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.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Coming Up for Air

Sorry I've been so scarce.

After Thanksgiving we travelled including participation in a glorious 80th birthday party for my stepfather, the youngest octogenarian on planet Earth.

Life's been a whirl since then with scant time for blogging.

Monkeyboy had a violin recital. Nailed it.

He'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.

He's got violin juries coming up too, but he's inherited my fearless disdain for tests and seems not to be fazed. He already rips through multiple-guess standardized tests as a matter of routine.

I'm overwhelmed at work.

Tutoring again this past Wednesday night was a G-dsend. The kids, and the teachers and principal too, are energizing folk.

RFB and I took Monkeyboy to an interfaith Thanksgiving service last week, in Old Town Alexandria, at a church dating back so far it was visited by both Revolutionary War and Civil War notables.

This Episcopal church's congregation and my shul's congregation have done this together for many years. In odd years we meet at the church and in even years at the synagogue. The visiting clergyman gives the sermon. It was quite moving.

I also was a witness to an exceedingly minor traffic collision where the guy who got bumped from the rear was my congressman, a few days ago. It was the other guy's fault. The congressman agreed, but there was no obvious damage to either car and the parties just decided to return to driving.

Any one of these things could have been a blog post.

Now they're just items in a catch-up-on-a-week-without-posting blog post.

That'll havta do.

OK, sorry, continue talking amongst yourselves.

As Linda Richman's son-in-law and imitator famously proclaimed:

I'm all verklemmpt.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Funny Santa Pictures

Funny pics of pumpkins got me a bunch of visitors, as did funny photos and images of turkeys.

So it's time for me to roll out some funny cartoons of Saint Nick:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ted Says Hi

Longtime readers will remember that Ted joined our household the weekend after Thanksgiving last year. Since they told us he was 6 - 8 weeks old when we bought him, that makes him just over a year old.

So why has he outgrown his first running wheel and first little house? And why is he closing in on the size a smallish Ewok?

(Photos by RFB)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Trust None of What You Hear, and Less of What You See

French Military Victories.

The link above is a hoax. There are obvious clues when you get there.

1000 non-redeemable, non-transferrable points to the first who identifies one.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Humor, From My Mom





Friday, November 16, 2007

What's Hebrew School Like?

In response to my last post, evil-e asked of Bar/Bat Mitzvah:

This is something I have heard about a bit and never quite understood in regards to the Jewish faith. Kids have to do meetings and learn songs and reading before they cross into "adulthood"? Am I at least on the right track? I never knew so much went into this tradition.

Jewish religious school is kind of a more intense version of Christian Sunday school. In my synagogue, kids learn to recognize and decode the sounds of the Hebrew alphabet in the younger grades, and to read or chant various prayers in Hebrew.

They also learn the outlines of 5000 years of Jewish history and, in younger grades, do a lot of arts and crafts projects.

Occasionally they learn a bit of Jewish folk dancing that will get them laughed at if they ever try to demonstrate it in modern Israel.

K-3 meet once/week, on Sunday morning, for two hours.

4-7 Meet twice/week (two hours Sunday morning and two more Wednesday evening).

In 4th through 7th, there's more emphasis on learning the Saturday morning liturgy and on digging a little deeper into Jewish history and culture.

K-7 culminate in a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, where a child serves for most of the 1-and-a-half hour Saturday morning service as the prayer leader, and chants selections from the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew scriptures --- Genesis through Deuteronomy) and from the books of the Prophets (Micah, Isaiah, Hosea, etc), in Biblical Hebrew (a cousin to the dialect modern Israelis speak).

The child also gives a mini-sermon, called a d'var torah, in English, summarizing the Torah portion (s)he's just read and relating it, in some way, to his/her life and to the world around

(S)he then steps down from the pulpit and joins the congregation for the first time as an adult member of the congregation --- one who can be counted in the 10 adults necessary to be present before certain prayers are said.

(It's called a minyan and can generally be considered a Jewish quorum.)

The reception and other parties thereafter vary in their crassness or vulgarity.

(See Keeping Up With the Steins, to see a not-very-exaggerated tale of what I'm talking about here. Jeremy Piven (of Entourage) is awesome in it, as are Gary Marshall and the kid who plays the young man becoming Bar Mitzvah.)

If we can retain them another three years (grades 8 -10), back to once/week, the kids learn Jewish culture, history, ethics and lots of other cool stuff.

