Hello, My name is Inigo Montoya

A simple gauge for determining friendship involves reciting Hello, My name is Inigo Montoya and then waiting for the other person to finish the line.

Every once in a while I run into someone who hasn't seen the movie, but not too often.


'Men Live Better Where Women Are In Charge'

Before some of you run off and try to kick me out of the clubhouse take a look at this:
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What is life like for a man in a matriarchy?
Coler: Men live better where women are in charge: you are responsible for almost nothing, you work much less and you spend the whole day with your friends. You're with a different woman every night. And on top of that, you can always live at your mother's house. The woman serves the man and it happens in a society where she leads the way and has control of the money. In a patriarchy, we men work more -- and every now and then we do the dishes. In the Mosuo's pure form of matriarchy, you aren't allowed to do that. Where a woman's dominant position is secure, those kinds of archaic gender roles don't have any meaning."

Read the whole thing.

Would You Prefer More Readers or More Comments?

Here is a simple question for you. Would you prefer to have more readers or more comments on your blog? Or does it matter to you.

After five years of blogging I think that I have established that I am going to blog regardless of whether people read or comment. Still, I won't lie and say that I wouldn't prefer more of both. It is nice to know that people are paying attention to what is going on.

At the same time I always remind myself to be careful what you ask for because you just might get it. Sometimes the dream is a bit different from the reality.

This Was Funny



Hat Tip Meryl

Haveil Havalim #219

The grouchy old bear is hosting Haveil Havalim #219 right here.

Obama's Peace Process

Many people are engaged in all sorts of speculation about the president’s real feelings regarding Israel. The prognosticators are out in force and I have read numerous articles and opinion pieces that lay out exactly what he is trying to do and why.

Since I haven’t been granted clairvoyance or any other sort of supernatural powers I won’t try to tell you what the president’s feelings are. Truth is that I hope that he doesn’t try to negotiate terms based upon feelings, but upon facts.

And the fact is that the peace process is a thorny and complex issue that cannot be solved by making proclamations that are supposed to make both sides feel good. As just another pundit I am just as qualified as the next guy to say that part of the problem is the attempt to try and view this situation in Western terms.

This isn't the playground. It is not a school yard brawl or a situation where you can slap a kid on the wrist and tell them to be nice. It is not a place where treating others as you wish to be treated means that it will happen. It is a rough and tumble environment where weakness is seen an invitation to be exploited.

And now the president has provided an opening for such behavior. As I said before, I am not going to suggest that he hates Israel, Jews etc. In some ways it doesn't matter. He can be doing this out of sheer altruism and a belief that he is helping the world. The end result is still problematic.

One of the biggest obstacles to conducting peace talks is the lack of a unified Palestinian government. Abbas does not speak for Hamas. Hamas does not recognize Israel. That is a pretty big stumbling block.

But there is more. The Washington Post reports that Abbas passed on a very serious and quite generous offer from former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Here is what was offered
  • 97% of the West Bank
  • Right of Return for Palestinian refugees
  • East Jerusalem
Why did he turn it down? Because he felt that the gaps were too wide. In an interview on Al Jazeera Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat lays out why. It comes down to a refusal to provide acknowledgement of a Jewish connection to the Temple Mount.

And that refusal to recognize the Jewish connection, to accept that it is legitimate is a central reason why the peace process will ultimately fail. If Obama really wants to affect change then he needs to try and find a way to bridge that gap.

I don't know about you, but I am not real optimistic.

(Hat tip: Jewlicious)

The Merits of Online Arguments

If you spend enough time blogging it is guaranteed that you will witness disagreements between bloggers and or commenters. And as you already know or soon will see arguments within the online world can become far nastier than they do in person and in much less time.

Some of that is due to misunderstandings that are innocent in nature. In cyberspace there are no verbal clues or facial expressions that you can use to help interpret what is being said. Humor and sarcasm can easily be seen as being something else.

And of course there is the ever present issue of people taking advantage of anonymity to say things that they might not otherwise say to you, especially in person.

If you are a blogger you will want to decide what sort of comment section you are going to have. It is up to you to set the tone and create an environment. So it is your choice as to whether you let the comment section turn into a giant free for all or if you try to maintain a sense of decorum.

This leads to one of the ongoing debates within the blogosphere which is whether there is merit to engaging in arguments with others. Many people think that it serves no purpose. They'll tell you that you never change anyones mind and that the end result is that you end up irritated and angry.

I have to admit that I rather enjoy these little sparring sessions, but in general I try to avoid them with a few exceptions. The primary exception occurs when gross misinformation is being passed off as truth in which case I have no problem wading into the fray.

As a rule of thumb I don't expect to convince those screaming loudest within the comment sections. Rather I am interested in influencing the lurkers. It is the readers who say nothing but follow along that I am trying to reach. Primarily because I suspect that they will be more likely to have adopted a position of neutrality.

It might be wrong, who knows. But to me it seems logical and it offers the biggest bang for the buck.

Airplane Tickets- $9 Seats

I think that we have seen this story before. Here is a brief excerpt for your review.
"NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- A new low-cost airline will begin serving mid-sized U.S. cities that it thinks larger carriers have left behind.

Clearwater, Fla.-based JetAmerica said 34 nonstop passenger flights a week will start July 13 at Toledo, Ohio; South Bend, Ind.; Melbourne, Fla.; Newark, N.J.; Minneapolis and Lansing, Mich. Twenty-eight flights start or end at Newark Liberty International Airport. The carrier will add six more flights -- from Toledo to Minneapolis -- starting Aug. 14.

JetAmerica is targeting small and midsize cities like Lansing, which has seen the number of daily flights at its Capital Region International Airport fall from 35 to 12 the past five years. The decline is part of a national trend that has seen airfares increase at those airports as daily flights have decreased.

Robert Selig, head of the Capital Region Airport Authority, said JetAmerica will give Lansing business travelers direct access to New York City and carry leisure travelers to central Florida.

"We don't have access to either one right now," Selig said. "So, this is going to fill a major void in our schedule."

Filling that void won't be cheap.

The Lansing, South Bend, Melbourne and Toledo airports are subsidizing JetAmerica with $1.4 million in grants in its first year, along with about $867,000 in waived airport fees and $1.1 million in marketing and advertising assistance.

South Bend, Toledo and Melbourne received their grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Small Community Air Service Development Program, which has awarded $104 million to 223 recipients since 2002 in an effort to restore lost service and bring air fares down.

Newark and Minneapolis, each of which serve more than 20 million passengers a year, are not offering assistance to JetAmerica.

John Weikle, chief executive of JetAmerica, said the subsidies will help insulate the new carrier from spikes in jet fuel prices. Higher fuel prices have contributed to the failures of at least four major airlines since 9/11. Smaller carriers have also been hurt.

Surging fuel prices helped bankrupt ultra-discounter Skybus Inc. last year. Weikle founded that Columbus, Ohio-based airline known for its $10 fares. The bankruptcy cost 450 employees their jobs. "
Try, try and try again. Sounds like the CEO did ok, wonder how if his former employees at Skybus fared as well.

Twitter's Impact on Blogging

About a month ago I ran Tweeting About Twitter- One Blogger Speaks and shared some thoughts about Tweeting and asked for feedback about its impact upon blogging.

In the time since then I have conducted an imperfect, impartial and completely unscientific study in which it has been determined that Twitter has had a severe impact upon blogging and here is how.

Prior to Twitter many bloggers would have spent time writing posts about topics and issues that are important or of interest to them. However, the ease of being able to communicate with 140 characters has led many of them to abandon those posts. Instead of 500 words about why they like eating chocolate we are left with just a line or two.

In some cases this is a boon to the reader because it falls into the category of less is more. But in other cases it really isn't such a good thing as they are taking the fast and easy way out of producing a larger and more comprehensive post.

The owners of the Shack are going to continue to use Twitter and will continue to blog. But we are going to make an effort to try to continue to bring you the same 1,000 word posts you have come to rely upon. With any luck LeBron and Kobe will meet in the finals and you'll see a resumption of the cleveland bashing you have come to know and love.

