Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Od Yosef Chai

Od Yosef Chai is a Tzedakah organization that raises money to give to the poor in Israel.

I have not found a web site for them yet, so I don't know if they are online, and I have no way of getting in touch with them.

Their name is familiar, and I am sure I have seen different programs that they have run before, probably using kids to do different fundraising programs.

I think it is important for kids to do more than just learn at school, and I am glad that my kids school has frequent projects involving various tzedakahs.It teaches them the importance of being a member in the community, and shows them how hard it can be for jewish organizations to raise money.

But I find the tzedakah project my son brought home yesterday to be completely inappropriate. In order to raise money, kids are being asked to sell $5 scratch off lottery tickets, with prizes that range from a $5 gift card to a stereo system or bicycle.

I can accept that Jewish orgainzations are trying to cash in Americans passion for gambling. Thats why my shul held a casino night, the conservative shul I pass on my walk to shul every week is having a Texas Holdem tournament, and every organization that exists hosts Chinese Auctions. These events are marketed toward adults, and while I would prefer gambling was not part of fundraising, gambling is an effective way to raise money.

But I draw the line at having kids sell scratch off rafffle tickets. Why do we have to introduce kids to trying to find easy street. Why not wait until they are older to get them addicted to gambling.

Playing Life

We play a lot of board games in our house. Winter friday nights are filled with Memory, Rummykub, Checkers, Chess, Chinese Checkers, and Backgammon are just a few of the games that we play. We also play Uno, Monopoly Junior, Boggle, Clue, Connect Four and Trouble.

And others, which I can't remember.

We even play Sorry every once in a while.

But the one game I hate playing with my kids is Life. The game has changed quite a bit since I was a kid. It allows for more variables, many of which yiou experience in real life.

And I hate the game. After going to work, paying bills, and living life, the last thing I ever want to do is play Life. But when i tell my kids that I don't need to play Life, I am living it, they get upset that I won't play it with them.

But I still won't play it with them.


We have some game quirks in our house. Veev refuses to play Monopoly with me, after an incident which happened the only time we ever tried to play the game together. I don't remember the incident, but we don't even own the game.

We have Cranium, but we have never had a chance to play it.

We play Scattergories when we get together with my family, but that doesn't happen that frequently. And whenever we play that game, everyone accuses me of making things up. Which is part of the game.

Apples to Apples is a fun Shabbat afternoon game, as is Scrabble, but only if the kidsa are otherwise occupied. Why do little kids think they can play, or insist on sitting on a parents lap. And how did my nine year old score 250 points last week when we played together.

But just stop asking me to play Life. I really, really hate that game.

Ani Iparon - Urban Legend

OK. I talked to my dad about the whole Ani Iparon story. I had always thought that he told the story about himself, but when I asked him about it this morning, he said that the story actually happened to a friend of my grandparents.

Soooo, that, coupled with The Zwicker's comment that he heard the story from someone else, M from MKE claiming to have heard the story from his dad, the Rabbi telling us the story about his friend, and various YU publications working Ani Iparon into several articles, leads me to put this story in the urban legend category.

Has anyone else ever heard this story? Or variations of the story.

Ani Iparon for the last time

On fiction alley, a web site where people seem to write fiction, someone uses the phrase Ani Iparon.l At the end of the story, there is a glossary at the end of the story, and this is what it says.

Shalomet, Ani Iparon - Hello (using improper grammar) I am a pencil in transliterated Hebrew. No more explanation there, it's a personal joke.

The Purim issue of the Commentator, called the desecrator, used the phrase Ani Iparon without any context at all.

Ani Iparon Part II

OK, I did a little bit of research on the story. OK, all I did was Yahoo Search Ani Iparon. The first hit was a link to a 2003 issue of YU's student newspaper, to an article entitled Ani Iparon. The article does not discuss the Ani Iparon story at all. However, in it, Yitz Motzen implores his fellow YU students to learn hebrew. Clearly, he is referring to the Ani Iparon story as someone who cannot speak hebrew.

I'll let you know if there is anything else.

Ani Iparon

My dad grew uip without any hebrew language skills to speak of. at some point, he was in Israel, he told us, and jaywalked across the street. A police officer came up to him, and started yelling at him in Hebrew, My dad looked at the officer, and saying the only hebrew sentence he knew, said Ani Iparon (I am a pencil).

The story has become part of family lore, and whenever we joke about not being able to speak hebrew, or want to change the subject, we say Ani Iparon.

I told you that story so I could tell you this story.

Last night, at my hebrew ulpan class I am taking at the shul, the rabbi walked into the room to say hello to the group. He clowned around for a minute, stepped out of the room, and then walked back in. I want to tell you the funniest story ever, he told us. When I was in Yeshiva, my friend was jaywalking, and a police officer stopped him. The officer was yelling at my friend, who just looked at the officer, and then, my friend said Ani Iparon.

The class laughed, and the rabbi left the room.

But the whole incident left me dumbfounded, and leaves three possibilities.

A) This story happened to both my dad and the rabbi's friend. I find this unlikely that two people would look at a cop blankly and give the same Ani Iparon sentence.

2) This story happened to neither of them, and is just urban legend. And while I would not put it past my dad to make up a story to get a laugh, I find it unlikely that he would keep this particular story going for so many years.

C) This story happened to my dad, and turned into an urban legend afterwards.

Anyone want to vote?

Monday, February 27, 2006

DVD Recommendation

With baseball season almost here, I have to recommend Lucy Must Be Traded, Charlie Brown.

I watched it the other night without my kids, and then last night with the boys (yes, i do watch cartoons without the kids sometimes, a lot of time it is better than non-animated entertainment). It is not only really funny, it gets you ready for baseball season.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Fun with DVDs

While in New Jersey last week, my kids performed at JASA, a place where old people go to spend their days. They sang a few songs, played piano, and entertained the octogenarian crowd.

And Veev taped it.

