Monday, January 31, 2005

Ephraim - 4 Daddy - 0

I was on the phone with a client this afternoon when my son's school clicked in. this is not an entirely unusual circumstance, as my wife teaches at the same school my kids attend, but I asked my client to hold on a moment, and took the call.

Wouldn't you know it. This time it was actually a school emergency. I told my client I'll talk to him later, and found myself driving to Akiva Hebrew Day School to pick up Ephraim.

Apparently, in a spirited game of chase the ball in the gym, he was pushed by the kid behind him, and went head first into the door. The opened the gash in his head. The gash led to his head being butterflied by the gym teacher, who told my wife that my son needed stitches, who them called me up to take him to the hospital.

Fortunately, before going to the hospital, we called his pediatrician, and it turns out that they stitch kids up right in the office. So instead of sitting in a hospital waiting room for hours on end, we sat at the doctor's office for ten minutes before they called us in.

The doctor was nice, the nurse did a good job, and Ephraim went through the procedure without crying once, and only needing to hold my hand one time. I don't know if this is exceptional self control or common practice. I've never had a single stitch.

By the time we were through, he had four stitches on his head, a partially shaved head, and promises of toys and treats for good behavior.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Rabbi and the Kiddush Club

The OU put out a press release recommending that shuils ban the kiddush club. Our Kiddush club is kind of like social security; rabbis who try to tamper with the only organization in the shul that has existed since the shul's founding find themselves in hot water, and soon move on to other jobs.

But the OU emboldened our Rabbi, who, in a moment of cowardice or wisdom, urged the board to put a stop to the Kiddush club rather than stand up to the Kiddush Club himself, in his speech on Shabbat morning.

I believe the Kiddush club is wrong. I don't think it is proper to go out and have Kiddush during Haftorah every week. But I do leave the shul anyway for HafTorah every week, and since I am in the halls anyway, i go to have a couple of shots and some salami or corned beef that is served each week.

But the rabbi is wrong on several accounts. He said that the Kiddush club sends the wrong message to our kids. This is the same man who is allowing the shul to hold a Casino Night later this year. What's worse, seeing legal adults (every in the club is over 21. kids are not allowed to come in) enjoying a beverage in a responsible way, or preying on people's worst habits to try and raise money for the shul?

The rabbi comes across as a hypocrit in other ways as well. From him shushing people one week while having conversations other weeks, or even just a few minutes before his shush. And preaching not drinking in shul because it is a bad example to kids while promoting drinking in shul at the annual Purim Seuda.

At Shalosh Shudes, insists that people either sing or not talk during Zemirot. That is, unless he is doing the talking.

There are a hundred examples of how he says one thing, then does another.

Lucky me. I was asked to go talk to the rabbi and tell him what a fuck-up he is and that he needs to change or we are going to lose members. I can tell you this. It will be an interesting conversation. We are the same age, his kids and my kids are friends and we have a carpool together. And he is a nice guy. He just wants to be both the rabbi and one of the guys, even though he will speak from the pulpit saying he is not one of the guys.

The real problem is when we voted to extend his contract, 88% of the people were in favor of him. Two ways to read that.

1) He is the most beloved Rabbi in the history of Rabbis.
2) 88% of the shul did not want to got through another rabbinical search.

He tried to get extra benefits to his contract after the vote, because he thought he was the man. The uproar at the general membership meeting that ploy caused should have told him he wasn't quite as popular as he thought.

The upshot is that he is tied to us for three years, and we are tied to him as well. He isn't so happy, and wants to leave, but can't right now.

I doubt he will get a new contract when this one expires, but in the meantime, we can't have him chasing the people away.

It Happened

I knew it was only a matter of time, but my wife read my blog today. I had never hidden it from her, but she had never been all that interested in reading it.

She read it, criticized it for spelling mistakes, and smiled.

I think I entertain her. In fact, I know i entertain her. Otherwise she propbably would have moved on long ago.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sick of Rabbis...or why I would never send my child to Yeshiva

For those of you who have never heard This American Life, I highly recommend tuning in to the show. It runs for an hour on Public Radio, and tells different stories collected from daily American life. In each episode, they pick a theme, and try to tell three to four stories related to that theme.

Hosted by Ira Glass, funded by PRI, almost every episode is available online at you can also download episodes and out them into your ipod, but since I don't have an ipod i couldn't tell you how to do that.

Anyway, I was listening to this week's show, an episode about big breaks. The first 36 minutes went by uneventfully. The thirs story, though, was about a third grader who appealed to a higher power. Unsure what this was about, I listened on.

