Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jelly Bean's Wedding Part II

As the chupah started, the snow was coming down at a fairly intense pace. In fact, the as the guy singing Im Eshkochech hit the high note, the roof of the chupah fell down from the snow (luckily it hit nobody).
After the chupah, three wedding guests left for another wedding (yes, I know - crazy). We will call them Ted, Lilly and Robin. They ended up on another highway, in a...wait for it...snow bank! That seemed to be the trend of the evening. However, Hatzalah was unable to reach them. They stayed stranded in the car until 5:30 AM!
At that time a police car pulled up along side and was able to get them out. The officer had a conversation with Marshal, who was driving. He told him that he should stay with the car, to which Marshal replied "arrest me." He didn't, but did get them home somehow. From what I understand from Robin's family, she didn't even go to sleep right away. Also, from what I understand, they still have not gotten the car back yet. Jusy another exciting adventure. Stay tuned...

Jelly Bean's Wedding Part I

Well, Jelly Bean tied the knot. She got married on one of the most memorable days of the year, Blizzard '10. In these posts I will be chronicling, not the wedding itself, but the aftermath, i.e. the trips home. The first victims I will be speaking about are my parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jones.

Mr. and Mrs. Jones (who were also driving home with my uncle and Jelly Bean's shomeret) decided to find an alternate route home, seeing as the highways were so bad. Bad idea. They drove into a snow bank and were stuck there for 3 hours. Hatzolah came and got them out of the car and brought them back to my house. They all spent the night there.

The following morning, I went with Mr. Jones to dig the car out of the snow bank, which incidentally was on the entrance ramp to another highway. It took us 15 minutes to dig it out. In the end, it was a good thing they didn't make it back because by the time they got back, there was nowhere on my block (or in the entire neighborhood) to park.

Now, this story may seem tame and that's why I told it first. Many more stories to follow...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Yoel Zilberman

I hate to do two videos in a row, but this one really needs to be publicized.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Incredible Hagbulk

I know I haven’t done one of these in a long while, and seeing as today is Thursday, and the system in my office went down for a while, I figured I’d see who else was on my PITYI list. Today (as the title reads) we have the Incredible Hagbulk.

Aside from having a lot of common people, every Young Israel has a number of common items. One of them is a Torah that weighs as much as an automobile. In this case, there is generally one person in the shul who can manage to lift it for hagba without needing an icy/hot patch afterwards. (Not really, but the gabbaim seem to think that there is only one guy who could do the trick – most of the young men can do it, but because the gabbaim have known them since they had to be brought out of shul by their fathers when they were crying, it never dawns on them that they possess the physical abilities to lift heavy objects, ESPECIALLY since the gabbai himself can no longer lift anything remotely close to that – not that I’m bitter.)

Anyway, there is always one guy who seems to be holding the Torah before musaf every week. For a visual, just picture the Sefer Torah being opened about 17 columns apart, and a large man doing a lutz with it. There will always be someone either shaking his head or yelling out not to do that; there will always be someone who (still) doesn’t trust that this guy’s got it, and will rush to his side to make sure nothing falls. The best part is that g’lilah is usually given to the one kid whose photo hanging in his mother’s living room is life size, and can barely reach the bottom of the Torah. It just ends up being fun to watch.

The Incredible Hagbulk is generally tall and broad. However, I know one who is average hight, but very broad. He doesn’t daven regularly in my shul, but whenever he comes, he knows what he’ll be getting. One time, I had the (mis?)fortune of being gabbai in my shul. I decided to have some fun byreversing the roles. I gave hagba to a guy who I knew could do it, but normally gets g’lilah due to his size, and I offered g’lilah to a really big guy. He declined. Oh well, I guess he never learned how.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Subway Subject

This morning on the subway, there was a man who I can only presume to have been homeless occupying half the car. Now I don’t mean that he took up all this space with just his body mass; he smelled. Badly. Half the car was empty and people who couldn’t find room on the car went to a different car. It was just interesting to observe how different people reacted to the situation.

First, there were a number of people who would stand and stare at the man, hoping that by their combined eyeball power, they would be able to somehow be able to awaken this man from his peaceful slumber and maybe, just maybe get out at the next stop. This has worked for me in the past (as I am sure it has for many of you) in a situation where you wanted to get someone’s attention, but didn’t want to approach them. You would just stare at them until hopefully your subject looks at you. For me, that almost always works, not so much for the people on the subway.

A second group of people stood their ground. They braved the smell as best they could for the ultimate subway reward: a seat! That’s right! As a sign of their bravery, these passengers checked their egos at the door in order to check their rumps in a seat, a very rare occurrence on an NYC subway (just ask Ezzie). I was one of these passengers, and I, like many of my brethren, sat there with my scarf over my nose. One man even got up and opened a window. On a subway.

Of course, there was the third type of person; one man who caught my attention. He not only braved the smell, but sat right across from the source. He did not cover up his nose. In fact, he seemed to be very entertained and by his book, hardly noticing what made him so unique, and did not give off the slightest bit of a hint that he was uncomfortable in any way.

This whole ordeal got me thinking how I would normally respond to a situation where something made me uncomfortable. Do I give away my displeasure? Almost always. In some form or another, I know that I make it obvious that I don’t like the situation I’m in. I never go overboard like a certain couple on the train who was laughing at their predicament until they disembarked, but I might glance over at a friend and make a face, try to wiggle my way out of the situation as quickly as possible, or just cover my nose with my scarf.

It takes great discipline to just do nothing. How many times do you get into a conversation that you don’t want to be in? For me, it happens all the time. Sometimes, I become one of those rude people, who try to get out of the conversation any way possible. Other times, I am that terribly understanding guy, who listens to the awkward questions being asked to me on the streets of Manhattan until the situation clears itself up. But never do I seem like I am not bothered at all by what’s going on. I have no popopopoker face when it comes to these things.

How does one behave like this guy on the subway? Where when faced with a situation in which even the most stuffed of noses couldn’t have bared, he showed no sign of aggravation. How does one face a situation head on, and not embarrass another in even the slightest form, like standing a little further away? How does one swallow their pride completely in order to not embarrass a sleeping homeless guy?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Erachet

Well, I did it! I got engaged. Popped the question last night to the greatest girl in the world, Erachet. No, it was not a blog-mance. We knew each other before we knew about each other's blogs.
For the last eight months, I have had the time of my life, being able to spend as much time as I could with the most amazing person in the world. Now, I get to extend those eight months into a lifetime. I don't know how to continue this post without being too nauseating, so you'll just have to suffer.
I never fully understood Lilly's line from "How I Met Your Mother" about relationships until I began to experience it: "Okay, I know that stuff looks dumb from the outside, but it's kinda the greatest thing in the world when you're a part of it." Not only can I no longer imagine not being part of a couple, but there is nobody in the world with whom I can imagine being part of a couple. And of course, there is nobody who can make me smile like she can.
Erachet, I love you, and I hope to give you everything I possibly can. Thank you for being my voice of reason.
Okay, enough mushyness. There are others who I need to thank, like Serach and Ezzie, Special Ed and The Apple for their roles in this relationship, as well as many other bloggers and non-bloggers alike. Let the countdown to the wedding begin!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Scary Stuff

Why is it that every time period has in it something that will destroy us all. I was recently thinking about how many times we as the human race in general and Americans in specific have constantly had an eminent end-of-the-world (physical or otherwise) scenario. Just take a look at the last 25 years:

  • The Cold War
  • AIDS
  • Cancer
  • Nuclear Warfare
  • Terrorism
  • Y2K
  • Numerous natural disasters
  • .com boom and fall
  • Global Economic Disaster

All of these incidents have caused (at some point) wide-spread fear and chaos. Not to mention prejudices. Everybody all of a sudden has to run to get the boards to protect their house from the hurricane, or stop talking on cell phones, or listen into their neighbors’ phone conversations for fear that they may be Russian spies.

After Magic Johnson tested HIV positive, the NBA instituted a rule that whenever a player is bleeding, he must come out of the game and cannot come back in until the wound has been sealed. AIDS was something that scared people into thinking that the entire human race would be destroyed.

There was a short period in the last 25 years that did not have in it some major impending doom facing civilization. This was immediately following the end of the Cold War. In the early 1990s, when people were just getting used to the idea that they wouldn’t have to live in fear of being nuked, and have their bodies fused with their house, they realized something was missing – fear. Now that basically everything was behind them (including a major recession), there was a void.

So what did the world do to fill this void? They popularized “grunge.” The early 90s is when grunge became a fad, (and thankfully declined). The entire genre is based around sluggish guitar and depressing lyrics. Its popularity ended in the mid-90s when a new scare – Y2K – became “real.”

So why? What is this constant need for fear? Why is it that when a blizzard is approaching New York all I hear on the news is round-the-clock coverage on the storm? Why does Southern Florida TV cover nothing but hurricanes in the late summer? Why do people need fear to the point of generating it when it’s not there?