Goodbye Ashton Kutcher

Forgive me, but I just don't feel badly about this. I am not saying that stalking isn't serious, but are you trying to tell me that you haven't already taken preventative measures.

Are you telling me, "Mr. Celebrity" that you are suddenly worried about this. Are you telling me that after you put yourself out there and sought fame that you are upset. Sorry, I just don't feel badly. Don't want you to get hurt, but try living in the real world with the rest of us.
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Ashton Kutcher -- Twitter's top tweeter -- warned he may pull the plug on his tweeting if the micro-blogging service partners on a reality TV show.

"It's all fun and games until somebody gets stalked," Kutcher wrote in a Twitter posting late Monday.

Variety magazine reported Monday that San Francisco-based Twitter.com had partnered with TV producers Reveille and Brillstein Entertainment on an unscripted show that would be "putting ordinary people on the trail of celebrities in a revolutionary competitive format."

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said there was "no official Twitter TV show" in the works, but "we have a lightweight, non-exclusive, agreement with the producers which helps them move forward more freely."

Kutcher used Twitter to post a link to a news report about the partnership along with this message: "Wow I hope this isn't true. I really don't like being sold out. May have to take a twitter hiatus."

The actor, who boasts a record 2 million Twitter followers, frequently posts updates that take fans behind the scenes of his life and his current movie production -- "Five Killers."

Two More Music Videos

Tuesday Night Tunes

Got a few posts that I may or may not get to this evening. In the interim here is my usual report on the music of the evening.

"Life Is Beautiful"- Sixx:A.M. Been playing this a lot lately.
Knockin' on Heaven's Door- Bob Dylan
Subterranean Homesick Blues-Bob Dylan
Always on My Mind- Willie Nelson
How Do You Like Me Now- Toby Keith
I Love This Bar- Toby Keith
I Want To Break Free- Queen
Love Without End, Amen- George Strait
Visions of paradise- Mick Jagger
Wave on Wave- Pat Green

Post Preview- Why Are You Jewish

Earlier this week I sent out an email to a list of bloggers of mixed backgrounds asking them to participate in an upcoming post. Enclosed in the email was one question, Why Are You Jewish?

Quite a number of them have responded and I am in the process of trying to construct a proper framework for this so that I can produce a post that will do justice to the topic and stories.

It may sound like an easy question but I think that there is far more to it than many people realize. One of the reasons I asked was my curiosity in learning if most people are Jewish simply because of birth or because of a conscious decision.

Obviously the gerim (converts) fall into a slightly different category. But even so I am still curious to learn how many chose to become Jewish because they wanted to and how many did it so that they could marry their spouse.

In any case I am going to try and get it done for publication later this week, but there is still a chance that it may end up having to wait a bit longer. Keep checking in here and I'll keep you posted.

Don't Stop Believin'-Journey

I have noticed a bunch of people have been promoting a show on Fox called Glee by providing the video of the kids performing Don't Stop Believin.'

Do you like it better or do you prefer Journey?

What The Doctor Said

Every so often I read about the legendary physical exploits of the Tarahumara Indians. They are an indigenous people in Mexico who are known for being able to run long distances. One of the stories that is told about them involves the Olympics.

Two of the tribesmen were entered into the Olympic marathon and were thought to be among the favorites to win the race. As it worked out they were among the last to finish the event. However it wasn't because they were tired or out of shape, but because no one had told them how long the race was. They had assumed it was going to be much longer and complained that the race was too short.

To me that is impressive. When you look at 26 miles and consider it to be a warm up you know that you are in excellent shape.

I have been thinking about running. When I turned 37 I went for a physical and was told by the doctor that my knees are arthritic and that I shouldn't do exercises that provide undue stress on them. According to him ignoring that advice would lead to a knee replacement somewhere around the time I turn 50.

He also told me that overall my health was good, but that I needed to lose some weight. According to him that would provide some immediate benefits as well as long term. Good preventative maintenance.

I ignored his advice about playing basketball and running. I love to play ball. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is one of the simple pleasures in life. I never get tired of playing and when I don't I get cranky.

Add to the mix that when I play regularly it increases my ability to lose weight and you can see why I didn't like what he had to say. Oh, and did I mention that my knees don't hurt. I don't feel any sort of regular pain in them. Occasionally it happens, but that is usually tied into walking six or seven flights of stairs.

Anyway, I can accept that aging forces some changes upon us. I know that physically there are some things that are harder to do, but that doesn't mean that I am incapacitated nor does it mean that the doc's opinion is completely accurate.

Part of what made me think about all of this stems from a race I had with my son and some friends of his.

I won.

Sad, isn't it that a 40 year-old man is gloating about beating a bunch of kids in a sprint. But I needed that. I needed to push myself. I needed to hear the wind rushing in my ears. It has been a while since I made the body move like that. It felt good.

We raced a few more times and I won again and again. Tried to convince some of the other fathers to join in but they didn't.

I need to find someone who will. I need to find someone faster than I am. Not so fast that it is impossible to beat them, but fast enough that I know that I have to try.

Those Indians run and run and run their entire lives. They prove that some of our thoughts/beliefs about when our bodies begin to fail are not entirely accurate. They prove that there are things that can be done to stave off time.

And that is what I am doing. I don't care about the wrinkles or lines that are gradually appearing. Don't care too much about the hair and its migration. Just give me the ability to keep playing, to keep moving and I'll do the rest.

It is not too much to ask for.

Komodo dragon attacks terrorize Indonesia villages

Spend any time around the Shack and you'll see that we love these animal stories. This is the kind of lizard whose tale is worth telling.

The attacks on humans appear to be increasing in frequency. If you read the whole story you'll see that an eight-year-old boy was mauled to death while trying to relieve himself. Talk about inopportune times to be attacked, sheesh.

Believe me, I am not being facetious about this, one of my fears is being eaten alive.

KOMODO ISLAND, Indonesia – Komodo dragons have shark-like teeth and poisonous venom that can kill a person within hours of a bite. Yet villagers who have lived for generations alongside the world's largest lizard were not afraid — until the dragons started to attack.

The stories spread quickly across this smattering of tropical islands in southeastern Indonesia, the only place the endangered reptiles can still be found in the wild: Two people were killed since 2007 — a young boy and a fisherman — and others were badly wounded after being charged unprovoked.

Komodo dragon attacks are still rare, experts note. But fear is swirling through the fishing villages, along with questions on how best to live with the dragons in the future.

Main, a 46-year-old park ranger, who like many Indonesians goes by a single name, was doing paperwork when a dragon slithered up the stairs of his wooden hut in Komodo National Park and went for his ankles dangling beneath the desk. When the ranger tried to pry open the beast's powerful jaws, it locked its teeth into his hand.

"I thought I wouldn't survive... I've spent half my life working with Komodos and have never seen anything like it," said Main, pointing to his jagged gashes, sewn up with 55 stitches and still swollen three months later. "Luckily, my friends heard my screams and got me to hospital in time."

Komodos, which are popular at zoos in the United States to Europe, grow to be 10 feet (3 meters) long and 150 pounds (70 kilograms). All of the estimated 2,500 left in the wild can be found within the 700-square-mile (1,810-square-kilometer) Komodo National Park, mostly on its two largest islands, Komodo and Rinca. The lizards on neighboring Padar were wiped out in the 1980s when hunters killed their main prey, deer.

Though poaching is illegal, the sheer size of the park — and a shortage of rangers — makes it almost impossible to patrol, said Heru Rudiharto, a biologist and reptile expert. Villagers say the dragons are hungry and more aggressive toward humans because their food is being poached, though park officials are quick to disagree.

The giant lizards have always been dangerous, said Rudiharto. However tame they may appear, lounging beneath trees and gazing at the sea from white-sand beaches, they are fast, strong and deadly.

The animals are believed to have descended from a larger lizard on Indonesia's main island Java or Australia around 30,000 years ago. They can reach speeds of up to 18 miles (nearly 30 kilometers) per hour, their legs winding around their low, square shoulders like egg beaters.