It is a story by Shalom Auslander, a former yeshiva student. He opens up by talking about the upcoming Brachos Bee at Yeshiva of Spring Valley. Based on some of the names he uses in the story, names my wife remembers from growing up in the area, He is probably 35-40 years old.

Shalom's father is a violent alcoholic, and Shalom decides that if he wins the Brachos bee, he can give his mother some nachas, as he will be destined to be a great rabbi.

A week before the brachos bee, the principle comes into the classroom, and tells their Rebbi that one of the student's in the class's father passed away.

Then the rabbi looks at the students, and reminds them that all their sins count toward their father's record, and they better watch themselves or else their father might die too.

Suddenly, Shalom has a way to protect his family. If he can sin enough, his father will die.

So Shalom begins drinking milk after meat, flicking light switches on Shabbos, and touching himself.

Throughout the story, I keep feeling so much hostility toward the rabbi. We don't know why God kills people. We don't really know anything about how Hashem works, so how can these rabbis go ahead and place that kind of burden on eight-year-old kids heads.

There was also a mid-class spanking and other acts of violence from the rebbi to the kid. It completely sends the wrong message about Judaism and God to children.

I don't know Shalom Auslander, but I certainly knew the types of rabbis that he was talking about. They make me sick. They think they are God's gift to the Jewish people. These are people who have no education, very little common sense, and no social skills.

They shouldn't be teaching children. They shouldn't be allowed anywhere near children.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Only Nine

With the demise of my Wednesday hockey game, it was time to look elsewhere for my hockey fix. I'm not ahockey junkie. I don't give a rats ass that the NHL is taking the season off, and when it comes out it will be competing with snooker and bowling for fifth place on the sports scene behind football, baseball, hoops and NASCAR.

As far as that goes, I hope Free Stanley is successful in its lawsuit trying to take back the Stanley Cup from the NHL. The NHL sucks, and they are all about gouging the customer. NBA also sucks. Any league where players take a night off because the grind of the season is too long for them to concentrate all winter long might as well fold.

You never see NFL players take a day off. That's a real sport.

But back to hockey. I found a floor hockey league where you don't have to be in a wheelchair in order to play. Minimum size roster is nine, max is fifteen, and since I found the league, I have to organize the team.

For starters, we are going with a nine man roster. It's a four on four game, and there is no way i want to figure out how to get 13 people into a game.

Roster spots 1-5 are filled with players from the old game. Probably the top five players in the game, including a goalie, and someone who can play back up goalie in a pinch.

That leaves four spots open. One was offered to a guy who used to play, but quit after a few months. I question his committment to the game and his ability. He hasn't played since he turned 30 almost two years ago, and this should be a very competitive league. Also, durability may be a problem.

Assuming he takes a spot, that leaves 3. Our top player moved back to NY a few months ago, but rumor has it he may be moving back. He's a gamebreaker. Can handle the puck, and always seems to find his way around the net.

And then there are two brothers. The older brother is about 35, but runs 40 minutes a day, stays in great shape, and has a nice touch with the puck when he passes. His younger brother has mad skills, but stickhandles too much, and loses the puck a lot.

There are still four or five other people who occasionally to usually show up for our Wednesday night games, but I don't think they make the cut. At least not until I find out from top prospects who can play.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Thoughts From A Long Day

I was skimming through yahoo news, when i noticed that a Gwen Stefani dress was stolen from a museum. Is that what we're using museums for these days. Storing Gwen's wardrobe. Surely the museum could be put to better use. Like holding the glove that OJ used to kill Nicole.

My wife had a flat tire this morning on her way to school. I wasn't blamed for any of it. Not for the flat tire, not for her having to get on her hands and knees and change the tire herself. Not for the cut on her hand. Not for anything at all. That is, until she somehow discovered that her cel phone was in my pants pocket, and she hadn't inadvertantly left it at home.

So now it's all my fault.

It rained all day today, except for the last two hours. Now its snowing. I know snow is part of Michigan winters, but the snow just finished melting yesterday. Do we really need more so quickly.

That's it for today, though. Time to crash.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Not Again

I cam home from the gym at 9:40. Once again, an unholy unsweated unswearing beast. But instead of cursing at the blog, I went on the treadmill for the first time since November.

Then I went online, to try to find a floor hockey league. I'm sick of these losers.

I googled floor hockey Michigan, and got very excited when something popped up in Livonia, about 20 minutes away from where I live. I clicked on it, and couldn't be more dissapointed.

It was for floor hockey for people in wheel chairs.

Do I need to cut off my legs in order to play floor hockey.

Kmart Again....

