The Last Hurrah of Summer

I can't believe that summer has come and gone. Here we are just one day out from the start of school. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised as I have heard a steady stream of mothers beg for school to start, each of them claiming exhaustion as a result of trying to entertain/educate children.

As part of the grand summer sendoff we spent the majority of the day at Universal Studios. It was exceptionally fun watching the children experience it. Little Jack kept asking me to tell him what it was like when I was his age. It wasn't all that hard, I don't think that I have been there in close to 30 years.

Although the more I think about it the more I realize it had to be a bit less. I remember going to the Hulk show and the whole Battlestar Galatica area. That probably means that I made it there at least once during the early '80s.

Anyhoo, the day was action packed. My folks had the pleasure of watching all of their grandchildren attempt to turn the park into their own private playground. Throughout the day Uncle Jack had the burden, er pleasure of carrying children on his shoulders. There are a number of moments that stand out, such as my nephew burying his face in my shoulder when he became scared during the earthquake section of the tour.

He lives out of town so I don't get to see him all that often. I didn't want him to be scared, but was pleased that he felt comfortable asking me to protect him.

There was also the moment with my niece. A man cut in front of her in line but she was unwilling to accept it. So she told him that Uncle Jack threw a trashcan a mile and could throw him too. Needless to say the man feared that she was telling the truth and moved out of the way, or maybe he just realized that he had been a jerk, who knows.

The trashcan reference came from Saturday night. Went to my folks house for dinner. Midway through the evening a fuse blew so I went outside to fix it. I was accompanied on my journey by a small dog and a gaggle of small children. Somehow as I stepped outside they managed to get underneath my feet and I came perilously close to falling down stairs and breaking my neck.

I slammed into the trashcan and took out my ire by pushing it out of my way. It was empty, so moving it wasn't particularly hard. But the children all thought that it was very heavy. If they remember this over time I expect that it will become a part of family legend.

All told it was a fine day punctuated by moments of laughter and tears. And now less than a hour or so since our return home I am in need of some Advil or something along those lines. I have the feeling that the carting around of children may manifest itself in the form of a very sore back.

But maybe not.

Later on I'll have to write about how the end of summer always makes me sad. Summer is my favorite time of year, without exception.

Medical Technology- The future is now

In my travels throughout the web I often search for interesting gadgets and inventions that will change our lives. A while back I stumbled onto MedGadget. It is an interesting site that discusses technological advances in medicine.

Here are a couple of things that caught my eye:
MIT Technology Review is reporting on new metal and polymer microgrippers that can be chemically activated to grab or cut tissue deep within the body without requiring any incisions. The scientists that developed the device envision swallowing a bunch of these and then guiding the particles using magnets to specific spots in the body for microsurgeries or doing biopsies.

From MIT Tech Review:

A gripper based on the current design could respond autonomously to chemical cues in the body. For example, it might react to the biochemicals released by infected tissue by closing around the tissue, so that pieces can be removed for analysis.
Gracias [David Gracias, biomolecular and chemical-engineering professor at JHU] and his colleagues presented the microgripper at the American Chemical Society meeting earlier this month. To demonstrate the device, they used it to grasp and maneuver tiny beads and clumps of cells in a petri dish. They have also used the device in the laboratory to perform an in vitro biopsy on a cow's bladder. "This is the first micromachine that has been shown convincingly to do very useful things," Gracias says. "And it does not require electric power for operation."

The open gripper is 500 micrometers (0.05 centimeters) in diameter, and it is made of a film of copper and chromium covered with polymer. As long as the polymer stays rigid, the gripper remains open. But introducing a chemical trigger or lowering the temperature causes the polymer to soften, actuating the gripper's fingers so that they curl inward to form a ball that is 190 micrometers wide. Another chemical signal can be used to reopen the gripper. All of the chemicals used as triggers in experiments are harmless to the body.
And the ReWalk Exoskeleton which helps paralyzed people walk again. It is made by an Israeli company called Argo Medical Technologies. I think this is just very cool.
ReWalk™, the first commercially viable upright walking assistance tool, enables wheelchair users with lower-limb disabilities to stand, walk, and even climb stairs. For potentially millions of wheelchair users.
There is a cool video you can see by clicking on this link.

Haveil Havalim #180

It is hard to believe, but we have reached the 180th edition of Haveil Havalim. Go take a look and don't forget to tell your friends and neighbors.

Apology Songs

Don't Let It End- Styx
Always On My Mind- Elvis Presley
Suspicious Minds- Elvis Presley
Forgive Me-Evanescence
I am Sorry - John Denver

The Blog Carnival Of Our Community

Hi folks,

I am Jack and I am the admin for Haveil Havalim, the blog carnival of our community. Now that the dust has settled somewhat from the conference I wanted to take a moment to promote H.H. again.

If you are unfamilar a blog carnival is a sort of blog event in which a series of posts are highlighted/promoted about a particular topic. In respect to Haveil Havalim it is a weekly event that is hosted on various blogs within the JBlogosphere.

Each week the host serves a variety of different posts that deal with Israel, Judaism, Torah, Culture, Politics and Personal. If you are new to the JBlogosphere or interested in finding out what is going on it is a great way to gain some insight.

It is also a fantastic way to gain more exposure for your blog and to learn about other blogs that you might find to be of interest. One of the things that I like about it is that it is inclusive and not exclusive. It is one of the few places in the world where you will find all Jews interacting with each other.

Blogging has enriched my life and I have made some good friends through it that I probably never would have met otherwise. H.H. has been a valuable part of it.

I'd like to encourage you all to participate in it. Even if you choose not to host you can always submit posts. The best way to do so is through the Blog Carnival form. Please remember that we ask that you submit no more than three posts at a time.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at my blog or via email talktojacknow-at-sbcglobal-dot-net.

For a list of past editions of H.H. please click here.

Crossposted at The Muqata.

Johnny's Frustration

In theory this is tied into In The Weeds. The real question is if I can tie them together in a neat little package. We'll take a moment to wade into it and see what happens.
Johnny stared at the computer screen, the frown on his face made it clear that he wasn't happy. If that wasn't enough of a hint at his mood the edge in his voice and the vein bulging in his forehead made it pretty clear that he was aggravated. In his right hand he gripped a little exercise tool he used to strengthen his grip.

"Hi Johnny. Your hands must be really strong now."

With a loud sigh Johnny turned around and faced the source of the comment. Mark Kelling was a socially awkward colleague of Johnny's. A little over six feet tall he had an enormous head that sat upon a very thin neck. It wasn't nice, but Johnny used to wonder if Mark had to do neck exercises to support the pumpkin that he called his head.

Johnny made a mental note not to call him pumpkin head. It wasn't nice, Mark couldn't help it if genetics had graced him with a forehead that was large enough to show a double feature on. That last comment wasn't nice either and it was indicative of his piss poor mood.

But at the same time it wasn't like Mark was high on Johnny's list of people. From time time Johnny and Mark had worked together on a number of different projects and that was the real source of Johnny's ire. Mark was absolutely the last person you wanted to deal with clients.

No doubt that he was a hard worker, but his penchant for saying the wrong thing was legendary.

"Hi, I am Mark Rudolph Kelling." If only he could leave it at that, instead you had moments like the one where he told an angry client that Viagra for women might help her mood.

Johnny tried not to roll his eyes or shake his head at the memory. "Yeah Mark, they are getting there."

"Well Johnny, I know another way that you can strengthen them," he said with a giggle. With a quick toss of his head he marched off to a different office.