Last night I took the boys performance, and the Eilat Duo's performance from Saturday night, and burnt them on a DVD. i-DVD makes it really easy to do cool menu pages, and make a professional-style DVD.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Preventing Sexual Abuse - A Public Service Message

Most of the material on this blog is useless. I know it. You know it. I write it, you read it, and we both move on. But today I am going to write about sexual abuse.

I have come across a number of blogs over the past few days that are dealing with sexual abuse. The Unorthodox Jews are in the middle of trying to get a yeshiva to fire a rebbi who has been abusing boys for the past thirty years. And Dave had a great post about how the orthodox community has been looking the other way when it comes to sexual predators. Angry Soul has an entire blog talking about his experience being sexually abused over a seven year period. According to Angry Soul, his abuser, a counselor in camp, admitted to abusing over 100 kids during his teenage years.

There are other blogs I have seen talking about sexual abuse, but I haven't seen anyone talking about how to protect your kids from being abused.

As many of you know, I am not a therapist. I have never been sexually abused, and while I do know peple who have been abused, I have never had a discussion about that aspect of their lives with them.

Still, I am a parent, with three kids to protect, and many of you are parents as well, with kids who need to be protected.

Statistically, in the US, something like 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys are sexually abused in some manner at some point in their lives, which means it a pretty prevelent problem, and not one that as a parent you can afford to ignore.

I have a client, the Self Esteem Shop, which specializes in mental health books. They have an extensive section on sexual abuse, both in terms of prevention and recovery, for children of all ages, and for adults as well. I write their catalogs, and as their copywriter, I have flipped through many of these books, and read quite a few of the kids books from cover to cover.

This comes from the Child Advocacy Center.

Protecting your child from sexual abuse:

Let your child know that he or she can tell you anything and you will always be supportive.

Teach your child that no one, not even a teacher or a close relative, has the right to touch him or her in a way that feels uncomfortable. Teach your child that it is OK to say, "No, get away," and to tell a trusted adult about the incident.

Don't force kids to kiss, hug or sit on a grown-up's lap if they don't want to. This gives them control and teaches them that they have the right to refuse.

Always know where your child is and whom he or she is with.

Tell your child to stay away from strangers who hang around playgrounds, public restrooms and schools.

Be alert for changes in your child's behavior that could signal sexual abuse, such as sudden secretiveness, withdrawal from activities, refusal to go to school, unexplained hostility toward a favorite baby-sitter or relative, or increased anxiety. Some physical signs of abuse include bedwetting, loss of appetite, venereal disease, nightmares and complaints of pain or irritation around the genitals or anus.

If your child has been sexually abused, report it to the police or a child protection agency immediately.

If your child is a victim of sexual abuse, don't blame him or her. Listen and provide safety.

You can talk to your children about sexual abuse without ever using the term "Sexual Abuse." Use phrases like safe touches, and make sure to tell kids that they can always come to you to talk.

As I mentioned above, I write catalogs for the Self Esteem Shop, and here are a few titles I have read through. The prices are the current prices at the Self Esteem Shop's web site, selfesteemshop.com

Preschool Age

Always Be Careful - This safety manual teaches preschool age children (ages 3-5) the ABC's of good and bad touches and personal safety. $3

Andy/Annie - These books, were written for young children. Andy/Annie is confused when a person she knows touches her private parts. Issues include feeling alone, disclosure, and changes in character. Andy is for boys, Annie is for girls. $2.50

It's My Body - A book to teach young children how to resist uncomfortable touch. $5.95

Grade School

My Body is Private - This book teaches kids that their body is their own personal space, and no one should touch them without their permission. $5.95

Sam Speaks Out - When Sam is inappropriately touched by a neighbor, it makes him feel sad and act out. He tells a friend, and she helps him find someone who can help him with his problem. Soon, Sam is back to his old self. 4.95

A Very Touching Book - Using humor, children learn about their body parts as well as privacy, their private parts, and the difference between good and bad touches, including what to do in case of a bad touch. 12.95

Red Flag Green Flag People - This personal safety manual teaches early elementary age children the difference between good and bad touches, and teaches what to do in the event of a bad touch. Facilitators guide available. Appropriate for children ages 4-10. For some reason this book is not on their web site. It is the follow up
book to Always Be Careful, which I mentioned in the preschool section.

For Parents -

Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse - Janie Hart-Rossi shows parents how to protect their children from sexual abuse. She begins with the facts on sexual abuse, an eye opening experience for many parents. She then offers some key phrases for children, so they can resist uncomfortable touches, and gives specific activities so you can reduce the likelyhood of your child ever getting molested. Companion to It's My Body. 7.95

More fun zoo quotes

For those who don't know, the Detroit City Council voted to shut down the zoo this past weekend rather than hand over control to the Detroit Zoological Society. While papers are reporting that their will most likely be a deal worked out, that hasn't stopped people from shooting off their mouths this week.

So I present some of the more entertaining things that have come out of elected officials mouths this week, as well as some comments from the Detroit News comment section on their web site.


Meanwhile, Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson called for Detroiters to stage an economic boycott of the suburbs in response to what she calls blatant and institutional racism that has been exhibited amid the zoo fracas.

"Detroiters should spend money where they live," Watson said. "It is clear there are layers of disrespect, racism and white supremacy. It's not about getting along. Racism is a disease in this country. A lot of black folks walk around and deny it. This country got rich on the backs of black folks."


Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said the zoo cries out for regional management, and he was highly critical of the council's vote.

"They'd rather close the zoo than share its management with the region," Patterson said. "And shame on them for that point of view."


"This is not a plantation," Collins said. "We are not owned by everyone else. Black folks are not owned by white folks anymore. I made the point Saturday that the state Legislature was pimping the City of Detroit, and that we should not play the role of prostitute. That upset a lot of people, but I stand by my words. The symbolism is that Detroit is a black city, and we're not able to govern ourselves. It's a racist attitude and I resent it."


But the debate over zoo management has gashed open old wounds and reignited the hateful rhetoric that has plagued this region for decades.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson stoked the fire by saying the council itself should be placed in a zoo. Councilwoman Barbara-Rose Collins said white people don't own black people anymore. Patterson said he'd rather own a 1948 Buick than Collins.

