Mumbai- Notes/Links About Terror

In the past some commenters have complained about graphic comments and images in posts that discussed war/terrorism. I don't believe in sugarcoating the truth so we are going to continue to provide specific details about what happened. It is important to do so that people understand the gravity of the situation and are not able to minimize things.

Also, let's not forget that they made a point of going after Jewish/Israeli targets. That doesn't mean that I have no sympathy for the other victims. It is just important to mention that we recognize that alongside hotels, rail stations and restaurants they went for a small, obscure house. It was deliberate. But one way or another justice will be served.

Aussie Dave tipped me off to a story that says it appears that the hostages at the Chabad House (Nariman House) were tortured.

"They said that just one look at the bodies of the dead hostages as well as terrorists showed it was a battle of attrition that was fought over three days at the Oberoi and the Taj hotels in Mumbai.

Doctors working in a hospital where all the bodies, including that of the terrorists, were taken said they had not seen anything like this in their lives.

“Bombay has a long history of terror. I have seen bodies of riot victims, gang war and previous terror attacks like bomb blasts. But this was entirely different. It was shocking and disturbing,” a doctor said.

Asked what was different about the victims of the incident, another doctor said: “It was very strange. I have seen so many dead bodies in my life, and was yet traumatised. A bomb blast victim’s body might have been torn apart and could be a very disturbing sight. But the bodies of the victims in this attack bore such signs about the kind of violence of urban warfare that I am still unable to put my thoughts to words,” he said.

Asked specifically if he was talking of torture marks, he said: “It was apparent that most of the dead were tortured. What shocked me were the telltale signs showing clearly how the hostages were executed in cold blood,” one doctor said.

The other doctor, who had also conducted the post-mortem of the victims, said: “Of all the bodies, the Israeli victims bore the maximum torture marks. It was clear that they were killed on the 26th itself. It was obvious that they were tied up and tortured before they were killed. It was so bad that I do not want to go over the details even in my head again,” he said.

Corroborating the doctors’ claims about torture was the information that the Intelligence Bureau had about the terror plan. “During his interrogation, Ajmal Kamal said they were specifically asked to target the foreigners, especially the Israelis,” an IB source said.

It is also said that the Israeli hostages were killed on the first day as keeping them hostage for too long would have focused too much international attention. “They also might have feared the chances of Israeli security agencies taking over the operations at the Nariman House,” he reasoned."

The Times of India shared a report from a Russian expert who speculates that the terrorists were trained by special forces.

Another report says that the terrorists posed as Malaysian students. The story relates information from the confession of one of the terrorists.

"But the 10 men were apparently not the only ones directly involved:
Another group, he claimed, had checked themselves into hotels four days before,
waiting with weapons and ammunition they had stockpiled in the rooms.

The 10 men in Azam's group were chosen well: All were trained in marine warfare and had undergone a special course conducted by the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Preparations were also detailed, and started early.

Azam and eight others in the team made a reconnaissance trip to Mumbai several months before the attacks, pretending to be Malaysian students. They rented an apartment at Colaba market, near one of their targets, the Nariman House.

The chief planner of the attacks also visited Mumbai a month before to take photographs and film strategic locations, including the hotel layouts.

Returning to Pakistan, the chief plotter trained the group, telling them to 'kill till the last breath'.

Surprisingly, the men did not expect themselves to be suicide terrorists. Azam said they had originally planned to sail back on Thursday - the recruiters had even charted out a return route, stored on a GPS device.

On the evening of Nov 21, Azam's group set off from an isolated creek in Karachi in a boat. The next day, a large Pakistani vessel with four Pakistanis and crew picked them up, whereupon the group was issued arms and ammunition.

Each man in the assault team was handed six to seven magazines of 50 bullets each, eight hand grenades, one AK-47 assault rifle, an automatic loading revolver, credit cards and a supply of dried fruit. They were, as some media put it, in for the long haul.

A day later, the team came across an Indian-owned trawler, Kuber, which they boarded. They killed four of the fishermen onboard, dumped their bodies into the sea, and forced its skipper Amarjit Singh to sail for India.

The next day, they beheaded the skipper, and one of the gunmen, a trained sailor, took the wheel and headed for the shores of Gujarat, India.

Near Gujarat, the terrorists raised a white flag as two officers of the coast guard approached.While the officers questioned them, one of the terrorists grappled with one of them, slit his throat and threw his body into the boat. The group then ordered the other officer to help them get to Mumbai.

On Nov 26, the team reached the Mumbai coast.

Four nautical miles out, they were met by three inflatable speedboats. They killed the other coast guard officer, transferred into the speedboats and proceeded to Colaba jetty as dusk settled.

The Kuber was found later with the body of the 30-year-old captain onboard.

At Badhwar Park in Cuffe Parade - just three blocks away from Nariman House - the 10 men got off, stripped off the orange windbreakers they had been wearing and made sure to take out their large, heavy backpacks.

It was there that they were spotted by fisherman Prasan Dhanur, who was preparing his boat, and harbour official Kashinath Patil, 72, who was on duty nearby.

"Where are you going?" Patil asked them. "What's in your bags?"

The men replied: "We don't want any attention. Don't bother us."

Thinking little of it, Dhanur and Patil, who said they did not see the guns hidden in the backpacks, did not call the police, and watched the 10 young men walk away.

Then the carnage started.

On hitting the ground, the 10 men broke up.

Four men headed for the Taj Mahal Hotel, two for The Oberoi Trident, two for Nariman House and two - Azam and Ismail - for the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus by taxi.

At the railway station, Azam and his colleague opened fire, targeting Caucasian tourists while trying to spare Muslims.

Thanksgiving In The Snow

I am a California boy. Born and bred here in paradise I can count on both hands the number of times that I have been in the snow. If you search through the archives you'll find the post that in which I shared that I have never driven a car in the snow. Been a passenger, walked through it, but never been the driver.

As a point of interest some of those experiences in the snow have been in Buffalo and Toronto. It was pretty damn cold. Cold enough that I got the general idea for what it must be like to be snowbound which is part of why I have never wanted to torture myself by being forced to live that way on a regular basis.

It occurs to me one of the reasons that I haven't really ever gotten into the holiday season is that I don't really relate to all of the winter imagery. When people talk about how hard it was to shovel snow or walk through snowstorms on their way to school I smile and nod my head. I get the general drift. It is wet, cold and uncomfortable. I get it. Walked and driven through plenty of rainstorms.

Anyhoo, this past Thanksgiving marked 19 years since I spent my first and only Thanksgiving in the snow. As I sit here typing I am trying to recall how it was that I ended up in Georgetown for the holiday. Ok, that is not entirely true, I more or less remember. A good friend of mine went to school there. What I don't remember is how we came up with the plan for me to go out there for Thanksgiving.

What I can tell you is that we were joined by two other friends. They went to Vassar and so they flew in from Poughkeepsie. Ok, so there were four of us. Four friends there for the holiday. Four friends ready to enjoy each other's company, but only three of us were really equipped for snow. Can you guess who didn't have snow gear.

Ok, there really wasn't much snow. But for a kid from Los Angeles it was different to wander down the street and worry about slipping on the ice. It felt a bit like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life.

Over the years the Shmata Queen has told me all sorts of stories about how people hate L.A. and or make fun of it. I think that she was surprised when I told her that my experience had been very different. I can't tell you how many times people have found out that I live in L.A. and asked me all sorts of crazy questions about what life is like here. Do I know ever see any actors, is it really sunny all the time, how close do I live to the beach, have I ever seen any shows being filmed.