I think I have come to a conclusion, and I don’t think that it’s all that new of an idea. The one thing that fear does is bring anyone who shares that fear closer together. Take a look at what happened to this country post-9/11. Everyone had a sense of American pride; George Bush was cheered in New York (perhaps for the last time), throwing out the first pitch at the World Series; there was not a single person who didn’t want to go after Osama Bin Laden. Fear unites people. It’s less scary to go into a situation knowing that you aren’t alone, and it is very important to know that you aren’t alone in any situation – even when there’s nothing really there to be alone with.

In a not-so-recent conversation I had with a friend, he expressed his problem with marriage. “It makes no sense,” he told me. “Take religion out of it; forget that we have a mitzvah of p’ru ur’vu. Why would someone – not even a Jew – why would ANYONE want to commit the rest of his/her life to ONE OTHER PERSON?”

Well, here’s the answer. Life isn’t easy (duh). There is no better way to go through life than with another person. That person will face the same (if not, close to it) troubles and opportunities that you will face. That person will be there for emotional support or a good swift kick in the pants when you need ‘em. That person will be there to remind you that you aren’t alone. But most importantly, that person will make sure that you never EVER start listening to grunge.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mi Haish?

This week, I was involved in an unfortunate, but highly meaningful and educational event. The grandfather of a very, very close friend of mine passed away. Although I had just met the man within the calendar year, I learned a tremendous amount from his life both while he was still alive and once he passed on.
I also had the privilege of visiting him in the hospital just days before he passed. What he said on that day encompassed all that I had known about him until then and was reaffirmed throughout shiv'a. He quoted to me a pasuk from Tehilim - "Mi haish hechofetz chaim, ohev yamim l'r'os tov?" (Which man desires life who loves days of seeing good?) - Tehilim 34.
This man was the paradigm of this pasuk. He lived for life. He always claimed that he had beaten Hitler ym"sh. He survived the war and went on to publicize it through public speaking - without a formal education past the fourth grade.
He built his family up from the nothing with which he came to America, and left behind a legacy in this world that most of us can only imagine, that is unless you were one of those lucky enough to hear one of his speeches. In that case, you would KNOW the legacy he left. Just today, a group of third graders that were lucky enough to hear him speak two years ago came to be menachem avel. He was able to touch them just as he was able to touch high school students, college students, middle age adults and anyone who came into contact with him. This means non-Jews as well. He was the sounding board for anyone who wanted to talk.
Last week, the world lost a great man. His legacy will always live on.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Quote of the Month - November

"I am seriously thinking about signing up for twitter on the off-chance that the guy in the cubicle in front of me would follow me." -Coworker

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I'm in a New York State of Mind

There is something that’s been on my mind for quite a while now that, in light of recent events, I need to come out with. Out-of-Towners are obnoxious.

Generalization? Maybe. But it’s true. How many times do you New Yorkers have to listen to whining of a transplanted West Coaster complaining about the weather, or a Mid-Westerner complaining about the unfriendliness, or a Floridian complaining that he can’t watch the Heat games (which he now wants to do because the Heat are apparently good)?

All the time, that’s when. (Well, except for the Heat fan, because he won’t start following until the playoffs anyway.) If I had a nickel for every time I heard two OoTs complaining about how they have to live in New York, I’d be making money in a really weird way. And a lot of it.

In all their complaining about how terrible New York is, they never stop to realize that there is, in fact, a reason they live here. I will share with you a story about someone I know personally, who was a transplanted OoT, and finally achieved his dream of moving out of the Dreaded Town of Death. His claim was that in the town he in which he wanted to live, he could buy a house and the monthly mortgage would be equivalent to the rent he was currently paying. Once he moved out of the DToD, it did not take him long to realize that he was right about the mortgage, but miscalculated other things, like property tax in his new home town. Oh, and a salary for the same type of job he was doing here was much lower. It wasn’t long before he had to take on a second job, but he was happy because he was out of the DToD.

And that brings me to why OoTs are obnoxious. I’m not saying that New Yorkers are nice, or even that New York is a great place to live, or raise kids. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. There’s a decent possibility that I won’t stay here. To each their own. But please do me and the rest of New York a favor. When you have something that you hate about New York, don’t complain to us about it. Just fuggedaboutit. You make these claims and you expect us to try to defend the City. You are putting us New Yorkers in an awkward position. We know your complaints are infantile, and it was YOU who chose to live here. Grow up and stop whining.

As a friend pointed out to me, OoTs whine about how New Yorkers don't notice things because we're moving so quickly, yet all OOTers notice are negative things. They're such pessimists about NY that they close their eyes to all the countless times random strangers help a mother with her baby carriage on the subway steps, or stop to make sure someone is alright, or give directions and make sure you understand them, or take a picture for you several times until it comes out right, or give up a seat on the subway to an elderly person, a pregnant person, or even to a child and parent, or a student with a heavy backpack or hold the subway door for you if you're running to catch the train, or elevator doors.

I hope I’m not making New Yorkers out to be Gandhi or anything. There is much left to be desired. New Yorkers can be jerks. But so can everybody else. This is America. The rest of the world hates us more than OoTs hate New York. Why? For the same reason OoTs hate New York. We’re brash, ignorant, arrogant and rude. Yes, it is a generalization, and I know you OoTs are saying to yourselves “that’s not me they are complaining about.” Yes it is. You are American. Therefore you are what Americans represent. New Yorkers are the same way. Not all of us (in fact, not most of us) are how New Yorkers are represented in your minds. (To tell you the truth, being from Queens, I have these same feelings about Brooklynites, but I’m not a jerk, so I don’t say it to their faces.)

When you yell at us as to why your home town was so much better than our home town, it annoys us. In fact, most of us can’t go on the offensive either. You know why? We’ve never been to you quaint little one-supermarket, two-traffic light, everybody-lives-within-a-block-radius-of-each-other-so we-only-have-to-pay-for-one-wireless-internet-provider-but-that-was-only-recently-because-the-internet-just-got-here-five-months-ago town. We’re New Yorkers, after all, and we don’t care. The reason you feel so comfortable attacking our City is that you know we have nothing to say about yours, and it’s not only because many of us can’t remember if it’s Denver or Detroit that’s in Delaware. It’s that we never bothered to figure it out. Because in the end, we just don’t care.

Yes, that was sarcasm. But OoTs really get annoyed when New Yorkers point out the OoT’s ignorance at basic New York geography, like Brooklyn being to the southwest of Queens, the various ways of getting to New Jersey, and how to get to the Five Towns. But when New Yorkers show ignorance of some OoT geography, like how close Memphis is to St. Louis, or That the largest city in Ohio is Columbus, or thinking that Oxnard is some sort of genetic defect, OoTs lose their minds. They call it “Typical New York Thinking.” I’ve got news for all you OoTs: If you live in New York, you should know more about it than we know about a town which we’ve never visited! I’ve known OoTs who have lived in the City that still don’t know the difference between the Harlem River Drive and the West Side Highway, or that SoHo and NoHo are named that for a reason, or which towns make up the Five Towns. Get with the program, OoTs: YOU’RE JUST LIKE US!

Now, I assume that I don’t have enough of a readership to suggest the following, but I would like to see other New Yorker’s opinion on OoTs. Do these types of things bother you as much as they bother me? And to the OoTs, where am I wrong? I know (if you read this at all), you were appalled at it. “How can he even compare us to New Yorkers,” you’re probably exclaiming. “He must be a New Yorker. It’s Dallas that’s in Delaware. Everybody knows that!” So please, I invite all OoTs to explain to me why I’m wrong. I will call it “The New York States of Mind.” So bring it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's the End of the Summer as We Know it...And I Feel Fine

When I was in grade school, the thing I (like so many of my classmates) looked forward to the most was not having to go to school. Whether this meant 4:00 (or 5:40 in middle school) when the school day ended or that magical time in June when school was out for two months, we counted down the time until we would be free.

However, once we came back from a summer vacation, we ran into the problem faced by many students all over the country – we forgot. I mean everything. I remember not being able to recall how to do simple algebra problems at the beginning of eighth grade. I wasn’t alone. Many teachers had to spend countless days and weeks going over the things from the previous years that we had supposedly learned already.

Even at that age, after a few weeks of vacation, I was ready to go back to school. Did I enjoy the vacation time? Of course I did! I had a blast over summer break. Was I upset that I had to go back to school? You bet! But in the back of my mind, I knew that I had gone nearly comatose lying in front of a TV for 14 hours a day. (This was before the internet made its way into my house and it’s not like I had a car to go anywhere, and most of my friends were still in sleep-away camp, as my camp always ended earlier than most.)

It always seemed to me that the summer vacation was too long. I much rather would have had a few smaller vacation periods throughout the year. Then I thought that maybe the teachers would rather have the summers off. It makes sense. If you had your summers off, you could get a second job for those two months of the year. However, these suspicions left my mind once I began to teach. I now know that as a teacher, I would rather have a number of shorter breaks throughout the school year than one 2 ½ month vacation in the summer.

For those of you who aren’t teachers, there are two times in a year that drive you batty. The first is October; you have no vacation days in October and it’s the same routine for that entire month. Once you hit November, Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving hit and you get some sort of a reprieve. September is the start of the school year, and you don’t start until after Labor Day. December has Christmas break; January has mid-winter break; February has President’s Day/Week (depending on your district). March is the other time in the year that just drags on. No breaks at all; not even a random American holiday that extends your weekend an extra day. April has spring break; May has Memorial Day and June has school’s end. There are plenty of vacation times in school.

