Friday, April 29, 2005

It can only be family

My wife loves her Bubby very deeply. Her Bubby thinks my wife loves her because when she sees Bubby, Bubby gives her money.

My wife has spent a lot of energy trying to convince her bubby that it isn't true, and has turned down money to prove her point.

In fact, of all her grandchildren, my wife is the only one who calls on a regular basis to check up on her (she lives alone in manhattan).

So this past week, it came to a bit of a boiling point. Bubby gave all her grandchildren money except my wife. My wife, not knowing that this had happened, did not do anything out of the ordinary.

Bubby, knowing it had happened, kept an eye on my wife to see if she was being treated differently.

Bubby slept in the same room that my kids clothes were. There was another woman sleeping in the room as well. When my wife went in on the first day of Yom Tov, to get clothes for the kids, she saw the other old lady was up and quietly said good morning, so as to not wake up her bubby.

My wife dressed the boys, and passed by the door where her bubby had been sleeping. Bubby was now fully awake, yelling at eem (my wife’s mom) that my wife didn’t say good morning to her because she didn’t give her any money.

She was in quite the pissy mood all morning, and then went into the back room, where she hid out through lunch and refused to come out from until long after lunch. People tried to get her to come out, but she refused, not wanting to spend another minute in the same room as my wife.

(She eventually did emerge. Nature has a way of calling people out of their hideouts.)

So, to recap, my mother in law was upset, due to her extreme co-dependence on Bubby, and not being able to tolerate it when her mother is acting ridiculous. My wife was upset because bubby was being ridiculous. Bubby was upset because her sanity ran out before her body did.

Not to be outdone, the next day, Gramma, my wife’s other grandmother, decided to pick a fight with grandpa, because while gram was trashing my mother in law, grampa was defending her. And since you can’t reason with Gram, she had a little fit of her own.

(In Gram’s defense, instead of hiding in the back room she went into the kitchen and started cooking up a storm.)

She decided that this was the issue that she was going to leave her husband over, but somehow, after not getting the reaction that she wanted, she came back down to earth.
Anyway, I told you that story so I could tell you this one.

My wife was talking Ab (her father) this morning, and asked if Bubby was coming for the last days. Ab said, as a joke, yeah, she is coming as long as you’re not going to be there. My wife thought that was funny and laughed it off.

A few minutes later, Eem walked into the house, got on the phone with my wife, and was having a lovely conversation until someone mentioned Bubby. My father in law heard it, made the same comment about Bubby coming because my wife wasn’t going to there, causing my mother in law to drop the phone and burst into tears.

Anyway, lets do that math.

Bubby is insane.
Gram is insane (although you can’t tell from this story, I can certify that it is true)
Eem is borderline insane (depends on the day)
My wife is still sane. Most days.

Which brings up the real question.

How is this going to effect me?

Things you don't think of

We have been very surprised about all the things we need for pesach. This is our first time at home in many years, and probably the first time ever we are really cooking at home.

We kashered silverware, and bought plasticware, so eating should have been no problem.

But we didn't have a spatula, or a potato peeler. Then we realized we needed a soup pot. And dish drains.

We needed paring knives and wooden spoons and serving utensils.

Too bad we don't need corn holders.

We also didn't bother shopping for food before yom tov. We were only going to be home for Chol HaMoed and the last days. Too bad no one told us every thing in Detroit is sold out before Pesach.

We are getting by. We went to four stores before we realized we would not find any oil, no matter where we looked. Or cooking spray. So we had to beg, borrow and steal soem of that stuff.

We did find some interesting things, though. Matza, which costs 8.99 at the kosher store for a box of machine shmura costs .99 cents at the local grocery. Matza meal is more than half off.

The osterizer we never used and put in a pesach box for one day came in handy, and we made grape juice slurpees for the kids last night.

The hand mixer came in pretty handy when we were making cookies.

So we are gettnig by. Even without a cup of fresh-brewed coffee.

Why I Blog

MoChassid is retiring his blog, citing a conflict of interest between his blog and his new job. Still Wonderin says blog equals ego. Just Passing Through blogs to scratch a mysterious itch.

There are hundreds of reasons why people blog, some relishing the anonymity and their ability to say whatever pops into their head, other's cravign the medium's ability to get their ideas and thoguhts out there.

For me, though, I just like to write. Whether it is something creative or boring or new, watching words fill up a page gives me an intangible feeling of satisfaction that it is hard to describe to someone who doesn't share the experience.

I believe all people have a deeply spiritual side to them, that they can tap into in their own unique way. For some, that way is art, for others, maybe it is one of the sciences or maths that I could do but never fully own.

For me, that spirituality that I tap into is through writing.

It doesn't matter what the subject is. It need not be something religous in nature. It can be sacriligeous or pornographic or simply bland. But it is still tapping into that part of me which draws its energy from a spiritual source.

For me, it is not about anonymity, or I would have picked a different name, and would not have told anyone to visit my blog.

Its not about ego either. I enjoy the comments, but I no longer have a counter on this site letting me know how many people showed up, how they got here, and how long they stayed.