So I spent three years working at Kmart's ad agency. Three years cursing the big red K that hung over our heads like some cartoon anvil waiting to drop. Three years sitting in the office past midnight to do Kmart's bidding.

When I left, I told myself I would never work for the Satanic K again. I wouldn't even shop there.

But it's been two years already since I left. I miss that big K. I miss the rush of staying at work into the night, racing against a deadline and making sure that the client isn't just happy, but ecstatic.

So when the recruiter called today looking for a writer to work at Kmart's e-commerce headquarters, I took the bait. Sent in my resume. And now I'm waiting for the call.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

The Never Ending Story

Some stories have a definite beginning and ending. This one one does not.

I'm the oldest of seven children. I have four younger brothers. The reason I tell you this is because two of those brothers are very involved in this story. There is Yaakov, my brother who is about 4 years younger than me, and Shauli, my brother who is about 8 years younger than I am. If you want to make fun of Shauli for having a girl's name, go ahead. We have been making fun of him for years. But that has nothing to do with this story. Shauli isn't even in the first part of the story.

It began about 17 years ago. I was 14. Yaakov was 10. We were walking home from shul in the snow. I doubt if we were wearing boots, or anything more than an overcoat and possibly gloves, because my mom usually didn't see us on Shabbos morning when we went to shul, and my dad didn't really notice what we were wearing when we went outside.

Anyway, on this Shabbos morning, for some reason, my Dad says to me me that he'll give me a $1 if I push Yaakov into the snow. I don't remember the context of the event. I had no idea that i would still remember this story seventeen years later.

I didn't really need the dollar motivation. Yaakov probably yelled, ran behind my dad for safety, was caught, and tossed into the snow.

Somehow that became a tradition. I was away at Yeshiva for a few winters after that, and then he was away at his yeshiva, and there weren't very many opportunities to throw each other into the snow.

I should mention that while I peaked at 5'9", he blossomed into a 6'3" adult.

Sometimes when we would see each other in the winter, we would remember that Shabbos, and sometimes I would toss him into the snow, and sometimes he would get me. I do remember picking him up and throwing him into a snow covered bush one wintry day.

Like all great family legends, this was told to my oldest son. Yaakov lives in Boston now, and we don't get to see him during the winter very often, but Shauli lives here, and last winter, we would usually walk to and from Shul with him.

My son wanted to recreate the pushing into snow, and tried to come up with elaborate plans for distracting my brother, giving me an opportunity to push Shauli into the snow. Sometimes he would throw a snowball to get shauli's attention, otehr times he would talk to shauli hoping to distract shauli long enough for me to push him into the snow.

Most times, though, it was my son who ended up in the snow. I guess all his whispering about the plan would make shauli suspicious, and when my boy would get close enough, Shauli would toss him into the snow.

There were times when I did get shauli, and times when he got me, but the person who got the worst of it was always my boy.

Which brings us to Thursday, when 6 inches of snow caused school to be cancelled, and Yaakov's visit with his daughters coincided. We all went sledding. We got to the hill before Yaakov did, and immediately my son started talking about plans to knock Yaakov into the snow.

Plan A was my son would smack Yaakov in the butt, run away, and when yaakov was chasing him i would tackle Yaakov.Plan B was to knock him into a sled, and push the sled down the hill.

I nixed plan A. We are big on respect here, and I didn't think that was respectful. Plan B didn't really work like we had hoped either, so my son just attacked Yaakov. When Yaakov was distracted, I moved in, and we ended up wrestling and falling down the hill, Yaakov knocking me down and then me pulling him into the snow.

Which brought us to Friday. My son wanted to visit hi Bubby. I was already there, as was Yaakov, Shauli and a bunch of other people. As soon as he walked in through the back door, my brothers both picked him up, started talking about "the plan," carried him out the front door, and threw him into the snow covered bush.

I told my son that since he was so much smaller than his uncles, he needed to have a sitdown with them to reach a peace agreement, which he is against, or he should wait because revenge is a dish best sevred cold, which my son also opposed.

He wants revenge, which will be hard to come by since Yaakov is going back to Boston on Sunday, and we no longer live near Shauli, so we don't walk home from shul with him. But this story is never ending. Yaakov's daughters are gettting old enough to knock down, and one day Shauli's baby will be the perfect age to terrorize.

In the meantime, though, he had to settle for the next best thing.

Grabbing his brother and tossing him into the snow.

Friday, January 07, 2005

It had to come out

NOTE: If you don't wish to see the "F" word, move along.

I've been keeping it in for so long, it is just bursting to come out.


