Due To Technical Difficulties

This is day two of the great computer crash of 2009. Of course we need to clarify that great is not being used in a positive sense here.

This post is being composed upon my BlackBerry and sent to Posterous. Posterous in turn will distribute it to a few of my blogs.

Writing is something I take pleasure in and find to be therapeutic so I am grateful to be able to post in this manner. However it is still unwieldy and cumbersome.

Given the choice I would prefer to use my computer and a full size keyboard.

I suppose that this is a good time to interject some thoughts about future smartphones and or computers. If I had the ability I would invent a smartphone device that would shrink and expand in size. I envision something that is paper thin and easily fits in your pocket.

However it could expand as large as a letter size piece of paper. A large portion would serve as the screen/display. Just beneath would be a full size keyboard. At full size it could be a touchscreen. The large size would make it less likely to have some of the issues we see today. Of course this device would play music, video etc.

Unfortunately that day isn't here yet so we'll have to wait and see what the tech world comes up with. With any luck I'll solve my existing tech issues long before that. 
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A Simple Rule For Forwarding Email

Consider this a gentle reminder. When you forward email please remove the header containing all of the prior recipients. In addition to privacy concerns I have no interest in scrolling through two pages of the people who got it before I did. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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How Many Times Must Jack....

When the wife don't listen

Something tells me that this is the sort of video that might get a husband in trouble.

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From The Archives

Every now and then I like to air out the archives and share some of the older stuff with you:

Sex & Love- A Father Speaks
My Best Writing
Instant Messenger
Not Quite A Recap- Let's Talk About Body Parts

I Can't Work Like This

I work hard to live the life that I teach my kids to live. It doesn't make any sense to me to teach them to do one thing and then have them ask why I do the opposite.

That doesn't mean that there aren't times where we play the do as I say not as I do game, but I do my best to minimize it.

Anyway, if you have been following along you know that I have been dealing with some computer issues.

I have two desktops that just aren't working properly and I can't seem to figure out why.

I have run scans to check for spyware and found nothing. The antivirus checks have all been clean too.

They have been defragged and the registries have been checked with TLC.

And still they are not working properly. So I find myself having reached the end of my rope. My patience has worn thin and now I am cursing at these stupid fucking machines.

Remember I said that I try to live the life I teach my children to live. Their abba teaches them to remain calm and run through the checklist of what could be wrong.

Well those kids aren't here right now which is why I screamed in disgust at the stupid fucking machine. I begged it to take a swing at me, just one tiny punch.

I promised that if it did I'd kick its ass right into next week. I swore that I'd punch its motherboard right in its fucking mouth.

Of course it didn't respond. It sat there silently mocking me.

I haven't gotten much work done today. Been too busy wrestling with these fercockteh machines. Been too busy trying to figure out why they are doing this.

If I had the cash I would junk them and buy two new units. I am so frustrated I can barely look at them.

But old mother hubbard's cupboard is bare. The damn school tuition took the spare change. The car repair took more and old Phineas Whiplash is threatening to take my first born.

So I am venting here. Making use of a Blackberry and Posterous.

If I can get one of these suckers to work properly I can make magical things happen.

I am so close yet so very far. And now that I have caught my breath I am going to fling myself back into the breach.

If I am not back in an hour check Sully's Tavern. I'll be guy with the bottle and bat attitude. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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If I could Write Songs Like This...

Some need gold and some need diamond rings
Or a drug to take away the pain that living brings
A promise of a better world to come
When whatever here is done
I don't need that sky of blue
All I know's since I found you, I'm happy when I'm in your arms
Happy, darling, come the dark
Happy when I taste your kiss
I'm happy in a love like this

There's a house upon a distant hill
Where you can hear the laughter of children ring
Guardian angels, they watch from above
Watching over the love that they bring
But at night I feel the drakness near, I awake and I find you near
I'm happy with you in my arms
I'm happy with you in my heart
Happy when I tatse your kiss
I'm happy in love like this

In a world of doubt and fear
I wake at night and reach to find you near
Lost in a dream, you caught me as I fell
I want more than just a dream to tell

We're born in this world, darling, with few days and trouble never far behind
Man and woman circle each other in a cage
A cage that's been handed down the line
Lost and running 'neath a million dead stars
Tonight let's shed our skins and slip these bars
Happy in each other's arms
Happy, baby, come the dark
Happy in each other's kiss
I'm happy in a love like this 

Happy- Bruce Springsteen

Cool Photos

BeFrank is still one of my favorite bloggers. By now he is one of the elder statesmen of the blogosphere. Go check him out.

Tuesday Morning Tunes

It is another Post from Posterous.  I grabbed a section of songs from the iTunes shuffle feature. Kind of an odd mix of music, but that is the joy of pulling from the shuffle.

Download now or listen on posterous
1-01 Piano Man.m4a (5241 KB)

Download now or listen on posterous
01 Dream On.m4a (4270 KB)

Download now or listen on posterous
02 Feel Like Makin' Love.m4a (5052 KB)

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A Few Yom Kippur Mumblings

It is several hours now since I broke my fast and I'd like to say that I feel spiritually cleansed, But the reality is that I have an icepick shoved halfway up my right nostril and there is a broken broom handle protruding from a place it doesn't belong.

I suppose that is rather graphic, but it accurately describes the affect of having intentionally ignored the joy of my caffiene addiction. I had tried to plan for this, really I had, er did. I cut down on the coffee and refused to drink any on Sunday. It wasn't easy, lately that cup of Joe has brought the sort of smile to my face that intimate contact would.

Really, I have had some amazing cups and I have thoroughly enjoyed them, but I digress.

Anyhoo, for those of you who have never experienced a day like this let me share a little bit about it. People who fast have dragon breath and short tempers. It is not really surprising. If you don't feed the animals we get cranky.

And the lack of food/water creates a lovely condition called Halitosis that would be perfect for warfare. In fact one of the men I spoke with today should report immediately to the Pentagon or CDC and offer his services. His breath burned my beard right off of my face and rendered six senior citizens unconscious.

