Thursday, June 30, 2005


What a concert. Took the Mrs. to see Mark Knopfler last night at Radio City. Nosebleed seats, but I figured I'd be able to hear, and $130 smackers was enough to pay for the concert.


I'm convinced there isn't another human being on the planet who can handle a guitar the way Knopfler can. Sure, he played a lot of the same old Dire Straits tunes that he always plays, but the things he can do with them. I gave up listening to Sultans of Swing, mainly because it was all the crappy radio stations would play and I got tired of it (of course, I got tired of listening to the radio, so I stopped that altogether). He plays the big name stuff because that's why half the people are there - they stopped buying his stuff with the Brothers in Arms album.

Happily, he played plenty of other things too, including Done with Bonaparte, one of my favorite tunes from Golden Heart. I love the fact that Knopfler clearly loves history, enough to write a dozen songs on different historical subjects (including Song for Sonny Liston and Boom Like That, about Ray Kroc, both of which he played last night). There's magic hearing stuff played live, and while Knopfler's not much of a showman (ala Mick Jagger, etc) and it's not a spectacle, it's fabulouse music, which is the whole point.

The band was tight and together, and a pleasure to listen to. Though keyboard player Guy Fletcher was wearing a blindingly pink shirt. I can't complain about Guy, really. He's got a website where he's posting regularly about the tour, and he's been incredibly gracious and accomodating with the fans, so obviously I kid because I love. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

If I had to pick one concert to be the first one I've attended in 12 years, this was the only one I'd choose. I'm still on a high, though we didn't get a lot of sleep.

Oh, and the steak beforehand was perfect.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


Turnabout would certainly be fair play. I sorta doubt the guy's entirely serious, and maybe he's just a nut, but it's still pretty funny.

Oh, and BTW

An archive of interest: the Philadelphia Historical Digital Image Library, which a colleague sent me to in an attempt to answer a question of mine about surgical masks.

Looks like fun.

Late to be mentioning

last weekend, but this was a good one. Or at least it's funny now.

We had guests for shabbat lunch, a couple with two kids around our kids' ages. All is well, all are playing happily. Until...

husband goes upstairs to help his younger kid out with something. "Ummm, maybe you should come up here"

My oldest child is standing on the toilet in the bathroom. Wearing just her underwear and a smile. Guest's oldest is standing near the sink, clothed but also grinning. The floor is covered with water. One (happily small) tube of toothpaste is squeezed empty. One bottle of toothpaste is missing (found it later, much emptied behind the door). Dress-up clothes are hanging on the doorknob, soaking wet. Tissue box is empty. Soap pump bottle is empty, and the pump top is hanging loose.

So I take oldest into our room, raise my voice a bit, and ask her to explain. She mumbles, she stammers, she gives no answer. She is now in Jail (think super time out), and not to move until I come back. We end the lunch (it was long over anyway & we had been just chatting), and I try & get answers. Mrs. tries to get answers. Dessert is banned until Tuesday.

Finally, we get it out of them. Mine decided it was time to brush her teeth. They both decided to taste some toothpaste. The other child thought it would be fun to open the soap up. They left the water running. They tried to clean it with tissues. I told her I was more upset that she wouldn't tell me what happened.

We did work it all out eventually, I THINK she understands now, and I have no idea how I'm supposed to survive parenthood.

I guess I picked the wrong week to give up sniffing glue.


gonna get a beating. I'm not saying who or why, but someone in my orbit deserves a beating.

And it's not the first time they've earned it, either.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Keys keys keys

Tuesday was a weird day, and it all revolved around keys. I realized 3/4 of the way to work that I had forgotten my office & house keys. Not good, especially as I needed to leave early to go to a wedding that night (more on that in a bit). As I'm contemplating the prospect of retracing my path, I happily remembered the friend of mine in town who works here too.

A coupla phone calls later, and buddy is stopping by my house to get my keys - thankfully we have different enough hours that he hadn't left yet. Get the security guys to open the door, and an hour later (as I'm running to an offsite meeting) I get my keys from buddy, and all is well again.

Until that evening. We shlep out to Williamsburg - not the one in Virginia where they wear the funny hats and clothes. On second thought, the Williamsburg in Brooklyn is chock full of people wearing funny hats & clothes. Something like these gents. The wedding itself was fine - our neighbors down the block married off their daughter, and they're lovely people. We only stayed for the ceremony, as I'm still recovering from the tonsillitis and we needed to get rest.

