and that is just not cool. The last thing I wanted to was to reappear in her life looking like that. I needed to be cool, had to be cool. It couldn't be any other way.

The music made it hard for me not to imagine myself dressed like a cowboy riding a train or hanging out in some saloon. The Marlboro Man crept into my mind. He had died of cancer, but he was pretty damn masculine.

And I needed to present myself that way, cool and masculine. Ok, I can do that. I can be that guy.

The song ended and I opened my eyes. I was drained. The search for my girl was mentally and emotionally exhausting. It was time to take a break and do something else. For a short while I puttered around the house, but I couldn't make myself relax.

Finally I went back to my desk and grabbed the yellow pad. It was too late to make more phone calls, but it was definitely time to develop a better plan than just calling out of the blue to beg forgiveness.

It was time to put together my plan.

Best of Me Symphony Is Live

Click Here.

Redemption

Redemption. That is what I was looking for. It took a while for me realize it. It took time to accept that I was capable of hoping for something more. But the thing that took the longest time was accepting that I deserved better.

The things that we do each day turn into habits. What we eat, how we think, how we dress. They are all habits. We may be human, but we're not all that different from Pavlov's dog. Ring the bell and we come running to eat.

I was no different, aside from having convinced myself that I was responsible for all of the bad things that had happened and that I deserved it. Actually that is not all that different from a lot of people. We all feel alienated. From time to time we all feel like losers who don't fit in.

Don't I sound like the motivational speaker.

But I am not that guy. I don't buy into that crap. Maybe it is because of my own provincial mindset, or maybe it is because I see too many of those charlatans robbing people. But then again if you refuse to think for yourself you set yourself up for disaster.

That has never been my problem. I know my what my problems are. I know my weakness. All I can do is try to avoid making the mistakes of the past. Let them stay where they belong. Let them haunt my soul and serve as a warning, whatever. Just let them be far away from my conscious mind.

I can't tell you when the change took place. I can't tell you why or how. I just know that when hope returned I lost some of my edge. I no longer constantly felt angry, frustrated and edgy, but not always angry.

Little things that used to throw me into a rage stopped infuriating me. And it was all because of hope.

Once I began to believe in myself I started to dream about getting her back. I allowed myself to remember the joy she used to fill me with and considered the possibility of having it again.

We had promised each other that we would never let go. We said that if we held onto each other we could beat whatever had come between, in front or behind us. Somewhere in time there still lived a boy and girl who believed in that.

The girl I had loved was a hopeless romantic with such sweet lips. Men don't normally say things like this, but I loved kissing her. I didn't view it as a necessary step to get into her pants. I really loved it.

Somewhere in time there lived a boy and a girl who would do all in their power to find their way back to each other. I really believed it and I had to believe that she believed it.

The bigger question was not whether she did, but where she was. We had lost touch. It had become far too painful and I had let her slip away. I didn't know if she was married. Couldn't tell you if she had kids.

All I could tell you was that I knew she was alive. As stupid as it sounds the heart that had been broken just sensed that she was somewhere.

It was a start, a beginning that I could work with. I didn't know what would happen or how. I just knew that redemption was possible.

Welcome To The Insomniac's Theater- Trying To Connect The Dots

I am trying hard to find a way to integrate all of the pieces of Fragments of Fiction. The other day I took another stab here. This evening I am going to continue the process by revisiting this section.

A couple of comments in response to a few emails. Pieces of this story are based upon experiences of my own and some friends. When I write I try to put myself in the frame of mind for whatever sort of story it is.

I do not know how this story will end, but I do not expect it to be just sad or just happy. If I get it right it will be more reflective of the complex tapestry of life. How is that for a load of B.S. ;)

"There is no pain, you are receding.
A distant ships smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I cant hear what youre sayin.
When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become comfortably numb."
Comfortably Numb- Pink Floyd

Hello and welcome to the Insomniac's Theater. As you can see it is a bit rundown, somewhat ramshackle joint. It is a place that is not all that dissimilar to a carnival fun house. As you walk through you know that the reality you are experiencing is a bit distorted. Something is a bit off.
It is not as pronounced as the fun house mirror. You know the one that I am talking about. That wavy one that makes your body look fat/tall/short whatever.

It is not all that dissimilar to being drunk. You know that you are not right. You know that you are not quite as sharp as you should be but at the same time the alcohol says you are. It is that little voice in your head that claims that the fifth of whiskey hasn't impaired your judgment. People should be pleased to speak with the new and improved you. It is version 2.0, enhanced and ready for action.

And then again that little voice whispers in your ear that maybe you really aren't all that smart. Insecurities that during daylight hours grow to monstrous proportions. So you face a decision. Do you face the beast on your own. Do you shine a light on the darker part of your soul and accept your own frailties or do you give in to the demon.

C'mon, it is just another beer. Hell, might as well make it two or three. If you are going to dance with the devil then you really ought to tell him to go fuck himself. What is the point of exercising poor judgment with a care for the future. Georgie used to tell me to "liver hard." Every time he said it he'd roar with laughter.

I can't say if I laughed or smiled. I was beyond caring. Life had no meaning to it, no purpose. I wouldn't say that I was living. I was alive, but I lived in the shadows. Black and white was all I could see and most of the time I didn't bother to see at all because when I tried to all I could find was more evidence of how badly I had screwed up.

I loved her madly. I wanted to marry her and somehow she had slipped through my grasp. My girl with the sweet lips was beyond my reach and the only person I could blame was me.

So I set about punishing myself. I felt like I was incapable of loving and unworthy of being loved. And now you know why sleep was no longer my friend.

The bitterness and regret drove the love out of me. Not just love for others, but for myself. I was so hurt and so angry that I felt like I had to punish myself. I didn't deserve to be happy. I held myself responsible for my loss.

It was my fear. My insecurity. My inability to make a decision had led to paralysis and turned into a clusterfuck of the nth degree. I had started drinking to help numb the pain, but all it did was hasten my descent into a dark and dank hole. It made me angrier and more belligerent.

