Friday, May 29, 2009

Awesome Kid

Monkeyboy's in a youth choir, for kids from 2nd thru 7th grade.

It's called Kol NoVa, combining the ancient Hebrew word for "voice" with the ancient Hebrew word for "Northern Virginia".

The kids come from across the Jewish spectrum: Some are in Jewish day school, some come from a moderately observant Conservative background, and some are Reform.

The kids give up a chunk of what would otherwise be a free Sunday afternoon, most weekends in the school year.

They sing four or five times annually. At choral concerts, holiday events, and, twice each year, at the monthly Friday night service at Greenspring Village, a retirement community I've mentioned here before.

Here's a picture of Kol NoVa at Greenspring, one Friday night, earlier this month.


He's handling recent events in stride, and without missing a beat.
He bears the same smile today that you see above. (Second from the right.)
I'm trying to learn from his example. But there's an 8th grade bully I'd gladly strangle.
MiDC thinks that's nuts. He's satisfied that the wonderful school administrator dealing with all this, Mr. D., has his back and is working to make sure Evil Apu is treated appropriately. I guess a lot depends on whether the miscreant's parents react with pride or mortification. RFB is sure E.A. learned this behavior at home. I'm hopeful that's not true.
More on that, as developments warrant.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Signs

When you walk out the door in the morning and see this in the sky.......



.....just go back inside, have another cup of coffee, and stay home.

It's NOT going to be a good day.*

*Thanks, Moonbeam.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fucking Jew

In America. On a school bus bearing an 11-year-old we know.

Surely impossible.

Sadly, no, not at all impossible.

A little bit of my inner civil libertarian died today. I could have kissed Mr. D. over the phone when he told me all he needed was to know if the event had occurred ON the bus, and if it did, what was the bus number. He could call the transportation office and get the video loop. If possible, he also needed the name of the bully.

I called MiDC on his new cellphone, and he could confirm the incident occurred on the bus and in front of the camera. He gave the bus number. Let's keep the name a little hazy. Let's just call him Apu's Evil Twin.

Tomorrow, I'll drive the unflappable MiDC to school. At some point in the day, when Mr. D. isn't proctoring a "No Educational Testing Company Left Behind" timesink and the lad isn't taking one (it's that time of year), the administrator will call the student to his office and get a first-hand report.

After the verbal assault on the bus, the young man spat back "You freakin' anti-Semite." ("I would have said fuckin', Mom," saidst our hero, "but I knew the bus driver was right next to me.")

Then he calmly walked home, reported in to his parents and called his friend Achmed*. He lives up the street. They arranged to walk to the library together for chess club. They have a chess tournament this weekend. I'm driving. They'll meet their friend Thieu* there.

And no fuckin' bigot is going to stop them.

*name changed to obscure identity without obscuring ethnicity.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

All the Same to Me

A plane leaves Los Angeles airport under the control of a Jewish captain. His co-pilot is Chinese. It's the first time they've flown together, and an awkward silence between the two seems to indicate a mutual dislike. Once they reach cruising altitude, the Jewish captain activates the auto-pilot, leans back in his seat, and mutters, 'I don't like Chinese.'

'No rike Chinese?' asks the co-pilot, '....why not?'

'You people bombed Pearl Harbor , that's why !'

'No, no,' the co-pilot protests, 'Chinese not bomb Peahl Hahbah! That Japanese, not Chinese.'

'Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese... doesn't matter, you're all alike!'

There's a few minutes of silence.

'I no rike Jews either!' the copilot suddenly announces.

'Oh yeah, why not?' asks the captain.

'Jews sink Titanic.'

'What? That's insane! Jews didn't sink the Titanic!' exclaims the captain, 'It was an iceberg!'

'Iceberg, Goldberg, Greenberg, Rosenberg ...no mattah... all same.'

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Clowns vs. Nazis - No Contest

If you do nothing else this weekend, you must read this blog post.

My friend Rob found it and put it up on FaceBook. It's effing hilarious and the most perfectest primer on the power of non-violent protest that I've read in many moons.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That

A successful rancher died and left everything to his devoted wife. She was a very good-looking woman and determined to keep the ranch, but knew very little about ranching, so she decided to place an ad in thenewspaper for a ranch hand.

Two cowboys applied for the job. One was gay and the other a drunk. She thought long and hard about it, and when no one else applied she decided to hire the gay guy, figuring it would be safer to have him around the house than the drunk.

He proved to be a hard worker who put in long hours every day and knew alot about ranching. For weeks, the two of them worked, and the ranch was doing very well. Then one day, the rancher's widow said to the hired hand, 'You have donea really good job, and the ranch looks great. You should go into town and kick up your heels.'