When they catch their prey, they carry out a frenzied biting spree that releases venom, according to a new study this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors, who used surgically excised glands from a terminally ill dragon at the Singapore Zoo, dismissed the theory that prey die from blood poisoning caused by toxic bacteria in the lizard's mouth.

The long, jagged teeth are the lizard's primary weapons, said Bryan Fry of the University of Melbourne.

"They deliver these deep, deep wounds," he said. "But the venom keeps it bleeding and further lowers the blood pressure, thus bringing the animal closer to unconsciousness."

Four people have been killed in the last 35 years (2009, 2007, 2000 and 1974) and at least eight injured in just over a decade. But park officials say these numbers aren't overly alarming given the steady stream of tourists and the 4,000 people who live in their midst.

The Perfect Resume

During college a late night telephone call had a very different affect upon me than it does now. If it was a female caller it was usually an invitation to come study anatomy and if it was male it meant that I was invited to a party. The caveat being that I was being asked to be their taxi service.

Either way it wasn't a big deal. But these days it is a bit different. Now when the phone rings past a certain hour I begin to wonder if something happened to someone. Was there an accident, did someone die etc.

Needless to say that when the phone rang late Saturday night I was more than a little concerned. Fortunately it wasn't anything too serious, a friend was struggling to rewrite their resume and wanted to know if I could provide some assistance.

Naturally I said no and explained that I don't deal with crazy people anymore, be they transplanted Midwesterners or otherwise. In spite of my best efforts they convinced me to lend them some help which is why I found myself engaged in a marathon called creating the perfect resume.

I am a skeptic about resumes. I think that far too often they are massaged and manipulated into something that doesn't resemble the real experience and background of their owner. I have a simple formula that I use for constructing a resume. It is called tell the truth but be creative and descriptive while doing so.

See, nothing too profound there, but to my way of thinking it is a bit more honest. In truth the job search process for the candidate and the hiring company can be quite grueling.

From the candidate's perspective it can be quite challenging to find a way to stand out from the other applicants. You don't want to miss out on the opportunity to get an interview because without that you stand almost no chance of being hired.

Yet if you spend too much time dressing your resume up it can bite you in the butt later on. And that brings me back to trying to describe the perfect resume. If you ask me it doesn't exist, at least not in a singular, uniform document. You can't be all things to all people.

That's not to say that you can't work on customizing a resume for a particular position and company, because you can. But you still get stuck fighting a few battles, not the least of which is that you cannot rely upon people to be logical/rational in all of their decisions.

If there is one thing that I have learned from being part of the working world it is that not everyone succeeds because they are good or the best at what they do. Far too often it is better to be lucky than good, but that it is a different story altogether.

"Haveil Charles Havelim, Please Report to the Front Desk"

The best of the Jewish/Israeli blogosphere's weekly blog carnival is live at What War Zone.

Untapped Sources of Energy

You might think that this story is full of crap, but I think that it has some merit.
More than half of the 15 trillion gallons of sewage Americans flush annually is processed into sludge that gets spread on farmland, lawns, and home vegetable gardens. In theory, recycling poop is the perfect solution to the one truly unavoidable byproduct of human civilization. But sludge-based as fertilizer can contain anything that goes down the drain—from Prozac flushed down toilets to motor oil hosed from factory floors. That's why an increasing number of cities have begun to explore an alternative way to dispose of sludge: advanced poop-to-power plants.

By one estimate, a single American's daily sludge output can generate enough electricity to light a 60-watt bulb for more than nine hours. Here are the six most innovative ways that human waste is being converted to watts:
Read the whole story and learn about:

Poop-Eating Bacteria
Turd Cell Smashers
Geological Toilets
Feces Ponds
Gassifiers
Poop Pyrotechnics

Who knows, maybe one day you'll fill up your car at the outhouse. ;)

I Can't Stop Laughing

I could listen to this a million times and never stop laughing.

Facing My Fear

In the early days of the blog when it was new and fresh I had complete anonymity. It provided a cloak that I could hide behind so that I could give voice to the things that troubled me. I spent a lot of time looking in the dark corners of my mind so that I could ferret out the demons and give names to the things that troubled me.

Anonymity provided the freedom to lay out those fears and to bare my soul in a way that I had been unwilling to do. But it was a crutch that helped to mask another fear, the fear of exposure. The fear that presenting myself as a thinking and feeling human with a real name would somehow harm me.

There is merit in that fear because there are those out there who prey upon our weaknesses and try to use them to wound us. Time has taught me the bitter lesson of the truth of those words. I bear the scars of the attempts that have been made to hurt me.

At times I look in the mirror and I see the impact of the past staring back at me. Moments that once haunted me occasionally are dislodged by the present and dredged to the surface. Cloaked in bravado I have roared in anger and shame and fought to stuff them back down. Bitter tears of anger and frustration spent on people and things that didn't deserve the attention, didn't merit that power.

The advantage of age and life experience has helped to make it easier to face them. And in many cases they have lost all power, any hold that they once had is gone. That has made it all easier and has served as a positive reminder that the practices I espouse and the values that I hold dear are worthwhile and effective.

But still there are those demons that never go away. Their voices are never completely silenced. Sometimes the whispers increase in volume and the silence of my life is pierced by murmurs that grow into loud shrieks and I am forced to confront it all.

And so I find myself immersed in a struggle, really many struggles. The battles never quite end because the war is never won. If you choose to stand you have to face the reality that some will always try to pull you back down into the mud.

The blog helps. It is of tremendous value. It provides a framework and a structure that I can use to build the foundation of support. It is the tool that I use to dig myself out from under the muck, to clear the wreckage. And from within that I find the things that I need.

Still, the title of this post is called Facing My Fear and I am just now getting to the place in which I am prepared to do that. It has taken time for me to be ready to confront a few things. And so the grand dance is beginning.

If you think in graphic images as I do then perhaps you understand a bit about why I choose to describe things as I do. Perhaps you understand why I write about riding off into battle, talk about the blood lust and the primal scream. I seek that which I fear because I fear anticipation of what could happen more.

Better to hear the clink and clanking of battle than to sit and wait for it. Dance so that you avoid the fire or take the risk of the house burning down around you.

Game on.

Gone away

Some days this makes more sense than it should.
Maybe in another life
I could find you there
Pulled away before your time
I can't deal it's so unfair

And it feels
And it feels like
Heaven's so far away
And it feels
Yeah it feels like
The world has grown cold
Now that you've gone away

Leaving flowers on your grave
Show that I still care
But black roses and Hail Mary's
Can't bring back what's taken from me

I reach to the sky
And call out your name
And if I could trade
I would

And it feels
And it feels like
Heaven's so far away
And it stings
Yeah it stings now
The world is so cold
Now that you've gone away
Gone away, gone away, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

Oooooo, yeah oooooo, oooooo, Ohh yeah.

I'll Save Your Soul
Whoa. Yeaaaaaeeeaaeah. Mm.

I reach to the sky
And call out your name
Oh please let me trade
I would

And it feels
And it feels like
Heaven's so far away
And it feels
Yeah it feels like
The world has grown cold
Now that you've gone away
Gone away, gone away, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah

Oooooo, yeah oooooo, oooooo, Ohh yeah.
Oooooo, yeah oooooo, oooooo, Ohh yeah.

Gone away- The Offspring

Alysa Stanton Becomes First Female Black Rabbi

From ABC:
"Growing up in a black, Pentecostal family in Cleveland, Alysa Stanton never imagined the day when she would be preparing to be ordained as a rabbi. But that day will come June 6 for the single mother who will be ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, becoming the first African-American female rabbi in the world.

"Ten years ago, if someone said I was going to be a rabbi, I would have laughed," Stanton, 45, told ABCnews.com. "Me, a spiritual leader?"

Soon-to-be rabbi Stanton and her daughter Shana, 14, whom she adopted when she was 14 months old, will move to Greenville, N.C., in August, where Stanton will take her spot behind the pulpit at Congregation Bayt Shalom, which is both conservative and reform.