There. I said it. Or wrote it, actually, which isn't quite the same cathartic experience that screaming it is.

Every Wednesday night I play in a floor hockey game. We've been playing for almost three years, and have rarely missed games, but the past two months we've struggled to have enough people. this wednesday night, exactly six people and no goalies showed up.

It's a friendly, fierce game. Most of the people who play grew up together within a few years of each other. The game is intense, and offers lots of opportunity to let the previous seven days of frustrations work themselves out. And of course, plenty of cursing, kidding, and the occasional fight.

My last fight was two years ago. Before that, my last fight was in the fourth grade. In some karmic crazy way, my fight was with the same guy. I beat him up in fourth grade, and I knocked him down as a couple of 29 year olds playing a "friendly" game of hockey.

But Fuckin A, if I wouldn't have wanted to play this week. Get rid of the rage and anger that builds up. Mad at my wife. It disspates in a torrent of motherfucker, bitch and asshole tossed out at someone I'm playing with.

Sucky week at work. Shoot the puck, run someone into the wall, and yell at my teammates to play some fucking defense.

Then, this week, all the fuck shit asshole fuck bitch gets kept inside, bursting and ready to come out.

And here's a news flash for you. Writing fuck on Friday morning at work isn't nearly as therapeutic as playing a game of hockey.

Some of it is out. The rest will have to come out later, hopefully next Wednesday, and not toward the kids or anyone else who doesn't really deserve it.

But first, here's the Fuck you honor roll for people not showing up on Wednesday.

Fuck you rip, and mr nose job so i can't play for three weeks.

Fuck you mo, for always bitching that the game starts late, and not showing up until 9:30 every week anyway. And a double fuck you just for the hell of it.

Fuck you Z, and bob, and brad and everyone else who didn't bother showing up.

I know how important it was for you to stay home and watch fucking Lost on TV and some reality TV bullshit show.

Fuck you all.

You know, as this post moved along, and I got more into writing it, I actually did feel some of the weekly build stres buildup dissolve.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Ten Years

It was ten years ago today that I brought my girlfriend to a Starbucks in Manhattan, got down on one knee, and read a poem to her asking her to marry me. She said yes, and single life ended for me.

She was my second real girlfriend, the first one having ended in disaster a little over a year earlier. We met in a friends car, went bowling together with a group, and then I called her two days later. We went to the circus, then a Mets game, and before long, we were hanging out a few nights a week and spending Shabbat together, usually at my yeshiva.

Dating was fun. We were young and wild, and not really interested in what anyone thought. We thought that life was always going to be a huge party.

Ten years is a long time though, and I would be lying if I said she hadn't changed at all. She has changed, and I don't think the 20-year old her would recognize the thirty-year-old woman she has become. Motherhood does that to a woman. So does credit card debt, new friends, mortgages and a job with responsibility.

Where once she was carefree and crazy enough to do anything, now she is cautious, and thinks twice before she makes a sudden move.

That's not always a bad thing. I have changed too, although I like to think not to the same degree. I can't remember the last time I went to a strip club, or even a bar to hang out with the guys. Those nights have been replaced with Wednesday night hockey games, Monday Night Football BBQ club, a chavrusa and a shuir.

Change is inevitable though, and if we stayed the same people we were, with three kids, I don't know that we would have lasted this long.

There have been lots of highlights over the ten years. When we used to spend Shabos at yeshiva in Great Neck, the Rosh Yeshiva used to tell his father, a Rosh Yeshiva who spent Shabbos with us as well, that we were engaged long before we even considered getting married.

There was the birth of children. Introducing my oldest to Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer the first night he was born. My last birth, that of my daughter, was my favorite. Less than two hours after getting to the hospital, she was born. Interestingly, that was my wife's least favorite birth, as the fast delivery meant that my daughter was born without the benefit of pain-killing drugs.

We drove to Tampa Bay to watch the Lions lose in the playoffs one year. It was probably our best trip ever, in no small part because of the spontaneous nature of the trip. The Lions got in the playoffs on the last day of the season. The next day, we decided to go watch them play. We piled into the car on Wednesday, spent a few days driving south, spent Shabbos in Miami, and got to Tampa a few hours before game time.

We stay together, though, because almost every day, something fun happens. Something unexpected, and it keeps us going on through the tougher times.

We can overlook the forgotten birthdays, Mother's Days, anniversaries, and other things because we choose to let it go, instead of fighting about it and letting it linger.

The next ten will be different. There are no plans to increase the size of our family, the five of us are who we are bringing to the fray. In ten years, my boys will be 18 and 15, my daughter will be 12. My wife and I will turn 40. I don't know what the next ten years will bring. They may be the most challenging yet, raising teenagers, figuring out where to send them to school, and watching them develop into young adults.