These topics build on lessons the kids learned when they were younger, but it's now possible to cover them with a more realistic view of the world around us and to really engage the kids in discussion and/or disputation about ethics, morals, and what was in the Washington Post last week.

Thanks for the post idea, e-e.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tutoring Helps Your Sanity

Work was aggravating on Tuesday. A lot.

Tuesday night I didn't have time even to change out of my suit when I got home. Just long enough to collect a couple of Monkeyboy's leftover chicken nuggets, kiss him and RFB hello, rifle through the mail, kiss them goodbye, and race off to a Religious School and Youth Committee meeting.

Where we proceeded to spend two hours and change to conduct forty-five minutes worth of business.

(I made it home in time to read to Monkeyboy --- we're halfway through a pretty good Star Wars: Rogue Squadron novel --- so I guess that's something.)

Wednesday, work was aggravating. A wee bit less than Tuesday, but the diminished aggravation was offset by a comparable amount of trepidation and butterflies, because I had to make a presentation at an important noon-time meeting.

I did ok. Again, two hours to transact maybe an hour's worth of real business, but what're ya gonna do? Stumbled through the rest of the day being only mildly productive, but thoroughly grumpy and out of sorts.

Wednesday night was great.

I tutor on Wednesday nights, usually helping kids with Bar or Bat Mitzvahs in the spring who need some extra help to be ready on the prayers they're supposed to lead.

As often happens, the kids made my week. The three 7th graders I met with were uniformly attentive and were really trying to make our time together worthwhile. If they're seeing me, they've usually goofed off along the way and need some quick remediation, or I'm doing an assessment of whether they fit into that category.

Picture being a 7th grader, chock full of energy and hormones, and having to go to two hours of religious school on Wednesday night and two more on Sunday morning, on top of your full school week. It's a wonder they don't tear the roof off the joint on a regular basis.

Instead, my time with each of these three kids renewed and re-invigorated me. (I'm pretty sure it helped them, too.)

And then I met my fourth kid of the night.

Having had almost no religious school exposure whatsoever, this 6th grader, after attending a couple of cousins' Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, decided that was a rite he'd like to celebrate as well.

He asked his parents.

This is the exact opposite of the traditional pattern, where parents have to sort of cajole, demand and physically schlepp their kids off to religious school once they hit pre-adolescence, and on through Bar/Bat Mitzvah in 7th grade and Confirmation in 10th.

This kid, warned that he was starting from scratch, and that he'd have to do a lot of extra catch-up work, and that his bar mitzvah would still probably have to be a year or so late, said, in effect, "Bring it on!"

He's learning a whole new alphabet, and a language written from right to left, where the vowel sounds appear underneath the letters.

And a set of tunes his peers have been learning since 1st or 2nd grade.

At a time in his life when regular schoolwork is getting harder and more plentiful.

Kinda put my own gripes and grumbles in perspective.

Every one one of the 4 kids I met with last night said thank you. Good for them; they're growing up to be mensches.

From me, each got a hearty Todah Rabah. Which I think they know, and if they don't they can look up, means Thank You Very Much.

Friday, November 9, 2007

One Year Tomorrow

The first post on this blog is dated 11/10/06. So with this post, I have been blogging for a year.

Almost 250 posts, from the sublime to the ridiculous, with pit stops at the inane, the profound, and the inscrutable.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Onward and upward!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cogito Ergo Sumthing

Stop me if you've heard this one before:

Descartes walks into a cafe. He sits down, and in due course, a waitress asks:

"Will you be having a croissant this morning?"

Descartes replies, "I think not."

And disappears.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Jeannemarie Devolites Davis Gets Shellacked

For background, read this and this.

The story has a happy ending:
...Virginia: Democrats take control of the state Senate for the first time since 1995 by picking up four Republican-held seats – two of them in Northern Virginia. GOP state senator Jeannemarie Devolites Davis ... gets shellacked by Chap Petersen, and only wins five precincts (out of 47) in her Fairfax County district....
Excerpted from a longer report, here on

'Nuff Said

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Seven Strange Things About Me

Meilikki tagged me.

The Rules
A). Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
B). Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself.
C). Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
D). Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1) I only applied to one school for college and one school for law school.
I score well on those stupid fill-in-the-bubbles multiple-guess tests. As a political junkie going back as far as I can remember, I knew I wanted to go to DC for college. I toured three. At GW, the admissions officer assured me I'd get in if I applied. Of the three schools, only GW didn't require an essay. Voila.

When it came time to apply for law school, I really didn't want to leave DC. Again, my grades were good and my LSAT scores were compelling. GW waived the $35.00 application fee for undergrads and recent alums. Voila again.

