Friday, December 30, 2005

Special Blammer Advertising section

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

School Bus Advertising

Ads are coming to a school bus near you, especially if my brother has anything to say about it. You may have caught him quoted in USA today, or if you missed that, you may have seen him debating the merits of advertising to school children on Fox news yesterday afternoon.
His company, InSight Media, has been working with school districts in Michigan and Pennsylvania to get advertising on school buses, a move that school districts believe can raise money for needed school programs.

I can't explain it but

I was listening to a kids Chanukah tape, which etlls the story of Chanukah. I got a huge rush when one of the characters talked about living in Modiin, and looking across the mountains toward Yerushalayim. I think we are very blessed to live in a time when we can live in the same places, walk on the same streets, and see the same things our ancestors saw thousands of years ago.

Oak Park to Modiin, 2006

Back to Wheels Inn

Wheels Inn is a hotel and indoor amusement park located in Chatham, Ontario, all little more than an hour outside of Detroit. It has a roller coaster, ferris wheel, and ten other rides the kids like to ride, plus mini golf, a children's climbing area, and a bowling alley. They have go-karts in the summer, and an indoor/outdoor pool with two long water slides for guests of the hotel.

My kids love going to Wheels Inn, and we spent yesterday with them, as I was still off from work.

This was not our first time visiting Wheels Inn on Chanukah, although it was the first time that just the five of us went to play there. The last time we went was before members of my family had begun making Aliyah.

It is much more fun to go with lots of family members than to go alone. We played Scattergories at night, and had lots of air hockey and rod hockey competitions.

But the most memorable thing happened when we lit Chanukah candles and tried to eat. There had been trips to Wheels Inn in the past where we brought subs. This time, wanted to Barbeque, but since that was not an option at the hotel, we decided to George Foreman dinner.

Before we ate, we all gathered in my parents room to light Chanukah candles. We knew we weren't supposed to light candles in the hotel room, but for some reason, we decided to do it anyway.

Wer also knew we weren't supposed to use a George Foreman grill in the room, but we decided to do that as well. My parents had an adjoining room for my sister, and so we set up the Foreman in my sister's room. There were more than 25 of us crammed into their room for the lighting of the Chanukah candles, which went flawlessly. In the next room over, George sizzled with hamburgers and hotdogs.

And then, the lights went out.

We had shorted the electricity, and, we thought, had knocked power out of the entire hotel, or at the very least, our floor.

The rooms were on the first floor, so we went outside, to see how many rooms lost power. From outside the hotel, all the rooms looked lit up, except for the two adjoining rooms, and one room next to those two, which I think was one of our family's rooms as well.

While some of us were outside looking at the hotel power situation, others went to the front desk, to see if there was a place we could set up the Foreman and prepare dinner. They found us an area, and we moved all the food, the grill, and all the accoutrements to the party room.

Meanwhile, we couldn't call the front desk to have them fix the power because we still had candles burning in one of the rooms, and the other room smelled like we had been cooking in there.

And so...we looked around the floor of the hotel, and found the circuit breakers. There was only one circuit breaker that was flipped off, and so we flipped it back on, and never needed to alert the desk that anything had happened.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Chunkah Presents thing

I have good kids. Really good kids. The kind who look out for one another, who get good grades and are helpful and go the extra mile to try and do the right thing.

They are, generally speaking, helpful, respectful and responsible.

Which makes it hard not to give them presents on Chanukah. They have certainly been on the nice side of the naughty and nice list.

When people ask why our kids listen so well, I don't really have an answer for them. The best I can come up with is that when we say we are going to turn around the car and go back home if they don't stop fighting, and they continue fighting, we turn around and go back home.

Which meant that we couldn't come off our "no presents" stand. If consistency and following through are the key ingredients to keeping our kids, we couldn't change our minds here even if we wanted to. They would know that when mom or dad threatens something, it can be negotiated down or behaved away.

We needed to come up with something though.

So we decided to give them money. Every day, over the eight days of Chanukah, we are going to give them some money. And every day, they are going to have to put some of the money in tzedakah, and put the rest in their bank. And after Chanukah, they are going to get to go to whatever store they choose, and blow all the money.