However, as I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I am against homework. Work should be done in school; once students are dismissed, they should be free to do whatever interests them. It is not fair to have them cooped up all day indoors and then turn them loose in order to do more work. Homework should be limited per night and per week. Having said this, I wouldn’t be against extending school hours. The New York public school students are in school for about six hours a day. There is no reason not to have them there longer.

A 9 to 5 school day is not a terrible idea. Additionally, teachers would be able to make a higher salary and students would get home not long before their parents (who would also presumably be working a 9 to 5. This would lessen the possibility of a child doing things they aren’t supposed to be doing. In my mind, the main time a child has for getting into situations that could only do harm is the time in between dismissal from school and parents coming home.

Having said all this, I am pleased to bring you this story on changing around the school year in Indianapolis, Indiana. The school year would no longer have a giant gap in the summer, but smaller periods of vacation spread throughout the year. Now, this would be detrimental for programs such as summer camps and other programs in the summer. Additionally, teachers would have to reschedule any long-standing summer plans of their own. However, I look at it this way. If programs like camps will be changing, it opens the door for other vacation possibilities. It provides a possibility of a three or five week program for vacationing students. Remember- although the students will be off from work, it doesn’t mean that the parents are off. There will need to be some sort of available program for bored children. Additionally, the article indicates that there will be an additional 20 classes a year. This (hopefully) means more pay for the teachers and less homework for the students.

As is written in the article, the vote goes up two days before Thanksgiving. I hope that a win for this rule is just the beginning of a nationwide trend, especially if the change helps “a district criticized for low standardized-test scores and high dropout rates.” I don’t know the actual numbers, but from how some people talk about New York, we can’t be too great on our standardized-test scores or dropout rates.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Boxer Rebellion

You know that there is a major problem in the economic system when…well…when it pays to be lazy. Just take a look at this article from msnbc.

You know the economy has become truly screwy when it pays more to collect jobless benefits than to get an actual job.

The economy is so weak and jobs are so scarce that some people are finding that it isn’t worth it to work. These workers say that’s because the only jobs available are part-time or low-wage gigs that would not only be a big step down from their previous careers but also would not even pay enough to cover their expenses.

About 8 million people are now collecting some form of unemployment aid, but how much they take home varies widely depending on what state they live in and how much they made previously. In Massachusetts, for example, the maximum benefit is $943 per week, including an allowance for dependents, while in Mississippi it is just $235 a week.

In August, the average weekly benefit was $293.54, according to U.S. Department of Labor. On average, unemployment pays about 47 percent of what people were making before they lost their jobs, according to the department's latest data from 2009.

James Davis, 34, made more than $30 an hour as a unionized construction worker specializing in commercial framing before he was laid off in June 2009. He expected to find a similar job within a few months, but the construction industry was tanking and he could not find anyone hiring journeymen like himself, he said.

“It was the worst time,” he recalled.

The only job openings he found paid around $10 an hour. That’s much less than the $15 an hour, or about $600 a week, he collects on unemployment in Washington state, and not enough to keep up with his family’s expenses.

“If I took home way less money it wouldn’t be beneficial for me,” he said.

Instead, Davis, who lives in Puyallup, Wash., has opted to go back to school to become a vehicle mechanic. While in school, he is allowed to continue collecting unemployment benefits for up to six months.

Even if a job in construction were to come up now, Davis is not sure he would give up on his mechanic training. That’s partly because last June, he did land a good job back in his old field, only to be laid off again five weeks later. He worries the same thing would happen again.

“I've got to wonder how long it’s going to last,” he said.

There's no hard data on how many people are turning away work because it pays less than unemployment. The general rule for people collecting unemployment is that they must be actively looking for work.

Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group, said unemployed workers also could lose their benefits if they decline a suitable position that is reasonably fitted to the person’s skills and experience. But specifics vary by state and those criteria aren't necessarily tied to how much that position pays.

In Washington state, where Davis lives, workers are not required to take a job that pays less than their unemployment benefit, said Sheryl Hutchison, communications director for the state Employment Security Department.

Laid-off workers are generally entitled to a maximum of 26 weeks of unemployment pay through their state, and federal extensions mean some workers can collect up to 99 weeks of payouts. With the jobless rate hovering near 10 percent, it now takes jobseekers about 33 weeks, on average, to find a new job.

The bill collector's tale
Those long job searches have prompted some to take jobs that pay even less than their unemployment benefits, although it hasn't always worked out well.

After Robert Nasuti was laid off as a technology consultant in March 2009, he spent more than a year looking for work in his field. Although the Myerstown, Pa., resident, was making ends meet on his unemployment benefits, he hated not working.

“The wear and tear of being at home, having nothing to do every day, nowhere to go, that’s what really started to wear on me,” he said. “I like to work.”

That’s how he ended up taking a low-paying temporary job as a bill collector for student loans.

“I thought it would be the responsible thing to do,” he said.

He quit after working just one week. He said he was asked to call grandparents who had co-signed student loans and threaten to withhold Social Security payments if they didn’t pay up, he said.

Quitting left him ineligible for unemployment pay. These days, the 26-year-old is working 20 hours a week, for $8 an hour, at a drugstore. He’s living rent-free at his dad’s house but still barely scrapes by.

He now wishes he’d stayed on unemployment and had never taken the bill collector job.

“I regret it every day. It was like a chance that I took, and I thought it was a good route to take, and it just blew up in my face completely,” he said.

With so much competition for so few jobs, many jobseekers are finding that they have to accept some drop from their pre-layoff salary to get back to work. In August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a study of displaced workers who had lost a job between 2007 and 2009 that they had held for three or more years. The study found that 36 percent of those who found new work took a pay cut of 20 percent or more.

“Most people on (unemployment insurance) aren’t there because they are unwilling to take jobs that pay less than UI,” Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the Economic Policy Institute, wrote in an e-mail. “They’re there because they can’t find jobs, period.”

After seeing firsthand how bad it is out there, some jobseekers say they’ve opted to take work that pays less than unemployment because it seemed more secure than counting on something better to come along.

Christopher Trimm, 46, had just exhausted his initial 26 weeks of benefits when he accepted a security guard job that paid $11 an hour. That’s slightly less than the $12 an hour he was making on unemployment in California and half his previous pay as a 411 operator for a phone company.

Trimm, who lives in the Los Angeles area, is now making $10 an hour in a different security job; he agreed to the wage reduction in exchange for a regular, full-time schedule with weekends off.

After watching his wife go through a job loss and difficult job search, and then spending six months looking for work himself, Trimm said he felt he couldn’t risk turning a job down, even if the pay was lower than his benefits.

He also worried that the growing gap in his resume would make it harder to get work.

“Ethically speaking, I’m a worker, you know,” he said. “I owed it to the people of the state of California not to be living off of their dime.”

Here, you find a case where a man completely lost out because he was trying to be a productive member of society. He thought that it was better to be doing something than sitting at home all day, collecting government money. When that didn’t work out, he ended up just sitting at home all day.

And it’s not like there aren’t jobs out there for these people to have. These jobs exist. Just it doesn’t pay to take a job that’ll pay less than unemployment is paying. The whole idea is that this promotes laziness. It all means that some job isn’t getting done (at least not by someone qualified) and the qualified people are sitting at home. Companies know that the job market is tough. If people are desperate to get jobs, they could offer a lot less than the job is worth. The potential employees won’t take it because it’s beneath them, and my taxes (aside from going to pay the unemployed) will end up being done by Renee, who is took ACT 101 AND 102 in college.

This is no longer just an issue when it comes to universal health care. It’s everywhere. From qualifying for Food Stamps to qualifying for financial tuition aid, more and more people are finding ways to beat the system, and they’re making more money than many who work.

If you have facebook, you have probably been forwarded the letter written by Dr. R. Starner Jones, and if you haven't, you can read it here along with the confirmation that it is in fact an real letter. This is just one side effect, no! DIRECT EFFECT of the crisis our society is about to endure.

My knowledge of the Russian Revolution and Soviet Russia is slim, but as an English major in college and former teacher, I am pretty knowledgeable in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Boxer, the sturdy worker, found his ends in a glue factory, while characters like the Sheep continued, not prosperously, but well enough to live. If you follow the book, the Sheep were simply going along with whatever was told to them (much like actual sheep do) by the pigs.

The way we as a society are headed is by way of the animals in Animal Farm (and presumably the USSR. Those who work hard to make a living will end up in the proverbial glue factory, while those who find a way around working will end up getting by. Now, if you’ll excuse me, Renee has informed me that I haven’t filled everything out yet.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

REMOVED FOR OBSCENITY

Two recent events got me to thinking about how different people observe me. This particular situation is odd because although I tend to be quite conscious of my image, I never realized how different some people’s opinions of me actually are.

A recent conversation with my friend, S., began with him telling me that he has a joke to tell me that was a little inappropriate and I was his only friend that he felt comfortable telling. A little odd for a compliment, but I went with it. The joke was **JOKE HAS BEEN REMOVED FOR OBSCENITY** It wasn’t a bad joke, but clearly inappropriate.

