When Parents Die

There is someone very dear to me who is in the midst of a terrible challenge. Out of respect I won't divulge their name but I'll say that one of their parents is very ill. It is with them in mind that I write this post.

Actually the previous post was sort of inspired by them too. Not sure that inspire is the appropriate word, but it will work for now.

Life and death has been a fairly common theme here. I suppose that part of it has to do with my own experiences. I have been to more funerals than I care to think about. Many of my friends have lost a parent. Some of them were quite young, but most were somewhere between their teenage years and their twenties.

One of these days I want to try and find out if my experience is normal or abnormal because it seems to me that I have been to many more funerals than most people I know. Or maybe it is my own misconception, not like we keep funeral scorecards.

In my effort to support my friend I have been thinking about this a lot. I have wanted to be able to say something that would help ease their pain. Their parent hasn't died, but is terminally ill. No telling exactly how long it will go on.

I feel badly because what can I say. I can listen, but I can't offer any profound insight. Maybe it is arrogant of me to want to be able to fix things. But I do.

Anyway, if you read this please know that I think about this more than you realize. I don't always bring it up because I want you to feel like you have some space from it, but I do think about it.

One more piece of business. Here are some past posts that tie into this topic:

Coping With Sick Parents
Coping With Sick Parents Part II
Death- My Son Asked Me Not to Die
Death Comes For Us All- When Do you Start Saying Goodbye

Don't Die Dad

I won't ever forget the day I got the call from my mother. She and my father had flown out to the east coast for the bris of one of my nephews. She and my father were on their way to the emergency room.

I asked to speak with him and she put him on the phone. The conversation was awkward and strange and it was clear that he wasn't right. Mom took the phone again and told me that she would call me when she knew more.

A short time later she called to let me know that they had placed him on a ventilator and that they didn't know much, but that it was very serious. At some point she must have passed the phone to my brother-in-law, the doctor. I asked him to tell me if my father was going to die and he said that he couldn't guarantee it, but that it was highly probable.

When we hung up the phone I sat there in shock. I was almost 35, but it was clear to me that I still thought of my father as being the strongest man I knew. He couldn't be that sick, he couldn't be close to dying. It was just impossible.

At some point I realized that no matter how hard it was to fathom, my father had lost his status as immortal and become a man like all the rest. I suppose that sounds ridiculous, but it is how I thought of him and I have stories to back it up.

We got lucky because in spite of everything the docs told us he made it. He beat the odds. Two days before my daughter was born he underwent a triple bypass and now almost five years later I am ever so grateful to have him.

But I'd be lying if I said that it didn't have a profound impact upon me. Those six months changed me in a lot of ways, but it took a while for me to recognize and realize just what some of those changes have been.

It gave me a much deeper appreciation for the loss that some of my friends and family have experienced. And it made me far more nervous about his health. In the time since that period he has been hospitalized a number of different times, some of them more serious than others.

For the first year or so after the bypass I'd estimate that not a day went by when I didn't worry about him. As more time has passed I grew a bit more comfortable, but I never completely lost that fear.

I worry about him. I do. I try not to focus upon it. I am not kidding when I say that I am grateful, but dammit, he is my father and I am just not ready. Maybe I don't think of him as being immortal, but he is so very important.

He makes me crazy. Few people can push my buttons the way that he can. I don't need or ask for his approval but I'd be lying if I said that I don't want it. It took years to reach this place, but I think that we have developed a friendship.

After all this time there is a lot that I understand about him that I didn't. Some of it required life experience. I got married and had a family. I spent years being the sole breadwinner and learned what it meant to carry that weight.

Spent more than a few nights agonizing over various decisions. Made some good calls and some stupid ones. And so many times as I sat there mulling over what to do I could hear his voice in my head.

Not so long ago he and I sat at the kitchen table in my parent's house talking about this and that. Dad started talking about his father and I saw him a bit differently. The man sitting at the head might have been my father but for a moment I think that he was closer to the 12 year old boy who was reminiscing about a trip his father had taken him and his brother on.

If there had been any doubt in my mind that we are never really ready to say goodbye to our parents that moment at the table fixed it. I miss my grandfather terribly, but not like my father misses his father.

We may all grow up and live our lives, but some people stay with us forever.

Goodbye New Commenting System

We didn't like the new commenting system so we scrapped it. We'll keep searching for something better.

Comments- I Need Your Feedback

Dear Readers,

I am always tempted to address that as "dear reader" and not readers. ;) Anyway as you can see I have installed a new commenting system courtesy of the folks at JS-Kit and I would like to get your feedback about it.

What do you think? Do you like it? Do you hate it? Is it better or worse than the old system? I am still evaluating it and am interested in hearing what you have to say.

Thanks for your help, I appreciate it.

Wrestling With Technology- BlackBerry, Vista...

Allow me to have a Ricky Henderson moment. Today Old Jack found himself feeling rather ornery and irritated. Blame some of it on the crazy women he had to deal with, but the majority can be attributed to 'rasslin with technology.

It started mid morning when the 'puter decided that it wasn't going to cooperate with me. First me internet connection (when did I decide to go pirate arrrgh!) got a bad case of the hiccups. For a while it was in and out and in and out. That is a nice place to get a burger or a fine way to spend some free time but it is not the way to surf the net.

So I did what every civilized man does and I threatened the modem, the computer, the little guy inside the computer that puts the words on the screen and the hamsters that power it all. When that didn't work I threatened to hit Ma Bell so hard she wouldn't touch the ground until cleveland wins a championship.

Who knew that the old broad was a sports fan because just as soon as I mentioned that the connection magically repaired itself. The dame must have realized that the land of the burning river hasn't won anything in eons.

Of course the relief I felt was shortlived as I encountered a number of other kinks. There is nothing like knowing how much more productive you are because of technology and how much less you are because of technology.

But old Jack the ornery cuss is a stubborn and determined man who doesn't give up and eventually I found solutions to my computer issues. They weren't perfect, but they got me over the hump.

And then just as I really began to feel like I could relax my %$&$&%(^ BlackBerry stopped working properly. Wrestling with the freaking thing I try to send a text message out. I manage to type the number and the following letters "FU" and the freaking thing flies off into the ether. Moments later an angry shmata queen wants to know why I am cursing at her.

Queenie, you should know better. If I was to send you a nasty text it would be clear. I don't mess around like some teenager who relies upon some screwy short hand. Speaking of that I really dislike messages like c u l8tr from adults. Don't care if that makes me sound like a curmudgeon, I am.

Anyhoo, went to Verizon and the fine folks there appeared to have fixed my BlackBerry. It worked properly for about 30 minutes and then decided to say "FU" to me. Isn't that just dandy.

Recent Posts

Here is a quick roundup of recent posts that have appeared here:

Keywords- How You Found Us
A Few Words From Our Sponsor
The Bicycle
Haveil Havalim #210- Locke, Hurley and Starbuck Edition
Sadat's Widow's Words
CNN has an interview with Anwar Sadat's
SouthPark on the Bailout
Jericho
Has Twitter Helped/Hindered Your Blog?
My Brain is Stuck In Neutral

Keywords- How You Found Us

Here is a partial list of keywords that you used to find The Shack.