This time Johnny did roll his eyes. He knew that he meant well, but he just had no tolerance for him. Fortunately it had been a short visit so he was able to get right back to work. Or at least he tried to get back to work.

The thing with June was weighing upon him and he was a bit uncertain at how to proceed. June was his best friend and the woman he considered to be the love of his life. He considered their relationship to be among the most valuable things he had, not that you could necessarily consider a relationship to be a possession.

But the idea was close enough. He treasured and cherished June. But for a while their relationship had been undergoing a few ups and downs. Nothing happens in a vacuum so he couldn't say that he was without blame, but at the same time it was June who was having the biggest issue.

Seeing June in pain killed him. He wanted nothing more than to be her hero and come riding to her rescue. But Johnny knew that there were some things that he couldn't do for her. And so he tried to take a step back and let his girl work things out for herself.

It wasn't easy. It wasn't his nature to just relax, watch and wait. A war of wills was being waged inside his head. One side maintained that she was slipping away and that if he didn't do anything he would lose her, forever.

The other side scoffed at the idea that she would run away never to come back. They maintained that the best thing to do would be to just let her walk. Let her go and she'll find her smile again and eventually she'll come back to you.

Johnny smiled at the thought. That idea appealed to the romantic in him and it made the most sense. She knew how deeply in love he was with her. She understood that he'd walk through fire and or take a bullet for her, but none of that would fix this. At the moment her issues were things that only June could deal with.

It made him frustrated and it made him angry. When she called him melodramatic he bristled with anger. It wasn't melodramatic to be worried about losing the greatest love he had ever known. Ok, maybe it sounded melodramatic and over the top, but it was how he felt.

So he was frustrated and angry. He was tired and scared. It wasn't easy, but at the same time he vowed to hold on and ride the wave. His gut told him that the story they had begun was far from over and that the best thing he could do was hold on and ride the wave.

He reached out with his left hand and picked up the Magic 8-Ball if he would spend his life with June. The answer "It is certain" appeared in the window.

With a shrug of his shoulder and a sigh Johnny smiled and relaxed. All would work itself out. He loved that woman fiercely, but in the interim he'd focus upon taking care of himself and he'd try to stay busy.

Sex And Marriage- They have It Every Day

Believe it or not, I sometimes choose not to blog about a topic or decide that I need to rethink a post. When that happens I save it as a draft with the intention to revisit it later on. Every now and then I forget to revisit the draft and the post languishes in limbo.

Anyhoo, I just "discovered" this half finished post and from June and decided to finish it and share it with you.

The New York Times is running an article about a couple of married couples and their experience having sex every day. It generated some discussion among various people I know so I thought that I'd throw it out here. So let's grab a couple of excerpts from the article.
"Or would you turn to your mate and say, “Honey, you know, I’ve been thinking. Why don’t we do it for the next 365 days in a row?”

That’s more or less what happened to Charla and Brad Muller. And in another example of an erotic adventure supplanting married ennui, a second couple, Annie and Douglas Brown, embarked on a similar, if abbreviated journey: 101 straight days of post-nuptial sex.

Both couples document their exploits in books published this month, the latest entries in what is almost a mini-genre of books offering advice about the “sex-starved marriage.” The couples, though, are hardly similar. The Mullers are Bible-studying steak-eating Republicans from Charlotte, N.C. The Browns are backpacking multigrain northerners who moved to Boulder, Colo."

I suspect that for a basic need like sex we'd find more similarities among people than differences. Although I would imagine that culture plays a big role. The emphasis added in the next excerpt is my own.

"According to a 2004 study, “American Sexual Behavior,” by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, married couples have intercourse about 66 times a year. But that number is skewed by young marrieds, as young as 18, who couple, on average, 109 times a year.

Either way, those statistics put the Mullers and Browns in Olympic-record territory. That they thought a sex marathon would reinvigorate their marriages might say as much about the American penchant for exercise and goal-setting as it does about the state of romance.

But the couples may also be on to something. “There’s a strong relationship between rating your marriage as happy and frequency of intercourse,” said Tom W. Smith, who conducted the “American Sexual Behavior” study. “What we can’t tell you is what the causal relationship is between the two. We don’t know whether people who are happy in their marriage have sex more, or whether people who have sex more become happy in their marriages, or a combination of those two.”

I can't say that I find that last 'graph to be particularly surprising or insightful. Not trying to be snarky, but it straddles the fence a bit too strongly for my taste.

This made sense to me:

"Charla Muller and Annie Brown both talk about how mandated physical intimacy created more emotional intimacy. “It required a daily kindness and forgiveness, and not being cranky or snarky, that I don’t think either of us had experienced before,” Charla said.

Annie said that she and her husband reached a place in their relationship that they have seldom approached since. “It was just this intense closeness,” she said. “We were so aware of wherever the other person was mentally and emotionally and physically.”

What do you think?

The Cranky Man Speaks

Recent Posts

Relationships Change

I Hate Meetings


And a few old posts:

It is Ray Charles

Cover Songs- Part 1

Why The Baal Teshuva World Irritates Me

How Personal Should A Blog Be?

Relationships Change

I had intended to write this clever post about computers and relationships. I was going to do this bit about how I had to buy a new computer and how it impacted my relationship with my old computer.

And then I was going to do some sort of story that was similar to the one Dr. Seuss did about the Sneetches, but I am far too tired.

Not quite tired enough to say that Windows Vista aggravates me. It works and in a number of ways it works well. But it has enough idiosyncratic crap to make me dislike it. I need to make a point to spend some more time reviewing the manual.

In the interim I'll stop bitching and try to catch some shut eye.

I Hate Meetings

"They say that time
Heals a broken heart
But time has stood still
Since we've been apart"
I can't Stop Loving You- Ray Charles
Tonight I was the lucky recipient of a seat inside the Bat out of hell tour bus. Had I more common sense I would have recognized that a bat out of hell is no different than you or I, they just want to go home. But preoccupied as I was I didn't think of this and as a consequence I got on the bus and ended up in a four hour meeting.

Four hours. The damn meeting was interminably long and as Mr. Charles said above, time stood still. Inside that room I sat patiently and tried to achieve that peaceful, easy feeling the Eagles used to sing about. I listened and waited and watched.

It was the watching that got me into trouble. It was the watching that made me realize that the clock appeared to be broken. Or maybe it was the listening and the realization that I wasn't gaining any new information that got me into trouble. Or maybe it was the combination of the watching and listening.

Perhaps I shouldn't have tried to look, listen and learn. Certainly the bruised tailbone and the sore back didn't make it any easier to sit, but neither did the old wooden chairs. Instead I spent hours squirming in my seat trying to get comfortable.

But the longer it went the harder it became to sit still so I began to think about how I could have used that time for myself. Inside my mind I considered how far a four hour plane ride would take me.

The last couple of trips to Dallas were all of three hours. My last trip to Chicago was 3.5. So as I sat there I figured that the meeting was long enough to send me a little more than halfway across the country. Of course that places me in godforsaken lands like Ohio, so I decided to shift my attention.

Or at least I tried to. Instead I found myself cursing under my breath. Irked, irritated and agitated that the organizers of this meeting couldn't push it along faster. Angry that their effort to save time turned into a colossal waste of my time.

I suppose that I should comment on the title of the post. I don't hate meetings. I hate poorly run and poorly organized meetings. Meetings shouldn't be based upon endurance. They shouldn't be held just to be held.