So while I enjoy the comments, the readers, and the discussions this blog provokes, the bottom line is, I write this blog to stay in touch with the essential elements of me.

Looking Up

Today's work menu improved substantially. Last night we baked pesach rollls and chocolate chip cookies. Quite an improvement over matzoh...although I did bring Matzoh as well.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

DIlemma solved

I decided to go with the baseball cap. Not only did my eight year old come to the game, but my five year old and 2 year old, along with my wife, came. The cap, as you might expect, was soaked from the brim to the back with the stench of defeat, as we lost again, this time 12-3.

Back up goalie, down two players, playing the best team in the league. But there are no excuses. Only wins and losses.

Mazel Tov to my boy

My son is eight years old. About a year and a half ago he started going to the Kollel with my dad once a week, to learn some Mishna.

They started around Succos time, and began learning Pesachim, which they finished six months later, and made a siyum on chol Hamoed Pesach. They then began learning Succah, which they finished six months later, and we had a siyum on Chol Hamoed Succos.

After finishing Succah, they started learning Bayah, which I am proud to report, they finished yesterday and made their third siyum. They began their next Mesechta, Shabbos, and hope to finish it before we leave next summer.

It is very interesting to watch them learn together (on occasion they don't make it to the kollel, and learn at our house instead), especially since I never had the patience to sit and learn with my dad.

My boy is getting something of indescribable value, as he listens to my dad go over each Mishna and explain it to him. My son reads the hebrew. My dad translates.

And my son is always surprising us. We always wonder how much he absorbs from this chavrusa he has, and every once in a while, we are talking about something, and he remembers learning about it in Mishna. He can usually open the mishna, and find it inside too, without spending very much time flipping through pages.

I hope that the main thing my son learns from this experience is the importance of setting time every week to learn torah. He doesn't usually see me go to learn, as my two torah nights begin after he is in bed, but I think doing it himself is even more important than watching me go learn.

Today's Work Menu

Matzah, chocolate lollies, an apple and some potato chips I managed to smuggle out while my wife was sleeping...sounds yummy

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


I wear a Kippa, or Yarmulka, all the time. Unless I am in bed or the shower, I have it on. And like every rule, there is one exception. When I play hockey or basketball, I take it off.

I have tried playing with baseball caps instead, or other forms of head covering, and I can not find something that works for me in terms of comfort and reliability that it will not fall off.

But tonight, my eight-year-old son is coming to watch me play. He is off from school, and has been asking to come since the season started, so I told him he could come tonight.

I don't think it is wrong not to wear a kippah when you are playing. But at his age, I would rather he didn't see me playing without a Kippah.

Still Chewing

The matzoh I ate in NJ was paper thin, crisp, and good to eat. The Lakewood brand matzoh we have at home is thick, chewy, and tough to get through. Still, when you are stuck at work, there aren't too many food options. Matzoh is easy to transport, doesn't require a fork or knife or plate to eat, so it gets the nod.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Back at work

Some people come back to work and find piles of things that have accumulated since they left. When I came back to work this morning I found four emails that required my attention. Each email took about fifteen minutes each.

I guess I didn't miss much...

I am feeling like my head is underwater today. I don't know if it is allergies or sick, but it is going to have to clear up by tomorrow night when we play Crest. Talk about setting yourself up for a loss.

These guys haven't lost in a few seasons. Our starting goalie and top defenseman are away for pesach. That leaves seven of us to defend the pride of Jerusalem Pizza. Still, if games were decided on paper, the US would never have beat the russians in Lake Placid, and the Lions wouldn't have won those five games during the Marty Morningwegh era.

Different Types of Seders

There are, or course, different types of Seders. I grew up in a slow seder, where my dad would be interrupted at every line by me or one of my siblings, wanting to repeat a dvar torah that we had learned in school. There were always lots of kids at the seder, between cousins and guests, that the Seder was one of the more fun religious experiences we would have.

I married into a different type of seder, though. This one, while well intentioned and attempting to focus on the children at the table, was actually driven by the much older generation, whose primary seder goal was to be in bed by 11.

Not to say that the seder isn't nice. There is much more singing throughout the seder than at the seders I grew up with, but it is always a sense that we need to be going faster. And it doesn't help that there are four of them over 80, and only three under 10.

This year, as we ate the Matzah, some of the grandparents were moving ahead to marror, and as we were still chomping on matzah, they were eating their Korach sandwich and wondering why things were taking so long.

I never used to mind the quicker Seder. Now, I find myself wishing it sowed down a bit, and encouraged the boys to be involved more. I'd like to ask them to read and lead a section, the way I grew up doing. Instead, I sit with them for a few minutes while the seder whizzes on by, wondering if they are getting anything at all out of the evening.

On the bright side, this will probably be their last Pesach at my inlaws. Next year we plan on being at my parents, assuming they don't go running off to Israel for Pesach like they did last year, and after that, we will be in Israel having only a single seder.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Left my leg in Sterling Heights

At least, the skin from my leg, going from my knee down about 8 inches. It is lying on the floor at the Fieldhouse, after I went down to block a shot.