  1. duggar family
  2. random thoughts
  3. What Makes a Community
  4. tweeting meaning
  5. besheret
  6. the heart wants what the heart wants
  7. stairway to heaven backwards
  8. battlestar galatica
  9. favorite song lyrics
  10. the heart wants what it wants
  11. ONE SIDED FRIENDSHIP
  12. the road not taken meaning
  13. how to come up with a blog name
  14. meaning of Darth Vader in business world
  15. passover lunch
  16. texting killing grammar
  17. costco kosher hot dog
  18. religious voicemail greetings
  19. how to write a professional blog
  20. going commando
  21. a loveless marriage
  22. meaning of hooters
  23. do men have emotions
  24. songs that make you cry
  25. everyone loves jack

A Few Words From Our Sponsor

The Bicycle

To me the most challenging part of blogging is the aggravation I feel when the words don't flow from my fingertips. That is because writing is something that is easy for me. It usually doesn't require much effort for me to construct these posts. I just sit down and start typing.

And while I have often wished that I was a better writer I rarely find myself comparing my ability to another. I do what I do and most of the time that suffices. Parenting is a different story altogether.

I think that I am a good father. My children are happy and well adjusted, but it is hard not to second guess decisions. It is hard not to wonder about some things. It is hard not to look at my own childhood and feel badly that my children don't have everything that I had.

Let me clarify what I mean by that. From a number of perspectives they have far more than my siblings and I ever did. They have plenty of toys and have had many experiences that I didn't get to participate in. But there are some significant things that they don't have.

I grew up in a world in which we played outside without supervision. I grew up in a world in which we rode our bikes anywhere and everywhere. I have memories of our mothers coming outside to call us in for dinner. If I close my eyes I can hear their voices and hear us yelling back that we'd come home soon.

My kids don't have that. We live in a safe neighborhood but it is a time when parents don't parent the way ours did. It is a time of fear and uncertainty. You just don't see elementary school age children walking to school, not the way that we did. And that makes me sad.

When they get a bit older they'll be able to do it. When they get a bit older it will be easier to let them go do some of these things on their own. So it is not as if it won't ever happen, it is just going to take a bit longer for them to do this than it did for us.

So while the world may have progressed well beyond where it was when I was a child this is one area that it has not and that really is too bad. It is a big loss. And that is part of why I sometimes find myself thinking hard about moving to a place where they can have that, but where that is I am not really sure.

Haveil Havalim #210- Locke, Hurley and Starbuck Edition

There are moments when hosting Haveil Havalim very much reminds me of the cabin scene from A Night At The Opera.

There are so many different thoughts and ideas that can get crammed into one of these things. A smarter host than I am minimizes all of the noise and focuses upon one theme. But that is just not how I play this game, or maybe it is my not so subtle way of imitating the guys who wrote that finale to BSG.

So here we are at Haveil Havalim #210, entitled the Locke, Hurley and Starbuck Edition, also known as two dead people and an escapee from a mental institution. My apologies if that doesn't make sense to you.

One more thing before we go on. Driveshaft was one of my favorite bands. Charlie LIVES! And now onto the carnival.

Haveil Havalim is the weekly "blog carnival" of the Jewish/Israeli blogosphere, created by Soccer Dad and currently maintained by me.

Judaism

Daled Amos has a heart warming post called Today, My Son Is A Jew. Follow that bridge to Kesher Talk to read the story of a Jew turned Baptist who returned to Judaism.

Shira covered Reward and punishment: Blaming the victim. It is a good topic and well worth thinking about. Remember, if you don't comment on this post you deserve all that comes to you. ;)

At Achas L'Maala V'Sheva L'Matta there is an essay called Absolving the Casualty - The Torah's Perspective of Victimhood.

A Simple Jew shared a Question & Answer With Rebbetzin Yehudis Golshevsky - The Next Mitzva.

Drew Kaplan shared Torah on Twitter. Learning in 140 characters or less, kind of cool.

Elms in the Yard reminds us all that it is Rosh Hodesh Nissan, which means that we are just a few weeks out from Pesach. Speaking of Pesach if you want to make a lot of people happy offer to go help them clean their homes.

If you think that is not going to bring a smile to a lot of faces spend a few minutes surfing the jblogosphere and see how many families are gnashing their teeth about how far behind they are in getting ready for the chag. Take a look at The Velveteen Rabbi's Haggadah for Pesach!

Josh Waxman reviews a haggadah at a post called Introducing the Absolut Haggadah, 2009 Vintage.

Rafi has a post that is going to make a few people I know say huh? The reason being is that they would never believe that someone is going to Kasher Their Computer for Pesach.

I'll pick on Baila for a moment. Her post about Pesach preparations made me smile. Leora shared some recipes for Pesach.

Come over here to read about The Harry-er side of dating. Somewhere in the archives is a post I wrote about why I think that shidduch dating is shortsighted and problematic, but that is a different story altogether.

Frum Satire has a list of Awkward Shomer Negiah moments which frankly reinforces many of the reasons I am not now and have never been Shomer Negiah. Who wants a hug. ;)

The Real Shaliach thinks Kabbalos Ol just doesn't cut it. Mottel has some funny comments that kids have made. Judeopundit's post about Jewish Canadians shows that some people just don't get it.

LOZ's post Hungarian Rabbis in 19th C. America reminded me of some stories that I used to hear as a child. He continues his history lesson with Kashrut Scandals and Birkat ha-Hamah in New York (1897) .

We'll riff of of Birkat Ha-Chamah with Ezzie and E-Book: A Blogger's Guide to Birchas Ha-Chamah.

At Chabad they ask about The AIG Debacle and if we are losing our morals.

At the grouchy old bear read Why did God tell us to bring sacrifices? (Summary of Sources).

David wants to know Why do Jews push and push and push this?

Aliza wrote about a topic that we need to pay attention to called Latinos against Jews. Better to be proactive and try to get to the bottom of this than to ignore it.

Schvach provides a lesson about Schadenfreude.

Tuvia is involved in The kosher confusion. Ever wonder what a rabbi does in their spare time. (Excuse me while I duck as the 167 pulpit rabbis who read Haveil Havalim are cursing my name. Better watch where I step, hate to be the second coming of Korach.)

Anyhoo, go read The Rabbi Watches YouTube. Home Shuling thinks that there is Something Jewish about breastfeeding.

At Yourish take a moment to review Two quotes on the struggle of Jews.

Israel

Eric is concerned about the impact of Labor's joining the Likud coalition. Dan at Tzipiyah says Im Tirtzu - Bringing Zionism Back To Israel.

Soccer Dad writes about a near miss in Northern exposure. The Israel Situation mulls over a potential missile strike against Iran.

If you aren't familiar with Tipat Chalav then you should click here and learn more.

Oleh Girl wrote about the Greatest disgrace in Labour’s history. Jewlicious shared 30 Years of Peace.

Canadians in Israel sounds like the title of a comedy bit, but it is a serious post that you should read, eh. For an only in Israel moment go read I Guess They Weren't Shomer Shabbas.

At Israelity you can read Nostalgia Sunday - Personal care, a post that reflects upon Israeli ingenuity. While I was over there I also read about Milo, the Wonder Dog. Good old Milo would make my daughter exceptionally happy.

Did I mention that they offer to ship Milo to Honduras. On the other hand if they can't get Milo to you then you have the option of heading off to the holy land to pick him up. While you are there you can partake of a Yom Kef retreat at The Dead Sea.

At Israel Innovation 2.0 you should take a moment to read Israel is the new Israel (Alternatively, if TechCrunch is the go-to online tech publication, will TreeHugger be the new TechCrunch?)

Ever wonder if Olmert's lightrail is ever going to be completed? You are not the only one.

