Thursday, March 29, 2007

T3 - Homesteadin'

In the interests of not gumming up the works, I am dispensing with the extended posts for now. Perhaps they'll return when I feel like trying to fix the &^%$# thing.


1. Do you still live in the town where you grew up? If not, what do you miss the most? If so, what has changed the most?

No, though Brooklyn to Long Island is not the greatest stretch (or culture shock) in the world. I don't actually miss a ton about Brooklyn. The Jewish parts have become "black", which in my world means hat. The more right-wing orthodox have spread throughout, and I really don't care much for the NY yeshiva-world type of neighborhood. Everybody knows everybody else's business, and you have to be as frum as your neighbors, and I really don't have a lot of time for ignorant narrowminded busybodies. That's what relatives are for.

I do have fond memories of the park near my parent's house, and it reminds me of home when I'm nearby.

2. Does your family still own the house you grew up in? Either way, what was it like the last time you saw it?

Oh yeah. My folks have been in that house nearly 40 years (which, not at all coincidentally, is nearly my brother's age.) They will probably never move, unless the neighbor they share a driveway with moves out. My dad sharing a driveway is a nuclear meltdown waiting to happen, and that's one of the few things I can see shaking them out of the neighborhood.

The house itself is a wreckage, but that has a lot to do with my mom. [ed. The rest will be removed for therapeutic purposes. This is a long-running psychological issue - you decide on who's part.]

3. What is the biggest change in the last 5 years where you live now?

Since we've been there five years, I guess I can actually answer this. I don't actually think a ton has changed. Obviously it has for us personally as the kids have grown, but the neighborhood is largely the same. Since we like it this way, that's a good thing.

I guess the one thing I'd note is that our particular street has gotten very popular - since we moved in 5 years ago I think 13 or 14 other orthodox families moved on the block, including oldest's best friend who moved from the other side of town. It's nice to be popular.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Blogger Issues

I seem to be having a problem with my extended entries - I at least can't expand any of them. If anyone else can do it I'd be grateful to know - it will mean it's a problem on my end, not Blogger's.

If anyone's desperate enough to read all my crap, click on the post title and you'll get the full entry.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Oy I'm Tired

I've been going to sleep too late, I'm busy at work, and I think my life is out of control. Blogging has taken a backseat to trying to remember what I was supposed to be doing. There are any number of balls in the air, and while nobody's life is at stake, I'm having a hard time keeping everything straight.

Boohoo. Poor me.

To make up for it, below the fold you will see several fun Pesach-related news items, the last two are courtesy of my friend Stupid.

The first apparently puts to rest a story that was floating around here:

Kosher l’Pesach Gasoline?

There were rumors around here about that, and it sounded so bizarrely ridiculous that I was prepared to believe somebody actually wanted to remove the ethanol from gas to make it kosher for Pesach. Kitniyot may be owned on Pesach, and I believe you can benefit from it, so it struck just the right tone of a crazy Hebrew who wanted to be holier than the rest of us. I'm almost disappointed that it's fake.

Next, some genuine craziness from Genuinely Crazy Jews:

NY bus converted into oven for matzos

Leave it to some nutty chasid from Monsey to decide that a flaming school bus 10 feet from the house with an illegally tapped gas line was a good idea. Think of it as the Partridge Family with peyos, unleavened bread, and a complete disregard for safety and building codes.

And finally, thanks to the Israeli Chronic Lobby, we get this one:

Israel group nixes pot on Passover

Once again the specter of Kitniyot appears. Loosely translated as legumes, this is essentially an Eastern European minhag that is meant by non-fried people to refer to corn, beans, peanuts, and various other foodstuffs. These items are, again, not forbidden for ownership during Pesach by halacha, and I guess one can argue about benefiting from it.

So I guess the only thing to take from this is that Pot is essentially acceptable to those who eat Kitniyot during Pesach, and that one should be extremely careful during attacks of the munchies to eat only kosher L'Pesach certified snacks.

We report, you decide.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hurry Up! It's T3!

I'm a comin', I'm a comin' - keep your shirt on.

1. What are you supposed to be doing RIGHT NOW? (Aside from answering these questions, of course.)

I'm supposed to be figuring out what I'm supposed to be doing. I have plenty of stuff I'm supposed to get done, but I can't remember any of it.

2. How long is it going to take you?

Long enough to answer this and get some breakfast, which I always do at work.

3. What do you have to do after that?

I get to reprise my role as hand model for the A/V guys. Last time with Purell, this time with actual soap and water. Presumably for those benighted souls who can't use jelled alcohol.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

T3 - Ya can't get there from here

But you can play T3 if you're stuck in traffic.

1) If you only had one hour to show a visitor something interesting in your hometown, where would you go?

Depends on what you mean by my hometown. Out here on Lawn Guyland, I might take them to the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Uniondale. Despite its proximity to the home of the despicable NY Islanders, the museum would be a good introduction to the critical role Long Island played in the development of Aviation. Numerous aviation companies were based out here (Grumman, Republic, Sperry), and a lot of critical events happened out here. If my hometown means NY/Brooklyn, you could spend an hour on almost anything. A walk across the Brooklyn Bridge would be a nice start, and then you could wander anywhere.