The next week, I walked into a room where three of my friends who until that point had been talking and laughing loudly enough for me to hear bits and pieces of their conversation through the walls of the next room, immediately stopped their chatter when I walked through the door. Knowing full well what they were talking about and assuming that I knew why they stopped, I asked “What were you guys talking about?” Answer: “nothing.”

A conversation about something that seemed only semi-inappropriate in my eyes was apparently too vile for me to hear and be a part of. It certainly was not too unsuitable for me to simply be there and listen. However, it was apparently uncomfortable for these friends to continue such a conversation in front of me.

I’m not upset at either one. However, I would like to know what it is about people that causes their opinion of me to be different from one another. My current theory is that it has nothing to do with me. I’m wondering if it is simply who else they hang out with. Am I more apt than S. Lining’s other friends to talk about something like this? Am I less inclined to do so than the other group? I don’t know, but it’s the best I’ve got right now.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Date Planner

So apparently I have become quite the dating pro. It has gotten to the point where I have multiple people going out nightly, using a date that I planned for them. This week alone, I have created six different dates; two dates for the same couple. It turns out that I have dated enough girls varying in hashkafa and lengths of time so that no matter where in the relationship a couple might be holding and no matter their backgrounds, I have most likely been there already and have at least one (usually more)place to suggest.

Here are just a few of the criteria that go into choosing a date spot for other people:

  • where the guy is from
  • where the girl is from
  • what number date is it
  • how long in between dates has it been
  • where the has couple gone so far
  • what were the last three dates
  • what they are in the mood for (i.e. quiet talk, food, fun, etc.)
  • how far of a commute
  • budget
  • (in one recent case) who is driving
  • an interest someone had professed during a previous date
  • time of day
  • time of year
And there can be many more. Now I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t this what every guy does when he makes a date for himself? Yes. Exactly. Except I’m not him. I simply plan a date – not based on what I would do next – but on what HE would do next.

If you are a guy that is having trouble coming up with an inexpensive date or you’re a girl who’s
desperately looking to have fun with that nice guy who just doesn’t seem to have a personality, send me an email at jugheads_hat[at]yahoo[dot]com.

So why aren’t I married yet if I am such a good date planner? Well, that’s a story for like fifty more posts. Or just read the posts I’ve already written. That should give you some idea.


For your conveniance, I have put together a handy Date Planner form to fill out. If you are interested in filling one out, please email me for a copy of the form.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Wedding Talk

In a recent conversation with a friend, I discovered that one of the two of us is an idiot. Please help me decide. In order to ensure non-biased rulings, I will not tell you which side I was taking.

The following is a dramatization of a discussion about marriage (about time Jug got back to that, right?):

Jim: It’s not fair. How come the girl gets more gifts than the guy?
Ira: What do you mean?
J: My wife will be getting a shaitel, a fall, a bracelet, a yichud room present and oh yeah, a ring!
I: And you?
J: I get a watch and a shas
I: Okay, but in many cases, you also get a yichud room gift, and sometimes she doesn’t. Also, some people don’t get a bracelet. They propose with a ring like the olden days.
J: Still, that’s not what most of our friends (including me) do.
I: Okay, but you’re forgetting two things. 1) She gets a shaitel, but you get to NOT wear a shaitel.
J: So?
I: SO?! It’s not an easy thing to cover up your hair. I’m sure it makes things hotter and uncomfortable, AND you’re covering up your hair. Girls like hair. I think. Don’t think that just because everyone you know does it, girls don’t struggle with it. I would buy a shaitel if it meant not having to wear it for the rest of my life. It’s well worth the purchase. 2) You’re getting one more thing. Her.
J: So? She’s getting me.
I: Not in the same way.
J: Of course it’s the same way! She’ll benefit from me in the same way I’ll benefit from her!
I: Don’t let HER hear that. It’s not the same way because she doesn’t give you the ring and say “Harayatah m’kudash li.”
J: I would never let her hear that.
I: Why not?
J: I wouldn’t want to hear the consequences.
I: Would you mind if she said it about you?
J: No.
I: So why do you think that is?
J: Because girls are crazy.
I: Maybe, but it’s also because it’s true.
J: You’re an idiot.

Okay readers, what do you think?
Do girls get too much stuff?
Do guys not get enough?
Is there too much gift-giving altogether?
Do you side with Jim, Ira or neither?
What about the shaitel thing?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Simchas Torah Song Guy

I haven't done a PiTYI in a while, so here's one that I noticed over Simchas Torah that every Young Israel needs to possess: The Simchas Torah Song Guy.

Easily recognizable by his sheet of paper or index card that dates back to the Renaissance, th STSG controls the hakafos in a well organized manner. The songs written on this paper are generally so over done that they almost make fellow shul-goers want to sit through a flight attendant safety demonstration.

The one thing not written on that card is the key in which to begin those songs. This is planned perfectly so that by the time the fourth hakafa is reached, nobody has a voice left and Ain Adir is barely audible.

Our STSG is also responsible for making sure that eventually the Sifrei Torah do go back into the Aron Kodesh so we don't sing S'u Shearim until Thanksgiving. That can get to be a little touchy as (of course) the Sifrei Torah always tend end up in the hands of those who don't really want to give them back when they are asked to. To combat this problem, our STSG shrewdly raises the key. This way, when nobody can reach the highest note, the song dies.

Brilliant.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Status

It is a sad, sad day in America when the most widely-read writers are determined not by the complexity of their work, but the ability to keep their message to 140 characters or less.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Lucas Duda

Who?

Lucas Duda. That's who.

It was a very bleak day for Lucas Duda as he put on his Mets' uniform for the last time in the 2010 season. It was tough being a September Call-up for a team that was going nowhere and making sure to get there as fast possible. As he laced up his cleats, he thought "I wish there were a group of Jewish guys with nothing to do with their Sunday afternoon in October other than to come and cheer me up and cheer me on.

Wish granted.

On Sunday, a group of 30 or so staff members from a summer camp attended by this blogger was sitting in the left field seats of New York's Citi Field, a cat call's distance away from Mr. Duda. In the midst of a totally meaningless game (the Mets finished in fourth place while their opponents, the Washington Nationals, finished last), these young men brought joy, not only to a rookie outfielder, but to a section, entire stadium and even the next day's Daily News readers.

Amidst the enthralling 2-1, 14 inning Nationals win (in which many unfamiliar fans learned of the existence of a 14th inning stretch), many Duda-related cheers were invented, bringing much joy to not only Duda, who acknowledged their existence a number of times throughout the game, but to the entire section 135 of Citi Field. Some laughed at the creativity, while others even suggested their own cheers. Here's a brief list of some of the cheers performed for the newest Mets' fan favorite:

  • Lucas Duda! Duda Duda-ay. Duda Duda-ay. Duda Duda Duda-ay (to the tune of "Numa Numa")
  • Lucas, I am your father!
  • Zippidy Duda!
  • DOOOOOOOOOOOOOODAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
  • Duda the Maccabee! (Suggested by another fan)
  • And the ever popular- GIMME A D!...
Still, this paled in comparison to the way in which this rambunctious group of whippersnappers succeeding in starting the wave which went around the entire Citi Field a record 2 1/2 times!*

However, the residual effects of this groups outing at City Field did not become apparent until the following day. In the 14th inning, Mets' manager Jerry Manuel inserted abnormally maligned pitcher, Oliver Perez. In a show of unity with the rest of the Mets' faithful, the group paused in their admiration of Duda for a brief minute to welcome the pitcher with a beautifully arranged harmony of boos.

Immediately following the chorus, the group went back to cheering on their hero. This round included one more new cheer of MVP, which soon changed to MVD! However, in his Daily News article, writer Andy Martino had a different interpretation of the cheer:

Oliver Perez provided a fitting end to a season defined in part by his occupation of a wasted roster spot. The $36 million reliever entered in the 14th inning, and began by striking out a batter.

Exasperated Mets fans had not lost their wit, and started an "MVP" chant. The humor, though, soon turned to boos, as Perez hit a batter and walked the next three, forcing in the deciding run in a 2-1 loss to Washington in 14 innings at Citi Field.**

Yes, there were that few fans at the game.

By the time the game was over, the group had made a name for itself. Even as the guys davened Mincha, passers-by recognized them and made a point to stop and begin cheering for The Dudanator.

All in all, a good time was had by all. Any ideas for a Lucas Duda t-shirt?


*only stopped due to something more interesting than the wave happening on the field- namely in between innings
**For other articles on this chant, click here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Quote of the Month - September

"Winning isn't everything, but losing sure is nothing." -Jim Marshal

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Trading Up

Last night, I traded in all of my Dave and Buster's points that I have been accumulating for the last two or three years. Abandoning my ambitions of going for the crock pot (I was still only about half way there), I made a first time purchase for myself. I got for the low, low price of 7300 tickets... drum roll please... a Motorola Blue Tooth headset! Yay!