Before the wacky woman inserts her two cents let me say that I have had people make disparaging remarks about L.A. in front of me, but it has happened relatively few times. More often than not I have gotten either the gushing or ambivalence. Either way, I don't care. I have always liked it here. Truth is if more people left it'd be better, but I digress.

I'd write more, but I have a four year-old sitting on my lap. She just woke up and has found that tugging on my beard is an effective way of getting my attention. They say turnabout is fair play, so I grabbed her pony tail. Did I ever tell you that she is cute even when she looks at me with fire coming out of her eyes.

See you later.

#193 It Is Live

Go read:This is Not Your Father's Haveil Havalim (Issue #193)

You can read past editions at blog carnival or by clicking on one of these links:

Nov 30, 2008 What War Zone???

Nov 22, 2008 Ima on (and off) the Bimah

Nov 16, 2008 West Bank Mama

Nov 10, 2008 Jewlicious

Nov 01, 2008 Esser Agaroth

Oct 26, 2008 What War Zone???

Oct 18, 2008 Ill call Baila

Oct 12, 2008 The Israel Situation

Oct 05, 2008 Writes Like She Talks

Sep 28, 2008 A Barbaric Yawp

Sep 21, 2008 Random thoughts

Sep 14, 2008 Shiloh Musings

Sep 07, 2008

Aug 30, 2008 My Shrapnel

Because I Need To Smile About Something

Been meaning to write more about Mumbai, but just don't have it in me at the moment. Almost time to start bitching about the holiday season, but not quite yet. So let's discuss anger management.

When you occasionally have a really bad day, and you just need to take it out on someone, don't take it out on someone you know, take it out on someone you don't know.

It all started one day when I was sitting at my desk and remembered a phone call I had forgotten to make. I found the number and dialed it.

A man answered, saying, "Hello." I politely said, "This is Chris. May I please speak with Robin Carter?"

Suddenly, the phone was slammed down on me. I couldn't believe that anyone could be so rude.

I tracked down Robin's correct number and called her. I had transposed the last two digits of her phone number. After hanging up with her, I decided to call the 'wrong' number again.

When the same guy answered the phone, I yelled, "You're an asshole!" and hung up. I wrote his number down with the word 'asshole' next to it, and put it in my desk drawer.

Every couple of weeks, when I was paying bills or had a really bad day, I'd call him up and yell, "You're an asshole!" It always cheered me up.

When Caller ID came to our area, I thought my therapeutic 'asshole' calling would have to stop. So, I called his number and said: "Hi, this is John Smith from the Telephone Company. I'm just calling to see if you're interested in the Caller ID program?" He yelled "NO!" and slammed the phone down.

I quickly called him back and said, "That's because you're an asshole!"

One day I was at the store, getting ready to pull into a parking spot. Some guy in a black BMW cut me off and pulled into the spot I had patiently waited for. I hit the horn and yelled that I had been waiting for the spot. The idiot ignored me. I noticed a "For Sale" sign in his car window, so I wrote down his number.

A couple of days later, right after calling the first asshole (I had his number on speed dial), I thought I had better call the BMW asshole, too.

I said, "Is this the man with the black BMW for sale?"
"Yes, it is." "Can you tell me where I can see it?"
"Yes, I live at 1802 West 34th Street. It's a yellow house, and the car's parked right out in front."
"What's your name?" "My name is Don Burgemeyer," he said.

"When's a good time to catch you, Don?"

"I'm home every evening after five."

"Listen, Don, can I tell you something?"

"Yes?" "Don, you're an asshole."

Then I hung up, and added his number to my speed dial, too.

Now, when I had a problem, I had two assholes to call. But after several months of calling them, it wasn't as enjoyable as it used to be.

So, I came up with an idea. I called Asshole #1.

"You're an asshole!" (But I didn't hang up.)

"Are you still there?" he asked.

"Yeah," I said.

"Stop calling me," he screamed.

"Make me," I screamed back.

"Who are you?" he demanded.

"My name is Don Burgemeyer."

"Yeah? Where do you live?"

"I live at 1802 West 34th Street, ASSHOLE!

It's a yellow house, with my black beemer parked in front."

He said, "I'm coming over there right now, Don. And you had better start saying your prayers."

I said, "Yeah, like I'm really scared, asshole."

Then I called Asshole #2.

"Hello?" he said. "Hello, asshole," I said...again, without hanging up.

He yelled, "If I ever find out who you are!"

"Yeah, you'll what?" I said. "I'll kick your ass," he exclaimed.

I answered, Well, asshole, here's your chance. I'm coming over right now."

Then I hung up and immediately called the police, saying that I lived at 1802 West 34th Street, and that I was on my way home to kill my gay lover.

Then I called Channel 9 News to let them know about the war going down on West 34th Street.

I quickly got into my car and headed over to 34th street.

There I saw two assholes beating the crap out of each other in front of six squad cars, a police helicopter, and a news crew.

NOW, I feel better.

Anger management really works!!!

Thanksgiving in Mumbai

The world is a strange place. I just finished playing in my yearly football game. For two hours I ran or should I say staggered my way through a muddy field. For two hours I pushed my ancient almost 40 year-old body against 18-20 year olds. And when it was all done we hugged each other goodbye and wished each other well.

Driving home I thought about the attacks in Mumbai. Two of my cousins were recent guests in the Chabad house. We emailed each other last night to confirm that they were back home in Israel. I thought about my friend David and his post about his recent trip to India in which he was a guest at the Chabad house.

I listened to the news in the car as they explained that this was a well coordinated and professional hit. I thought about how they intentionally attacked a place that they knew had Jews and Israelis. I listened to reports in which they said that the terrorists tried to identify American and British passport holders. An attack on the west.

While I sat there listening I felt very badly for the victims and was reminded that there are people who are willing to do terrible things to my family, my friends, myself and many others. They are willing to murder and maim without regard.

Look I can sit here and feed platitudes about why they might do this. I can wax on about it being a war of ideologies, but I am not going to. On this day I have no patience for that. Terrorists deserve to die. Or as I read earlier this week terrorists should just get dead.

A message needs to be sent. A clarion call that cannot be mistaken. Use violence to try and affect change and you receive a bullet in the head.

Don't get me wrong, I believe that the solution to these problems is also going to include a diplomatic component. It has to. But sometimes diplomacy has to come after you have made it clear that a refusal to come to the table will not yield the results that you want. Terror cannot win.

So on this day I want to say that I am thankful for many things. I am thankful for the health of my family and friends. I am grateful to those who serve to help preserve and protect those freedoms. I am grateful to live in a land whose limitations are set more by us and less by others. Sometimes circumstances favor you and sometimes they dont. But more often than not the real limits on your future are those that you set yourself.

Have a good Thanksgiving and may we all be safe.

Most Popular Posts of Q3

So in the midst of the Thanksgiving rush I decided to share with you what the blog tracker from Ice Rocket says are the most popular posts of the quarter. It should be noted that I don't necessarily think of these posts as being among my best.