Stanton, a reform Jew, said that her mother encouraged her to explore different religions as a young child and that, at the age of 9, she was already asking her priest to teach her about Kaballah, which focuses on the mystical aspect of Judaism.

Then, at age 10, she received her first Hebrew grammar book from her devout Christian uncle who made it a habit to attend Jewish ceremonies, as well as his own. By her early 20s, Stanton said she'd decided to convert.

"Most people convert because they're marrying or dating someone who is Jewish or for another reason other than just picking that spiritual path," Stanton said.

"I did so because it was the path for me," she said. "Not only from a religious standpoint but from an ethical and social and communal standpoint, it was important to me."
Let's see what the J-blogosphere's Gil Student had to say about this, also from the same article.
"But the Orthodox Jewish community, which has historically not permitted women to hold leadership roles in its congregations, is less accepting of Stanton's upcoming ordination because of her sex.

"My general feeling, as a rabbi, is that there is a great deal of room for everyone to have spiritual fulfillment in Judaism but the public role of a rabbi is only for certain people and that excludes women," Orthodox Rabbi Gil Student of New York City told ABCNews.com. "That's based on tradition and enshrined in law."

As for race, Student said that neither he nor the Orthodox Jewish community finds any problem with African-American Jews. "There is no such thing as skin color in Judaism, it doesn't exist," Student said. "

Homegrown Terrorists Plot Thwarted

Nothing like homegrown terrorists to warm the cockles of your heart. Apparently these men had intended to murder Jews and Americans.

How very sad to write a sentence that divides the two groups like that, Jews and Americans. As an American Jew, or Jewish American I take these things very seriously. But I would strongly urge that we all pay close attention to these events.

They should lock these men up and throw away the key. Here is the CNN report:

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Three of the four men arrested for allegedly planning bomb attacks on Jewish targets in New York are expected to appear in federal court Thursday, the U.S. attorney's office said.

The group allegedly plotted to bomb two New York synagogues and wanted to use surface-to-air missiles to fire at U.S. military planes, said a criminal complaint filed this week in White Plains, New York.

"Four individuals were arrested for planting bombs in front of two [Jewish facilities] in the area," said Raymond Kelly, New York City police commissioner.

The charges are based on information from an FBI informant, with whom the men met as they plotted to carry out their attacks, authorities said.

"While the weapons provided to the defendants by the cooperating witness were fake, the defendants thought they were absolutely real," acting U.S. Attorney Lev L. Dassin said in a statement.

Added Kelly: "The bombs had been made by FBI technicians. They were totally inert; no one was ever at risk or in danger of being injured."

Suspects James Cromitie, David Williams and Onta Williams -- all U.S. citizens -- were at the federal courthouse Thursday morning being processed, FBI spokeswoman Monica McLean told CNN.

This comes from ABC:

The investigation of the men began in June 2008, according to court documents, when met with a person who had been an FBI informant for more than six years and allegedly talked about his anger about U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and said he was interested in doing "something to America."

According to the criminal complaint, Cromitie told an FBI informant in June 2008 that his parents lived in Afghanistan before he was born, and because of his ties to that country, he was upset about the war there.

Then in November of last year, Cromitie allegedly discussed targets with the informant, saying, "the best target [the World Trade Center] was hit already." Later in that conversation, the complaint says, Cromitie stated, "I hate those motherf-----s, those f-----g Jewish bastards… I would like to get [destroy] a synagogue."

Illogical ranting like this seems to be a hallmark of many of these people. I won't call them crazy because I don't want this to be dismissed or viewed as being any less serious than it is.

Let's take a look at MSNBC:

The men, described as Black Muslims, had planned to detonate a car with plastic explosives outside a temple in the Bronx neighborhood of Riverdale and to shoot military planes at the New York Air National Guard base at Stewart Airport in Newburgh with Stinger surface-to-air guided missiles, authorities said.

The defendants planned to "destroy a synagogue and a Jewish community center with C-4 plastic explosives," Acting U.S. Attorney Lev L. Dassin said.

The religious targets were the Riverdale Temple, founded in 1947, and the Riverdale Jewish Center, authorities said.

Defendants dealt with informantIn their efforts to acquire weapons, the defendants dealt with an informant acting under law enforcement supervision, authorities said. The FBI and other agencies monitored the men and provided an inactive missile and inert C-4 to the informant for the defendants, a federal complaint said.

The investigation had been under way for about a year.

"They never got anywhere close to being able to do anything," one official told NBC News. "Still, it's good to have guys like this off the street."

In June 2008, the informant met Cromitie in Newburgh and Cromitie complained that his parents had lived in Afghanistan and he was upset about the war there and that many Muslim people were being killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan by U.S. military forces, officials said.

Cromitie also expressed an interest in doing "something to America," they said in the complaint.
In October 2008, the informant began meeting with the defendants at a Newburgh house equipped with concealed video and audio equipment, the complaint said.

Beginning in April 2009, the four men selected the synagogue and the community center they intended to hit, it said. They also conducted surveillance of military planes at the Air National Guard Base, it said."

After you read these stories you cannot help but wonder if profiling is an appropriate measure to take. Preventative action is imperative.

Starry Starry Night- Van Gogh & My Son

My son, the soon to be third grader has been learning about famous artists in school. Throughout the entire school year the big guy has enjoyed teaching us about Pollock, Matisse, Warhol, Lichtenstein and a number of other famous artists.

It has been a surprise and a pleasure to see how much he enjoys talking, reading, watching and learning about art. Part of the fun has been watching the expression on his face when he recognizes that some of the things hanging on the walls here are famous. Not to mention the fun in explaining that these are not the originals hanging on these walls, but wouldn't it be cool if it was.

Anyhoo, last night he came home and told me that there is a YouTube video about a song some guy named McLean wrote about Van Gogh. He was even more pleased when I showed him that we have Vincent on iTunes.

So together we sat down and watched the video below and he told me all that he knew about Van Gogh and asked if I though that it was sad that he only sold one painting while he was alive. A short time later I overheard him singing to himself in the shower,

Starry, Starry Night........

Top Ten Greatest Explosions Ever

Livescience has the list.

IDF Soldiers Take the Old City and Temple Mount



Hat tip: Jameel

The Meaning of American Pie

Ever wonder what the song means? Frankly I haven't spent a ton of time thinking about it, but every now and then it is fun to do.
A long, long time ago...
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And, maybe, they'd be happy for a while.

But february made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn't take one more step.

I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.

So bye-bye, miss american pie.
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin', "this'll be the day that I die.
"this'll be the day that I die."

Did you write the book of love,
And do you have faith in God above,
If the Bible tells you so?
Do you believe in rock 'n roll,
Can music save your mortal soul,
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Well, I know that you're in love with him
`cause I saw you dancin' in the gym.
You both kicked off your shoes.
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues.

I was a lonely teenage broncin' buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck,
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died.

I started singin',
"bye-bye, miss american pie."
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
And singin', "this'll be the day that I die.
"this'll be the day that I die."

Now for ten years we've been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rollin' stone,
But that's not how it used to be.
When the jester sang for the king and queen,
In a coat he borrowed from james dean
And a voice that came from you and me,

Oh, and while the king was looking down,
The jester stole his thorny crown.
The courtroom was adjourned;
No verdict was returned.
And while lennon read a book of marx,
The quartet practiced in the park,
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died.

We were singing,
"bye-bye, miss american pie."
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
And singin', "this'll be the day that I die.
"this'll be the day that I die."

Helter skelter in a summer swelter.
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter,
Eight miles high and falling fast.
It landed foul on the grass.
The players tried for a forward pass,
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast.

Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While the sergeants played a marching tune.
We all got up to dance,
Oh, but we never got the chance!
`cause the players tried to take the field;
The marching band refused to yield.
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?

We started singing,
"bye-bye, miss american pie."
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
And singin', "this'll be the day that I die.
"this'll be the day that I die."