We've had a good run so far. No reason to think the next ten can't be just as good.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Enough Already

I rarely get any email from my mother in law. Not that I'm complaining. I'm more than happy to have her not think about me while she is working away at her job. It's just that when I do get something from her, it is the most inane forward that is probably supposed to change my life and the lives of the other 20 people she sends it on to.

Usually her email just gets skimmed and deleted. But that is not enough. Because some day soon, maybe tomorrow or maybe in two weeks, she is going to get another email that she feels needs to be sent out to everyone on her list.

You know what, I don't even believe she reads this before she sends it out. I think she gets the forward from her friend, sees that it is supposed to be some touching e-mail to show how much she cares about us all, and then click click click its off and sitting in my inbox.

You see, I like my mother in law. I like her best when she is at home in New Jersey and I am at home in Detroit, but we get along very well when we see each other. Over the last ten years, I think I have gotten to know her very well. And I know that she would never, in a million years, say anything like the email she is forwarding out to me. Its not within her personality to actively wish those types of sentiments on others.

Most of the time, I have to admit, the emails echo a nice thought or feeling or emotion. Even though I know she couldn't emote in that way,

Todays email just sucked. This doesn't make any sense. Perhaps they should have added one more

The most aggravating thing to get in your email......some poorly thought out piece of crap that a five year old wrote without thinking about what any of it meant.

The most destructive habit............................Worry
The greatest Joy.....................................Giving
The greatest loss.......................Loss of self-respect
The most satisfying work...................Helping others
The ugliest personality trait.....................Selfishness
The most endangered species.........Dedicated leaders
Our greatest natural resource....................Our youth
The greatest "shot in the arm"...........Encouragement
The greatest problem to overcome....................Fear
The most effective sleeping pill...........Peace of mind
The most crippling disease..........................Excuses
The most powerful force in life........................Love
The most dangerous pariah.....................A gossiper
The world's most incredible computer. .......The brain
The worst thing to be without......................... Hope
The deadliest weapon.............................The tongue
The two most power-filled words.................."I Can"
The greatest asset.........................................Faith
The most worthless emotion.......................Self-pity
The most beautiful attire..............................SMILE!
The most prized possession....................... Integrity
The most powerful channel of communication....Prayer
The most contagious spirit......................Enthusiasm

Monday, January 03, 2005

Deleting a Comment

Can anyone tell me how to delete a comment. Someone posted a comment anonymously that has racial slurs in it that I would like to delete from my blog.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

The Joy of Daughters

My daughter goes to a babysitter during the day. Together with some unknown amount of children, she runs around, gets dirty, ends up with sticky things in her hair, and comes home telling us how much fun she had pushing Chaviva down.

She was a bit constipated, though, the last time we sent her to the babysitter, and as I picked up my duaghter, the babysitter told me she needed some "Tushie Medicine" to help clear things up.

We get home, and my daughter wants to make on the toilet, a startling develoment, considering how unsuccessful toilet training has been so far. After she went, she decided she did not want to wear a diaper anymore, and so we let her walk around bare-bottomed for a little while so she would feel more comfortable making on the toilet.

After a few minutes, she said she had to use the bathroom again, so I picked her up, carried her to the bathroom, and sat her down on the toilet. She made a small "stinky" on the toilet, and said she needed tushie medicine.

When my oldest was a baby, we began putting candy into a medicine bottle, and when he would ask for medicine that we didn't think was warrented, we would give him a piece of candy from the bottle. He would feel better, and we were secure in the knowledge that we were not over-drugging our child. However, this medicine, which wqe had labeled Placebo, was long gone.

I foraged through the pantry, and found some Pez that could pass as medicine. After wiping my daughter, I brought her back to the kitchen, washed my hands, and gave her a Pez medicine. Then I left the room, my role as Dad completed.

I should mention that my daughter was still bare-bottomed.

A few minutes later, I heard my wife scream from the kitchen. I ran into the room, to find my wife trying to decide whether to fall on the floor laughing, or mete out some type of correctional action.

My duaghter had taken the Pez, and tried to put the "Tushie Medicine" into her tush. When my wife saw what she was doing she called to her to stop, but my daughter simply took the pez, and tried to put it in her vagina.

She then lifted it up, and seemed to be ready to eat the Pez, when I swooped it, grabbed it away, and tossed it in the trash.

Which of course, led to more screaming, more laughing, and a quick diaper to protect my daughter's orifices from her self.