The Duggar Family Revisited
The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants
Going Commando
What Are Your Favorite Song Lyrics?
Morality Without Religion- A Comment to The Self-Righteous
Anger Management
Besheret- The Concept of Meeting the Perfect Mate
Weird Signs
The Electoral College
No! No! No! Eye Tattoos Are Out
How To Hunt Really Big Game
Using The Blog To Build A Community
My BeardWhat Benefits Do You Receive From Being President
Alone In The Dark
Cheap Sunglasses

And just for the heck of it here are a few others I stumbled onto:
The Worst Album Covers- Ethel Merman Disco Mix
Cheeseburger Leads to 911 Call

Zoo solves mystery of celibate polar bears

Perhaps I am confused, but I thought that the people running the zoos were supposed to know something about the animals. How do you miss this.

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Puzzled zookeepers in northern Japan have discovered the reason why their attempts to mate two polar bears kept failing: Both are female.

The municipal zoo in the city of Kushiro in Hokkaido brought in a polar bear cub three years ago. They named it Tsuyoshi, after the popular baseball outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo, and waited until it reached reproductive age.

In June, the zoo introduced Tsuyoshi to its resident bear, an 11-year-old female named Kurumi, and waited for sparks to fly.

But much to the disappointment of zookeepers, Tsuyoshi never made any amorous advances toward Kurumi.

Earlier this month, zookeepers put Tsuyoshi under anesthesia to get to the bottom of the matter. That's when they made their discovery: Tsuyoshi is a female.

Jack & The "Mortgage Broker"

One of the benefits to having a home office is the opportunity to interact with the fine fellows who call my home. If you're one of the 17 long term readers you know that I am not adverse to interacting with telemarketers.

I suppose that it might be considered a bit unfair to play this way, but I find them to be a never ending source of fun. In part it is because I am consistently amazed by the reactions or lack thereof I get to some of the comments I make. I suspect that it is because some of them are bored and with others it is because they don't understand English well enough to follow what is going on.

Here is a recap of a recent conversation:

Jack: Hello.
Mortgage Broker: I am calling for Mr. Jack. May I speak with him?

Jack: This is his personal assistant. Who should I say is calling?
Mortgage Broker: Tell him it is me.

Jack: You want me to say that it is me. He'll be confused if I say it is me calling.
Mortgage Broker: Sorry sir, I am only playing fun with you. Tell him it is John from Marin calling about his mortgage.

Jack: How do you play fun?
Mortgage Broker: It is an expression, like we are having very good times talking.

Jack: Ok, John. Are you sure that you're name is John?
Mortgage Broker: Yes, I am sure. Please get Mr. Jack.

Jack: Hello, this is Mr. Jack.
Mortgage Broker: Are you sure? You sound a lot like his personal assistant.

Jack: And you sound like someone who is about to hear a dial tone. Talk to me.
Mortgage Broker: I am calling because you are paying too much for your mortgage.

Jack: That is not what the bank says.
Mortgage Broker: Sir, I am prepared to help you with a loan modification program.

Jack: Is this like body modification, I don't want any piercings.
Mortgage Broker: No, we can help you save money by giving you a better loan.

Jack: Can you get me a bigger house?
Mortgage Broker: Would you like a bigger house?

Jack: Absolutely. The Shmata Queen likes a big room to romp in.
Mortgage Broker: What sort of romping do you do?

Jack: Did you just ask me what sort of romping The Shmata Queen and I are doing?
Mortgage Broker: Yes sir, what sort of romping do you do? If I understand better I can provide better assistance.

Jack: Well that is sort of a personal question, but I guess that I can answer. The best thing to do is to pull out your copy of the Kama Sutra and turn to page 376. Follow the diagrams there.
Mortgage Broker: Oh sir, you misunderstand me. I am not asking to have sex with you.

Jack: That is good, because I am not offering.
Mortgage Broker: I apologize.

Jack: Ok. What is it that you want to talk about?
Mortgage Broker: We want to give you a better interest rate on your mortgage.

Jack: Ok. What is my rate?
Mortgage Broker: I don't know.

Jack: You just called me and said that you can give me a better rate and you don't know what my rate is.
Mortgage Broker: No, I need you tell me what your current rate is.

Jack: I am disappointed. First you ask about my romping and now the whole interest thing.
Mortgage Broker: Sir, you misunderstand me. Tell me more about your interest and romping and I'll be better able to assist you.

Jack: I am a healthy man with a healthy interest in romping, but I still fail to see how that is any of your business. Where in Marin are you? I don't think you are really there.
Mortgage Broker: I am in Marin in an office.

Jack: Is it the big red building on State Street. The one that has all the cubicles in it. You know, each cubicle has a desk, a telephone and a computer.
Mortgage Broker: Yes, that is the one.

Jack: Oh, that building. It also has a small store on the first floor that sells cards, candy and newspapers. It is the one that Babe Ruth runs.
Mortgage Broker: Yes, that is it.

Jack: Hah, Marin isn't a city. It is a county.
Mortgage Broker: Click, followed by a dial tone.

I was surprised that he hung on for the full five minutes. Where do they get these people anyway.

Some of My Favorite Posts

So I decided to try and come up with a collection of some of my favorite posts just for the heck of it. I have an unoffical grouping that is linked in the drop down menu on the bottom right side of the page. But every now and then I like to try and sift through them all.

The hard part is trying to figure out which posts I want to highlight or if I should just keep the same old ones as always. In theory I like to think that as I keep blogging I'll come up with some good new stuff so the list will grow.

Anyway, here is a list of some of my favorites:

A Little Digestive Distress- Chicken Vindaloo
I Had a Dream
The Story of Two Souls
The Bearer of Bad Tidings- One Less Set of Footsteps
What The Hell Happened to Courtesy
The Supermarket
The tears that do not fall
Give Me Time and I will Be Rich, Rich, Rich
Sounds of My Youth

The Stomach Flu Strikes

Who knew that a four year-old could win a projectile vomit contest. I know, it is a lovely image.

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

Who knew that a ukulele could sound so good.


The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

You Don't Bring Me Flowers

Coming Soon: My Night With The Shmata Queen

Inquiring minds have been asking for more information about my night with The Shmata Queen. I could tell you about the ballroom dancing. Who knew that a tuxedo and long dress could do so much for people.

Or I could tell you about the Chicken Marengo she cooked and how it helped me get better acquainted with the bathroom. But something tells me that if I go into too much detail she'll take that grandma sized black purse and hit me...again.

So I'll have to stick to more mundane stories. And I promise not to say anything about the toilet paper that was stuck to her shoe. Ok, I said it, but I also proved that chivalry isn't dead by removing it.

Oh so many stories to tell and so little time. What to do, what to do.

If They Don't Agree They Must Be Sheep

As I surf the blogosphere I have to say that I am disappointed by many of the conservative bloggers and their reactions to the election. The latest trend by many is to try and smear those who voted for Obama by claiming that they are all ignorant. In between there is a lot of rhetoric about how much more tolerant the right is about differing point of views.

In my experience I have found just as many ignorant conservatives as I have liberals. It is rather disheartening to see how many people seem to have slept through their civics courses. It is disheartening to see how many of them seem to be completely bereft of logic and the ability to engage in critical reasoning.

But what really makes me roll my eyes are the constant remarks about sheeple. It is no different than the eyerolling I did for those who made fun of people who voted for Bush. It just proves that people are people no matter who they vote for.

You Can't Kill Batman

Batman RIP' will see "the end of Bruce Wayne as Batman", according to Grant Morrison.