2) I cry at weddings, including my own.
O.K., if that's not sufficiently strange or random enough for you: I cried at Rhoda Morgenstern's wedding.

3) I know way more about my father's life from a book than from personal experience.
See here for details.

4) I took a week off of a class in college for Luke and Laura's Wedding.
It met twice that week, during the 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm time slot.

Priorities: No contest.

A bunch of us dressed up and drank champagne the first day, but as soap operas tend to drag this kind of thing out, the wedding took all week. By Tuesday, we were down to sweats and more common-place intoxicants.

Did I cry at Luke and Laura's wedding? Of course I did.

5) On Wikipedia, I'm one of a group of fans who speedily revert vandalism to the article covering our favorite rocker.

6) All four of the original blogs that inspired me to start blogging have now gone inactive.
I've been blogging just under a year.

7) In the mid-late 80's I was on the National Board of Americans for Democratic Action by virtue of being Vice Chair of their Youth Caucus, called Youth for Democratic Action.
I took the position because my much-more-politically active friend, who was Chair, needed someone who

A) could correct the grammar in her letters without being an asshat about it,
B) wouldn't plot against her, and
C) she'd never canoodled with.

Because she was a girl, tradition dictated that her Vice Chair be a boy.

All the other potential candidates for Vice Chair (the other male-types on the Steering Committee) didn't fit into one or more of the categories listed above. Most were disqualified on all 3 counts.

OK, now I'm supposed to tag 7 random people:

Jasmine, and

Since these are truly random people, in the sense that I do not know any of them, I cannot notify them of the tag on their blogs. If any of them have one.

Anyone who'd like to answer this meme, please consider yourself tagged, too.

Monday, November 5, 2007

If You Don't Vote, Don't Grouse*


Just in case I haven't made my feelings clear about the stakes I see in tomorrow's elections.


*Title for this post stolen from a bumper sticker I remember seeing pasted on the side of a refrigerator in Ithaca, NY in the late 60's or early 70's. It was drawn by Charles Shultz and the character delivering the line was Lucy van Pelt, that great hero of all genuine grousers, everywhere.**


Friday, November 2, 2007

Mother Jones

Meilikki has a wonderful biographical essay up today, about Mother Jones.

She was a pretty remarkable woman. Years ago, I posted a review of a Mother Jones biography on The book is called "Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America". It was written by Elliot Gorn.

Mother Jones was a character of mythic proportions, created by the all-too-human Mary Harris Jones. The author takes the position that while many of the details of her life - as portrayed in Mother's speeches, writings and autobiography - are impossible to verify or demonstrably false, they stood for a larger truth.

Gorn obviously has sympathy for Jones and does a good job of putting her life in its context, but this book is no easy read. It is written in the dry verbiage and cadences of academia.

An unequivocally positive addition to the library of labor history, but don't try to read it at night before bed unless your aim is to hasten sleep.

That was too harsh. The book is worth slogging through. Mother Jones led a genuinely American life. She's the kind of icon that still holds up three and four generations later. She also coined my two most favoritest labor union slogans:

"Don't Mourn, Organize!"


"Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!"

They remind me of what the early leaders of American labor put on the line to get so much of what we take for granted today. These giants --- these miners and truckers and automakers and needleworkers and longshoremen and all the rest --- won us:

Child labor laws,
Health and safety regulation,
Decent wages,
the right to organize.

The weekend.
Health Insurance.

Many of these are threatened today.

Read this speech by Mother.

Then pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.

There are elections next week and Big Elections in 2008.

The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer.

A necessary, but not sufficient, next step is voting.

Ultimately, we will all be judged by our behavior toward the least among us.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Jeannemarie Devolites Davis Inadvertently Uses Classic Vote Suppresion Scam

Elders who have fought the good fight to enfranchise the disenfranchised for longer than I've been able to string together complete sentences say this echoes a classic, grass-roots voter suppression scam.

It was an accident, Jeannemarie?

OK, you're incompetent.

Because if it was on purpose, somebody's probably eligible for 6 months at a Club Fed.

Click here for the story.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Random Acts of Office Kindness

This exchange, over the course of ten minutes, deteriorated badly.

My correspondent is one of the real good guys and helps the rest of us stay sane:

From: D
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 9:57 AM
Subject: December ads for XXX

There is enough space in the December issue of XXX to give each of you full-page ad space for your usual promotions. I am going to re-use your most recent ad UNLESS you notify me and xxx that you have changes.