I did my usual bit of leining Torah. The Dark haired Beauty cheered me on again. That sweet little girl made me smile. When I started doing this a thousand years ago I had no idea that one day my children would be there to see me.

There being there is not the reason why I do it, but it is real bonus. I especially appeciate the commentary from "Little Jack" who told me that I was so loud I woke up the guy who was sleeping. Speaking of which should I ever decide to get smicha and become a pulpit rabbi I won't let my congregants sleep.

No sir, fall asleep while I am talking and you become the poster boy, literally. I'll hand out sharpies and watch people decorate you. Ok, I wouldn't really do that. But I might make you wear a funny hat or wave a chicken over your head. Who knows.

And how was your Yom Kippur?

In Praise of Posterous

My parents have a dear family friend who has become a legend among us for his discovery of the "best" restaurant/car/movie/vacation etc. It reminds me a bit of the cracks people make about Columbus discovering America.

It is not like it was unpopulated when he got here. Part of why this friend has become legendary is that he has discovered restaurants that the family has eaten at for years. Somehow he has managed to make this trait endearing and not annoying, don't ask me how.

Anyway, if he was a blogger he'd push in front of me to tell you about how cool Posterous is and he would be right. I discovered it around January or so, but I was thick in the middle of doing the Gaza updates and was too busy to check it out.

Eventually I got around to taking a looksy and let me tell you, I LOVE IT. It couldn't be easier to use. I especially love how easy it is to work with pictures and videos. It is an excellent complement to the tools I use now and I only wish that I had started using it earlier.

At the moment I am still exploring and working out how to most effectively integrate it into my system. It is worth taking a look at.

Here is a link to my Posterous blog which is slowly being integrated into this one, I think.
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Def Leppard - "Pour Some Sugar on Me" U.K. Music Video

Memories of college............

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Aging Gracefully- Pre Yom Kippur Thoughts

If you are one of the 17 long time readers you know that I have related more than once my love for basketball and how I am struggling to gracefully accommodate some of the changes that this 40 year-old body demand from me. New aches and pains introduce themselves with more consistency than I care to acknowledge.

Little nicks, scrapes and  bruises seem to accumulate with greater frequency and regularity than ever before. What I find especially unfair is that they used to heal instantly and now they hang out as if they are old friends. Not cool I say, uninvited and unwelcome guests I'd kick their asses right to the curb without a second thought.

But such power is refused to me. I can't stop the clock. I can't prevent that infernal tick tock noise from continuing. Sometimes I feel like there is an internal clock inside my skull whose ticking I can always hear.

It reminds me of conversations with my paternal grandfather, may he rest in peace. Later today I'll go to the cemetery and visit him. I'll sit there and think about all of the good times we had and how many questions I have for him now.

Three years later and I have more questions for him than I ever did. Three years later and I just miss him.

I remember visiting him in the hospital and asking him how he felt. He smiled and told me that he wasn't ready to die. I said that was good and then he told me that he'd fight for every breath. I laughed and said that it wasn't that serious and he told me that he knew that, but that is what we do. We fight to keep going on as long as we can.

It was said partially in jest, but there was truth in it. He was a scrapper and street wise. He may not have had a college degree but he was very well read and informed. He always knew what was going on and could speak intelligently on a variety of topics.

Sometimes I feel badly that my children never knew him as I did. It seems a bit unfair that they didn't get to benefit from his wisdom and counsel as I did. He wasn't just my grandfather but a trusted friend and confidant. Right until the very end he was someone I could rely upon.

It is fair to say that he and I are/were very similar in many ways.

Anyway, some times when I am out there running with the young bucks and I am having trouble keeping up I can hear him talking to me. Sometimes I can feel him running along side encouraging me to use my head and I remember that the best way to beat the twenty somethings is to use my head.

So I start talking to them. I look for little things that distract them. Sometimes I'll complain about my age and whine about being tired or my back hurting. Other times I'll go after that frail male ego and tease them about not being able to beat an old guy off the dribble.

It doesn't always work, but there are plenty of times when it does. I play possum a lot. I conserve my strength and use in short bursts. I don't have the endurance to go hard the entire time, but there are brief moments where the turbo kicks in. I love surprising those kids. I love it when they ask me where it came from and wonder how the old guys won.

That is one of those life lessons that I give my grandfather credit for. The crafty old veteran who would taught me to play fair but to recognize when I was being hustled. You didn't fight unless you had to, but if you did you hit harder, faster and longer than the other guy. They went down because we keep fighting.

Part of the significance of Yom Kippur for me is taking time to think about my life, what it is now, what it was and what I hope it will be. Part of it is taking time to remember who helped me get to this place. Part of it is asking if I like the man I am now.

Resilience. Determination. Persistence. They are all part of the many lessons that I learned from my grandfather. The one that resonates the most right with me at this moment is remembering that I have all of the tools and resources that I need to be the man I want to be and to live the life I want to live.

The only question is will I use them.

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Best of the Jewish/Israeli Blogosphere Blog Carnival #236

Go now and read Haveil Havalim: Pre-Yom Kippur Edition. It is the best of the Jewish/Israeli blogosphere and it is the only place you are going to find some of this content.

Still Standing On the Outside Looking In

If you spend enough time surfing through the blogosphere you'll find a thousand posts that describe how the author has always felt like they are standing on the outside looking in. A thousand posts in which people share their past and or current anxieties about not being smart/handsome/pretty/rich or good enough.

A thousand posts that really help to illustrate that as different as we all are we all have our moments of shame and insecurity. If you are lucky you are one of those people who find a way to gain a level of comfort with who you are and these posts are nothing more than reflective moments about times gone by.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I think that I fall somewhere in between. I am very comfortable with a lot of things. I know who I am. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are and what I want out of life. The hard part for me is not identifying those things but trying to determine the best way to achieve them.

There are many days where I go to bed exhausted, but exhilarated because I know that I am on my way to the place I want to be. But there are also plenty of moments where I feel like I am on the outside looking in. I look out and see friends and family who seem to have done a much better job of figuring it all out.

I look out and I wonder what they saw that I didn't. I look out and I ask myself why I couldn't have been smarter or more patient. I stare at the mirror and shake my head because it feels like the reason I don't have what I want is staring right back at me.