There are rumours that Batman will suffer a gruesome end when his sidekick Robin goes over to "the dark side" and destroys him in a terrible betrayal.

Batman, alter ego of Bruce Wayne a wealthy industrialist, operates in the American Gotham City.

Others speculate that Wayne may either retire from his duties or be killed by a mystery villain known as the Black Glove.

His fate will be revealed in the latest issue of DC Comic's Batman, published on 26 November.

Either way, his demise will lead to a hunt for a replacement.

Old Love Letters

So dear reader I have a question for you. Do you believe in holding onto old love letters or when the relationship ends do you throw them away?

Necrophilia Is Still Illegal in Wisconsin

This story is beyond disturbing. Calling Stephen King.

"Three men accused of trying to dig up a grave in Wisconsin in order to have sex with a dead woman entered not guilty pleas this week.

The twin brothers, Alex and Nicholas Grunke, and Dustin Radke (all pictured) are alleged to have attempted to remove the body of a 20 year-old woman killed a week previously in a motorcycle crash. The three decided on the woman after seeing her photo in an obituary in the local newspaper.

Stranger still perhaps is the legal argument leading to the point. The case in the courts so far hasn’t been whether the three were guilty or not, but whether necrophilia was illegal in Wisconsin or not. A lower court originally found that there was nothing in the state that banned the boys having their way with the corpse, but the State Supreme Court over-ruled that decision in July. The fact that the three brought condoms to the scene to protect themselves was
not taken into account by the court."

Tuesday Tunes And Then Some

Rhinestone Cowboy- Glen Campbell
Knock Three Times- Tony Orlando and Dawn
Seasons In The Sun- Terry Jacks
Alone Again-Gilbert O'Sullivan
Baby Can I hold you- Tracy Chapman
Burn- The Cure
Picture- Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow
Rockstar- Nickelback
Photograph- Nickelback
Something- The Beatles
Hold On Loosely-.38 Special
6th Avenue Heartache-The Wallflowers
Californication- Red Hot Chili Peppers
Baby Please Don't Go- Big Joe Williams
Running With the Devil- Van Halen
God's Gonna Cut You Down-Johnny Cash

I Hate My Computer Armoire

I hate my computer armoire. The damn thing looks very similar to the one in the picture. There are two distinct differences between mine and the one in the picture. There are two long doors on mine and not four. The front of the doors doesn't have that plantation shutter look.

When we purchased this monster it was with great fanfare and excitement. It was going to serve with great distinction as a highly functional piece of furniture. Unlike its predecessor it wouldn't look like it had escaped from a cubicle. If company came over all you needed to do was simply shut the door and the office look was gone.

With a chalkboard, bulletin board and built in cubbies it would make it easy to stay organized. Alas I quickly learned that the best laid plans can go astray. Let's start with the lack of leg room. I spend hours at the computer. It is where I work. It is the place that I need to be at to be most productive so that I can make the dough it takes to run a household. Not to mention the moments that I spend blogging.

But since the tower and printer are located down below I can't stretch my legs out and am forced to keep them right in front of me. It is annoying and uncomfortable on an airplane, but at my own home it is infuriating. I can't believe that I paid to be uncomfortable.

Next issue. When I am working I like to have room to spread out my files so that I can just reach over and grab whichever one I happen to need. This medieval torture device mocks my effort to do so. There isn't room to spread out. It makes neat piles look like clutter. The shelf that the monitor sits upon doesn't take kindly to sharing space. The little built in cubbies are unnaturally good at making whatever you place in them look out of place, as if you just threw it in there.

So let's recap. The lovely piece of furniture I paid good money for sucks. On a side note I never have understood why they call it good money. As far as I know there isn't any bad money, unless you have stolen it or picked it up off of a corpse. In my experience any money that pays my bills is good money, but I digress.

I suppose that you could say "Jack, didn't you know these things about yourself. Didn't you know how you like to work. Why did you buy it."

If you want to know the answer I'd be happy to give it to you. I'd be glad to tell you that it was a big mistake, but only after I put my size 12 boot in your ass for asking. I hate this freaking thing. My legs ache and I am constantly twisting so that I can stretch. I hate the cluttered look, but I am not going to move all of my office files/materials in and out of a closet every day. It is a waste of time and a bigger production than necessary.

As I explained to The Shmata Queen part of the beauty of growing older is the ability to admit when you have made a mistake. I made a mistake with this thing. Done, over, not discussing this any longer. I am sure that there are numerous other mistakes that I have made that would be far more interesting to discuss than this.


Crossposted here.

A Few Links that Caught my Eye

Want a Popular Blog? Put Your Ego Aside\

What women can do when they're young to be happy later on

How To Carve a Turkey

William Shatner on The New Star Trek Movie

Crossposted here.

Life: Every Time I think I Have Figured It Out I Haven't

An attorney friend of mine once told me that he thought that blogging about personal affairs could be a dangerous exercise. When I asked him to explain he said that if for some reason you were involved in a lawsuit your blog could potentially be used against you. I thanked him for his advice and told him that Shakespeare was right about lawyers. I blog for many reasons, one of which is the chance to use this place as my personal laughing place.

It is one of the ways in which I blow off steam. A harmless exercise that doesn't involve consuming any carcinogenic, hallucinogenic or otherwise harmful substances. It is where I explore my thoughts and try to establish a framework for how to handle more challenging situations. And believe me, life is full of challenges.

It is a funny thing, life that is. Funny in a hah, hah sort of way and a damn this sucks so badly if I didn't laugh I'd cry kind of way. It is the sort of rollercoaster that simultaneously thrills and scares you so badly you don't always know what you feel.

Every so often I find myself in a place where I feel like I have it all figured out. Every now and then I feel like I have a handle on life. I know exactly who I am, what I want, where I am going and how to get there. And then life kicks me in the balls and while I bend over to catch my breath life grabs ahold of my underwear and yanks it up towards my shoulders.

The beauty of pushing 40 is that I have learned how to roll with these punches. Or maybe I have been kicked so many times that my boys just don't register pain very well anymore. I prefer to believe that age has bestowed some wisdom upon me so that is how I am going to proceed.

In the summer of 2007 I encountered a situation that I found exceptionally troubling. In theory it was relatively simple, but I was so close to the subject I thought that it merited a second opinion. So I called my father and said that I was in need of fatherly advice. I explained the situation and he offered me a suggestion.

Upon hearing his suggestion I said "Dad, I need your help now. I need your 'A' game. Is that the best you have got." He laughed and said yes. I paused and told him that I was afraid that he was going to say that. But I am nothing if not tenacious so I asked him what he would tell a friend to do in a similar situation.

He laughed again and told me that I was in a place in which only I could figure out what to do. I grumbled and hung up the telephone. I agreed with him, but I was still frustrated. That is the thing about life, there often are no right answers. There are a lot of wrong answers, but the right answer is harder to come by.

So I find myself doing the best that I can. I look at each situation and try to determine what makes sense. What is best for everyone involved. It is often not an easy answer. As a single person you can do whatever the hell you want, but when you have a family you have so many other responsibilities. It is like dropping a stone into a pond, there are ripples. Whatever you do is going to impact others. The hard part sometime is trying to figure out how and where to draw those lines.

Perhaps at a later date I'll share some more thoughts about that.

Crossposted here.

