Sex & Love- A Father Speaks

Ah the joys of fatherhood are never ending. The inquisitive lad you know as Little Jack has struck again and insisted that I explain love, divorce and girls in general to him. That little rascal reminds me of the Terminator. He is relentless and unstoppable. You can divert his attention but sooner or later he will be back.

We have been over this ground on a number of occasions. Here is an incomplete list of posts that help to provide some background:
Not Quite a Recap- Let's Talk about Body Parts
Dear Tooth Fairy
She Broke My Penis
For A Good Time Call...
A Life Without Regrets
Mr Nobody Made Me Do it
Proud and Humbled By the Four-Year-Old
Things My Four-Year-Old Has Done
A Six Year Old WondersWhere Babies Come From
Profanity- The Children Learn New Words Part Deux
Sex & Children
Great Moments In Parenting- Parts of our Body That Grow
Are You Smarter Than A Rabbi? Part I
Are You Smarter Than A Rabbi? Part II

And that is the short and incomplete list. It really doesn't touch upon any of the stories involving the dark haired beauty, which is good. I need some time to prepare myself for the coming onslaught that she is going to unleash upon me.

As I sit here typing I am grinding my teeth, excuse me I am trying not to grind my teeth. My jaw is clenched and the muscles in my back and neck are tying new knots upon the existing ones.

Ok, I know that is a bit heavy for the normal tone of these posts. Usually they are a light hearted recollection of conversations between my children and I. But the rules of the blog dictate that I share what is really happening so that is what I am doing.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

The big guy is acutely aware of the world around him and constantly exploring and asking questions about what he sees. Some of his classmates have parents that are divorced and some that are in the process of getting divorced so he is intensely interested in what this means and how it happens.

Today he asked me to try and explain to him what it means to be married and why people don't stay married. He also asked me to try and explain why men are interested in women and in a whisper asked me to tell him about kissing.

Now the first rule of Jack's tips for fathers is to keep your explanations short and simple. No need to answer the question of what time is it with a three hour diatribe on how to make a clock. Kind of funny coming from a man who is brevity challenged, but it is an important safety tip because everything you say opens you up for new questions.

Marriage

I really was tempted to start the discussion about marriage by sharing a clip from The Princess Bride but I managed to resist the temptation. Instead I provided him with a short description of marriage as a partnership between friends who love each other and have a desire to be together every day.

For a moment that worked for him and then he started peppering me with questions:
  • How old do you have to be to get married?
  • How long do you have to be married?
  • How many times can you get married?
  • Would you marry someone else?
  • How do you know you won't marry someone else?
  • Do you have to kiss the girl at the wedding?
We spent a few minutes running through answers and then he told me that he never wants to get married because he doesn't like girls. I smiled and told him that it was ok. I am not worried about it. He smiled back and told me that he is never going to change his mind because girls are far too bossy.

I let out a loud guffaw and muttered "you have no idea." I was tempted to let loose with my impression of Al Bundy and run through a list of of cracks about women but it was too easy. And let's face it my audience, an inquisitive eight year-old wasn't going to appreciate it.

He still wanted to know why I laughed so told him that it was because I agreed with him, girls can be very bossy and then he said illogical and irrational too. Ok, he didn't say that, but it would have been something if he had. Just what that something is I don't know.

Then he got serious and asked me to tell him about kissing and why people do it. And because I have juvenile sense of humor I had to restrain myself again from making a crack about foreplay and how men would like to skip right over it. But I didn't, because even though I have a juvenile sense of humor I have a romantic streak.

So I gave him a quick line about kissing feels good and helps to show that two people love each other and that is when he hit me with how do people stop loving each other.

It was a serious question and I had to think about it.

I paused and for a moment I thought about the great loves and heartbreaks of my life. Inside my head I remembered moments of intense passion and unfettered love. I remembered the feeling of utter joy and I remember the intense pain and loneliness of the end. I remembered that moment when you first realize that you are in love and you can't wait to see that special person. And I remembered the soul crushing feeling of being told that it was over.

All of that feeling is far too much to pass along. He doesn't need to know about that. I hope that one day many years from now we'll have the sort of father/son relationship where we can discuss those things. And then I can tell him about those things. Then I can give him the background on the relationships that helped shape me, but not now.

For now I tried to explain being in love as the feeling you get when you are with your best friend. You always have fun together and you never get tired of doing things together. And then I told him that sometimes people change. Sometimes when you grow older you grow apart.

That seemed to satisfy him, at least for now. As he went back to playing with his Legos I stared at him and tried to imagine what sort of man he'll grow into. I can almost picture him grownup, at least I can visualize the body. I can't quite see his face or picture what his voice will sound like.

I hope that he finds the sort of love that makes him understand what it is really all about. The kind of love that makes your heart pound like a hammer on an anvil. I want him to understand that there is a fierce love that gives you incredible power and strength.

But that is a post for a different time and place.

Haveil Havalim #203: Did You Love Leah?

The latest edition of Haveil Havalim, the Jewish/Israeli blog carnival is now live and available for your review.

Go check it out. You’ll be glad that you did.

Octuplets- Something is Wrong Here

Don't have time for a long analysis so this will be a hit and run type post. The story about the woman who gave birth to Octuplets troubles me. The mother already had six children and now has more than doubled her brood.

The LA Times reports following.

"And look what happened. Octuplets. Dear God," Angela Suleman said four days after her 33-year-old daughter became the second person in the U.S. ever to
give birth to eight babies at once.

Suleman stressed that her daughter "is not evil, but she is obsessed with children. She loves children, she is very good with children, but obviously she overdid herself."Angela Suleman said all the children are from the same sperm donor, but she did not identify him. Her daughter is divorced, but Suleman said the ex-husband was not the father."


My first question is what sort of income does this woman have. As a father I know first hand just how much money is required to try and support a family. Providing for 14 is going to take an enormous amount of cash.

And let's not forget that they aren't exactly spaced. How do you take care of 8 infants. You cannot do it by yourself, it is impossible. Even splitting the work between a mother and a father would be exceptionally taxing.

But let's say that she is a billionaire and that money isn't a problem. I would be very concerned with the mother's ability to spend time with her children. She is going to be pulled in so many different directions someone is going to miss out. Someone is not going to get as much love from their mother as they deserve.

I'd like to know more about the screening process for the procedure she went under. Don't they have responsibility here to look at each candidate and qualify them. I know that sounds bad and in theory everyone should have access to the tools and resources they need to become a parent. But the reality is that not everyone should be a parent and even the greatest parent has limits.

Someone dropped the ball on this one.

My Best Writing

If you asked me to describe my blogging style I might say that it is fast and furious. I have a tendency to blog in waves. There have been days in which I have put up somewhere between eight and ten posts. We're talking about original content and not the cut and paste work that some people thrive off of.

And if I am doing it write then the quality of the posts matches the quantity. I don't want to be like the rockstar who puts out a new album with fourteen tracks, only three of which are worth listening to. That is not to say that I don't miss the mark, because I do. There are posts that should be shredded and burned.

I have spent some time trying to identify what characteristics my best posts have. Simple truth, identify what elements you need to be successful and then try to replicate that over and over again.

I have come to believe that some of my best writing comes during moments when I am upset. It bothers me to say that being really sad is a great tool for putting up great posts, but there seems to be some truth in it. That feeling of loss and disappointment really lends itself to coming up with more descriptive sentences.

Especially when it comes to writing posts for Fragments of Fiction. Not unlike many writers I take elements and experiences of my life and use them in my stories. It is a useful tool. So sometimes when I am trying to write and having trouble I go searching for the pain of the past. I look inwards and try to remember the sorrow.

Sometimes I look in those dark corners and I remember what it was like to feel like the world had collapsed upon me. I think about how it seemed like my ability to be happy had been stolen from me. I focus upon how unfair it all was, to be so close and yet so far and the words just flow.