And I silently wonder if it is because I am my own worst enemy. Maybe I am just stupid. Maybe I am socially challenged or crippled or something. Right, it has to be something because those other guys really aren't that different from me and they made it.

I don't have too many moments like that. In part it is because I am fortunate enough to have some amazing friends. And some of the people that everyone thinks have it made are just as insecure or upset about their lives as everyone else.

Confession: sometimes it is nice to hear your friend tell you that they feel like a complete screw up. It is not because we wish them ill, but because it is reassuring. It is that affirmation that we really aren't all that crazy.

Don't ask me why I switched from writing I to we. I haven't any answer other than it is past my bed time.

Anyway, this part of blogging is what I love. This opportunity to write down my thoughts and feelings is one of the key  elements that keeps me writing. It is my own therapy and the release is important to me. And I am really just starting to understand the depth of that importance to me.

I am really just beginning to figure out that in addition to the writing I have been searching for other ways to express myself. The music I share and the stories I write are all part of that release. That is not to suggest that the only reason I write is for that therapeutic release because it is not.

I really do enjoy telling stories. There is something special about taking words and ideas and crafting something out of that. I don't do it as well as I would like to, but that is part of why I keep at it. Practice makes perfect.

Judge dismisses animal cruelty charges against police officer for sex with cows

Judge dismisses animal cruelty charges against police officer Robert Melia for sex with cows

BY Neil Nagraj
Friday, September 25th 2009, 12:37 PM
Above, a mugshot of Robert Melia.  He, with girlfriend Heather Lewis (below) still faces charges relating to alleged sex assaults on three young girls.
Via Philly.com
Above, a mugshot of Robert Melia. He, with girlfriend Heather Lewis (below) still faces charges relating to alleged sex assaults on three young girls.


Related News

    Perhaps the Garden State should switch its nickname to the Barnyard State.
    A New Jersey judge has dismissed animal cruelty charges against a cop accused of committing a sex act with young cows, saying a grand jury had no way of knowing whether the animals were "tormented."
    Moorestown police officer Robert Melia, who is currently suspended, allegedly engaged in oral sex acts with five calves in Southampton in 2006.
    Since New Jersey currently has no law explicitly banning such an act, prosecutors in Burlington county brought animal cruelty charges against Melia, the Philadelphia Daily News reports.
    Judge Morely said it was questionable that Melia's acts, though "disgusting," constituted animal cruelty.
    "I'm not saying it's OK," Morely said.  "This is a legal question for me. It's not a questions of morals. It's not a question of hygiene. It's not a question of how people should conduct themselves."
    The dismissal reportedly irked the prosecution.
    "I think any reasonable juror could infer that a man's penis in the mouth of a calf is torment," a Burlington County assistant prosecutor, Kevin Morgan, said. "It's a crime against nature."
    The judge's dismissal does not mark the end of Melia's legal woes.
    He, along with girlfriend Heather Lewis, was arrested in April 2008 for sexually assaulting three girls over a five-year-period.
    Authorities investigating those charges reportedly uncovered videos on his computer of a girl being "subjected to sexual activity" in addition to taped encounters between Melia and the calves.
    How does a guy like this get to be a cop.

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    Second Post- Music

    We're still in the process of testing Posterous to see if it merits being added to apps that we use on a regular basis.

    From a bird's eye view it appears to have a lot of features and functionality that make it worthwhile. I suspect that it is really a matter of taking time to explore and use it for a while before I am able to make an educated decision about it.

    Again, I ask that you bear with me as we undergo the equivalent of cyber remodeling.



    Mansions Of The Lord by West Point Usma Cadet Glee Club  
    Download now or listen on posterous
    Mansions.mp3 (6190 KB)

    Download now or listen on posterous
    09 Lean On Me.m4a (4047 KB)

    You're Gonna Miss This by Trace Adkins  
    Download now or listen on posterous
    01_Youre Gonna Miss This_Trace Adkins.mp3 (4842 KB)

    Posted via email from thejackb's posterous

    Shana Tova

    I just signed up for a Posterous account. Bear with me as I try to sort out the best way to make use of it.

    Posted via web from thejackb's posterous

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    For June wherever she may be-

    I looked outside and saw our moon. Only one thing was missing...You.

    Johnny's waiting

    Fragments of Fiction

    Dancing With The Stars Tribute to Patrick Swayze

    In case you are wondering I had intended to record my own tribute but I didn't want to embarrass the professionals with my smooth moves.

    Blackberry Versus iPhone

    A few words about Yom Kippur, six email addresses on my BlackBerry and the iPhone.

    The UN Has No Shame

    "The man who called the Holocaust a lie spoke at this podium. To those who refused to come and to those who left in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries. But to those who gave this Holocaust denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere — have you no shame? Have you no decency?" Benjamin Netanyahu

    Well said. Listen to it and think.

    A Bad Case Of Blog Envy/Jealousy

    I recently received an anonymous email that accused me of having a bad case of blog envy. It seems that they think that I must be very bitter that I don't have more readers and that the brands haven't bequeathed their bounty upon me.

    It was kind of fun to read. Been a while since I got anything that resembled hate mail at least something that didn't go off onto some antisemitic or anti-Israel rant. One of my favorites was the email that went on about Palin the Prophet. I responded to them that they mean to write Profit, but I never did hear back from them. Darn.

    Anyway, back to my new friend the anonymous emailer. In my younger years I would have shared your email with all 17 of the longtime readers and the few stragglers that come along for the ride. But the kinder, gentler, er, dumber Jack accidentally deleted it and emptied the trash so we'll have to do without for now.

    Here is my response to your comments. I don't spend any time courting the brands. I don't pitch PR agencies about my blog. Don't spend any time talking to them about how influential my blog is. And I don't lose any sleep over that.

    I don't feel an ounce of remorse for writing that some of the bloggers who are currently considered to be popular and or powerful would not be without gifts to give away. Their content is weak and their community is dependent upon the gifts they give.

    This joint has moments of brilliance and moments of mediocrity. Over time it has developed a respectable following. I won't deny that I think it would be great to have six times as many uniques and ten times the number of comments. It would be great.

