Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tisha b'Av

Top of the evening to all...

The saddest day on the Jewish calendar is Tisha b’Av.  The Mishnah teaches us that five calamities befell our ancestors on this day.  History has added many more.  We mourn these calamities collectively on this one day.

Because it is a sad day, it has become a day of fasting.  Jewish tradition (as well as practicality) teaches that we should have a seudah mafseket, a meal to lead into the fast.  We try not to overdo it.

Amongst the other things put on the table up here at camp, there was cereal.  A good carbohydrate load is important going into a fast.  I enjoyed a bowl of cereal with my dinner.  It was Rice Krispies, because…

It is fun to put snap, crackle, pop into your mourning.

Have a great evening everyone.


P.S.  You have no idea how much fun this was to write.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

That Is So Unfair!!

Top of the evening to all...

I often heard my mother say to me that life is unfair.  I learned to accept that.  She is right.  My lament on that is that I do not mind that life is unfair.  Every once in a while, I would like it to be unfair in my favour.  It does not seem like an unreasonable request.

Having said that, I try to make note of when life is unfair in my favour.  Three good things have happened over the last couple of weeks.

I am a member of Cycle Toronto, and have been for eight or nine years.  It is Toronto's cycling union.  During the month of June, there was a drawing for new and renewed memberships.  The winner of the drawing won a bicycle.  It is quite a comfortable ride.  I ended up upgrading it quite a bit, both in terms of speed capability and in terms of basic issues of comfort, so I ended up with about $1000 worth of bicycle for less than half of that amount.  Nice!!

That would have been sufficient.  I then purchased a $3 instant lottery ticket.  It won $100, and then I won another $15 the same day.  My friend David says that playing the lottery is mathematical illiteracy.  He is absolutely right.  Still, yet again, life was unfair in my favour.

Today was the kicker.  One of the local radio stations has a contest three times a day.  If you are the tenth caller, you get to answer increasingly difficult trivia questions.  A correct answer increases the amount of money won.  An incorrect answer loses everything.  You can quit at any time and take your winnings.  I elected to quit after having won $500.

At this time, I would like to note for the record that life has been unfair in my favour.  I do not expect it to continue, though I would not mind.

Have a good evening everyone.


Monday, July 4, 2016

Best Left Unsaid...

Top of the evening to all...

Many times, I have uttered some sort of wisecrack under my breath.  Those who hear something ask what it was.  I usually respond that it is not worth repeating.  Generally speaking, things not worth repeating are usually not worth saying in the first place.  That, however, is a different discussion.  Or maybe it is not.

Here are two things best left unsaid.

You may have heard in the news that a person dressed as Superman stole a truckload of capers (you know....the little brownish things that are used to decorate food plates).  This event will come to be known as the great caped caper caper.

And if you think that is bad...

There was a person holding two pears that he had peeled.  He thus had a pair of pared pears.

Have a good night.


If You Happen to Be in Altoona...

Top of the afternoon to all...

My medium child, bless his soul, is constantly coming home with hubcaps.  I do not know why.  One of my nicknames for him is "Hubcap."  Those who know him will agree that it fits.

Two of the hubcaps that he brought home fit on our car.  This was convenient.  We were missing two hubcaps.  These two hubcaps did not match each other.  They also did not match the two hubcaps that were already on the car.  I put them on anyway.

Yesterday, Jennifer and I were driving northbound on I-99, just north of Altoona, Pennsylvania.  There was something in the road, likely a piece of a blown-out tire.  For reasons that are lost on me, I ran it over instead of steering gently to avoid it.  I heard a clunk.  I saw this thing that had been in the road bouncing a little bit before coming to a rest.

And I saw a hubcap go rolling across the road.

When we got home, lo and behold, we were down a hubcap.  Luckily, the two that still match each other remain on the car.

If you happen to be passing through Altoona, Pennsylvania, and if you happen to see a hubcap on the side of I-99 north of Altoona, I do not expect you to stop and pick it up for us.  I hope that you will have a little chuckle though.

Have a great day everyone.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Bias in the Media....

Top of the afternoon everyone...

I have often had arguments with my father-in-law over where I get my news.  I usually read Fox news on line.  He says it is all lies.  I find it easier not to have the argument, so I remain silent.

He prefers CNN.  I stopped reading CNN regularly several years ago when I decided that their anti-Israel bias was way too evident.  My father-in-law has insisted that it has gotten better.

I respectfully differ.