But I can also say that there have been many good posts that were written in moments of great personal satisfaction and happiness. Sometimes that bubbly feeling lends itself to the post/story just as well as the sadness.

I suppose that the confession of the moment is that I read this and wonder if I am saying that the only way I can write is to be really happy or really sad. Does it really have to be so extreme. I am fairly confident that the answer is no. I can produce solid content without having to rely upon emotion.

So now I am going to have spend more time trying to figure it all out. Damn, blast and blarney. And now if you'll excuse me I am off to gather enlightenment by banging my head against the wall.

My Blogging Style- Personal Versus Professional

In the previous post I constructed a relatively dry post about what it takes to produce a professional blog. This post is going to be far more enjoyable for me because I am going to spend a little time talking about how I write for this blog.

I began my interaction with the online world in my early twenties. Chat rooms on AOL and Compuserve were sort of the training grounds in which I began to learn what lay in cyberspace. I graduated from those into debating and discussing politics and life on some message boards.

For a while CNN was one of my regular haunts. Those message boards taught me a lot about many things. It exposed me to some of the finer experiences online and it educated me about how nasty things could get when people weren't looking you in the eye.

I also learned that the moderators of the boards had tremendous influence on the discussion. To a certain extent you could blame some very negative experiences with one mod as being the reason I started blogging. I am sure that if you asked the Shmata Queen she'd tell you how irritated we were with a woman who thought that it was her job to edit our comments.

Eventually I decided that I was tired of the shackles that I was bound in and I started this blog. Unfettered I started my blogging career with a little hesitation but a lot of energy. Over time I developed a style and a rhythm that has stuck with me.

Here at the Shack I just write about whatever and whenever. I don't spend any time worrying about my writing. I rarely edit the posts and don't concern myself with whether the posts are going to offend or upset others. And while I am quite aware of my stats I really don't spend a lot of time trying to figure out ways to gain new traffic.

Look, I am like a million other bloggers. I'd love to say that each month ten million unique users come here to see what I have to say. I'd love to see a 100 comments on each post. It would be nice. It would be great to see that happen and it would be even better to have someone pay me enough to do this on a full time basis.

But I write because I really do love it. I write because when I feel pain in my heart this is one of the ways in which I exorcise those demons. I write because it helps me to clarify and better understand myself.

I write because I write. I write because without this place all of my fair would fall out, my teeth would be ground down to little nubs and I'd have a massive coronary from stress.

It is a coping skill my writing.

How to Write a Professional Blog

During the past few weeks I have been employed as a consultant for some companies that are interested in using the blogosphere to engage in a deeper and more serious dialogue with both existing and prospective customers.

It is an interesting change of pace for me to sit down and take a more professional look at blogging than I do in my role as a private blogger. As a professional blogger I have very different concerns than as a private blogger. In a professional capacity I look at every aspect of the blog with a very critical eye, but I also take care not to overthink it.

It is a simple three minute presentation that goes something like this:
  • Start by preparing a business plan for the blog.
  • Identify the purpose of the blog.
  • Determine what sort of content supports that purpose.
  • Find a template that is user friendly.
  • Prepare an editorial calendar.

About this time I count to ten and sure enough someone inserts their two cents about how content is king and we haven't even discussed it yet. They are right. Content is king. Solid content is the X factor. It is the backbone and without it your blog is doomed. But they don't pay the big dog to come in and lecture about how your blog must be well written. Everyone knows this.

But in an age of instant gratification some people seem to have forgotten that there certain business principles are still applicable and establishing a plan is important. You plan so that you can avoid pitfalls. You plan so that you can figure out what sort of metrics you are going to use to measure the success of your blog. You plan so that when the boss or bosses ask you to give a report about the blog you don't look foolish.

In the next post I'll spend offer a few thoughts about the difference between the professional and personal blog.

Battlestar Galactica

I was a bit late getting into the current incarnation of Battlestar Galactica but I am quite glad that I have. While the cylons aren't as much fun as those I used to see at Universal Studios it has been a lot of fun.

I am not going to spend any time discussing whether the show offers a metaphor for what is happening in the real world. No time talking about whether Cylons are really Soviets and Humans are Americans.

In general I stay away from that sort of crap. I watch television shows for one of two purposes. It is either educational or entertaining. It just kills me to spend time talking about what the writers really meant. Sometimes water is just water and a red shirt is just red.

Life is far too complicated as it is.

Anyhoo, I loved this latest episode. I like seeing the momentum build towards the final few episodes and I still don't buy into who they have set up as the final cylon.

Crazy for Star Wars

Earlier this week my son told me that he had decided that he and I are going to have to fight Darth Maul. He outlined a plan of action and gave me a list of duties that I am supposed to fill. It is hard enough to be a father without being told that I have to become a Jedi master.

Although I suppose that there are a lot of perks to being a jedi. Come to think of it I can think of a number of situations in which using the Jedi mind trick would be useful. Would have done wonders for me back in college. I could illustrate it more graphically, but that would deprive you of the chance to use your imagination.

In the days in which I drove a Camaro it would have been really useful. Just picture the police speaking with me.

Officer: Sir I pulled you over because you were speeding.
Jack: I was not speeding.

Officer: You were not speeding.
Jack: I need a police escort. You will arrange to clear traffic in front of me.

Officer: I will clear traffic in front of you.
Jack: You will arrest my statistics professor.

Officer: I will arrest your statistics professor.
Jack: About this time I'd probably let out a maniacal laugh.

Oh, if only I could really make that work. I love the possibilities. Anyway, this weekend I get to practice my fighting skills so that we can defeat Darth Maul. It sounds kind of fun, but I think that I need to make sure that my son understands that grace is not something that you associate with me.

Jedis are smooth and fluid fighters. I am not. I am more of the bull-in-the-china shop variety. If I were in a Western the guy I was fighting would be flung through the window or over the bar. In fact I might even go with him.

There is no doubt that I'd win the fight. In the end it would appear that I did so quite handily, at least to myself. To the rest of you I'd be covered in sweat and dust. My clothes would be torn and I'd probably have a bunch of scrapes and bruises. But I'd be able to say that I look better than that other guy.

I may pick this thread up later and flesh it out some more. I can see plenty of material to talk about "Jack, the Jedi."

For those of you who don't know who Darth Maul is you can watch the video below.

Stupid Criminals


It is The Middle of the Night

It is the middle of the night and I suddenly find myself awake. I fell asleep on the couch and apparently no one managed to cover me with a blanket. Can't say that I totally blame them as the children seem to have run off with all of the spares.

Makes me think that just as I have an auto club card I should have a blanket club card that I can call when I am in need. It would be nice to have some sort of service like that. Maybe it would help prevent me from waking up in a foul mood.

I am cold, my leg has a cramp and my back hurts from sleeping in some sort of fetal position. What the hell. I spent nine months curled into a ball. Shouldn't there be some sort of rule that says my body should automatically remember those days and consequently I should be exempt from cramps and discomfort.

Woke up having had a dream about my best friend, an irritating dream in which I was given some sort of stupid, illogical and unreasonable answer about an argument. Can't say that I quite remember what it was about, but suffice it to say that I am right. Oh yes, I am right.

Going to try and go back to sleep now. In fact had I not noticed that the computer was still on I would have gone straight to sleep. I probably should have, but I am awake and irritated so I took a moment to try and vent.

I hate waking up like this. With any luck I'll fall asleep without any sort of struggle and have the sort of dream that you never want to wake up from. But if I can't or don't you'll probably hear about it.

Crappy Service on a Slow News Day

Friends this is the type of story that we have to cover, but we readily admit that it stinks.

What should you do when your toilet dies in the line of "doody"? Have a funeral, of course.
On Friday at 10 a.m., the Carl's Jr. restaurant in Centerville will have a "moment of silence" for the potty that was destroyed last week when a patron's handgun fell out of the holster and fired as he was hitching up his pants.