The combination of alcohol and anger created a monster. I know longer knew who I was. I may have looked like a million other people you see out in the streets, only I really was looking for trouble.

Trouble was only too happy to oblige me. Fistfights became a common occurrence. I didn't care what he looked like or if he was with friends. It felt good to feel my fist pound their flesh and in a sick, perverse way it felt good to be hit. Each time knuckles graced my face or a boot lashed out against my side I knew I deserved it.

My just rewards.

Only there was one problem. I was good at fighting. I hadn't ever received any formal training. No one would mistake me for Bruce Lee or Mike Tyson. They wouldn't look at me and call me graceful either.

But I had grown up in a rougher part of town and hung out with a crowd that had a few scrapes. Early on I had learned how to take a punch and how to make the pain my own. Natural strength and a body built for demolition helped create a creature who wasn't going to just lie down and be beaten.

When you added rage, bitterness and complete disregard for my own welfare you had a rather unpleasant mix.

One day was no different than the next. Day turned into night and night turned into day. It didn't matter much. All I did was eat, drink and fight. Don't misunderstand, those fistfights didn't happen daily. They didn't always take place weekly, but they happened often enough.

Sooner or later I was going to find myself in the kind of trouble that can't be avoided or forgotten. I knew it and I welcomed it. Sometimes I thought that I'd be better off just ending things, that the constant fight to get through each day wasn't worth it.

But those moments never lasted that long. Bitterness and anger may have been my best friends, but suicide was never something that I could really stomach. For a while I thought that it was because I a coward. After a while I realized that it was because I still had some hope left.

Dancing With The Stars- 7 Year Old Boy Edition

I can't stop giggling. Little titters keep slipping out of my clenched lips. Those little spurts and the semi-smirk that I know grace my face are making steam come out of Little Jack's ears.

The reason for this is really quite simple. I showed him this Dancing with The Stars video clip and then told him that I had signed him up for dance lessons.

LJ: "You better not have done that!"
Me: "Why not?"

LJ: "Because if I learn how to dance girls will want to dance with me!"
Me: "One day you'll appreciate that."

LJ: "No. I won't. I hate girls."
Me: "You don't hate girls."

LJ: "I do."
Me: "You don't hate grandma."

LJ: "She is not a girl, she is an old lady."
Me: "Don't say that to her."

LJ: "Why not."
Me: "Because you'll hurt her feelings."

LJ: "Why?"
Me: "Because she doesn't feel old or think of herself as being old."

LJ: "I still won't do it. I am not going to dance."
Me: "You dance with me and your sister. You dance with mom."

LJ: "That doesn't count."
Me: "I suppose that it doesn't. But what if I can't get my money back. I paid for three years of lessons."

LJ: "Three years! I'll be ten years-old! How can I dance until I am ten. My feet will fall off and I won't have any shoes anymore."
Me: Said with a giggle, "Your feet aren't going to fall off."

LJ: "Wait, you're teasing me...DADDY!"
Me: "Who me? Would I do that...."

And now for some Jewish humor. It is a bit off color, but fun.

A modern Orthodox Jewish couple, preparing for a religious wedding, meets the rabbi who is supposed to perform the ceremony. The rabbi asks if they have any last questions before they leave.

The man asks, "Rabbi, we realize it's tradition for men to dance with men, and women to dance with women. But, we'd like your permission to dance together."

The rabbi answers, "No way! "Men and women always dance separately!"

The man then asks, "So after the ceremony you mean I can't even dance with my own wife?"

The rabbi replies, "It's forbidden!"

The man asks, "Can we finally have sex?"

The rabbi replies, "Of course! Sex is a mitzvah within marriage, to have many children!"

"What about different positions?" asked the man?

"No problem," says the rabbi, "It's a mitzvah!"

"Well then, how about a woman on top?" the man asks.

Rabbi replies, "It's mitzvah!"

"How about Doggy Style?"

"Another mitzvah!"

"On the kitchen table?"

"A mitzvah!"

"Can we do it on rubber sheets with a bottle of hot oil, a couple of vibrators, a leather harness, a bucket of honey and a porno film?"

"It's all a mitzvah!"

"Can we do it standing up?"

"NO, NO, NO!" cries the rabbi.

"Well, why not?" asks the man.

Rabbi answers, "Could lead to dancing!"

What Is Matzah


Hat tip: Solomonia

Rediscovering What Was Lost- Two Kinds of Pain Revisited

This is tied into Two Kinds of Pain, at least I am trying to tie it together.

The first time I heard them say she "sucked the life out of me" I giggled. I was certain that it referenced some sort of sex act. It wasn't hard to imagine it either and it was even easier to picture who I wanted to do that to me. Had I not been looking at his face I probably would have made some kind of salacious comment about it.

But I had seen his face and it was clear that he hadn't said it to be funny. There was no male bravado. It wasn't a story of conquest, at least not his. If anything it was a comment about how he was conquered and then broken into tiny little pieces.

Back then I didn't understand what that meant. I hadn't experienced the kind of love that overwhelms you. I didn't understand what it was like to see my partner as being the air that I needed to breathe. That sort of experience was beyond me, but not beyond my scorn. I thought that giving that much of myself was a joke and that those who did were weak.

And then one day I woke up and found out that I had become him. Weak, insecure and broken. I remembered laughter and I remembered love, but I couldn't really feel either. All around me was the pain of my loss. The scorn I had felt for the broken hearted had come full circle. I had become what I had hated.

The joy had left my life and the days had become nothing more than something I had to endure. I didn't want to feel because all I felt was pain. A dull ache that never went away it filled the hole created by my loss.

Some people claim that the hardest time to be broken hearted is at night. Lying in bed they are no longer able to keep busy and in this quiet moment they are left to contend with the awful silence.

I was different. The hardest moments were the early mornings. Because sometimes I would dream about the past and I'd wake up thinking that I was still a whole person. The vestiges of the dream would be so strong I could still smell her, touch her...until I opened my eyes. And then I'd be reminded of what I had lost.

It never ceased to surprise me just how bad that felt. Bitter. Angry. Resentful. For years that was my BAR and there never was a last call.