I would like to thank all those who came with me to D&B and didn't spend all of the tickets we won on teddy bears that you would probably have had to throw away once we stopped going out or on shot glasses that you ended up giving to your brother who was going to Israel (he could use it). I would list you all by name, but I don't want to insult anybody by leaving them out.

Now, off to get thoroughly confused by Blue Tooth.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wedding Song Survey

Okay, now that Jellybean is getting married, and her neither she, nor her chosson know anything about music or bands so much of that has fallen to me. I am currently going over song lists and was thinking about all of those bad songs that are played at weddings.

Now by bad, I don't mean songs that are terrible for dancing, because generally all wedding songs are pretty dancable. I'm talking about overplayed wedding songs. These may be songs that were at one point good, but somehow the wedding bands didn't get the memo that we are sick of them. For me, one song that clearly stands out is "Hentelach." (I also don't like this song because it tells you how to dance to it.) This is the type of song that gets eye-rolls whenever the band starts to play it, as if to say "again? Really?"

Another category of 'bad songs' is Extreme Yeshivish. The classic EY song is "L'ma'alah." Extreme Yeshivish songs cannot be sung without a Yeshivish accent. Now, let me be clear about one thing. I am not here to rip all of these songs. I am here to find people's opinions on these and similar songs for weddings.

There are positive aspects to this survey as well. I am looking for good songs that aren't normally played. One good example (although it is rising in popularity) is MBD's "B'inyan Hasimcha." I have not heard this song at more than a handful of weddings.

So there you have it. I am asking for your help, and although there have been many surveys about songs in the past, none of them, to my knowledge, will give me an easy blog post. Here's what I'm asking:

Three Categories:
1) Overplayed wedding songs
2) Yeshivish wedding songs
3) Under-appreciated songs

Please note: you are not limited to dancing music. If you have have a heavy interest to stick your head through a wall the next time a kallah walks down to "V'zakeini," or go all Van Gogh on yourself when they play "Anavim" during dinner, by all means, let me know. You may comment below or email me at jugheads_hat[at]yahoo.com

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ten Things I Noticed From Rosh Hashana this Year

1) Although you can technically shower on Yom Tov, people feel really awkward doing so.

2) There is something invigorating about not having a phone for three days.

3) Rabbis have to speak longer to make sure not to arrive at shofar blowing earlier than was listed in the bulletin

4) It's only Tishrei and plans for Purim have already begun.

5) I will never understand why we eat carrots on Rosh Hashana.

6) There is a lot more free time on Rosh Hashana than people plan for.

7) People will always find something to complain about regardless of when Rosh Hashana falls out.

8) The further away from Yeshiva I get, the shorter my Sh'moneh Esreh becomes.

9) People LOVE letting everyong else know that they remembered that you're supposed to say zachreinu l'chaim, mi chamocha, hamelech hakadosh, etc.

10) The Birnbaum Machzor ends in 2011.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Dreaded Phrase of Death

Jellybean got engaged. Yes, yes Mazal Tov. It was over the summer, and it was to a guy she was dating for quite some time now. Initially, my reaction was contentment and then it started getting cool.

Then it started getting annoying.

I was never a fan of the Dreaded Phrase of Death, "Im yirtza Hashem by you." It's such a beautiful bracha that comes across as so condescending. If you'll notice, a single person who is dating almost NEVER says it. Why? Because he/she is afraid that you will say it right back. They don't want to hear it. They don't want to be reminded of the fact that they are still single. It matters not if they are just starting out, been dating for years, or even just about to get engaged themselves. It makes people nervous.

Jelly Bean knew that I hated this phrase. That's why I gave her a pass when she jokingly said it to me. But I did not give the guy who sits next to me in shul a pass when he said it when I walked into shul last Friday night. Nor did I give him a pass when he said it again right before Kabalas Shabbos. Nor did I give him a pass when he said it after davening. Let's just say it's a good thing I went somewhere else for shacharis the next day (another benifit to NY, all you one-shul OOTs).

My hatred for this phrase dates back to early 2010 when I flew in for a friends wedding, arrived at the chosson's tisch, and gave him (the chosson, not the tisch) a huge hug. He responded with the dreaded phrase of death to which I responded "stop bragging." This is because no matter how genuine you intend on sounding, it always comes out negative, especially if you found your "by you" recently.

Now, I'm sure there are many of you out there who are shocked an appalled by my dislike for the Dreaded Phrase of Death. "It's such a nice thing to say," you are probably saying. Well, either you haven't started dating, already (at least) engaged or are in a small minority of those remaining. There is no correct way of saying it. Don't do it. DOWN WITH THE DREADED PHRASE OF DEATH!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back

Well, I have returned from my Two-moth vacation. It's nice to return to 436 unread posts in my reader. You can now look forward to more of my rants and thoughts on every day life. For now- unpacking!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Ta Ta for Now

Yes, I am going to be away for some time now. Off to a place where there is no internet, no email and obviously no blogs. I will miss you all, and I hope to see you again in a few months. Have a great summer.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cowboy Hat Guy

Every Young Israel has a Cowboy Hat guy. Why does he do it? Is it to stand out? Is it a fashion statement? Is it to annoy all of the black hat and non-black hat wearers? Is it to somewhat fulfill his dreams of becoming an actual cowboy?

Whatever the case may be, one thing is for certain: he will always give reason to stare. Let's face it. It's a cowboy hat. It's from Texas. It's big. There is no way you are going to be davening next to one of those things or in the same row as one of those things or in the same hemisphere as on of those things and not stare at it like a confused chimp. That's what it's there for.

The Cowboy Hat Guy in my "Young Israel" had the outfit accessorized. He wore a giant belt buckle and a bolo tie. Oh, and did I mention he was 6'8"? Everything about him screamed "TEXAS!"

Except he is from Long Island.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Seen on a Cake at a Graduation

"Write on Cake Happy Graduation Class of 2010"

Some people were just born to entertain the rest of us.

Inten City- Population: Me

Well, it's happened. Someone pointed something out to me about myself that I had known to be true, but didn't know how bad it was. On this blog, I rant all the time. That is because I tend to notice a lot of things that deserved to be ranted about. However, it has been brought to my attention that I can get to be a little let's call it tense, or rather intense.

We all remember learning vocabulary in school. I always used to notice how right after we recieved a new word, it tended to pop up everywhere I turned. I can distinctly recall this happening with the word "flabbergasted." The week after I obtained that word into my repertoire, I saw it six times in a week.

The same is true for this intensity about me. I notice it a lot more now. I notice how I let things get to me. I notice how it affects me and those around me. I now know that it can cause me physical pain. And it's not everything, and it's not all the time. It's in select moments of higher emotion. Now that it was pointed out to me, I see it; I feel it; I know it's there.

So now I'm faced with a task. I need to learn how to calm down. I wish I could follow Bob Newhart's advice and just stop it, but it's not that simple. So I turn to you, internet. Any ideas how I could nip this in the stage following the bud? Don't mention any meditation methods or I ight blow a gasket.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Remembering the 90s

Like many of you, I ended up in a class that I found thoroughly boring. I mean, my mind was completely shut down during this class. Fortunately for me, my class was in the area of Media Studies (an area in which I am completely interested, but had a terrible professor) and through no credit of her own, the professor gave me a tremendous idea during the class.

So I decided to write down all of the things I remembered from the decade in which I grew up (1990s). Here's what I remembered in the span of an hour and a half. You are welcome to add anything to a list or create your own list.

NOTE- Anything that was already a huge deal in the 80s or did not become a huge deal until the turn of the 00s (I don't know how to abbreviate that) was left out.

Toys
Tomagachi/Nano
Furby
Polly Pocket
Yo-Yo craze
Pogs
Beanie Babies
Skip It

TV Shows
Fresh Prince of Bel Air
Whose Line is it Anyway?
X-Files
Seinfeld
Everybody Loves Raymond
Freinds
Power Rangers
NBA on NBC
Walker, Texas Ranger
Bobby's World
Mad About You
Will and Grace
Animaniacs
Pinky and The Brain

News Stories
OJ Simpson
Columbine Shooting
Dotcom Crash
Y2K
First World Trade Bombing
Olympic Bombing
Oklahoma City Bombing
Amadou Diallo
First Intifada

Sports Stories
Tanya vs Nancy
Jordan Retires Twice
Yankees Threepeat
Bulls Repeat Threepeat
MLB Introduces Inter-league
Dream Team David Wells Perfect Game
David Cone Perfect Game
MLB Strike
McGwire and Sosa
Rangers End Curse
Browns Move to Baltimore
Magic Johnson Tests HIV Positive

Music
Metallica
Jenifer Lopez
LL Cool J
Brittany Spears
Run DMC
Randy Travis
Radio Disney
Nirvana
Pearl Jam
Backstreet Boys
'n Sync

Movies
Toy Story
Lion King
Braveheart
Titanic
Erin Brockovich
Gladiator
Jerry Maguire
Aladdin
Something About Mary
Little Giants

Celebrities
Jerry Seinfeld
Bob Saget
Rosie O'Donnell
Macaulay Culkin
Adam Sandler
Bill Clinton
Bo Jackson

Ad Campaigns
Wazap?
Budweiser Frogs
pets.com puppet
Did somebody say McDonald's?
Like a rock - Chevy

Technology
AOL Keyword
askjeeves.com
Napster
Floppy Discs
Web TV
Cell Phones

I have definitely left things out. I also realize that this is slightly New York-biased. Forgive me. This is my childhood; not yours. If you don't like it, make your own list (or add onto mine).