The hired hand readily agreed and went into town one Saturday night... One o'clock came, however, and he didn't return. Two o'clock and no hired hand. Finally he returned around two-thirty, and upon entering the room, he found the rancher's widow sitting by the fireplace with a glass of wine, waiting for him. She quietly called him over to her.

'Unbutton my blouse and take it off, she said.. Trembling, he did as she directed.

'Now take off my boots.' He did as she asked, ever so slowly.

'Now take off my socks.' He removed each gently and placed them neatlyby her boots.

'Now take off my skirt.' He slowly unbuttoned it, constantly watching her eyes in the fire light.

'Now take off my bra.' Again, with trembling hands, he did as he was told and dropped it to the floor.

Then she looked at him and said, 'If you ever wear my clothes into town again, you're fired.'

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Not Exactly

A teacher was doing a study testing the senses (taste) of first graders using a bowl of lifesavers


The children began to identify the flavors by their color:

Red......................Cherry
Yellow.................Lemon
Green..................Lime
Orange ...............Orange

Finally the teacher gave them all HONEY lifesavers. After eating them, none of the children could identify the taste.

'Well,' she said, 'I will give you all a clue. It's what your mother may sometimes call your father'

One little girl looked up in horror, spit her lifesaver out and yelled, 'Oh my God!! They're ass-holes!!!'*

*From my friend Michel. Every blogger should have such a friend.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wolfram Alpha, You Gotta Love It

The new Wolfram Alpha search engine has debuted. It is mostly for the computationally inclined, but it also has a sense of humor.

Check out these search results, from mashable.com.*

I tried some others.

So far, it doesn’t know:

Who let the dogs out?

nor

According to Bill Clinton, what is the definition of “is”?

nor

What could the man from Nantucket do?

It DOES know:

Where have all the flowers gone?

and

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

and

Is a peanut a nut?

It seems a bit confused about:

Is a tomato a fruit?

and

Is a tomato a vegetable?

It seems to think a tomato is neither fruit nor vegetable.

Happy searching.

*Joel alerted me to Wolfram Alpha by posting the mashable item on our shul's listserv. I heart the Internet.

Monday, May 18, 2009

G-d Bless You, Steve

When I joined my shul, 7 years ago, Steve, a man who's about the same age as my father would be if he were still alive, recognized a fellow smart-ass and rabble-rouser. We became fast friends and have conspired together in all sorts of mischief and punnery.

He's ill now. He's also a marvel. He assiduously cultivates an image of curmudgeonly crankiness. He'd kill me for mentioning it, but it's an act. He's an old softie.

Despite a number of illnesses and personal setbacks, he remains a jokester and a seemingly tireless volunteer. I happen to know for a fact that he is now the opposite of tireless. But he ain't going gently into that dark night and his unabashed glee at puncturing sacred cows and baiting the pompous and the humorless stands unabated.

He posted this article to our shul's listserv yesterday. Until today, I thought Teri Garr's memoir, Speedbumps, was the definitive work on life with a pernicious disability. But Steve's offered up a better one, authored by Professor Stephen Baron.

Here it is:

Things We Take for Granted
by Prof. Stephen Baron

Even those suffering from multiple sclerosis (and other "ailments") fall into the trap of taking things for granted. Yes, things can be tough but....

This morning I sat outside for half an hour. What a joy! Sitting outside was a particular treat for me, since as someone who is quadriplegic and hence not able to move, I don't have the chance of getting out very much. Being an outdoors person, though, this was especially hard on me.
Just seeing people driving up and down the street made me think how very much we take for granted. My fellow multiple sclerosis sufferers know this all too well. We're about the last people who need to be reminded about not taking things for granted. We've watched helplessly as we have lost one of our physical abilities after another.

How many times have we said, "I used to be able to do that?" referring to something that me used to do without a second thought. Whether or not we can put the past behind us determines if we have an eye on the future or the past -- that is, whether we're ready to face tomorrow. Thinking about the future teaches us to be ready to adapt to changes that come our way. Every MS sufferer can testify that adapting to changes in our condition is a constant in our lives.
Then there are those things that even MS sufferers take for granted, starting from the most basic thing. Don't we take it for granted that the sun will come up tomorrow morning? Have you ever stopped to wonder why? Once you've thought about it, have you ever considered giving thanks for that?

Don't we all assume that we'll wake up tomorrow morning? Just ask anyone in a hospital or nursing home about waking up tomorrow. Isn't assuming we will wake up tomorrow a little presumptuous of us? After all, who are we to warrant such a gift? A little humility is in order.
Similarly, for several years, whenever I heard of a car accident (I commuted 45 miles to my college job in upstate New York, through many winter snowstorms, for some 20 years) or a 'random' shooting, I wondered, 'Why them and not me? What did I do to deserve being spared?'
Several years ago, my rabbi said that we should be saying 100 blessings a day. At the time, I thought he was crazy. Sure, I said a blessing before eating or drinking, but 100 a day? That's ridiculous.