Council members called Patterson's comments racist.

"We are not monkeys that can be put in a cage," said Councilwoman Monica Conyers, wife of Congressman John Conyers, D-Detroit. Patterson denied any racial context to his comments.

"I can criticize (Gov. Jennifer) Granholm. I can criticize (Wayne County Executive Robert) Ficano," Patterson said, "but if you dare say anything about the city of Detroit, it's racist."


These next ones are from the Detroit News web site comments section

Q: How many Detroit City Officials does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Six

One to call the light bulb racist for not being a black light.

One to not change the light, but blame the suburbs for not changing it.

One to say they are finally going to be the one to change it, like Coleman Young would of, but then decide buying themselves an Escalade would be better for the light bulb.

One to wait for the state to come into change it, only to tell them it is none of their business.

One to get a photo op holding the light bulb.

One to get the Superbowl to come the light bulb and wait for them to finally change it.


Close the darn zoo! Please, the last one out shoot the elephants. Oh wait, there are no elephants in the detroit Ghetto zoo. Oh never mind. Oh wait, is The MAYOR IN AFRICA? Maybe his is getting some more monkeys and elephants. Or he may be recruting for some open postions in his office. Ya right! Just close it it is one more nail in Detroits coffin!


Detroiters voted these people into office as their voice...what else do you expect from a bunch of uneducated or semi-educated people with low standards and the willingness to latch onto an idea that somewhat rings a bell in their shallow minds? Poor animals.


It is not the racist whites of Lansing causing this problem. No sir/mames. Its the people from planet X4598WE located in sector 6 of the Andramida galaxy. They are the ones who plant little tiny chips in city counsels heads that make them think suburban whites are at fault. Beware! They are all around us. WhhooopS theres one NOW!!! aaaaahhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Eilat Duo - Behind the Music

Behind the Music – The Eilat Duo Story

Before Matisyahu. Before Schweky. Before Eli Gerstner, Mordechai Ben David and Avrohom Fried, there was the Eilat Duo, a two man band that toured across the United States, performing at NCSY events and Bar Mitzvahs. For the better part of the 60s, Richie Starr and Stuie Bilauer were the kings of Jewish Music.

Their album, the green Eilat Duo album, was one of the hottest selling Jewish records of all time, and their music, a mix of cover songs and original material, influenced a generation of Jewish Rockers.

Richie and Stuie met on the hard streets of New York City, in the days before the depression. They were Newsies, running through the streets shouting extry extry read all about it, pitching papes for a penny. They went on strike with the other Newsies when Arthur Pulitzer tried to increase Newsies costs, and emerged victorious against the legendary newspaper giant.

It was during this time when they started to flex their musical muscle. Richie would pull out his battered old accordion, and Stuie would bang sticks on the pavement. They were hard times, but a kid with a good voice could make some serious money singing and playing on the streets back in the day.

At 17, they left the Newsies business, and began rehearsing in Richie’s father’s pizza shop on 17th and 5th in Manhattan. They seemingly had it all. Free pizza, and a growing reputation as the bad boys of the nascent Jewish Rock scene. They left a string of broken hearts in the pizza shop, and were soon courted by NCSY to start performing at their Shabbatons.

“Richie and Stuie and great. They were hard drinking, skirt chasing guys all Shabbos long, but come Saturday night, those cats could play.”

And play they did. West Virginia, Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Cleveland, and of course, their native New York all hosted the boys, who were known only as Richie and Stuie.

“One day we were supposed to play in Philly, at some Israeli cabaret event. There was some local press, and they wanted to know who was playing. Danny White, who ran the Philly region, told the paper that we didn’t have a name, and he made up Eilat Duo. We walked in to play, and we see this sign, that the Eilat Duo was performing, and me and Stuie just figured there was more than one band that night.”

But there wasn’t. And the band that would break 1,000 hearts finally had a name.

“I would play the drums, and Richie would be singing, and these kids would just go crazy. It was a different time, a great scene.

“There was this one time when we were flying into Louisville on a Friday afternoon for a Saturday night gig, and the plane is about to touch ground in Louisville, when all of the sudden the pilot pulls up and takes us to Lexington. When we land in Lexington, he tells the broad in charge to start pouring drinks for everyone, because he saw a tornado on the runway in Louisville.

Anyway, she starts pouring drinks for everyone, and we’re getting hammered, when Richie says we gotta get to Louisville before Shabbos. I’ll never forget it. So we stumble outside, and we were drunk and freezing, and their was 14 inches of snow on the ground, and we rent a car and fly to Louisville, and we get there just before Shabbos. It was off the hook.”

In the summer of 1967, Stuie and Richie hit the recording studio to turn out their only record, the green album, and their popularity soared.

“They were the Beatles and Elvis all rolled into one.”

But something terrible was about to happen.

“I remember it like it was yesterday. Richie comes stumbling downstairs after a set, and he is just hammered. And there is this babydoll sitting there with her friends, and Richie goes over there. She blew him off, but then he kept on pursuing her, and then she acquiesced.

What killed the Eilat Duo is Richie got himself domesticated. And I thought Oy, that band is GeHakta Tzarus. And they were never the same.”

Richie and Stuie kept on playing, but it was never the same. They each married, had kids, and stopped touring.

“Dey would play at the Homowack, but wittout da kids dere, dose crazy NCSYers, it was never the same. Dose broads kilt da band.”

Disclaimer - Not everything in this Behind the Music is cold, hard fact. Some creative license may have been taken in the telling of this story.

Just thought I'd Tell You

I like Pink's new video Stupid Girls. But I don't think I would like it if I didn't havea a daughter.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Dirty Look or time at Quik Chek

sometime over this past week there was a picture of a budweiser ad from the SI Swimsuit issue on ESPN.com. The picture showed a girl with budweiser bottle caps placed on her to look like the American Beauty rose petal poster.

Anyway, Veev and I were in Quik Chek in Passaic when we walked by the magazine rack. You have to see this budweiser ad, I told told her. It is hilarious. And its a four page pullout ad. I flipped through the magazine quickly, trying to find the ad, without lingering too much on the swimsuit models.