An important question that remains to be answered is Where will Gilad Shalit be this Passover? Joel Katz sent in Religion and State in Israel - March 23, 2009 (Section 1) and part two.

Time of the Signs discussed Duck/Er Duct Tape. Aussie Dave is checking out the singles section.


Batya has beautiful photos of a beautiful country. Ben Yehuda shared Umm al-Fahm March: Typical Leftist Double Standards and K'far Tapu'ah's Last Concert Of The Season.

On my blog I wrote a post called Israel & Gaza. It was picked up by Yahoo! I appreciate the extra traffic I'll never understand how someone can say that they are aren't antisemitic and then tell me to stop with my "Jew propaganda."

Of course they are the same people that think that To Serve Man is a documentary about an evil Zionist plot.

At Solomonia you should read MEMRI: Saudi Cleric Khaled Al-Khlewi Teaches Children to Hate Jews and Melanie Phillips: Meet the Real Lobby.

Yaacov Lozowick offered Media on IDF Brutality in Gaza and Israel and Innovation.

Don't forget to read On Campus: The Pro-Palestinians' Real Agenda. At Backspin check out the Daily Telegraph's Twisted Headline.

Miscellaneous

Psychotoddler returned from exile to issue this insightful post, Battlestar Galactica Finale Impressions. Maybe he should read Treppenwitz's Announcing spoilers.

Continuing our trip around show business our next stop is at Seraphic Secret's Hollywood is Burning, Part III: Gauntlet.

Schvach has a post about a different sort of profession. Hyscience offers the troubling Washington Times: Hezbollah uses Mexican drug routes into U.S.

SuperRaizy has named all Seven Dwarves. This next post get's in because of the following line, how could I eat something that looks like Snuffleupagus’ ding dong, right?

The Rebbetzin's Husband is packing up The Batcave. Go read OkayIsaidit. Shorty has Earth Hour and random Parashah Thoughts.

Israel Chronicles offers some perspective on laundry.

Someone ought to tell Ben Yehudah that people are people so that he'll stop this black celebration. Help him at Poll: Should I Go To The Depeche Mode Concert? BTW, someone should tell him to read the first comment here.

Over at Shtetl Fabulous there is a nice rundown about her trip to New Orleans called Keep on Trying Til I Reach the Higher Ground.

Ruti has Geula on My Mind.

More than one reader is going to want to read what Esther has written about Social Media Jungle NYC: My Last-Minute GeekCon Experience.

New York's Funniest Rabbi's posts grab me. I enjoyed That Sometimes Grips Me. Chaviva shared a Readership Overview!

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of Haveil Havalim using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.Technorati tags: haveil havalim, blog carnival.

The next edition is going to be hosted by Ima on (and off) the Bima.

Sadat's Widow's Words

CNN has an interview with Anwar Sadat's widow, Jehan that was somewhat interesting. I appreciate much of what she said, but at the same time wish that she was more balanced and honest.

The peace between Egypt and Israel has held and I am appreciative of that. But it is a cold peace and Egypt could do more to foster peace in the region. Mubarak could still be classified as dictator light as he has led Egypt for almost 30 years now.

I suppose that what struck me were her comments about the border. Egypt could do far more to help control the tunnels from Egypt into Gaza. Egypt could help cut down on the transport of illegal weaponry. If Egypt did that it would help cut down upon the violence and help to establish a foundation for having discussions about peace and a real cease fire.

But I don't have high hopes for such a thing. Mubarak hasn't done enough to help cut down on the anti-Israel rhetoric in Egypt. And when you combine that negative influence with that exerted by fundamentalist groups you have a recipe for trouble.

So instead of working to help follow in Sadat's footsteps he has to work on protecting his own position so that he is not gunned down as Sadat was.

SouthPark on the Bailout

Jericho

(Originally published here.)
I met Jericho in a time and place that no longer exist. The people we were are long since gone. Now they drift through time and space in a place that I call memory or perhaps it is just my imagination. If you ask Jericho she'd probably push for imagination. She'd want to say that what I remember has been obscured by my own desire for the future. She'd tell you that it was never as good as I remember it.

But if you took her aside and caught her in one of those moments she'd admit that it was exactly the way I remember. She'd admit that as the queen of low expectations it is easier to think of things that way. She'd tell you that to really remember is too painful, too tragic. So old Jericho set up those walls, long and tall, deep and wide.

She lies in wait behind those walls waiting for the future to come. She lies behind those walls and watches the days pass in front of her. There are some really happy times, some good moments that make her think that she can do this for a while. Good things come and she smiles and thinks that life might not be exactly what she wants it to be, but for now this will work.

And me, well I stand outside and stare at the wall. I stand and look and wonder how they grew to be so tall. Too stubborn or too dumb to give up I continue my assault upon them. Every day I look for a way to breach them. Every day I search for a nook or cranny that I can use to start weakening more sections.

Sometimes I see Jericho looking out at me. Sometimes I see her staring at me, a wistful smile on her face. Sometimes I catch her shaking her head. She wonders if I am going to continue to live in denial about the circumstances that placed us here. But I think that she knows that I am not the sort to give up. I...keep....moving...forward....

I have a mental diary of the tactics I have used to try and breach Jericho's walls. There was a frontal assault that was used to try and gauge the strength of the defenses. Some progress was made by eventually the defense asserted itself and we withdrew. There were flanking movements that had minor success, but still didn't amount to much. An attempt to climb over failed as did the tunnel beneath.

In between the attempts I have continued to pepper Jericho with reminders of what could be and paintings of the dream. It has been slow going, but I am ultimately a patient man. Those walls will come down, of that I am certain. What I had to remind myself was that Jericho erected those walls for a reason. I may disagree with the reason, but the smart move is to bide my time.

A well planned siege can work. There is no need to plan my own D-Day.

So I remind myself that the current situation is just a moment in time. A moment in time that can become nothing more than a memory or it can become reality. With this in mind I have made a point of mixing up my tactics. Sometimes I withdraw all of my forces and take some R&R. Inevitably Jericho's natural curiosity drives her out of the tower and she engages in her own reconnaissance. She always finds me.

Life may be a series of random acts but some things seem to be more than coincidence. It is a discussion that Jericho and I have had more than once. One day I suppose I'll have the chance to look back upon this life and determine whether I was right or wrong about that belief.

In the meantime you can find me at my post watching and waiting. One day, one way or another those walls are going to come tumbling down.

Has Twitter Helped/Hindered Your Blog?

A question for those of you on Twitter. Do you think that Twitter has had a positive or negative impact on your blog?

It Loses Something in the Translation

My Brain is Stuck In Neutral

It is approaching that time people refer to as late morning and my brain is stuck in neutral. Yes, you read that correctly the pea sized object that resides in the great melon that rests upon my shoulders is on, but operating in the neutral setting.

It is a silly way of saying that I am conscious of the giant list of things that must get done yet remain undone. The great lies before me. On a yellow writing pad that is placed in front of the computer monitor I see line item after line item of things that I have to work upon.

In fact as I stare at the pad a pen magically stands up and adds 5,987,087 more things to be done to the list. Somewhere in the distance I think that I can hear a little girl whispering "they're back!"

Ok, none of that really happened but I wouldn't be surprised if it did. The giant list is daunting in its size, overwhelming. Yea, overwhelming is the right word. That is why I am busy staring at it and not working. It is not like I haven't been up and chipping away at it all for hours because I have. But I just don't feel like I am making the sort of progress I want to achieve.