A meeting should have a clear purpose and if you are going to violate that purpose or deviate you better be smart about it. I hate listening to people talk for the sake of hearing them talk. I am far too busy. Say something meaningful, don't just spout off.

I hate meetings.


I must be in need of serious help. Got the old iTunes playing in the background. It is on shuffle and I am busy doing some odds and ends around the house.

Sinatra comes on and I do an impression of him crooning a few tunes. He is followed by Elvis and I spend a couple more moments pretending to be the king.

And then I lost my freaking mind. I just belted out a few lines from Weekend in New England by Barry Freaking Manilow. WTF!

So off I go racing to the garage to smear myself in grease and power tools. In a moment I'll head off to the liquor store to grab some beer, yes beer. If you see my walk out with a wine cooler please kick me in the ass as hard as you can.

Something is very, very wrong with me. The next thing you know I'll find myself watching The Sound of Music or booking a flight for cleveland.

And now if you'll excuse me I am off to find Barney and head out to the next meeting of the Loyal order of Water Buffalos.

Mudslinging and Elections

The nastier side of politics has been around a long time.

What Makes a Community

Before I head off to bed I want to take a moment to mention that that the discussion of what makes a community. As a starting point you can read these posts in the following order:
Haveil Havalim & The JBlogger Conference

I think not

The JBlogosphere Community?
Let me know if you think that there are other posts that should be included.

There is No Handbook for Life

Someone once told me that if more than a couple of person say that you are a jackass you should turn around and look for a tail and hooves. Not the most profound introduction, but I liked it better than saying people want to know why my posts are so depressing.

Well folks, not all of my posts are depressing, but they aren't all uplifting either. This joint is what I like to view as my refuge. It is not quite my Fortress of solitude, at least I hope not. Because if it is a Fortress of Solitude I have to talk to the guards because they are doing a lousy job of keeping people out.

Life has its moments. Some of them are happy, some are sad and some are somewhere in between. Now if you know me well than you know that any time I say that life has its moments is code for things are not what I'd like them to be. But that is not indicative that I am in need of a gallon of Prozac. It doesn't mean that I am evaluating razors and nooses.

The funny thing about life is that as a kid you have this idea that your parents and other grownups know how everything is done, or at least I did. I always had this idea that no matter what happened they knew what to do. It wasn't until I got much older that I realized just how wrong I was.

There is no handbook for life. There is no Fodors guide that you can use to guide you through the rough spots. There is no map that you can use, Ponce De Leon's Fountain of Youth is still shrouded in the mist. You will get older, you will age and eventually you will die.

Now some of my friends will argue that there are various philosophies that provide the map and structure that I claim is nonexistent, but they are missing my argument, or maybe I am doing a poor job of expressing it.

I compose here at the computer so maybe some of these ideas aren't as well developed as they could or should be. This post is really about some of my thoughts about trying to live our dreams and how to get the most out of life.

My best friend and I were talking about what we anticipate will happen in the future. We debated back and forth about this and that and never really did come to a conclusion, at least not one that I found to be satisfactory.

Side note, I just nuked three paragraphs that I thought were really good, but they just didn't flow right so they got to meet the delete button.

The thing about the future is that it is exceptionally hard to predict what will happen with any real degree of certainty. If you would have asked the 25 year-old Jack what would happen to him in 2008 he couldn't possibly have imagined this. I never would have come up with a scenario that fits my current life.

Even if you would have asked him to predict where things would be at in five years he would have fallen short. BTW, it feels strange to talk about myself in the third person. I never felt comfortable with that expression, whatever happened to the second person.

So when I look out upon the landscape and try to imagine what will happen I have to admit that my thoughts are based upon educated guesses, best efforts, hope and desire. I think and suspect that if I do certain things the end result will yield a positive experience. Which is just a sterile way of saying that as I try to live my dreams I hope and pray that they come true.

My life is not what I expected it to be. I don't have a problem saying it. I don't like admitting it, because it feels a bit like admitting failure. But at the same time I see the end goal and more than one path to reach it.

So while I can't rely upon the comfort of strolling down a pre-existing path I can take pleasure in the journey. I can accept that at times bristles and burrs will find their way into my shoes and that I'll suffer through a few blisters. I don't like it. I wish that it was simpler, but...

OTOH, since I have a knack for taking the long way home I have noticed a certain appreciation and satisfaction in these accomplishments. The success of past struggles provides the confidence and belief in future success.

I think that it is time to end this post as it is far too hokey. Matter of fact I may just delete it. I'll take another look in the morning.

Trying To Turn Back Time

Played two hours of ball today. Spent the first chunk trying to run with the twenty-somethings. Did pretty well, gave it all I had. Threw my body into the breach again and again. Now a few hours later I feel it. Let's take a moment to review:

1) Bruised tailbone.
2) Aching back.
3) Sore knees
4) Two jammed fingers.
5) Multiple bruises throughout my body.
6) Several comments from the youngsters about how hard I play and grudging respect that the old man is stronger than he looks.

Conclusion: Tired, achy and feeling victorious. I am Jack. I am an animal and I will eat you, or at least gnaw on a leg.

Do You Live Your Dreams

My question dear reader is this, Do you live your dreams or dream your life?

I Have Too Much Stuff

Old Traveling Jack managed to hit the road for a quick weekend getaway. It was short and sweet and had I the desire I could write a dozen posts about what happened. Yes, I said a dozen and I could do it with my eyes shut.

The thing is that I just don't have that same feeling about blogging like I used to. Questions about anonymity plague me, oops almost said plaque me. Fortunately I brush my teeth so that the plaque monster doesn't totally control my mouth. Or as far as the blog goes maybe I should say that sometimes it pays to check your writing.

Elsewise you write foolish things like the point is mute when you meant to say moot. But I digress.

Before we get any farther let me address anonymity. If you want to know more about some of my thoughts there you can read:

Anonymous Blogging Blogging About Blogging
Life Has Its Moments

Anyhoo, because it was a short trip I made a point of packing quite lightly. I took, one backpack, pair of shorts, pair of Crocs, running shoes, bathing suit, couple of shirts, socks, underpants and toiletries.

Simple, effective and to the point.

When I got home it took no time to unload, unpack and a hell of a lot of time to unwind. Now I won't bore you with all the reasons why it took so long to unwind, but I will share this.

There is too much stuff in this house. Too many books, too many CDs, DVDs, toys and assorted odds and ends. Now mind you it is not like the stuff is everywhere. There aren't really piles and piles of things. But there is enough for me to feel like it is on the verge of becoming unmanageable.

Over the past few years we have made an effort to cull out the unnecessary things, to give away things we don't need. And for the most part I feel like we have been successful. Yet, things have a way of creeping up.

Birthdays for the children always create a new influx of toys as do grandparents and handmedowns from cousins and friends.

And then within the last few years are the items that have come via family inheritance. Treasured heirlooms get passed down. They are not necessarily things we want or need, but they hold a sentimental role and they aren't given away.

So every few months there is a general inventory taken and we do our best to expell the unwanted, unneeded and unnecessary.

Sometimes I get the urge to become the poster boy of minamilism, Mr. Minamalist. Do I really need all that I have. Do I really need all these things or could I just let them go.

One of these days I just might have to find out.