So I go out to the valet and ask for my car. Again, keys. So three different guys head out to search the streets of Brooklyn for my car. There's no parking lot, so they just park on the street. Presumably, they normally write down the location of the car, but I guess this time they chose not to. Half an hour later, after I've seen the third valet run past the driveway of the hall, I'm getting a little nervous. They did finally return with the car, so we didn't have to walk 20 miles home.

And yet, the story continues. I get home, I'm gathering all the crap out of the car, and I see keys wedged between my seat and the center console. I dig them out, and are they the Mrs.' as I thought? Oh no, they are keys to an Acura. Which we don't own. I'm thinking at this point that some other guest is now stuck in Williamsburg without their keys. So I call the wedding hall, and finally get someone on the phone. The conversation proceeds:

ME: One of your knucklehead (yes I used that term) valets left someone's keys in my car.
GUY: Oh. Can you bring them back here?
ME: Umm, NO! I'm home on Long Island?
GUY: Well, OK, let me check on it and call you back

5 mins later the phone rings:

GUY: OK, the keys are one of the valet's - can they come out to get them in an hour or two?
ME: Sure, I'm going to bed, but I'll leave them in the mailbox
GUY: Great - what's your address?
ME: Address
[Fumbling with mapquest on his end]
GUY: I can't find it; T-L-Y
ME: No, P-L-Y
GUY: OOOOHHHHHH! You mean ply mouth street
ME: Uh, yeah, that's it. Exactly

I put the keys in the box, and when I checked the next AM they were gone & there was a thank-you note, so I guess somebody got their car at some point.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I wouldn't give a jerk like this the space.

But the last line in the article sums it up for me. New Yorkers know BS when they see it, and they always have the right response.


Clever reader Jordana notices that it is Thursday, somewhat after the middle of the week, and I have not yet returned to posting.

And why, O Skinny one, would that be?

Because in my infinite wisdom and suavitude, I have managed to come down with a rather nasty case of tonsillitis. Those ever useful guardians at the back of my throat have turned coat, the lousy Benedict Arnolds. I came down feeling a bit off on Sunday, but there were holiday preparations, so I ignored it. By Monday I was feeling lousy, by Tuesday it was worse. I never made it to services on the second day of the holiday (almost never happens), and I skipped the humongous lunch as well.

I had two fairly important meetings on Wednesday, and I had to cancel both - I was not in any kind of shape to go. Off to the sawbones instead, who told me I had grapefruits in the back of my throat. And that I should skip work for a few more days.

Oh, how ducky.

I would have loved to have a few days around the house, but not this way. So the visit with the friends is sort of hazy, I didn't have much appetite, and I barely saw my family. That's the holiday wrap-up.

I did re-read all five Harry Potter books, and the ice cream I made was very good, so it wasn't a complete loss. I thought I'd get started with a month to go before book 6 comes out to refresh my memory, not realizing when I started last Saturday that I was going to be bedridden for four of the next five days. So much for pacing myself.

Anyway, further updates as germs allow.

Friday, June 10, 2005

There will be

a brief hiatus until the middle of next week, as the Shavuot holiday is approaching. We have friends visiting with us (including the dog), there will be lots of dairy products, and a lunch that will likely include upwards of 100 people in the backyard at one of the neighbors.

Have no fear, I shall return with scads of uselesness.


No, not this Eureka. More of a flash of insight. You may notice from my last post that certain small people in my house are waking up at truly unreasonable hours.

So yesterday I get the bright idea of putting something in to block the windows. These are two small attic windows that aren't normal shapes - they're basically a quarter of a round window (I'll leave it to Terry to find the architectural term). Two legs across the side and the bottom, and then an arc from one to the other. Anyway, they're about 20 inches a side, and we had taped up some blackout curtains on them.

Naturally, the curtains don't stay up, whether it's gravity or the children pulling them down. So I go out to the garage last night & grab an old moving box we've been saving for no particular reason. Mark off the two legs, and smart Mrs. takes a piece of string and a thumbtack to mark off the arc part. Thank goodness she sews, because as an incompetent I would have come up with something ridiculous to mark off the arc. Which probably wouldn't have worked.

So I do the slicing & dicing with a utility knife, Mrs. jams them in the window, and the fit is pretty darned good. The payoff?

Small childroon come in to us at 7AM instead of 5. Life is a lot happier today.

Oh, and I made fudge last night. There's a bake sale for the Shavuot holiday next week, and that's my contribution. Except for the second pan, which is for us.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I do not think

this deal with my kids getting up at 5AM is working for me. I can only think of one thing (well, two) I'd rather be doing besides being with my kids at that hour, and that would be sleep.