It reminds me a bit of the few times that I have gone cliff diving. When I walked up and just jumped I was fine. But if I made the mistake of looking down first I always found myself frozen in place, my mind racing with all sorts of thoughts.

"Hey stupid, this is an all stations alert from the legs. We have no interest in being broken into tiny little pieces. Someone slap some sense into the brain."

"Yo legs, it is the hands. We have got your back. Take a look at this we are about to smack the brain silly."

"Dear Legs and Hands, this is your brain. I command this ship and I order you to immediately cease and desist."

If you haven't had the pleasure of engaging in your own civil war let me encourage to try and avoid this. Aside from serving as potential blog fodder it is not the least bit interesting. And did I mention that it can be quite embarrassing.

In the age of YouTube you really don't want to be the person that ends up on ten million blogs. Or maybe you do. Maybe there is a way to monetize it. If you can live with the humiliation you just might be able to turn it into something positive.

Say, did you notice how for the last two minutes I haven't mentioned a word about the brain being stuck in neutral. That is one the finest plays in Jack's playbook. It is a tried and true standard that is good for gaining yardage and eating up the clock. It is a give and go that I use to step beyond the thing that is holding me up.

In just a moment I'll take a deep breath and look at the list again and try to identify three line items that I can take care of...quickly. Just need to feel like I am making a bit of progress. Just need to feel like I am not walking in quicksand. Small steps that lead to a giant victory.

Aww...Who am I fooling. Someone get me a giant cup of coffee and get out of the way. As my pal Ben Grimm would say, "It is clobbering time!"

It's A Cookbook!

Back in my school days we'd occasionally disrupt class by answering questions with the exclamation, "It is a cookbook!" Oh the things that we used to do for laughs, some were funnier than others.

Make Sour Things Sweet

Kind of interesting.

But after chewing the fruit and rubbing the pulp against the tongue, the berry, known by a promising name -- "miracle fruit" or Synsepalum dulcificum -- releases a sweetening potency that alters the taste buds.

For about 15 to 30 minutes, everything sour is sweet.

Lemons lose their zing and taste like candy. Oranges become sickeningly sweet. Hot sauce that usually burns the tongue tastes like honey barbecue sauce that scorches as it trickles down the throat.

Through word of mouth, these miracle fruits have inspired "taste tripping" parties, where foodies and curious eaters pay $10 to $35 to try the berries, which are native to West Africa.
About five months ago, a Miami, Florida, hospital began studying whether the fruit's sweetening effects can restore the appetite of cancer patients whose chemotherapy treatments have left them with dulled taste buds.

"What happens in patients is the food tastes so metallic and bland, it becomes repulsive," said

Dr. Mike Cusnir, a lead researcher on the project and oncologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center. "Most of the patients undergoing chemotherapy have weight loss. Then they cut further into their diet and then this furthers the weight loss. It causes malnutrition, decreased function of the body and electrolyte imbalance."

Israel & Gaza

The War in Gaza hasn't really ended it has just moved into a different venue. Now we get to see it taken apart within the blogosphere and the MSM. Not to mention the report filed by the UN.

If you know nothing about the war and rely solely upon these stories and reports you receive a very skewed perspective that lacks context and context is everything. These articles do a very fine job of painting a picture of a Big Bad Israel that is intent on murder, mayhem and mischief.

The lack of context creates a very fine narrative for the sort of screenplay that movie watchers love. You have a noble underdog fighting to free themselves from the yoke of some oppressive tyrant. Pardon me for a moment, I think that I am getting a bit choked up about it.

What they neglect to mention is that the noble underdog helped to create the problem by indiscriminately firing rockets into Israel. Nor do they spend time discussing the actions of the peaceful government of Gaza. You know, the fine fellows of Hamas who like to engage in vigorous interaction with those they disagree with.

Take a look at the video and tell me what you think about people who settle their disagreements in such a peaceful manner.

You'll forgive me for being a bit skeptical about the peaceful intentions of people who treat their fellows in such a fine fashion. But is that video really any worse than watching them use children as human shields.

It really comes as no surprise that certain groups are pushing to try Israel for war crimes or that much of this drama is taking place in the court of public opinion. In an earlier post I pointed out some of the flaws in the UN report and also gave some attention to some of the problems created by shoddy journalism.

But it is always worth noting that journalists are not fail proof and that they do make mistakes. So while the Guardian, HaAretz and others eagerly strive for a hard hitting piece let's take a moment to consider some of these issues.

Yourish provides one example to review in Is Ha’aretz is pulling a Scott Thomas on us? and Yaacov Lozowick shares another in UK Journalists are Fools and we'll hit the trifecta with Solomonia's Who Makes Your News: An Outburst on Tape.

So before some of the fans of The Shack go apoplectic let's cover a few basic points and then we'll wrap it up.

The decision to go to war did not take place in a vacuum. No nation will ignore daily rocket attacks. It doesn't matter how many people are killed by said rockets. There is no relevancy between the decision to defend people and how many are killed or injured by the rockets that precipitated the response.

I have never heard of a war in which civilians were not killed. It is a terrible tragedy and we can say that the victims died a senseless death. But we have to remember that it is war and that Hamas took an active role in trying to create a situation which would result in an invasion.

The problem was that they had their asses handed to them. So when they were unable to capitalize upon the war as a great military victory they switched to Plan B in which they try to delegitimize Israel's right to defend itself.

Circling back to the topic of context I would anticipate that there are those of you who provide accusations of that being a PR trick. But the reality is that context is not a PR trick. It is the substance that is required to make an informed and honest decision. It is just too bad that so many articles seem to be lacking it.

Crossposted on Yourish.

Steve Wozniak Should Stick to Computers

I give him credit for getting out there, but he looks like the crazy uncle at a bad wedding.

The Sword of Damocles

Do you remember the story of The Sword of Damocles because at the moment I feel a bit like the guy sitting beneath the sword. The good news is that the point on this particular blade is relatively dull.

Nonetheless it can't be pleasant having a twenty pound weight come crashing down upon your skull, even when you have a head as hard as my own.

All of this is a fancy way of saying that I have some tough decisions ahead of me and I find myself agonizing over what path to take. I have spent a lot of time trying to analyze the options and am stuck because in some cases you just can't predict the future.

The best that you can do is develop an educated guess and then hope that you are right. There is nothing truly insightful or profound in that, it is just how life is.

But if you have a mind that operates like my own you tend to think in very colorful and graphic terms. In this particular case I see myself canoeing down a river that winds through some exotic jungle. It is uncharted territory so I haven't any clue as to whether I am going to stumble upon rapids leading to a thousand foot drop or a tranquil pool.

The normal sounds of the jungle surround me. I can choose to set up camp but again there is no telling if the land will be fraught with unseen peril or a peaceful oasis.

All I can do is be prepared to adapt to whatever situation I face. And that my friends is exactly what I have to do here. Make the best decision can and then deal with whatever comes afterwards.

The hardest part of this whole process is not making the decision but the anticipation surrounding it all.

And now if you'll excuse me I need to go find a helmet so that if that sword does come crashing down I have some sort of protection.

If You Had a Superpower What Would It Be?

Friends it is time to answer another question. If you could have any superpower what power would you choose?

Karma

I need to work this into Fragments of Fiction.

There is one hell of a post tied into that simple word, karma. There is one hell of a long story that I could tell that would tie in perfectly to that word, karma. It would be ever so sweet to share the story that is flowing inside the melon on my shoulders.