I remember the day that I realized that I wasn't angry anymore and that the pain was gone. The sick thing about it was the feeling of loss I had because I didn't feel that pain. An old friend was gone. I had been abandoned again.

That feeling didn't last long. After a while I began to realize that it was time to learn how to walk again.

What Kind of Thinker Are You?




Your Thinking is Concrete and Random



You are naturally inquisitive and curious.
You're excited by new ideas, and you are a true independent thinker.

You are interested in what is possible. You like the process of discovery.
You are often experimenting, challenging old ideas, and inventing new concepts.

Rules, restrictions, and limit don't really work for you.
You have to do things your own way, and you can't be bothered to explain yourself.

My Family is Conspiring Against Me

hy·per·bo·le (hī-pûr'bə-lē) pronunciation
n.

A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect, as in I could sleep for a year or This book weighs a ton.

I'd like to say that every story is filled with hyperbole and that this post was a prime example of it. I covered some of the chaos over here too, including the tale of the car fire in which the cats were consumed.

Hyperbole. I only wish that I had engaged in a bit of hyperbole with those posts, but I didn't. I didn't even come close to fleshing out the story. I could have and probably should have painted a picture that illustrated what really happened. If you would have seen a man cradling these dad cats in his arms you'd have a better picture. If you would have seen his girlfriend's reaction to the car fire, witnessed her flailing her arms, hysterical crying and slip into catatonia you would have a much better understanding. Confession, there was not catatonic episode. I couldn't help myself, not that big a pussy. ;)

There are so many tales to be told. The story of the lawsuit that was served upon a family member by a woman who describes herself as a remarkable intuitive who can help you be the person that you know you can and should be.

Was I wrong for telling her that she is a bitter old crone whose intuitiveness lies in trying to shake down others because she is too stupid to get a real job and too bitter to go on welfare.

I suppose that I could mention the story of the dog watcher who backed out of watching the dog. Pretend for a moment that your parents were staying with one of your 1,982 sisters. Now imagine that the sister and family left for a family vacation, three days before your parents were going to leave.

Pretend that your mother called to ask for your help because your sister was out of the country and the dog watcher backed out of watching your sister's dog at eight 0'clock at night. Add this to the recipe of ridiculousness. Your parents are leaving for the airport at 4 am the next day.

There is nothing like knowing that people plan and G-d laughs. I am still working on trying to be At Peace with Myself. Well, I sort of am. I tend to laugh at a lot of this stuff, because otherwise I might cry, or scream, or I don't know what.

Most of the time I try and remember The Impact of My Actions and respond appropriately to whatever situation is at hand. There are always plenty of stories to tell such as The Sloppy Kisser, More Questions about Body Parts or anything contained in this post. Call me what you will but I Don't Always Believe In Happy Endings.

Sometimes the posts match the title and sometimes they don't. The sad thing is that a bad headline kills the post almost as fast as something that was poorly written. Come up with a snappy, intriguing headline and people take a moment to look it over. I wanted to say flip through it, but this isn't a book or magazine.

As much as I love reading online, it will never replace the joy of holding a real book. A good book is simple pleasure that I can't live without. That reminds me, my bookshelves look like hell. I have run out of space and begun to stack books in odd places. I need to do something about that.

Call me a snob, but if I come into your home and do not see any books displayed I will think less of you. They don't have to be Plato's Republic, just show me some books and let me know that you read.

Ok, it is time for this session of frantic blogging to end. Back later.

Thirty-Something Grandmothers

I cannot foresee this being anything other than foreshadowing an extremely serious problem. I take a very liberal position on a lot of social issues, but this is stupidity perpetuating stupidity.

There's no argument that will make me believe that there is just one way to raise children, but children raising children is a formula that will fail.

"As a result of Britain's high teenage pregnancy rate - the worst in Europe - many women are becoming accustomed to looking after their grandchildren while still in their thirties - and without any sign of a husband.

The new phenomenon raises questions about the social consequences of generations of children being brought up without fathers.

The majority of the women involved don't regret having babies but some who became parents in their teens told a BBC documentary they wished they had done things differently.

Miss Bailee, whose daughter became pregnant at 15, and has an eight-month-old daughter, said: "I put Rickeita on the Pill as soon as she started her periods at 12 or 13.

"It wasn't a case of giving her permission to sleep around but you can't lock a young girl in her bedroom 24/7.

"When she became pregnant I was upset, because she's very clever and I wanted her to go to college first and get a good job.

"I'd had her at 20 and it was hard. I had to buy everything second-hand or make clothes myself."

Miss Bailee, who lives with her three children, in Harleston, Norfolk, added: "I've taken up kickboxing and go clubbing twice a month with friends. You used to think of a granny as being a frail old lady with a blue rinse but I prove that's not the case any more."

She is no longer with Rickeita's father. And Rickeita split with her daughter's father."

Where's The Beef- At Arbys

There was an English teacher at my high school who looked an awful lot like the Where's The Beef woman in this commercial. Alas, it appears that Wendy's is going the way of the dinosaurs.
(AP) After two past rejections, the owner of Arby's shaved roast beef sandwich restaurants is buying Wendy's, the fast-food chain famous for its made-to-order square hamburgers and chocolate Frosty dessert, for around $2 billion.

Triarc Companies Inc., which is owned by billionaire investor Nelson Peltz, said Thursday it will pay about $2.34 billion in an all-stock deal for the nation's third-largest hamburger chain started in 1969 by Dave Thomas. Wendy's had rejected at least two buyout offers from Triarc.

The Great Matzah Shortage of 2008

This week I received a couple of interesting phone calls/emails from various friends who complained that they have run out of matzah. It surprised me as more often than not I hear stories about families that have too much matzah.

Well it seems that there might be more to the story than I realized. I just stumbled across a story on the New York Times about this very topic.

"The reasons behind the matzo shortage range from manufacturing problems, decisions by some stores not to carry the product this Passover and vague talk of a possible work stoppage.