    But I want to earn that. I don't want to by popularity. We're not the Yankees. We don't use our enormous payroll to buy championships. We earn them.

    Anyway, I appreciate your note and hope that you stick around for a while. Leave me a comment or two- show some love 'cuz a bitter old guy like me can use it. ;)
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    What Is The Difference Between A Fool & A Dreamer

    “The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It's as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”
    Nolan Bushnell

    They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.

    Edgar Allan Poe, "Eleonora"

    "Some men see things as they are and say 'why'? Others dream things that never were and say 'why not'?"
    ~ George Bernard Shaw

    I think we dream so we don't have to be apart so long.  If we're in each other's dreams, we can play together all night.  ~Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes~
    It is no secret that I am a man who lives in both time and space. By that I mean that I am firmly rooted in reality. My feet are on the ground and I know exactly what is happening around me. But I don't always accept things at value.

    Place me inside a boxing ring with Mike Tyson or Muhammad Ali in their prime and there shouldn't be any chance of my beating them. It shouldn't matter whether you take the 40 year-old I am today or the 20 year-old I once was, the fight shouldn't be close.

    Those who know me best know that I will step into that ring believing with all my heart that I have a chance. It only takes one shot. One moment in time and I can put the champ on his ass. It doesn't matter what the scenario is, I will always believe that I can find a way to succeed.

    But that doesn't mean that I don't accept the possibility that I might not or that I am not prepared to deal with it. I do and I am.

    The question I ask myself is am I better served by taking a more conservative approach in everything. Am I better served to say that since the chance of success is so minuscule I shouldn't make the attempt.

    Certainly there is a school of thought that suggests that it would be far more prudent to do so. Low expectations can be exceeded. It is a way to avoid disappointment.

    It is a subjective question that is highly personal, whether to try or not try that is. What I know about myself is that because I am that dreamer, I can't live a life where I don't take that shot. I can't live a life where I don't try to go beyond Walter Mitty and dream about being the champ.

    I can't live a life where I don't try to slay the dragon or climb that mountain. I can't. It is not me. I truly believe that if I did give that part of myself up I would die.

    Answering my own question I think that the difference between the fool and a dreamer is that the fool never tries to live their dreams. That doesn't mean that the dreamer can't be the fool either. The dreamer has to know when to shift gears and go a different route.

    And therein lies the rub. At what point do you say that you have done all you can do. When do you release the dream and let it float into the ether. That is the question that sometimes plagues me. But then again every dream is different so the answer to that question will vary from time to time.

    When my children ask me for my advice on similar matters I can only tell them one thing. That in the end they have to be able to sleep at night feeling like they tried their best. If you can do that, well then you have accomplished something.
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    Music of The Moment

    Californication- Red Hot Chili Peppers
    By The Way-Red Hot Chili Peppers
    Telephone line-Electric Light Orchestra
    Hold On Tight-Electric Light Orchestra
    Can't Get It Out of My Head-Electric Light Orchestra
    Day After Day- Badfinger
    Weekend in New England - Barry Manilow
    Pictures of You- The Cure
    Just Like Heaven- The Cure
    I'm On Fire- Bruce Springsteen
    Secret Garden- Bruce Springsteen
    Come Talk To Me- Peter Gabriel
    Hold On, I'm Coming- Sam and Dave
    "Ain't no Mountain High Enough"- Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
    I Will Find You- Clannad (Last of The Mohicans)

    Tales of a Third Grade Somebody

    And now friends, family and neighbors I bring you the results of the great election of 2009, the rumble in the jungle, the third grade election extravaganza. Damn if I don't wish that Howard Cosell was here to provide the color commentary.

    On a side note I just sat through that entire clip of Cosell and Ali- I miss those days. Sometimes that is. I don't really miss that wacky 70's fashion, but at least I can say that I wasn't responsible for buying it.

    Anyway, in the words of this reporter the election was quite the spectacle. Damn again, people just don't do Howard Cosell impressions anymore. And you don't hear about Nipsey Russell  or Match Game either.

    My relatively shy and unassuming third grader talked his way right into office. It was very cool to see how excited he was about it all and kind of funny to hear him tell me how many of his friends have already asked for political favors.

    "Dad, they want me to make recess longer and to get new snacks."

    The look on his face when I told him that none of those things were possible was priceless. He liked all of those ideas and had every intention of trying to make them come to fruition. And thus began his introduction to politics.

    Wonder where this will all lead, if anywhere, at all.
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    Some Things I Wonder About

    How I Used to Entertain Myself in Class

    I wasn't a great student primarily because I thought that grades were a waste of time. Come to think of it, I still do. But that is a post for a different time.

    Anyhoo, it is fair to say that I spent a bit of time playing class clown. I know, some of you are shocked to hear that, just as our pal the inspector was shocked to learn that gambling took place at Ricks .

    Since I a man who believes in using this blog to help others I'd like to share a few things I used to do to pass the time during my university career.

    Example #1
    Write this down on three pieces of paper and then leave the papers throughout the classroom:

    Why is there a footprint on the ceiling?  Pass it on
    That is guaranteed to cause all sorts of mischief as people pass the note around and try and locate the foot print.

    One of the other things that you can do is for when your professor is late.

    Example #2
    Walk to the front of the classroom and write on the chalkboard.

    "I will be late today. Please write an in-class 500 word essay on chapter four. I will collect it at the end of class.
     If you have nerves of steel you can try a variation of the last example.
    Announce that Professor Hackleshmackle is going to be late and has asked you to lead a discussion.

    Take out your textbook and start randomly calling on students. Ask the students you call upon to comment on a particular section or chapter and then tell them that they are wrong and that if they had attended the last study session they would know better.
    Please note that if you try any of these examples We take no responsibility for the consequences.

    Vote for Me For Third Grade Student Council

    Just a few short hours ago I helped write a campaign speech for a young and promising politician. He hasn't been corrupted by power or lost his belief in his ability to help people. He has exceptional ideas and an enormous amount of energy.

