Friday, December 28, 2007

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Be the First Kid on the Block

MiDC found this awesome demo for the next generation of everyone's favorite operating system.

He asked me to share it with you.

It's called Windows RG (Really Good Edition).

Check it out.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Thank You for Your Service

Here's a great idea.

It's called The Gratitude Campaign.

Please pass it on.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Encore Presentation Sounds SO Much Better Than Rerun

I harvested most of these from here:

Merry Christmas (U.S.)
Happy Christmas (U.K.)
Gezur Krislinjden (Albanian)
Kamgan Ukudigaa (Aleut)
Melkam Yelidet Beaal (Amharic)
Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah (Arabic)
Feliz Navidad (Argentine)
Shenoraavor Nor Dari yev Pari Gaghand (Armenian)
Tezze Iliniz Yahsi Olsun (Azeri)
Luzihiro Lwa Krismas (Bantu - Kipare Dialect)
Kwa Beno Banso Bwanana (Bantu - Chinayanja)
Na Bino Banso Bonane (Bantu -Kikango)
Zorionak eta Urte Berri On! (Basque)
Shubho Barodin (Bengali)
Vesele Vanoce (Bohemian)
Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo (Brazilian)
Nedeleg laouen na bloavezh mat (Breton)
Tchestita Koleda; Tchestito Rojdestvo Hristovo (Bulgarian)
Bon Nadal i un Bon Any Nou (Catalan)
Feliz Navidad (Chile)
Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun (Chinese - Cantonese)
Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan (Chinese - Mandarin)
Yukpa, Nitak Hollo Chito (Choctaw)
Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo (Columbia)
Nadelik looan na looan blethen noweth (Cornish)
Pace e salute (Corsican)
Sretan Bozic (Croatian)
Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a stastny Novy Rok (Czech)
Glaedelig Jul (Danish)
Woof (Danish, Great)
Miet puou yan dhiedh Banyda tene Yin (Dinka)
Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar (Dutch)
Colo sana wintom tiebeen (Egyptian)
Gajan Kristnaskon (Esperanto)
Rõõmsaid Jõulupühi (Estonian)
Cristmas-e-shoma mobarak bashad (Farsi)
Hyvää Joulua or Hauskaa Joulua (Finnish)
Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar (Flemish)
Chchghrchrg (Phlegmish)
Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année (French)
Nollaig chridheil agus Bliadhna mhath ur (Gaelic)
Gilotsavt Krist'es Shobas (Georgian)
Merry Christmas, Y'all (Georgian)
Froehliche Weihnachten und ein gluckliches Neues Jahr (German)
Kala Christougenna Kieftihismenos O Kenourios Chronos (Greek)
Juullimi Ukiortaassamilu Pilluarit (Greenlandic)
Mele Kalikimaka (Hawaiian)
Shubh Naya Baras (Hindi)
Nyob Zoo Xyoo Tahiab (Hmong)
Kellemes Karacsonyiunnepeket & Boldog Új Évet (Hungarian)
Gledileg Jol og Farsaelt Komandi ar (Icelandic)
Selamat Hari Natal (Indonesian)
Idah Saidan Wa Sanah Jadidah (Iraqi)
Nollaig Shona Dhuit (Irish)
Ojenyunyat Sungwiyadeson honungradon nagwutut. Ojenyunyat osrasay (Iroquois)
Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo (Italian)
Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto (Japanese)
Sung Tan Chuk Ha (Korean - North)
Sung Tan Chuk Ha (Korean - South)
Seva piroz sahibe u sersala te piroz be (Kurdish)
Natale hilare et Annum Nuovo Latvian (Latin)
Erry-may Istmas-chray (Ig-pay Atin-lay)
Prieci'gus Ziemsve'tkus un Laimi'gu Jauno Gadu (Latvian)
Linksmu Kaledu (Lithuanian)
Streken Bozhik (Macedonian)
Nixtieklek Milied tajjeb u is-sena t-tabja (Maltese)
Meri Kirihimete (Maori)
Zul saryn bolon shine ony mend devshuulye (Mongolian)
Krist Yesu Ko Shuva Janma Utsav Ko Upalaxhma Hardik Shuva (Nepali)
God Jul og Godt Nyttår (Norwegian)
Bikpela hamamas blong dispela Krismas na Nupela yia i go long yu (Papua New Guinea)
Maligayang Pasco at Manigong Bagong Taon (Philippines)
Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia (Polish)
Boas Festas e um feliz Ano Novo (Portuguese)
Nave sal di mubaraka (Punjabi)
Mata-Ki-Te-Rangi. Te-Pito-O-Te-Henua (Rapa-Nui - Easter Island)
Legreivlas fiastas da Nadal e bien niev onn! (Romanche - Sursilvan dialect)
Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom (Russian)
La Maunia Le Kilisimasi Ma Le Tausaga Fou (Samoan)
Bonu nadale e prosperu annu nou (Sardinian)
Gaelic Nollaig chridheil huibh (Scots)
Hristos se rodi (Serbian)
Subha nath thalak Vewa. Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa (Singhalese)
Vesele Vianoce. A stastlivy Novy Rok (Slovak)
Vesel Bozic in Srecno novo leto! (Slovenian)
Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo (Spanish)
God Jul och Gott Nytt År (Swedish)
Wilujeng Natal Sareng Warsa Enggal (Sudanese)
Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon (Tagalog)
Ia ora i te Noere e ia ora na i te matahiti 'api (Tahitian)
Nathar Puthu Varuda Valthukkal (Tamil)
Suksan Wan Christmas lae Sawadee Pee Mai (Thai)
Kristo abe anduwe muciindo ca Christmas (Tonga)
Kilisimasi Fiefia (Tongan)
Noeliniz Ve Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun (Turkish)
Veseloho Vam Rizdva i Shchastlyvoho Novoho Roku (Ukranian)
Naya Saal Mubarak Ho (Urdu)
Bon Nadal i millor any nou (Valencian)
Chuc Mung Giang Sinh - Chuc Mung Tan Nien (Vietnamese)
Nadolig LLawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (Welsh)
Gute Vaynakhtn un a Gut Nay Yor (Yiddish)
E ku odun, e ku iye'dun! (Yoruba)
Cestitamo Bozic (Yugoslavian)
Sinifesela Ukhisimusi Omuhle Nonyaka Omusha Onempumelelo (Zulu)