Captain Smartypants sings Dreidel

How To Deal With Pirates

Michael Oren has an essay in the WSJ that discusses how to deal with pirates. Oren provides a historical context in which he addresses what a young U.S. did then and offers a suggestion for the current situation as well.

If you read the essay you'll see that somethings never really change. Here is a brief excerpt.

The choice was excruciating. No longer protected by the British navy and lacking any gunboats of its own, the U.S. had no ready military option. Nor did it have international support. Jefferson's attempt to create an international coalition together with European states was summarily rejected. Defenseless and internationally isolated, most Americans were opposed to devoting their scarce resources to building a navy and instead favored following the age-old European
custom of bribing the pirates -- the euphemism was "tribute" -- in exchange for safe passage. "Would to Heaven we had a navy to reform these enemies to mankind or crush them into non-existence," an exasperated George Washington confided to his old comrade-in-arms, the Marquis de Lafayette.

Washington's frustration could well be echoed today in the face of escalating assaults by pirates from Somalia. Over 90 such attacks have occurred this year alone -- a three-fold increase since 2007 -- resulting in the capture of 14 ships and 250 of their crew members. Among their prizes, the pirates have seized a Ukrainian freighter crammed with Soviet-made battle tanks and, most recently, the tanker Sirius Star with $100 million worth of Saudi crude in its holds. These shipments are now being held off the Somali coast where the pirates are bargaining for their return.

Superficially, at least, there are many differences between the Somali pirates and their Barbary predecessors. The Somali bandits have no declared state sponsors and no avowed religious pretext. Their targets are no longer principally American ships but flags of all nations, including those of Arab states. And they are more interested in ransoming cargoes of arms and oil than hapless sailors. Yet, no less than in the 18th century, 21st-century piracy threatens international trade and confronts the U.S. with complex questions.

Should the U.S. Navy, for example, actively combat the pirates, emulating the Indian warship that destroyed a Somali speedboat earlier this week? Can the U.S., which is already overstretched militarily in two conflicts, afford to assume responsibility for another open-ended operation in the same area? Or should America follow the example now being set by Saudi Arabia and various Asian states which, according to United Nations statistics, have paid $25 million to $30 million in ransoms to the pirates this year alone?

Crossposted here.

A Review of The BlackBerry Storm

Saturday Night Music

Just finished dinner a short time ago. Went out with a dear friend who is in the middle of getting divorced. Here is some of the music that played in the background courtesy of the iTunes shuffle. Some of it probably wasn't the best choice, but it worked.

Fire and Rain- James Taylor
Knocking on Heaven's Door- Bob Dylan
Can't Find my Way Home- Blind Faith
I Cant Get It Out Of My Head-ELO
Crying- Roy Orbison
In The Mood- Robert Plant
Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)-Kris Kristofferson
Brown Eyed Handsome Man- Waylon Jennings
Canyon Reverie- R. Carlos Nakai
What I've Done- Linkin Park
Battle Without Honor Or Humanity-Tomoyasu Hotei
I Can Love You Like That-John Michael Montgomery

Crossposted here.

Haveil Havalim #192 is Live

I am pleased to let you know that the Best of the Jewish/Israeli blog carnival is ready and available for your review: Haveil Havalim #192: The Thanks and Giving Edition.

Please help us promote the carnival by notifying your readers and those on your email lists.

Crossposted here.

A Busy Week

Let's see what has happened this week:

1) My nephew had surgery on Wednesday. Simple removal of the tonsils, adenoids and a set of tubes.

2) My father had a gastric bypass on Thursday.

3) On Saturday my sister had a car accident.

4) On Saturday night I set sail for parts and places unknown.

Crossposted here.

I Hate Doing Dishes

Just in case you were wondering I really dislike doing dishes. It was one of my chores growing up along with taking out the trash and a host of other things. I can't quite tell you why I dislike it so much, there really is no one reason.

On a side note over the years I have heard an interesting debate among people regarding hand washing versus the dishwasher. Proponents of both methods have claimed that their preference is the best way of cleaning.

As I understand it the arguments go like this:
Hand washing: The dishwasher misses things and leaves bits and pieces on the dishes.

Dishwasher- This is the only real method of disinfecting the dishes.
From my perspective the only reason to hand wash is because the item cannot go inside the dishwasher due to fragility or size constraints.

Either way I still don't like doing dishes.

Live Like You Were Dying

I really like this song. I appreciate the sentiments for so many reasons.

He said I was in my early forties with a lot of life before me

when a moment came that stopped me on a dime

and I spent most of the next dayslooking at the x-rays

Talking bout the options and talking bout sweet time

I asked him when it sank in that this might really be the real end

how's it hit you when you get that kinda news man what'd you do

and he said
I went sky diving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
and I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
and I gave forgiveness I'd been denying
and he said someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying.

He said I was finally the husband
that most the time I wasn't
and I became a friend a friend would like to have
and all the sudden going fishin
wasn't such an imposition
and I went three times that year I lost my dad
well I finally read the good book
and I took a good long hard look
at what I'd do if I could do it all again

and then
I went sky diving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
and I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
and I gave forgiveness I'd been denying
and he said someday I hope you get the chance
to live like you were dying.

Like tomorrow was a gift and you got eternity to think about
what'd you do with it
what did you do with it
what did I do with it
what would I do with it'

Sky diving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
and then I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
and I watched an eagle as it was flying
and he said someday I hope you get the chance
to live like you were dying.
To live like you were dying
To live like you were dying
To live like you were dying
To live like you were dying
Tim McGraw

The Science of Lines

I thought that this article about the study of queuing was interesting. Especially as it sometimes feels like I spend my life waiting in lines for one thing or another. And in case you are wondering, the answer is that you stand in line, not on line.

If you read the whole article you'll see that they found that knowing how long you are going to wait reduces anxiety. Duh. I could have predicted that. But it still doesn't solve the problems you sometimes encounter when stuck behind the man/woman who screams into their cellphone or whose unpleasant scent makes you want to gag.

You may not know it, but the seemingly mundane task of forming a queue at the airport, a fast-food joint or a post-Thanksgiving midnight sale is the subject of careful study by experts in the field of queuing psychology.

The findings may not always reduce wait times, but they can cut frustration and make people feel better, or even happy, about waiting in line, said Richard Larson, who has researched queuing psychology for more than two decades.

"You can change a queuing experience into a very positive experience," said Larson, director of the Center for Engineering Systems Fundamentals at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

To do that, businesses where people often wait in line must realize some basic principles of queuing psychology.

Eliminating empty time, for example, makes waits seem shorter, Larson found in his research.
Visitors lining up for attractions at theme parks see this principle at work with queues that often use clever design and technology to make the line itself entertaining.

"We like to view [queues] as the first scene in the story, whatever the story of that particular attraction is," said Joe Garlington, creative vice president of interactives at Walt Disney Imagineering, which develops Disney parks and resorts.

The line to one popular attraction at Epcot features cameras and large interactive screens that allow visitors to see themselves and play games, such as trying to burst virtual water balloons to reveal a hidden image, Garlington said.

People waiting in line for a comedy show at Walt Disney World are asked to text message jokes that may be used during the main event.

"It works as our warm-up act essentially for the show, but it also takes time while people are working through that and so it keeps them entertained while they're waiting," Garlington said.

"We do study the psychology, try to understand what our guests are thinking and make sure that we're keeping them happy as they move through the lines."