Oh, and there we were all in one place,
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again.
So come on: jack be nimble, jack be quick!
Jack flash sat on a candlestick
Cause fire is the devil's only friend.

Oh, and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage.
No angel born in hell
Could break that satan's spell.
And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite,
I saw satan laughing with delight
The day the music died

He was singing,
"bye-bye, miss american pie."
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
And singin', "this'll be the day that I die.
"this'll be the day that I die."

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news,
But she just smiled and turned away.
I went down to the sacred store
Where I'd heard the music years before,
But the man there said the music wouldn't play.

And in the streets: the children screamed,
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.
But not a word was spoken;
The church bells all were broken.
And the three men I admire most:
The father, son, and the holy ghost,
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died.

And they were singing,
"bye-bye, miss american pie."
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
And them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin', "this'll be the day that I die.
"this'll be the day that I die."

They were singing,
"bye-bye, miss american pie."
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
Singin', "this'll be the day that I die."

Recent Posts

If you haven't been around here is a list of some recent posts.

Misplaced Priorities
Ancient handle with Hebrew text found in Jerusalem...
Midweek Music- Some tunes for the Afternoon
Living Within Your Means
Awesome Photo
Space Shuttle Atlantis
Don't Take The Car You'll Kill Yourself
Doing Things Differently
Reasons To Be Careful In The Bathroom
Soldiers Don't Wear Pink Underwear
Goodbye Sarah Connor
Coffee Bean or Starbucks
Haveil Havalim #217

And your blast from the past:

Middle Age Depression- I Am Not Satisified
Penis Talk Revisited
Top 10 Romantic Movie Moments
Quotes about Love and Life

Misplaced Priorities

Boy am I ever glad that they got these evil prostitutes, they were ever so dangerous.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York authorities indicted seven people accused of running a prostitution ring on the Web site Craigslist, the state's attorney general announced Wednesday.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office said the group ran a 24-hour prostitution ring called Room Service Entertainment from Craigslist's erotic services section from June 2007 to December 2008.

The 47-count indictment unsealed Wednesday named the company's co-owners as Scott Rosenberg, 45, and Josef Davenport, 31.

Five women also were named in the indictment, identified as bookers for the alleged prostitution ring.

The five women named in the indictment were identified as Patricia Krupa, Joanna Mercado, Sylvia Soto, Lina Vazquez and Barbara Morris.

It was not immediately known if those charged had hired legal counsel.

Five of the defendants appeared in court Wednesday afternoon, Cuomo's office said. Authorities are still searching for two, who have not yet been arrested.

It was not immediately clear which two had not been arrested.

Craigslist, an online classified-ad site, was the "sole vehicle through which the company operated," Cuomo's office said.

Ancient handle with Hebrew text found in Jerusalem

Someone is going to try to work hard to prove that this fake. Old man Abbas hates having to admit that Jews have lived in Jerusalem for thousands of years.
JERUSALEM – Archaeologists digging on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives have discovered a nearly 3,000-year-old jar handle bearing ancient Hebrew script, a find significantly older than most inscribed artifacts unearthed in the ancient city, an archaeologist said. The Iron Age handle is inscribed with the Hebrew name Menachem, which was the name of an Israelite king and is still common among Jews.

The inscription also includes a partly intact letter, the Hebrew character "lamed," meaning "to." That suggests the jar was a gift to someone named Menachem, said Ron Beeri, who directed the excavation for the Israel Antiquities Authority. There is no indication the inscription refers to the king himself.

The name and similar variants have been found on Egyptian pottery dating back 3,500 years, and the Bible lists Menachem Ben Gadi as an ancient king of Israel. But this is the first time an artifact bearing the name has been unearthed in Jerusalem, Beeri said.

"It's important because it shows that they actually used the name Menachem during that period," Beeri said. "It's not just from the Bible, but it's also in the archaeological record."
Based on the style of the inscription, he dated the handle to around 900 B.C., the time of the first Jewish Temple in Jerusalem as recounted in the Bible.

Midweek Music- Some tunes for the Afternoon

Led Zeppelin's "Dawn at the Great Pyramid" - London Philharmonic Orchestra
Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" - London Philharmonic Orchestra
Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" - London Philharmonic Orchestra
Kashmir- Ofra Haza (This is a trip for any number of reasons)
Yerushalayim Shel Zahav- Ofra Haza
Kol Aneshama, Elo Hi- Ofra Haza
Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones
I'm Shipping Up To Boston - Dropkick Murphys
oh danny boy The Young Irish Tenors.
The Wrestler- Bruce Springsteen

Living Within Your Means

I just finished reading an article about what the credit card bill is supposed to do and was disappointed a number of the comments. A number of posters made the obvious comments about the need for people to live within their means.

That is a no brainer that I haven't any disagreement with. However it is not as black and white as many people would like to think of it as being. Quite a few people live in situations in which they are just a few steps away from falling into serious financial distresss.

This is not a polemic or an apology but the reality of life. A family may have two working parents who are able to pay all of the bills without having to finance anything. Said parents might have spent years building a savings up to help tide them over for that mythical rainy day.

But the thing is that it doesn't take much for that apple cart to be toppled. What happens if one of them becomes disabled and is no longer able to work. What happens if sudden and unexpected healthcare costs become necessary.

These scenarios aren't without precedent and they aren't impossibilities. Things happen. And when they happen you can't give the bank an IOU for the mortgage or tell your insurance company that you are good for the money. You can't feed your children with promises.

So I find it sad and distasteful to read to these comments where the self righteous suggest that financial difficulties are due to irresponsible behavior. I recognize that no one wants to be forced to pay more because of the irresponsible or dishonest behavior of others, but at the same time that is life.

We pay more for many products and services because the businesses are trying to protect themselves. I don't like it, but that is just how it is. And as I have said many times I believe in a society that looks out for each other. We have a social obligation to help each other.

The distinction here is that I don't think we should be talking about hand outs, but a hand up. If we do what we can to provide support and resources for our community it is better for everyone.

What do you think?

Awesome Photo

I loved this shot of The Milky Way Over Mauna Kea.

Space Shuttle Atlantis

Atlantis' Window on the World
Solar panels on the Hubble Space Telescope make for unique window shades in this scene photographed from the flight deck of the Earth-orbiting space shuttle Atlantis. This image was taken on flight day 5 of the 11-day mission to repair and upgrade Hubble.Image Credit: NASA

Don't Take The Car You'll Kill Yourself

A mixed assortment of memories and thoughts:

If you grew up in Southern California and are of a certain age you might remember a commercial in which a wife screams Don't Take The Car You'll Kill Yourself! Not sure if it ever aired anywhere else, but I remember it well.

Or should I say that I remember how much of a joke it turned into. The sentiment was sincere and the idea behind it was/is not a joke, but not unlike so many other things it evolved. Kind of reminds me a bit of the commercial for Life Alert.
"I have fallen and I can't get up" became a huge joke. It was one of those things that we made fun of for a thousand years. If you tripped and fell it was a virtual guarantee that someone was going to say or think it.

My sophomore year of high school had a number of highlights. I remember one class in which we had this bitter old man teaching us, at least that is how I remember him.

Twenty-five years later I see a man in a worn cordoruy jacket sitting behind a desk. Sitting behind his desk, dark oily hair on his head, he'd lecture us about life. Tell us that it was his job to puncture our illusions of grandeur and make us face reality. We weren't as smart as we thought, or so he'd tell us.

"I am going to get you ready to take the the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test so that you can see what you are really good at it. Some of you will end up as janitors and plumbers. Only a few will do really well. Most of you will be lucky to get by. The ASVAB will help you understand what you are good at it so that you don't waste time.

One of my classmates would sit in the back of the class and sing Institutionalized to himself. He was a year older than me, had a beard and wore boots. At first I was a bit intimidated by him, but as time passed we developed something. Occasionally he'd grunt at me. I heard a while back that he was shot and killed during a gas station robbery, but I don't know if that is true.