Please let me know if the latest ad is OK to use; any changes or a "No, thank you" are asked to be given today.



From: David I
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:01 AM
To: D
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX

Dear D:

Please use the most recent iteration of our ad. I've attached a copy.



From: D
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:02 AM
To: David I
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX



From: David I
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:03 AM
To: D
Subject: RE: December ads for xxx


From: D
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:03 AM
To: David I
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX



From: David I
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:03 AM
To: D
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX

pretty please with jimmies on top?

From: D
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:04 AM
To: David I
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX

what color jimmies


From: David I
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:04 AM
To: D
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX

rainbow or chocolate, i'm not picky

From: D
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:04 AM
To: David I
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX

ok, chocolate. done


From: David I
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:04 AM
To: D
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX

You're a prince, thanks

From: D
Sent: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 10:06 AM
To: David I
Subject: RE: December ads for XXX

you are a gentleman and a scholar.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Funny Turkey Pictures

Thanksgiving's coming soon. So how far behind can a post entitled "Funny Turkey Pictures" be?

Especially since I learned that more than half of my most recent visitors were looking for Funny Pumpkin Pictures.

And if that last one made you laugh, you definitely need to try out this funny turkey game. [You may have to scroll down after you click on the page to get to the game.]

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Jeannemarie Devolites Davis Is Horrible

O.K., there's dirty politics, and then there's hitting a new low in dirty politics and then having the audacity to obliviously claim you can't understand what the fuss is about.

Ms. Davis, in a close race for a Virginia State Senate seat, published her opponent's home address, phone number, and MINOR CHILDREN'S NAMES, in a mailed advertisement, and then, when called on it, claimed it was inadvertent and said

He sent out a piece with his children's pictures and their names. Give me a break.

Sure Jeannemarie, no difference there.

Her opponent, J. Chapman "Chap" Peterson called a press conference and had this to say:

Words can't describe the anger I feel. My family does not live in a gated community. We live on a public street in a subdivision which is easily accessible to strangers. In fact, we are two blocks from the county jail.

According to today's Washington Post, where I got all this and a link to which I'll put at the end of this article:

"One effect of the mail piece is that the Virginia Coalition of Police and Deputy Sheriffs is thinking about withdrawing its endorsement of Davis."

Said Marshall Thielen, a member of that organization:

They're both good candidates for law enforcement. But what she's done here is just horrible.

The Fairfax County Sheriff's Office must agree. Again, according to WaPo: "Sheriff's deputies have patrolled [Peterson's] neighborhood since Wednesday, [although Peterson] said he did not request increased protection."

I think the whole thing is un-effing-believable, outrageous and a dramatic new low.

Read about the whole sordid mess here.

You Guys are Pretty Freakin' Wonderful

I started to type thanks in the comments section of the last post, but it got long so I'm making a new post.

THANK YOU. (Also to my friend who sends e-mail rather than comment here.)

Interestingly, my own feelings, a few weeks out, mirror your comments, in nearly the same ratio: 7/8 "something better will come along/it wasn't meant to be" to 1/8 evil-e.

Also, I keep remembering when I was hired by the Teamsters. I'd just completed two years at home with Monkeyboy for his first two years of life and RFB and I agreed it was time for me to start earning money again because Monkeyboy was old enough, and could benefit from, a quality day care facility we'd scouted (at the IRS, of all places)

My pal who was in the Teamsters Communications Office knew I could write a decent English sentence and was looking for work. He arranged an interview for me with his boss, who was hiring.

I was offered the job, but lost it because I couldn't start soon enough. (They needed me in two weeks and I felt we needed a month to get Monkeyboy comfortably transitioned into day care.)

They hired Mr. Congeniality, who turned out to be anything but. He alienated everyone in the office in record time. By the time they fired his ass, I was now available on shorter notice.

Voila, the most silliest resume progression in human history: Stay-at-home dad to Teamster staff.

Again, thank you everybody, your good wishes really warm the cockles of my heart.

(Does anyone know exactly what those are? I don't. But whatever they are, they're definitely warmed.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Miss Congeniality

Do they still give out that award in the Miss America contest? I remember watching it as a kid and thinking it seemed like a pretty hollow substitute for winning the whole thing.

It sure feels that way when you come in second place for a job you really want.

Four interviews in the course of two days, several weeks apart. Walked out both times thinking I'd really put my best foot forward.

A couple of weeks waiting, with hope slowly diminishing.

