Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Piano "Lesson"

Our oldest has been taking piano lessons for three years and is really showing some talent. For a kid who seems to float through school without having to do much work, piano is a challenge that we feel he needs.

He started out taking lessons from Mrs. K., an 80-year-old lady with a professional history complete with being a concert pianist, an operatic soloist, and even playing at the Grammys one year! She is a sweet lady who peppered lessons with stories of her children and grandchildren. When I used to pick up my oldest from her house, I always went inside to talk to Mrs. K. because she was a delightful person to be around. When my oldest listened to her talk he always watched her closely, with a look he normally would reserve for a favorite grandparent.

She moved away to Florida last year and both my son and I were devestated. And Mrs. K. tells me the only thing she regrets in moving was losing my son as a student. Would we ever find a teacher who instilled a love of learning music like Mrs. K.?

Mrs. K. recommended another teacher, Mrs. R., who had a stellar reputation for teaching students to the best of their ability. So we signed up. She is a toughie, and normally I like that in a teacher for this particular son. However, this year is a challenging acedemic year for 4th Graders in our school. They have the two toughest teachers in the building, and they are learning more than they have ever learned before. So why put this extra pressure on my boy for a hobby?

Last night she reprimanded him for not practicing enough piano. She wants him to practice 30-40 minutes a day. He can maybe muster 10-15 minutes a day what with the book reports, test studying, and homework. Don't forget, we don't get home from school until 4:15.

So, I don't know what to do. He loves piano, but not the always the teacher. Do I switch him knowing we'll only be here for a few more months or stick it out and make it clear to her that our son is only capable of half the practicing time she demands?

Oh, by the way, I happen not to like her....Don't tell my kid.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Not (really) gone

Blogs evolve. As their writers lives go through different phases of their lives, the blogs they post and the frequency in which they post those posts change.

When I first started writing this blog I didn't really know what a blog was, who was reading blogs, or why anyone would write one.

As the year went on, I enjoyed the medium. It was instant and public and gave me a forum to say whatever it was I wanted to say. At times it was stories from my yeshiva days, other times it was about my family, and one a few rare occasions, about a shuir I had attended the evening before.

Over the past two weeks, since my last post about the Bon Jovi concert, there have been a number of things that I would have considered blogworthy a few weeks or months ago. Thanksgiving, my inlaws coming to Detroit, speaking at a Chug Aliyah, the Lions firing their coach and the toilet flooding over as water cascaded down the bowl, across the floor and out of the bathroom are just a few topics that have happened to me over the past two weeks that I would have looked forward to writing about.

But when I sit down at my desk and get ready to write those stories, I change my mind. As funny as a flooding toilet at 4:30 in the morning can be, I am not in the mood or interested in sharing that story.

To me, everything is about marketing. Picking a message and staying with that message. The problem with Air Time is it doesn't have a message. There is no agenda and there is no focus here, and so as I start to write some of these posts, I can't help asking myself what the point is of telling some cute story that takes a jab at my mother in law just for the thrill of telling it.

My blogging buddy Krum would call this a blump, and maybe it is just a temporary thing that a lot of blogs go through. Maybe this post will actually spur me on to start writing more often for this blog. But somehow I doubt it.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Shot through the heart

We went to a concert last night. It wasn't planned, it just sort of happened, but when Veev found out Bon Jovi was playing at the Palace last night, I called the box office and found out tickets were still available.

Unlike at the Avril Levigne concert we went to at the Palace a few months ago, this audience was our age. The palace was loud, and Bon Jovi played for over two hours.

Bon Jovi was entertaining, the music was loud, and it was fun seeing one of our favorite artists from the 80s still rocking the night away.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Center of it all X

Is now available on the Air Time II

Could it get any better

I know you are all thinking, wow, at Air's house they really have a good time sitting around and writing limericks. But that is not all that we do. Take last night, for example.

First we watched music videos online, and then we played music clips from i-tunes 80s emixes and tried to see if each other could guess the song and artist from the clip we played.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Fun at Air's house

My oldest had to write a Limerick for school, with some kind of Thanksgiving theme. Combining his passions of hockey and Thanksgiving, h came up with the following.

Steve Yzerman had a Turkey
And he named him jerky
He shot the puck
Kerky did Cluck
And he was quite quirky.

To be honest, I changed some of the words because i can't remember the exact limerick, but you get the idea. And he did intuitively use one of the key words in a successful Limerick, Puck.

Well, he started complaining about school, which led me to write this limerick.

