Sunday, September 25, 2005

Mirty rocks!

Mirty, of Mirty's Place has launched a new blog called codescripter. She promises to teach us the road to better blog code. Since I started this blog, I've been itching to learn more about how all this html code works and how you could play with it to make it do what you want it to. The thought of such power excites me. Something about the word "command" sends tinglings of glee racing through my limbs. (I'm sure any shrinks out there would have a heyday with that knowledge.) I'm not sure I mentioned it in my profile, but I love to learn new things. Hence, I am totally psyched!

Energizer? No, Duracell.

It just keeps going...and going...and going!

Puzzleholics anonymous

First it was the crossword. I realize I'm totally addicted. I've even been known to rummage through the recycling bin to see if I can find a discarded Arts section from the NY Times. And now, I have a subscription to the NY Sun which supports my habit. I struggle sometimes and tell myself to stop, but the high I get from filling in every last square is so glorious I just can't help myself.
As if that wasn't enough, I've been introduced to Sudoku.
They say these sort of puzzles are a great way to ward of diseases of the mind like Alzheimer's and dementia. Yeah, yeah. I know I'm only 27. But, hey...I'm not getting any younger!

Coming Out

Oy vey. I totally agree with Orthomom. The news of Alan Statdmauer coming out of the closet and leaving Orthodoxy can have a very damaging effect on his former students. It's certainly a very disturbing story.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

There aint no cure for stupid

Radio Blogger has a transcript and mp3 of Lt. Gen. Honore stepping up to the mike and taking over a press conference in New Orleans. I just love the way he stuck to his guns in the face of stupid reporters. Of course, the blogosphere is wild over the best line of the speech: "Don't get stuck on stupid!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Say cheese!

PsychoToddler hit the nail on the head with this great post. You'd have to had experienced this to understand. I especially loved his description of the evolution of a smile:

I don't know what it is with kids. But they don't know how to smile. I know that when they are born, you can get them to smile by tickling them or surprising them or giving them something that produces gas. But at some point, when they get to preschool maybe, they forget how to smile. They confuse smiling with dentistry. It's like they try to show all their teeth. That's a smile. It's not attractive. It takes a kid who looks reasonably good and turns him or her into some kind of insane fiendish demon.

And I guess, after they figure out that this is not the best way to look good in a picture, then comes the grinning stage. Whereby they clamp down on their lips to avoid exposing any teeth at all. To me, this looks equally ridiculous.

At this point, the only way to get a decent picture is to surprise them, like in this example where I didn't tell my daughter I was taking a picture until she looked up. And then I made her say something stupid, like Chewbroccoli.

Or you can try to capture them in a natural state, like when they're doing something they really enjoy.

The thing that absolutely doesn't work is to try to tell them how to smile. Because if you do that, in addition to a weird mouth contortion, you also get furrowed
He must know my Mordechai! It's just too weird otherwise. Ada's still young enough to capture smiling au naturel, that is, if she doesn't cry or crawl scoot away. Sari has just started to experiment with her smile but she's still capable of being surprised into a smile by some stupid joke. I present to you the product of a most harrowing experience:

Ada was fast losing patience for the whole portrait process and was intent on scooting away, off that curtain. In desperation, I said "Can we confine her in something thereby forcing her participation?" Ergo, the baby in a bucket. The expression on her face is actually the little whimper that precedes a full-blown fit.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

They've erupted

Ada's first two teeth, that is. Photos as soon as I can manage to get a decent shot.

Kindred spirits

Which will keep you drier, running through the rain or walking? I just think it's so cool that people are geeky enough to test this sorta' stuff. That is so my type.

And, while we're on the subject of my kind of people, I present to you: Grammar Cop. Now there's a job I would totally love to get paid for. As things stand now, I do it for free and usually don't get too much gratitude in return.

Popular Baby Names

Turns out that Ada ranked #33 in most popular baby names in the U.S. in the year 1880! Sarah has made the top 10 every year since 1978. Golda was at its peak in 1894 coming in at #294. Mordechai was found in the top 1000 only once in the records that are available. That would be #973 in the year 2003. However, in New York City, Mordechai is now ranked at #155. It seems I've started a trend. ;) What possessed me to check this all out? It all started with this article. Check out the related links for some more name fun.