There was an attack today in Tel Aviv.  Two Palestinians shot up Sorona complex.  For the record, there is nothing disputed about Tel Aviv.

The headline on CNN initially read: 9 shot in market area; 2 'terrorists' in custody.  If they were terrorists, why were the quotation marks necessary?  This is perplexing.

But wait!  There is more.

I tried to figure out a way to contact the nice folks at CNN to tell them to call a terrorist a terrorist.  It does not need quotation marks.  I was unable to find a way to contact them.

During the several minutes that I was trying to find the contact information, CNN changed the headline.  It now reads: 9 shot in market area; 2 attackers in custody.  The entire word is gone.

On April 28th, CNN's headline read: San Bernardino terrorist's brother arrested.  Clearly, when the attack takes place in the US, the word is acceptable.  Let's explore further.

On March 21st, CNN's headline read: Surviving Paris terrorist was planning new attacks.  So we can see that terrorism takes place in Paris.

On March 23rd, CNN invites us to "meet the victims of the Brussels terror attack."

CNN comfortably uses words like 'terrorism' and 'terror' in Europe and in the US.  They do so without the quotation marks.  What is the issue with Israel?  One wonders.

I will happily concede to my father-in-law that Fox might not get it right all the time.  However, lies exist beyond the distortion of facts.  It is a bald-faced lie to use words that deliberately distort facts.  It is also a lie to use words that deliberately conceal relevant facts.

CNN, I challenge you to use the word 'terrorism' in a headline that refers to Israel.


May the best of the day be yours.


Addendum: 9:02 PM - CNN's headline says that people were killed in a terror attack.  They were able to use the word.

Addendum: It is now Friday morning.  Since I wrote this, CNN has apologized for their vocabulary.  They have called this a terrorist attack.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Speech Development...

Top of the afternoon to all...

You are all aware of my dislike of earbuds.  I believe that the constant use of them is a danger.  A couple of weeks back, I was riding my bicycle on the trail along the Finch Hydro Corridor.  There was a young woman ahead of me.  I started ringing my bell to alert her of my presence.  There was no response.

I decided to stop the bicycle and talk to her.  She seemed to understand my concern about the danger of not being able to hear what is going on around her.  I wonder whether she changed her practice.

A related matter has piqued my interest.  When my children were still in the stroller, Jennifer and/or I would take them out for a walk.  We did not have cell phones.  We did not have text capability.  I used to narrate the walk to the kids.

I watch now.  People are out with the strollers.  One hand is pushing the stroller.  The other has the phone in hand and is doing whatever with the phone.  No one talks with the child in the stroller.

I wonder what the implications for speech development are in this regard.  Kids learn to speak by hearing what is going on around them.  If parents are reading texts and e-mail and not talking to their children, there is crucial developmental time that is lost.

Have a good evening.


Monday, May 23, 2016

The Cardinal's Pushke...

Top of the evening to all...

It has been a while since I have written.  I hope that all of you are doing well.

Jennifer and I are presently attending the Rabbinical Assembly in New York City.  We have discussed the future of the Rabbinical Assembly as rabbis take on roles well beyond the pulpit.  We have discussed the new, tour de force Shabbat siddur that has just come out.

We also had a plenary with His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan from the Archdiocese of New York City.  The Jewish community of New York City has always had a good relationship with the Archdiocese.  Some years back, John Cardinal O'Connor came to the installation ceremony of the New York Board of Rabbis.  He gave a gift of a red yarmulke to the incoming president.  Cardinal Dolan sits on the advisory panel for the Jewish Theological Seminary, where both Jennifer and I received our semikhah.  It was a wonderful discussion about religious leadership in a secular age.  Cardinal Dolan suggested to us that while we live in an age of secularism, that did not mean that all secularists were anti-religion.  His thoughts were further that on some level, way more people than not, even amongst the secularists, seek a language of spirituality.

As a gift, the Rabbinical Assembly gave him a pushke - a tzedakah box - a charity box for those with no Yiddish or Hebrew background.  It had an inscription.  It was lacking one thing.

My father-in-law has always said that a pushke should never be empty.  On the one hand, one might think that we should seek to empty it at every chance.  On the other hand, tzedakah should be a constant, never allowing us to rest on our laurels.  As such, the minute it is emptied, we should put money into it.  Knowing my father-in-law's thoughts (and agreeing with them), at the end of the plenary, I walked over to the Cardinal's pushke and put a dollar into it.  He appreciated it.

Have a good night everyone.