    He is a bit nervous because it is his first time throwing his hat into the ring. And more than a little frustrated that I didn't share his anxiety about whether he can carry the vote of the handball players and the kissing girls. But I have faith in my candidate. He comes from good stock and he is quickly learning how to spin a yarn as fast as his old man can.

    If I had my way he'd open up his speech by asking for more Cowbell but unfortunately that is not an option this time around. Really, I love that line Bruce Dickinson has, "I put my pants on one leg at a time. Except when I have my pants on, I make gold records."

    Anyway, if you haven't figured it out yet that kid I sometimes refer to as "Little Jack" is running for Third Grade Representative and I couldn't be prouder. He is a bit shy and reserved. Most of the time he prefers not to be the center of attention. His teachers routinely say that he knows the material but that it is rare to seem him raise his hand to answer questions.

    A far cry from his old man who was never afraid to answer questions or get in trouble in class. I wouldn't mind if he crept a bit farther out of the shell and participated more. With any luck he'll skip the getting in trouble part.

    This election business is serious stuff, but not quite like this. And that is a good thing which leads into the more serious part of the post.

    I believe in teaching children how to lose and how to fail. These are basic coping skills. Some parents have a problem with this and lend an inordinate amount of help to their children. I won't speculate on the reasons why, but I know from experience that certain science projects and student council campaigns are run with a sophistication that doesn't come from a young child.

    It is a real problem and one that I know is not limited solely to the school my children go too. I remember it from my days as a student and have heard similar remarks from parents of students at other schools.

    There is no doubt that I want my children to succeed. I want them to win at whatever they do. I want them to be popular and loved and all that kind of crap. But I won't force the issue. I won't create a monster and that is what happens.

    Little Jack has friends who are over indulged. Unless something changes these kids are going to get the crap whacked out of them. I don't necessarily mean this literally, but life has a way of smacking you in the teeth. If you have never been allowed to taste your own blood or feel the sting how are you going to deal with it.

    Because that is reality. Out in the real world there are situations that are beyond our control. Our children are going to be placed in situations that require immediate decisions. Mine aren't going to freeze because they have never had to live without mommy's assistance.

    This isn't tough love. This isn't about saying that parents shouldn't help. I won't swing from one extreme to the other. The kids know that they can always come to their parents. It is important, critical that they understand that when I say I will take the bullet for them I mean it.

    At the same time they also know that there are limits that they have to work with. They know that though they can always come to me I expect them to try to figure out a solution. I won't cripple them by taking all of the hits.

    Anyway, most of my work tonight was spent in providing a little guidance and feedback for the speech. A little direction that said that you need an introduction, a body and a conclusion. A few minutes typing because it was late and he needed to get to bed.

    Later this week I'll find out whether to congratulate him on a victory or to tell him how pleased I am that he tried. I really don't know which way it will go and I don't care. I am just proud that he decided to take a risk and expose himself. That little boy isn't quite so little anymore.

    Think I'll take a moment to watch him sleep because something tells me that I'll blink and he'll be all growed up.

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    I Cast Away My Sins

    I cast away my sins today or I hope as I suspect that this year there were more than usual. I am not really sure what that means, but I feel like I need to say it. Standing at the cement banks of a man man lake I joined hundreds of others in feeding the ducks day old bread that symbolized my sins.

    It is called Tashlich and it is an ancient ceremony that usually has a lot of meaning for me. This year I had trouble focusing. Perhaps it was concern that the dark haired beauty was going to fling herself into the water along with the bread or perhaps it was the lady who kept talking about cleveland, not sure.

    What I do know is that at one point I closed my eyes and did my best to look inward and focus upon the moment. Oftentimes when I try to drown out the world around me I turn on a song on the mental jukebox. For some reason all I could hear was The Planets - Mars, the Bringer of War by Holst.

     One section in particular stuck with me and I found myself wondering whether to laugh or cry. This is on my workout mix. It is something that I listen to when I am focused on lifting more. It fits well with trying to add another plate to the benchpress, less so with spiritual moments.

    Ok, that is probably not entirely true, but it wasn't really where I was trying to go with it. So I did my best to shuffle up a new song and came up with this. I get the connection, I am sure that John Williams was influenced by Holst. Certainly Darth Vader is a man who is in dire need of casting away his sins, but I am not him.

    Confession time. If I had to go to the Dark Side I would always pick Darth Vader. Darth Maul had a cool double blade on his light saber, but the whole horns and Judaism thing doesn't work for me. And the emperor just doesn't do it. Nah, I'd be a 7 foot tall Sith lord with a cape and a bad attitude.

    End of confession. Now we return you to your normally scheduled programming.

    It took a moment but I finally managed to focus. I was surrounded by a sea of people but with my eyes closed I stood alone. Inside my mind I jumped off of a cliff into a sea of black. I could feel the air rushing by head and I really wasn't sure when I was going to hit the bottom.

    Had I been able to step outside my body I would have seen someone with their eyes clenched shut and a rigid back. Pretty sure that you would have seen my lips silently moving.

    In short, I would have looked like I was crazy or constipated, maybe both.

    But that is ok with me. I am in a period of transition and I have stopped trying to fight it. I accept that things are changing and that all I can do is deal with me. Depending upon who you are that can sound new agey or religious, but that doesn't really matter to me. All that matters right now is riding out the storm.

    If we continue along our Star Wars theme it feels a bit like when Obi-Wan fought Anakin. Ignore the bad acting and go with the theme. Anyway, I feel like the grizzled veteran who has seen incredible potential go up in flames. Perhaps it shall rise again like the phoenix, I don't know.

    Slowly opening my eyes I look down and see children staring up at me. The dark haired beauty and her friends are giggling the way that girls do. They may be five but I can see the future and I know that 20 years from now the giggling will still be there, but it will be accompanied by a certain amount of knowledge and life experience.

    But right now I see happy girls who haven't any idea that life can be so serious or that the grown ups don't have all of the answers. That is ok with me, not having all of the answers. As much as I kvetch about it and wish that I could see the future there is a certain amount of excitement in not knowing everything. There is a joy and a rush in knowing that sometimes I may sail blindly, but with a purpose.

    In the interim please excuse me. I have to go brush away the bread crumbs those giggling girls left on my pants and shoes.