I didn't notice anythign when it happened, until I went to the bench and looked down. No need to describe it here. Suffice to say it looks nasty and feels worse.

I played through it. Its one thing to get hurt when you are winning, and when it happened, we were in the middle of a 3-3 tie. The third period changed everything, when we gave up six goals and lost 9-3.

Which just makes it all hurt more.

Bad feelings at only $1.32

Someone should tell Blockbuster that their no late fees program sucks. First, after a week they charge you for the full price of the video. Then, when you return it and they reverse the charges, they charge a $1.32 restocking fee.

Someone explain this to me. The people who work at blockbuster are paid to restock the videos on the shelves. Why don't they charge that on every rental? The info is already in the computer, so its not like they have to spend time reentering information into their computer.

Its just another way for corporate America to screw the little guy.

Is this thing working?

Blogger seems to be having trouble today. Hopefully my posts have been getting through.

Here's to Chrysler

Despite what I heard about Chrysler yesterday from one of my printers, which is that they haven't paid any bills in six months so that it looks like they are doing better financially on paper, I do have this nice thing to say.

This morning I found my missing keys in the bottom of my washing machine. The key fob, of course, was attached, and had gone through wash spin rinse spin.

And when I got to my car, it still worked.

Just for fairness, I should say my printer did not tell me chrysler was six months behind in payment. GM, which lost 1.2 billion last quarter, Ford and Visteon were also not paying their bills.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

So we decided...

After a lot of talking, weighing options, and writing zero lists of pros and cons, we have decided to wait a year to move, as we originally planned.

So take a breath of relief Shu and nat. We aren't going anywhere until next summer.

Nothing Changes

Six hours later, and nothing is going on. There were flurries of activity surrounded by long periods of quiet.

At least I got a haircut this morning. Cross that off the list.

Are you watching the O.C.

DVD changes the way I watch TV. I am really into the OC now, where the first season went on to DVD a few months. The show is so stupid and dramatic and poorly acted that it reaches the highest level of entertainment. I am about midway through season one, and it is unbearable to go an entire day without checking in on ryan and marissa, the seth anna summer triangle, and now the latest from alst night's episode, the Julie Caleb fling.

Nothing to do

I have nothing to do today. No work piling up, no back log of things that I have been pushing off. Maybe it is a function of me not having been here very long, or maybe it is the result of my working quickly, but now I have nothing to do.

Now, if I were home, that would be a different story. I could clean out my car for Pesach, or my wife's car, since she is fleeing to NJ tonight and leaving me her car to clean. Their is the kitchen which needs more cleaning and I won't get to it until after she is gone.

The carpets need to be vacuumed and the Pesach things need to be brought up from the basement so we can see what we stored the last time we made Pesach, 7 years ago.

Instead, I'm blogging at work.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Mental Time

This morning we went to the Nefesh bNefesh presentation. We really only knew what we had heard from around and what we had seen on the website. So they came to Detroit, and talked to about forty of us about Aliyah in general, and specifically going through Their organization.

So here is the bottom line. If we push ourselves, we can move this summer. And if we don't push ourselves this summer, then we will be in almost the exact same position at this time next year, sitting in April, with three to four months to go before we leave. and nothing done yet.

The only real difference is mental preparation.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Just Sick

Tigers Baseball. When I was kid at least they competed. And when they would have a bad season, they would come back and play well the next season. My son is 8 years old. The last time the Tigers finished a season over .500 I was dating Gila Greenspan and my wife was going out with Bentzi Race. It was 1993.

This year we finally had some hope. But winning on opening day, to go one game over 500 may have been their peak. Now they are 3-6 and it is looking like it might be a long summer down on woodward.

Of course, the 87 tigers started out 11-19 and eneded up winning the division, but this tiger team doesn't have a tradition of winning. They don't know how to win, and watching them makes me sick.

Sparky Anderson used to say that you don't know anything about a team until you've seen 40 games. We know this after 9 games, though. They still can't play with Minnesota, and had a tough time with Kansas City. If that doesn't tell you something about this team, nothing will.

Read your Jewish News

Cleaning for Pesach, the school dinner, and contract work, plus the shul configuration committee strikes again, office supplies and fixing the my Tallis. You’re reading Air Time, so stick around.

Before I start, let me just tell everyone to see the Detroit Jewish news this week. They ran a story and picture spread on our Jerusalem Pizza hockey team. For those of you wondering about this week, we didn't play, as it was the all star break.

We started to clean for Pesach last week. The ancient ritual is one that we haven’t bothered with in about 8 years, as we have been at my parents and in laws for all those Pesachs. Every year I bitch and moan about being out of the house for the whole holiday, and this year, with my mom running out of space in the house, we decided to stay home for the holiday. Or for the last few days anyway, after we return from NJ.

I’d like to say we found hundreds of dollars, or cool things when we cleaned for Pesach, but all I can report is some loose change and so much crap from my kids school that we needed an entire garbage bag just to get rid of that alone. Why is it that teachers think that parents want to see everything their child does at school. Why should we have to be the ones to toss it in the trash?