It would be so much fun to say those simple words, "I told you so" and then follow it up with a snappy "Karma is a bitch." It would be more fun than I can express to gloat a bit and say that misery loves company but you already were a miserable son-of-a-bitch so you know it better than I do.

But while at times I have been miserable I am not miserable now. No sir, no maam, no way, no how. I am positively gleeful because I was proven right. I know, I said that I wouldn't gloat. I said that I wouldn't lord it over you triumphantly because I am better than that but, heck it feels so damn good.

Because you stupid son-of-a-bitch you made my life far more difficult than it had to be. Far too many insecurities covered up by acting like a prick. I know, it is easier to be nasty and try to hide the shame and the fear that someone might realize that you are a fraud.

If we had this conversation in person you'd never admit to any of this and if anything you'd say that this short monologue is proof that you won. But the thing is that until I got that phone call I had forgotten about you.

But that phone call and the message let me know that you haven't forgotten about me. I have been living rent free inside your head. Apparently I helped to fill that empty spot that your soul should have occupied.

I must admit that I am trying to dredge up a bit of compassion for you because that is the right thing to do. But your antics have made it a bit difficult for me to wish to do anything more than drop your pathetic hide into the closest cesspool.

Anyway, I have to run but remember that it was me who asked you to reconsider your actions. It was me who gave you the opportunity not to paint yourself into a corner. You refused so now you get to live with it.

Get used to being lonely because karma is a bitch.

Haveil Havalim #209: Ahhhhh......Spring!



Sorry for the late notice but it is hard to get on the computer on days like this where it is 85 degrees outside and not a cloud to be seen in an endless blue sky.

Anyhoo, the incredible Mr. Lovitt not to be confused with Mr. Limpet has graced us with the latest edition of Haveil Havalim. Go read Haveil Havalim #209: Ahhhhh......Spring! and don't forget to tell your friends, family and neighbors about it.

If you have any questions about hosting, life or more contact me here. And if you haven't yet signed up you are cordially invited to join the Haveil Havalim Facebook group.

See you around,

Jack

Goodbye Battlestar Galatica

Tonight marks the series finale of 'Battlestar Galactica.' I was a latecomer to the show.

I didn't start watching it until sometime during season three. Before some of you purists have a fit let me clarify by saying that I didn't just jump right in to the show. Thanks to the magic of Netflix I was able to start from the beginning and catch up.

Initially I was a bit hesitant to watch. I watched the original series and figured that there was no reason to watch this one. I have fond memories of taking the Universal Studios Tour and going through the BSG section. I still remember that cylon that would talk to us.

Anyway, I didn't get caught up in the questions about whether the show spent too much time moralizing or preaching. I don't watch sci-fi for lessons in morality or ethics. I get that sort of stuff from more appropriate places.

It was the interaction between the characters that really drove the show for me. The people made it fun to watch. So tonight I'll be curious to see if it really does a good job of tying up the loose ends. Tonight we'll see if they answer what happened to Starbuck and all of the other questions.

I rather expect that it is going to end a bit like The Sopranos. Some of us are going to love it and some of us are going to hate it. For now we'll just have to wait and see.

UN's "Unbiased Observer" Alleges Israeli War Crimes

Ynet reports that the a United Nations Human Rights Investigator alleges that Israel committed war crimes during Operation Cast Lead.

Color me skeptical but the UN is not exactly a bastion of human rights. In fact if you look at who sits on the human rights committee and their supporters you'll see examples of countries that are human rights violators.

Color me skeptical but the man appears to have taken Palestinian press releases and just regurgitated them on UN letterhead. It is common knowledge that the terrorists do not wear uniforms and intentionally operate from within densely packed civilian areas, but that doesn't matter to Mr. Falk.

Before we go any further let's look at an excerpt from the story.


A United Nations human rights investigator said on Thursday that Israel's military assault on densely populated Gaza appeared to constitute a grave war crime.

Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said the Geneva Conventions required warring forces to distinguish between military targets and surrounding civilians.

"If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attacks is inherently unlawful and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law," Falk said.

"On the basis of the preliminary evidence available, there is reason to reach this conclusion," he wrote in an annual 26-page report submitted to the UN Human Rights Council.

Falk gave the same death toll from Israel's offensive in December and January - 1,434 Palestinians, including 960 civilians - as the Palestinian human rights center.

Israel, which lost 13 people during the war, disputes the figures and has accused Hamas fighters in Gaza of using civilians as human shields during the conflict - an allegation which Falk said should be investigated.

Is Falk blind or unable to use the internet. There is raw footage that shows evidence of Hamas war crimes such as the video of them using children as human shields.

Maybe the issue is that he receives his information from biased members of the media such as
Nidal Rafa.

You know who Nidal Rafa is, don't you. She is the journalist who was employed by CNN. Tom Gross provides a short report that sheds some very interesting information about her partisan approach. It includes a YouTube video in which she verbally attacks a member of the Knesset.

I know, journalists would never be biased. They serve the public by providing an unbiased report of the news. If only that was the case.

To be clear I do not believe that all journalists are bad. I do not believe that journalists who portray Israel or other countries in a negative light are automatically bad. But there are lines and Rafa crosses them far too often.

And when you take a situation where the foreign press must rely upon interpreters I grow very concerned at what is being translated and what is not.

So it really warms the cockles of my heart when I see a fine man like Falk deliver such an important and well thought out report.

Ok trolls, go to town.

Fashion Gone Mad

I don't know about you but the idea of wearing a blow up doll on my body is repulsive, moronic and ridiculous. Look at this comment from the designer:
"I customize existing tracksuit tops with parts of the blow-up dolls – the head, the breasts, the vagina, the anus. These dolls are so ugly and vulgar that turning them into something beautiful has become a challenge for me. The doll is a means to convey something else."
Is it wrong for me to say I want to punch him in the mouth. I don't have a good reason other than his comment is so ugly and vulgar I want to try and turn it into something beautiful.

Those Wacky Dutch

Gizmodo has a story about a bus ad that shames you into joining a gym by displaying your weight to all who pass by.

For the full story click here.

Thursday Afternoon Music Mash

An incomplete list of some of what I have been listening to:

The Chain- Fleetwood Mac
Go Your Own Way- Fleetwood Mac
Still Crazy After All These Years- Ray Charles
All I Ever Need Is You- Ray Charles
Broken Hearts- Living Colour
Fire- Ohio Players
Fire- Bruce Springsteen
I Still Haven't Found What I Am Looking For- U2 & Bruce Springsteen
Every Breath You Take- The Police
Jai ho - Slumdog Millionaire
Down On The Corner- Creedence Clearwater Revival

Undersea Volcano Erupts



I find this fascinating.

The eruption began Monday after a series of earthquakes near Tonga, a 170-island archipelago between Australia and Tahiti, residents told the Associated Press. There were magnitude-5.0 quakes there Sunday night and Monday afternoon, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Though the Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) issued an advisory for the area, the plume isn’t engendering island residents and so far hasn’t hurt fish or other animals, according to the AP.

Yesterday a plume rose to between 15,000 and 25,000 feet (4.6 to 7.6 kilometers), the Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Program reported. "It's a very significant eruption, on quite a large scale," Tonga's chief geologist, Kelepi Maf, told the Times of London. This is not unusual for this area and we expect this to happen here at any time.

Forty Is Not Old- No Really It Is Not

It is heading towards midmorning and outside the ever present blue skies are teasing me with thoughts of non work related activities. I try not to look out the window because I don't want to be any more distracted than I already am.