Haveil Havalim #179

You can find the latest edition of Haveil Havalim right here. And for those who are lazy, here are links to a number of the most recent editions.
Aug 17, 2008
Rechovot: A Place to Expand

Aug 09, 2008 SimplyJews
Aug 02, 2008
Little Frumhouse on the Prairie
Jul 27, 2008
Frume Sarah's World
Jul 20, 2008
Esser Agaroth
Jul 05, 2008
Daled Amos
Jun 29, 2008
Ima on (and off) the Bimah
Jun 22, 2008
Soccer Dad
Jun 15, 2008
Writes Like She Talks
Jun 08, 2008
Random thoughts
Jun 01, 2008
Frum Satire
May 25, 2008
Frume Sarah's World
May 18, 2008
Ima on (and off) the Bimah
May 11, 2008
Random thoughts

My Daughter & Dating

During a recent conversation with my daughter she asked me why people call me different names. She may be only four, but she is a keen observer of the world around her. Here is a short recap. It is not quite verbatim, but it is close enough.

Daughter: Daddy, why do people call you different names?
Dad: What do you mean?

Daughter: Why do some people call you Jack and others call you Mr. Jack?
Dad: That is because we have different relationships with people. Some people know me better than others do, so they feel more comfortable using a more familiar name.

Daughter: Ok.
Dad: We're teaching you how to do this too. You'll call some of the people you know by their name and others will be a more formal version, like Mrs. Loren or Mr. Saltzman.

Daughter: But how will I know who to do this with.
Dad: Mom and I will help you figure it out. Don't worry about it, we'll help you teach your friends what to call us too.

Daughter: What should my friends call you?
Dad: Well, if they're boys they can call me "Death."

Daughter: Death? Daddy, your name isn't death.
Dad: Just wait a few years and you'll understand.

Daughter: But why should the boys call you "Death."
Dad: Well, I suppose that I can come up with another name.

Daughter: Like what?
Dad: Hmm? How about "Their worst nightmare." Or maybe "Mr. Castration."

Daughter: (Giggling) You're so silly.
Dad: I am not silly, I just love you.

Daughter: I love you too daddy.
Dad: Good, now come give your dad a hug.

Inspired By Hannibal Lechter I Present

Sorry, I am not interested in purchasing any sort of torture device for the purpose of trying to keep the old goat clean. It looks like he is wearing some sort of muzzle or meat grinder. Just not my thing.

Hat tip: Ingrid

Songs for Friday

Maybe I am Amazed- Paul McCartney
Can't Get it Out of My Head- Electric Light Orchestra
Hold on Tight- Electric Light Orchestra
God Only Knows - The Beach Boys
Annie´s Song- John Denver
Have you ever seen the rain?- Creedence Clearwater Revival
"Ain't no Mountain High Enough"-MARVIN GAYE & TAMMI TERRELL
National Anthem- Marvin Gaye
The Letter 1981 Live- Joe Cocker
"Have A Little Faith"-Joe Cocker
Sex Machine- James Brown
Wicked Garden-Stone Temple Pilots
Hero of the Day -Metallica

Living The Bachelor Life

Thanks to the joys of having to make a buck earlier this week the family left sans dad for a short vacation and so I have found myself in an empty house.

While it would be untrue to say that I don't miss them, it is also true that I rather enjoy the break. For a brief moment in time I am revisiting the Jack of years past. Alone and apart I eat quiet meals without any concern about having to set an example.

No company, no reason to use real plates. Paper works just fine. No company, no reason for glasses. I can drink straight from the bottle and I do. In fact the kitchen has a display of the victims of a recent visit to Trader Joes and other guests.

Watching The Olympics is far more fun with pizza and beer. The newspaper is scattered in key places. I have watched movies that are inappropriate for children during hours that they would normally be awake.

Trips to the gym last longer. No reason to rush because my dinner companions me, myself and I don't need to take a bath before bed. In fact they don't need to eat at a particular hour. I revel in casting off some of the structure of daily life.

Let's be clear about a few things. I still take out the trash, there may be an extra pile of things here and there, but it is not a complete mess. Each night I make a point of straightening up a bit, but without the children I can let things slide a bit.

For a short while I mull over taking my own road trip. It is crazy, but I haven't dropped everything to drive out to Vegas in more than a decade. I can't really do it now, or should I say that I shouldn't do it now. But it is tempting.

My Camaro knew that road pretty well, I could almost put it on autopilot. The current steed has made the trip as well, but far less frequently. I have very few single friends now, but those that are will jump at the chance to go.

I don't need much, a change of clothes and a toothbrush is about it. I am really tempted, but it would be hard to explain how I worked a partial day to go to Vegas instead of joining the family.

Hmmm....I wonder if I could schedule a meeting with a client or two. That could work and then again the whole plan might blow up in my face.

Excuse me while I go ponder this for a while.

It is 2 AM

Actually it is after 2 AM and I should have made it to bed hours ago. Why, oh dear lord why I am awake on a work night. In years past the explanation was simple. I was coming home from a night out with the boys, a date or just enjoying the cool air of the evening.

Tonight is different. Tonight I find myself awake because of a number of different issues. Tonight I find myself awake because of five separate challenges. They aren't quite the same as those that were faced by Hercules, although at times I felt like I was fighting the Hydra.

And I should add that I did take a short unscheduled nap on the couch. But again my dreams were fitful and disturbing, so I woke up in a bit of a foul mood.

But since I found myself awake I decided to tackle some of the crap that I have been forced to deal with. I began by attacking a few of the technological issues that have been foisted upon me. I won't bore you with all of the details, suffice it to say that there is an old computer and a new computer in this house. I hadn't intended on acquiring a new computer yet, but sometimes you do what you have to do.

Speaking of doing what you have to do, I had a conversation with a dear friend about life. He told me that he feels like he is stuck, or trapped I should say in a situation that is untenable. To be clear, my description is intentionally vague.

Anyway, this discussion seems to be one that my friends and I are having a lot lately. Some of it is related to age. Most of us have children and have been married for a number of years. That combination drives a number of challenges that manifest themselves into an exceptional amount of stress.

Some of us rise above the stress and some of us are overwhelmed by it. There will be a followup post to this later on, but let's hit one theme.

If you find yourself floating through life you need to figure out how to improve things. I don't want to live a life that is based solely upon my ability to endure. There is more to life than enduring.

I don't expect it to be roses and sunshine everyday, but I don't expect it to be gloom and doom either. I don't like change, never have, but I fear stagnation more than I fear change.

It is a guarantee that life will change, roll with it or it rolls over you.

More to come when I am awake. Hopefully I won't feel like a truck ran over me.

Haveil Havalim & The JBlogger Conference

Many of you know that I was supposed to attend the Nefesh B’Nefesh International Jewish Bloggers Conference in Jerusalem. Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond my control I was forced to back out at the last minute, and I do mean the last minute.

Much has been written about the conference. Jewlicious has a roundup of the roundup that is worth taking a look at. I may provide my own feedback in a separate post, but for now I'd like to focus on a few comments made by Rabbi Gil Student of the Hirhurim blog.

I don't have a clear transcript so this is going off of what was seen in the feed, which means it may be off a bit.

The good rabbi said that he does not like Haveil Havalim because he is uncomfortable with some of what is presented within. Presumably he doesn't want to appear to be endorsing positions that he disagrees with

For those who are unfamiliar, Haveil Havalim is the Jewish/Israeli Blog carnival. It is a weekly roundup of posts from the Jewish/Israeli Blogosphere. I am the administrator for said carnival, having taken over the post from the founder Soccer Dad. You can find recent examples of Haveil Havalim by clicking here.

That is not entirely unreasonable. One shouldn't be forced to pretend to agree with positions that he/she finds disagreeable, especially if you are looking at issues that are not classified as being benign.