But it is gone now, along with much of the crap that has been littering our house. If you do stop over for the holiday, word of warning. DO NOT EAT OFF THE FLOOR under the bookcase or the entertainment center. We swept those areas as best we could, but we did not move them and clean them. Consider yourself warned.

We did find lots of pens, most of which were lifted from past jobs I have worked at. I always keep an eye out for interesting pens, and when I find one that I like, I usually bring it home. I try to hide it from the wife, but she finds it, and steals it from me. And so I need to keep searching for more and more good pens. So far, among other things that fail to impress, the pen situation is dismal. They have decent mechanical pencils, but the only choices are here some crappy papermate comfortmate pens in black and red, and some 7mm roller ball pens in blue and red. Where are the gel pens, the fat pens, the pens that right so smoothly when they touch paper that its like you’re writing on air.

It’s just one more thing to add to the list of problems in the healthcare industry.

Our school dinner took place this past Sunday. I designed the invitations and the school newsletter, which came out looking better than expected considering the types of picture files I was given. Since it is my kids school, and I want the work from them to increase my exposure, I give them a good price break, and use that to pay for things that we don’t want coming out of my wife’s check, like day camp and school registration. In all, they get a good deal and some high-quality PR materials. I get a something for my work, and I am hopeful that it will lead to other work down the line.

I have also been creating shul seating layouts to reflect the almost weekly changes of our shul’s seating configuration. When we moved into the new shul about five years ago, and we were interviewing the rabbi at the question section (you know what I’m talking abuot, everyone asks the rabbi whatever they want, such as would you officiate my sons wedding to a goy, are you anti kiddush club, if you were a body of water, what kind of water would you be), some woman asked if the new shul could have side by side seating. Actually, what she said, in that ultra-militant super feminist tone to help us feel for her plight, was we are tired of sitting in the back of the bus. Did she ever actually ride a bus? What does that even mean? Comparing sitting in the back of shul to being racially discriminated against is like comparing the suffering of standing in a long line waiting for ice cream to being shot at in a concentration camp and bitching about the conditions. But I digress.

The rabbi said as far as he was concerned, it didn’t matter how people sat in shul.

Unfortunately, the sanctuary was already designed and built in a shape that is very conducive to men in the front, women in the back. Or women in the front, men in the back. The point is, the shul was a rectangle with built in bookcases all along the wall. Easy to split horizontally, not so easy to fit vertically.

These women persisted, and now, five years later, they are starting to look at possible seating alternatives. So far we have tried an “L” shaped configuration, where a section of the women’s section juts out into the mens section so the women are enxt to the bimah and the men sitting in that section cannot see the bimah. (This is where I like to sit. My wife sits right behind me when she shows up and we can talk if we need to. I am also being shushed by other women who do not like the level of talking of the people who are now one row in front of them. I say, if you don’t like your new seat mates, move back a few rows.

The there was the penis configuration. Technically, they called it side by side, but let me describe it. There were two women’s section, one on each side of the men, which formed a long shaft down the middle of the shul. The women’s section did not go all the way to the front of the shul, so there was a large section of men’s seats in front io the women’s section.
It’s not all that easy to picture, but if you draw it on paper, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

This week we go for version three, a true side by side experience, with women on each side of the shul, and the men going straight through the middle. For the last two configurations, there was a back entrance for both men and women, with an aisle way blacked off by a mechitza so people can walk to the men’s or women’s section.

To overcome the bookcase problem, they set up a table with siddurim and chumashim, but to be honest, I don’t think it looks nice that way.

I think we are voting on which configuration we like in May.

The thing about contract work is sometimes it is difficult to know your bounds. There are some things we can do here to make us much more efficient, but I wasn’t brought in as a consultant, I was brought in as a contractor, so I am limited by what I can suggest. What we need to do for the manuals is quit doing them in Word. And quit using the track changes tools in word. The files get confusing and complicated. There are actual programs made for writing manuals. Programs like acrobat can be used to simplify a lot of the process, and get rid of all the word junk. But then there is this limitation placed on my position, so all I can do is make small suggestions and then move on to the next project.

My Tallis was broken. The strings weren’t hanging right, so an old guy in shul fixed them for me. Here’s to you, Mr. Mandelbaum. And yes, readers, when we see mr madelbaum walking we can’t help but chant amongst ourselves mandelbaum mandelbaum mandelbaum.

That’s it for me. You’ve been reading Air Time. Have a good shabbos.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Drama in the D

We bring our daughter to an unlicensed day care. The same unlicensed day care that my boys went to, and some of my siblings went to many years ago.

Its not perfect. It runs out of someone's home, and there are issues. But on the whole, we are happy with the care our daughter gets, and the cost of the service.

That wasn't good enough for some mysterious person in the community.

There are five unlicensed day cares running in our community. They all received notices that they had to shut down within fifteen days. Someone turned them in.