I need to reset somebody's clock.

Monday, June 06, 2005


I got stuff done. I took a bike ride in the AM, though I can't quite tell how far I went. I'm guessing somewhere between 7-10 miles. It was pretty peaceful - the streets were kind of empty, so it was nice. We decided to skip the Israeli Day parade; dragging the kids in the heat on the train probably would have been bad, and I think they're both sick anyway.

Got home from the ride, and began the day's project. Mrs. had gotten tension rods for the kids' sort of closet, and they kept falling down. I got the bright idea that I could get something at the Home Despot that would work better. Believe it or not, I actually succeeded. I'm vaguely handy, but it tends to be in the area of assembling prefab things. This time I went whole hog.

Big orange sells these closet rod brackets, so I got those, and Mrs. said she preferred wood rods to metal. I found the dowels, and for once they made it easy. They left a cart in the aisle with a tape measure and a few saws, and I was able to hack off the length I needed instead of trying to get a 10 foot long pole in my Civic. Plus I only had to pay for what I needed.

I had shopped on Weds, so yesterday I went about the process, and I did pretty well on the whole. Measured twice, cut once, etc. Of course, the studs on one side didn't line up properly, but I was able to work it out. Though they were off by three inches for the second rod, so I had to use anchors, which I wanted to avoid. Oh well. I did get to use my jigsaw (I thought the circular would be a bit much for an inch & a quarter pole) and orbital sander, which was fun. I'm actually pretty proud of myself, including that I took care of the project in three or four days instead of six months.

I will say that finding three empty beer bottles (we don't drink, wouldn't up in the attic if we did, and we've been in the house three years) up next to the central air unit was NOT pleasing. It may explain the quality of some of the work, though.

Next morning

Mrs. apparently woke up around 4AM, understandably hungry. Went down to get a snack, and was on her way back to bed when the gentle thunder of a stampeding herd of children followed her down. She kindly stayed up with them, and let me sleep in until 5AM when some argument or the other took place. Naturally I stayed in bed, but tossing in your bed until 7 is not restful.

I got up eventually, sent Mrs. back to bed, and entertained the kids a bit (it should be noted that the idea cheese crackers for breakfast was NOT MINE.) Around 8:30 I open the door to check the weather, and youngest wanders out. I figure she's on the porch, I turn around to get her raincoat and she's five steps down on the sidewalk crying her eyes out. She fell, somehow hit her eye and nose area without landing on hands or knees - go figure. Patch her up, drag 'em off to services, which were not my best ever. Aside from it being beastly hot & packed for the big collation that followed (someone's birthday) the kids were driving me insane. They ripped through the raisins I brought for snack & were hungry, since they only had cheese crackers at 4AM. Youngest fell again when I turned my back to get a tissue, so we weren't doing well.

Home for lunch, which was much more pleasant. The turkey was great, the company was lovely, and the kids were running around out of sight and earshot. One of the couples stayed till almost six, and it was nice because we haven't really had a chance to chat with them since they moved in about a year ago.

Busy busy busy

Lots went on Chez Skinny this weekend, and I may even be able to remember most of it.

Guests were planned for Saturday lunch, which meant Cholent. I don't think I've ever explained it before, so here's as good a place as any. It's basically beef stew with beans, potatoes, and barley. Unless it's got chicken in it. Or rice. Or Chickpeas. Or no animal flesh at all. See, nearly anything goes with cholent (or chulent, or chunt, or Hameen, depending on A) your background, & B) how much food you have in your mouth when pronouncing it). The basics involve cooking food & water low & slow over a period of 20-25 hours. Presumably it was designed to make a little meat go a long way by adding other, cheaper foods.

The sad part is American Jews (or at least northeastern US Jews) make it very expensive by adding lots of meat, which is of course the most costly ingredient. Anyway, Cholent can be delicious and can be awful; it's almost always terrible after the first day, so leftovers routinely hit the circular file by the next friday at the latest, except for a few hardy and insane souls who freeze it to eat again later. Ew. I did once have vegetarian cholent (sacriligeous to begin with) that contained Pringles and Diet Coke. I try not to think about it much - it's too painful (though it was indirectly the cause of my meeting Mrs. Skinny; she met the friend who introduced us at a meal where the same dish was served.)