Friday, May 28, 2010

Utopian Children

Yesterday I went to hear some of the most talented children in NYC read excerpts from their own original stories. (In case you were wondering, yes it was on a date.)

There is a terrific place in the Manhattan called "Writopia Lab." It is a place where children of all ages who are interested in writing can go to develop skills, get their ideas onto paper, or just explore their own imagination. I have visited the lab once and it is truly a terrific environment. The children don't sit at tables with a paper and pen; they sit in nice comfortable couches with laptops. They are not limited to what they can write. They are encouraged to take their own ideas and mold them into a story.

Yesterday was their end-of-the-year finale event where almost 100 kids of all ages came to perform their excerpts. While the stories were incredible, the program was very well-run and the format was exceptional, I would like to focus on something that I saw there that is often difficult to find in adults, much less in children. The ability to perform in public takes guts, especially from a kid who speaking to an auditorium full of people that he or she has never even seen before.

Earlier in the day I attended my college graduation. I was actually a little embarrassed when the valedictorian delivered her address. While she seemed confident, she paused a few times for laughter (her own) and sounded like Pip from "Enchanted." It was bury-your-head-in-your-face time for every graduate in my row.

The point is that these kids were so impressive in their ability to speak in front of a large audience. I don't know if they were trained for that, or simply trained in confidence, but they clearly were not shaken by the size of the room.

If you are between the ages of 9-17 and want to go into writing or have or plan on having children between those ages, and want them to try to express their own creativity, Writopia certainly has my endorsement, and if you can't trust an anonymous blogger on the internet, who can you trust?

Help is on the Way!

For those of you new to this blog, first of all where have you been? Secondly, you should know that I have a bit of a problem with sarcasm. Well, the high-tech world of computer geekistry is here to help:

http://news.discovery.com/tech/sarasm-online-computer-program.html

Hat Tip: a s

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Burning Nussach Question

This past Shabbos, the older of my two younger brothers (Hotdog) davened Shacharis for the amud. Now, being that Shavuos had just passed, Hotdog's Tefilah mind was still on the nussach for Shalosh R'galim. He startes Shochen Ad with its incorrect melody. This mistake caused me to glance at the younger of my two younger brothers (Hammy) and snicker about the incident (much like Hotdog and Hammy do to me when I crack while davening for the amud. However, I was a little taken aback when the gabbai walked up to the amud and asked Hotdog to change to a regular Shabbos nussach.

Later on in the Tefilah, my brother once again accidentally switched the nussach. This time, it was by the end of Kedushah. This time, the Rav leaned over and told my brother what nussach he should be doing.

Here is my question: How important is nussach. I am not talking about the words (i.e. words that are different for nussach Ashkenaz and nussach Sefard). I am refering to the tune that the chazzan uses for a particular tefilah. Who decides when to correct it?

If I were to use the Shabbos Mincha nussach during the week would people correct me? I happen to know that the answer to that question is 'no.' I did that in the very same shul with the very same Rabbi and the very same Gabbai. Nobody corrected me. What makes one nussach change more imperative to correct than another? What would have happened if my brother would have continued in that nussach? Would we have been required to duchan? What's the big deal with nussach?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Quote of the Chag- Shavuos

"Yeah, my Zaida likes to read the obituaries; it's like his onlysimchas."

-MZ

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Story that Just Won't Go Away

Well, if you remember from a few weeks ago, I got a ticket. No, it wasn't for speeding or talking on the phone or smuggling in illegal aliens. It was for having tinted windows. Now, tinted windows are legal in most states and it is an extremely minor offense. In fact, it was supposed to be quite easy to get rid of this offense simply by removing the tint and showing the officer who issued the ticket (which I have already done, and have a signed document from said officer).

Supposed to be.

This weekend, I received a letter from the good ol' DMV saying that I now have a court date in August. I must come to this court date and argue that I should be exonerated of all agressions against a police officer (not a cop) who has already agreed with me. Oh, and if I don't show up, I lose my license.

There is one alternative. I could simply pay the $90 ticket and not have to go to court. I love how money solves everything.

Oh, and of course, I will be away in August. So on Friday I must go down to the DMV and find out if there is a way of switching the date or having someone else go for me or burning it down. Wish me luck.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mr. Grammatarian

A friend of mine sent me this well, let's call it an essay. He wrote it about 5 months ago and posted it on Yeshiva World where nobody understood it. So here it is:

If you happen to run into a specialist in any field although he is very competent in his area of expertise he doesn’t usually proceed to ram his expertise down your throat. I have never received an unsolicited strep test from a doctor on the subway, nor has a fashion designer come strutting over to me and said “you would tho much better in a pink thirt, theriouthly”. But English Teachers, feel that the reason that they are placed on this earth, is to rid the world of people like me, I mean I….wait is that a proposition following a statement or a statement following a proposition, I think I dangled my participles also, what the heck is a participle anyway, it sounds like a part of the human anatomy, “Mom, Joe broke his participle, quick call a doctor. What? You can’t. Oh he’s giving you a strep test.” (this paper just went from a A+ to a B- because of this long digression). So here we go, this my official thesis statement, which I know should have gone at the beginning of the paper but I DON’T CARE!!!!!

I hate English Teachers, I the way that they feel the need to correct your grammar even when you are not in the classroom, or in their class, or even if you don’t know who they are. How many times have you found your self telling humorous anecdotes to your friends starting off with the words “Me and Yoel”, and before you even wind up for the punch line some English teacher will appear miraculously out of nowhere (he wasn’t part of the original conversation, which included my friends, English Teachers have no friends) and he will pull his pants up high and proclaim “Not me and Yoel, Yoel and I” and proceed to put his finger back in his nose. Do you feel better? Has a major evil been righted in the world? Will you be able to sleep at night, or will you toss and turn wondering which under privileged children in Africa might not ever even know the difference between a colon and a semicolon (Is a semicolon when you get half your colon removed, and is colon that man perfume stuff).

So please all you English teachers who lurk in the shadows of our conversations who wait for us to fall into the inevitable pitfalls of the English language (and break our participles) please go somewhere far away in Africa where the tribes will hail you as a scholar for your prowess of the English language.

Ironically, this friend called himself Demosthenes on Yeshiva World.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

David Horowitz

In a recent panel discussion in UC San Diego, David Horowitz received a question from a Muslim woman regarding one of his pamphlets.



The first thing that jumps out at me from this clip is that UC San Diego has an annual Hitler Youth Day. That is disturbing enough, but the fact that it's being promoted by a Muslim student organization really irks me. I know that the Nazis were allies with the Arabs during WWII, but I didn't think that Muslims believed that it would remain that way once Hitler was through with using them. He would have turned on them once they had served their purpose.

The second thing is that this girl thought that she would be arrested for verbally backing Hamas. I wish. But she does have a point. Once the US government has a suspicion that someone could be linked to terrorism, they could monitor him or her. I'm glad of that. And if this administration still considers Hamas a terrorist organization, she should be expected to be followed now.

I was a little annoyed that Horowitz didn't answer the question he was asked. Yes, I know he said that the rules of the Q&A were that the participants ask their questions and sit down, but he did gracefully direct the question and the ensuing conversation in the direction he wanted it to go. Once he had exhausted his attack, he didn't even bother to address the question that was asked.

It bothers me and worries me that there are people who openly believe that they hope that the Jewish people will gather in Israel so it will be easier to track us down. I hate the fact that this is allowed to happen without a major uproar from the Jewish community. If this was an attack on the black community, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would be out in San Diego right now, urging the University to expel this student, who wisely gave her name for the internet to know who she is. But alas, it was against the Jewish people who are apparently not allowed to complain about such things. Maybe we should just hand out pamphlets.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Framed!

How hard is bowling? I know. I bowl like once every two months, but that's not what I'm talking about. People make fun of Olympic curlers all the time for not playing a real sport and getting credit for just that, but how difficult would it be for me to train for like five years and become a professional bowler? It can't be that difficult. Even a 12-year-old can do it.

May 11 (Bloomberg) -- Kamron Doyle has gone from birthday party bowler to money-winning professional in little time.

Doyle, a 12-year-old from Brentwood, Tennessee, became the youngest bowler to take home a check at a Professional Bowling Association tournament, the association said in a news release.

Doyle, bowling as a non-member, earned $400 two days ago after finishing 30th at Georgia’s Canton Open regional tournament. The money will go into a scholarship account.

The sixth-grade student had a 215.1 average, bowling 13 games in a 94-player field that included some of the top national tour professionals from the organization’s south region. Reigning PBA Player of the Year Walter Ray Williams Jr. won the event.

“I just practice and bowl in a lot of tournaments,” Doyle said in the release. “There’s no secret -- just go out there and do it.”

Doyle discovered the sport while attending a friend’s bowling birthday party as a 7-year-old, according to his mother, Cathy.