Today, I ask, is that all? That doesn't even begin to cover it! If we thought about it for even a second, we would realize there are thousands if not millions of things we should be thankful for. From everything from our bodily functions to our personal circumstances (family, job, etc.) and the country we live in , I realize there are more things to be grateful for than we could ever count.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

How'd I Miss This?

We're big fans of the wonderfully subversive albinoblacksheep web site here in the iDC household.

And we're really big fans of The Llama Song.

So how I missed this twist on it during the campaign, I cannot say.

Better late than never:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

How Bad Is It?



The economy is soooooo bad that......

CEO's are now playing miniature golf.

Even people who haven't been nominated to serve in the Obama administration are failing to pay their taxes.

Hotwheels and Matchbox stocks are trading higher than GM.

President Obama met with small businesses to discuss the stimulus package: GE, Pfizer and Citigroup.

McDonalds is selling the 1/4 Ouncer.

Parents in Beverly Hills are firing their nannies and learning their childrens' names.

Women are marrying for love.

A truckload of Americans got caught sneaking into Mexico in search of steady employment.

People in Africa are nagging their children to finish their supper, saying "Think of all the starving children in North America."

Motel Six won't leave the light on.

The Mafia is laying off judges.

And finally...

Congress says they are looking into the Bernard Madoff scandal.

Hey, neat ... the guy who made $50 billion disappear is being investigated by the people who made $750 billion disappear.*

*Passed along by my cousin Deb, in Buffalo

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The High Cost of Health Care

A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgeon. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird's chest.

After a moment or two, the vet shook his head sadly and said, "I'm sorry, Cuddles, has passed away."

The distressed woman wailed, "Are you sure?"

"Yes, I am sure. The duck is dead," replied the vet.

"How can you be so sure?" she protested. "I mean you haven't done any testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something."

The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room.

He returned a few minutes later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck's owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then looked up at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head.

The vet patted the dog on the head and took it out of the room.

A few minutes later he returned with a cat. The cat jumped on the table and also delicately sniffed the bird from head to foot. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room.

The vet looked at the woman and said, "I'm sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck."

The vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman.. The duck's owner, still in shock, took the bill. "$150!" she cried, "$150 just to tell me my duck is dead!"

The vet shrugged, "I'm sorry. If you had just taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20, But with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan, it's now $150."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away

The rebbitzin was expecting a baby, so the Rebbe stood before the congregation and asked for a raise. After much discussion, they passed a rule that whenever the Rabbi's family expanded, so would his paycheck.

After six children, this started to get expensive and the congregation decided to hold another meeting to discuss their leader's expanding salary. A great deal of yelling and bickering ensued, as to how much the clergyman's additional children were costing the shul, and how much more they could potentially cost.

After listening to them for about an hour, the Rebbe rose, full of
solemnity, and intoned:
Children are a gift from G-d, and we will take as many gifts as He gives us.
Silence fell on the congregation.

In a back pew, a little old lady struggled to stand, and finally said in her frail voice:
Rain is also a gift from G-d, but when we get too much of it , we wear rubbers.
And the entire congregation said: Amen.

The First Rule of Holes

It’s been a bad week.

Pshrink appointment Monday was bad and everything got worse from there.

Inside. Emotionally.

Wednesday night I got very little sleep.

Thursday:
Get out of bed at 6:20 a.m.

Jostle Monkeyboy out of his bed at 6:30 a.m.

Pretend to be cheery.

Breakfast for MiDC.

A banana, eight pills, and a chug of water for me.

Send him off.

Therapy and some of the pills helped me force myself to go on to work after I launched him Tuesday and Wednesday.

But my effed-up brain chemistry is determined to win one for the home team.

I could no more put in a productive day at work this day than I could whomp Mike Tyson in a bare-knuckles brawl. I call in sick.

A friend’s mom recently passed.

I clean up and attend her funeral.

She won the Women’s American ORT Eshet Chayil award.

My friend seems surrounded by loving family. Husband, son, father, siblings, nieces, nephews,

That’s good.

Mindless errands after funeral.

Go home, sleep with head under covers until about fifteen minutes before Monkeyboy gets home.

Pretend to be cheery, permitting myself as much leeway as I need to channel my depression as Cranky Dad.

I was pretty good, this time. ‘Cause MiDC didn’t say “You sound depressed dad.” Which, sadly, he’s learned to do --- with startling accuracy and an 11-year-old’s guileless candor.

He and RFB made the evening a little better. Stuff to do. Nag about homework. Comparison shop for a new gadget for a son with an insatiable appetite for technology. Fold laundry and distribute to various dressers and bedtops. Watch part of Cocoon with RFB while our sweet child slaughters aliens on the computer.