The bullet shattered the toilet and sent sharp shards into the man's arm. The 26-year-old, who had a concealed-weapons permit, was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

But the "john" was destroyed, and the national hamburger chain is feeling the loss. "By all accounts, it was a good toilet; reliable and well liked by customers and crew members alike," wrote Brad Haley, executive vice president of Carl's Jr. marketing, in a tongue-in-cheek note posted on the company's Facebook page.

"It seems only fitting to have a formal service to let everyone say goodbye to such a critical member of our team that was in very close contact with the public each and every day," Haley eulogized. "Our thoughts go out to the surviving men's room urinal and porcelain sink. We only hope that the new toilet can fill the void left by its predecessor, but so far it hasn't made much of a splash."

When Bloggers Meet

I have often mentioned that I didn't spend any time considering whether I was interested in blogging. It was nothing more than an impulse. One day I thought that it might be interesting to try it out and so I did.

Had I really spent any time considering it I would have done things differently. I certainly would have come up with a better moniker than Random Thoughts-Do They Have Meaning? Who would have known that so many other people would use such a non-descript title. I really don't like it, but after all this time it is developed a bit of brand equity so I don't know that changing it makes sense.

Having jumped into the water without any regard for temperature or depth I didn't have any idea that I would enjoy it as much as I have. I really was surprised by how much I got out of it. I never kept a journal or any sort of diary. This was a new sort of experience for me.

As I treaded water and learned how to swim in the blogosphere I experimented with topics to write about and discovered that I enjoyed being able to recount some very personal moments. I didn't have that many readers and the few that I did were complete strangers. That made it easy to discuss things that I probably would never have volunteered.

In the early days a number of bloggers approached me with invitations to meet for lunch or a drink. I routinely turned those down as I was very guarded about peeling back the curtain. It was more comfortable to be the all powerful Oz and not just a man whose balloon had crashed near the Emerald city.

Over time I found that I developed relationships with some people and when the occasion presented itself I found myself agreeing to meet them in person. I recently added a new person to the few bloggers that I have met in the real world.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting The Misanthrope from Toner Mishap. After four years it was nice to put a face to the words and ideas. If you ask me if he matched the image I had of him I can't really say. I really didn't have a sense of what I expected his voice to sound like so the real thing wasn't shocking at all.

But he did look a bit like some of the old pictures he had posted on the blog so I suppose that you could say that he looked as I expected him too.

The conversation was quite comfortable, not that I find that to be surprising. After four years of reading each other's blogs we actually knew quite a bit about the other.

It does make me wonder. I had a nice time with a misanthrope. Whatever does that say about me. Maybe it is just proof that I am a curmudgeon. ;) Anyway I am glad to have had the opportunity. We'll have to do it again sometime.

Musical Interlude

Good old iTunes provided quite an odd mix of tunes.

The Crying Game- Boy George
More Than This- Roxy Music
Praise You- Fatboy Slim
Rain In the Summertime- The Alarm
Battle Without Honor or Humanity- Tomoyasu Hotei
The Mystic's Dream- Loreena McKennitt
Southern Cross-Crosby, Stills & Nash
Live Like You Were Dying- Tim McGraw
Last of the Mohicans-Soundtrack
Imagine- John Lennon

Feeling Sad & Defeated

A new entry for Fragments of Fiction

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

"I can't pay my bills. I can't find a job. I can't support my family, can't even support myself," he said. At least I think that is what he said. Slumped against the wall he stared off into space and began mumbling again.

"I feel sad and defeated. Whatever I touch crumbles into dust. Relationships, jobs, friends all they do is go away."

It wasn't the first time I had heard him speak this way. He was a man who lived and died every day. His own personal rollercoaster never stopped running, at least that is how he had once described it to me.

I understood. We have been friends for most of our lives so I have borne witness to it all. I have seen the triumphant moments. Walked with him through the fire and saw him emerge unscathed. We share a million memories and a million dreams and nightmares.

He is not the easiest guy to get along with. At times he is moody and temperamental. He is a man who consumes life and that takes a certain toll upon oneself. I have often told him that if he could figure out how to take the middle road he'd be happier more frequently. The highs and lows can't be good for you.

It is a fruitless discussion. This sort of behavior is part of his core. It is who he is. It is why whenever he has dropped back down inside his personal hell I don't worry. Ok, I worry a little but I have never seen him not find a way to rise above it. Never seen him lose all hope, at least not until this moment.

Because now is the first time that I haven't seen that fire in his eyes and I wonder. I wonder if the flame has truly been extinguished. Has he lost that edge or is it my imagination. Sometimes it is hard for me to tell.

I can't walk along the razors edge the way that he can. It makes me far too nervous. But that is part of the friendship. We complement each other. There is a certain balance that we provide. So I stand there next to him and debate whether to yell or coddle.

He is a grown man. I don't need to do this. I shouldn't have to do this. But he is my friend and I have seen him do some incredible things in the name of our friendship. So I suppose that the question of whether I will help him is moot. The bigger and better question is what is the best way to help. How am I most likely to get through to him.

Slowly I slide down the wall until my butt hits bottom and I find myself just a hair shy of sitting in his lap. For the moment we sit in silence and then he tells me that if I think that this is our Brokeback Mountain moment I better be prepared to get punched in the mouth.

It is said with a hint of feeling and I almost believe that he is better than he is. But something feels off to me, so I am not quite prepared to accept that.

Instead I say nothing and wait for him to speak again. It is a noisy silence and it is disconcerting. But whether it is because I am really concerned or just confused is still up for debate.

The Anniversary of The Challenger

Today is the anniversary of the destruction of The Challenger.

A Good Father

The beauty of attending a reunion like I did is that it forces you to look at your life and think about what it is that you are doing. Because when you run around a room telling people from your past about your present you have your nose pushed right into a pile of life.

I spent a chunk of time Saturday night listening to people spin tales about who they are and what they do. I am not trying to say that people were lying or embellishing the truth, but in many cases that is exactly what they did.

Some of the people that we thought of as being goofballs or least likely to succeed are incredibly successful now. And some of those we expected to be a huge succeess were not. It is not easy to look some of them in the eye and tell a story about a life that hasn't lived up to what you wanted. It is even harder when you listen to someone shout with such exuberance about how things are better than they ever could have imagined.

Now it is no secret that the last four years have been harder for me than I would have ever expected. I have faced some challenges that I couldn't have foreseen. I have dealt with unfair situations and circumstances and done the best that I could. Sometimes I fell down. Sometimes I simply failed.

But there were other moments when I didn't. There were moments when I succeeded in spite of the stumbling blocks that were set before me. I'd like to say that there were more succcesses than failures, but I am not completely sure that it is so.

What I can say is that these experiences have provided a sort of hard scrabble education. I have learned things about myself that will inevitably help me. I have stood in the fire and watched the flames burn me. I know, it is bit melodramatic but it is how I feel.

It has also helped to clarify not just what I want, but what I need. And that is something that some people never quiet figure out. I can tell you what I want with a lot of detail and know that it is accurate. I can also tell you that I am working to achieve those goals and that I am doing my best to do it without wreaking havoc everywhere.

If you want to know how this applies to being a good father, well I can give you a number of explanations. I am a good father. I work hard for my family and do a lot to give the children a great life. But I can do better. I am falling short in some areas. There are some things that I can improve at and I am working on it.

I can tell you that I believe that my children are going to be able to look at my life and learn a lot from it. They'll be able to see that I have made a lot of mistakes but that I have also made a lot of smart moves.

If all goes as I hope it will those lessons will serve them well. One of the most important lessons is how to keep going when it feels like the world is collapsing. It is something that I saw with my parents and something that I hope that I can pass along.