One very awkward conversation with an old acquaintance who had to call me to give me the bad news. It had the tenor of one of those sucky "it's not you, it's me" conversations at the end of a relationship. (I think I, playing the role of Avis, was stronger in connections with the D.C. poverty law community, but Mr. Hertz was clearly a better fit in the corporate environment of the prospective employer.)

A few more weeks before I could blog about it without feeling rotten.

It's really O.K. now, but I was very bummed.

Yesterday, one of my A-number-one friends in the community of bloggers asked me what ever happened to the potential new job I'd interviewed for.

Then last night a friend from the synagogue asked the same question.

When I realized it didn't ache to answer them, I realized it was time to post about it.

My apologies to anyone whose fingers were still crossed. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Another Awesome Time-Waster

Many thanks to e.clec.tic spaghetti, for introducing me to this hilarious Halloween version of that old favorite, Hangman.

I think.

I got 230 points on my first try.

I'm pretty sure it won't be my last.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"It's Destruction for the Public Good"

From today's WaPo:

Hire of the Week
Julie A. Rochman is moving from blowing up legislation to blowing up buildings.

Rochman, 45, is a senior vice president with Glover Park Group, an all-Democratic lobbying and public relations firm. Before that she worked for the American Insurance Association, one of Washington's most potent lobbies.

She was recently named chief executive of the Institute for Business & Home Safety, the insurance-backed organization that tests structures under extreme conditions to see how well they hold up. It pelts houses with hail and re-creates other types of disasters for the purpose of reducing structural risk.

"We will test full-scale houses and commercial structures; we'll blow them up," she said with a smile.

The group's mission is not unlike that of another group Rochman once worked for. From November 1996 until late 2000, she was vice president of communications for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is best known for crashing cars -- as a way to make them safer, of course. "I loved crashing cars, I'm going to love crashing buildings," she said. "It's destruction for the public good."

At the Institute for Business & Home Safety, which is located in Tampa, Rochman will succeed Harvey G. Rylan, who is retiring.

A lifetime ago (actually September and October of 1979), Julie and I were high school seniors, spending two months in Israel studying at the American High School in Israel with fifty other 16 to 18 year old kids.

I love it when old acquaintances turn up in the news doing cool things.

Monday, October 22, 2007

More Nearly Your Size

Many thanks to insidious truth, for putting me onto the hunt for the origin of this quote:

"When I was young, I said to G-d, G-d, tell me the mystery of the universe. But G-d answered, that knowledge is for me alone. So I said, G-d, tell me the mystery of the peanut. Then G-d said, well, George, that's more nearly your size." George Washington Carver.

Carver went on to revolutionize and enrich the lives of poor, southern, black sharecroppers with his bulletin How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption, first published in 1916.

And with similar bulletins about the cultivation and uses of sweet potatoes, alfalfa, wild plum, tomato, ornamental plants, corn, poultry, dairying, hogs, and the preservation of meats in hot weather.

Check out Wikipedia's wonderful article about Carver and his life's work here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Funny Pumpkin Pictures

Moonbeam just sent me a bunch of funny pumpkin pictures. It's really hard to choose, but I think these are the best:

I Heart Halloween.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hello Dalai

Yesterday's WaPo had a fascinating article about the Dalai Lama's representative in Washington. He is himself a revered Lama, but turned in his saffron robes for a lobbyist's wingtips and briefcase nearly two decades ago. Check it out.

And just so no one else has to do it, here's a link to the famous Llama song.

Finally, what did the Dalai Lama say to the New York City hot dog vendor?

(As is my custom, the answer to this joke will appear as the first comment. So don't click through to comments until you give up.)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Candidate Shopping

Minnesota Public Radio has developed an incredibly useful tool for clarifying your own views on the important national issues of the day and offering you a list of how the 18 (yes, 18) current presidential candidates match up with your views and the intensity with which you hold them.

It takes but a few minutes, and it doesn't prescribe a particular candidate. It just gives you a list of the candidates who, in aggregate, most (and least) match up with you. I was skeptical, but the list it generated matched my own personal ranking of the candidates, in the correct order for me, almost EXACTLY.

It's pretty amazing. Check it out.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

This One's for the City Editor

RFB got it from our mutual friend Sara.