Take four more pills. None a sedative, G-ddammit. The pills to help with that don’t mix well with the more important ones.

Get to bed by 10:00 p.m. and pray for unconsciousness.

Prayer answered before 11:00 p.m.

Friday:
Back to the routine. I’ll fall far short of optimal efficiency at work today. But I won’t fall further behind, either.

Depression can be dealt with. But first, arrest the downward spiral.

It’s the first rule of holes:

If you find yourself in one, stop digging.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Teamwork

Dog Pack Attacks Gator In Florida

At times nature can be cruel, but there is also a raw beauty, and even a certain justice manifested within that cruelty.

The alligator, one of the oldest and ultimate predators, normally considered the "apex predator", can still fall victim to implemented "team work" strategy, made possible due to the tight-knit social structure and "survival of the pack mentality" bred into the canines.

See the remarkable photograph below courtesy of Nature Magazine.

Note that the Alpha dog has a muzzle hold on the gator preventing it from breathing, while another dog has a hold on the tail to keep it from thrashing. The third dog attacks the soft underbelly of the gator.

Not for the squeamish .....














Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Emma Hack

My friend Michel usually sends me funnies, political writing, rants and poetry.

This is completely different. It's beautiful.

But NSFW. Wait til you get home to look at it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bartleby Had Preferences, Too

I've put mine in bold.

(I stole this from here, by way of here.)

Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate
Nestle's or Hershey or Dove or Munson...'s
Scotch or Bourbon or Vodka
Road Bike or Mountain Bike or Hybrid (None. How 'bout lounge chair?)
American League or National League
Hitting Pitchers or Designated Hitters
Ketchup or Mustard (Neither)
Ice Cream
or Sorbet
Downhill or X-Country (To watch only. If this is a "to do" question, I choose snuggling by the fire.)
Mac or Windows
Horns
or Synthesizers
White Wine or Red Wine
Aisle or Window
Non-Stop
or Stopover
Root Beer Float or Ice Cream Soda
Creamy or Chunky
Smoking or Non-Smoking
Plane or Train
Sailboat or Motorboat
White Gold or Yellow Gold or Platinum
Rocks or Neat
Dog or Cat
Candybar-style or Flip-phone
Steam-room or Sauna
Tea
or Coffee
Sugar or Splenda
Fiction or Non-Fiction
Burned to a Crisp or Bloody as Hell
Martin & Lewis or Amos & Andy or Laverne & Shirley or Ralph & Norton
Flats or Heels (On me, or most any boy.)
Pants or Skirts (On me, or most any boy.)
Flats or heels (On girls too. Girls in high heels are usually cranky before too long.)
Pants or skirts (On girls.)
Army or Navy
Dark Meat or White Meat
Sauce or Dry Rub
Automatic or Stick Shift
Bar Soap or Body Wash
Set Menu or À La Carte
Dressed Salad or Dressing On The Side
Cut To The Chase or Shaggy Dog Story
Long Hair or Short Hair
Driver or Passenger
Coder or WYSIWYG
Crossword or Sudoku
Chess or Go or Backgammon or Cribbage
Boxers or Briefs
Now
or Later
Indoors or Al Fresco
Coke or Pepsi or Seltzer
Betty or Wilma
Ginger or Maryanne

What are your preferences?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Technical Difficulties

Dear World:

We, the United States of America, your top quality supplier of ideals of democracy, would like to apologize for our 2001-2008 interruption in service. The technical fault that led to this eight-year service outage was located, and the software responsible was replaced on 4 November 2008.

Early tests of the newly installed program were promising. They were borne out when beta-testing was complete. The updated code has been fully functional since 20 January 2009 and is now showing measurable results.

We apologize for any inconvenience. We look forward to resuming full service and hope to improve in years to come. Thank you for your patience and your understanding,

Sincerely,


THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Keeping Things in Perspective


Friday, May 1, 2009

Peer Counselling



"Yeah, Bill thought he was president too."

Dial M for Humor

With Moonbeam, Michel, and my mom for correspondents, my inbox overfloweth with humor. This one made me chortle:

I took my dad to the mall the other day to buy some new shoes (he is 84). We decided to grab a bite at the food court.

I noticed he was watching a teenager sitting next to him. The teenager had spiked hair in all different colours: green, red, orange, and blue. My dad kept staring at him.

The teenager would look and find him staring every time. When the teenager had enough, he sarcastically asked:

'What's the matter old man, never done anything wild in your life?'

Knowing my Dad, I quickly swallowed my food so that I would not choke on his response; knowing he would have a good one. And in classic style he did not bat an eye in his response:

'Got stoned once and fucked a peacock. I was just wondering if you were my son.'

Overreaction