G-d Bless Us, Every One - Dickens.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Tranquilize the Reindeer

But don't shoot the elves.

MiDC found this hilarious game, designed by the same folks who brought you Halloween Hangman (which also, btw, has been updated for the season.)

When a game involves shooting, I sometimes engage in a little ritual "you know guns aren't toys..." rap that I'm pretty sure sounds increasingly like "wah-wah-wah-wah" in the Peanuts cartoons.

I thought it safe to forgo the caveats after he showed me this one.

I'm confident he already knows that it's wrong to use a blowtube to shoot tranquilizing darts at a reindeer unless you're a trained professional like Uncle L.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More on Efforts at Muslim-Jewish Dialogue

As might be expected, not everyone agrees with the Union for Reform Judaism/Islamic Society of North America project I publicized here.

There's actually been a bit of witless debate on the topic on my shul's listserv today.

Here's an excerpt from something I posted:

Our founding myth puts Isaac up for slaughter. Theirs (according to the majority Muslim tradition) puts Ishmael there. It sorta makes sense.

Probably a reason to learn some Qu'ran. In both myths, G-d stopped the slaughter of the child.

Let's stick with our founding myth, since we know it better.

Sarah is barren, Hagar has Ishmael.

Hagar is blameless, Sarah is jealous.

Sarah gets Isaac, by an act of G-d, so late in life that his name literally means laughter. (She'd laughed when, in her 90's, He promised her a child.)

Repaying this divine gift with earthly baseness, Sarah directs a quiescent Abraham to boot Hagar and Ishmael out into the wilderness, now that a greedy Sarah has an even eviller motivation than jealousy --- Isaac's inheritance.

Might call for a little humility in our dealings with our cousins.