You know you're from Rochester when
1. "Waking up with the Wease" doesn't mean that you have a respiratory infection.
2. The thought of eating a "garbage plate" makes your mouth water.
3. The only thing at the annual May Lilac Festival is snow.
4. The worst four-letter word you could say is "Fuji".
5. You can't swim at the beach.
6. You thought that you had figured out that alternate-parking thing, but wind up with a ticket anyway.
7. Toronto is about 70 miles away, but it takes four hours to get there.
8. The name "Greater Rochester International Airport" is bigger than the airport itself.
9. There's an 800 number to report a pothole in the road.
10. You know that a "Can of Worms" is not something that you take fishing.
11. Your baby's first word is "Wegmans".
12. You ask lifetime residents where the George Eastman House is, but they don't know either.
13. In a city where it snows at least 90 inches a year, they build a new sports stadium with no roof on it.
14. It can be 70 degrees one day, below freezing the next, and you think nothing of it.
15. Your mother is buying outfits to wear to Wegmans.
16. Your low-fat diet is never low enough to exclude an Abbott's custard.
17. You order a white hot and a pop, and the counterman knows what you're talking about.
18. You can travel from Egypt to Greece in about a half-hour by car.
19. D&C is a newspaper, not a medical procedure.
20. You know who Vinnie and Angelo are.
21. You can go to any mall on a Saturday and see at least 5 people you either work with, went to school with or dated.
22. Your year has two seasons: Winter and Construction.
23. You awaken from a deep sleep, look at the clock and see that it's 6:00, but you have no idea whether it's AM or PM.
24. When 12+ inches of snow falls overnight, but you never thought of NOT going to work.
25. You are perplexed when friends from other cities come to visit and want to "see the sights".
26. A flagpole strung with white lights seems like an acceptable alternative to a municipal Christmas tree.
27. In winter if the temperature hits 45 degrees and the sun comes out, people walk around downtown wearing shades and no jackets.
28. There are places at the poles that seem to get more sunlight during the winter months than we do.
29. Wegmans is somewhere to go on a Friday night, for entertainment.
30. Half the change in your pocket is Canadian, eh.
31. You define summer as three months of bad sledding.
32. You think that people from Pennsylvania have an accent.
33. Halloween is snowed out with great regularity.
34. You have experienced frostbite and sunburn in the same week.
35. Your idea of a seven-course meal is a six pack of Genny and a bucket of Buffalo wings.
36. You believe that "down south" means Maryland.
37. You can compare Nick Tahoe's garbage plate to at least 3 other knock-offs in competing restaurants.
38. You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Rochester, NY.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Playtah's Brick (and RFB's Too)

This one has a back story. Please read this post, and its comments.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

O.K., on with the tale.

Later on, they wrote a second note home, saying they'd come up a little short, and asking that families that could, dig a little deeper and buy another $35.00 brick.

We did. For the second brick we used one of Playtah's suggestions. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: I think Playtah is one of the funniest mammals in the blogosphere.

And now, without further ado, here are the pics. Here's Playtah's:

Here's RFB's:

And here's the whole marquee and Monkeyboy next to it, just because:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Is This Land Made for You and Me?

Tara, of e.clec.tic spaghetti fame, notes in response to this post that she loves the song "This Land is Your Land".

I do too, and usually preface it with the comment that "I think it ought to be the National Anthem, but then again I've always been pretty pink."

I say that because Woody Guthrie originally wrote the song as a refutation of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America". Wikipedia does a good job of recapitulating the history here.

Because I'm singing on a children's stage, and because I don't need to get overly political, I always sing what has become the most recognizable version of the song, stopping after the first two, most recognized and most sing-alongable verses.

But it's probably worth your time to read the full song, written by an angry Woody Guthrie, in Late Depression-era America. For nearly everyone reading this, the last three verses will be new to you.

CHORUS: This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me.

I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond desert
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
and the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting
This land was made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I'd seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

As I went walking, I saw a sign there;
And on the sign there, it said, 'No Trespassing.'
But on the other side; it didn't say nothing!
That side was made for you and me.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tell Me About Law School

A blogger friend asked me the question above.

I kinda like the response I crafted. So I'm repurposing it as a post, with redactions to protect identities and to delete one blatant fabrication I included in my original answer for comic effect:

Dear [Redacted]:

It very much depends on the law school. [redacted], the law school at [redacted], I'm told, has much to recommend it.

I hated law school, for purely idiosyncratic reasons:

1) I'd gone to The George Washington University as an undergrad, back when its undergrad program was way less highly ranked than its law school. My law school classmates looked down on the rest of the University, and I had a chip on my shoulder about that.