“It seemed like the whole region had a problem getting it in,” said Jason Hodges, a supervisor in the grocery department at a Whole Foods in Miami. A person who answered the phone at a ShopRite in Philadelphia said stores there were sold out, as was the Food Emporium in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., in Westchester County.

“We heard there was a strike or something,” said the Food Emporium manager, Frantz Baptiste. “The first shipment we had was a month ago, and we never got another one.”

Phone calls and e-mail messages to the largest suppliers of unleavened bread products, Streit’s, Manischewitz and Yehuda, brought no response on Monday, possibly because executives were off for Passover, which began Saturday night.

But Manischewitz officials have said that problems with a new state-of-the-art oven in its only New Jersey plant caused it to scrap this Passover’s supply of Tam Tam crackers, its little six-sided matzo morsels, as well as some less popular matzo varieties.

Trader Joe’s stores opted not to sell Passover matzo this year, as did some Costco stores. “It’s not a huge item for us,” said a Costco spokesman, Bob Nelson."

Snapshot of Recent Posts

Here is a quick rundown on recent posts here at The Shack

A Look Back To Help Look Forward

Jack's Pesach Round-Up- Lakers Edition

Family Photos Revisited

Come Talk To Me

The 50 MPG Car

Unsettled, Unsatisfied, Unyielding

Daddies Love Their Sons- Darth Vader & Luke Skywalker Edition

Passover- The High Cholesterol Holiday

Chores for two: Why men don't pitch in

A Look Back To Help Look Forward

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.
-Albert Einstein
This morning my son came to me and told me that he was frustrated because he felt like there wasn't enough time to learn everything. I asked him what he meant and he told me that he mean everything. He wants to learn everything.

I suppose that I must have smiled because he looked at me and told me that it wasn't right for me to laugh. I said that I wasn't laughing and he said that I was and it is only because I already know everything. That really made me laugh. Maybe he read my post about eternal life.

Ain't Got You- Bruce Springsteen That song has a lot of meaning for me. The lyrics speak to me. Sometimes I wish that I could write and sing the way he can. I don't sing well, but I do sing loud. I can belt it out, but the problem is it sounds like hell.

It is a strange position to have those eye staring up at me as if I am some sort of guru, an oracle who can dish out sage advice. Sometimes I have the perfect answer and sometimes I make it up on the fly.

Today I took a look back at some old posts to try and help me look forward. As I sift through four years of blogging I see a bunch of recurring themes and wonder if this is how life is always going to be.

As is my wont I'll share links to some of the posts that caught my eye and intersperse commentary.

Bad Blogging- Also Known As This Stuff Sucks- My blog and my writing continue to evolve. I used to wonder if I had come up with my best ideas way back when, but now I am not so sure.
If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time-a tremendous whack. Winston Churchill
Churchill was right, or maybe that is the excuse I use to continue to recycle old posts.

Happy Holidays Continued- Interaction with the public offers so many...stories.

My daughter likes to try and tease her older brother about her hair, or should I say that she and I both have very dark hair and he does not.


Actors From The 80s- Look at pictures of these actors now and then and you realize that many years have passed. I don't feel old, don't really look it either. But when I see these guys I realize that I must have aged too.

Someone recently asked me to tell them what it was like to watch Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan play. He is 24 and doesn't really remember.


How I Cook- I don't spend enough time cooking, but I still love to do it.

And now for some more quotes that resonate with me:

The possibility that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.
Abraham Lincoln

Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless.

Thomas Edison

When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this. You haven't.
Thomas Edison

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.
Albert Einstein

If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
Gen. George S. Patton

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.
Wayne Gretzky

I used to do a lot of hiking. Back in the day I was famous for blazing my own trail. I didn't do it to be tough or to show off, I did it because something caught my eye and I went to take a closer look. It probably would have been easier to use the trail, but that is not really how I do things. Sometimes I find the harder way, no I usually find the harder way. I need to change that.

I may not always have a perfect plan to follow, but I know more or less what the ultimate goal is. Along the way I may pick up a few scrapes and bruises, but I'll get there, hopefully without getting attacked by the Flying Monkeys. I might even have my own scarecrow and tinman to accompany me.

I Confess- Most of the time I read these and think that I should have come up with better answers.

My Interview- Brian's blog was one of the first that I started reading. I still enjoy it. Maybe it is because I have seen him ask so many of the same questions that I do.

These days I do a lot less of the introspective posts than I used to, although I am trying to get back into the groove.

Parents- List Your Child's Most Irritating Toy/Show - Kind of self explanatory, isn't it.

This next post is one that I may have to feature again on its own as it asks a key question whose answer probably changes over time.

What is happiness worth to you?

Jack's Pesach Round-Up- Lakers Edition

Hello and welcome to my Pesach round up of posts that caught my eye. This is the Laker's edition. In a few short weeks we'll all be able to celebrate as another Laker championship banner is raised. It is too bad that Abbagav has retired because I know that he is another true believer, but I digress.

Some of you may not be aware that Haveil Havalim, The Best of The Jewish/Israeli Blogosphere is not going to come out this Sunday.

However it is going to return on April 28 at Tzipiyah.com. You can participate by submitting your blog post to the next edition of haveil havalim using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Updated: Thanks to the magic of computers I somehow lost a ton of the posts that were here. I had thought about recreating it, but I am just not up for it. My apologies. In the interim here is a partial for your consumption.

Soccer Dad discussed Hillary's transformation. Jameel's waffles are so good even Obama is eating them.

In my best Maxwell Smart voice I say, would you believe that Carter calls Rice a liar.

At What War Zone you can read Even the Animals Speak Hebrew. The Rebbetzin's Husband is excited to see an appearance by the RenReb. Once upon a time she even left some comments here.

Batya wrote about the challenge of living far from parents. At Jewlicious they wondered What if 007 were an MOT?

This next title caught my eye: Evil monkey’s guide to kosher imaginary animals. Over at Biur Chametz you Make matzah, not chametz.

New York's Funniest Rabbi is Forever Reliving. Daled Amos shared Kassams And The Beltway Sniper.