So you might ask what the official position is for submissions to Haveil Havalim. That is simple. If it is anti-semitic or anti-Israel it is banned. The hosts have latitude to ban submissions that fall into these categories and frankly can bounce other posts that they find to be offensive.

However I strongly encourage them to construct a carnival that is not limited solely to their own perspective. Legitimate criticism of Israel is welcome also welcome, provided that it is legitimate.

While I respect Rav Student's belief, I have a problem with his boycott. Maybe it is because I am a believer in the Marketplace of Ideas or maybe it is because I have long enjoyed challenging my own. But I think that it is a mistake on his part to do this.

If your beliefs are strong and based upon logical and rational thought then they should hold up to being challenged. They shouldn't just crumble because you see/hear an opposing view. Much as I hate to admit this, I learned long ago that I am not always right. I am wrong more often than I'd like to admit.

The second part of my disagreement with him is based upon his assertion that we are not part of a community. I disagree. We're part of the JBlogosphere, we are all Jews. Now I won't get into a discussion about Halacha or how we should act as Jews. That is a separate discussion that will never end.

I suppose that one could try and define the Jblogosphere a bit. We could spend more time trying to determine what you have to blog about to be a member. Maybe it is as simple as saying that if you sometimes blog about being Jewish and or Israel you're part of it.

I don't know, have to think about it.

But if you'll forgive me for sounding like a fearmonger, this I am sure of. The people who hate Jews will not distinguish between those who are Torah observant and those who aren't. It doesn't matter if you are an FFB who fell off of the derech, a BT, a ger, Conservative, Reform, whatever. Jewish blood is Jewish blood and those who hate us do not discriminate based upon how we think of ourselves.

A Monster Fish

This may not be Leviathan, but it is pretty damn big.

"A man-sized grouper that trolls the tropical waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean for octopuses and crabs has been identified as a new fish species after genetic tests.

Called the goliath grouper, the fish can grow to six feet (1.8 meters) in length and weigh a whopping 1,000 pounds (454 kg). Until now, scientists had grouped this species with an identical looking fish (also called the goliath grouper, or Epinephelus itajara) living in the Atlantic Ocean.

"For more than a century, ichthyologists have thought that Pacific and Atlantic goliath grouper were the same species," said lead researcher Matthew Craig of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, "and the argument was settled before the widespread use of genetic techniques."

Foreboding- Lurking In The Dark

I didn't sleep well. It was fitful and punctuated by dreams that were both disturbing and frightening. Can't quite remember exactly what happened, just fragments of things. And when I woke up I was a bit disoriented, not really sure where I was or who I was with.

The thing is, I didn't have anything stronger than a glass of water and Alka-Seltzer before bed so I can't attribute this to alcohol or narcotics. What I can say is that somewhere around 11 PM I began to get this feeling of doom, this strong sense of foreboding just enveloped me.

It made me feel edgy and nervous. I tried to let it go. I tried to let the feelings just wash over me like water off a duck's back, but it didn't work. I tried a number of other tricks, everything that I have taught the children, but to no avail.

When I get that feeling it usually comes in two parts, fear and anger. There is the fear about the unknown and the potential impact and then the anger. The anger is an alloy of the fear and frustration. I want to confront it. I want to see what the challenge is so that I can figure out how to overcome it.

But this time I don't quite know how to do it. It feels a bit like I am going to get a phone call to say that someone has died or there is going to be a large earthquake. I don't know how to stop those things.

A short time later I hear a noise and begin to wonder if someone has broken in. In the dark I lie quietly and listen carefully, cataloging the noises around me. This I can handle. I don't like it, it makes me nervous, but an intruder is not the same as an earthquake.

I can disarm and disable an intruder. I can protect and defend. For a moment I think that my mind is playing tricks on me, that it handed me this so that I would feel better. It is just a mindfuck that came over me so that I would feel like I had control of things.

My movements are cautious and careful. I have a body that is built for demolition, not for grace so it is important to be extra careful to be quiet. If there is someone inside with me I don't want them to know that I am coming for them. I want to surprise them and share this joyous experience.

So now I am standing. I am dressed in a tank top and a pair of shorts. I have been working out for a while now, my upper body is beginning to resemble the one I had at twenty-five. Unless they weigh over five hundred pounds someone is going to be very unhappy to witness the results of my efforts.

Slowly I ease my way around the room, past the bed, around pieces of furniture and a kids toy I creep. Inside my mind I am prepared for confrontation. In another moment or two I will know for certain. Just one more room to check.....

Nothing. No one. It is empty.

Now I am confident that it was just inside my head. I am relieved but angry. I let a short yelp of frustration out and sit on the couch. I am wide awake. It is the middle of the night, but all the fires are burning.

Alone in the dark I click on the stereo and listen to Adagio in Strings, Moonlight Sonata and more. The London Philharmonic plays Kashmir and I am inspired to start doing push ups. I bang them out in sets of ten.





Sweat is poring off of my brow and my breathing is a bit ragged. I mull over taking a shower and decide that will kill any relationship I attempt to have with sleep. So I grab a towel and take a quick sponge bath.

A short time thereafter I fall asleep. Not long after that I wake up. A short time later I find myself recounting all of this here on my blog.

Aggravated, irritated and cranky. I am processing all of this, trying to figure out if there is any meaning to any of it. Maybe it can all be written up as just a bad evening, but then again I am a superstitious fellow. Maybe there is something to this foreboding.

I just don't know.

My Seven Foot Tall Son

I thought that this was interesting. BTW, I picked the title because I thought that it was cool, I am not related.

Here are some excerpts:

Ellensburg, Wash., is home to a truly unique young man: 12-year-old Brenden Adams, who is more than seven feet tall and, incredibly, still growing.....

....Amazingly, his dad, Willie Adams, said there was no hint of any of this when Brenden was born at 7 pounds, 3 ounces and 19 1/2 inches in length. His mom says they first started to notice something was different at his 2 month check-up. "They said, these measurements just aren't right. He's too long," Ezell said. "And at four months, he had all of his teeth."

Then mom and dad got the news that any parent would dread. Doctors and medical experts told them they had no idea what was causing the problem with their child. "I still haven't seen anyone like Brenden," says Dr. Melissa Parisi, his geneticist at Children's Hospital in Seattle. Parisi has been treating Brenden since he was four years old, when, she said, "he was the size of a typical 8-year-old boy."

...For years, doctors continued to search for the source and an answer to Brenden's unstoppable growth. He went through multiple tests and X-rays as medical experts tried to determine what was going on inside Brenden's body.

Then, finally, a breakthrough -- when Brenden was eight years old and already the size of an adult.

"I have to say that the hematologists and oncologists here actually helped us figure it out," admits Parisi. "He has a very unusual rearrangement of his genetic material. It's what's called an inversion of chromosome-12 and it affects every single cell in his body."

Chromosomes, you may remember, come in pairs. But in Brenden's case, his 12th chromosomes don't match. Somehow -- experts still don't know why -- the middle of one of them broke off, flipped around and re-attached, disrupting a critical gene that controls growth. And that's what experts believe is causing Brenden's excessive growth and other symptoms and what makes his case the only one of its kind.

"This gene is functioning despite the regulation that it shouldn't be," said Dr. Gad Kletter, Brenden's endocrinologist at Swedish Hospital in Seattle. "It's over-functioning. He was predicted to be over eight foot tall."

Bad things Come in Threes

That's the old saw isn't it, bad things come in three's. At least I hope that is the case. If this were a twelve round fight I'd have to say that the other guy is winning.