To be honest, flipping through the swimsuit issue in the drug store is so seventh grade, but there we were, flipping through it and tryign to find the ad. And not finding it. Go through it page by page, Veev said, and then when i did not find it immediately, she went to the counter to pick up some drug called Ass Effex, which is actually for acid reflux, and not for her or me, or my kids, for that matter. But I digress.

So I am flipping through the magazine and this frum lady in a snood walks by and gives me the dirtiest look. And then I find the ad I am looking for, so i walk over to Veev to get her to come back to the magazine rack so i can show her the ad, but she is still in line, so I went back to the magazine rack and got the magazine and brought it to her.

And she said the lady gave her a dirty look too.

Oh, and Veev thought the ad was funny too.

The Zoo

The Detroit Zoo is located in Royal Oak, a few miles from where I live. As a kid, I frequently went to the zoo, and as a parent, i can't count the number of times I have taken my kids to the zoo, even for just an hour. Membership does have its privileges.

But it looks like Detroit is in a pissing contest with Lansing over who controls the zoo, and in a vote this past Saturday, the city council voted to close the zoo. This is a zoo which has had millions of dollars invested in it over the past few years, both for exhibits and their new conservation center.

Lansing allocated $4 million to the zoo, with one caveat. The city of Detroit had to hand over control of the zoo to the Detroit Zoological Society, a nonprofit organization. Detroit, still in the afterglow of hosting a great Super Bowl, had a chance to continue building momentum in for a city that desperately needs help. Instead, the city council voted 7-2 to close the zoo.

Oakland County (where the zoo is located) Executive L. Brooks Patterson said the zoo cries out for regional management, and he was highly critical of the council's vote.

"They'd rather close the zoo than share its management with the region," Patterson said about the Detroit City Council's decision. "And shame on them for that point of view."

But the most bizarre quote comes from councilwoman Barbara-Rose Collins, who sees this issue as a racist issue, where Michigan's white legislatures don't trust Detroit's black city council to run the zoo.

"This is not a plantation," Collins said. "We are not owned by everyone else. Black folks are not owned by white folks anymore. I made the point Saturday that the state Legislature was pimping the City of Detroit, and that we should not play the role of prostitute. That upset a lot of people, but I stand by my words. The symbolism is that Detroit is a black city, and we're not able to govern ourselves. It's a racist attitude and I resent it."

I'm not black. I don't see racism in every move made by government. And I can't see how asking Detroit to hand over control of the zoo to a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the zoo is a racist move. Currently, Detroit has a lot more important issues, like a 20% unemployment rate and dismal city services, to concern themselves over. Let the zoo people run the zoo. Let the city council try to fix some of Detroit's problems.

Cheese Man 4

Cheese Man Part 4 is on the deuce.

For those of you joining late, you can still read the first three parts on the deuce.

Here, though, is the cliff notes section.

Lisa and Michael are married. Michael loves cheese, while Lisa is not crazy about it. Michael is killed when Lisa opens the door next to his arm while he is using a Q-Tip in his ear, driving the Q-Tip through his brain.

Lisa is arrested, and is awaiting trial. Meanwhile, Jack Kay, the bald attorney with an ear fetish, who you might remember from Maryann Maxwell and Her Incredible Earlobes is working on the prosecution.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I am So Proud

Choose Cleveland

Youngstown, Ohio is on the Ohio side of the Pennsylvania - Ohio border on Route 80. It is about 174 miles from Toledo, which is about an hour away from home.

We seem to arrive at Youngstown at roughly the same time every trip, dinner time. And we are always faced with a choice.

1) Eat the food we brought, although this is not always a choice, once the deli we picked up in passaic was no good, and other times we forgot to bring food.

2) Eat junk food, bagels, and whatever else we can find at a reststop. In truth, this is probably the best choice.

3) Get chips and pop, and keep on driving until we get home, and then try to eat something then.

4) Go to Cleveland to eat.

We rarely choose Cleveland. It adds at least an hour to the trip, plus eating time, but last night we went there. There were a number of choices where we could eat, and we chose Abbas, a place not known for their customer service, but they serve the kind of food I was looking for.

In all, it added an extra two hours to our drive home, but it was worth it.

Its not a party unless...

Its not a party until some people are no longer speaking to one another, and for a while there, it look pretty shaky. Everyone was getting along, and talking to one another, and being friendly.

I think the mathematical equation is T+F=D+NS, Where T=Time, F=Family D=Disagreements, and NS=Not speaking.

Anyway, it took until our last morning in NJ, but by the time we left, Veev's 90-year-old Grandmother told me she never wants to speak to me again.

How do you piss off a 90 year old woman who is almost deaf and barely speaks English enough to get her to say that? I wish I knew.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Sitting on the plane

I was sitting on the plane, hoping that the turbulence that was tossing us around would not include vomiting. And I was writing a short story, The Flight, which you can find on the deuce.

I read it this morning to a very enthusiastic Veev and a mildly disinterested Spencer.

Back to Brooklyn

So I flew into New Jersey last night. Or actually, La Guardia. And then we went to Brooklyn for food because the brain trust forgot to pick me up something from Dougie's. The plane was bouncy and delayed, and by the time we landed, I was starving. It was after 11, so we went to Brooklyn, a place once claimed by another to be "beautiful."

I don't have too much to say about all that, but I have three observations.

1) Brooklyn is not beautiful
2) I ran into Yudi Hochheiser at 1 AM at Substation, and had an excellent dinner there.
3) There was a 24-hour car wash in Brooklyn, and at 1 AM, when we were on our way out of Brooklyn, there were lines at not one, but two of these 24 hour car washes.

Also, there was a boatload of traffic at midnight, and it horrified me that people actually choose to live their lives that way. It is like being a Palestinian at a crossing to get into Israel. And this is by choice.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Orbitz Games

I like playing Orbitz games. Besides for being entertaining, they are below the radar of my office's site blocking software, and so I can go and play games there.