Disney employs more than 75 industrial engineers who help the company with queue management at its parks around the world, said Marilyn Waters, director of media relations at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Social justice

Fair play -- or the idea of first come, first served -- is at the heart of most successful queues. It's one of the reasons most banks, airlines and fast-food restaurants have switched from several open lines that force customers to choose the line they think is moving fastest, to a single serpentine line, which guarantees first come, first served, Larson said.

Violation of fair play can lead to "queue rage." Larson himself became interested in queuing psychology after a frustrating experience he calls the "red bike incident."

Use the link above to read the rest.

Comng Soon

The history of the fork.

The Shmata Queen Confesses- "I'll never go back to cleveland."

A tale of two marriages and a box of chocolate.

And much much more.

Some Songs That I Have Been Thinking About

Cleaning out my garage made me think of a bunch of different songs from the past.

Call To The Heart- Giuffria
On The Loose- Saga
Heat of The Moment- Asia (Cartman's version right here, along with Come Sail Away).
Come on Feel The Noise- Quiet Riot
Holy Diver- Dio
Winds of Change- Scorpions
Under A Raging Moon- Roger Daltrey
After The Fire- Roger Daltrey
Rock of Ages- Def Leppard

And now a link to a mix of power ballads.

Oy, I am laughing too hard.

Paulson resists Democrats' call To Rescue Homeowners

This report in the LA Times angers me. We can argue all day long who is at fault for the economic issues. We can point fingers and talk about irresponsible spending on the part of business and consumers and suggest that they reap the rewards of their actions.

In theory I agree with that. It is important for people to take responsibility for their actions. However there comes a point at which we have to help people. And it bothers me that will loan businesses untold amounts of money to help save them.

It infuriates me to think of how much help the automakers receive and we can't do a freaking thing to help out the common man. If the Big 3 weren't so big, if they weren't tied in to so many jobs I'd say to let them fail. Let them reap the rewards of not working harder and smarter. But that can't happen right now.

Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson told unhappy congressional Democrats on Tuesday that, barring a new catastrophe, the Bush administration intended to stand pat on its existing effort to stabilize financial markets -- and leave the next stage of economic recovery to the new administration.

Having committed about half of the existing $700-billion rescue fund to ease Wall Street's credit crunch, Paulson said he had no plans to spend the rest, even on the root cause of the crisis -- soaring mortgage foreclosures.

"The prudent course, at this time, is to conserve the remaining funds available from the [rescue program], providing flexibility for this and the next administration," Paulson told frustrated lawmakers during a contentious hearing before the House Financial Services Committee.

During Paulson's testimony, committee members, at times raising their voices, complained that the administration was willing to spend money on big banks and insurers but not on ordinary Americans. "

I hope that you understand the pain and the suffering of so many homeowners in this country that are losing their homes," said Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez (D-N.Y.).

When Do You Start Mourning

One of the benefits to reaching a certain age is that you start to gain a fair amount of life experience. You have been around the block a time or two and so you find that some situations have presented themselves a time or two.

As a father I have been blessed to see the birth of my children. As a grandson I have had to say goodbye to some of my grandparents. And as a friend I have had the sad task to watch some dear friends pass away far too early.

And I have also had the chance to witness the grief and struggles of other friends/family members as they have said goodbye to their parents. It is not an easy thing. I am not sure if we are ever really prepared to let mom and dad go. No matter how independent you are there is something very comforting in knowing that they are still around.

When my parents purchased their plots I was a little weirded out. I appreciated their pre-planning and their efforts to make a hard time easier, but it was still strange. G-d willing when I am 130 and their pushing 155 I'll have to call the cemetery to make sure that they haven't sold their spots.

I suppose that you could say that the birth of this post is rooted in recent experiences in which people around me have begun to prepare for the death of a loved one. It is a hard thing to watch, the grief and pain of someone else. I can't take it from them. Can't shield them or really even share the pain. It is a very personal thing and it is different for everyone.

But I can offer my shoulder. I can listen and I can say that I think that it is important to celebrate life while you can. One day they will be gone and you'll have plenty of time to think about them. Until that moment comes it is important to try and enjoy what time you can with them.

I am not saying that it is easy or that there is a right way to do this. It is one of those moments in which we all need to find our own way. And I am not trying to say that I understand everything either.

You can call me morbid, but I have thought about my own death. I have spent time thinking about what I want my own funeral to be like. I have spent time thinking about where I want to be buried and I am sure that I will again. I am not who I was at 25 and at 60 I expect that I'll be different from 40.

Not really sure where this is going so I'll try to wrap it up. I suppose that the point is really one that I made earlier. I don't think that you can totally prepare yourself for the loss of a parent. And I think that it is important not to bury someone before they are dead.

Life has plenty of hard moments, no need to take anymore on before you have to.

High School is Over- Now What

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The time in between the end of high school and the beginning of college is one that many people find to be both exciting and challenging. It is a period of growth in which young people start trying to answer questions about themselves, who they are, what they believe and what they hope to become.

Sometimes the hardest question to answer is where to go to try and find the answers to these questions. It can be a challenge finding a place that doesn't offer a one size fits all or a black and white mentality.

SIACH is a program that aims to address many of those concerns. It offers students a chance to explore, discuss and learn about Judaism, Israel and their own identification with each. And it does it from a pluralistic standpoint so that people of multiple backgrounds can find a place within.

It is located within Jerusalem in The Goldstein Youth Village, a place near and dear to my heart.

Not only does it offer students a chance to learn about themselves, it is also possible to earn college credits while doing so.

So if this sounds like it would be of interest for yourself or someone you know, take a moment to go check out their website and learn more about the program.

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How Astronauts Exercise

CNN has an interesting article about how astronauts try to stay in shape.

But floating around in zero-G can have some serious consequences for the human body, NASA's experts have learned, including the weakening of bones. In fact, studies have shown that space travelers can lose 1 to 2 percent of their bone mass each month on average, according to NASA.

One way that astronauts have been fighting bone loss is through strength training. And they're getting some help with a new machine delivered this week by the shuttle Endeavour, which docked with the international space station on Sunday.

The advanced Resistive Exercise Device, aRED for short, functions like a weight machine in a gym on Earth, except it has no conventional weights. Instead, it has vacuum cylinders -- canisters with air that have had a vacuum applied -- that provide concentric workloads up to 600 pounds, NASA says.

The device works somewhat like a bicycle pump, only in reverse, said Mark Guilliams, a NASA trainer. For example, if you are squatting, the vacuum gets pulled out as you stand up, and when you squat back down, the vacuum pulls the bar back to the normal position.

Between the vacuum cans and the bar, there are small flywheels that spin in opposite directions, creating an artificial gravity when someone lifts the bar.

Astronauts can do upper and lower-body exercises, such as squats, dead lift, heel raises, bicep curls and bench press on the device, NASA said.

"In the movie, the 'Transformers,' it looks like one of those things that unfolds into some kind of big monster," Anderson said. "It's huge."

The existing exercise device on the space station has a mechanism that more closely resembles a rubber band. The farther you pull the rubber band, the more force you generate, Guilliams said. The limitations of this device made it somewhat boring, Anderson said.

The new device will allow astronauts do many more kinds of exercises than the old one. The tradeoff is its larger size, Anderson said. It will be in use almost constantly during the day, assuming astronauts work out about two hours a day each, he said.

The international space station also is equipped with a treadmill and a bicycle, Guilliams said.