I have been beaten up, down and around the ring. My legs are wobbly, I have two black eyes and one hell of a concussion. The only reason that I am still on my feet is that I am too stubborn or perhaps too dumb to go down.

So I keep fighting because I don't know what else to do. I stagger around the ring, trying not to collapse. I search the crowd for my Adrian, knowing that if I can see my girl's face I'll find the strength to continue.

But she's not there.

Alone in the dark I hear things, the echoes of the past and whispers of the future. She is gone. Can't say if it is for good or for what. Silly 70's songs like Just When I needed You Most play in the background, but I can't focus.

I try to buck up, be a man who can shrug it all off and maintain that edge, but I fail. The minutes stretch into days and the hours feel like a lifetime. My dear sweet Adrian, I am not too proud too beg, but I wonder will it help.

Every day there is more bad news. Every day I wake up by trying to go back to sleep. But it doesn't work. So I get out of bed and trudge over to the shower. I turn it on full blast and step into it. The water is so hot that it burns me, but I don't turn the knob.

Rather punish myself and continue to sow seeds of self destruction. I should go down. The fight should be over, but I still can't let go or give up.

He Put a Gun To My Head

A friend described me as being consistent in my inconsistencies, a dichotomy of personalities. I can switch gears very quickly. I go from play to business and back to play in just a moment. Call it moody, call it cranky or just call me a curmudgeon. It doesn't matter. The reality is that I am who I am and the quiet passivity you sometimes see masks the man who will rip off of your head and kick it into the street.

Do you remember when the banking industry introduced ATMs. The automatic teller was a wondrous convenience. No longer would you have to go inside the bank and wait in line for your money. Suddenly it was a two minute procedure and the height of convenience.

Unfortunately the convenience for some became a siren call for malfeasance. You no longer visited certain ATMs because there was no interest in having to pass along your hard earned cash to some low life. At least that is how some people looked at things, there were those others who considered themselves to be bullet proof.

I was one of them. A twenty-something man who feared no one. In the prime of my life I hadn't any reason to be concerned. Bruises, strains, and bumps were momentary inconveniences. No real responsibilities meant that I had ample time to spend in the gym. My body was taut and toned. My cardiovascular system had never been despoiled by smoking.

When you took that hard body and screwed on my hard head it made for an interesting combination of young, dumb and stupid. I went where I pleased because I knew that anyone who made the mistake of accosting me would find themselves in dire need of a visit to a chiropractor.

My youthful naivete is really what saved me. When I felt that gun against my temple I wasn't smart enough to be afraid. The thought of dying didn't even register. No, what did was irritation followed by extreme anger. What the fuck did this asshole think he was doing. Not only was I not going to give him any money, I was going to take that gun and shove it so far up his ass he didn't dare belch for fear of blowing away his lips.

Things didn't exactly work out the way either of us planned. As I turned to face him he used the butt of the gun on the side of my head. At least, I think that is what happened. I am not really sure, but I do know that I was surprised to find myself on the ground.

I am sure that he was even more surprised when I responded by using my right hand to try and turn him into a modern day eunuch.

Together we rolled around the ground. Each one of us fighting to gain the advantage on the other. Something hard kept slamming into my kidneys. Each time I felt pain shooting inside me, but I refused to let go of him. I could hear someone screaming in anger, but I couldn't make out what they were saying. I was too busy trying to separate his arm from his shoulder.

The scuffle felt like it took hours, but the tape from the ATM showed it wasn't more than five minutes. It even showed the swing I took at the police officers who tried to break up the fight. Note to self, it is not wise to hit a cop because they will respond.

The justice system in this country is funny and not in the "I can't stop laughing sense." When it was all said and done I looked like I had driven my car over the side of Laurel Canyon and he was comatose. The D.A. said that it was self-defense and that I wouldn't have to worry about it, but his family claimed otherwise and filed a multimillion dollar civil case against me.

That was seven years and more than $1 million in legal fees ago. The story is not nearly done. It is not over by a long shot. His mother has sworn to see me "go down hard" and she has the money to pursue this.

Maybe I should have handled this differently. We don't always see how the actions we take in our youth can follow us into the future. But you cannot screw an old head on young shoulders and life is what it is.

What can I tell you, he put a gun to my head.

(This was a work of flash fiction. I wrote it in 22 minutes. It hasn't been edited and appears in its original format.)

(originally posted here.)

Most Popular Posts This Year

Every now and then I like to take a look at what the old stats say are my most popular posts. One of the things that I find to be of interest is that the trends do not always follow the most recent posts. In other words, it is not unusual to find posts from prior years still generating traffic.

You'll also notice that Haveil Havalim posts are consistently among the most popular. If you are looking for a way to generate traffic, well you should host the damn thing.

Here is a brief snapshot of some of the most popular posts here.

Weird Signs

What Are Your Favorite Song Lyrics?

The Duggar Family Revisited

The Worst Album Covers- Ethel Merman Disco Mix

Cheeseburger Leads to 911 Call

Haveil Havalim- The Almost Purim Edition

Alone In The Dark

HH #155- The Falling Asleep At My Computer Edition

Haveil Havalim #151- The P.S.D. Edition

The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants

HH #165 Happy 60th Birthday Israel

Strange Side Effects

Several people have recommended that the best way to pass the time on a long flight is to sleep your way through it. Now I have to admit that there is a certain attraction to this.

I remember one flight to Israel in which I got to watch Forest Gump about 1,293,098 times. It was just great. Nice plane, with the personal movie screen on the seatback in front of me. It was kind of cool to have my own personal screen, until I heard "Run Forest Run!" so many times that my legs began to twitch.

So I spent a few minutes considering the advantages of taking an Ambien. As I mulled it over I wondered if there was a way to try and program my brain to dream about a particular topic or two. If I was going to sleep for that long it might be kind of nice to really enjoy my dreams.

Now mind you, I am renowned for snoring. There are even a few rumors that the primary reason why a relationship or two ended was because of my ability to imitate a chainsaw.

Anyhoo, I decided to do a little research on the drug and came across this:
17.2 Sleep-driving and other complex behaviorsThere have been reports
of people getting out of bed after taking a sedative-hypnotic and driving their
cars while not fully awake, often with no memory of the event. If a patient
experiences such an episode, it should be reported to his or her doctor
immediately, since "sleep-driving" can be dangerous.This behavior is more likely
to occur when Ambien is taken with alcohol or other central nervous system
depressants [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3)] Other complex behaviors (e.g.,
preparing and eating food, making phone calls or having sex) have been reported
in patients who are not fully awake after taking a sedative-hypnotic. As with
"sleep-driving" patients usually do not remember these events.
That's quite a mouthful. Sleep driving and other complex behaviors, such as preparing food and or having sex. If I take one of these things do I risk finding out later on that I engaged in a little sleep flying, had a quickie with a flight attendant and then capped it all off by cooking a little meal in the galley.

Aside from the general creepy factor, what would this do to my fragile ego if I found out that I was more fun while not fully awake. It might be more than a bit upsetting.

OTOH, maybe I could get a do-over on some things. "Sorry about that, I was taking a sedative-hypnotic and just wasn't myself. But, it really was the greatest five minutes of your life, was it not."

I suppose that I'll leave this ridiculous scenario where it belongs, in some crazy screenplay. I think that I'll take a pass on the good old sedative-hypnotic and travel the old fashioned way. I'll do my best to get a little shut eye and hope not to wake up in an embarrassing pile of drool.

Isn't airplane travel just the best.