They have a new game there, called Dunkin Mascots, which is basically a slamdunking contest between eight mascots. The mascots all have special secret moves, and the only way to learn the moves is to get the Orbitz email, sent out to registered users who request the newsletter.

I am registered, but I asked them not to send me email when i signed up, because I didn't want to get all this junk from Orbitz.

But now I want to see the email, and there is no way to get back to the screen where you can request it. So now I can't do the secret moves. Playing without secret moves is like trying to dribble a basketball with your fingers cut off.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Pitchers and Catchers

Tigers pitchers and catchers report to spring training tomorrow. Whoo-hoo. Baseball season is almost here.

Home Alone

Veev Does not like movies with guns. Not that she is against violence in movies for otehr people, but she feels that watching a violent movie will not in any way enhance her life. So she abstains. Which means, more often than not, we're watching Must Love Dogs instead of Die Hard.

Which is fine. I don't usually mind watching her type of movies, and she will watch and laugh along with the bloodless American Pie style movies.

But she is away, and my first stop on my way home from playing basketball last night was the video store. I came home with Four Brothers, and thoroughly enjoyed the shooting and killing that was rampant throughout the movie. And then, when Four Brothers ended, I also rented Beavis and Butthead, and after an IM break with Still Wonderin, I watched the boys steal Mr Anderson's Balls, and fight with the Manners teacher. Excellent stuff, buttmunch.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Weekend Ahead...or ranting about wife's family I guess

I'm going to NJ this Thursday. I am not a big fan of going to NJ.

I tried to get out of it. My wife's grandmother is turning 90, and they are having a party for her, thus the trip. I told my mother in law I would be happy to come, so long as she understood that I could take no responsibility if her mother died, as every 90-year-old birthday I have attended has resulted in a death within two years.

My mother in law said she'd take the two years.

So Veev and the kids drove through yesterday's snowstorm to get there a week early, and I will be flying on Thursday night.

Late Thursday night. Probably too late to eat anything good when I get in. And Friday is going to be a wasted day. Probably Pizza. And then Saturday night we have some concert my father in law is playing in. But I don't know any of the details, so don't bother asking. I just hope it isn't the NCSY alumni reunion, because that would just be a kick in the nuts.

Have you ever gone to an NCSY event, when you're not an NCSYer. They sit around on Saturday night, in the glow of the Havdalah candle, talking about how this Shabbos has changed their lives, and they feel so connected to everyone, and isn't this the greatest Shabbaton ever. And then the next kid says the same thing. And on and on. And then before you know it, the kid who just talked about how spiritual his life has become is sneaking out back with some girl for some action. Or some drugs. Or sneaking off. Because while NCSY may do some good things for some people, and I know plenty of people who fit in that category, NJ NCSY is an excuse to meet girls and stay away from home for shabbos. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I just don't like the fake Kiruv pretenses that they use to justify their existence. And so as an outsider, you are just watching and praying that this evening will finally end. And I can just imagine that an alumni NCSY shabbaton will be similar, just with older people. So I hope that it isn't the NCSY thing.

Crap. I just went to their website, and there in the Motzai Shabbos program, is dear old father in law. So if you want to hang out with me on Saturday night, you know where I'll be. Sitting in some corner wishing there was more alcohol in me to make this night tolerable.

In usual circumstances I don't mind visiting my inlaws. My kids like it there, and I get along well with them.

Spencer is coming in from London, which is always a party. Here's the thing. I don't mind visiting my in laws. But Veev is a superior cook to her mother. And so her mother will have her cook, but now I'm getting off topic. Or am I. Is there even a topic to this post at all.

Here's how the weekend is going to go.

The Spencers will not be helpful at all. Veev will be pressed into slave labor from the moment she gets there, which is a good thing because A) The food will be better than it would be if MIL cooked and B) It is always good to get her good and pissed off at other family members who are completely unhelpful when we are there so we have something to talk about on the drive home, and the weeks that follow. But she will not be happy, which means that she will be venting at me. Which is OK at this point. I guess.

And then there is the 90 year old grandmother. Who doesn't speak English very well. And is my inspiration for learning Hebrew after we move. In some language she will make it known that my children do not eat enough food. Which is fine. I don't care what a 90 year old woman thinks about my kids eating habits. But then she will harass my mother in law, which again, is not my problem. But then my mother in law will try to force feed at least one of my kids, or at least have them fake eating in front of her mother so that her mother will leave her alone. When all MIL has to say is Ma, they don't look like they are starving (in Yiddish) but she won't because she would rather complain to Veev (who passes it along to me) that the kids aren't eating, at which point we say So, do they look starving to you, at which point she will try to get them to eat. It this seems rambling its because it is. And will continue on for all meals over Shabbos.

And here is something odd. Why is it that I am the only one who thinks, hey, lets have some liquor at the table. I mean, we're Jewish, there is no kiddush club at Young Israel of Passaic Clifton anymore, and its shabbos, so lets knock down a few l'chayims. Hell, we did it at my shuir last night and that was just a plain old Sunday night.

I haven't really mentioned the shul, other than their lack of a kiddush club (maybe one has sprouted since I have been there last). And I am going to leave the shul alone. Even though it is a dump of a building and looks like an ill-placed blue barn.

One set of old people will not be there this weekend, as they are still in Gods waiting room and won't be back north until spring, which is good. Somehow we always get in trouble when we see them. But since they won't be around, I'll spare you the details of that pair.

I have one good brother in law. Veev tries to keep us apart sometimes. She doesn't think we are good together. And a good sister in law, who could definitely use a good man, or a man, or someone, in her life. So if you want to be a part of this excitement show up at the NCSY weekend event and ask me about my single sister in law. I'll point her out to you.

Procrastinating Part 1 is over

We downloaded the application in September. We looked at it, partially filled it out, put it to the side, took it out, and put it away again. For months, we kept on procrastinating. And then, The deadline was three weeks away. And we still needed an acocuntant to sign a form, and we needed letters of recommendation. And family pictrues. And Passport photos.

So we scrambled. And we called our recommenders, and asked them write us letters. And then we harassed them to actually write the letters. And then we called them to remind them that we needed the letters.