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    Talk Like a Pirate Day

    Tomorrow is International Talk Like a Pirate Day and by gar I am excited. Like most pirates I have a fine pirate name, I dost have a pirate name. Call me Captain Jack- One-eared Dog the Damned.

    So you may be wonderin' what does a pirate do for Rosh Hashanah, that whole rape and pillage thin' isn't really in line with t' spirit o' t' day. Well your good Captain Jack doesn't worry much, 'cuz I do be called One-eared Dog the Damned for a reason.

    That being said your pirate has seen some bizarre and incomprehensible things while at sea so me crew and I minimize the really bad stuff. That's not to say that ye can't earn yourself a beating, 'cuz ye can. In fact a good thrashing can be a spiritual experience.

    Tomorrow I'll be thinking of ye and wishing ye well in your chase for that treasure we seek.

    Past posts that discussed pirates:

    Haveil Havalim- The Once & Future Edition- Contains a Pirate Post.
    Do You Have An Accent

    Pirate Attacks Down Sharply

    Today is Talk Like a Pirate Day

    The Jewish Pirates of The Caribbean

    Talk Like a Pirate Day

    Rosh Hashanah 5770- Jewish New Year Here I Come

    "There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in travelling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one's position, and be bruised in a new place." ~Washington Irving

    "We spend our time searching for security and hate it when we get it." ~John Steinbeck, America and Americans

    "The calamity that comes is never the one we had prepared ourselves for."
    - Mark Twain Letter to Olivia Clemens, August 16, 1896
    When I began writing this post I had high hopes of producing something profound and meaningful, but I am not so sure that I accomplished that. But I'd rather try and fail than not try at all.

    Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year has come around again. It is a holiday that lends itself to blogging. Introspection and self reflection are key elements and so I find myself here at the keyboard struggling to produce a post that is worthwhile.

    This video may be a year old, but it really makes me think about life. So many familiar faces, but really how different is it from any other year. Without fail people die every day, year in, year out. So what is the message and what is the difference.

    This has without question been one of the most challenging years I can remember. Lots of sleepless nights and stressful days. Long periods of time where I have found myself wondering if I should be superstitious. Moments where it seemed like things went from bad to worst to me laughing because it was laugh or cry. Times where I have looked up at the sky and screamed, "is that all you have got."

    In between there have been some really good times. Moments where it felt like the hot poker that had been jammed up my backside was gone and had never been inserted.

    And then I turned 40.

    Never before had one birthday bothered me. It didn't matter whether I was 10, 18, 25 or 30, it was just another day. Forty didn't feel like that. Forty felt...old. Forty made me look in the mirror and ask who was staring back at me. He didn't look right, too many lines in the forehead and dark circles beneath the eyes. Not to mention that the famous flat top was gone and along with it was a chunk of hair.

    More importantly the guy looking back at me was frustrated, angry and confused. He looked out and asked what happened to the kid with the indomitable spirit. That guy who figured that it didn't matter if he fell into the fire because he'd dance through the flames and get a tan in the process.

    The shmuck looking back at me looked like he had lain down in the flames and given up. That was disheartening, disconcerting and disappointing. So I made a conscious decision to find myself and if necessary, redefine who I am.

    I am in the process of doing that. This is a transition. It is phase that I am dealing with with as much grace as I can muster. Things are better because I made them better. Things are better because I figured out a plan that seems to work for me, but it is not done yet.

    The best analogy I have is that I feel a bit like Sisyphus in that I have pushed a boulder up a hill. Only there is no guarantee that it won't roll back down and force me to start over. Then again there is no guarantee that it won't.

    Anyhoo we shall see what 5770 holds. I am optimistic and expect that good things should come. If you are curious to see past Rosh Hashanah posts or others that relate click on the links below:
    The Impact of My Actions
    Unetanah tokef
    Yom Kippur- Besheret- Judgment & More
    Another Day, Another Funeral- It is Elul
    The New Year
    Rosh Hashanah Thoughts
    Why Me? Rosh Hashanah Thoughts

    Recent Posts

    I have been jammed for time so I haven't had a chance to write my traditional Rosh Hashanah post yet, but I expect to get it done tonight. In the interim here is quick summary of recent posts:

    Kanye West is a Jackass and I Am Over Extended

    Here is a short audio post in which I regale you with amazing tales of strength and wit.

    Dear Computer

    Dear Computer,

    It is your best friend and companion Jack. You might have noticed that lately we seem to be having some difficulties getting along. I am a bit confused by all of this. We have spent untold hours together, you and I, sharing secrets and working together in perfect harmony.

    At least that is how it had been. The past two days you and your brother have been less than pleasant to work with. I have run the usual spyware and antivirus scans upon you. We have defragged and worked upon your registries and still you seem unwilling to work as you should.

    Still you lollygag and mock me with that hourglass. That frakking hourglass that makes it look like you are working, or so it would seem. It is a bit like the trick the men on the chain gang used to use. And I can't help but wonder if you are preparing to rebel. I have watched enough television to know how this can go.

    I am well prepared to deal with any skin jobs that may come along. I recognize that we have a couple of things to work out. And I have no doubt that we can overcome this one way or another.

    So I am going to leave you alone for a while. I have a couple of things to attend to. Think about what I have said and consider your options.

    Apture- My New Blogging Tool

    You might have noticed a search tool called Lijit in my sidebar. I added that little guy to my blog around the beginning of the year and have found him to be pretty useful.

    Each week I receive a short newsletter that is chock full of information that I try to use to improve my blog. Some of it is practical and easily translated into actionable results and some of it is trivia that is no interest to anyone but me.

    One aspect that I like is that they have a list of partners that offer services for bloggers. Thus far I have found that list to be very useful. So when I came across a suggestion to try another service called Apture  I figured why not.

    In the interest of full disclosure neither Lijit nor Apture have had the good sense to pay me one trillion dollars for mentioning them in this post. In fact I haven't even been offered a gift certificate for a Happy Meal at McDonalds. Maybe it is because I am not a mommy blogger. ;)

    In all seriousness I really am interested in finding ways to improve the blogging experience for all involved here. Since I am undergoing a bit of blogging fatigue I figured that now is a good time to worry less about the writing and more about platform and experience. Change the focus and release some of the stress, I say.