At fifteen the lyrics to Institutionalized were pretty radical, or so I thought. I see them a bit differently now, but not really what I want my kids listening to.

Sometimes I try to do things and it just doesn't work out the way I wanted to.
I get real frustrated and I try hard to do it and I take my time and it doesn't work out the way I wanted to.
It's like I concentrate real hard and it doesn't work out.
Everything I do and everything I try never turns out.
It's like I need time to figure these things out.
But there's always someone there going.

Hey Mike:
You know we've been noticing you've been having a lot of problems lately.
You know, maybe you should get away and maybe you should talk about it, maybe you'll feel a lot better

And I go:
No it's okay, you know I'll figure it out, just leave me alone I'll figure it out.
You know I'll just work by myself.

And they go:
Well you know if you want to talk about it I'll be here you know and you'll probably feel a lot better if you talk about it.

And I go:
No I don't want to I'm okay, I'll figure it out myself and they just keep bugging me and they just keep bugging me and it builds up inside and it builds up inside.

So you're gonna be institutionalized
You'll come out brainwashed with bloodshot eyes
You won't have any say
They'll brainwash you until you see their way.

[Chorus:]
I'm not crazy - in an institution
You're the one who's crazy - in an institution
You're driving me crazy - in an institution
They stuck me in an institution
Said it was the only solution
To give me the needed professional help
To protect me from the enemy -- myself.

I was in my room and I was just like staring at the wall thinking about everything
But then again I was thinking about nothing
And then my mom came in and I didn't even know she was there she called my name
And I didn't even hear it, and then she started screaming: MIKE! MIKE!
And I go:
What, what's the matter?
And she goes:
What's the matter with you?
I go:
There's nothing wrong mom.
And she goes:
Don't tell me that, you're on drugs!
And I go:
No mom I'm not on drugs I'm okay, I was just thinking you know, why don't you get me a Pepsi.
And she goes:
NO you're on drugs!
I go:
Mom I'm okay, I'm just thinking.
She goes:
No you're not thinking, you're on drugs! Normal people don't act that way!
I go:
Mom just give me a Pepsi, please
All I want is a Pepsi, and she wouldn't give it to me
All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi, and she wouldn't give it to me.
Just a Pepsi.

They give you a white shirt with long sleeves
Tied around you're back, you're treated like thieves
Drug you up because they're lazy
It's too much work to help a crazy

[Chorus]

I was sitting in my room and my mom and my dad came in and they pulled up a chair and they sat down, they go:
Mike, we need to talk to you
And I go:
Okay what's the matter
They go:
Me and your mom have been noticing lately that you've been having a lot of problems,
You've been going off for no reason and we're afraid you're gonna hurt somebody,
We're afraid you're gonna hurt yourself.
So we decided that it would be in your interest if we put you somewhere
Where you could get the help that you need.
And I go:
Wait, what are you talking about, we decided!?
My best interest?! How can you know what's my best interest is?
How can you say what my best interest is? What are you trying to say, I'm crazy?
When I went to your schools, I went to your churches,
I went to your institutional learning facilities?! So how can you say I'm crazy?

They say they're gonna fix my brain
Alleviate my suffering and my pain
But by the time they fix my head
Mentally I'll be dead

[Chorus]

It doesn't matter, I'll probably get hit by a car anyway
Sometimes it is hard to believe that so much time has passed. I sit here thinking about that time and certain memories are easy to pull up, but some are hard. I don't have any journals of my thoughts, or at least none that I am aware of, so I am stuck with memory.

I suppose that I should clarify and say that sometimes I wonder what that 15 year old thought the future was going to be like. I think that I remember. I think that I know, but the passage of time makes me wonder.

In theory that won't be a problem that I am going to have, at least when it comes to the five years of my life that I have spent blogging. All I have to do is sift through the archives and it all comes flooding back to me.

Wonder what I'll think about all this in twenty years.

Doing Things Differently

"If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got."

Filed under Trite but true.

Reasons To Be Careful In The Bathroom

These two stories should serve as a reminder to look before you begin your business in the bathroom.
"A 2cm long fish apparently found it's way into the penis of a 14-year-old boy from India in a bizarre medical case.

The patient was admitted to hospital with complaints of pain, dribbling urine and acute urinary retention spanning a 24-hour period. According to the boy, the fish slipped into his penis while he was cleaning his aquarium at home. Professor Vezhaventhan and Professor Jeyaraman, who treated the boy and later wrote a paper on the case, explained: "While he was cleaning the fish tank in his house, he was holding a fish in his hand and went to the toilet for passing urine. When he was passing urine, the fish slipped from his hand and entered his urethra and then he developed all these symptoms."
and
"A MAN became a sitting target for a snake, which bit his penis as sat on the toilet.

"As soon as he sat down, he suddenly felt a knife-like pain and reacted instinctively by standing up," the China Times said. "When he looked down, he saw the big snake." (Editor's note: We all say this. ;) ) The 51-year-old Taiwanese man, from Nantou County, Tapei, was under medical care with minor injuries, a director at Puli Christian Hospital said.

"As soon as he has passed the risk of infection, he can go," the director, who declined to be named, said.

"A snake's mouth isn't always clean."

Soldiers Don't Wear Pink Underwear

The AP gets credit for this photo of US Army Specialist Zachary Boyd. I appreciate his service to our country and can only imagine what kind of grief he is going to get for this.

Stay safe soldier and keep your head down.

Goodbye Sarah Connor

Well it looks like another show is biting the dust.

Dear Smoker

Dear Smoker,

Your right to harm yourself infringes upon my right not to.

I really wish that I could exercise my choice not to breathe the crap you exhale.

Tools That Make Your Freelance Career Easier

There is some useful information here.

Bloggers Are Arrogant- The Genesis of a Blog

Somewhere on my bookshelf is a book that contains a collection of Peanuts comic strips. I have had it for a good thirty years or so.

Every so often I'll pull it out and flip through it. I never get tired of watching Snoopy fight the Red Baron or following his exploits as an author. How many dogs sit on top of their doghouse and use a Smith-Corona typewriter to compose the Great American Novel.

One of my favorite strips is one in which Snoopy struggles to come up with a good opening for his book. The major problem is that all of his opening paragraphs are either cliches or duplicates of famous works. It makes me smile, because I often feel his pain.

So you'll forgive me when I say that when I began this blog in the Spring of 2004, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times. There was so much going on in my life that I thought that blogging might serve as a great release.

Very early on I intended to let a number of friends and family know about this place. I think that I even sent out an email or two about it, but there wasn't much of a response. And then at a party I listened to a group of people rant about how arrogant bloggers were. The comment was something along the lines of "you have to have a major ego to believe that people want to read your words."

And while I wasn't fazed by their criticism, I decided that for a while I'd enjoy the anonymity and see what happened. By that point in time I had already begun writing more personal posts in which I shared some pretty raw feelings. So it was actually easier to be anonymous than to have to engage in discussions about some of those thoughts.

If I had to do it over again I probably would do some of it differently. I probably wouldn't be anonymous, but you can't go back in time so this is how it is.

As blogging has become more prevalent and more mainstream I have been involved in more conversations about it and answered more questions about what it is and why people do it. From time to time I still hear the "bloggers are arrogant" comment and I still have the same response. No one is forcing you to read their blogs, so why do you care.

I have yet to hear a good response to that, maybe it is because I am arrogant. Or maybe it is because it is another one of those throwaway remarks that people make without thinking. I don't know.

What do you think?

If I Was Smarter I'd Sleeping

If I was a smarter man I'd be fast asleep in bed, but I am not that smart. I don't know about you, but I have often wondered why they say "fast asleep" as I have never really thought of being "slow asleep" as an alternative.

In fact "slow asleep" sounds absolutely ridiculous, not that it matters because no one is asking me for my opinion anyhow.

Went to a focus group earlier today and realized that in my dotage I am growing more reticent to speak in a group setting. Or maybe it is just a matter of being more selective about when and where I am willing to publicly share my thoughts. I am not afraid to speak in public, I do it all the time. But something has changed.