And to make it worse, it was someone frum who did it. Which means there is a witch hunt to find out who did it, and names are being tossed around as to who it could be and what shul they must daven at.

I don't know what is involved in getting licensed, but I imagine it is going to cost the consumer (READ: Me) more money at the end of the day. I was glad to find out that our babysitter declares her income and pays taxes on it.

I don't know how someone can walk through our community, knowing how difficult they made life for so many people who use these services. It is primarily teachers who use these babysitters, although other people use them as well.

I wish I knew who it was just so I could tell that person how sick they make me.

The way I see it

Unlicensed business - not good.
Government informant - scum of the earth

Baruch Shepatrani

The baby is done with diapers. Nine years of diapering kids might not seem like a long time to families with 11 kids, but for me, it is enough.

It is a strange feeling when you do things that you don't believe you will ever do again. Like taking apart the crib, changing the last diaper, and giving away the high chair.

It is strange, but it is not sad. Last night I was watching Miracle, and Hubie Brooks brought in a new player late in the movie as a possible replacement for one of the guys on the team. The guys had a meeting with the coach, and told him they did not want the new guy on the team, since he hadn't been there since the beginning, working every day.

The coach asked the guys why they shouldn't keep the new guy, and one of the players responded, Because we're a family. Coach asked if this was the family the team wanted to go to Lake Placid with. Absolutely, the players told him.

Its similar with us. We look at the family, and ask, is this the family we want move on with. And its an absolute yes. There isn't another available roster spot, at least not for another 12-15 years.

So we give away the baby clothes, and the baby toys, and the baby sheets and blankets and bibs.

And we hope that we never find ourself asking what happened to that 99.7% effective rate...

The Pilot

We are making progress in our Aliyah process. We have official plans to make a pilot trip in September. We are probably going to go for two or three weeks, visit some communities, try to get a realistic picture of the job market, and give the boys a taste of what it means to live there.

I did not ride my bike to work this morning. Instead I drove my daughter to her babysitter. It used to be a daycare, but that is turning out to be problematic, and for a different post.

I love my daughter very much, but she is a pain in the ass.

Much more than the boys ever were.

But she is also sweeter than they could ever be...

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

More Minutia

The other I turned the heat off. The weather was nice, the windows were open, and I didn't think twice.

Last night, it got cold again. Not the shivering-snowy-icicles-forming-off-your-nose-wifes-nipples-are-hard-enough-to-be-classified-as-weapons cold, but pretty cold.

My wife asked me to turn on the heat, but I didn't. I wasn't trying to be difficult. I just didn't think it was needed. Everyone has a blanket, how cold could it have gotten in just one night.

This is how cold it gets. The thermostat said 62 this morning. My daughter woke up cold as a popsicle, and needed a sweatshirt so she could warm up and fall back asleep.

Here's the thing about the heat. I turned it on right before I went to shul this morning. When I got home, the house was nice and toasty warm.

Getting into Summer

I rode my Bike in to work this morning. The crisp 43 degrees with wind wasn't much of a factor, as the wind was at my back and I decided to forgo the shorts and wear jeans for the ride.

The necessitated changing from jeans and tshirt when I got to work to work clothes, becuase somehow I cannot be as effective working in jeans and a tee as I can be working in dockers and a button down shirt.

Whatever. I thought this morning would be a good day to start riding to work, because I would not get that sweaty. There is a shower in the building, which I found on Friday, and from the looks of, it is rarely, if ever, used.

But I did get sweaty, and I had to use the shower, and the water was cold, and my butt is killing (from the bike seat, not the shower experience)and I am hungrier than usual.

But I am going to do it again tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Weekend

The weekend came and went, and I remained firm not to call Spencer, even though I found out that my traitor sister in law who is supposed to be on my side did call him.

More importantly, though, the newsletter that I designed came out spectacularly, the client was happy, and their journal looked crappy, which could mean that I havea shot at their journal business for next year.

I'll just have to wait and see on that.

Meanwhile, they are asking me to work on more of their PR materials.

OF course, more of "it" happened. People coming over to me saying how happy they are for us that we are making Aliyah in front of people who I had not told yet. These are people I barely know who have heard through the well-oiled rumor mill wishing me well, when I would just prefer they shut up.

Lunch, as was expected, was full of Aliyah talk, which was actually a good thing since we ate with one of the Kollel Torah Mitzion families they have here.

It seems that if you had applied to Nefesh BNefesh over the past few months to go this summer, you still would not know A) If you were accepted by them B) How much money you were getting from them C) When you would be going.

Which means, when you think about it, there is no real difference between going this summer and next summer, since we would not find out any information until next april anyway. If we decided to leave this summer, it would give us about three months to sell our house, pack our things, pick a community and go.

And in reality, we have picked one of two communities that we are going to rent in at first, so all that is left is packing and selling the house. So there is not that big a difference between going today and going in a year.

Still, we are going to wait until next year, as there are some work things I am trying to work out that will take the coming year to smooth out and get a realistic feel for how it will work once I have left.

It is interesting how being at work gives one all the time in the world to write on these blogs. You're struck at a desk. There isn't that much else to do. And typing on a blog makes you sound busy.