Of course in space you have to wear a harness so that you don't go floating off of the treadmill. I really want to experience that weightlessness feeling. I wonder what sleep would be like.

Is It Blogworthy

Here is some unsolicited advice for any who wish to take it. It is always worth considering whether the post in your head is blogworthy. Take a moment to consider what you are doing and what you hope to accomplish. Spend a minute asking yourself if you could say the same thing in person and you'll likely save yourself some grief.

In the early days of my blogging career when I was completely anonymous I had very few rules for what I was willing to post. If I felt like writing about something than I did so. Since I had almost no readers it didn't occur to me that there was any reason to censor myself. And for the most part I really didn't.

Over time my feelings on the matter evolved and I found that I was beginning to develop unwritten rules for what I was willing to discuss online and what was left unwritten and unsaid. You can attribute the genesis of this to having people who know me discover this place. It wasn't so much that what I said was so embarrassing, but there were topics there that I didn't want to discuss with real people.

One of the other factors was in how I viewed The Shack. It wasn't just something that I had done for a lark. No longer was it solely a short term project that I was going to fumble with for a while. It became a real hobby and something that I enjoyed.

As I became more serious about it I also became more concerned with the quality of the posts. It became more important to me that the things that went up had a bit more substance than some of the earlier crap. That's not to say that crap doesn't find its way onto these pages. It does. But now there is sort of a formula that I follow.

I am more conscientous about trying not to post things that would embarrass others. Since I am willing to say just about anything to anyone that leaves a lot of room. But even so it doesn't mean that I am willing to go hog wild. It also means that I try not to engage in angry blogging.

Still I have to say that there are going to be contradictions. I use this place to air out the thoughts rolling around my melon. I use this place to document my life and to practice my writing.

With all those things in mind I am also careful about how much rewriting and editing I do. You can almost always improve a post by running through it several times. But since I like to use this as a workshop I am less inclined to do so. I kind of like to give things a rougher look.

Goodbye My Lover

James Blunt has kind of a funny voice, but I thought that the lyrics weren't bad.

"Did I disappoint you or let you down?
Should I be feeling guilty or let the judges frown?
'Cause I saw the end before we'd begun,
Yes I saw you were blinded and I knew I had won.
So I took what's mine by eternal right.
Took your soul out into the night.
It may be over but it won't stop there,
I am here for you if you'd only care.
You touched my heart you touched my soul.
You changed my life and all my goals.
And love is blind and that I knew when,
My heart was blinded by you.
I've kissed your lips and held your hand.
Shared your dreams and shared your bed.
I know you well, I know your smell.
I've been addicted to you.

Goodbye my lover.
Goodbye my friend.
You have been the one.
You have been the one for me.

I am a dreamer and when i wake,
You can't break my spirit - it's my dreams you take.
And as you move on, remember me,
Remember us and all we used to be
I've seen you cry, I've seen you smile.
I've watched you sleeping for a while.
I'd be the father of your child.
I'd spend a lifetime with you.
I know your fears and you know mine.
We've had our doubts but now we're fine,
And I love you, I swear that's true.
I cannot live without you.

Goodbye my lover.
Goodbye my friend.
You have been the one.
You have been the one for me.

And I still hold your hand in mine.
In mine when I'm asleep.
And I will bare my soul in time,
When I'm kneeling at your feet.
Goodbye my lover.
Goodbye my friend.
You have been the one.
You have been the one for me.

I'm so hollow, baby, I'm so hollow.
I'm so, I'm so, I'm so hollow.
I'm so hollow, baby, I'm so hollow.
I'm so, I'm so, I'm so hollow."

A Roundup of Recent Posts- November 16, 2008

Memories of a House Part 2
Sunday- Household Chores
How To Lose
Won't You Take Me To Funkytown
Havel-Havalim, The “Mama Rachel” Edition
Truth In Blogging
James Bond Themes
100 Movie Spoilers in Five Minutes
Holding a Grudge

And your blast from the past:
"I'm So Happy I can't Stop Crying"
It is Ray Charles
Self-Doubt On a Sunday Night

Memories of a House Part 2

You can find the first part over here.

Our landlord called me at the office to let me know that he was serious about evicting us and suggested that I could make life easier by cooperating with him. I told him that if had been a mensch about things it would have made life much easier for him. There was a long pause on the other side of the line and I knew that he was trying not to blow up at me.

I didn't give him time to say anything and told him that I appreciated his position. I explained that I understood why he wanted to move quickly and I told him that we weren't going to wreck the place. I asked him to understand that just as he was going to look out for his best interests so would we. I said that if he wanted to work out a better arrangement it would be wise for him to discuss it with me.

Again there was a pause. I knew that I was testing his patience and that he felt like we were in the wrong. But I also knew that while I sat in my office there was a newborn in my home and as a new father I was nervous and inexperienced about a lot of things. That nervousness translated into making me a bit more intransigent. It should be added that sleep deprivation probably helped to make me a bit more cranky.

We went back and forth and eventually I told him that I didn't see any reason to continue speaking. We had been given 30 days notice to leave and this was only five days into it. Continued discussion was just going to turn into an unnecessary pissing contest. I wasn't going to destroy the place and I wasn't going to waste time arguing with a ignorant fool.

Life is funny in that you can't ever really plan for things. I mean you can plan for this and that, but things happen. I was just short of 27 when I got married. At that time buying a house seemed like a pipe dream. Yet just a few years and two jobs later I had made enough to come up with a down payment. It wasn't quite as much as I had hoped for, but it was enough.

In truth I was excited at the idea of moving back to the Valley and buying a house. I felt very old, I was a father and going to be a homeowner. It was all so surreal.

Next came the process of trying to find a realtor. I didn't really know any who handled where we wanted to be, but I figured that someone would be able to recommend someone good. With limited time I was most interested in trying to figure out where to live. Debated moving in with the folks or in-laws.

Neither one sounded good to me. I remember trying to sell myself on the idea, thinking that maybe we could live rent free for a few months. After all the big kid was the first grandchild on one side and the only one on the West Coast on the other, surely they'd love to have more access to him.

But the idea of living with either set really didn't sit well with me. Even if they let us stay rent free it was unlikely to give us that much more for the down payment. I figured that I needed six months to make a real difference and I was definitely against that. We had enough to buy a place. I figured that we'd find a starter house, somewhere to live for a few years and then leverage to buy a bigger place.

Out of time to write more now. I'll come back to this late.

Sunday- Household Chores

Another Sunday is almost on its way out the door. It is after dark and I haven't managed to take a shower yet. Had I not spent the majority of the day attending to various household chores I'd call myself a slacker. Truth is that I wonder where the hell the time went. It feels like I woke up an hour ago and now the end of the day approaches.

I find it irritating this feeling of wondering where the time went. Although I can account for my time, I still don't feel like I got enough done. Just for the heck of it let's create a list and see if it makes me feel better.

1) Cleaned up four bookshelves.
2) Organized the home office.
3) Steam cleaned the carpet.
4) Got rid of various piles of papers that I had been saving to look at.
5) Made a list of things to do for the jobs that pay the bills.

And that is just a partial list of the things that I did. It should make me feel better. I should feel like I got things done, that I was productive, but I don't.

The beauty of owning your own home is that there are always projects to be done. I need to attend to my sprinklers. Over the summer I replaced most of those that reside in my front yard. Recently some kind soul decided to break one, nice of them to do so in a more complicated way. I can't just take it apart. This one requires a bit more effort. Thus far it has thwarted my attempts to remove it.