Family Photos Revisited

Somewhere in the archives is a link to these photos. Oy, Oy, Oy. It is not nice to make fun of people, but these photos are something else.

Come Talk To Me

(I had trouble sleeping and wrote this post late last night. I thought about nuking it and starting over, but decided to run it anyway. I don't plan on editing it, so take it for what it is worth.)

Come Talk to Me- Peter Gabriel

Some people are afraid of cemeteries, I am not. Sometimes I visit my grandfather. I sit down next to his grave and listen. Every now and then I share a story with him about what is going on in my life.

In an age of Bluetooth earpieces it probably doesn't look like I am the crazy guy on the subway who sits there talking to himself. Although I tend not to do it for too long. After a few minutes it feels a bit screwy so I switch from speaking out loud to telepathy. Ok, telepathy is not exactly what I am doing either, but it is after midnight and I am tired.

Shaking the Tree- Peter Gabriel Every time I see this video I expect a wild hora to break out. On a side note it reminds me a bit of people at camp dancing to Pata Pata, don't ask me why.

A few years ago I was learning with the rabbi at my shul and was shocked to hear that a number of the adults in the room had never been to a funeral, let alone the cemetery. The rav took an informal poll and there must have been a half dozen hands from people who said that they had never been. They ranged in age from early thirties to a man in his early fifties.

I was dumbfounded by this. It seemed almost impossible that someone could go thirty years without attending a funeral, let alone fifty. Surely someone they knew had died. I didn't bother interrogating them about the particulars of why they had never been, it didn't matter.

As we walked to our cars a few of them asked me to tell them about funerals and the cemetery. I was tempted to put on Lux Aeterna and to weave a scary tale about how horrifying the experience had been.

It wouldn't have been hard. D's funeral offered plenty of material. I won't ever forget the look of horror and dismay on his mother's face. I heard his brother mention me by name and tell his parents that I would see that D was properly buried. I could tell a million more stories about that day.

In fact, I had thought that I'd never see a funeral in which people were more heartbroken and then I hit this one. But I digress.

I didn't tell them any horror stories. I gave a very basic description about what happened at the funeral and then explained that a cemetery can be a very peaceful place. I suppose that is not a coincidence, although I wonder. Some people might prefer a different layout, a different set up.

Instead of a tranquil, calm environment it could quite loud. You could build a factory/warehouse and play some loud, disturbing music. Imagine if they piped in the Theme To Halloween or just soundtracks to horror movies in general.

Or even worse, you could listen to Celine Dion doing a cover of AC/DC or Roseanne doing the National Anthem. Incidentally Roseanne's voice sounds the way I imagine the author of the essay in this post must sound.

Ok, I am losing it. Night for now.

The 50 MPG Car

I have been meaning to blog about a story I read on Newsweek for a while now. The subhead on the story says Why automakers don't sell a car that gets 50mpg.

It is an excellent question and one that really needs more attention. This is not just an environmental issue, it is economic. As it becomes more expensive to operate a motor vehicle we will see it begin to impact the economy at large in all sorts of places.

There is no doubt in my mind that we have the ability to produce these vehicles. It really has been a question of desire. Gas is still cheap enough that most people do not have to stop and consider whether it makes financial sense to take a drive for pleasure, go to the store etc. But the day is coming where it is going to be harder and until we see that day I question whether we'll have a strong enough push from consumers to see change.

Let's take a look at some excerpts from this story.
"Wouldn't it be great if you could drive a car that gets 50 miles per gallon? Well, you can. Just hop on a plane and fly to Europe, where all new cars average 43mpg, or Japan, where the average hits 50mpg. Here in the United States, we're stuck at 25mpg in our considerably larger and more powerful cars, trucks and SUVs. So why can't we do better? Here's the dirty little secret: we can. "If you want better fuel economy, it's just a question of when auto companies want to do it and when consumers decide they want to buy it," says Don Hillebrand, a former Chrysler engineer who is now director of transportation research for Argonne National Labs. "Auto companies can deliver it within a year."

A 50mpg car would certainly put a tiger in the tank of the moribund U.S. auto industry. But don't get your checkbook out quite yet. The reality is that you won't see a car on a showroom floor in America with 50mpg on the window sticker for at least three years and maybe longer. Sure, all auto companies are focusing on jacking up fuel economy, especially since Congress just mandated that all new autos sold by 2020 must average 35mpg. The new mileage mantra also is motivated by the fact that car sales are weak, partially because of panic at the pump. But putting out a 50mpg car any time soon is daunting even to the maker of America's mileage champ, the 48mpg Toyota Prius. "We're close enough to spit at that now," says Bill Reinert, Toyota's national manager of advanced technologies. "It's not an incredible stretch, but it's an incredible stretch to do it on a mass-market basis."

It might seem ludicrous to you that there isn't a mass market right here and now for a 50mpg car. For crying out loud, we've entered the age of the $128 fill-up. (The cost of topping off a Chevy Suburban). But here's the problem: to get to 50mpg in the near future, consumers would have to trade off at least one of three very important things—cost, drive quality or safety. That's because the quickest way to make a car more fuel-efficient is to make it smaller, lighter and equip it with some high-tech (a.k.a. costly) propulsion system like a plug-in gas-electric system."

and

Still, all the major automakers are putting their cars on a crash diet. Ford wants to drop 250 to 750 pounds in all its models by 2012. Toyota and Nissan want to cut the fat by 10 to 15 percent. But this slim-fast campaign is running into the drive for more safety features in automobiles. Back in the 1980s, the Honda CRX-HF and the Geo Metro each got more than 50mpg, but they didn't have airbags or steel beams in their doors to protect occupants in a crash. These days, cars are equipped with six air bags, steel safety cages and electronic stability control to prevent spinouts. That makes cars much safer—but a lot fatter. "We are working in two directions," says Toyota's Reinert. "One is to make cars as safe as possible, and that generally makes them heavier. And the other is to make cars as fuel efficient as possible."