That said, I am out of things to write.

Maybe later.

Friday, April 08, 2005

To Call or Not to Call

My sister in law's husband, also known as my wife's sister's husband, also known as Spencer, more known around this blog as Spencer Lewis of the London Lewis', but most commonly refered to as uncle spencer due to his old age and our reluctance to call him Mr Lewis since he did marry my wife's sister, lost his grandmother last week.

It was unfortunate for a number of reasons, chief among them that she died at home alone, and under british law, that means they had to perform an autopsy.

Now that is all done with, and she has been sewed back together and buried, so the Shiva is on. Now, since the loss was his grandmother, he is not sitting shiva, his mother is, so technically speaking, he is not in mourning.

Which means there is no mitzvah to call him.

Which makes me hesitant to call.

Here are the facts. I don't like my brother in law. I don't dislike him. I am apathetic toward him, and were it not for the fact that he married my sister in law, I can't imagine a circumstance where we would have ever met.

They live in England, so the issue of our non-friendship in a non-issue. No one cares, we have nothing in common, and that is completely fine with both of us. If somehow we end up on the phone at the same time, which has happened on occasion, we can pleasantly say hello, how are you, and pass the phone on to our respective spouses.

When we see each other, I complain about him to my wife, and I imagine he complains about me to his wife. My wife tells me to grow up, and his wife probably says the same thing to him.

What we have is a very comfortable non friendship.

Which brings us back to his grandmother. If I call, and talk to him, and pretend to show a genuine interest in him and how he is feeling, what if he decides to open up to me. I don't want that. That's what his buddies in England are for.

I am going to see him in a few weeks for Pesach, and I can express condolences for his loss in person, in a way that will ensure that there is no opportunity to open up to one another, like in the living room before a meal when we are being ushered to the table.

On the other hand, what if it were my grandmother who died. Would I want Spencer to call? Come to think of it, my other Grandmother did die about two years ago, and I don't remember him calling me to express wishes of condolence.

So that settles it. I will not be calling Uncle Spencer this week. I will just acknowledge his loss when I see him next.

That's Two Weeks in a Row

Guilty pleasure, a new book, and a photo spread, plus we win free songs from itunes…all that and more, so don’t flush just yet, you’re reading Air Time.

I never thought I would be one of those people who watches TV shows on DVD. I gave up on taping shows, figuring if I didn’t have then time to watch when it was on, I probably don’t have the time to watch it later. That, and I couldn’t figure out how to program my new VCR. But that aside, I still never understood why people buy TV shows on DVD. I mean, there is a reason the show isn’t on TV.

But I ran into a situation. I was watching DVDs while on the treadmill, and it would take three days to get through a movie (four or five if the movie was really long). This was flawed for several reasons. First of all, it was always hard to get back to the exact spot on the DVD where I was up to, so I would have to re-watch parts of the movie so I would be caught up. Second, if there was only 30 minutes left to the movie, I had to watch 15 minutes of the movie that I had already seen. And since I don’t a have a remote for my DVD player near the treadmill, I couldn’t skip around to the good parts.

I usually go on for about 45 minutes, so I had a brainstorm one day. As I was skipping through Netflix, I saw Sports Night had made it to DVD. This was a great show that lasted about two seasons, of which I missed most of the episodes anyway. Each episode is about 22.5 minutes without commercials. Two shows running back to back is 45 minutes, the exact amount of time I need for a show.

I watched the entire 45 or so episodes even discovering plot flaws, and sensing a difference in the writing from season one to season two.

But the season ended, which meant I had to find another show.

As they say Orange County, Welcome to the O.C., Bitch.

The O.C. is awesome. Only the first season is on DVD, which means in about three weeks I will have to go find another show to watch, but for now, I am all in. I have only seen five episodes, but I am literally thirsting for more. And it isn’t just the eye candy, of which there is plenty, or the self-inflicted teen angst, or the realizations that the OC crowd all has skeletons in their closet. Well, actually, it is all that. The show is great, and I recommend it.

Maybe I will go for 90210 next.

But I am no longer at Netflix. I made the switch to Blockbuster, which turned out to be a good move since they also give me in-store coupons for free rentals, something netflix couldn’t provide.

I ordered a book from Amazon today. It is called Beware of God, written by Sholom Auslander. Sholom Auslander is a contributor to This American Life on NPR, and has explained to the entire NPR audience why he left orthodox Judaism (he walked from Teaneck to MSG for a Rangers playoff game and the rangers lost. The nerve of God to do that to him), his experiences in the brochos bee as a third grader, and what it is like to be smoke pot while being a Shomer of a dead person.

It is only the second time I have used Amazon. I ordered Shmully Boteach’s Kosher Sex a few years back. In case you were wondering, I don’t recommend that book. It is too serious, the words are too small and there is a lot of them on every page. Basically, if you want to know what he is all about, all you have to know is he is buddies with Madonna, Howard Stern and Michael Jackson. Enough said.