And finally, on Friday afternoon, we finally had everything we needed. The copies of all our passports. A copy of our marriage license. Even staples so we could staple the aplication together, and paperclips, so we could attach the passport photos to the application.

And stamps. We had plenty of stakmps and a large, 10x13 envelope.

In big letters, on the envelope, I wrote the address. Nefesh B'Nefesh. East 69th Street. New York, NY.

It was in the mailbox when I left for shul on Friday night, as I knew it would be, and in the mailbox when I left for shul on Shabbat morning, again, as I knew it would be.

But when I got home from shul on Shabbat afternoon, the envelope was gone.

Off to the people in New York who will look through it and process and stamp it with words like approved and file it with other July departures.

Hats off

Just wanted to give mad props to Veev, who put Quibble out on a triple word score when we played Scrabble on Shabbos afternoon.

Total points for the word - 112.


Oh, and she won, I think the score was 352-338, but i might have only had 328.


I like Sharpie pens. They are great for writing on CDs, and writing on just about anything. I have one mini Sharpie Pen keychain. It is a shorter version of the fat fine tip Sharpie, but has an extra piece on the cap, so you can hook it onto a key ring.

Personally, I don't think a Sharpie belongs on the keychain, but I do like it for its convenient pocket size. And as luck would have it, my Sharpie took the plunge into the laundry machine thins weekend.

After taking out my clothes, I saw the Sharpie, lying on the bottom of the washing machine drum. I took the Sharpie, with a million thoughts racing through my mind. The pen must have leaked, in the machine, or at the very least, it probably doesn't write anymore.

I took the Sharpie out of the drum, pulled off the cap, and tried to write on my hand. The pen worked. Looking through the laundry after it came out of the dryer, I was amazed that not a single item of clothes was ruined by my Sharpie.

It's a modern day miracle.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Coffee, the Sock, and the Dentist - Conclusion

I know you all are dying to find out what happened. But for those of you who are too lazy or unable to use a mouse to scroll to the next post to find out the beginning of this story, here is a quick recap.

I spilled coffee on my sock and had to go to the dentist.

If that's not enough to go get you to read the previous post, I don't know what will.

Anyway, I quickly ruled out the microwave. I did not think it would be looked upon positively if anyone saw me put a sock in the microwave, and I did not want to walk across the entire floor to the kitchen area a bare foot.

I tried to wrap my foot in paper towel, but it was too scratchy. My shoe was too wet from the coffee to just go without a sock.

Then I saw the tissue box sitting over my desk. Soft, and two plied, it was the perfect alternative to paper towel.

I pulled out a few tissues, wrapped them around my foot, and slid the wet sock over my foot. The tissue (actual Kleenex brand!) took my foot up from a D size, which I thought was the biggest, to an E size, which is even bigger than the traditional D. But my foot still was able to squeeze into the shoe.

When I got outside, I couldn't help but notice how much warmer my tissue-stuffed foot was, despite the moisture that surrounded it from the shoe and the sock.

And ti stayed warmer for most of my trip to the distance. But then I realized I was near an OfficeMax. And I had a $10 off card with a $20 purchase.

I like pens. Gel Pens. And I hate paying for them. At my old job this was no big deal. We were allowed to take whatever pens we wanted. But at my current job, the pens suck. They write OK, but none of them are gel pens. And they are not as smooth as those nicer pens.

So I took my card into the store, picked up a bunch of gel pens and a pack of black sharpies, and felt my foot starting to get cold again. The tissues were defeated by the socks.

So now I am sitting at work, with a cold foot that is feeling a bit snug in a shoe that is too tight. I can't take my shoe off because it will be too cold with the sock on. And I can't take off the sock because the tissues have probably disnintegrated on my feet, and I don't want to sit in my cube peeling off tissue scraps from my foot.

The Coffee, the Sock, and the Dentist

I have a dentist appointment this morning. And one sock.

This is not a laundry situation, I have plenty of socks in my drawer at home. But I am not home. I am at work. And let me just add that this is not a situation where I forgot to put on both socks that came in the pair. As I do almost everyday, I took out a balled up pair of socks, and put one on each foot.

This, my friends, is a coffee problem.

As I got out of the car this morning, I put my coffee on top of my car. And I just want to add right here, that had this been my car, this whole one sock dentist situation would not have happened. Or it might have. Maybe this was written on Rosh HaShana, maybe God thought it would be funny to have events turn out this way. To be honest, I don't really want to get into a whole existential talk about what God does and doesn't take control of. SO we'll just focus on the sock and the dentist. And the coffee. And my dad's car, which I am using while he is out of town.

Its a Toyota Prius, known for being a hybrid, but few pay attention to its shape. Which is rounded on top. The rounded top may be good for aerodynamics, or fuel economy. I don't know about those things. I am not an engineer.

But I do know this. A rounded top car, covered by a layer of freshly fallen snow, is not a good place to put your cup of coffee when you get out of the car. It does not say this in the car's manual, although perhaps it should have a warning. If a coffee cup needs to say contents may be hot, a car roof where people put their coffee cups when they exit their vehicle should warn that this location is not a safe place to put coffee.

But the car did not say that. And so, I put my coffee there, turned around, turned back to get the coffee, felt a bump on my leg where the coffee first hit me, and felt the hot coffee land all over my foot. Soaking through my sneaker. And soaking my sock.

The burn marks on my now exposed foot are pretty insignificant. 80 minutes after the fact, someone looking at my foot for signs of being attacked by coffee would find no evidence that coffee ever touched my foot.

But my sock is still soak, despite the fact that I have had it hanging over the garbage can for the last hour and change. And my shoe is still wet. And the snow is still falling. And I have to leave for the dentist in 10 minutes.

I've never used the microwave at the office. But maybe now would be a good time to try it out.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

My Littlest...The Liar

My Littlest, as I said yesterday, is 3. She is always changing, and yesterday I saw a new side of her, the determined liar.

I told her she could not have any cookies, and then went downstairs to do some work on the computer. A few minutes later she was downstairs, asking when it was her turn to play on the computer. Chocolate cookie crumbs lined the bottom of her lips.