Downsizing also has its drawbacks. For starters, U.S. highway statistics show the smallest cars have death rates 2.5 times higher than the biggest. What's more, wimpy engines often (under) power small cars and that's a drawback many Americans won't abide. I recently drove the diminutive Smart car for a week. While it's certainly cute, its puny 70-horsepower engine and slow-shifting transmissions made me feel like Fred Flintstone could outrun me. That might be enough power for twisty Old World roads, but here in America, we have a need for speed. "Going zero to 60 in 15 seconds doesn't fit the average American consumers idea of mobility today," says Reinert. "That's too doggy."
I have to admit that I hate the really small cars. I don't feel safe in them. I also hate not having a car with any guts. It is nerve wracking and dangerous to try and get on the freeway in a vehicle that takes forever to get to speed.

Still, I am certain that there is no reason why we cannot overcome these issues. We have the ability, all we need is the desire.

Unsettled, Unsatisfied, Unyielding

Sometimes the words flow freely and sometimes they come out in a trickle. I blog to vent. I blog to escape the small irritants that aggravate me. I blog to share my pain and express it in a way that helps me to understand who I am and what I am about.

I blog because I am unsettled, unsatisfied and unyielding in my search for the things that provide meaning and substance in my life. The blog is my secret world. It is a place where I share my hopes and dreams. It is where I admit my weaknesses and sometimes roar in anger.

Some of what I write embarrasses me. It is too raw. It is too personal. It is too emotional and it leaves me feeling too vulnerable. So I erase it. I delete it. I make jokes about it. I pretend that it doesn't bother me. And sometimes that works.

Sometimes I don't like what I write because it sounds ridiculous. Sometimes I read it and wonder am I really this big a moron. Sometimes I think that I should just suck it up and live.

And then I read it again and see it differently. I take a look at almost four years of an online diary of my life and I realize that I have made more progress than I had thought. I look at almost four years and I wonder how so much could have happened in such a short time.

Sometimes I laugh at what I have written. Sometimes it is funny and sometimes it reminds me of something funny.

I never cease to be amazed that people read this with the startling regularity that some of you exhibit day in and day out. The blogosphere continues to give me more back than I give and I am grateful for it.

Daddies Love Their Sons- Darth Vader & Luke Skywalker Edition

My son is at a great age. He is old enough to watch some of the cooler movies and still young enough to believe in the magic.

During the past couple of weeks he and I watched the original Star Wars trilogy. We had great fun talking about the characters and what happened. While we watched I made a point to periodically check out the look on his face. I watched his eyes get wide and listened to him gasp and or cheer as warranted by the scene.

But he really caught me off guard with his reaction to one particular scene during Return of the Jedi. It is in the video just below this. If you watch you'll see the fight between Luke and Darth Vader followed by the Emperor's attempt to kill Luke.

As the Emperor sends lightning shooting into Luke's body there is a moment where Luke screams "Father, please!" At that moment my son grabbed my hand and said he won't die, his dad will save him.

I sat in silence. I wanted to let him learn what happened for himself. I watched his reaction as he sat up straight and his eyes got wider. Moments later he learned that he was right in his assessment of what would happen.

With a big smile on his face he hugged and kissed me and said "I know that you'd save me too."

If you would have seen my face you would have seen a big stupid grin. "Of course I would," I said.

Then that little boy of mine burst my bubble. "You know, you do share something in common with Darth Vader."

"Oh really, what is it."

"When you sleep you sound just like him."


Passover- The High Cholesterol Holiday

When I asked people to share their favorite Pesach memories I forgot to include one of my own. One of the things that I like best about Pesach is the food. There are some dishes that only come out once a year. One of my favorite is my mother's Apple Matzah Kugel.

However as much as I like it, there is only so much kugel that I can stand. I love fried matzah (matzah brei) and I love brisket, but there is a limit to these too.

As a not quite recovering carbaholic it is tough to go all week without it. Ok, it really isn't that hard to do. The hard part is being told that I can't have it. Take a memo, if you don't want me to do something you should never tell me that I cannot. Call it childish, call it obnoxious, call it whatever you want, but the fastest way to encourage me to do something is to say that I cannot do it.

It just makes me see red, but I digress. Back to the matter at hand, food.

Passover recipes are chock full of items that are sure to send your cholesterol soaring. In the old days I used to eat enormous amounts of eggs. I am sure that my picture was on the wall at the chicken post office as public enemy number one.

Now in a more enlightened time I head off to Costco and grab a case of Egg Beaters and it is off to the races. On a side note one of the nicer things about using Egg Beaters is that it reduces the amount of collateral damage caused by young children handling eggs because in my house they love to crack those eggs.

Really, it is no yolk. Give those wacky children of mine some eggs to crack and they're happy as a clam. Not that I'd feed them clams. No clams, crabs, mussels or the like in this house and that is not for shellfish reasons.

Oy, the puns aren't very funny so I'll have to wrap this up. But before I do allow me to say that I do have one other Passover food that I enjoy. Gefilte fish. The mighty Gefilte, king of all the fish is a fine treat during this lovely holiday.

One of these days I'll have to share the tale of what happened during my last fishing trip. I was strapped into the fighting chair for a solid six hours. The battle that took place between me and the mighty Gefilte was epic, the stuff of legends. Stay tuned and I just might share the tale with you. Note, that I said tale and not tail. I don't like sharing tail, but since this is a family blog we'll just end this post right here.

Chores for two: Why men don't pitch in

I don't know how I stumbled onto this article, but something tells me that if I had somehow ended married to this amazing catch I'd be divorced.

It is a polemic about household chores and who does more. As you might have gathered this woman goes on and on and on about how hard women work and how men do not do anything around the house.

Call me what you will, but I found her shrill rant to be annoying. And the poor schlemiel she is married to, whatever is he going to think of her portrayal of him. Let's take a look at this.
"And yet everyone acts as if Jeremy deserves some kind of medal just for making a run to the supermarket. No one has ever suggested that I’m a heroine for doing the things every mother is expected to do. I admit that my husband helps out more than many men, but here’s another news flash: It isn’t because he’s such a fabulously enlightened being. Left to his own devices, he would doubtless park himself in front of the TV like some sitcom male-chauvinist couch potato while I did all the work. The reason Jeremy “helps” as much as he does (an offensive terminology that itself suggests who’s really being held responsible) is simple: He doesn’t have a choice.