And You Thought Quantas was Safe

This is the kind of thing that would make me crazy.
"Qantas has been hit by another embarrassing flight incident, this time diverting an aircraft because the plane's toilets were full.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that flight QF571, flying from Sydney to Perth, was forced to stage an unplanned stop in Adelaide in order to empty the toilets.

The flight had originated in Honolulu, but ground staff forgot to empty the toilets when the plane landed in Sydney. An hour into the plane's next flight, three of the toilets had stopped working.

"They told us that under any reasonable calculation, the rest of them would go pretty quickly," one businessman told Fairfax Media during the plane's cleaning stop in Adelaide.

"All this discussion of toilets triggered an urgent need to go in just about everyone," he said.

"We did ask for more red wine to be brought on board, but it was felt not to be a priority."

The incident came after another Qantas flight was delayed for 16 hours yesterday in London with a rudder problem. Passengers spent the night in hotel rooms provided by Qantas.

Want to know more? Click here.

Physically and Emotionally Exhausted- The Blogger Blogs

"She put him out like the burnin' end of a midnight cigarette
She broke his heart he spent his whole life tryin' to forget
We watched him drink his pain away a little at a time
But he never could get drunk enough to get her off his mind
Until the night

1st Chorus

He put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger
And finally drank away her memory

Life is short but this time it was bigger
Than the strength he had to get up off his knees
We found him with his face down in the pillow
With a note that said I'll love her till I die
And when we buried him beneath the willow
The angels sang a whiskey lullaby"

Whiskey Lullaby-Brad Paisley/Allison Krauss

Just finished listening to some of the songs from Name A Song That Makes You Cry. Whiskey Lullaby has been a favorite of mine for a long time, it just resonates with me. Can't say that I was ever suicidal, but I know what it is to have your heart ripped out.

Been a long and hectic day, not exactly the way that I like to finish my weekend. It was productive, got a lot done, but it wasn't all that pleasant.

I am wound up pretty tight, had to make some very tough decisions today. Reminds me of a recent conversation with my son in which I told him that even when you make a good decision it can be painful. It is one of those funny little things about life, doing the right thing can hurt. Not to mention that sometimes it is really hard to figure out what the right thing is. Life is often not black and white.

So we move on. Heard the theme for Rocky during one the commercials that is running during the Olympics and decided that it was time to go out to the garage and pound on the heavy bag. It felt good to take out my aggressions on it. I started out slowly and developed a rhythm and knocked the crap out of the bag.

Slowly but surely I got lost in the music and the rush of endorphins. I have eclectic taste in music, but usually I try to pick some specific tunes to encourage me, but this time the shuffle threw out an odd combination.

Here is a partial list:

Baby, Now That I've Found You (Live)- Alison Krauss & Union Station
Time to Say Goodbye-Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman
Same Old Lang Syne- Dan Fogelberg
Insomnia (Monster Mix)-Faithless
Breathe- Prodigy
Walk This Way- Aerosmith
Can't Get It Out of My Head-Electric Light Orchestra
What is Love- Haddaway
Mr. Brightside- The Killers
Californication- Red Hot Chili Peppers
Institutionalized- Suicidal Tendencies
Bulls on Parade-Rage Against the Machine
When I am working out on the heavy bag I tend to prefer harder stuff, so some of this was a bit light. Although I should say that sometimes when the mood strikes I'll play the Rocky soundtrack.

As a sort of sidenote, I am a fan of Rocky.

Sometimes I think that one of the real purposes of this blog is to give my children a chance to get to know their father in a different way. I don't really intend for them to read this until they are much older, but there will come a day when they'll get the keys to the castle.

The goal is to try and provide them with some insight into me that they might not get in any other fashion. I suppose that sounds self indulgent, but to me it seems to be of interest. I feel like I know an awful lot about my father. I can tell you all sorts of things, but still there are things about him that remain a mystery.

My hope is that this will help them in some way. Maybe it will help them see that in spite of the difference in age and time, there are similar challenges. Maybe it will be that one thing that helps them avoid some of the mistakes I have made. Who knows.

Stumbled onto an old post and cracked myself up. This may not be funny to anyone else, but it kills me.

WHEN A BULL whale comes at you with an erect penis, it’s nine feet long,” said Gregory Colbert, aiming a fork at his Caesar salad. “It’s like a torpedo. And you’d better get out of the way, fast.”

I nodded appreciatively, as though there were a realistic chance that, at some point in the near future, I might indeed find myself in the company of a bedroom-minded bull whale — and that Colbert’s advice on the measurement and potential destructiveness of the creature’s whalehood might save my life.

“But an adolescent male sperm whale is the worst,” Colbert continued. “He weighs between 15 and 18 tons. You’re basically the size of a piece of sushi to him. The worst thing you can do is panic. He’ll see your chest moving up and down and think to himself, ‘Hey, this guy’s afraid of me; that means he must be lunch’.”
Good thing that I don't suffer from penis envy. Aside from that, there is something funny to me about Colbert's comment about the sperm whale. Assuming that the whale is capable of reason and logic, do you really think that something that much bigger than us gives any thought to whether we are afraid.

We move on.

My old computer died. It was an unexpected death and the timing was quite bad. I have spent hours and hours trying to recover files and move them to the new computer. I have decided that I definitely am not a fan of Vista. I don't hate it, but it is not what it could be.

Than again the exhaustion I feel may have a little to do with the feelings of frustration.

I'd be remiss if I didn't bring up the Jblogger conference. If you haven't registered there is still time to do so. You can do so by using the link at the First International Jewish Bloggers Conference.

I'd write more but it seems that suddenly I am being paged. So I'll leave you with some links to old posts that I had intended to work into this.

Too Many Sequels
My Son's First Day of School
How I Write

See you later.

When Bakers Go Bad

Thanks to Cake Wrecks I now have a few ideas for cakes to give to special friends. ;)

A Short Roundup

Here is a quick snapshot of some recent posts:

Haveil Havalim #178 - The Tu b'Av Edition

Confession of the Day

A Gold Medal Couple

Sudden Death and Aging

Some Links That Caught My Eye

Heart Breaker or Heart Broken

Thanks For Nothing NBC

I Want To Die

Name A Song That Makes You Cry

Dad Did It Better

Haveil Havalim #178 - The Tu b'Av Edition

It is time to enjoy another edition of our weekly carnival. Come read Haveil Havalim #178 - The Tu b'Av Edition.

Confession of the Day

I had nightmares after watching the video below. I couldn't believe that my hero, Steve Austin, The Bionic Man couldn't take this hairy beast from cleveland. It is a good thing that I was only 20 or I'd really be embarrassed about sharing this with you.

Did I mention that because of shows like this I have always wanted to have my movements accompanied by sound effects. It would be really cool if every time I run or jump or punch something there was some kind of appropriate noise to go along with it.

A Gold Medal Couple

I thought that this was kind of interesting:

A few weeks ago, FPM's Pat Imig told us about Katerina and Matt Emmons, a pair of Olympic shooters who met during the Summer Games in Athens four years ago and were married in June, 2007. Shooting for the Czech Republic, Katerina captured the first gold medal of the Beijing games when she won the 10 meter air rifle. She followed that with a silver in the 50 meter three positions rifle.

Matt, an American who
lost his chance at two golds when he shot the wrong target in Athens, took silver yesterday in the men's 50 meter rifle prone position. He has a chance to equal his wife's record tomorrow in the 50 meter three positions competition. For the sake of marital harmony, I know I'm cheering for him. ("Matt, honey, could you polish the medals, please? Both of mine are getting a little dusty.") To be fair, Matt won gold and Katerina bronze in Athens, so exactly what the score is depends on whether you are counting golds or total medals.