In the end, the Qu'ran doesn't demand that Abraham kill his first-born. And the Torah doesn't demand he kill Isaac. I don't think a fair reading of either calls on believers to extol the misguided false-martyrdom of their own youth.

But fundamentalists instruct and inspire our Yigal Amirs and our Meir Kahanes. The same kind of fanatics instruct their Mohammed Attas and suicide bombers.

We find those fair readers of the Qu'ran by reaching out, not by fanning the flames of our own hatred in isolation.

*To the few of you who overlap reading both my shul's listserv and this blog, yes, I did add some clarifying phrases, fix a couple of minor errors, add some Wikipedia links, and correct an embarrassing brain fart as I repurposed my comments for this forum. So sue me. :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


O.K. everybody, it's time to play "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?"

For me, on topics technological, the answer is increasingly "no".

Monkeyboy made sure RFB and I found out about this as soon as he heard of it. Then he asked me to alert you, too.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Why I'm Proud to be a Reform Jew

Today's Washington Post features this wonderful story:

Jews and Muslims Set Up Big Interfaith Effort
By Michelle Boorstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 16, 2007; Page A09

Two major Jewish and Muslim organizations unveiled an interfaith dialogue curriculum yesterday and are urging their hundreds of thousands of members to use it. Both sides say it is the broadest Jewish-Muslim interfaith effort in the continent's history.

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, North America's largest Jewish movement, announced the partnership with the Islamic Society of North America at his group's biennial convention in San Diego. "As a once-persecuted minority in countries where anti-Semitism is still a force, we understand the plight of Muslims in North America today," Yoffie said yesterday. "We live in a world in which religion is manipulated to justify the most horrific acts, a world in which -- make no mistake -- Islamic extremists constitute a profound threat. For some, this is a reason to flee from dialogue, but in fact the opposite is true. When we are killing each other in the name of God, sensible religious people have an obligation to do something about it."

This summer Yoffie became the first major Jewish leader to address ISNA, the continent's largest Muslim organization with 30,000 attendants coming to its annual convention. ISNA President Ingrid Mattson will address the 980-congregation Jewish group today, the first leader of a major Muslim group to do so.

The manual and video are built around five sessions that touch on topics including the place of Jerusalem in Jewish and Muslim tradition and history. The toughest potential sticking points will probably be related to Israel and to stereotypes both groups carry about the other, Mark Pelavin, director of interreligious affairs for the Jewish group, said in an interview. "Jews want to know how Muslims feel about terrorism in the name of Islam, and Muslims want to know how Jews feel about Palestinian suffering."

Eleven synagogue-mosque pairs have already been set up as pilot programs, including two in the D.C. area: the Islamic Society of Southern Prince George's County of Temple Hills and Temple Solel in Bowie is one, and the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Sterling and the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation in Reston is the other.

Yoffie also announced that the two groups created an adult curriculum on Islam and pressed every synagogue to consider offering it.

"There exists in our community a profound ignorance about Islam, along with a real desire to learn about what moves and motivates Muslims today. We must respond to this desire with serious programs of education," he said.

Both groups already have dialogue programs with various other faith groups, but on a much smaller scale.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Tide Has Turned

Dear Tide:

I am writing to say what an excellent product you have! I've used it all through my married life. My Mom always told me it was the best.

Now that I am in my fifties, I find it's even better!

In fact, about a month ago, I spilled some red wine on my new white blouse. My inconsiderate and uncaring husband started to berate me about how clumsy I was, and generally started becoming a pain in the neck.

One thing led to another and somehow I ended up with a lot of his blood on my white blouse. I tried to get the stain out using a bargain detergent, but it just wouldn't come out.

After a quick trip to the supermarket, I purchased a bottle of liquid Tide with bleach alternative, and to my surprise and satisfaction, all of the stains came out! In fact, the stains came out so well the detectives who came by yesterday told me that the DNA tests on my blouse were negative and then my attorney called and said that I would no longer be considered a suspect in the disappearance of my husband.

What a relief! Going through menopause is bad enough without being a murder suspect!

I thank you, once again, for having such a great product.

Well, gotta go. I have to write a letter to the Hefty bag people.