They know that they aren't getting presents this year because of how they behaved last Chanukah. I'm hoping they can respond better this time around.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Does it matter

The temperature began to warm up on Friday, and as we pulled into the driveway Veev and I noticed that our daughter;s snowgirl had half-melted, and then fell over. I distracted my youngest, so she wouldn't see the tragedy that had befallen her snowgirl. It wasn't until twenty minutes later, while i was talking on the phone, that I heard the glass-shattering shreik. What's wrong, I called out, and listened to her scream that her snowman had fallen over.

At which point, I tuned her out and went back to my phone conversation. There was no blood, she was not in any danger, and she had learned about loss from a three-foot tall snowgirl.

So she screamed and screamed until Veev came over to her, at which point, she continued to scream.

Why didn't you get off the phone when you heard her cry, Veev asked me, after the screaming had subsuded and been replaced by sobs.

What for, I answered. It was only about a snowgirl.

But is was something real to her, came the voice from the bottom of the stairs.

There is no sense in arguing about this. Just two opinions onwhat to do when snow melts.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

J-Blogs the game

You can download the J-Blog the game by clicking here.

Make sure to download it instead of letting it open in your broswer. Otherwise, it doesn't work as well.

So you think you know Blogs

The J-Blog trivia game by Air Time is now available. To get it, you need to email me at azacks at bcbsm dot com. I am working on getting it put on the web for downloading, and will let you know if it becomes available.

You will need PowerPoint to play.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Nefesh B'Nefesh

Nefesh B'Nefesh came to Detroit last night, and gave a general overview on employment and benefits to olim. I wanted to sit in the back, Veev wanted to sit in the front, and since she walked in first and took a seat while I was talking to people, we ended up in the front.

Their wasn't a whole lot of new information presented, although it was worthwhile to attend the meeting and talk to the representatives that were in town. The whole process feels like it has slowed down at this point, and we are in a holding pattern.

Our application is just about completed, and we will be sending it in the beginning of January, and I imagine that at that point, things will start to pick up. We will have to get our house ready to sell, decide which of our things are making Aliyah with us, and work on getting ready to leave.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The agony of a Lions fan

My oldest made the smart choice of turning off the Lions when they were losing 17-0 in the first quarter. His dad, as usual, was not that smart, watching the game almost in its entirety.

I keep watching because I know that one day, the Lions are going to be the king of the NFL. One day their savior quarterback will actually lead the team to the playoffs and superbowl. One day, the no name head coach, or the big name head coach, will succeed at Ford Field.

Until then, I'll keep drawing hope from the Bears, Bengals, Panthers and Bucs.

The Rules

A few years ago I went to Weight Watchers. I am, admittedly, overweight. By the standards of the government of the United States of America, I am obese, although by my standards, I am just an average fat guy.

So I attended Weight Watchers, and these people would stand up at each meeting, and talk about how much weight they lost, and how good they feel, and the whole experience made me sick. I lost about 30 pounds on the program, but the problem with weight watchers is once you are on the program, your whole life becomes an obsession about food. How many points is this. How mnay points is that. If I have two waffles and a grapefruit for breakfast, and then exercise for 20 minutes, how many points can I have the rest of the day. It's too tiring to think about food all day, especially when you are trying not to eat any of the food. So I dropped the program.

I went to the doctor last week, and he told me I needed to lose some weight. More like a lot of weight. But instead of putting me on a diet that I wouldn't follow, he gave me six rules to follow.

1) Eat three meals a day
2) Have only one plate of food at a meal
3) Eat all food sitting at the table
4) Don't drink any calories
5) Watch out for potatoes, rice, pasta and bread
6) I can't remember

So I have been following these rules for about a week. There weren't any restrictions as to what I could eat.

For the most part, I plan on following these rules. I may suspend them now and again if I am at a shmorg, and do not plan on following them during Monday Night Football BBQ club, but other than those situations, I will be following docs orders.

Over the last week, I have lost about ten pounds, although I don't expect that kind of pace to continue. And I will do my best to avoid thinking about food constantly.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Center of it all

Center of it All is finally finished. You can find part XIII here, and the Epilogue here.

For those who need the warning or the encouragement to go there, Center of it All XIII contains violence and foul language.

One Year

A year ago, I had never heard of Blogs or blogging. But Just Passing Through sent me some links, pushed me a bit, and here I am, a year later.