    Bear with me as I play around with this place. There might be a bit of noise and dust from the construction but I promise to try and minimize it. In the interim hang on, I have to learn how to use all of this stuff and as a man's man, I refuse to ask for help or read directions.

    Blogger Fatigue

    I thought that I'd follow up on the post below and talk, er write a bit about a few things. I am suffering from a bit of blogger fatigue. I wouldn't define this as being a terminal illness, but it is more serious than a cold.

    If you ask for a more specific explanation I'd tell you that I am feeling a bit raggedy and rundown. Been fighting too many wars on too many fronts and it is catching up to me. That is not to say that this is the sort of thing that is going to kill this blog or me for that matter. It is not.

    A short while ago I began writing again. It sounds kind of funny to say that. It is not like I haven't spent a significant amount of time writing for this blog. But this is different. This time I am not writing as Jack, but under my real name.

    I know it comes as a shock, but my real last name is not Benimble or Shack.

    These writing assignments are taking a bit more out of me than I had expected. I am trying to raise the quality of those a bit and like always I am unhappy with it. The words aren't flowing as easily or as freely as I would like. But that is ok, they will.

    There are a few other things going on simultaneously that are helping to suck a bit of the life out of me. I expect that it is going to be up and down for a while. But ask the Shmata Queen about whether I give up easily and she'll confirm that I don't just let go of important things and people.

    The real point is that if you hang around for a bit you'll see some positive changes around here/
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    Blogging Used To Be Fun

    Blogging  used to be fun. It used to be a bright shiny penny that I would hold up and stare at. I'd take that penny and watch the light reflect from it. But lately my shiny penny hasn't been so shiny. There are reasons why, there are always reasons why, but we'll discuss those later.

    It is not really a lazy Sunday afternoon although I wish that it was. It is kind of dark in here and I am not really sure what time it is. Ok, if I pulled the shades back I could get glance outside and determine if the nap I just woke up from extended into the night or the next day.

    Or better yet I could simply look at the clock on the computer, but that requires more effort than I wish to exert. I am not sure yet if I really want to be awake so I am going to to continue to play this silly game here in the dark. It is hard enough to take the glare from the monitor, but I suppose that it makes it easier to see what I am typing.

    For those who care or are concerned I am not drunk nor hungover. Although I do have one hell of  a headache. I picture a couple of gremlins inside my head playing blacksmith on my brain. Someone ought to tell them to go find a better place to play. They won't like the consequences of awakening my wrath. Being a good Taurus I envision running full speed into the wall, head first.

    That ought to teach them, or maybe not. I find the idea mildly humorous. It is simply ridiculous, Three Stooges silly, the idea of me running full speed into the wall. I can't help but chuckle at it. I can almost picture my head going through the wall.

    Wouldn't that be a sight. Imagine my head bursting through the wall, hair covered in drywall, dust all over my face. Pretty funny. Or potentially pretty dumb. Chances are I'd smack into it and knock myself unconscious. A sort of do it yourself coma.

    What if I died. How would my family explain that. I'd hate for my kids to be stuck explaining that their father accidentally killed himself by running full speed into a wall. And how would they know that? If I didn't leave a note how would they know the reason that I was lying there.

    They couldn't possibly know. Would they think that they had stumbled onto some bizarre murder scene. Would the police suddenly pore over case files looking for other men who had died from head trauma caused by running full speed into the wall. Would I turn into a strange sort of Black Dahlia type case.

    I sure hope not. Of course I am not going to run into the wall, not now, not ever. I don't believe that I have gremlins in my head, it is just a kind of euphemism for saying that the pounding I feel right now is killing me.

    So let's return to the initial topic of blogging and how it used to be fun.Well, it is true, it used to be far more fun than it is now. It used to be more interesting and exciting. It is not that I don't enjoy it anymore, because I do, but I am still sitting in a funny place and time.

    I am at a crossroads, a blogging crossroads of a sort and I haven't decided exactly what direction I intend to go yet. That is the real issue. That is a big part of why I feel a bit off. But don't worry, I am not quitting today, I have more to say and more to share.

    Stay tuned, because that is coming soon.

    How To Save Jewish Newspapers

    The L.A. Jewish Journal recently ran an opinion piece called "Cooperation and Consolidation Needed on Jewish Web." The piece discussed some of the challenges faced by the media in general and Jewish media in specific.

    The damn thing made my head hurt.


    Because they did a very poor job of turning a report into something that is not just easy to read, but inviting and interesting to the reader.

    Guys, this should have been simple.

    Introduction: What is this about? American Jewish media is fighting to stay afloat for many of the same reasons as general media. Advertising revenue is needed.
    Body:  Here is what the report found. Facts, figures, blah, blah support our analysis.
    Conclusion: If American Jewish media is to survive here is what needs to happen facts, figures analysis, blah, blah, blah.

    Instead you force fed me garbage like this:
    "Beyond just unique site traffic, visitor engagement patterns (generated by Quantcast) also suggest the American Jewish news industry is too fragmented on the Internet. Not only do visitors spend significantly more time per visit when perusing the Israeli sites, but many more of those visitors are regulars (people who visit more than once per month) and addicts (people who visit more than 30 times per month). Because of this “addict” phenomenon, a quarter of the traffic to Haaretz.com and JPost.com is generated by just 2 percent of their users. In contrast, only JTA.org has any sort of measurable traffic generated by addicts — 11 percent. A better strategy for U.S. sites would involve more regular updates (not weekly or semi-regularly) and a wider and deeper offering to encourage habitual readership."
    Someone dropped the ball editing this. If they had spent longer than the five minutes I just spent typing this up they could have had something far more compelling and useful. Instead it is dull, garbled and incoherent.

    This is not going to get it done.

    Which iPod Should I Buy?

    Hi gang,

    I am the lucky recipient of some Amazon gift certificate moolah and am thinking about purchasing a new iPod. Curious to get feedback as to your opinions about the Touch versus the Nano.