When it is all said and done I think that the most important part of being a good father is giving your children the tools to live a good life. If I can do that then I am fairly confident that they'll make good choices, at least I hope so.

I won't be defined solely by the deeds and actions of my children, but I do hope that when I am gone they have nothing but fond memories of me as having been a good father.

Some Blog Stats to Share

This is post number 6,408.

The most popular posts of the last year include but are not limited to:

The Duggar Family Revisited
What Are Your Favorite Song Lyrics?
War in Gaza Update #16
The Heart Wants What The Heart Wants
A funny email about anger management
Weird Signs
No! No! No! Eye Tattoos Are Out
Morality Without Religion- A Comment to The Self-Righteous
Name a Song That Makes You Cry
Haveil Havalim- The Almost Purim Edition

I suppose that a two second analysis shows that people enjoy my fiction, humorous tales, some Jewish and political content.

Recent keywords that led to the blog include:

how to win a woman's heart
how to hardboil eggs
Duggar family
favorite song lyrics
what makes a community
how to care for sick parents
sexual incompatibility in marriage
fixing a broken man
how do you name your blog

My blog is read by people around the world. The countries that send the most visitors include:

U.S.
U.K.
Canada
Israel
Australia
India
Phillipines
Germany
Netherlands
France

I started blogging in May of 2004. Sometimes I think that I'll do it for the rest of my life and sometimes I think that I won't last another year. Sometimes I think that I have already published my best work and sometimes I think that it lies ahead of me.

Bottom line, I haven't a clue as to how much longer I'll keep doing this, but I guess for a while. We'll take it one day at a time.

The Voicemail Challenge

The Private School Dilemma Again

Just downed a big glass of V8 juice and hoped that the surge of so called healthy fluids flowing down my throat would provide enlightenment. Waiting, I am sure that any moment it is going to happen. No really, it is a far cry better than soda and I drink too much of that as it is.

Ok, at least five seconds has passed and I don't feel any different. In an age of instant gratification do I really need to wait longer. Ok, I'll give it five minutes. Excuse me while I go hit the john.

Still waiting for Nirvana. In the interim I did manage to make that trip to the bathroom. I listened to The Killers play Human and Yo-Yo Ma performed Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major. Unfortunately none of that solved my problem of what to do about the fricking private school dilemma.

Every year I agonize over whether to keep my kids in a school that I think is fabulous. I love it, their mother loves it and most importantly they love it. They're thriving there and every year I have watched them grow.

They are good kids. Smart kids. They are going to learn and succeed wherever they go to school. I have no doubts about that. But that doesn't mean that some schools are not superior. It doesn't relieve my doubts about the local public school. I have toured it several times and while I like much of what I see it doesn't meet my requirements.

The whole situation reminds me of the "People plan and G-d laughs" line. The big guy in the sky has been engaged in more than giggles about my life. I think that it is a belly shaking rumble, but that's a different story.

When we purchased the house the idea was that it was going to be a place to live for two years and then we'd leverage it into a bigger house in near a good school. Thank you G-d for laughing at my plan. The housing market went ballistic and my job disappeared and the ability to move went poof.

From a financial perspective private school makes no sense whatsoever. It is a ridiculous amount of money for school. Month in, month out. Year in, year out. If I do nothing more than support the children until they are eighteen I have a guarantee of more than a decade of doing this. Reminds me of that Billy Crystal bit, I Hate When That Happens.

But I can't look at it solely from a monetary perspective. Children aren't commodities to be traded and or dropped when they don't provide the ROI we're looking for. They are getting more out of this school than they would at the local public. There are resources here that the public can't match. There are opportunities to be exposed and taught about things that don't exist elsewhere.

There is a parent's organization that is devoted and active. Certainly there are public schools that have this, but my local doesn't. I don't believe in a school that doesn't have strong parental involvement.

So when I take time to analyze this I see a situation that isn't cut and dried. There is no black and white solution, no easy answer. I mean a good accident would cause the life insurance policy to kick in and they'd be covered through college, but no farther.

And before any of you get too excited I am not suicidal. At times I have a twisted sense of humor, but I haven't any interest in dying. Besides what would the shmata queen do without me. Be pretty bored, I tell you.

Not to mention that I wouldn't do that to the family. I am far too selfish to give them such an easy way to get rid of me. Those kids are going to have the benefit of my presence for another 90 years or so.

Nope, can't get rid of me I am like that ugly luggage you inherited from your grandparents. A little beat up, a little worn but virtually indestructible.

I wonder if maybe another V8 might do the trick. Maybe that is the problem, maybe I just didn't drink enough. Aww hell, might as well down a bottle of Bourbon while I am at it.

Got to run for a while.

Gaza- The Dust is Still Settling

So now the dust is beginning to settle and we can start to assess the results of the war in Gaza. This post offers a collection of perspectives and thoughts about that.



The video above was made by the Libi fund which helps support IDF soldiers.

From the traditional media we have:

NY Times: Obama Sends Special Envoy to Mideast and Europe

CNN: Week-old Gaza cease-fire is breached

WAPO: Obama Voices Hope for Mideast Peace in Talk With Al-Arabiya TV

Fox: The Smuggling Tunnels are Open for Business!

AFP: Shalit should not be part of Gaza truce deal: Hamas

The Spectator: A British soldier's view of Operation Cast Lead

The Spectator: The ugly face of bigoted Britain

Financial Times: Saudi warning (is it rude to say Bite Me Limey)

The Australian: Israeli troops were told to kill themselves to avoid capture

YNET: Carter: Hamas can be trusted

YNET: Time to take responsibility

JPost: EU official: Hamas responsible for Gaza

JPost: Israel hits back at war crimes charges

JPost: Caroline Glick Our World: Defending freedom's defenders

Haaretz: ANALYSIS / Recognizing that Israel's effort to topple Hamas has failed

Haaretz: Summit on Holocaust: Gaza war legitimized equating Jews with Nazis

Haaretz: Egypt to Hamas: Take Gaza truce before Netanyahu is voted PM

Commentary: A Gaza Post-Mortem

Commentary: Michael Totten writes The Mood in Israel Now


From the blogosphere:

Seraphic Secret shared And the Ladies of Gaza. The FP has How badly did Gaza poison the well?

At Solomonia you should read A Pragmatic Voice and Video: War Protests or Pro-Hamas Hate Rallies?.

Weasel Zippers Red Crescent Says Hamas, not Israel Prevented Their Ambulances From Picking up Wounded Gazans....

Gateway Pundit shared Pro-Hamas Thugs Attack Pro-Israel Protest in Sweden with Eggs, Rocks, Bottles & Tear Gas Grenades.

At the Augean Stables take a look at HRW and Israel: Ken Roth vs. Gerald Steinberg and Jenin Redux: Casualty Figures Reconsidered.

Daled Amos blogged Europe May Finally Catching On To Hamas and Sharansky: Neither Hamas Nor PA Can Be In Charge Of Rebuilding Gaza.

EOZ offers World press ignores Hamas' media intimidation. I covered Saudi Arabian Hypocrisy.

At Yourish Jimmy Carter: Stooping to new [moronic] lows. Yaacov Lozowick shared So What was Achieved?

Soccer Dad discussed Israel's legitimacy is debatable; hamas's is not. At Adloyada read UK govt minister claims Israel cowed BBC into turning down Gaza appeal.

Mere Rhetoric blogged Palestinians Blow The Lid Off Cover Up Of Glorious Hamas Victory and UN Chief: Yeah, I Guess It Sucks That We've Been Helping Hamas Shell Israeli Civilians For Eight Years.

Check out Joshuapundit's '60 Minutes' Libels Jews And Israel.

That is all for now folks. Stay tuned for a resumption of light hearted posts about college life, raising kids and assorted odds and ends.

The Condom

Another Sunday night and I find myself hitting the blog hard and fast because sometimes I just have to sit down and write about the things that bounce around the old melon. This is going to be one of those posts in which I tell a story but intersperse it with bits and pieces of other things.