Anyway, so Mrs. puts up the cholent Friday AM, leaving me the other main dish. I spotted a recipe in my Weber book (BUY THIS. The book is fabulous) that I wanted to try - Turkey breast with a jalapeno-peach jam. I did the paste on the breast overnight, and put that sucker on the grill on Friday while I made the jam. The smoking part didn't work quite right, but the Turkey was terrific, and I finally got the jam to the consistency my chutneys have never quite hit. I think I used the right pan this time.

Anyway, we realized around 3PM we had planned for Saturday, but hadn't decided on anything for Friday night. Oops. Take out some frozen chicken cutlets, let them vaguely defrost, drop 'em in some bottled BBQ sauce, grill, add some plain white rice, & bingo, you got dinner. In the meantime, I realize through all of this that I haven't heard from youngest in a while. Mrs. had gone to the gym & off to get oldest from a playdate, and I of course left youngest in front of the TV. I head upstairs to check around 5PM and she's OUT COLD on our bed. Well, bedtime's gonna be screwed up now.


Well, bathe oldest, get everyone awake down for dinner, where I am first testing the turkey, which was delicious. Oldest says "I don't want that." It's OK, we have regular chicken. "I don't want that either. I want to go to bed." No song, story, etc? "No." ummm, ok? It's 6:15, so I take her up, and 15 mins later she's out cold. We normally eat before services, since I can't wait until 8:30 for dinner, then we do the kiddush and motzi after I get back. I'm getting ready to go, and youngest starts crying. Mrs. asks me to stay home, so I agree - I usually go to an early service, so instead I'll stay home and use the extra hour before actual candlelighting, likely entertaining youngest.


Mrs. lies down with youngest & nurses her, and they BOTH fall asleep. So now I'm essentially home alone. All quiet, I finish up my shabbos preparations unnoodged by wife or child, and even had a moment to check some email. I peeked in periodically, and Mrs. sleepily noted that she wanted to stay in bed, so I moved youngest up to her room, brought Mrs. her lens case, and had a very quiet kiddush & motzi by myself. I'd never go back to single life, but there's something to be said for a quiet night once in a while.

Next morning, on the other hand...

Thursday, June 02, 2005


So, my neighbor sends me the following as a gag, copying Mrs.:

It's the only type of cooking a real man will do. When a man volunteers to do the BBQ the following chain of events are put into motion:

1) The woman buys the food.

2) The woman makes the salad, vegetables, and dessert.

3) The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along with the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes it to the man who is lounging beside the grill -- beer in hand.

4) The man places the meat on the grill.

5) The woman goes inside to organize the plates and cutlery.

6) The woman comes out to tell the man that the meat is burning. He thanks her and asks if she will bring another beer while he deals with the situation.

7) The man takes the meat off the grill and hands it to the woman.

8) The woman prepares the plates, salad, bread, utensils, napkins, sauces, and brings them to the table.

9) After eating, the woman clears the table and does the dishes.

10) Everyone praises the man and thanks him for his cooking efforts.

11) The man asks the woman how she enjoyed "her night off."

And, upon seeing her annoyed reaction, concludes that there's just no pleasing some women

Funny enough. Mrs. writes back, copying me:

1. The woman suggests to the man that they invite his family for a BBQ.
2. The woman takes a nap.
3. The man decides what they need and takes the children to Costco, Brach's, and Stop & Shop.
4. The man comes home, puts away the groceries and marinates the meat.
5. The man prepares side dishes & salad while watching the children in the backyard.
6. The woman finally gets up and throws some paper plates on the table.
7. The man runs back and forth to the grill while everyone else eats the delicious meal.
8. The man and woman clear the table together, and no one washes the dishes.

Just call me the luckiest woman in the world..... ;-)

Boy, did I marry the right woman? I know she really likes me, but it's nice to hear it sometimes.

UPDATE: I should mention that Mrs. has dramatically undersold her contributions. The last BBQ she was referring to saw her make the salad, a side dish, and entertain the children until the relations showed up. Incidentally, I made a honey mustard marinade for the chicken that was FABULOUS. The neighbor who sent the original email came over to partake, and she kept saying how good it was.

The week

has gotten busier. I was out at one of our Hospitals packing stuff up (found by-laws from the 1920s - Jackpot!), and the seven huge transfile boxes will clearly not be enough. Thank heavens there's tons of stuff to save, but I did not quite realize the magnitude of the job.

It means I'm probably going to be back there tomorrow all day, which cuts down on the computer time dramatically. Don't ask me where I'm going to put all of this stuff. I'm out of room, but the boss said "go get it, I'll figure out where to put it." You the boss, boss.

The other nice part of this is the hospital will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in less than ten years, so we will have material to use for the celebration when it shows up.