2) I knew when I went to law school that I wanted to train to be a poverty lawyer; I hoped never to send a client a bill in my life. I figured the Exxons and the Mobils of the world had plenty of representation; I wanted to represent people who, but for me, would find themselves in a courtroom alone.

This was not a common motivation among my law school colleagues. Few of us shared the same value system. One went so far as to tell me, after hearing that I'd done a summer law clerkship at a place called Community Law Offices, that I couldn't take such a job upon graduation or I would bring down the class average starting salary. [Blatant fabrication, told for comic effect, redacted.]

My last eight credits of law school were earned working at the Legal Aid Society of DC --- six for the hours I put in there and two for a paper I wrote. The paper was a very long "how-to" manual for young lawyers at big firms who took a pro bono case defending an indigent person from eviction.

They had the resources and knew how to write a brief and make a noise like a lawyer (i.e. "Objection, your honor, the question calls for speculation outside of the witness' expertise", or "Objection, your honor, immaterial," or the ever-popular "res ipsa loquitor").

But they had no idea what legal defenses one might proffer in a non-payment of rent case (i.e. breach of the warranty of habitability, violation of the rent control statute, failure to properly serve a summons on the defendant(s), or the ever-effective "failure to serve a proper Notice to Vacate in Spanish" --- even where no party to the transaction spoke Spanish.)

That last one was sneaky and unjust, but thoroughly legal in DC and, more than once kept a roof over the head of some innocent children who had the misfortune to have spendthrift idiots for parents. At least until winter ended, the spring thaw came, and the wronged landlord put a crowbar in his wallet and hired a lawyer to do the lawsuit by the books.

I put in all of this prefatory material just to warn you that my views may not reflect those of the typical law student. (Also 'cause I sometimes suffer from logorrhea.)
[Redacted area of law] is a growing field, and desperately needs trained lawyers who understand [redacted technical subject]. The D.C. Bar has 21 Sections, and one of the largest is the [redacted area of law] Section. Some of the most interesting people I deal with are from the [redacted area of law] Section.

If you're thinking about law school, do your research. Some schools (including G.W.) have strong [redacted area of law] faculties. You want to go to such a place.

However, don't expect most of your classes to be in [redacted area of law]. Even the most specialized law schools have a primarily generalist curriculum. First year is spent on very basic, broad topics --- typically Torts, Contracts, Criminal Law and Procedure, Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law and Legal Writing. The goal is to get you a basic grounding in how the common law was developed, how it is developed, and how legal analysis works. It's a very specialized, not-necessarily-intuitive, way of thinking.

In your second and third years you have more opportunity to specialize, but you still must take a lot of classes that won't be about [redacted area of law]. At least not directly.

But you'll take Administrative Law, because most [redacted area of law] litigation starts out in administrative agencies like the [redacted federal agency] or [another redacted federal agency]. You'll take Federal Jurisdiction, because the disputes that aren't resolved at the administrative level then wind up in a Federal Court. You'll take International Law because, more and more, these issues stretch across borders and cannot be resolved in only one jurisdiction.

And, if you're smart (a given here), you'll take at least some credits in your school's clinical program. You'll wind up representing poor people in disputes far afield from [redacted area of law]. This is not just because I think it's the moral way to proceed. Much more than that, it's the only way to see praxis, instead of theory. Many freshly-minted lawyers have never seen the inside of a courtroom or a hearing room, have never drafted a Complaint or an Answer to a Complaint, and haven't the foggiest idea of how to translate laweyerese into language a client can possibly understand.

In all these areas, you'll stand in much better stead than your peers if you've done these things. (And maybe pick up a bit of good karma on the side.)

If you go to law school, you will have one big advantage over the drones who march in lockstep from a poli sci major to law school without any intervening time in the real world. You'll have valuable perspective to help keep you grounded. I saw a number of folks go literally and certifiably nuts because they had no experience in the real world and were confronting, for the first time in their lives, a room full of people who were as high-achievers as they were. It freaked them out.

I have a lot of trouble picturing you freaking out over your first C grade or over a professor who fancies himself the second coming of Professor Kingsfield (John Houseman) in "The Paper Chase".

There's an adage about law school that says "The first year they scare you to death, the second year they work you to death, and the third year they bore you to death." There's some truth in it.

The sheer volume of reading you have to do as a 1L is daunting, even to a promiscuous reader like you or me. I found little time to read the newspaper, let alone the fiction and biographies I normally thrive on, as a 1L. And I have to admit, the competition and high level braininess in some of my classrooms was scary.