You're Gonna Go Far, Kid- The Offspring

It is 1983 or '84 and I am about 14 years old. I am standing in the parking lot of my junior high school staring at a bus. I am part of the school newspaper and we are about to embark on a trip up to Fresno. We're going up to participate in a writing contest and to participate in some workshops.

I am excited. I know, if you are familiar with Fresno that is hard to envision. But remember we're a bunch of kids on hormonal overdrive heading off to stay in a hotel. There are a few teachers along for the ride, chaperones to keep an eye on us. But we know that we outnumber them and that there is no possible way that they can monitor us the entire time.

It is hard not to be excited. The prior year I went on a school camping trip and learned all sorts of things. We played spin the bottle on the beach. Some of the girls I had kissed during the game are on this trip as well. The boys and I huddle and wonder aloud if they'll play again or can we up the ante with Truth or Dare.

The bus ride up is typical. We don't quite know what to with ourselves. We try to impress the girls by being cool but spend more time wrestling in the aisles. It is not easy to be a 14 year-old boy. You have limitless energy and try hard to be mature, but the confusion that comes alongside it all makes it hard.

Eventually we arrive at the hotel and are given our room assignments. I am pleased that I am sharing a room with three friends, because I could have been stuck with some people that I didn't particularly like. It is junior high so things like that are important.

Inside the room the conversation is going a mile a minute. "Did you see how that Ann Stacey was looking at me. You know she loves me," I exclaim breathlessly. I barely finish the sentence when David starts to shout about how Melissa put her head on his shoulder and slept there for half the trip.

In between the declarations about who is hot and who is in love we start discussing strategy. We all vow to bring a girl back to the room. In the midst of this Michael throws a role of blue squares on the bed.

Silence ensues. I am not really sure what I am looking at, but I have my ideas.

"I went into my dad's drawer and grabbed a bunch of condoms for us to use," he says.

We all nod in unison and reach down to grab one or two. None of us want to admit that we haven't the foggiest idea what the hell to do with them. Ok, maybe one of those guys did, but I didn't. But I sure as hell wasn't going to admit it.

I can't say that I remember everything that happened after that, but I can say that I took a moment to look at it. My first Trojan in the blue wrapper. I put it in my wallet. I remember thinking that I'd always have my wallet so if I needed it there would be easy access to it.

The conference and contest came and went. We had a blast. Discovered that the mystery door in our room had a partner on the room next to us. It just so happened to be filled with four girls from school. We had a field day with those girls and spent a ton of time running back and forth between rooms laughing about how we had fooled our chaperones.

Anyway our last night in Fresno featured a big dance. The four of us spent most of the dance talking about what we would do if one of those girls gave in and did what we were sure they wanted to do. Of course not one of them did.

Who knows if they would have. It definitely saved me some real embarrassment. And so the conference ended and we headed back home, the condom still tucked safely away in my wallet.

Too many years have passed for me to remember all of the details of the next event, but I remember enough. I am in my English class and somehow one of the other guys has gotten a hold of my wallet.

Out flies the condom. Great. He has three older brothers in high school and college and recognizes it immediately.

"What do you need a condom for, JACK!" "Are you having sex, JACK!" "I bet you're really big JACK!" "Did you make sure to buy the extra large rubber, JACK!"

As he shouts I am chasing him around the classroom, desperately trying to get to him. I am really embarrassed and I can't stand the taunting. The teacher walks in and he darts into his seat. His poker face doesn't hide the laughter in his eyes, but the desk barely hides the condom in his hands.

I am just about to give up when he offers a cheshire cat grin and flashes the condom at me. The teacher can't see what is happening because my back is between her and him. It is too much and snap.

I grab his desk and dump him and it over. I can still see the shock in his eyes. He didn't expect that from me and had it not been for the sharp words of our instructor I probably would have followed up by trying to kick the crap out of him.

Not surprisingly that was the last time he ever teased me. But thanks to him I got to hear about that stupid condom for the rest of the school year.

Fortunately that story didn't follow me into high school, but I have wondered from time to time how many people still remember. I half expect it to show up on Facebook one of these days.

Fraternity Life Revisited

Last night I engaged took part in a scientific experiment and was trasnported back in time. When I left my house it was 2009 but when I arrived at my destination it was sometime in the mid-eighties.

Yep, I went to a reunion of the Greek system from my university. Initially I hadn't intended to go. I am in touch with most people that I want to be friends with and while there are those I miss, my time is limited. So I figured that if I have trouble finding time to see the really close friends why make myself crazy with adding old/new ones.

But a couple of friends kept hocking me to at least make an appearance and one of them pointed out that it might even lead to business opportunities so I said what the hell and tooled on off to a bar that once was a hang out.

And I have to say that for the most part I am glad that I did. There must have been fifty or sixty guys from my house and for that alone it would have been worth it. It was fun catching up with the guys and hearing about who is doing what. We exchanged numbers, shared pictures of the kids and teased each other about who still had or didn't have hair. And of course we pointed out that more than a few of us are up a belt size or two.

In addition to the guys from my fraternity there were representatives from all of the other fraternities and sororities. I looked around a very crowded room and saw an awful lot of familiar faces. Throughout the evening we found time to grab a moment here and there and went through the same ritual of "what have you been doing" for the last twenty years or so.

But I have to say that I was a little surprised by how much drinking there was. Back in my college days I was known to put down a pitcher or two, or maybe I should say that I didn't put too many down. Either way that was then and this is now.

I had about two beers the whole evening. Didn't feel the need to have anymore and was quite conscious of the reality of children making a hangover feel like torture. But even so I was also conscious of not getting myself into trouble. There were more than a couple of people who I am sure had very unpleasant mornings.

More than a few people took advantage of doses of liquid courage to profess their love for another or to announce that they had decided that it was time to end their current relationships. Now that surprised me a little.

Anyway, even though I had a blast I did confirm that I have far less tolerance and interest in spending hours in a bar with a band that is way too loud. No regrets about having gone, but my ears still feel like somone stuffed cotton inside of them.

And now if you'll excuse me I think that I am going to see if I can't find a way to grab twenty minutes of shuteye.

Haveil Havalim #202

It is live at SuperRaizy.

Saudi Arabian Hypocrisy

So that wacky prince thinks that he can lecture President Obama about the peace process.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN -- Relations between Arab nations and the United States hinge on American leaders living up to their rhetoric about commitment to lasting peace in the Mideast, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal told CNN Saturday."President Obama, in his statement yesterday, said that he's genuinely making the effort to accomplish a peaceful resolution," al-Faisal, who served as Saudi ambassador to the United States from 2005 to 2007, told CNN's Nic Robertson in an interview Friday.

"We've heard this before," al-Faisal said. "We need to see implementation. We need to see facts on the ground change. We need to see rhetoric change. We need to see presence on the ground."

He said he was encouraged by Obama's appointment of George Mitchell as Mideast envoy, saying, "Mitchell comes with a track record of success." But he suggested Mitchell spend some time in the region to make real progress.

"American envoys, when they've dealt with the Middle East, have always come and gone," he said.

"I think it would be wise for Sen. Mitchell ... to pitch his tent in Ramallah or in Jerusalem, let's say, and spend a year, two, perhaps three years on the ground dealing with the daily aspects of making peace there." The United States' backing of Israel, in light of the latest Israeli military operations in Gaza, does not improve its standing in the Arab world, he said.

"What happened in Gaza, people have called it a tragedy," al-Faisal said. "I'd go further and say it was a catastrophe in all aspects of that word. The killing and the destruction was so barbaric by Israel, and unprecedented in a such a small area like Gaza.


Hmm...The Arabic expression for bite me comes to mind. The chutzpah it takes to say this sort of stuff with a straight face is incredible. To place all of the blame on Israel and to wave his finger in Obama's face is unmitigated gall.