Granted I am seated in a coffee shop where I am in the middle of a business meeting. Just across the table a man is trying to sell me on an idea that he says is going to make all of us very wealthy. All he needs is the opportunity to make it happen and it just so happens that he thinks that we can provide it to him.

I frequent these coffee shops on a regular basis but it is usually with one of the boys. We all have non traditional jobs, or should I say jobs that don't have traditional hours. It is not unusual to find us here during the middle of the day during the work week. We are never alone. These places always have a steady stream of customers. Even during hard times people still need their caffiene fix.

The man is still talking but I am just barely listening. I already know what he has to say and where he is going with it. I came up with the concept. I get distracted again by a pair of legs in a black skirt passing by and I start wondering if it is like this elsewhere.

I am that rare native of L.A. and though I have traveled all over I can't recall whether other cities had the same feel of people out and about during the middle of the work week. Does it really matter? Probably not, but this is how my brain works.

Two days later I am going to be back in the same seat but this time I'll be hanging out with Max. Max and I have been friends since we were 13. We went to high school and college together and have spent more than a few hours hanging out. I am less than a month older than he is but with the dreaded fortieth birthday approaching those distinctions aremore important than normal.

We agree that age is just a number and that neither of us feel as old as the number sounds to us. I am not kidding when I say that my mental image of myself is of me at nineteen or twenty. Hard body, stomach carved and muscles rippling. Oh, and I can't forget the full head of hair.

I wore it in a flat top or as some people called it a brush cut. If I wore the right color green t-shirt and jeans I was sometimes mistaken for being in the service. It happened a lot during the days prior to the first Gulf War.

Now I look at myself in the mirror and I see a different image. Still have a fair amount of hair, but it is a bit thinner in the front. If I flex I can see the cuts in my stomach, but there is no hiding the spare tire that has taken up residence there. The rest of the body more or less passes muster.

Brutal honesty says that physically I am not who I was, but in some ways I am not so far off. Some days I don't care about it and some days I do. I miss the metabolism that let me eat anything and the ability to watch nicks, bruises and aches fade away ten minutes after they showed up.

But not unlike so many others who came before me I appreciate the wisdom and strength that life experience has brought to me. I know so much more about who I am and what I am capable of than I did then.

That is all part and parcel of why Max and I smile wistfully and agree that we are on the verge of conquering the world or falling off the edge of the cliff into the abyss. It is a bit ridiculous to be so melodramatic about it all but that is how it feels. The biggest difference between now and then is not the physical component but the responsibility.

In those days that we remember so fondly it didn't matter whether we made a dollar or a million. Didn't matter about so many other things because all we had to worry about was ourselves. There weren't any children. No worries about where they were going to go to school. No worries about where we would live because even if we spent a week on a couch here or there it just didn't matter. Sooner or later we'd have our own place and life would be fine.

But it is not the late eighties or the nineties anymore. Those moments of incredible freedom are gone. They feel like a different lifetime. We hardly remember who we were. Now we have who we are and it is ok. It is ok because we have no choice other than to make it ok.

Old Max and I are in agreement that every transition resembles a roller coaster. There are ups and downs. There are moments where you feel the car pulling you up a steep incline and you know that soon you are going to go hurtling down the other side of the hill you just climbed. Question is whether you'll scream because you are happy or because you are terrified.

Nah, forty isn't really that old, but I think that I am ready to get it over with. It is the anticipation that makes me crazy. It is the waiting for things to happen that makes me grind my teeth and furrow my brow. Those lines in my forehead were earned, but I don't need to help make them any deeper.

A small yelp of pain/surprise comes from across the table. That guy is still talking and in the midst of making a point has managed to spill a cup of coffee on his lap. Something tells me that the meeting is going to be cut short. Maybe I will take advantage of this sunshine and do something active.

If nothing else those endless blue skies tell their own story and I think that it just might be time to try and find out what that story is.

Jack The Folk Singer

Playing in the background Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald.

Earlier this evening the eight-year-old boy that lives here, not the one that lives inside me, asked me how I figured out what kind of work I would do for a living. It was a good question and it made me smile.

I like having these sorts of discussions with him. It is fun to answer his questions and to try and figure out how his mind works. In so many ways he is just like me and in so many he is his own person.

Before I could answer he looked up at me and asked me why I was smiling. I smiled back at him and told him that since I haven't grown up yet I am still not sure what I am going to do. What he didn't realize was that I didn't really say it in jest. I am not entirely sure what it is that I want to do. I have a lot of ideas and thoughts about it, but the actual position is a bit different.

Jack The Folk Singer meet Jack The Astronaut meet Jack The Professional Ballplayer Meet Jack The Professional Writer Meet Jack The Doctor Meet Jack The Man

That is kind of what it is like in my head. I can see myself doing all those things and a bunch of others. There is a reason why I said that I want to live to be a thousand years old or more. I have a very long list of things that interest me and there just isn't time for me to devote to exploring all of them.

Now granted there are reasons beyond the time factor that I can't pursue some of the others. I am not much of a singer. If singing off key was a key element of being a successful singer than perhaps I might have a shot. I can't carry a tune all that well, at least not vocally. Write it down or carve it into stone and I can carry it just fine.

As the 17 long time readers know I love playing sports and have a regular basketball game that I engage in, but that is not enough to get me into the NBA. I play hard. I can say unequivocably that I have the heart and desire to play, but the talent is lacking. And though I might protest and pray otherwise at 39 3/4s it is unlikely that I am going to suddenly develop it. Probably won't happen for football or baseball either.

I suppose that I could try and invent a sport. With some luck it will catch on and become incredibly popular. First mover advantage will probably allow me to dominate it for a while, but trying to determine what that sport would be and then bring it to life requires more than talent but a bit of luck. Not to mention time which as I noted earlier is lacking.

So I suppose that I can focus on becoming an astronaut or a doctor or a writer. They are all real possibilities. They are all things that I can make happen. They are careers that can be had because I have the ability, the strength and the desire. They are careers that can be had because they involve a different sort of strengths than the others I mentioned. Force of will could be enough to make the difference.

But still I wonder if those are right for me. Still I look at certain friends of mine and envy their certainty. By the time we were ten they knew what they wanted to do with their lives. Not me, I haven't had that luxury. Me, I have had a different sort of path. As I told S.W. I love to hike but I don't always stay on the trail. I have this nasty habit of blazing my own course.

Ok, it is not nasty, but it tends to be a bit more challenging than just walking the trail that exists. I certainly find myself bearing more nicks, scrapes and bruises. There are times when I feel frustrated by this and I wonder why I take that harder road. And all I can say is that sometimes I have to do things my way. It might not always be the best way, but it is mine.

And more importantly I don't doubt that I am going to get where I am going, I just can't tell you when.

Great Moments in Parenting

From a recent conversation:

"Dad, do you know why I like using the bathroom after you," asked the young man.

"No, why don't you tell me," I said.

"It is because you leave the seat nice and warm."

All I could do was nod and smile.

Scholar Claims Dead Sea Scrolls 'Authors' Never Existed

I thought that this article was interesting and that it might not be so far fetched.

Biblical scholars have long argued that the Dead Sea Scrolls were the work of an ascetic and celibate Jewish community known as the Essenes, which flourished in the 1st century A.D. in the scorching desert canyons near the Dead Sea. Now a prominent Israeli scholar, Rachel Elior, disputes that the Essenes ever existed at all — a claim that has shaken the bedrock of biblical scholarship.