It is not that I can't fix it, I can. The issue is how much work is going to be required to do so because what should be a simple task is not.

Ack. Don't quite know what ack means, but it sounds right. Or maybe I should say bleah because that is how I feel. I feel unsettled like I can't relax and I hate that. Some people hate holding still, not me. I am pretty good at it. While I like being productive I also enjoy doing a nice impression of a statue. I s'pose that I should add that most statues don't snore and that I do.

So here I am blogging about the endless list of chores and my distaste at the feeling of not having completed enough of them. I'll cross my fingers and hope that my blogging therapy assists me in overcoming this feeling.

My house has beautiful hardwood floors. I love them. There is something warm and inviting about hardwood. Unfortunately over time they have reached a point at which they really need to be refinished. I can do the job myself. I know what to do, but the question is do I really have the time.

Here I am bitching about feeling like I didn't get enough done. What the hell am I thinking about taking on another project. Sometimes it is worth paying someone else to do a job that you can do. If for no other reason then it is worth saving you some time so that you can do something else, like put up a new post.

How To Lose

The soccer season has but one more game left in it.

One more game and I regain some time that I had to allocate to coaching. For those who care that means that I won't have to devote time during the week running practices or thinking about who should play what position. And of course it also means that one day each weekend will not be committed to coaching the game.

I'll miss some of this. I'll miss watching the boys develop new friendships and the skills that they have picked up because of their involvement.

If you have ever wondered how to make the Shmata Queen roll her eyes spend a few minutes trying to talk to her about sports. If you really want to make her crazy tell her that you can't do something because you must be home to see the game. I can't say that I don't see her point. When you're time is really limited it is really hard to figure out how to best allocate your attention.

But when it comes to children's sports I have made the crazy queen admit on more than one occasion that I am right. Now if you don't think that this is an accomplishment you have never sparred with her majesty. Fortunately I have always been skilled at making her think that she is the boss, but that is a topic for a different day.

Youth sports provide your children with a number of benefits. It takes them outdoors and away from the television, computer, XBox, whatever. It helps to teach them how to be a part of a team. Now I have to admit that I share the Shmata Queen's distaste for group projects. More often than not the workload is not shared evenly.

But I also believe that participating in team sports helps to counter some of that. It helps to teach you how to work as a part of team and how to understand that everyone can have a valuable role to play.

And from an entirely different perspective it provides a great place to teach children how to lose. Winning is easy. Anyone can win, but losing is not so easy. Learning how to lose is a good way to learn how to deal with adversity. It is a way to help develop coping skills and that is a critical part of raising a healthy child.

As a coach and a parent I have been given the pleasure of working with children who have never lost. It hasn't been because they are the Babe Ruth or Tiger Woods of their sport. It is because their parents have refused to let them fail. It is a real mistake. Because there comes a point in time in which mom/dad can't protect them from life and then what happens.

Let me clarify something about my thoughts about losing. There is a balance. I don't want the child's ego to be crushed either. Balance, now that really is the hardest part of life, but that is a separate post altogether.

I suppose that I should take a look at a previous post I wrote called Teaching Children To Lose Gracefully and see if my feelings have changed at all.

Won't You Take Me To Funkytown

In the late '70s I remember listening to Lipps sing about going to Funkytown. I wondered where it was and looked for it on a map. I couldn't find it. I went to the library and asked the research librarian if she could take me to Funkytown.

She threatened to call my mother. I was perplexed, dismayed and disturbed. Why couldn't she at least tell me how to get there. Was there a bus, a train or a plane that could take me to Funkytown? I had an allowance and a lot of baseball cards, surely they would serve as compensation for the fare.

I never did find out how to get to Funkytown. But then in the '80s I learned about Electric Avenue. Eddie Grant sang about Rocking down to Electric Avenue. I wondered if that was in Funkytown, not that it mattered because Funkytown might as well have been in Antartica.

The Beastie Boys sang about not sleeping until Brooklyn. That made me feel better, because at least I knew where Brooklyn was.

It took me until college to not only learn but visit Funkytown. It was an E-Ticket ride. Bonus points to anyone who knows what an E-Ticket is/was.

Recycled from here.

Havel-Havalim, The “Mama Rachel” Edition

WestBankMama has just published the latest edition of the weekly round up of the Jewish/Israeli Blogosphere. Take a moment and go read:

Havel-Havalim, The “Mama Rachel” Edition.

Truth In Blogging

TherapyDoc has a post in which there is a discussion about truth in blogging. Or should I say that she notes that her son said something about bloggers not making stuff up. Now I don't know her or her son and so I cannot speak to whether their comments were tongue in cheek.

However I can say that not every story on my blog is what you'd refer to as non-fiction. Yep, some of these tales are just that tales that have been conceived, constructed and crapped out by your's truly.

What really cracks me up is how many people believe them. Now certainly there are many stories here that are real. They're storie about things that have happened and I have blogged about them to the best of my ability. Some of the personal tales probably would be told differently by others who were there, but that is because we all have our own interpretations of our experiences.

But every now and then I like to slip a tale or two in that should probably be labeled as fiction. I really don't spend any time trying to fool you, well most of the time I don't.

Anyhoo, that is all I have to say about that for now. At the moment I am late for my shift at LAPD headquarters. Back later.

James Bond Themes

Time Magazine's article about James Bond themes caught my eye. They list what they consider the five best and five worst ever.

Here is their list of the five worst:

All Time High, Rita Coolidge Octopussy-I disagree with Time. This wasn't the worst. Sheena Easton's song makes my head hurt. But that doesn't mean that I like this one. It is just slightly better than awful.

You Know My Name, Chris Cornell Casino Royale I disagree with Time again. I liked this song. It is not incredible, but it is not bad.

Thunderball, Tom Jones- C'mon, it is Tom Jones. This one still works for me.

Tomorrow Never Dies, Sheryl Crow - Eh, it is not great. Kind of reminds me of The Scorpions Still Loving You.

Another Way to Die, Jack White and Alicia Keys Quantum of Solace- Time and I disagree yet again. I kind of like this one.

And Now the Five Best:

Nobody Does it Better Carly Simon The Spy Who Loved Me- We're in agreement on this one. I like it.

We Have All The Time in the World, Louis Armstrong Her Majesty's Secret Service- We're in agreement again. Armstrong just does a fine job of setting the scene painting a picture.

For Your Eyes Only Sheena Easton - This one kills me, just makes me want to gag.

Goldeneye, Tina Turner - Turner is a hell of a performer who knows how to make a song into something special.

Goldfinger Shirley Bassey- This is the classic. Bassey really knows how to bring it all together.

More comments on Bond movie music can be found here. And then as a bonus here are a few more songs and comments.

Die Another Day- Madonna- Ugh
License to Kill- Gladys Night- This is ok, not great, but not horrible.
View To a Kill- Duran Duran- The Bond movies had a lost a step. I suppose that I blame Roger Moore for a large part of it, just got too goofy. This song sounds like so many others.
The Living Daylights-A-Ha- They should have stuck with Take on Me. Ugh again.
Live and Let Die- Paul McCartney- Love this one.

What do you think?

Almost 20 years

Next week marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of this spot. Hard to believe, not many have kept going since then. I have barely kept up...