It is really hard for me take any sort of Saudia Arabian peace initiative seriously. They are morally bankrupt, two faced and exceptionally intolerant to people who do not practice Islam. So when I see them try to lecture us or anyone about what we should do I roll my eyes.

Let's take a quick look at a recent story about child marriage.

(CNN) -- The debate over the controversial practice of child marriage in Saudi Arabia was pushed back into the spotlight this week, with the kingdom's top cleric saying that it's OK for girls as young as 10 to wed.

"It is incorrect to say that it's not permitted to marry off girls who are 15 and younger," Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, the kingdom's grand mufti, said in remarks quoted Wednesday in the regional Al-Hayat newspaper. "A girl aged 10 or 12 can be married. Those who think she's too young are wrong and they are being unfair to her."

The issue of child marriage has been a hot-button topic in the deeply conservative kingdom in recent weeks.

Late last month, a Saudi judge refused to annul the marriage of an 8-year-old girl to a 47-year-old man.
This is sick and wrong. There is no justification for this. There is no spinning this to say that it is ok because it is culturally acceptable or religiously ok. Child sacrifiee and slavery once were considered to be acceptable and we don't do that.

Want another example of their barbarism and why we cannot allow them to dictate morality. How about the time when the religious police murdered school girls fleeing a fire at their school.

Saudi Arabia's religious police stopped schoolgirls from leaving a blazing building because they were not wearing correct Islamic dress, according to Saudi newspapers.

In a rare criticism of the kingdom's powerful "mutaween" police, the Saudi media has accused them of hindering attempts to save 15 girls who died in the fire on Monday.

About 800 pupils were inside the school in the holy city of Mecca when the tragedy occurredAccording to the al-Eqtisadiah daily, firemen confronted police after they tried to keep the girls inside because they were not wearing the headscarves and abayas (black robes) required by the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islam.

One witness said he saw three policemen "beating young girls to prevent them from leaving the school because they were not wearing the abaya".

The Saudi Gazette quoted witnesses as saying that the police - known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice - had stopped men who tried to help the girls and warned "it is a sinful to approach them".

The father of one of the dead girls said that the school watchman even refused to open the gates to let the girls out.
Or what about the fact that 19 of the 911 hijackers were Saudi Arabian. The sad truth is that we can continue to cite chapter and verse about why the Saudis are among the last people to serve as arbiters of morality. Were it not for their oil money they would be a very poor and backwards nation with all of the relevance to the world that the Congo now holds.

If there is justice in this world we will witness the demise of the cash cow that has permitted these intolerant, small minded, bigots and promoters of terror to thrive.

Crossposted on Yourish.

Texting Is Killing My Grammar



The audio above is about a new pet peeve of mine, the negative influence of texting upon my writing. I am going to come back later and expand the written portion of this post.

For now I'll leave this up and open to your comments and thoughts. I take this seriously. Repeated actions become habit and I don't want to fall into a place in which I let the abbreviations spill over into my normal writing.

I have enough to worry about without being concerned about the degradation of grammar and an ability to communicate in a professional manner.

C U LTR.

A Memory Shared



I can't remember the last time I listened to that song. For a brief while in college it was sort of a personal anthem. I just never got tired of it and I loved the sense of rebellion it provided me with. There is a whole story tied into that but I haven't decided yet if I am going to share it here.

Anyway, I'll share one other comment about it as it relates to my current life. This is the sort of tune that I like working out to on my heavy bag. It is light, it is catchy and it has a beat that makes it easy to exercise too.

I can dance around the bag, jab, jab, jab and then start throwing combinations. There is something sweet about the smack of the glove on the bag. With the right music and a little effort you can get that this greath rhythm going.

But there is something to be said for playing some heavier music to just pound the bag to. There is something cathartic in just unloading on it. Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam- keep going until you haven't anything left and you're bent over huffing and puffing..........

Thursday Night's Music Madness

I Have Got You Under My Skin- Frank Sinatra
You'll Never Walk Alone- Frank Sinatra
Stolen Car- Beth Orton
The Voice- Celtic Woman
One World- Celtic Woman
Danny Boy-Michael Londra
Ain't That a Kick In the Head- Dean Martin
Lodi- Creedence Clearwater Revival
Walk Like a Man- Four Seasons
I'm free- Soup Dragons

The Professional Blogger

Some of you may remember that once upon a time the mythical creature I call The Shmata Queen was a blogger. No, really, she was. She had a blog that she used to share stories about her life and thoughts about things that took place within it. Now it is no secret that occasionally I'd borrow the keys and take the blog out for a spin around the block.

As you can very well imagine she wasn't always pleased with the improvements that I made upon her posts. Occasionally she was more than a little irritated, irate might be a good description. If you'd like you can blame it all upon my puckish nature. Had we gone to elementary school together I probably would have pulled her pigtails, assuming that I had deigned to speak with her.

But what you might not know is that I also wrote a number of serious posts on her blog and passed them off as having been written by her. Some of them received more comments than I ever got on my blog. It made me a bit crazy when that happened, but I suppose that it was a bit of a blogger's karmic kick in-the-pants.

I share this with you now because it fits this post. I blog for many reasons not the least of which is that I love to write. Blogging provides a good excuse to write daily and a chance to try and improve my skills as a writer.

That is something that is important to me. When it is all said and done I should like to be known as a very fine writer. It would please me greatly if I could write well enough that my work would live on after me. That would mean that I had done something right, or should I say write.

************

I was blessed with two grandfathers who were master storytellers. They had different styles but they were very skilled at holding the attention of those listening to them. I share that not just as a loving grandson but one who was often told by friends how much they enjoyed the stories I grew up with.

It is a skill that I have spent almost forty years trying to emulate. There have been moments where I have felt like I had the same magic tongue they used. There have been times when I was spinning my own yarn or sharing some sort of tale and I knew that I had those people in the palm of my hand. And then there have been the moments where I could see that whomever was listening was disinterested and trying to politely hide their desire to run away or fake narcolepsy.

Sometimes I wonder if part of the magic of their stories is a generational thing. Just to clarify I feel quite lucky to still have my maternal grandfather. In about six weeks he'll turn 95. I try to make a point of asking him to tell me some of my favorite stories because one day he won't be around to tell them.

In the 2.5 years since my paternal grandfather died I have missed him terribly for any number of reasons. But one of the primary is that I miss those stories. He had bright blue eyes and when he got going they would just light up. It makes me smile just thinking about it. If I close my eyes I can hear see his face and hear him start laughing as he'd talk about what life in New Orleans was like in the thirties.

I have made a point to share some of those stories with the people I care most about. It is part of how I honor his memory and make sure that he is not forgotten. I sometimes wonder what he'd think about this. Not that he'd be upset, but I wonder if I am telling the story the right way. I didn't live through these events, at least not most of them. But I do my best to try and tell them as he did.
************
I could be a professional blogger. If it paid enough I could do this for a living. I could spend my days telling these tales and sharing my thoughts about this and that. I could be the pundit who speaks about politics. I could be the dad who riffs on and around the challenges of being a father. I could be any and all of them. That is the beauty of the blog. You can constantly reinvent yourself here.

But for the moment the dream of becoming a professional blogger is just that, a dream. I hold it close to my heart along with a few others that are dear to me. Sometimes dreams do come true. Sometimes they are more than pity phrases. Sometimes when you ask if they are someone to have fun with or someone to live a life with the answer is crystal clear.

One day I'll have grandchildren of my own. One day being 50 years or so from now, could be more, I plan on living until I am at least 130. And I hope that if nothing else I can keep that storytelling tradition alive. So stick around for a while and let's see if that is just a pipedream or the reality yet to come.

Do You Know What Makes You Happy?