Elior, who teaches Jewish mysticism at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, claims that the Essenes were a fabrication by the 1st century A.D. Jewish-Roman historian Flavius Josephus and that his faulty reporting was passed on as fact throughout the centuries. As Elior explains, the Essenes make no mention of themselves in the 900 scrolls found by a Bedouin shepherd in 1947 in the caves of Qumran, near the Dead Sea. "Sixty years of research have been wasted trying to find the Essenes in the scrolls," Elior tells TIME. "But they didn't exist. This is legend on a legend."

Elior contends that Josephus, a former Jewish priest who wrote his history while being held captive in Rome, "wanted to explain to the Romans that the Jews weren't all losers and traitors, that there were many exceptional Jews of religious devotion and heroism. You might say it was the first rebuttal to anti-Semitic literature." She adds, "He was probably inspired by the Spartans. For the Romans, the Spartans were the highest ideal of human behavior, and Josephus wanted to portray Jews who were like the Spartans in their ideals and high virtue."

Click here and read the whole thing.

Notes on Boycotting Israel

My traffic received a nice bump when Yahoo! picked up my post Want to Boycott Israel. It also generated a ton of comments, most of which were not approved because of their racist and hateful overtones.

If you are unclear about the comment policy here I invite you to go read this post.

Ok, for the purpose of educating the troglodytes who won't click on the link the basic policy says that hate speech isn't allowed here. You want to spew antisemitic venom go hang out on one of those neo-nazi websites, they love that stuff there.

Want to carp about how it is possible to be anti-Israel without being antisemitic prove it by not including comments about Jews in your post. Also I encourage some of you to remember that comment moderation cannot be overcome by trying to post the same comment three times.

That is directed primarily at the guy who accused me of trying to use "Jew propaganda" to promote my agenda. Watch out I have used my diabolical skills as an Evil Zionist Mastermind to infect the hamsters that power your computer. Even now the rodent army is massing in your CPU. Soon they will burst out and take control over your entire trailer.

I also encourage you to bring more than talking points to the dialogue. Want to make a point try to support your allegations with some facts. Don't rattle on about how big bad Israel breaks laws and is mean. Provide some fact. Support it and be ready to discuss why other countries aren't held to similar standards.

Want to talk about the impact a lobby has on government? Ok, let's talk about it. I'd love to discuss the influence of the oil lobby and how they have worked hard to help prevent serious
study and discussion of alternative energy sources.

All I know is that as I read through the comments I kept hearing that old United Negro College Fund slogan "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste" going through my head. Not to mention its partner, "R.I.F., reading is fundamental."

Some of your comments were made because you are dumber than a rock. Scratch that, I don't want to insult the rock. But some of you might actually have something interesting to offer if you actually took a moment to do some research and educate yourself.

That is enough on this topic. Got to run for a bit, back later.

If I Were a Billionaire

If I Were a Billionaire I might choose to live in a house like one of these.

Want to Boycott Israel



Hat Tip: Lady Light

Haveil Havalim #208

Haveil Havalim #208 is now live. Go check it out here.

Madoff worth more than $820 million

I am simply disgusted by this man. The damage he has done is immeasurable.

Paralyzed Man Walks Again

This story was really interesting. I wonder why I haven't seen more about it.

"He has been confined to a wheelchair for 20 years. Now a paraplegic man is walking again, and his doctors call it a miracle. CBS13 went to Manteca to find out how a spider bite helped get him back on his feet.

"I closed my eyes and then I was spinning like a flying saucer," explains David Blancarte.
A motorcycle accident almost killed David 21 years ago. At the time he might have wished he was dead.

"I asked my doctor, 'Sir what happened? I can't feel my legs'," said David.

Ever since, David's been relying on his wheelchair to get around. Then the spider bite. A Brown Recluse sent him to the hospital, then to rehab for eight months.

"I'm here for a spider bite. I didn't know I would end up walking," says David.

A nurse noticed David's leg spasm and ran a test on him.

"When they zapped my legs, I felt the current, I was like 'whoa' and I yelled," he says.

He felt the current and the rush of a renewed sense of hope.

"She says,'your nerves are alive. They're just asleep'," explained David.

Five days later David was walking."

Robin Hood- Good Guy or Ordinary Thief

I thought that this was kind of interesting:

"LONDON – A British academic says he's found proof that Britain's legendary outlaw Robin Hood wasn't as popular with the poor as folklore suggests.

Julian Luxford says a newly found note in the margins of an ancient history book contains rare criticism of the supposedly benevolent bandit.

According to legend, Hood roamed 13th-century Britain from a base in central England's Sherwood Forest, plundering from the rich to give to the poor.

But Luxford, an art history lecturer at the University of St. Andrews, in Fife, Scotland, says a 23-word inscription in a history book, written in Latin by a medieval monk around 1460, casts the outlaw as a persistent thief.

"Around this time, according to popular opinion, a certain outlaw named Robin Hood, with his accomplices, infested Sherwood and other law-abiding areas of England with continuous robberies," the note read when translated into English, Luxford said.

Luxford said he found the entry while searching through the library of England's prestigious Eton College, which was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI.

"The new find contains a uniquely negative assessment of the outlaw, and provides rare evidence for monastic attitudes towards him," Luxford said in a statement about his find issued on Friday.

He said the note about Hood — uncovered in the margin of the "Polychronicon," a history book which dates from the late 1340s — may be the earliest written reference to the outlaw."

Do The Right Thing

Most of us grow up in environments in which we are told to do the right thing. It is something that I remember hearing quite frequently. It stood alongside all sorts of phrases such as "you can't screw an old head on young shoulders" and "leave the table."

If you ask my middle sister she'll tell you that I spent more dinners in my room than I did with the family. That is not how I remember it, but little sisters love to try and stick it to their older siblings.

Anyway the beauty of being an adult is that you find out that life can be very complicated and that doing the right thing is not always readily apparent. Sure, there are plenty of situations in which you can argue that there are only two choices, right and wrong. But the reality is that much of your everyday life falls into categories in which doing the right thing is better classified as taking an educated guess.

I suppose that I should mention that the genesis of this post stems from a conversation I had with a friend who is in the early stages of getting divorced. We have spent a lot of time talking about how it all happened. Went through the whole falling in love "I can't spend enough time with you" to I don't love you anymore "what was I thinking" bits.

Midway through he looked at me and asked me what I thought about all of it. He wanted to know if I had seen any signs that he was doing the wrong thing. I told him that I hadn't seen anything that made me wonder about her. However I refrained from telling him that the boys and I agree that after they got married she changed. No point in adding that.

Anyway as we went back and forth about it all I told him that I don't advise beating yourself up over the past.  It is really easy to look back and see the mistakes we made and hard to look forward and anticipate all of those that we will make.

When I look at my own life I see lots of crossroads and I'll readily admit that I am not always good about taking my own advice. I won't say that I cringe over all of my decisions, but there are a few that I really wonder about. Every now and then I ask myself what would have happened if I had taken that other turn. What if I had refused to do XYZ or had decided to move out of state.

Would my life be different? Yes, it certainly would be. But would it be better? Well that is a much harder answer to give.

And now that I find myself looking at another big birthday I do wonder about some things. I do ask myself if I should make some big moves now to shake things up a bit. I believe in second chances. I believe that it is never really too late to start over.