This blog has gone through some changes. I quit, came back, Veev wrote here for a while, left, came back for occasional posts. Through it all, I have alienated readers, watch my average daily visitors hit over 200 for a short time period, slow down blogging, watch my daily average dip down to 40, and now, it is somewhere between, I guess. I reached the point where I stopped looking at the reports, and stopped caring how many people were coming here.

The blog year has been an interesting one for me. I have made new online friends through this blog, kept up with old friends, and reconnected with people who I had not seen or talked to since high school and Israel.

At times I have written prolifically here, other times I have let the blog go untouched for days at a time.

When I first started writing this blog, I wrote it as if no one I knew would ever read it, even though I knew plenty of my friends and family members were reading Air Time. But I tried to create that disconnect between me and my readers, so that I would not feel the need to limit what I wrote because of concern of who was reading this.

Even now, whenever I write, I try to block out the fact that this is not being written in a vacuum, although it is more and more difficult. I have pissed off family members on numerous occasions, and I frequently have conversations with them that begin with a statement that this conversation is not for the blog.

The truth is I don't like the majority of Jewish blogs. By and large, they are either judgmental about Jews who are not like them, attacking religion, and always complaining about something. Those that get into D'var Torah's lose my interest pretty quickly, and it makes me sick to read about some of the things going on in the religious Jewish community.

I don't know if Air Time is different from all those blogs, but I hope it is.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Chanukah Presents

Last year, after a gang of ungrateful kids kept asking for more presents and complaining about some of the gifts they got, we told them we were done with Chanukah presents.

And now, a year later, we have told grandparents, aunts, and uncles that we are not accepting Chanukah Presents for my kids.

Which is fine. We certainly don't need any more toys or games in the house. No one liked that they couldn't buy our kids gifts, but they are respecting our wishes.

But I feel bad for the boys. They will show up to school every morning, and hear about some of the great gifts their friends got.

Veev and I have a different attitude about this whole thing. To me, it was always a one year punishment, to teach them what happens when you complain about presents, and when you think the whole point of Chanukah is presents.

To Veev, though, it is a complete termination of presents. She doesn't want to give them any Chanukah presents ever again, because that is not what Chanukah is about.

But that is next year's fight. This year, there will be no presents.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Center of it All XII

You can find the latest installment of Center of it All on Air Time II

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Marx Brothers Routine

This morning I found out that my 83-year-old Grandpa is having a device put in to his chest arthroscopically in a couple of weeks. Five years ago this grandfather survived four heart attacks within two weeks and even flatlined at some point. He had quadruple bypass surgery and was up and walking again within two days.

Air and I were at our internist this morning for a physical. When Air was on the table, I told the doctor how much better shape my Grandpa is in than Air. I mentioned the device and accidentally called it a "stint". Air corrected me and said it was a "stunt". The doctor chuckled, "Actually, it's a stent."

Air and I need to hire someone to record our conversations court stenographer-style.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lies my mother told me...

...That I pass on to my daughter

Or maybe it was my grandmother. I don't always remember.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All of the horses, and all the kings men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

But there was an additional line added to the poem.

But a kindly old doctor, with patience and glue,
made humpty dumpty as good as new.

Growing up, I always thought Humpty Dumpty survived the fall. We may have even had a book of nursery rhymes that had the doctor ending, although I don't remember for sure.

I bring Humpty Dumpty up because the other night I was reading to my littlest. She picked the Three Little Pigs, and sat next to me on the floor in her room as I read the story.

Be careful with that book, Veev had warned me, although I had no idea what she meant. I knew the Three Little Pigs story, and I knew that the three little pigs were going to eventually hide in the brick house, the wolf would land in the boiling pot, jump back up through the chimney, and run far, far away.

Except that this book didn't have the fairy tale ending I grew up with. After blowing down the house of straw, the wolf eats pig number 1. The wolf is pictured with a fat belly, clearly showing that he ate the pig. The wolf goes to the house of sticks, blows it down, and eats pig #2, again illustrated with a fat belly.

He cannot blow down the brick house, however, and tries to trick the third pig into meeting with him. The third pig is smart, and tricks the wolf time and time again. Finally, the wolf climbs down the chimney, and lands in a boiling pot of water, where he dies.

A quick, iuformal and completely unscientific survey of some Three Little Pig web sites seems to confirm that this is the original story.