“After that, he was hooked,” she said in the statement. “Before we knew it, he was bowling three days a week and at this point I think he’s got about 60 bowling balls.”

Doyle is the youngest bowler to roll a U.S. Bowling Congress-certified 800 series, with a 279, a 278 and a 245 for a three-game total of 802 as an 11-year-old. He’s had two perfect 300 games.

The PBA is made up of more than 3,800 bowlers from 13 countries who compete on the PBA Tour or Regional and Senior Tour events.

This can't be all too difficult if a kid can rank 30th in a State. If I tried, I could learn the technique. All that is required in bowling is the same motion 12 consecutive turns. How hard could it be. There is no defense. There is no clock. There is no sand trap. It's the same thing over and over again. How hard could a sport be if drinking beer can only make it better. (No offense, golf.)

It's something to think about. I think I should work on an actual career before I allow myself to become a pro bowler.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Quote of the Month - May

At a rally for the State of Israel:

"When President Obama says that Israel cannot build in Jerusalem, our response should be 'YES WE CAN!'"

- Councilman Jim Gennaro

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Shusher

Aaah, the Shusher. One of my favorite people in the Young Israel. The Shusher has made it his (or her) responsibility to make sure that the Shul remains quiet during davening.

Here's the thing (that I am sure most of you can figure out): The Shusher tends to make more noise and be more disruptive than the people that he or she is trying to shush. I tend to be able to tune out random mumblings of dialogue from my neighbors, particularly because they are speaking on the same decibel level as the davening mumblers. It is quite easy to tune them out. The Shusher, on the other hand, is impossibly annoying to keep out of my head. While the Shusher believes to be doing a service for the shul, he or she tends to be the most annoying, noise producing, impossible to reason with member of the shul.

Case in point.

In one of the "Young Israels" I frequent, the Shusher is on the other side of the mechitza and generally pokes her head out from behind the curtain and proceeds to do her shushing duties quite superciliously. One guy who sits near me had enough of this and began to shush her for shushing too loudly. This sparked a nice war in the shul.

There is a Shusher in another "Young Israel" I frequent that I don't like, partially because of his arrogance, partially because of his confrontational attitude, partially because of his perpetuity to be wrong in his accusations. I have been the victim countless times of being falsely ridiculed by this particular Shusher. There have been many times when I have seen him talking during davening, and just wanted to go ever to him and shush him. I have yet to muster the courage, but I know there will be more opportunities.

For the time being, don't be a Shusher. Don't be the cause for a Shusher to do what he does. Come to a shul and daven.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Public Relations

I have to say something about Jews behaving in public. As long as I have been educated, I have been given two reasons for this. The first is that people look at Jewish people as if to expect something better; as if they represent a higher authority. This version plays well into the Chillul Hashem concept. The second reason is that the world hates Jews and it is up to us to change the perception of that. Public image is everything.

Here's my issue: Do others really have that perception of us? Do people who don't believe in our religion (and in fact may think we are wrong altogether) think that we represent G-d? Do they believe that we are a people who are better than they are in that regard?

If you are going to say that the reason to behave in public is that they hate us and are looking for more reasons to hate us, is THAT really true? Do you think we are hated more than any other minority in the world? Do you think Muslims don't tell their children the same thing: "the world hates us, so don't give them more of a reason to." Bill Cosby is always griping that this is why black people are hated. Are we more hated than they are?

This all came about because of a recent story that a friend of mine told me. She is a waitress at a semi-fancy restaurant. One day, a pair of frum mothers came in with their rambunctious children to have lunch. The children (there were seven between them) were running around the restaurant while the mothers were complaining about the service, why it was taking so long to deliver the simple food they had ordered and why the waitress was taking care of other tables before their food was delivered.

Obviously, this is not proper behavior for anyone, but what I didn't understand is why my friend kept hitting on the fact that these were frum women who represent an entire nation and are being judged by the gentile staff. The whole time she was telling me this story I was thinking "Hello! Haven't you ever seen movies or watched TV shows or heard news stories or listened to stand-up comedy that hits on this very topic?" It's not that people are judging frum Jews (or Jewesses in this case). They are complaining about obnoxious customers who need to have anything they want. After all, they are paying.

I just tend to think that people get too carried away in what they represent. Stop thinking that you have to behave well because you are representing a larger group. Be a decent person because you are representing yourself, and if you don't have the self-respect necessary to that, well then maybe you shouldn't venture outside the confines of your own home.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mincha Meyhem

My travels took me back to my old high school for Mincha this past Shabbos. If there's is one thing I hate about returning to places that i haven't been in a while, it's repeating the same thing over and over and over again to a bunch of people who I haven't seen for months and won't see again.

They ask me what I am doing now- college, work, etc. and it's not as if they care; they are just trying to make conversation. But here's the problem:

I CAME TO DAVEN MINCHA!

If you want to catch up with me, call me, come to my home, find me on the street. DON'T TALK TO ME DURING DAVENING!

I try to brush such people off when they ask me how things are doing with a simple "you know, same ol' same ol.'" But they respond with "what was that again?" I don't want to have to go through with each person where I'm up to in college, how my job is treating me, where I am learning, how my dating life is (for some reason it's their business). I came to daven at the most convenient minyan available. Clearly, it inconvenienced me more than I thought it would.

Note to anyone who goes to shul: Please daven. It's what you came for, not to catch up with people. If you want to talk, don't talk to me.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

One Guy Named Ira

I don't know what it is about Young Israels, but there is always on guy with the name "Ira." Ira is usually not very loud, but can have a conversation with anyone about anything. You just have to find him. He won't just come over to you and start chatting.

Ira is generally well liked and doesn't cause much of a fuss in shul. However, once in a while, Ira will get upset about something and make a point. A point which everyone will consider wise simply because Ira made it, and Ira never speaks out unless it's important.

I thought the "Ira" tradition would die slowly within the next forty years or so, simply because the name is kind of outdated. However, I was recently at a bris where the child was given some name like Getzel. When the father was asked what they were actually going to call him, he replied, "We'll probably use his English name, Ira."

Awesome. The tradition lives! So if you are going to be in a Young Israel this Shabbos, make sure to go over and give your local Ira a great big "Good Shabbos." Then talk to him about anything you want. The man knows.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Carp

In the past I have written about how I value friends. Today, I would like to write about one in particular. You have all heard about the guy who will do anything for a person. Well, this guy (who will now be know as Carp) goes well above and beyond the call of a true friend.

Take for example what happened today. I was leaving work in the downpour here in New York. I had no umbrella, raincoat, hat or any other protective wear. I asked around if anyone had anything to lend me. Carp did. He gave me what he called an "extra" umbrella. Later on, I received a text that Carp was walking to his car in his davening jacket. He had lent me his only umbrella. The irony is that I only needed it to walk to and from my car as well.

This wasn't the most amazing thing he has done for me in the last few months either. If you live in or around New York (or in Baltimore where it was worse), you can remember the absolutely insane blizzard we had this winter. Well, that night I attended a wedding in Brooklyn. I had no car available to me and even if I did, I had no intention of driving in the storm. I took the train. The subway ride was about an hour and a half from my house. The drive would have been 25 minutes. I arived at the wedding hoping to find a ride home, but knew my options were slim because most of those who drove had a full car. Carp was there and offered to drive me home. Carp lives in Brooklyn. He drove me and three others who were looking for a ride through the blizzard, back to queens.

Here's the kicker: he's not even a close friend. He doesn't consider me a really close friend, nor do I consider him one. We are just friends who would do regular friendly stuff for each other. He just considers this to be "regular friendly stuff."

Oh, and ladies, to answer your question, yes, he is single.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why Contraversy?

Yom Ha'atzmaut. Why must it be so controversial?

The purpose of this post is not to state my beliefs regarding the day, rather to bring up some random comentary on it.

1)Hashkafa - If it wasn't during Sefira, it would be a lot less controversial. Duh. People would be more likely to want to celebrate a holiday during Sefira that was not instituted by a universally accepted sanhdrin, especially if said holiday was crammed with music, dancing and celebration.

2) Halacha - As mentioned above, Yom Ha'atzmaut presents issues regarding Sefira and mixing it with celebrations. This wouldn't be a problem for those who actually believe the holiday to have the power to override Sefira on a regular year. However, this year specifically just rubs me the wrong way. Yom Ha'atzmaut fell out on a Monday this year, but the fact that people were going to be Mechalel Shabbos to set up for Yom Hazikaron (which falls out the day before) pushed both days off one day.

No other Chag has this halacha of being pushed off due to the fact that the prep on the day before will lead to Michalel Shabbos. In fact, we see that if any other Yom Tov falls out on Shabbos, we celebrate it on that day, minus certain key elements of the chag (i.e. Shofar on Rosh Hashana; Arba Minim on Succos). Other days like fast days get pushed off entirely.

Now I'm all for preventing chillul Shabbos, but you can't simply break the Halachos of Sefira because a holiday fell out inconveniently. Celebrate the holiday on the day that it was supposed to be celebrated. This is not an American holiday that we celebrate on a Monday or Thursday (and not a particular date) because we want a longer weekend. It's independence day. Even we Americans had the common sense to make that holiday on an actual date and not change it. Ever.