(With thanks to my friend Michel, for sharing.)

Now There's the Ol' Christmas Spirit

From today's Washington Post.

"The approach of the holidays has caused the following to happen:"

Thursday, December 13, 2007

We Know Snow

I have a Rochesterian's contempt for winter-weather TV snow hype. I think we can all agree it's gotten worse over the years.

They hype the forecasts, then the storm if it actually comes.

They grin foolish grins and talk about how complicated weathercasting is when they blow it.

TV weathermen are people who are comfortable solemnly intoning that there's a 50% chance of rain. Thanks, pal. I've got a shiny nickel that forecasts with a similar degree of usefulness.

Rush to the grocery stores, buy up all the milk and toilet paper. Close the schools, call out the National Guard. You know what's coming?! WEATHER!!!

Here's a great suggestion from a fellow who also grew up in the frozen tundra of Monroe County, New York.
How about a little truth in forecasting for the next update: "Snow is falling outside. It will continue to fall for much of the day. Total accumulation can be ascertained by waiting until the precipitation stops and then sticking a ruler in the snow outside your home."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Pentagon Chaplain Office Rocks

You may recall that I said this a couple of weeks ago:
[Monkeyboy]'s part of a nine-voice children's chorus that will help celebrate Chanukah in a chapel at the Pentagon next week. Pretty cool opportunity to teach that, even when we disagree with what the politicians ask of the military, the profession of arms is a noble one, and worthy of respect.

Here's how that went:

Dear Chaplain [redacted],

My 10-year-old son sings with the Kol NoVa Choir that participated in your Hanukah observance last Thursday.

From the daunting logistics through the unbelievably personal attention you and Colonel [redacted] (and the rest of the Pentagon Unit Ministry Team) lavished on us, we came away from the Pentagon most impressed, indeed.

I thought Colonel [redacted] and both rabbis spoke eloquently. The reading from the Books of the Maccabees still rings in my ears. And, to these biased eyes, the kids shone like the stars.

Later, they were truly touched by what the saw and heard about 9/11. It's a powerful experience. It was guided masterfully.

Only your email was readily obvious at [the Chaplain Office web page] so you're the one I'm writing to. Please share my thanks with the whole Pentagon Chaplain Office.

Best regards,


Chanukah at 1600 - Remembering Danny Pearl


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 10, 2007


Grand Foyer
State Floor

5:27 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Good evening. Laura and I welcome you to the White House. Mr. Attorney General, thank you for being here. Secretary Chertoff, and family. Hanukkah is a time of joy and festivity in the Jewish religion. We're honored to gather with members of the Jewish community to celebrate this holiday.

During Hanukkah, we remember an ancient struggle for freedom. More than two thousand years ago, a cruel tyrant ruled Judea -- and forbade the Israelites from practicing their religion. A band of brothers came together to fight this oppression. And against incredible odds, they liberated the capital city of Jerusalem. As they set about rededicating the holy temple, they witnessed a great miracle: That purified oil that was supposed to last for one day burned for eight.

Jewish families commemorate this miracle by lighting the menorah for the eight nights of Hanukkah. The Talmud instructs families to place the menorah in public view -- so the entire world can see its light. The flames remind us that light triumphs over darkness, faith conquers despair, and the desire for freedom burns inside every man, woman and child.

As we light the Hanukkah candles this year, we pray for those who still live under the shadow of tyranny. This afternoon, I met with a group of Jewish immigrants to mark International Human Rights Day. Many of these men and women fled from religious oppression in countries like Iran and Syria and the Soviet Union. They came to America because our nation is a beacon of freedom. And they see a day of hope on the horizon when people all across the world will worship in freedom. The forces of intolerance can suppress the menorah -- but they can never extinguish its light.

The menorah we light tonight has special meaning. It once belonged to Chayim Pearl -- who was the great-grandfather of Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl. While reporting in Pakistan in 2002, Daniel was kidnapped and murdered by terrorists. His only crime was being a Jewish American -- something Daniel Pearl would never deny. In his final moments, Daniel told his captors about a street in Israel named for his great-grandfather. He looked into their camera and he said, "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, and I'm Jewish." These words have become a source of inspiration for Americans of all faiths. They show the courage of a man who refused to bow before terror -- and the strength of a spirit that could not be broken.