From the beginning of our relationship, I made it very clear that I wasn’t going to be any husband’s unpaid servant. If Jeremy wanted to be—and stay—married to me, let alone have kids, he couldn’t stick me with all the boring, mundane stuff nobody wants to do. We were going to share the work, or we were going to forget the whole deal.Unlike my first husband, who announced after our wedding that he didn’t like the way the French laundry did his shirts and he now expected me, the Wife, to wash and iron all of them, Jeremy recognized both the righteousness of the principle involved and the intransigence of the woman he’d married, and proceeded to pitch in.

That was 17 years ago, and while we haven’t exactly achieved equity, we’ve come a lot closer to it than most of our peers, judging by all the dreary surveys proving that men are slugs and their wives are superwomen. So how have I accomplished this? By holding my husband’s feet to the fire every single day of our lives, of course." (emphasis added by me)

It must be nice to be married to a stereotype, a caricature of a person. The poor husband couldn't possibly do anything by himself. Of course by using sex you can get your way. No really, you can offer it as a bribe or cut it off, just ask the amazing author.
Yes, dear readers, it’s true: Maintaining some semblance of parity in your marriage requires you to deploy the same kinds of nasty tactics you swore you would never stoop to as a parent but nonetheless found yourself using the minute you actually had a kid. Bribery and punishment work; so do yelling and complaining. Threats are also effective, as long as everyone knows you mean business. With husbands, tender blandishments and nooky are particularly useful, as is the withholding of the aforementioned.
Who wants to be married to Cruella Devil. If she is half as nuts as she comes across in this piece I'd tell the man to run to the nearest divorce lawyer and get the hell out.

My word.

Far Too Much To Spend on a Children's Party

CNN has a story about extravagant birthday parties for children that made me shake my head.
(LifeWire) -- Two years ago, Stephanie Kaster of Manhattan set out to plan the birthday party of a lifetime for her daughter. Granted, little Sophie didn't have many parties under her belt with which to compare it: She was not yet 3.

"I just thought, 'If I go to another paint-a-ceramic-bowl or stuff-a-bear party, I'll shoot myself,'" says Kaster.

So she booked a fondue restaurant, hired a musical troupe to perform as the Wiggles (her daughter's favorite group) and ordered a four-layer cake. Each guest took home a Fisher-Price guitar and custom CD.

The price tag? $5,000.

"I couldn't believe that I'd ended up spending that much," Kaster says.

I am well familiar with the challenges and costs involved of throwing a child's birthday party, but there are limits and then there is the realm of the ridiculous. The example above is ridiculous.

Let's ignore whether the birthday girl needs so much extravagance and deal with what she will remember from the party. The answer is that it is unlikely that she'll remember anything. Sure, there may be pictures and or video memories, but...

What lessons are we teaching our children. I haven't any problem with the idea of renting a room/facility somewhere, provided that you can afford it, but this over the top stuff is ridiculous.

Out here in L.A. I'd say that the average cost of a birthday party for a young child is somewhere around $500.00 or so. That includes a kid's facility (gym, indoor playground) and a couple of their staff, around 20-25 kids, cake and a pizza lunch.

Now I suppose that to some people that my own example sounds ridiculous as well. In theory I'd say that it would be great to throw a party in my own home. There are a couple of issues. One is size and the the other is that the kids are going to wreck my house and then I'll spend a huge chunk of time cleaning up after they're gone.

More than that, it is probably going to cost at least $300.00 to have it my house. If I can come up with the difference I take care of a number of things including entertainment and fear of children wrecking my home.

The good news is that in our school around the time kids turn 7 or 8 the group parties disappear and it turns into a much more manageable gathering of three to four good friends.

Related link:

Gifts For The Children of The Obscenely Rich

The World's Fastest 95 Year-Old Man

One of these days I am going to take the various posts I have about my grandparents, print them out and put them into a folder. It is on that giant list of things that have to be done. I'll get to it. No, really I will.

My grandmothers have gotten short shrift on this blog. There is an awful lot that could be said about them and I have been negligent about sharing it. In part it is because I spent more time with my grandfathers than my grandmothers, but that doesn't mean that they didn't play a very large role in my life.

Not long before I got married Grandpa Jack took me aside offer some friendly advice. He looked at me and said something to effect of "You'll never find anyone who can make you happier or more irritated than a woman."

With a smile on his face he told me that I should always squirrel away a couple of bucks for myself. Just some kick around cash that I could have for myself. I remember smiling and nodding my head.

My other grandfather had similar advice. He was more specific. "When you get married you and your wife are going to have different ideas about how to spend your money. Take a few bucks from each paycheck and save it. Eventually you'll have enough to do something with. Don't forget to get her something too."

With that comment he got more than a nod and a smile. When I was five he promised to buy me a pony. My mother was not pleased about this. She didn't like seeing him tease me, or anyone for that matter.

As I have mentioned to my mother many times, it didn't bother me. I can't remember a time where I was upset about not having a pony. However, in the gulp, 34 years since his promise I have had my own share of fun with him about my pony.

Last week was the latest example. I told him that I had a way for him to make the whole pony thing up to me. He laughed and asked me to give him the details.

"Grandpa, you just turned 94."
"You're math is bad, I am in my 95th year.

"You're right. What did Lincoln say at Gettysburg."
"Ok smartass, what is your idea."

"Grandpa, you used to tell me that when you were a kid you were really fast. You said that you used to win the 100 yard dash."
"It is true. I did."

"Good. It is time for you to go back to your roots. You're going to start training."
"Oh, I am."

"Yes, I am going to promote you as the world's fastest 95 year-old man. Nike, Reebok, one of these companies will be happy to spend millions of dollars on a nice ad campaign."

"And you plan on taking a few of those bucks."
"Absolutely. If we do this right by the time I am 50 I can retire."