And so, as I read the Three Little Pigs to my littlest, following the tradition of my mom, I changed the story, to make it more child-friendly. All three pigs survived, and the big bad wolf ran away where he was never heard from again.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

When I'm Gone

This morning, I started writing a post about greatest hits albums. Eminem just released Curtain Call, and I was wondering why anyone would bother buying a greatest hits album when they can download individual tracks and create their own greatest hits CD.

Greatest hits CDs filled an obvious need. Before digital music, the only way you could get all the songs you wanted on a tape was to painstakingly dub whatever songs you wanted on to a tape. The greatest hits CD took all the work out of compiling that CD. But with music so freely available, either through i-tunes or other music service, compiling a greatest hits CD is a few clicks away.

Move that music onto an i-pod or other MP3 player, and that greatest hits CD is even less attractive.

But before I finished writing the post, I clicked on Yahoo, and saw that Eminem was getting back together with Kim. A few clicks later, and suddenly I was watching his new video, When I'm Gone, somewhere on MTV's website.

The video was amazing, and the song, only released on the Greatest Hits CD, was strong enough to get me to run out to Target, and buy the CD.

I still don't see a strong future for greatest hits compilation CDs, but if it means anything at all, Curtain Call is awesome.


The other day I hard-boiled some eggs for the kids; they like to use the egg slicer. When I took the eggs out of the ice water bath, I dried them off and took out the black Sharpie permanent marker. I wrote a "B" on all of them to indicate they were the boiled ones, and put them back into the egg tray. Air looked at me like I was nuts. Why a "B"? Too serious.

Next day, my oldest opened the fridge and broke down into gales of laughter. Turns out someone wrote more than I did on the eggs. A sampling:

- I could have been a great chicken
- Eat me
- I'm all cracked up

As I told my son last night, behind every great man is a woman rolling her eyes! (I can't remember who to quote on that. Anyone who remembers and lets me know, gets a sticker!)

Center of it All XI

Is now on the Deuce.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Tagged again

Krum as a bagel tagged me earlier today. The meme is to hit shuffle on your i-pod, and then list the first fifteen songs that come up. As I only have an i-pod shuffle, I had to manually listen to each one of these songs, but here are the top fifteen that came up.

Popular girl - Survivor
You’re Easy on the Eyes - Terri Clark
Eye of the Tiger - Survivor
You’ll Be in my Heart - Phil Collins
Never Enough - Eminem
In the Air Tonight - Phil Collins
I’ll Be
My Baby Loves Me Just the Way That I Am - Martina McBride
Living on a Prayer - Bon Jovi
This Side of Paradise - Bryan Adams
Someday We’ll Know - Mandy Moore and Jonathon Foreman
Curtains Up - Eminem
Seventeen - Winger
Burning Heart - Survivor
Wind of Change - Scorpions

If this information is of any interest to you feel free to let me know why you care.

I don't like to tag people, so if you want to do this go ahead.

Center of it All X

I was never happy with Part X of Center of it All, so I killed it, and replaced it with something I am much happier with. Whatever you thought about the previous Part X, you can let it go, although some of that stuff may pop up again at a later time.

Anyway, you can read the new Part X here.

Battle of the Books

One of the local libraries has a reading challenge for kids in fourth grade through eighth grade. Fourth graders compete with other fourth graders, fifth graders complete with fifth graders, and 6-8 compete with other kids in grades 6-8.

Kids choose their team, ask a parent to be their coach, and the competition begins. They are given a list of 7 books, and have about ten weeks to read the books thoroughly and get ready for questions. The library has a wall of champions, with the names of all the winners going back to 1980 in their children's room.

Perhaps because my kid begged and begged, or perhaps because no other parent was willing, or most likely because I am huge sucker, I am the coach for my oldest's team. I have known most of the kids on the team since they were in preschool, and have coached many of them in the past at roller hockey and little league.

Anyway, the coach does not have to read the books, but it is helpful to have some knowledge of the books to help facilitate the meetings.

I have only read a few of the books so far, and of the three that I have read, two of them are great books I would recommend to any fourth grader. In one book, a kid's face is disfigured by some disease, and she never wants leave her room again. She befriends the cook at her family's diner, and is eventually drawn back out of her room and back into her life.