Daniel's memory remains close to our hearts. Those who knew him best remember a gifted writer who loved the violin, and made friends wherever he went. We're honored that Daniel's parents -- Ruth and Judea -- have joined us today. We thank them for their work on behalf of the Daniel Pearl Foundation. The foundation helps bring people from different cultures together through journalism and music. It's a fitting tribute to Daniel's lifelong pursuit of truth and tolerance. By honoring Daniel, we are given the opportunity to bring forth hope from the darkness of tragedy -- and that is a miracle worth celebrating during the Festival of Lights.

Laura and I wish people of Jewish faith around the world a happy Hanukkah. May God bless you all. Tonight, we will hear a wonderful performance by the Zamir Chorale. But first I ask Ruth and Judea to light the Pearl family menorah, and lead the blessings.

5:33 P.M. EST

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tempted by the Fruit of Another

A priest and a rabbi were sitting next to each other on a long plane ride and began discussing religion and thier careers.

At one point the priest asks the Rabbi, "So, in all your life you have never eaten pork?"

The rabbi says, "I must confess, once, I let curiosity get the best of me and I tried some pork."

Then the rabbi asked the priest, "What about you, throughout your priesthood, have you remained celibate?"

"Well," the preist responded, "I admit that on one occasion I succummed to temptation."

After a pause the rabbi said, "Beats the hell out of a ham sandwich, doesn't it."

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Steal From The Best

This kind of schtick used to work pretty well for Art Linkletter, and many years later, for Linkletter and Bill Cosby.

I got what appears below in an e-mail.

I don't know if it's true and I haven't checked on snopes.

Who cares, it's beautiful.

What does "love" mean?
This question was posed to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds. Here's what they had to say:

When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.
Rebecca- age 8

When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.
Billy - age 4

Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.
Karl - age 5

Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.
Chrissy - age 6

Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.
Terri - age 4

Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.
Danny - age 7

Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.
Emily - age 8

Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.
Bobby - age 7

If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.
Nikka - age 6

Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.
Noelle - age 7

Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.
Tommy - age 6

During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.
Cindy - age 8

My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.
Clare - age 6

Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.
Elaine-age 5

Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.
Chris - age 7

Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day
Mary Ann - age 4

I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.
Lauren - age 4

When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.
Karen - age 7

You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.
Jessica - age 8


I defy you to watch this without being moved.

(From my mom.)

Friday, December 7, 2007

I Thought I was the Only Kosher Ham

Thanks to Ezer K'Negdo, whose blog tipped me off to this:

The New York Daily News explains it all.

Save a Life for Ten Bucks - Nothing But Nets

(This is a really good one. Unless you're in favor of malaria. If so, you might wanna skip this post.)

I've already bought one anti-malarial bedding net. It won't be my last this month.

Hats off to Rick Reilly, whose Sports Illustrated revved up this brilliant fundraiser.

Check it out.

I Feel Just Like Sally Field

You like me, you really like me!

For details, click here.

Thanks, Mielikki.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Help Prevent Genocide in Darfur

It's tough to trust any institution, these days. But if you're gonna gamble on one, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) seems a pretty safe bet.

If you can't get over the whole cheese-eating surrender monkey thing, it's o.k. if you call them Doctors Without Borders.

Anyway, here's their current page on the ongoing horror in the Sudan.

And here, goddammit, is one of the most recent chapters in that ongoing horror.

If the holiday seasons moves you to make monetary contributions to do-gooder-types, there are few who do gooder than these.

To All of My Crackpot Friends

An inspirational message, forwarded by my friend, Michel:

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After 2 years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house."

The old woman smiled, "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them." "For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them. To all of my crackpot friends, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers

Monday, December 3, 2007

Best. Bumper Sticker. Ever.

From the fine folks at cafepress.

Also available on a t-shirt, mug, mouse pad, button, throw pillow, or teddy bear.