It seems that life after school
Is as much fun as eating Gruel
But on Thanksgiving Day
I get to go play
Because there is a no homework rule

Well, Veev wanted to get in on the limerick fun. Like I said, life is a party at Air's house.

So she came up with this little ditty.

Daniel says Daddy does say
seven cursewords every day
But i know he is wrong
I feel it real strong
Cause i only heard four today

Never mind that she missed out the key component, which was to work in some Thanksgiving magic into the limerick, but whatever, my oldest (whose name you really sharp readers have probably figured out) thought it was hysterical.

So I came back with this response

Turkey says Cock-a-Doodle-Doo
A Pussy Cat says meow too
But as i bounce this ball
Off the crack in the wall
Today there were zero Eff U's

Anyway, thats fun at Airs house. Feel free to limerick along.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Its not her fault, she just doesn't know better

Leading is the amount of space between lines of text.
Letting is an act of giving permission.

When dealing with print and page layout, you may hear the term "leading" tossed about. Simply, leading is the amount of space between two lines of text. So if you are using a 10 point font, and you want it to be readable, you'll generally want a 12 point leading, which allows enough white space around the text so that readers don't have trouble reading.

Different programs handle leading differently, and most programs will set up the leading automatically so that the user doesn't have to think about it.

But I wish someone would explain that to my boss. I rarely complain about her. She gives me assignments, and doesn't micromanage them. In general, we have a good working relationship.

It seems that somehow, maybe over the weekend, maybe sometime over the last month, someone told her about Leading. Only they didn't spell it out for her, and so, now, on almost every page of this 80 page document, she has written Letting, asking me to check the space between paragraphs.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Skype Anyone?

Has anyone tried using the Skype phone service? From their web site it sems like a great system, but I am wondering if it actually works.

Monday, November 14, 2005

My sister has a boyfriend

I have one sister who lives in Israel. I have written about her here before, and the good work that she did both before and after disengagement. Well, now that all the protesting is over, it seems she has a boyfriend.

While we were in Israel a few weeks ago, we met him. He is a nice guy, and my sister is really happy being with him. But I am always nervous about brothers in law. My wife has one brother, and we get along really well (too well, sometimes. Veev usually thinks nothing good can come from us hanging out together), but her sister married a british guy, and for this post, lets just say we have little in common and rarely speak to one another. Which is fine. But I was always hoping for a good brother in law.

I don't know if this guy is the one for my sister or not, but we did have a good time hanging out together, and when I commented the "Cream & Dream" was a really dirty name for an ice cream shop, he laughed. So there is hope for this guy.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Who's in charge here

"Can I have milk," the little voice from the kitchen rang out. I was looking directly at my daughter, but in the middle of davening this morning, there was nothing I could do for her.

"Can I have milk, Daddy,' her voice rang out again, a little louder, slightly more annoyed that it was taking so long to get milk.

Once again, I ignored her. While I would normally walk over and pour her some milk, we were on a new schedule this morning, and I didn't have the time to walk over and pour her some milk.

"Are you bentching," she asked next, "or davening."

I shook my head yes when she asked if I was davening, hoping the conversation would end.

"Bentching," she said again.

No, I shook my head.

"Davening," she repeated.

Yes, I shook my head.

"Bentching," she asked once again.

No, I shook my head.

A mischevious smile lit up her face.

"Davening," she asked, waiting for me to ashake my head.

Once again, I shook my head yes, realizing as she began to laugh that she was trying to control me. "Bentching," she asked, looking expectantly for me to shake my head no.

I ignored her.

"Davening," her voice rang out again.

Once again, I ignored her.

"Bentching," she demanded, irritation creeping into her voice.

This time, I shook my head no.

"Davening," she said, hopeful for a nod.

"Not anymore," I said, as I took off my T'fillin and folded my Talis.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The other disturbing thing we saw

Veev and I were walking on Achuza street in Ra'anana last week, on our way to have some breakfast at a cafe there, when we passed by one of tose claw machines. You know the kind I am talking about. You put in some change, control a claw, push the button, and the claw reaches down and tries to grab a stuffed animal or other prize.

But here was the really disturbing thing about the prizes in the machine. The machine was filled with stuffed animals, packs of cigarettes, and packs of cigarettes with 50-shekel bills attached to them.

Disengaged and Living in Yad Binyomin

Last week we went on our pilot trip, visiting communities across Israel, and trying to pick a place to live. The most disturbing place we found was a place called Yad Binyomin. It is currently hosting a community from Gaza, who are living in caravans while Yad Binyomin is being constructed.

Currently, there are no permanent houses in Yad Binyomin, although construction is underway as part of a plan to build about 700 homes there.