But the fact that I was comfortable in Foggy Bottom after my undergraduate years there, and the fact that I'd taken a year off between undergrad and law school, helped with perspective on the scariness. [Redacted personal detail because my mom sometimes reads this blog].

In the second year, I had to read EVEN MORE than in the first year, but you get used to it and develop strategies for note-taking and outlining that, while the work is even more intensive than as a 1L (typically you're taking one or two more classes as a 2L) make year two more work than fear.

By the third year, you just want to get it out of the way, take the Bar exam and start your professional life. Typically, you've clerked during your second summer, and if you're lucky (and good --- a combination I suspect is innate for you), you have a pretty good shot at a job where you clerked after 3L is over.

Also, this is where taking some credits in your school's clinic comes in. The real life problems of real life clients are rarely boring.

Whoo-boy, I've pontificated at length here, and have only scratched the surface a bit. Of course your question was a mite open-ended.

Please follow up with any further questions you might have.

A law education is a good idea for you. If nothing else, it'll keep you from getting screwed when you develop the next [redacted product or service] and need to make sure you're the one who gets paid for it.



Monday, October 8, 2007

My Duet Partner is Also a Music Video Producer

And an all-around swell kid:

IMPORTANT NOTE: We've discovered that the youtub link works better if you don't start it 'til the Save Darfur ad is done loading.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Health Insurance?

A man suffered a serious heart attack and had open heart bypass surgery. He awakened from the surgery to find himself in the care of nuns at a Catholic hospital.

As he was recovering, a nun asked him questions regarding how he was going to pay for his treatment. She asked if he had health insurance.

He replied, in a raspy voice, "No health insurance."

The nun asked if he had money in the bank.

He replied. "No money in the bank."

The nun asked, "Do you have a relative who could help you?"

He said, "I only have a spinster sister, who is a nun."

The nun became agitated and announced loudly, "Nuns are not spinsters! Nuns are married to G-d."

The patient replied, "Send the bill to my Brother-in-law."

(Thanks to my friend Michel, for passing this along.)

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Dash

I first heard this poem, by a poet named Linda Ellis, when a friend of my grandmother's recited it at her funeral. I keep a copy posted above my computer at my desk. On a Friday like today has been turning out, it helps me keep perspective.

I hope it does the same for you.

The Dash
I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of his friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the second with tears,
but he said that what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth,
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own;
the cars, the house, the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard,
are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left.
(You could be at "dash mid-range.")

If we could just slow down enough
to considerwhat's true and real,
and always try to understand
the way other people feel. less quick to anger,
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect,
and more often wear a smile,
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read
with your life's actions to rehash...
would you be pleased with the things they have to say
about how you spent your dash?

Word of the Day

Someone on my shul's listserv subscribes to Urban Dictionary's Word of the Day.

Today, she posted August 30th's word: "Aibohphobia".

First to comment with the definition wins 1000 points.

These points are non-redeemable, non-transferrable and void where prohibited by law.

No fair looking it up on the internet, at Urban Dictionary, Google, or anyplace else. You're on your honor.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Maybe It's Just Wishful Thinking...

but this opinion piece from Sunday's Washington Post is the second bit of hopeful reporting I've seen on Darfur in a month.


I know a couple of regular readers are nurses, and at least one is married to a doc. I got the following material from my friend Michel. If it's accurate, it seems like it warrants widespread dissemination. And if it's hooey, it's important to debunk, just as widely.

If you, or someone you love, can confirm it, I'd appreciate it. Or if they can advise that it's hokum, I'll know to take it down. I'd appreciate that too.

Snopes seems to confirm it, with the caveat that the last bit of advice, about tongue-sticking-out, is less useful than the first three.

Here goes:

STROKE: Remember The 1st Three Letters.. S.T.R.

RECOGNIZING A STROKE - Remember the '3' steps: STR.

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

A bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S* Ask the individual to SMILE.
T* Ask the person to TALK to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE. (Coherently) (I.e. It is sunny out today.)
R* Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

NOTE: Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to stick out their tongue. If the tongue is crooked, if it goes to one side or the other, that is also an indication of a stroke. If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call 911 immediately!!

Describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people, you can bet that at least one life will be saved.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Last to Die for a Mistake

Political prediction: If the American people make a hit out of the song Bruce Springsteen has rendered from John Kerry's 1971 testimony before the Senate on Viet Nam, the Dems win in '08.

For me, it's easily the most powerful thing he's written since American Skin (41 Shots) about Amadou Diallo.