Hat tip: orthomom

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Mazal Tov!

Mordechai's first tooth fell out! A truly momentous occasion.

First word?

I think Ada's been saying "mama" to refer to me. I'll keep you posted when that theory is confirmed. (For the record, the other two first words in the house, if my memory serves me correctly, were both "dada".)

Out of the mouths of babes

At Miriam and Boruch Pfeiffer's sheva brachot this past Friday night, the kids wanted to play outside. They asked the nearest adult (Miriam's beautiful and darling cousin, Nechama) to come out to supervise them. The children, presumably checking her qualifications as a grown-up, asked her if she was married. She replied that no, she was not married. Mordechai piped up with the next question, "Oh, you're still looking?"

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sweet or sour?

My daily snack this week was a plum. Apparently, end-of-summer plums don't suit everyone's tastes. Each plum had a little tiny bite in it where Sari had checked to see if it was sweet or sour. And so, when snack time rolled around each day, I fell in love with Sari all over again.

Those plums were just glorious.

The gates of tears

Tap here for a heart-rending clip from Neve Dekalim's final hours.

תמכתי יתדותי ... בשערי דמעות כי לא נשלבות

יהי רצון ...שתשים דמעותינו בנאדך להיות,
ותצילנו מכל גזרות אכזריות,
כי לך לבד עינינו תלויות

I have placed my reliance... on the gates of tears for they are never closed

May it be Your will...that You place our tears in Your flask permanently,
And that You rescue us from all cruel decrees,
For on You alone are our eyes fixed.

[from the ne'ilah service on Yom Kippur]

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Please vote

Okay, here's the thing. When I named my second daughter, I didn't think too long about the spelling of her name. "Aida" was out, even though I like the look of it, because that would be pronounced ah-ee-duh, like the Broadway musical. So I left it as "Ada" figuring nothing could go wrong. Well, this was not to be the case. Apparently, my fellow Jews have reading issues. Non-Jews seem to have no problem reading her name correctly as ay-duh. It's the Jewish people, or, more specifically, the frum (whatever that means to you) people I meet who assume the name should be pronounced ah-duh. There is the option of spelling it "Ayda", although I'm not sure I like how that looks. (A friend of mine jokingly suggested "Ayduh" so there's no confusion.) Now, should I ignore those illiterates and keep the spelling as is or should I spare her a lifetime of correcting every Jewish teacher during roll call on the first day of school?

What do you think, Ada or Ayda?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Postage Paid Envelope Revenge

Postage Paid Envelope Revenge For when you've received the nth piece of junk mail that sends you over the edge. Discover card application, perhaps?


Some of Mordechai's thoughts on school:

1. He doesn't like the bus 'cuz the kids are all talking too loud and the bus driver yells at them to be quiet and sit down and the bus driver's voice is loud and scary. (Ah, school bus memories....scary times, those rides. Glorious when you reach monitor status.)

2. He seems very impressed with Morah Reitzy. According to him, when children misbehave or shout, she doesn't shout like most morahs do. She uses a "nice, soft voice." I'm also pretty impressed.

3. (background info: Last year school was from 9 to 3. Now it's 8 to 4 with morning bus pickup at 7:10 AM!! Because, you know, these kids are five and, if you don't start early enough, how can they be expected to learn gemara with real understanding as adults? And, besides, there's zman kriat sh'ma to consider, of course.)
Walking home from the bus stop today, he commented that it was a long day. He explained, "It's a whole two hours extra because, instead of 9, we start at 8 and then we end at 4!" He shook his head sagely and let out a resigned sigh. I stopped him in his tracks and demanded to know who told him that. He shrugged and said no one did. Not accepting that, I grilled him, "But how did you know it's two hours more than last year?" He looked at me with the look that people behind desks reserve for very annoyingly slow-witted individuals and started explaining it again slowly. "Mmhmm," I murmured (in awe), "I see, now."

Monday, September 12, 2005

Chocolate Cake Lovers Unite!