As many of you know, we are planning on making Aliyah next summer (’06). Aviva felt it was important to tell everyone she possibly could as soon as we decided. I felt it was important to tell people who needed to know, and tell everyone else in a year from now.

So Aviva told all her friends. I told a select few people. With most couples, this would not matter, as husbands and wives are friends with the same people. But we have completely different crowds of friends, and they only have a few intersecting points.

Anyway, since those intersecting points have been crossed, if you did not know that we are planning on moving, you know now.

It wasn’t that I did not want to tell people. It is just this. Last Friday night we had some friends over for dinner who we are both friends with. The wife is quite upset about this upcoming move, the husband keeps telling her it isn’t going to happen and we are not moving. He and I have not discussed it at all, despite the fact that we play on the same hockey team together, and drive the 25 minutes each way to the game together.

For me it is not part of everyday conversation.

But back to the dinner. This friend’s wife kept getting very emotional that there were only another 15 months that we will be together. And there were all these comments going over the table about things in the future, always followed by, but you will be in israel then, or you won’t be around anymore.

Still, I am biting the bullet, and telling people we are going. Hopefully, every conversation I have won’t center on the move.

I felt equal sadness with the passing of Terry Schiavo as I did with the death of the Pope. Which is to say, I didn’t really care one way or the other.

If you are in the Detroit area next week pick up a copy of the Jewish News. Somewhere inside you’ll find a photo spread of your favorite Jerusalem Pizza hockey team. Now 4-1, we need one wil in our last five games to clinch a playoff spot.

You never really know how you look until you can see yourself through anotehr’s eyes. I saw myself through Angie Baan’s eyes, the photographer who came out and did the shoot. I had no idea I was that bald on top. It sneaks up on you.

Since Pepsi started its i-tunes promotion in January, I have purchased 11 Pepsi products with the yellow cap. I have won free songs on 10 of them, and on the one that I missed, I knew it was a loser when I bought it. Its not that I have some power to read the caps through the opaque top. Its just that if you hold the bottle at an angle, you can read the cap. Sometimes you can see it clearly, and other times you can just see that the message inside the cap is four lines (Winner) instead of three lines (Please try Again).

Not much has changed at work. Same cube, same uncomfortable chair. This week they gave me stuff to do, which was a nice change of pace. Next week they have me slated to go to a meeting…oh so much fun. I haven’t been to a work meeting in over two years. If nothing has changed, it will start with light banter, move on to the agenda that doesn’t apply to me, hit my section, move on, no decisions will be made because all the proper decision makers were unable to attend the meeting, and we will get an email in a few days saying that we need to reconvene to discuss some important points that an executive who was not there felt should have been made.

Here is the big work mystery, though. I can go to and watch the kotelcam and go to and watch highlights without being stopped by the firewall. I cannot go to and listen to one of their programs. So can I go to and listen to games. That is the big question.

I have a feeling I can do it, but I am not sure. When I listen to This American Life at home, an .RAM Real Audio file gets dropped on my desktop. So does that mean that I had to download something, and downloading seems to be blocked, so I can’t listen to the show? I don’t remember anything being dropped on my desktop last season when I listened to games online, but it did use a real audio player, and that is the same software that TAL plays uses.

If the service was free I would try it and see what happens, but I will feel stupid signing up for and then not being able to listen at work. As it is, there are usually day games on only a few times a week, but why should I pay for it if I am not going to use it. On the other hand, its not like it is that expensive. Its only about $15 for the season.

That should just about do it for today. You’ve been reading Air Time.

Have a good shabbos.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

At the All Star Break

Tonight was the last game before next week's All Star break. They said this would be a real test, to show if we were for real, or the beneficiary of playing a schedule the was heavy on weak teams in the early weeks. The Slackjaws, they said, would expose us as imposters, and Sean Tasker would light the lamp repeatedly.

We came out firing, scoring five goals in 8 minutes, and finished period one ahead 5-0. Its hard to say if we let up or they woke up, but they began the second period with renewed intensity. They started scoring, and soon were within 2 goals, at 6-4, when they went on the power play. This was the game right here. Two minutes to take a stand, or let them crawl back into it.

Jerusalem Pizza was up to the test. We killed of the penalty, and scored two more goals before the period let out, to go into the third 8-4. They kept scratching and clawing their way back into the game, and got as close as 9-6 before we finally put them away. I scored my first of the season, a slapper from the point that managed to find the back of the net, making it 11-6. We traded one more goal apiece, and the game ended 12-7. Sean Tasker came in averaging over three goals per game, and we held him to two. Shaya Klein, second leading goal scorer in the league coming in to tonight, also had two goals, and for the first time all season, everyone on the team other than the goalie had at least one goal.

So we have arrived at the all star break. Ephraim Singal and Shaya Klein made the team, and will play next week representing us all.

As for the team, we are sitting pretty at 4-1, and getting ready to face the 4-1 Outsiderz in two weeks.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Air Time

Back at work, dreaming about the playoffs, plus, a Pesach preview. Those stories and more, you’re reading Air Time.

The back at work days.