Unfortunately for those displaced from their homes in Gaza, almost none of them will be living in Yad Binyomin once the city is built. The reason - The government of Israel is planning on compensating Gaza residents with only the market value of their homes in Gaza. So while they may have lived in a beachfront mansion in Gaza, all they will be receiving from the goverment for their home is the $100,000 market value they could have received for selling their home, far less than what it cost to buy a house in Yad Binyomin.

I find it disgusting that the State of Israel could remove these people from their homes without offering a method for them to buy a home in Israel. The not-yet-built houses in Yad Binyomin are selling for about $265,000-$295,000. I would have liked to see the state pony up some kind of credit where the former Gaza resident can take the $100,000 they received for their home, buy a house, and have the state kick in the balance.

Truth be told, I don't know why anyone would spend that kind of money to live in Yad Binyomin. According to the realtor who showed us the community, the biggest selling point of Yad Binyomin is that it is near three major highways and they are planning on building a train station near the town.

Even so, the former residents of Gaza should have the opportunity to build and buy in that community.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Apple Pizza

We were sitting at Apple Pizza last nigh, and my Middlest needed to use the bathroom. The bathroom is located upstairs, and as we walked up I wondered if I would see the same graffiti that covered those walls back in '91. As we neared the top of the stairs I saw a sign asking patrons to refrain from writing any graffiti on the walls, as the upstairs had been recently redone.

The walls were unmarked, and the bathroom was actually clean. While we were upstairs, my middlest wanted to look out the windows and yell down. Looking through those windows reminded me of one of the last times I was at Apple Pizza. Boomer was the Mercaz spy, and any Mercaz student caught anywhere neat the Midrachov would be instantly kicked out of Yeshiva.

Looking out the window, I could still picture Boomer walking past Apple Pizza, where I was sitting with some friends in the upstairs area to avoid detection.

I started to wonder if my belief system had changed since that time. Obviously, back then, I was against the Mercaz spy, and the constant threat of being kicked out of Mercaz for not following the rules. Had fifteen years and becoming a parent changed my attitude toward the way Mercaz went about enforcing the rules.

I didn't have to think about it very long. I haven't changed that much since then. I still think the Mercaz spy was a horrible misuse of Mercaz resources. Instead of working with students, they created a zero tolerance policy and used valuable human resources to walk through forbidden areas to catch wrongdoers. They refused to work with students in the yeshiva, preferring to get rid of any potential problems rather than work them out.

Instead of squelching student's desires to hang out, they forced students to find alternative places to hang out, places that were more private, and potentially less safe than a public street in the middle of a city.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Never in doubt

The truth was, it was over long before it started. From the minute we walked into Burgers Bar in Ramat Beit Shemesh I knew that it would not compare with the ultimate burger. The Burger Buddy would not go down to some Israeli 300 gram double burger with fries and and a coke.

The decor didn't compare, but the food was excellent. The fries and onion rings were crisp, the ketchup was cold, and the fried chicken nuggets were first rate. But we weren't there to munch on side dishes or amuse ourselves with fried chicken. Today was all about the burger.

I should preface this by saying it was my second Burgers Bar experience in as many days. Last night we had Burgers Bar delivered in Raanana, which meant the food wasn't going to be nearly as good as it was in the store. Still, it gave me a chance to prepare myself for the moment of truth.

But back to lunch in Beit Shemesh. To set the scene for you, we were with Richie and Michal, my three kids, and two of their three. The weather was cooperative, and we dined outside on the sidewalk.

The burger was great. It just wasn't world class. And after talking to the owner of the Burgers Bar in Beit Shemesh, I found out that in his opinion he didn't even have the best Burgers Bar in Israel. To him, the best one is in the German colony in Jerusalem. If you don't think your burger is the best in your chain, how am I supposed to believe it is a top burger.

Anyway, if you are in Beit Shemesh, stop in and check it out. If you are stuck in Brooklyn, there is a Burgers Bar opening there sometime soon. But if you are stuck in Brooklyn, don't wait for Burgers Bar to come to you. Get out while you still remember how to read.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Moment of Truth

Tomorrow is the moment of truth for us. For years, I have believed that the Burger Buddy from ken's Diner is the standard to measure all hamburgers against.

Two weeks ago, sitting in shul, we received a report that the Burgers Bar in Ramat Beit Shemesh had a superior burger to the Burger Buddy. Tomorrow, for lunch, we will be going to Burgers Bar in RBS to find out if the rumors are true. Is there a burger that is superior to the Burger Buddy. Will the Burgers Bar match Ken's in decor? I'll find out tomorrow.