Duncan Hines Decision on Cake Upsets Some Who Keep Kosher [The New York Sun] . Understatement of the century! The future of the easy, no-ingredients-necessary dessert is at stake here, people. And, let's not forget the endless delicacies made possible by doctored cake mixes. This calls for a public outcry the likes of which this country has never seen before. Let your voices be heard! (Click here) Let not history judge us unfavorably for having remained silent.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Torn Together

A short video. Tell me what you think.

Hat tip: Ima

No, thanks

I was asking Mordechai tonight what he'd like to learn in Pre-1A. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Would you like to learn the alphabet and aleph-bet?
Mord (rolling eyes): C'mon, Mom. I know that already.
Me: Math?
Mord: Yeah, yeah. Like plus and that other thing you showed me in my notebook (referring to multiplication table found on the inside cover of his marble composition notebook). I don't know that so well so I need to practice that alot.
Me: Reading?
Mord: Yeah, so I could read the 'miros (z'mirot - Shabbat songs) by myself.
Me: How 'bout reading English?
Mord (with a dismissive wave of his hand): Oh, I could just sound it out. No, thanks.

It's good to be back

Although there's been nothing posted in the last couple of weeks, I've been writing here and there. Only, with my web connection in the dumps, those writings never matured into full-blown posts. But I'm back. Sorry, Internet. Coffee break's over.

Today was my first day back at work. Nothing to celebrate about, believe you me. I so enjoyed the summer vacation. I still can't believe how busy I was. I thought I'd have so much time on my hands that I'd run out of things to do. No such problem arose.

Yesterday was Dovid's first day at work as a Rebbe in Tiferes Yisrael. By his report, he has a great bunch of kids and is looking forward to a good year. Hatzlacha, honey! I'm so proud!

Today was Sari's first day at "school". She says she has lots of friends but she doesn't know their names yet. She'll ask them tomorrow. They sat in a circle and sang songs but she doesn't know what the songs are called. They colored with crayons and markers. They went out to the blue playground because the yellow one was still locked. And when she was resting on the blue bed (i.e. cot), her Daddy peeked through the window, she ran to get her pink Hello Kitty knapsack, and went home. Of course, she crashed into bed at 6:00 sharp. (sigh) my baby princess.

Katrina. I can't not mention Katrina. It's been on my mind and in my heart almost constantly since last week. I wanted to avoid saying anything. That's my immature way of trying to erase the tragedy from existence. It's too terrible to define in words. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of victims and with the survivors whose lives will be changed forever. As my longtime readers know, my dear friend Malkah, lived with her family in NOLA. Thank G-d, she and her family made it out to Houston by car on Tuesday of last week. She left with her jewelry and ketubah. Please daven for everyone affected by this monster they named Katrina.

A note about a feeling that I get listening/reading some reactions to the whole tragedy. People are angry. Very angry. And some, quite understandably so. For some this anger is part of the grieving process. For some it is anger at the response or lack thereof. But some of the anger seems to be about the fact that we "allowed" this to happen. The argument goes, shouldn't we, a developed, powerful nation in the 21st century with all of its sophisticated technology and deep understanding of our universe and its workings, shouldn't we have avoided this tragedy? Shouldn't we have been prepared enough to wrestle Katrina and take her down for the count? Could not man protect himself from "Katrina's" wrath? It is with this argument that I take exception. To me, words such as those smack of kochi v'otzem yadi asah li et hachayil hazeh (Devarim 8:17 - my power and the might of my hand has brought me all this prosperity). In truth, man is not almighty. As powerful as we imagine ourselves to be, as smart as we think we are, we are mere humans, pawns, if you will, in G-d's master plan. We are so easily fooled by the illusion that we are in control, that we are masters of our fate. We toil and prepare and when we feel we've covered all bases, we sit back and relax because, after all that we've done, what can go wrong? Man, wake up! Hakitzu mishaynatchem (awaken from you slumber)! And know this: Hakol b'ydei Shamayim, chutz miyir'at shamayim (everything is in Heaven's hands, except the fear of Heaven).

May the new year bring only happiness, good tidings, and the final redemption for all of K'lal Yisrael.