You should have seen the first draft of this post. It was pathetic. A collection of pithy phrases and gibberish that I am embarrassed to say came from my hands. Ok, it came from the melon on top of my shoulders. Anyway, I decided to try again.

Within the last ten years or so of my life I have been a part of or witness to some events that have made me focus on trying to identify the things and people in life that are most important to me. Some of them have been obvious and some have been less so.

I suppose that you can attribute some of this to painful mistakes that have made me take a hard look at myself. One of my great challenges is that I am very hard on myself. Sometimes I look at choices I have made and I just want to kick myself for picking the wrong door.

Friends of mine have told me that as one door closes another one opens but I always have trouble accepting that. It is a feel good statement that doesn't always make me feel good. So I have chosen to take a slightly different approach and ask myself some very simple questions about what I want in life.

At the root level it is a question of who do I want around me. Who makes me happy. Who makes me feel good. Who stimulates me. What sort of work do I want to do. Not what pays the bills, but what kind of work inspires me to wake up in the morning.

What kind of things do I need. I truly don't need much, but I do need some things and I haven't any problem saying that.

Now I haven't provided much in the way of details and I am not sure if I am going to in this post. Much of this is incredibly personal and I am not really sure how comfortable I feel sharing it. I'll provide some general answers. In order to protect what little anonymity remains I am going to qualify this and say that I may already have some of the items I list here, or maybe not.

Let's start with companionship. I want someone who makes my heart pound and my blood boil.
They don't have to and shouldn't agree with everything I say or like. It is good to have a few differences. But I want someone that I like and that I can speak with about anything.

It is not about someone to have fun with, but someone to have a life with.

Possessions- I want a comfortable house that I can entertain in when I feel like but it must be a home. I want a good stereo and a good television. I love music and sometimes I'll want to watch a ballgame or cuddle up for a movie.

I want a great library of books to read and a comfortable chair to read them in.

That is pretty much it. Obviously it is not detailed. I didn't forget family and friends. They are critical elements in my life and I want them too.

In between all this or maybe I should say wrapped into this I'd love to travel and enjoy some very fine meals.

Off the top of my head, that is pretty much it. The rest is commentary.

Controversy Surrounds "The Hokey Pokey"

Now here is a story that you might find to be surprising. Who knew.

"It's a musical staple of nursery schools and seniors' fitness classes throughout
the English-speaking world.

But The Hokey Pokey - the right-hand-in, right-hand-out ditty that sparked a 1950s dance craze - has become the focus of a bizarre controversy in Britain that has drawn in politicians, the Catholic Church in Scotland and soccer fans accused of exploiting the song's alleged anti-Catholic roots to taunt opposing teams.

Now, the son of the famed Irish songwriter Jimmy Kennedy - the man credited with penning the lyrics to one of the world's most familiar melodies - has weighed in to the furor by revealing what he calls the true inspiration for his father's hit: a traditional Canadian folk tune sung by miners in the early 20th century as a drug anthem celebrating the therapeutic powers of cocaine.The song is known in Britain as The Hokey Cokey, and was originally published by Kennedy during the Second World War as The Cokey Cokey before various U.S. recordings of The Hokey Pokey gave the song and its accompanying movements global popularity.

In December, the song sparked an uproar in Scotland when fans of the Glasgow Rangers soccer team were accused of planning to sing it to insult rival Glasgow Celtic, a club with Catholic roots. A Catholic Church spokesman warned that The Hokey Cokey had centuries-old origins as a Protestant song meant to mock the words and actions of Catholic clergy presiding over the Latin mass.

"This song does have quite disturbing origins. Although apparently innocuous, it was devised as an attack on and a parody of the Catholic mass," Peter Kearney, a spokesman for Scottish Catholic Cardinal Keith O'Brien, said at the time.
He added that soccer authorities should monitor the situation to assess "if there are moves to restore its more malevolent meaning."

Michael Matheson, a Nationalist member of the Scottish Parliament, also issued a warning about The Hokey Cokey in December: "It is important that the police and football clubs are aware of the sinister background to this song, and take the appropriate action against individuals and groups who use it at matches or in other situations to taunt Catholics."

But that suggestion was quickly panned by Murdo Fraser, deputy
leader of the Scottish Tories: "I can't believe Scottish children performing the
Hokey Cokey are doing so in pursuit of any sort of anti-Catholic agenda," he
told reporters.

For weeks, allegations of historical bigotry behind The Hokey Pokey have been the focus of a lively debate in the letters pages and websites of British newspapers."


Read the whole story here.

That Part Of My Life is Over

Well it seems that I am not the only one who sometimes finds Facebook to be a bit disconcerting as I have had more than one friend tell me that the "worlds colliding" bit is hard. A few of you have deleted your Facebook accounts because of this.

And the truth is that there have been moments where I have considered it too. I suppose that it is only fair to say that there have been moments where I have considered closing up shop here as well, but that is a bit different. So let's focus on Facebook for a few moments and I'll try to shed some light on it.

When I evaluate my short life I can say that overall it has been quite good. There has been more good than bad, more happiness than sad. But there are moments in time that I don't want to revisit. Some of them are tied into the sad memories and some of them are tied into the happier moments.

The main thing is that they are done. There are people and places who may have been important but they are a milestone that is best left in the past. They are a stop on the road that I don't want to revisit.

Sometimes it is just easier to let them sit in memory. But on Facebook the past continues to rear its head.

The Hotel Offers a Sleep Guarantee

Any place that offers a sleep menu catches my eye. Check out this selection:

The Benjamin has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that their guests receive a perfect night's sleep. At the center of the program is the Sleep Concierge whose job is to help guests with every request for a restful and peaceful night's sleep. From selecting the perfect pillow to arranging a relaxing massage at the hotel's Wellness Spa, the Sleep Concierge provides assistance and advice for guests as well as fulfills requests from the hotel's Sleep Menu, such as a bedtime comfort snack of milk and warm cookies or delivery of a white noise machine.
In fact, The Benjamin is so confident each guest will sleep well it has instituted a "Sleep Guarantee" of a free nights stay if a guest does not sleep as well or better than at home.
Sleep Amentities
The Benjamin offers a full range of 12 different types of pillows from which to choose: down, upper body, buckwheat, satin, hypo-allergenic, water-filled, Swedish memory, magnetic therapy, a jelly neckroll, a five-foot body cushion, sound, maternity and a special anti-snore pillow.
In addition to the pillows, the hotel features The Benjamin Bed: a Serta® mattress created exclusively for The Benjamin, with specially engineered convoluted foam cushioning and layers of fibers quilted to the mattress for a luxurious surface feel. The custom-designed Benjamin Bed is wrapped in 100% Egyptian Cotton 400-plus thread count sheets by Anichini and a down-filled comforter with luxurious triple sheeting. (The pillows, sheets, and mattresses have become so popular that they are now offered for sale for guests who want to bring The Benjamin experience home.) Aromatherapy bathroom amenities further enhance relaxation. In addition to the luxurious sleep amenities, The Benjamin has outfitted each guest room with double-glazed windows, with argon gas between the panes, and black-out shades to keep rooms quiet and restful.

Olim Chadashim- A Round Up of Posts

WestbankMama is interested in doing a round up of posts by olim chadashim. For more information please click here.

Change is Coming

Three weeks into the new year and I can tell you that I am still grumpy from the old one. Still have too many bills to pay and too few options. Tired of listening to people say that Bush is responsible for all of our problems. Tired of listening to people say that Obama is going to fix all of them. Tired of listening to Sarah Palin whine about whatever it is she is whining about. I am ready to turn on the television, open a newspaper and or surf the net without seeing her name.

Talked to the boys and confirmed that I am not the only curmudgeon feeling this way. But even if I were, I wouldn't care. It is how I feel. Spent more than a few hours talking about such things over the weekend. A few of us got together and held a state of the union and discovered a few things.