Not saying that this is a good or a bad thing, just an observation about myself. Since turning 40 was a bit more traumatic than a normal birthday I have been far more conscious of these little things. Now that the the date has come and gone I am more relaxed about it.

But that doesn't mean that I am any more accepting of some of the less "pleasant" side effects. The mysterious aches and pains, the nicks, scrapes and bruises that take forever to heal are not welcome. In fact I have tried to scare them away, but they do not fear and so they stick around.

I have some stories to tell, some things to share. Little fragments of fiction and bits of truth intermixed in a strange melange of this and that. It is my blogging recipe.

It is a recipe that I find works pretty well and one that I have adopted for most of the work that I do, but as expected there are those moments when it doesn't meet the expectations. The good news is that this is just another personal blog so the hard questions are almost immaterial.

Using Song Lyrics to Write A Story

Four years ago I decided to write a post using song lyrics, or should I say using song lyrics to tell a story. Somehow I dropped the ball and a chunk of time went by in which I didn't work on it at all.

In July of last year I picked it up again and started weaving it together. I managed to squeak out a second post and then it just fizzled. My intention is to start it up again and see if I can't get something going. Just for kicks I am going to grab the last set of lyrics I used and start it up again.

The hard part is that I am not exactly sure what this story is about or where it is going. It makes it more challenging to try and write. On the other hand it does provide endless opportunities now doesn't it.

"She's forty-one and her daddy still calls 'er "baby"
All the folks 'round Brownsville say she's crazy
'Cause she walks downtown with her suitcase in her hand
Lookin' for a mysterious dark-haired man"
Delta Dawn- Helen Reddy

"Dont stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Dont stop, itll soon be here,
Itll be, better than before,
Yesterdays gone, yesterdays gone.

Why not think about times to come,
And not about the things that youve done,
If your life was bad to you,
Just think what tomorrow will do.

Dont stop, thinking about tomorrow,
Dont stop, itll soon be here,
Itll be, better than before,
Yesterdays gone, yesterdays gone.

All I want is to see you smile,
If it takes just a little while,"
Don't Stop- Fleetwood Mac

"Don't let her slip away
Sentimental fool
Don't let your heart get in her way
yeah, yeah, yeah,
Hold On Loosely- .38 Special

"Circus life
Under the big top world
We all need the clowns
To make us smile
Through space and time
Always another show
Wondering where I am
Lost without you

And being apart aint easy
On this love affair
Two strangers learn to fall in love again
I get the joy
Of rediscovering you
Oh girl, you stand by me
Im forever yours...faithfully"
Faithfully- Journey

Ok, this is far too sappy. I think that I am going to put this to bed. We'll give it another go later on.

Down Go The Blazers

This was an incredible series.

Characters Who were Lost on "Lost"

It is a worth looking at.

Thursday Morning Music

Comfortably Numb- Pink Floyd with Van Morrison
Country Comfort - Elton John
Burn Down The Mission - Elton John
Hold On I'm Comin'-Sam & Dave
Try A Little Tenderness -Otis Redding
"Life Is Beautiful" Sixx:A.M.
Bulls On Parade - Rage Against The Machine
People of The Sun - Rage Against The Machine
You Know My Name - Chris Cornell
Sweet Caroline- Neil Diamond
Let it be- The Beatles

The 50 Greatest Movie Monologues

I liked this list. Here are a few of my favorites from it.

Glengarry Glen Ross


Casablanca

If I Started Blogging Today

In a couple of weeks I'll celebrate my fifth blogiversary and is my custom I start celebrating well in advance of the day. Typically I try to use these sorts of posts as a moment during which I reminisce about the past, speak of the present and consider the future.

This has been one hell of an experience and I find it inconceivable to imagine my life without the blog. I was never one for journaling. If you search through the boxes in my garage you won't find notebooks filled with my hopes and dreams. I didn't like it, journaling that is and I didn't do it. The few exceptions being those school assignments in which I was forced to keep one.

But this has been a tremendous experience that has brought me much joy and pleasure as well as some real aggravation. Inside these cyberwalls lie the hopes, dreams and aspirations of a relatively ordinary man.

If you really know me then you know that some of those posts are raw emotion. I have my moments of doubt and times in which I wonder if I am destined to be a tortured soul who is unable to rest. But there are also a lot of good moments that have been chronicled here.

Believe it or not, I am someone who easily shares my thoughts and feelings. Oh, the superficial stuff is easy. Not afraid to discuss politics or religion and tell you what I think. I can do all that easily.

It is the deeper stuff that is hard for me. Anonymity made that easy. I could say anything and not worry about it. Slowly over time that anonymity has been compromised. Some of it is/was my own doing and some was not.

But I think that if I had to start over that there are two things that I can say I would do differently. I would have come up with a better name. I am a creative guy and could easily have come up with something better than random thoughts.

The other thing that I would have done is said the hell with the anonymity. I would have used my real name and solved or avoided a number of problems. At least that is what I think I would have done.

It is not so easy to say. Who I am at 40 is a bit different than who I was at 35. The past five years has been filled with an awful lot of challenging situations. It is fair to say that in some ways it has been the most challenging period of my life.

Death came to visit. I lost two grandparents and said goodbye to the parents of some friends. My father had a major heart attack and almost died. For a while he and my mother were forced to live across the country and I became responsible for taking care of three grandparents, another household and more.

The dark haired beauty came into my life and turned things upside down. My career underwent a few changes. Friends got married. Friends got divorced. I was in a car accident in which my car was totaled. I was lucky to walk away with a few bruises.

All of that is a partial list of some of the things that happened. Compared to some it was nothing and compared to others it was the most incredible upheaval they'd ever see.

In short we call it life.

********

I do my best to try and live a life without regrets, but I have a few. There is a very significant one that weighs upon me. I won't say more than that. But I'll admit to wondering if I made a mistake by not taking that fork in the road.

On the other hand I can't help but wonder if there is a major benefit in having not taken that path. Did I gain some valuable life experience that I can apply to my life. Not to mention that it is very possible and quite likely that the path I didn't take will intersect again in the not so distant future.

Since I can't actually see the future all I can do is try to influence it so that the outcome favors me. I suspect that in five years I'll be able to come back to the blog and take a look at this and get a sense of whether I hit the mark.

Oh, one more thing about starting over, at least as it pertains to blogging. If I started blogging today I'd probably make this a niche blog that focused on a couple of topics and I wouldn't post more than once or twice a day.

Oh who am I kidding, it is May and I already have written more than 400 posts this year.

How To Blog, Use Facebook & Twitter

During the past two weeks quite a number of the people following me on Twitter have turned out to be experts in Social Media or SEO. For a moment I was puzzled by this and then I realized that they have done so because I am the leading expert on all matters. Jack sees all and knows all, just ask DovBear.

Anyhoo, the beauty of these various tools is that there really isn't one proper way to use them. However, it should be noted that while there may not be one right way, there are also several wrong ways to use them.

The most obvious pitfall from using these tools is being careful about what sort of information you enter into them. If you consider the viral nature of the net it is easy to imagine that anything you post in cyberspace can be viewed by millions of people and for an unknown duration of time.

It is not far fetched to suggest that the YouTube video you made at 12 could still be around when you are 50, 76 or 176.

The point being is that you need anytime you put something out there you need to consider the present and future implications of that post. Not only that but you also need to remember that you don't have complete control of what is posted.

For example friends of yours could post pictures of you in compromising positions. But for the purpose of this post let's limit the discussion to what you post. You need to assume that anything you post can be seen by current and future employers, friends, colleagues and others.

So don't post anything that you aren't prepared to discuss and or if needed defend. More to come on this in a later post.