In the second book, an unpopular kid finds a magical worm. The worm only eats words, and every time the worm eats a word, that word disappears. So when the worm eats the word vending machine, all the vending machine disappear, leaving the candy behind. It is a cute book, and the protagonist is faced with the same challenge that Spider Man faces. With great power comes great responsibility.

The third book is also a great story. A weird kid is befriended by a really poor girl, and the weird kid's mother helps the girl out by buying her clothes and treating her well.

The third book is a very nice story, with one flaw. The weird kids father was a sperm donor.

It is only mentioned a few times during the story, and is not an integral part of the book, but it is exactly the kind of question that will be asked during the competition.

I have no problem with books being written to help empower sperm donor kids. If they need to feel like they are not alone, and there are other kids whose moms went to the sperm bank and made a withdrawal, they should have books. Books can be a powerful therapeutic tool in a child psychologist's arsenal.

But there are so many great children's books out there. And the library only had to choose seven for this competition. To my knowledge, regardless of their sexual education, most fourth graders aren't aware of sperm banks, and the complex reasons women have for going to a sperm bank. Was it really necessary for them to choose a book for this competition that had a sperm bank dad?

Monday, December 05, 2005

More on why I hate Talk radio

Stoney, one of the cohosts of an afternoon sports call in show, was talking to a caller about going to the game. As the caller hung up, Stoney said and hopefully when you're at the game, you'll call your friends on your cingular wireless phone. He then continued to shill cingular phones, never letting on that it was a commercial.

Stoney, you suck. Like this Oreck super lightweight vaccuum, which can hold up a bowling ball and clean your floors.

Kippa for Sale

I have a friend. We'll call him Aaron, mostly because that is his first name and I always get mixed up when I statrt giving people fake names. Aaron's sister got married a few months ago, and the whole family wore the same knit Kippa with their names on them.

Since then, Aaron's father and new brother in law almost always wear the "Offical" family Kippa to shul on Shabbos. Aaron, who sits on the other side of the shul away from his family, wears a plain black suede Kippa.

And so it occured to me one day as I sat in shul that it would be funny if we all went and bought the Kleid family Kippa. It was, of course, somewhat mean spirited, making fun of the whole family Kippa thing, but it was also going to be funny.

So there were six of us who ordered the Kippa. We talked to Aaron's father and found out where they ordered the Kippa, from a place in Israel, and placed the order.

The Kippas finally came in on Thursday. Zwicker, a frequent commentor who is currently looking for a date, sent out an email letting us all know that the Kippas were in, and we should try to be in shul on time this shabbos, so we would be wearing the Kippa when Aaron arrived.

I should say this. Veev thought it was a dumb idea. Other wives thought it was very funny.

I am typically a suede kippa wearer, and have been for many years. But for the sake poking fun at Aaron, I was willing to make the switch.

And so it was. I wasn't there at nine, but when I did get to shul, Aaron wasn't there yet, so I didn't miss anything. And when Aaron finally walked in, and looked across at our section, and saw six of us wearing the Kleid Kippa, the look on his face was priceless.

But I knew the joke wasn't nearly as good as I thought it was, when Aaron's mother came over to me. She told me how great our Kippa wearing was, and it sucked the wind out of the whole thing.

Anyway, now that the whole Kippa thing is over, I have an extra knit Kippa with the name Arye written on it in hebrew, so if you are in the market for an Arye knit kippa, let me know.

He''s Much Smarter Than I Am

It was early in the second quarter of another Lions loss, when my oldest said one of the smartest things he has ever said to me.

"This game sucks. Can I play Madden?" he asked.

"Yes," I told him, and helped him plug in the playstation.

Then, instead of playing with him, I disappeared upstairs, and watched the train wreck we call the Lions blow another winnable game.

Jeff Garcia had a miserable day, throwing for only 91 yards when the Lions got the ball back with time running out at their own 7. 93 yards away from victory. Two more yards than Garcia had amassed in the previous 57 minutes of football. But still, there was a chance.

Like every Lions fan, I am stuck on hope. The hope that one day things will change, and the Lions will win the games they always lose.

And like every other game they had a chance to win at the end, this one ended in typical fashion, with the Lions moving the ball to midfield, Garcia scrambling, throwing toward the end zone, and getting intercepted at the two yard line.

Another flirtation with victory. Another typical Lions loss.

But from an evolutionary standpoint, there was my kid, turning off the Lions and spending the afternoon playing videogames.