We're all ready to give up on women. every last one of us. The wives have gone out of their way to drive us to drink. There is a reason why clumps of hair keep falling out and we have knots in our necks. But I suppose that is only fair to say that the wives are telling similar stories among themselves and truth is that none of us are going to give on women.

To quote my friend John. "Jack, I love hanging out with you and talking to you is real easy. But it is much more fun to sleep with Kelly."

John hadn't quite finished his sentence when he realized how he had left himself open to all sorts of fun replies. Being a gentleman I told him that I agreed with him, it is much more fun to sleep with Kelly because she doesn't snore.

On a more serious note, I suspect that a few more of the boys really are going to hang up their spikes and seek greener pastures. I find these conversations about troubled marriages to be troubling. I don't really want to have give my opinion on whether they should stay or go. I think that it is the sort of conversation that is rife with pitfalls that I don't want to fall into.

Every relationship is different and everybody has their own ideas about what they have to have and what they are willing to compromise upon. I can't really tell anyone what to do, only what I'd do. I don't like straddling the fence, but sometimes it is safer there.

If you wanted a list of complaints about these marriages I can provide it without trying too hard:

Not enough sex
Too much sex
Money problems
Different ideas about child rearing

I suspect that those are relatively universal problems that can crop up. But if you ask me the thing that I don't hear any of them say is that their wives are their best friends or even good friends. Mostly they refer to them in a way that sounds more like a business partner that they occasionally have sexual relations with.

If I have any real advice about marriage to offer anyone it is that you need to like your partner. That is different than love and different than lust. If you don't like them I don't know how you are going to make it for the long haul.

Enough about all that. Here we are less than two hours into the Obama presidency and I wonder what we are going to see happen over the next four years. I am curious for any number of reasons. I suppose that part of it is because President Obama holds the title of first president that I consider to be a contemporary. As far as I am concerned he and I are pretty much part of the same generation.

It is kind of different. Until now I had always thought of the president as being either a really old man or closer to my parent's generation then anything else. Maybe I really am getting older, who knows.

President Obama's Inauguration

This is what I would call sort of live blogging the event. I have been torn about whether I felt like being on the computer today. Check that, I have to be on the computer for work purposes, the question has been whether I was going to blog about anything.

I am not as caught up in the events of the day as a lot of people are. That is not to say that I am not excited about it, I am. But I am feeling a bit worn out. I am tired of reading about all of the challenges we face. I am tired of reading about banks and other industries being given billions of dollars to be bailed out.

Lots of people are in financial trouble. Lots of people are fighting to stay afloat and it kind of irks me to see these institutions get more cash, especially since I know that I will end up paying for it.

So I am ready to let the man begin working. As I said in an earlier post I don't expect that he or any other person can turn everything around over night. It is going to take time to make things happen and while I am ready to celebrate the potential for change and a brighter future I am far more interested in seeing the process get started.

More to come on this in another post.

Gaza Continued

There is so much that could and should be said about the situation in Gaza and the hypocrisy exhibited by so many. We could go round and round in circles about the nonsense. We could ask why those who protest the war are not protesting the brutal treament of Palestinians by Palestinians, but what fun would that be.

Instead we'll share a collection of links that you might find to be of interest:

CNN: Palestinians: 1,300 killed, 22,000 buildings destroyed in Gaza (What this story doesn't say is how many of those who were killed were terrorists and how many buildings housed weapons or were used as launching pads.

It also doesn't talk about how Egypt turned a blind eye while allowing tons of weapons to be smuggled into Gaza.

WSJ: Israel Scored a Tactical Victory

Telegraph: Analysis: Hamas did not win conflict but did Israel? (Good questions here. It remains to be seen.)

JPost:'Hamas torturing Fatah members in Gaza' (You just had your ass kicked up and down the street, so what do you do. Oh, I know, let's go terrorize other Palestinians and see if it makes us feel better.)

JPost: Iran renews efforts to supply weaponry to bruised Hamas (Will the world just watch as the leader fomenters of terror continue to try and wreak havoc. My guess is the answer will be yes.)

And now for some blog posts to review:

Mere Rhetoric: Opps! Al Arabiya Accidentally Airs Description Of Hamas Firing Rockets From Al Arabiya's Own Studio

Yourish: More threats, lies from Saudis

Seraphic Secret: Chaos

Solomonia: Hamas children's propaganda film reinforces illusion of war victory

Recent Posts

My Parents and My Blog
We Leave The Toilet Seat Up
In the Works
Nigerian Scam Artist
War- What is it Good For
Instant Messenger
When Harry Met Sally- New Years
Sunday Songfest

My Parents and My Blog

This past weekend my father was admitted to the hospital again. He has a couple of health issues that are creating some other issues. The docs decided that the most effective way of treating these would be to run a battery of diagnostic tests upon him so that they could determine what the appropriate next steps would be.

While hanging out around the big guy's bed we engaged in a bit of small talk about this and that when all of a sudden my mother asks me why she can't read my blog. I looked at her and said that there was no reason why she can't read it other than the fact that I am anonymous.

She smiled and asked me how her almost forty year-old son could have so many secrets. I told her that it was as a result of my joint CIA and Mossad training and that my handlers would never allow me to reveal my secrets. Thus, it was for my own safety that I was preventing her from reading my words.

She frowned and told me that it was clear that I still have a very active imagination. I suggested that if she hung around long enough I could develop Alzheimers and my imagination would really amaze her. She frowned again and made a comment about ridiculous comments from me.

I smiled and asked her if she preferred that I get Alzheimers or be hit by a bus. She smiled and said that in my old age I was losing my ability to change the subject. I smiled and said that I wasn't losing it in the slightest.

But I did say that at the moment I prefer my anonymity. In turn she said that she knew that my name was Jack something or other. I laughed and said that she was close but that I still wasn't going to give her the URL.

On a serious note it is not that I can't talk to my parents about what I write. I can share anything and everything with them. But there is some material within these walls that I prefer not to discuss with them, at least not now.

Truth is that sometimes I miss having complete anonymity.

We Leave The Toilet Seat Up

Before we begin the exciting topic of what position to leave the toilet seat in let me share some of what I have been listening to this evening.

God Only Knows- The Beach Boys
My World Is Empty Without You- The Supremes ( I prefer the original- no time to search)
Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major- Bach (Played by Yo Yo Ma)
Gimme Three Steps- Lynrd Skynrd
No Leaf Clover- Metallica

Ok, let's move on to the incredibly interesting topic of what position to leave the toilet seat in, up or down. I have to give credit for the topic to the illustrious Therapydoc. If you tool on over there you can see that she and I engaged in a bit of back and forth about whether the toilet seat should be left up or down.

Having grown up with more sisters than you can shake a stick at (I tried that once. Bad idea, my father had none of it and, well let's say that I only did it once.) I learned that women have this funny idea that the toilet seat must always be left down so that if they decide to use the powder room it will be ready for them.

I take a different position and I hope that my fellow men will join me in overthrowing the tyranny of the toilet seat. It is time to force these dames to do as we do and learn how to look at the seat before sitting down upon it. Somewhere my mother is beginning to grimace and squirm, she has this weird knack for sensing when I am going to cause trouble.

And yes I am well aware that suggesting that we don't have to put the seat down is a recipe for a fight. But ladies I ask you if you would consider crossing the street without looking both ways. You would not. You don't drive with your eyes closed and you usually take a moment to check yourself out in the mirror before leaving the house.

So I ask why you who are capable of so many things claim to be incapable of determining what position the toilet seat is in. It makes no sense.

We can take this from a different position too. Every now and then we men have to respond to a need that requires sitting upon the toilet. We haven't any problem checking the position. I have no more interest in falling into the toilet than you do.

Ok, that is about as much energy as I am willing to lend to this topic.

Words On A Page

 Added a few words on a page, some well written, some less so but all with purpose in mind. Can't win the Pulitzer every time, for certa...