I believe those things because I have to. I can't accept a life that doesn't offer that. When I look at what is happening in the world and the impact of the economy on my life I wonder if now isn't the perfect time to take a leap into the great unknown. It is really hard to say what will happen. One decision has so much influence on so many other things.

But it could make life so much better. It could be the difference between being satisfied and fulfilled or just kind of getting through the day. Or maybe not.

The point is that it is not all that clear cut. But whatever happens I'll try hard to do the right thing.

Police Using Twitter

We are going to continue to see more examples of government using various forms of social media to communicate with the public.

(CNN) -- When a report of a possible explosive device on the roof of a city parking garage came in to the Lakeland, Florida, Police Department, public safety officials there sprang into action.They sent out a squad to investigate and they posted a notice on Twitter.

Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are mostly used by those who want to keep their friends and families informed about their lives and activities.

But increasingly, police and fire departments across the country are tapping into social networking to disseminate information to the public.

"We think the police department has an obligation to get information out to the community through whatever means or mechanisms we have at our disposal," said Lakeland Police

Assistant Chief Bill LePere. "Traditional media releases, expecting the local print media to pick it up and run it in the newspaper tomorrow, is 24 hours too late."

With Twitter and Facebook, there is immediacy. Information can be shared as quickly as the poster can hit send.Public safety officials are finding the use of sites to be not only speedy, but also a convenient way to distribute press releases, Amber alerts, road closings and suspect descriptions.

Bruce Frazier, public relations specialist for the Dalton Police Department in Dalton, Georgia, said the way in which Lakeland police utilized Twitter is exactly what he envisioned when his department started using the site a few weeks ago.

His department has a blog and Frazier said he learned the value of being able to keep the public updated quickly in October after a bombing at an area law firm.

A Few Links About Charles Freeman

A few links about Charles Freeman and some excerpts:

Blame the 'Lobby'- Washington Post

FORMER ambassador Charles W. Freeman Jr. looked like a poor choice to chair the Obama administration's National Intelligence Council. A former envoy to Saudi Arabia and China, he suffered from an extreme case of clientitis on both accounts. In addition to chiding Beijing for not crushing the Tiananmen Square democracy protests sooner and offering sycophantic paeans to Saudi King "Abdullah the Great," Mr. Freeman headed a Saudi-funded Middle East advocacy group in Washington and served on the advisory board of a state-owned Chinese oil company. It was only reasonable to ask -- as numerous members of Congress had begun to do -- whether such an actor was the right person to oversee the preparation of National Intelligence Estimates."

Deconstructing Stephen Walt Yourish

Stephen Walt, co-author of the odious Israel Lobby, the man that sees Jewish conspiracies under every stone, does not disappoint with his reaction to the Chas Freeman flameout. But by doing so, he has tipped his hand as an expert in smearing widely while using almost no factual information to back up his contentions.

Two freeman myths busted Soccer Dad

While the editors of the Post seem now to have been bothered by the appointment, they found Freeman's statement on his withdrawal confirmation of his unfitness. This is an important point. That statement was vicious and as Jake Tapper noted, it was in response to a pretty standard debate over a candidates fitness. Is there any Freeman supporter who read that statement and said, "Gee, this guy really is extreme?" If there were any, I haven't read them yet. This gives further credence to the thought that Freeman's supporters were driven more by his anti-Israel stands than for his "contrarian" views.

The Jews Control The World Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations

Predictably, this is sending his fans ballistic (go look at Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan for starters). Their thesis is that the case proves (once again, I might add) that public discussion of Israel is censored in the United States, with large swathes of discourse being forbidden by the awesomely powerful Israelis and their stooges.

There is of course nothing new to this claim; it's been around for centuries (well, the power of the Jews. The United States as a target, that's newer). I admit to being puzzled by their line of reasoning, because for the life of me I can't imagine what might be verboten (Greenwald's word) to say? That Israel's policies are all wrong? That Israel commits war crimes and worse? That Israel is forcing the Palestinians into slavery? That Israel's behaviour is the source of the Islamic ire at America? That Israel muzzles free discussion and thought? That Israel shouldn't exist?

All of these ideas are broadcast widely and continuously not only in Arab World, nor in the Guardian, but also in the American public arena. If Israel were so good at blocking discussion, how come it's so bad at it?

Eat Chocolate & Live to 100

Ok, this diet won't work for everyone but I know a few people who just might try it.

For as long as she can remember, Peggy Griffiths has had a sweet tooth.

And after eating 30 bars of chocolate a week for the last decade, it is a miracle the 100-year-old has any teeth left.

Click here for the full story.

Keyword Search- How You Got Here

As is our wont here is a partial list of keywords that you used to find your way here:

one day we will get married.
Johnny loves June
"behind the scenes of virtual jihad"
the heart wants what it wants quote
jews in space
man eater animal
meaning of diggity
how to come up with a blogger name
circumcise me
who says i love you first
how many veins does the butt have
Duggar family
How can I be an Octomom
Gaza war
how to become a blogger
do children do better in a loveless marriage or divorce
Live like you were dying lyrics meaning about dad
wkrp in cincinnati venus flytrap teaching about the atom
Dr. Seuss
what is expected of a good dad
What Makes a Community
james joyce the sordid details of his armies stuck under his very nostrils
pick up lines for girls to use on guys
world's greatest lover
how can i have two facebook accounts

YouTube & Copyright Issues

I just love going through old posts in which I featured a YouTube video only to discover it has been removed for copyright violations.

Look I get it, I understand the hows and whys of the whole thing, but it still bugs me. Don't they understand that I have a blog to run. Everytime they pull a video they throw a monkeywrench into the whole thing.

And believe me, I have far too many monkeys to deal with. Bad enough that I have to contend with all those wacky clevelanders, this just complicates my life. Oy.

He Went Over Niagra Falls

Used to hear stories about people going over in a barrel, but this sounds more like a suicide attempt.

(CNN) -- A man went over Niagara Falls and survived Wednesday afternoon, one of the few people to ever survive the plunge unprotected, authorities said.

The man was seen entering the icy water just above Horseshoe Falls, on the Canadian side, and apparently jumped in about 2:15 p.m, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Fire Chief Lee Smith said.

Smith said the unidentified man was in the near-freezing water for "40-plus" minutes before he was rescued by Niagara Parks Police and Niagara Falls firefighter Todd Brunning.

Brunning, who was tethered to shore, swam about 60 meters (nearly 200 feet) into the river and was able to get hold of the man and bring him to shore.

How Often Do You Clean up Your Blogroll?

I have a question that I'll pose for whomever wishes to answer. How often do you purge your blogroll and what criteria do you use?

The Watcher's Council

In my post about defining a successful blog Batya mentioned that acknowledgement by other bloggers is among the criteria that can be used to determine success. I agree with that and would like to note that one of my posts was submitted to The Watcher's Council.
About Watcher of Weasels
Each week, the members of the Watcher's Council nominate one of their own posts and a second from outside the Council for consideration by other council members in a contest for the week's best post.
I meant to mention that my post Israel on College Campuses was submitted to the Watcher's Council. I missed winning first place by the small margin of 2.75 points, but losing to Michael Totten isn't such a bad thing now is it.

Spelling Errors

I made another spelling error on one of my Twitter Tweets. It irks me. It chafes my hide because there is no way to correct it. That mistake just sits there and mocks me.

At least blogging offers a way to edit your posts so that you can correct your mistakes. Unless I am mistaken Twitter does not. So the moral of the story is to tweet carefully.

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...