Reductio ad absurdum

Reductio ad absurdum is a mode of argumentation that seeks to establish a
contention by deriving an absurdity from its denial, thus arguing that a thesis
must be accepted because its rejection would be untenable. It is a style of
reasoning that has been employed throughout the history of mathematics and
philosophy from classical antiquity onwards.
Or the standard dictionary definition

Main Entry:re·duc·tio ad ab·sur·dum
Pronunciation:\ri-ˈdək-tē-ˌō-ˌad-əb-ˈsər-dəm, -ˈdək-sē-ō-, -shē-, -ˈzər-\
Function:noun
Etymology:Late Latin, literally, reduction to the absurd
Date:1741
1 : disproof of a proposition by showing an absurdity to which it leads when carried to its logical conclusion
2 : the carrying of something to an absurd extreme

Links that Caught My Eye

The Healing Power of Music- CNN reports on the work of a cardiologist and his study of the effects of music on the cardiovascular system. "Turns out music may be one of the best de-stressors. Makes sense to me.

Why Your Baby’s Name Will Sound Like Everyone Else’s -Wired gives you the rundown on why your baby's name isn't all that unique.

The Best & Worst Owners in Sports- SI comes up with another list.

Blue Whales Are On The Move- Live Science has some great stuff.

More Japanese Television

I haven't yet had the opportunity to visit Japan but it is on my list of places that I have to see. If you are one of the seventeen long time readers you know that I have run a number of posts on this topic.

I had intended on including links to those posts, but apparently the videos have been removed. When I have time I'll do a quick search to see if I can find replacements.

In the interim here is a clip that left me, well, I don't know. Take a look for yourself.

Good Intentions: What The Hell Were They Thinking

I'll give this company the benefit of the doubt and say that I am sure that they were trying to do the right thing, but as a parent I am greatly troubled by it. But sex toy and children should never be said in the same sentence.

Look at that picture and tell me that there isn't something wrong with this campaign.
Here is a quick excerpt from the press release:
SinlessTouch.com shakes up the adult novelty industry with its Buy a Sex toy, save a child Charity Program.

"The Buy a Sex toy, save a child Charity Program is our commitment to society. We've always known that a sustainable business needs the support of healthy communities and a high quality environment. We aim to be the most trusted retailer wherever we trade by demonstrating a clear sense of social responsibility. " said Jessica Blake, Sinless Touch Vice President of Corporate Communications.
Social responsibilty is great, but this is poorly executed. It needs to be revamped and fixed ASAP.

Reason, Season, Lifetime- Do You Believe

REASON, SEASON, LIFETIME!!!

People always come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.


When someone is in your life for a REASON,

it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly.

They have come to assist you through a difficulty,

or to provide you with guidance and support,

to aid you physically, emotionally, or even spiritually.

They may seem like a godsend to you, and they are.

They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time,

this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die. Sometimes they just walk away.

Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand.

What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done.

The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.


When people come into your life for a SEASON,

it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.

They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.

They may teach you something you have never done.

They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.

Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

And like Spring turns to Summer and Summer to Fall,

the season eventually ends.



LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons;

those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.

Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person anyway;

and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas in your life.

It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Thank you for being part of my life.


Everyone hears what you say.

Friends listen to what you say.

Best friends listen to what you don't say.
I go back and forth about these sorts of statements. People want to believe that there is a purpose in everything, some sort of hidden meaning that they can sniff out.

I am no different. During hard times it is comforting to say that everything happens for a reason. When you are heartbroken you want to say that person xyz came into your life so that you would learn some profound lesson.

It is not easy for me to buy into all of that. I want to. I love the sentiment and I want to believe, but sometimes I don't. Sometimes I latch on and have complete faith and other times I shrug my shoulders and just roll my eyes.

On the other hand there are people that I share too many coincidences with. They have come into my life and turned it upside down. So in the end I find myself waffling on whether I believe or disbelieve. I am not a fan of sitting on the fence, but in this case...

What do you think?

Trapped- Painted Into A Corner

Hmm....I think that I might have painted myself into a corner and now I am a bit unsure how to extract myself. It is rather disturbing, this feeling of being trapped.

Not like I didn't see the potential for this happening, but still....So here I sit mulling over options, carefully considering the best direction to turn and thus we'll see if old Jack manages to overcome the obstacles or gets stuck in the corner for a while longer.

But I can guarantee one thing, I'll never sing like Greg Pritchard.

I am 40, Now What.

A few minutes before midnight I sat down in a dark room and thought about the events of the past day. The last vestiges of my birthday were slipping away. It wasn't just any birthday, it was my fortieth.

Forty years of wandering the earth trying to figure out what the hell am I doing here had led to this very moment. As a responsible blogger I thought that it was incumbent upon me to share the distilled wisdom of the ages with my readers, present and future.

So I ambled over to the computer and began to write a rambling and garbled post that never quite got its legs beneath it. It took all of thirty seconds to decide that I didn't want to run it and I deleted it.

I had intended to take another shot at it last night, but after the Mother's Day marathon I just didn't have it in me. Wife, mother, mother-in-law, sisters who are mothers and a mother of day sucked the life out of me.

But you my lucky reader had nothing to worry about because here I am writing this post now. It is better, tastier and contains all sorts of healthy nutrients that will make you grow up to be big and strong.

Forty doesn't feel all that much different to me, age is a number. I won't lie and say that I am in better shape now than I was at twenty.

At twenty I was a beast. That is not hyperbole. My body fat was somewhere around 9%. I could curl 150, bench press over 300 and I could run for as long as I needed to without fear of how my back or knees would feel later.

Back then I had the benefit of not being responsible for anyone or anything besides myself. I rarely missed a day at the gym and when I was there it was for several hours at a time. On a side note I would have loved being able to use my iPod. It is so much more convenient than that huge walkman I had strapped to my arm.

Ok, so we have established that physically I am not in the shape that I was then. That is not great, but it is not the end of the world either. Mentally/emotionally I am a million times tougher than I was then and that is worth a lot. Life doesn't always work out the way that you think it will and you need to have some steel in your guts to help you through the rough moments.

A dear friend called to wish me a happy birthday as well as to tease me about my advanced age, in a month I'll return the favor. During our conversation he told me that he thinks that I know more people who have died young than anyone else he knows.

He is probably right, but I wish that he wasn't. I can run off a list of around 16 names of friends and people that I knew in passing that died from cancer, drunk driving, bike accident and two suicides.

It is only logical to assume that the older we get the more likely it is that we'll have these stories to share. But I am not part of the clergy and not in a profession where I have more exposure to this part of life so I suspect that I probably do know more than most.

It has had an impact upon me and lately I am feeling the effects more than in the past. I am far more focused on trying to spend time with the people who are important to me and to do those things that I have always wanted to do.

Don't get me wrong, I haven't any reason to believe that I am dying now or that I will do so for many years to come. My paternal grandfather lived to be 92 and I am grateful to still have my maternal grandparents, 95 and counting. In fact to quote my paternal grandfather, I intend to defenestrate death.

In more colorful terms, when death comes I am going to kick him in the balls, poke him in the eyes and then throw his bony ass out the window headfirst. I have got far too much to do.

Anyway, as I sat there in the dark I smiled and thought about all the good things in my life because there is a lot. But it was a bit of a bittersweet smile, because even though I have much to be thankful for there are challenges.

Challenges that make me shake my head and question whether I have accomplished enough for someone my age because sometimes I wonder.

That twenty year old I referred to would have laughed at the old man. It would have started as a deep rumble in his chest and erupted into gales of laughter. And then the old man would have used him to mop the floor. I may not be in the same shape, but I am a hell of a lot meaner and far more cunning.

On a serious note, at twenty I had no clue about so many things. Life was simpler then and that has its benefits. On a Saturday night my girlfriend and I would have kept busy until just before dawn, or I would have been out with the boys, until just before dawn.

I am still a nightowl, but given the presence of little people in the house I pay more attention to my hours. I am sure that my fellow parents appreciate that. The kids love to be up early, regardless of how much or how little sleep I have had.

So here I am, the forty year-old man at the computer, now what. Stay tuned and maybe I'll answer that question.

Lightning Is About To Strike

Lightning is about to strike again, not a doubt in my mind that we're going to see it live and experience in 3D. Some lips are bound to ...