Giggling he said, "This is all because of the pony, isn't it."
"Yep. That pony could have been the next Seabiscuit."

This is the point at which my grandmother entered the conversation. Instead of taking engaging the two of us in our silly fantasy she began to chastise my grandfather for making such a foolish promise. And thus I learned that not only had my mother yelled at my grandfather for making such a promise, but my grandmother had as well.

I interrupted her and told her that it was ok and tried to reassure her that I wasn't upset. It didn't work. It is funny. Over the years many people have remarked that my grandfather is a real character, but they missed seeing that in many ways the power in that relationship lay with my grandma.

For five minutes she laid into him. Finally he barked back and was rewarded with the sort of glare that would send most of us out for flowers. And then as quickly as the storm had started it was over.

I don't really know what happened, but he walked over and they shared a moment. Yet again I felt like a bit of an intruder. I don't know if they are more conscious of their age, but these sorts of moments seem to be happening more often.

A moment or two passed and I looked at my grandfather and said "for a moment there I bet that you really wished that you were the world's fastest 95 year old man."

He laughed again and told me that he wanted to show me something on his cane. I laughed and told him that his grandson wasn't a fool. He smiled and asked for the remote. I handed it to him. He turned on the television and within moments he and my grandma were both asleep on the couch...holding hands.

What is Your Favorite Pesach Memory?

My son asked me to tell him about my favorite Pesach memory. It is the kind of question that should be a gimme. It doesn't involve body parts or questions about sex. There is no philosophical discussion such as the one about why people do bad things or why is there war.

It is just a simple question in which I get to tell him about my favorite memory of the 35 or so sederim that I remember. Yet the truth is that I found it to be more than a little frustrating. I don't have a favorite story, at least I can't seem to think of one and that bothered me a little.

It seemed to me that with so many experiences to choose from I should be able to pick one or two, but I just can't seem to pinpoint those extra-special moments. It made me wonder if perhaps I hadn't taken them for granted.

So I spent some time thinking long and hard about Pesach and realized that I have a hundred favorite memories. Perhaps it is a cop out, but it is true. So here is a brief list:

1) The way that my parent's house smelled. Brisket, Apple Matzoh Kugel.
2) The seder that I was finally old enough to stay awake the whole way through.
3) Listening to my great-grandmother tell my sister that she was shikkered (drunk) when all she had was grape juice.
4) My cousin's matzoh ball soup.
5) My first time reciting the four questions by myself
6) The first time I led the seder.

How about you. What is your favorite memory?

Thursday Afternoon Music

Machar Ani Babayit (Tommrow I'll Be Home)- Ethnix
Could You Be Loved- Bob Marley & The Wailers
No Woman No cry- Bob Marley & The Wailers
"You All Everybody"- Driveshaft
Woke up this morning- A3
Centerfold- J. Geils Band
Freezeframe- J. Geils Band
City of New Orleans- Arlo Guthrie
My first, my last, my everything-Pavarotti & Barry White (If I could sing like Barry I might have stayed single forever. ;)
"Scream"- Billy Idol
The Man's Too Strong- Dire Straits

Bonus:

Adam Sandler In The Wedding Singer.

Back later....

America's Top 50 Rabbis

Last year Newsweek shared a list of America's Top 50 Rabbis. The second annual list is here. The excerpt below shares how the list was developed. Not unlike many lists I take this one with a grain of salt.

Here is the second annual version of the list—generated by Michael Lynton, (chairman & CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment), Gary Ginsberg, (executive VP, global marketing and corporate affairs, News Corp.) and Jay Sanderson, (CEO and executive producer, JTN/JTN Productions)—of the 50 most influential rabbis in America. In the fall of 2006, the friends, interested in the future of American Jewry and the evolving role of the rabbi, started a conversation that eventually became "the list." The machers ranked the rabbis based on the following unscientific criteria:

• Are they known nationally/internationally? (20 points)
• Do they have political/social influence? (20 points)
• Do they have a media presence? (10 points)
• Are they leaders within their communities? (10 points)
• Are they considered leaders in Judaism or their movements? (10 points)
• Size of their constituency (10 points)
• Have they made an impact on Judaism in their career? (10 points)
• Have they made a greater impact beyond the Jewish community and their Rabbinical training? (10 points)

Weird News

Sometimes we just have to share the junk we stumble over. Here are a few stories interspersed with my comments.
He Took The Gator For a Ride

...the trooper noticed a 6-foot alligator contentedly riding next to the back window of Johnson's car. Johnson said he found the gator on the side of a road.
I feel confident that the trooper was able to assess the mental state of the gator, but wait, there is more to the story. What happened when in a separate incident a different officer spoke with Mr. Johnson.

Johnson advised the officer that there was a water moccasin snake in his car and that the snake had already bitten him on the hand.

An animal control officer found the snake and removed it, Longbotham said.

Johnson refused medical treatment for his hand.

Early Sunday a resident of a local mobile home park said Johnson knocked on his door and asked for help hauling a big television out of a mobile home, Longbotham said.

"The neighbor told him that's not your house," the chief said.

Then the neighbor noticed the alligator in the back seat of Johnson's car, Longbotham said.

Johnson left the television in the yard and drove away.

If I saw an alligator in a car, I'd probably call the police. Ok, on to the second story.

What do you do when your surgeon laughs at you. In this next story we learn that a patient suffered severe embarrassment from the laughter of doctors and nurses involved in his operation. Now, I don't condone their laughter, but when you read the story you'll see that he should have been embarrassed just to be there.
Sun.Star: CEBU CITY, Philippines - Unethical and scandalous.

That's how several doctors described the behavior of Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) doctors and nurses during the operation to remove a perfume canister from the anus of a male patient.

Doctors involved in the operation were seen laughing boisterously during the operation, which was recorded on video. A video clip was later uploaded to the video sharing website YouTube.

Dr. Emmanuel Gines, VSMMC media liaison officer and emergency room department head, said in a radio interview that they will apologize to the 39-year-old patient identified only as Jan-Jan because of the embarrassment he suffered.
And as has been said many times. Teleconference means you are being televised.

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 ...