Did you eat any cookies, I asked her.

No, she answered.

Are you sure, I asked again.

Again, she denied it.

This went on for a few minutes, until I walked her upstairs, and told her to look in the mirror. I pointed out the chocolate on the bottom of her lip, and she licked her lip with her tongue, and told me that maybe she had eaten some cookies in school.

I tried twice more that evening to get her to confess her lies, but she stood by her story. She had eaten the cookies in school.

This morning, I tried one more time to get the truth from her, and one more time, she stood by her story.

The truth is it is not easy to lie. One of the keys is to keep the story simple. The more layers of deception that are involved, the better chance one has of having it all unravel. Keep the story simple, so you don't have to remember all the complicated details and don't get mixed up when you retell the story, and the lie has a much better chance of standing the test of time.

And so it is a lesson my daughter has learned. And she is standing by her word. She didn't eat the cookies I told her not to eat. She had cookies in school.

What's she going to be like, I wonder, when she is six. Or sixteen?

And what if she was telling the truth?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

After I zoquou, I like to ushnuu

I like playing Scrabble. Moving letters around to form words and find a place on the board appeals to me.

Growing up, we would always joke about the seemingly made up words that were found in the Scrabble dictionary. Words like XI and XU could be huge point-getters, especially when placed on a triple letter score going in two directions. And for those of you wondering what they mean, one of them is a chinese unit of measure and one is a measure of distance.

Two letter words are one of the keys to Scrabble success. A JO is a sweetheart, and AI is a three toed sloth.

The Fourth Edition of the Scrabble Dictionary was published in 2005, and with it, over 4000 new words. Some words make sense, like email. Blog, Blogger and Blogging made the cut as well. But their were two words I was really disappointed to see in the dictionary.

ZA, which the dictionary defines as Pizza, and QI, whose definition escapes me, were added to this edition. I have ordered pizza, eaten pizza, talked about pizza, and listened to others talk about pizza for many yeards. Never have I heard anyone refer to it as ZA. It seems that the guardians of Scrabble wanted to add a two letter word for both Z and Q.

Z and Q are the two highest scroing individual letters. Part of the reason for their high point value is that they are rare; there is only one of each in the game (There is also only one J (8 pts), X (8) and K (5). But they also have the high point total becaseu they sued to be difficult to unload. You could only put out a Q if you had a U as well (unless you read through the older versions of the dictionary and were familiar with words like QAID and QAT). The Z was difficult to use as well, although not as tough as the Q to unload. But now, with the addition of easy-to-place words, the letters are too easy to get rid of, and therefore, should be lowered to 8 points, just like the J and X.


My littlest is not that little anymore. At three, she has oodles of personality, and is never afraid to let everyone know what is on her mind. Which made it really surprising when she started having accidents on her way to the bathroom.

We ignored it the first few times, not making a big deal out of her new bathroom habits, but after a few days we had enough. It was time ot find out what's up with her inability to make it to the bathroom. Even more perplexing was her request to wear pullups, soemthing she wore briefly between diapers and underwear.

Well, the answer is as old as time.

Who do you know that wears pullups, I asked one day, frusterated with her peeing all voer herself again.

Coby and Eitan wear pullups, she said.

Oh the things girls will do to be like the boys.


Little girls, or children anyway, are pretty manipulatable. You can't have pullups, we told her, but everyday that yuo stay dry you can have a sticker on a chart.

We've been dry for five days and counting.

Have they even seen the cartoons

It would be nice if all the muslims around the world took a look at the cartoons that they are blindly protesting against.

Because the message of the cartoons is being reinforced around the world by the protesters.

Muhammud's turban is a bomb. Muhammed turning away martyrs from heaven's gate, telling them there are no more virgins left.

Why haven't muslims looked at the cartoons, and asked themselves why these are the predominant opinions peopole have of Islam.

There must be a reason that that western culture equates islam and muhammad with terrorism, and not peace. It would behoove Islam to take an introspective look at the message the west is sending with these cartoons, instead of reinforcing the stereotypes these cartoons took a playful jab at.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Why Are US Editors Cowards?

Freedom of the press is one of the principles that America was founded upon. Whenever we talk about spreading democracy to other nations, one of the principles cited is freedom of the press.

But if it is so important, why are almost all US media outlets cowering before Islamic rage?

Fox News, whose slogan is We Report...You Decide, hasn't shown the cartoons, or put them on its website.

CNN doesn't have the cartoons on their website, neither does ABC or MSNBC. CBS left the cartoons off their site as well.

Most of the Nation's newspapers have declined to print the cartoons, as have Time and Newsweek.

In fact, only the Philadelphia Inquirer has printed the cartoons, and they only printed one. They have the whole set on their web site, but you have to first read the Editor's justification as to why they printed the cartoons before you can find the link to actually see the cartoons.

Many of the media outlets, when explaining why they have not printed the cartoons or hosted them on their web site, make the ridiculous assertion that they can present the story to their readers without showing the pictures.

But that is an absurd contention.

This story is all about the cartoons. News outlets owe it to their readers to print the pictures, so we can gain some understanding as to what has turned the Islamic world on its head. We need to be able to judge for ourselves if moslems are merely thin skinned, or if there was something truly offensive about these cartoons.

There are 58 moslem countries with about 1.4 billion moslems in them, and it is important for everyone to see what it takes to piss off 1.4 billion people.

This story has the potential to be a bigger story than Katrina, the Tsunami, HAMAS winning an election, and Iranian nuclear weapons programs. Seriously.

So why aren't media outlets showing us the cartoons already?


By the way, if anyone can explain to me why it is more offensive to show a cartoon picture of mohammud than it is to show scenes of Moslems acting like animals in the street, I would appreciate it.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Mitvah Goreret Mitzvah

I have been going to a shuir on Sunday night for the past few years. I have written about the shuir here a few times. I really enjoy it, and enjoy the perspective we get from Rabbi Klein, who gives the shuir.