Meanwhile the Emmons have become
media darlings, the TomKat and Brangelina of the Olympic Village (MattKat? Matterina? Help me out here.) Olympic shooters usually manage to dodge the
swarming paparazzi
, but the "Rifle Romance" has climbed to Spunky Gymnast levels on the adorable scale (just one step below Puppies and Cooing Baby).

After all, when you are first introduced in Athens and your second date is in Bangkok, that's not
just meet cute, it's meet jet set. Not bad for a guy from Jersey and a girl from Plzen.

Sudden Death and Aging

If you asked me to describe the most frustrating aspect of blogging it would not be the struggle to come up with content or the fight to develop of a community of readers who comment. For me those things are mild irritants.

What really bothers me is when I have trouble writing the actual post. Sometimes the words just flow from fingertip to keyboard and sometimes they come in drips and drabs. I picture it as water flowing through a pipe with various kinks and obstructions in it.

Or maybe it is because some of these topics are harder to write about. Maybe it is because they're more personal and my ability to share some of those things has been compromised. That could be it, I don't know and I am not sure if I really care. Does it matter.

In the end there is just the keyboard and my struggle to try and give life to the story because some of these tales deserve more than they get. This is one of those, or at least my attempt.

Death is something that sometimes preoccupies me. I have been to a lot of funerals for people who have died what would be described as untimely deaths. It seems to me that I know or should I say have known more people who have died young than most people my age.

At least that used to be how I looked at it. Now that my friends and I are in that late thirties to mid forties bracket things have changed. More of our parents have gotten some sort of terminal illness and or died from it.

There are more stories about the mother/father who was sixty-something who didn't wake up. More stories about how a sudden heart attack or aneurysm ended their life and the questions this leaves for their children.

In the pre-marriage, pre-children days these were still looked upon as tragedies, but they were different. Now my friends look at me with fear in their eyes and ask what will happen to their children if they die. Who will watch them. Who will make take care of them. Who will love them forever without question.

During the past year I have sat with friends of my father, widowers, and been given a window into their grief. As a kid I wanted to be able to do adult things, I wanted to have the freedom that grownups have. Now I have it and sometimes I don't want it.

I have watched and listened as men who knew me as a young boy shared their feelings of loss and devastation. Twenty years ago I thought of people who were sixty as being really old, but now I see things differently. Look, I am 39, I don't expect to become a member of AARP any time soon, but it is different. It is different because I see that there is no reason why I can't have decades of life to live.

To live, not to endure, but to live. In theory those years and beyond will be a time where I get to do things that I can't do now.

But I watch and listen and wonder. In their grief I see the tears that roll down their cheeks and do my best not to shame them by making a big deal of things. I hear them talk about never falling in love again and having to live out their lives a shell of a man and I wonder.

One of my father's friends and I had a long discussion about it and I see that life really has changed a bit. Some years ago he listened and offered advice on life and now here we are, our positions reversed.

It is a little more than a year since his wife died. He is only 64, but he feels like he'll never feel real joy and happiness again. I don't accept his premise that he can never fall in love again.

Fortunately I have never been in his position, I am not a widower so I can't comment on that. Can't say that I totally understand some of the challenges of being 64, but I do know what it is like to be heart broken. That is something that I can relate to and can provide some advice about.

Different day, different scene. One of my friends calls to let me know that his father has cancer. It is in a relatively advanced stage, but they think that there is a good chance that they can treat it. I listen as he speaks, worries about what will happen to his father, whispers about the worst and wonders if he should ask his mother to live with him.

Flash to a different day again and there is a group of us talking about our parents overall health. Who has long term care, who has good healthcare, questions/comments about how many of us are going to end up having to take care of our parents.

More talk about wills, retirement and our own health. This person says that and that person says this. For a moment it feels like I am at a tennis match. I have said it more than once, these discussions used to be a lot more fun in our twenties.

But I get it. Too many heavy things have come down and we haven't even discussed the state of our own grandparents. I think that I'll save that talk for a different time, this post has gone on long enough.

Some Links That Caught My Eye

Miriam Shaviv's blog- Miriam's old blog Bloghead was one of the first blogs I discovered and one of my favorites. So I was pleased to see that she has a new blog. You can find it here.

One of the liberators of Buchenwald has died. Thank you James Hoyt.

Hoyt had rarely spoken about that day in 1945, but he recently opened up to
a journalist.

"There were thousands of bodies piled high. I saw hearts that had been taken from live people in medical experiments," Hoyt told author Stephen Bloom in a soon-to-be-published book called

"The Oxford Project."

"They said a wife of one of the SS officers -- they called her the Bitch of Buchenwald -- saw a tattoo she liked on the arm of a prisoner, and had the skin made into a lampshade. I saw that."

Goodbye Sandy Allen

It is TU B'Av- Let the loving begin.

What is a JBlogger?

They call it Smart. I call it a Death Wish.

A Japanese Fiddler On The Roof- Still cracks me up. Sushi and Gefilte fish, a match made in heaven.

Who wants to play Pac Man.

Excuse me, I have to go buy some bread.

Heart Breaker or Heart Broken

She told me that there are two kinds of people in the world, the heart breakers and the heart broken. I remember asking her if that wasn't a little bit too black and white of a description of dating.

Her response was that it was exactly how life worked. Some people were very lucky and others were not. You were a Sneetch with a star or you were a poor shlub who didn't have one. And for the most part once you fell into one category you were pigeonholed there for life.

I never could accept that as being a legitimate description of how life worked. In large part it came from my own personal experiences. I had been through some bad breakups in which women had done their best to destroy my sense of self worth and trampled upon that black thing that pumps the blood through my veins.

Yet, I also knew that there were women whose memories of me might not be so sunny. A few might have far more colorful descriptions of what they thought about me.

The experiences on both sides of the fence always helped to balance things out for me. Once I got beyond that first big heartbreak I figured that this was just how life would be. There would be moments of intense joy and moments of intense pain and that much of what I needed to focus upon would be what happened in between.

But I have to say that in some ways I was exceptionally naive. I suppose that I didn't give any real thought to it, but for some reason I always picture life post marriage as being easy. Maybe I watched too much television, read too many books or saw too many movies. I don't really know.

What I do know is that in my head I never saw any of the trials that people go through in their adult lives. I am not even talking about the challenges spouses undergo in trying to navigate the normal relationship issues. It is the other stuff outside of that, those are the things that catch my eye.

It is the fear and anxiety that being a parent is. There is a reason why so many parents blog and read other parent blogs. Intellectually you know that all children face challenges growing up and that the overwhelming majority overcome those challenges.

But emotionally it takes a toll on you. You never stop worrying about them. You never stop wondering about the decisions you make. There is always a little voice in the back of your head, nagging at you, criticizing and second guessing you.

To be clear, not every decision is earth shattering. There are those that you make without a second thought, but there are those others.

I guess what I am saying is that sometimes I miss those days of being nothing more than the heart breaker or the heart broken. When all I had to do was worry about myself, well life was easy.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think that my life is bad. I don't think that my concerns are all that unusual either. I just know that sometimes I wake up and wish that I was back in college so that I could skip class and hit the beach or Vegas.

Not all that much to ask for, is it, the chance to hop in a time machine and revisit being 19.

Pallywood Posts

 I think a bunch of the posts about Pallywood that have been written and or linked here have to be updated. Probably a bunch of bad links, k...