3) Strife - I hate the fact that this day, that is supposed to be a celebration of a great time in our nations history divides us more than it brings us together. Some say full Hallel with a b'racha; some say it without a b'racha; some just don't say Tachanun; some treat it as a regular day; some say selichos; some tear K'riyah (really). It's insane. This is not what this day should be about.

4) Confusion - The holiday is the commemoration of a nation gaining it's freedom. Why can't people acknowledge this? Charedim in America acknowledge July fourth as Independence Day. Why can't charedim in Israel at least acknowledge the day as an Independence Day without the Yom Tov part of it? There was a war. Somebody won. Against all odds. Hello!

Anyway, I'm sorry this came out so late, but I just wonder things like this all the time, and I figured better late than never.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Shaving During Sefira

There is a common question about shaving during Sefira and its shaving implications. Obviously, this is only in regards to those of us who are male and don't already have a reason to shave for Sefira (i.e. job, etc.). After making keen observations and consulting Rabbinic authorities, here is what I have learned so far:

1) If you are not dating someone prior to entering Sefira, DON'T! It's too much of a hassle. Do I shave? Don't I shave? What about finals? Tax season? Its all too much! If you are a guy, just don't start it.

2)If you must date, then you have to consider some things. If she is the type of girl that will be put off by the fact that you didn't shave, then you may shave.
- Even if you have been dating for some time, this rule applies. There is no statute of limitations on the shaving rule.
- If it is the first date, you might want to assume that she's the type of girl who cares.

3) The rules of shaving during Sefira are not the same as the rules for shaving during the Three Weeks. This is because the Aveilus for the Three Weeks is equivalent to that of Shloshim and the Aveilus for Sefira is equivalent to that of Yud Beis Chodesh.

4) If you are a girl, please don't care about whether or not your date shaves. It's easier not to shave and it would really cut down on our prep time. But you should still take your regular six and a half hours of prep. We deserve it.

5) Not all of these opinions are shared by every Rabbinic source. Please consult your LOR for these and all other shaylas. And please, when you reach the end of your 120, and you show up in heaven and they ask you why you shaved during Sefira, do not say yo read that this was the halacha that you read on a blog and therefore you thought it was mutar. I take no responsibilty for your other world repercussions.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Yek

Every Young Israel has a Yek. It's a fact. The person doesn't even have to be an actual Yeckie to qualify. There is generally one main qualification:

On Friday afternoon, at 7:14, the Yek will run into the lobby shouting "ONE MINUTE TO MINCHA! LET'S GO! EVERYBODY INTO THE POOL!"

There are other things the Yek of the Young Israel will do, like when the guy who is davening Pesukei D'Zimra is going a little slow and will probably not make it in time for Z'man K'riyas Sh'ma, the Yek will go over to him and quietly (but with a lot of grandiose arm motions) implore him to go faster.

He will also generally be the one to first correct the Ba'al K'riyah when he makes a mistake. It's not that he wants the credit for it, he just doesn't want to wait any longer than absolutely necessary to get through leining.

A quick shout out to all the Yeks out there. This one's for you!

Monday, April 12, 2010

NYPD - A Work in Progress

Today I got pulled over by a cop. Before I continue, I would like to confess that I was guilty as sin. I disobeyed the amazingly logical law of New York State - one of the ten states with such a law - but a law nonetheless - one that I violated - outright - no excuses.

Here's what happened: I was driving my mini van (the same mini van I have been driving for three years) in Queens (the same Queens I have lived in for said three years (and then some)). Of course, I hear and see the dreaded Lights and Sirens of Doom. I look at my chest where my seat belt was. I look in my hand where my cell phone was not. I look at my speedometer to see that I was well below the limit (was that the problem?) of a normal street.

He asked to see my license, registration and proof of insurance, which I handed over.

"Sir, I pulled you over because it's illegal in New York State to drive a car with tinted windows."

"Oh," I responded.

"Sir, are you aware that this is illegal," he asked as the steady line of unlicensed, unregistered illegal immigrant drivers sped past us, hoping that the police officers wouldn't see them stashing the heroine into the barrels of their assault rifles with the hand that wasn't holding the half-full bottle of Colt 45 (not that I'm bitter).

"No, I have been driving this car for three years, and it's a 2001 model so it has been on the road for 10 years."

"Yeah, well it's legal to have these in 90% of the states, but not in New York."

It turns out that he was right, I know this because when I told my father what happened, he was as shocked as I was, but in a more - let's call it 'colorful' - way. When he was done being colorful, he called the local precinct to be colorful with them as well, and he found out that the officer was, in fact correct, and that other officers until now were ignoring it, i.e. not bored enough, i.e. did not need to fill their WORD HAS BEEN REMOVED BY NYPD.* Did I ever mention how much I love New York?

In the end, all we need to do is take off the tint (it peels right off) and then take the van down to the precinct and have a little show and tell. Then we get the ticket off. I plan on coming with a tarp so I can cover the van until the right moment and then unveil the illegality-free mini van! Wish me luck.


*Motto: "Ignoring the 5th amendment one blog at a time."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Text Message Song

In case you're new to this blog and you do not know that I am vehemently anti-texting, I am vehemently anti-text messaging. I have posted this song elsewhere in the past, but it is time to bring it into this blog. It doesn't explain everything that is wrong with text messaging, but it does do a lot.



So there is just a little sampling of my hatred for texting. I loath the day that I will be forced to succumb to the pressures of the world and get unlimited, but until then, I can complain.

(I will complain even when that day comes.)

Friday, April 9, 2010

Avoiding Explaining

In case you haven't noticed, most of my posts lately have not been about the shidduch dating scene. That's because my mind just hasn't been focused on that recently. I generally post on what's on my mind. However, a friend of mine just brought something up that happened to him and it brought me back to a time when I was going through the exact same thing.

It is so difficult to explain the way i date to a non-frum relative.

How do you explain to them the reason that you don't ask girls out and wait for them to be set up with me?
How do you make it make sense that you can date three girls in a month (let alone a week) and it's completely normal?
How could I explain to them that I had to break up with someone because she's on a different "level" of Judaism? "Orthodox is Orthodox, right?"

Now, this issue is complicated enough, but I remember the first time I had this conversation with my uncle. I had just gotten out of a relationship with a girl that I had liked, but because of halachic complications (I am a kohen), we had to break up. My uncle was beside himself.

"Wait a minute," he said. "You liked her?"

"Yes."

"She liked you?"

"I think so."

"And she was Jewish enough for you?"

"Well..."

"What do you mean 'well?'"

"She is Jewish enough, but I just can't marry her, so i won't date her and she won't date me. Period."

"Whatever. I don't understand you guys."

You see, I know it's not my responsibility to educate my non-frum relatives, but it just gets frustrating when it comes to something like this, where I need to find someone whom to relate and it can't be someone to whom I relate.

This discussion led to another discussion about what I am looking for in a girl.

"Well," started my uncle. "I guess the first thing is that she has to be Jewish."

I had thought that this was obvious from the conversation that segued us into this conversation, but I went with it. Now I had never thought of that as something I am looking for. It was more of a prerequisite. I guess most of the other stuff wouldn't exactly work if she wasn't Jewish. It was just never an option for me like it was for him. "Yes. That is the first thing. I will try to not date a non-Jew."

It usually gets frustrating trying to explain my lifestyle to my non-frum relatives. Difficulties include Shabbos, Tzitzis and Shomer Negiyah, but dating is by far the most difficult.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ba'al Kriyah Assistant or actually, Assistant to the Ba'al k'riyah

It's Thursday again so it's time for the another PITYI. Today's PITYI is another that made an appearance on Pesach. He is the Assistant to the Ba'al K'riyah. It is his job to assist the Ba'al Kriyah when he gets up to the parts that anyone who has been attending a minyan for the last 35 years should be able to lein, regardless of any leining abilities, background or training.

His favorite pesukim include (but are not limited to):
Esther 6:9, 6:11
Bamidbar 28:24
The entirety of the leinings for a Ta'anis or Rosh Chodesh

He of course does not only choose specific pesukim to help out with, but likes to show his knowledge of leining by the end of each alliyah.

Now, I do jest about certain things on this blog, but this actually has Halachic ramifications. The Kehilah is required to hear leining from someone reading from a kosher Sefer Torah (i.e. The Ba'al K'riyah) and when someone overpowers the aforementioned Ba'al K'riyah by leining any part of the k'riyah oput loud, it can be a serious problem for those who heard the Assistant louder than the actual Ba'al K'riyah or even simply could not discern between the two. I have not figured out a solution to this yet. Ask your LOR.

Anyway, back to the post. The Assistant to the Ba'al K'riyah may leave his mark elsewhere in davening as well. His favorite part is on a chag or when Rosh Chodesh falls out on Shabbos. He loves to be the one to remind the chazan that the nusach changes after kedusha. He is louder at that time than anybody else and to tell you the truth, it has been helpful to me as a ba'al tefilah, so I don't complain about it...much. It's still annoying.