The shuir is at 9 pm, and last year, I decided to go to the shuir instead of watching the second half of the super bowl. It was a difficult decision to make, as I really enjoy watching football, and especially, watching the Super Bowl. But I felt I had to go to the shuir because the previous year, I missed a lot of the Super Bowl while meeting with a client of mine.

So this year, as I sat watching the game, I considered my options. The game was close, and it was especially graitfying to watch the game take place in Detroit. I loved everytime they showed footage of the city, and I really did not want to leave the couch to learn.

But I felt that since I went to the shuir last year, it would be taking a step backwards in my religious priorities. So I went to the shuir again. Which I am pretty sure I would not have gone had I not gone last year.

Fun while it lasted

My oldest is a huge Manning fan. He prefers Payton, but likes watching Eli as well. And so when I heard that Eli was going to be signing autographs at an ABC warehouse on Friday afternoon, I took him, and his younger brother, out of school to get the younger Manning's autograph.

We got to ABC Warehouse, and the line was long. It went all around the store, wrapping its way through the appliance aisles, before finally ending. And then they announced that Manning was going to be at least thirty minutes late. And he would probably sign for an hour and leave.

So we bailed. No sense in standing online for an hour if we would n't even get an autograph.

My oldest wanted to see players, so we went downtown, to see who we might bump into.

We saw a few people, like Mike Tyson, and the cast of the Best Damn Sports Show. Living in Detroit, we rarely run into athletes or celebs, so it was fun to see them all in town.

But now the Superbowl is over, and the guests have begun to leave.

There was such a great energy downtown this past week. It was as unDetroit as I have ever seen. Streets were clean, and it felt completely safe to walk through the city. Police were everywhere, and the homeless had been swept away, and pushed out of site.

But I wonder, now that everyone has gone, and the game is over, what is going to happen to Detroit next? Will it be business as usual, or will they find a way to build on the momentum of the past week?

To all those who came, and lets be truthful, it seemed about half of Pittsburgh was here, thank you for coming. You all saw Detroit on its very finest day. I hope when you all come this June, you'll things a little warmer, and just as nice.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Its not withholding foreign aid

I am tired of reading about Palestinians whining that Western governments are withholding foreign aid. They claim that they are being punished for exercising their democratic right to vote. They complain that the US is interfering in their lives.

But their argument is so flawed it doesn’t deserve the coverage major media outlets provide it.

Think of foreign aid as an investment in a company. There are companies that you choose to invest in, and you put your money into those companies where you can expect a decent rate of return. If the company goes bad, you try to pull out your investment, and salvage whatever you can.

The Palestinians, both a country, and as individual people, are a bad investment. Through their vote, they demonstrated that they have no concern for Israeli life. They demonstrated that they do not want to be part of an international community. And it’s not like it was a close election, they shouted loud and clear that they stand behind terrorists and terrorism as a government policy.

The US is doing what any prudent investor would do, cut their losses. There is no need here to keep throwing good money after bad money, despite the $1.5 B our government has thrown away since the early 90s.

What the Palestinian people have to understand is they made a choice. It was their choice to make, and well over three quarters of them were involved in making the choice.

There is no reason why the United States should pay for that bad choice.

Umm, errr, umm, yeah, we're going to Hooters

Andrew Siciliano is a Fox Sports radio host, as well as one of the personalities who does a Fox Football Fantasy show on Sunday mornings during football season. He also wears a 29 inch inseam.

He is thin, unlike many radio personalities, and one day, during his show, he complained about how difficult it was to find a 30 inch waist with a 29 inch inseam. Apparently, most clothing manufacturers assume people with a 29 inch inseam are on the large size, and so most of the pants are for fat people.

My friend, Sport Psych Detroit, is a big Andrew Siciliano fan, in no small part because of the 29-inch inseam issue that they both share. And so, when Andrew Siciliano announced on has radio program that he would be broadcasting live in Detroit all week long, well, Sport Psych Detroit thought it would be a good chance to meet the man he shares so much in common with.

And so we went. To Hooters. It was the first time I had ever been to a Hooters, and to be honest, as I looked around the restaurant and bar, I don't think I would eat there even if I didn't keep kosher. But, obviously, we weren't there for the food; we were there to talk pants sizes.

I had always thought that when radio programs go on the road, and into bars, they are the center of attention in the bar. But Siciliano, his hot co-host, and his four staffers were sitting around a large table, with some computers, headphones, Gary Baxter from the Cleveland Browns, and no one else. Which meant Sport Psych Detroit could walk right up to Siciliano, and swap pants-shopping horror stories.

And we could get an autograph from Gary Baxter, which he was kind enough to give. So now my oldest has a Gary Baxter autograph on a Hooters coaster.

We stood around there for a while, watching the Pistons on one TV and the Wings on a second TV, before we decided we had enough of Hooters.

I did enjoy when YMCA came on the jukebox, and the Hooters girls all stopped what they were doing, climbed on top of tables, and started dancing. As we left Hooters, we were faced with the question, what next. It was still early, no one had to be home at any time, and we wanted to see more football players.

Downtown or the suburbs, into the heart of the D or Fashionable Ferndale and Royal Oak. We picked downtown, in no small part because this is one of the few weeks since the 1960s that a white person can walk through the city feeling completely safe.

Downtown looked incredible. It was well lit, there was a large police presence, and there was a lot of life downtown. People were walking around, going from bar to bar, and we joined in.

We went to the Hard Rock Cafe, hoping to catch the Best Damn Sports Show, only to find out that it had been taped earlier. We walked through a few bars, into a club, having a drink in some and taking a leak in others.

We saw a few minor celebs, and some football players we didn't recognize. And I have to say, Sean Salisbury looked like a regular drunk 45 year old man when we saw him walking through the Old Shallellegh. Oh, and we ran into Andrew Siciliano again.

We popped into Greektown Casino, played some slots, and looked for football players.

I think that if we had stayed a lot longer, after the parties in town ended and players had a chance to get back downtown after the Pistons game, we might have run into some more players, but we did have to go back home. Our jobs were waiting for us the next morning. And it was after 12.