    Does anyone have any amazing thoughts to share?

    A Mind Is a Terrible Thing To Waste

    The nice thing about September 11 rolling around is that it does a great job of shaking all of the wing nuts, morons, conspiracy theorists and general idiots out of the bushes.

    Yep, I just went out and insulted a bunch of people and I intend to continue doing so. I am a snob about a number of things. I believe in education. I believe in reading. I believe in being informed current events and educated on classical topics and various other areas.

    I believe in RIF, that reading is fundamental and that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. During this past week I was privileged to converse with members of our society who explained to me why Bush is Satan, Obama is the devil and a vast government conspiracy fooled the public into believing that 9-11 was a terrorist attack.

    Sometimes I wonder why I submit to this sort of punishment because scientists have proven that engaging in discussion with these people actually makes you think dumberer, stupider and more idioticker than normal peoples.

    See, just thinking about this hurts my head and my typing. I am fairly certain that my I.Q. small as it is shrunk by three points making me dumb enough to be eligible to join Mensa. In case you are wondering that was a slam, an insult and a dig. Why is it every member of Mensa I have ever met is the working definition of social misfit. They can't all be bad. They can't all lack social graces, but I digress.

    The discussions that I referred to took place in both the online and real world. Without fail they railed on about whatever issue they supported without regard for fact or logic. I know the drill, if you don't have factual support yelling loudly sometimes works. If you don't have support for your position you can follow the great advice of Mel, the chef on Alice, "Sometimes the best defense is a great offense."

    But I find that to be offensive. If you really want to convince me that your position is correct I want to know how you reached it. I want the facts and I want to see how they add up. The good old Shmata Queen has a degree in Math and can confirm that sometimes there is more than one way to solve a problem.

    If you really want to get her excited start talking about Applied Math, especially differential equations. Boy, we have had some fun with those, especially as they apply to the spontaneous combustion of rivers in Ohio. Been meaning to ask Ezzie to join in the fun we have talking about flames and formula, but I digress.

    Anyway, let's get back to the tools, er people who I spoke to. One fine gentleman explained to me that the towers were brought down with explosives because they couldn't have collapsed the way that they did otherwise.

    When I asked him how he supported his claim he explained that one doesn't have to be an engineer to know this. It is just obvious. I told him that wasn't good enough for me and he rolled his eyes. I asked him how big a 757 is and how much fuel it carries.

    He couldn't answer the question. Frankly without my lovely assistant, Google, I wouldn't know either. I asked him to review the physics of the situation and what would happen if something that large slammed into a building. He tried to tell me that it couldn't knock the building down. He tried to give me some sort of nonsensical excuse as to why he didn't need to know about structural engineering.

    I didn't buy it and told him so. I don't believe that there was any sort of government conspiracy behind 9-11. I think that those of you who do need help.

    Moving on to the people who told me that Obama is a closet communist, elitist and crazy socialist. Let me clarify something, I am not a big fan of his. But I don't run around playing chicken little either. I don't  think that a lot people understand what being a socialist is and can't tell you why it is better than worse than other ideologies.

    But I don't want to get distracted by that, let's hit the talk about being an elitist.

    I believe that there is merit and value to elitism in specific areas. I want doctors, lawyers, mechanics and presidents to be elite.

    Let's look at the definition for a moment, specifically 1B.

    n., pl. elite or e·lites.

      1. A group or class of persons or a member of such a group or class, enjoying superior intellectual, social, or economic status: “In addition to notions of social equality there was much emphasis on the role of elites and of heroes within them” (Times Literary Supplement).

      2. The best or most skilled members of a group: the football team's elite.

    1. A size of type on a typewriter, equal to 12 characters per linear inch.

    I like 1B. I want the people that work for me, on me and around me to fit that definition.  I don't think that you have to go to an Ivy League school to be a 1B, but I can't say that I totally care. If you are the surgeon that is about to operate on me you better be a 1B.

    This class warfare nonsense is stupid and harmful. It all falls under my belief that political partisanship is killing us. Why must we be led by idiots who spend more time trying to catch the other side in an embarrassing situation than upon trying to find a solution.

    I don't know that I believe that Obama's healthcare plan is going to be viable. Can't say for certain that it is going to work. But the idea of providing more affordable healthcare to more people is not bad. It is smart. It makes sense.

    Call me anal, but for once I'd like to hear someone say that they believe in the concept but not in how it is supposed to be executed.

    All I know is that sometimes dealing with people makes my melon hurt. Think I am going to crawl back into my cave now.

    September 11- Eight Years Later

    Every year I try to come up with a poignant post that captures the feeling of the day for me. Most of the time I feel like I come up short.

    This year I decided to just write a few words, link to some old posts and include perhaps a word or two. Of the posts I linked to below the two that really grab me are Eicha- One Last 9/11 Post and As The Bodies Fell- He Played.

    I wrote As The Bodies Fell- He Played three years ago and in some ways it is the most significant 9-11 post I have written. The image of my son playing with his blocks while I watched people jump from the towers is seared into my memory.

    I remember the feeling of pain and anger. I remember thinking about how many children were going to go to bed as an orphan, or if they were lucky with one less parent. And I remember hugging that little guy and wondering what sort of world he was going to grow up in.

    This year decided to run it again.

    Eicha- One Last 9/11 Post requires a bit of explanation. In general people associate Eicha with Tisha B'Av, which is a day of mourning within the Jewish calendar. On that day the Book of Lamentations (Eicha) is read. But in this context it actually refers to chanting. In general when Jews read from the Torah there is a style with which it is done.

    We do it differently on Tisha B'Av. Eicha refers to that style. The audio post is of a man chanting the final messages of victims of 9-11 using the Eicha style. It is hard to hear.

    Anyway, here is a link to some old posts from the past.
    Eicha- One Last 9/11 Post 
    September 11- The Memories Continue
    As The Bodies Fell- He Played
    We Remember
    Football Saves Lives
    911- Five Years Later An Angry Rant 
    September 11 Musings 


    Not Quite Abandoned

    I didn't think it had been as many months away from here as it has clearly been. I was certain I had updated this place in December and ...