After spending two years away from the office, I made my return to the beige cubicles this week. Nothing reminds you that you are working like sitting at a desk surrounded by walls that you are encouraged to green and yellow colored push pins into.

Oh yes, mission statements and inspirational quotes abound here. Yesterday’s quote of the day, which, I kid you not, is on every desk in this building, quotes Confucius. What happened? Why am surrounded by quotes that belong in a fortune cookie.

You know that I have a desk. It comes with a phone. The phone is great if I am dialing locally, because I don’t need to dial my area code. My phone is not great if I miss a call, since I have no clue how to retrieve messages, and no one has bothered to tell me how to get the last girl’s message off. If you do call me, at 248-455-3645, and I am not here, you will discover that Betty left this desk, and her cell phone is on message if you want to call her as well.

I started this gig on Monday. I am not really sure what I am supposed to do most of the time. My boss went out of town, with vague instructions about starting to do some work if I got an email with information telling me to do things.

That’s another thing. Maybe it is the culture of large companies, but my boss is constantly CCing me on everything she does. Things I don’t need to know, things I will never need to know.

I will say this about her. She is very nice, and treats me like a regular employee here, even though I was contracted here to write some manuals. I have seen other contract employees who get treated like crap, but she is not like that.

The office is layed out pretty strangely. There are no real hallways here, so the bathrooms are in the office area. And the stalls are on the small side, from left to right, so when you are sitting on the can, your knee is always bumping the toilet paper dispenser.

For those of you who got a visual there, you’re welcome.

I have internet access, but I can’t check my email, which means when I have my clients who email me things, I can only respond on my lunch break from the library across the street, or after work.

So far, no major problems stemming from that, but I could see some potential problems down the road if I stay here for too long.

Being at work makes you hungry, too. Something about staring at a monitor without moving all day long in a little beige aera makes you cry out for some color. Yellow chips, brown pretzels, chocolate-colored chocolate. But to top it off, I am dieting. I never planned on dieting, it just happened. Which is to say, one day my wife said that we were both dieting. And we could not go back to our regular food lifestyle until a certain amount of weight was lost. Sad to say, that amount of weight is more than the two pounds I lost in week one of this diet, and I don’t think I am going to get there this week either.

So instead of hanging out with the dark food colors, I found myself with red apples, green beans and orange oranges. Not that its bad, but it doesn’t have the same pick me up as a snickers and pepsi.

I did get to Joe Dumars Fieldhouse this week, where my Jerusalem Pizza hockey team won its third game in a row. It was chippy, especially in front of the net, but we knocked off Chaos 7-2. We need 10 points to clinch a playoff spot in the ten game season. Right now we are 3-1, but the teams we beat were not the class of the league. Still, we have two more games which are very winnable, and then some games that we will just have to wait and see.

I don’t know what these NHL guys are thinking though. They have a chance to play hockey every day, and instead they pissed away this season for nothing, and they are never going to have it as good as it could have been again.

We are going to NJ for the first days of Pesach. The seder is nice there, but it means spending more time with Spencer Lewis than I would normally like to. In case you were wondering, nothing has changed. He is so damn stubborn. If he would just open his mind for one minute he would see the pointlessness of a soccer match, especially when put up against a football, baseball, basketball or bowling match.

I think I hit the bottom of the sports viewing barrel. Bear in mind, I will watch almost anything that is sports related (with the obvious exception of soccer since it is not a sport and not sports related) as long as it is on TV. I watched the curling championships on CBC for two weeks last month, and I still don't understand the rules. I have watched the paintball championships, and although I don't remember the team names, Philadelphia beat Detroit in the Paint Ball War championship match. I can even flip on NASCAR for ten minutes on a slow Sunday. I watch the bowling, golf, tennis and poker, but I did not realize that there was still one more level to descend into. One more sport that could broadcast its events, and pull me in.

I have now seen it all though. I watched the Darts championship series. Those guys can play. They needed a number, they threw it and hit it. Even with all the distraction of the TVs and the fans behind them, they were able to put it all out of their minds, and play darts at its highest level.

I have good news to report.

I accidentally kicked out the plug from my computer, thinking this entire email was lost. All I lost, though, was the last things I wrote. Somehow, this computer managed to save everything else. So even though it is not a Mac, there are some nice features.

I am tired of hearing about Terry Schiavo. I don't care that they are now fighting about her burial. And now we are on the pope's deathwatch too. I've got Tuesday PM in the pool, but I get the feeling he won't be around for opening day this coming Monday.

Baseball is back, so is spring, and so is the snow, scheduled to come in just for Shabbos just so we don't forget it over the summer months.

I am sick of Nascar being forced down my throat by NBC and ESPN, tired of hearing about steroids, and curious why sports web sites still have the NHL listed as a sport.

But I can’t wait for Sunday night, when I turn on the TV, and watch the Yankees play the Red Sox. I hate both those teams. They are bad for the game. But its good to have baseball back.

That's it from here. This is Air Time. I am Air Time. And you've been reading Air Time.

Shabbat Sholom