2) If you then had to find that friend a great place for a quick bite to eat, where would you go?

Many years ago I would have taken them to the late, lamented Shmulka Bernstein's deli on the Lower East Side. It was THE kosher (NOT kosher style, where they treyf up food by adding nonkosher ingredients) deli/Chinese food place, the food was good & fast & sorta cheap, and the atmosphere was unbeatable. The place closed down years ago, and I still get sad thinking about it. Today I might suggest Mr. Broadway, which is along the same lines, but not as good and can't figure out what kind of restaurant they are.

3) Now that you’ve entertained them and fed your friend, it’s time to send him on his way. You’re not sure which way he’s going, but he’s got a fast red convertible, and you want him to see something nice as he drives. What route from your home to someplace else, either to the north, south, east, or west would you recommend to him as the most scenic drive?

For scenic I'd send them up the Taconic Parkway to the North through Westchester and up to Albany and points north. The other route that's not bad once you get up into Connecticut is the Merritt Parkway, which has some nice stretches. Don't use either if you're in a hurry or you don't like curvy roads, I'd find another road.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Thy name is Queen Rania:

She asks "What are you doing to empower women in your community?"

A wonderful question coming from a faith where women are routinely abused, neglected, etc. As a counterbalance, may I suggest this post from Breath of the Beast?

Look, you're a cute chick and all, but spare me the lecture, OK honey? When the women in your part of the world can go out in the street by themselves and not get beaten or raped, we can talk about what the rest of us are doing for women.


I'm awake! I'm awake! No I'm not.

1. Do you sleep on a feather pillow or foam?

Feather. In fact, I sleep on a pillow that's probably older than I am. Mrs. thinks it's hideous, but it is as mushable as a minutes old-marshmallow, and I actually take it with me on trips to sleep on. The underpillow is also feather, but much newer.

2. Do you like a firm or soft mattress—or other if you're an old hippie?

I'm not actually sure - I used to love a firm mattress, but increasingly I keep waking up with aches in various places. I can't tell if it's the pillow-top mattress, the way I twist & turn in my sleep, or that the mattress is now several years old.

3. Do you keep it cold and sleep under lots of cover, or hot and only a sheet?

I'm always hot, though I adjust to temperature well. Mrs. is always cold. I've managed to avoid the humongoid eight-foot thick down comforter only because we now have heated mattress pads - she keeps hers on "inferno" and mine is usually on "gentle warm breeze." In the summer time, mine is off completely.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

As you may have noticed

I'm mucking with the template a bit - trying to reduce the margin size and not feel so cramped.

Whaddaya think?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Purim Roundup

I finally have some time to talk about what was a truly spectacular success with Mishloach Manot this year. Mrs. says the idea was hers, but I don't think she's entirely correct. Both of us certainly contributed to the execution, so either way we both deserve credit.

It was truly a fabulous idea, and it all began simply enough two and a half years ago with a brief conversation with our then new neighbor...

Neighbor, you see, works for the Orthodox Union - one of the main kashruth supervising agencies in the world, certainly in North America. As one of their food

supervisors, he goes around certifying various products and manufacturing facilities. One of the tiny perks of his position are many rolls of kosher tape - like the big rolls of "caution" or "police line tape, only it's sticky and it says "the enclosed product is kosher unless the seal is tampered."

Now, whichever of us thought of it asked neighbor for a roll of the tape (which they had used to seal moving boxes) for some Purim deviltry. The idea was to apply kosher tape to a food product, or simulation of one, that would not normally be kosher.

Like, say, a McDonald's bag with a cheeseburger inside?


So was born an idea that it took us two years to execute - we just couldn't get it together in time for Purim before. But this year, Mrs. happens to have a cake decorating magazine with directions for something called candy clay. You take candy melts, add corn syrup, and Presto! - a moldable hunk of chocolate. Said magazine also contained instructions for? A BBQ grill, including burgers and hot dogs, made entirely out of candy.

How fortuitous.

Add the idea of yellow-chocolate dipped pretzels, Drake's apple pies, and a visit to a faraway Golden Arches to secure the bags and...

Well, look at the pictures and you'll see the results:

The Burger, assembled

Y'want fries with that?

Three essential food groups

Open bag, with press release visible

And the deal, sealed

So, that's the deal. There were several pieces that would have put this into the stratosphere of legendary Shalach Manot - a happy meal toy inside (considered from Oriental Trading, but shipping would have been more than the toy itself), and as a friend pointed out, me in a visor & MickeyD's shirt delivering it, but I think we did pretty well all considered.

No, I will not try & top this next year. We're going back to simple, I think.

This is a test

Pay no Attention to This test.

This was only a test. If this was a real blogpost, your local emergency services department would arrive to provide you with educational tools and copies of Pride and Prejudice to make up for the brain cells you lose in reading this blog.

Thanks to Hackosphere for this new feature.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Packing up for the day

got an off-campus meeting which I will be late for if I don't walk out the door right now.

See you l'machar, or sooner if I check in from home.

A blog

I think worth looking at - Breath of the Beast. Tough reading sometimes, but important reading is often difficult to face.

Hat tip to the Corner.

Thursday Three, Antipodean Style

Many thanks to Kitchen Hand for hosting this week. I've had a hankering to visit Down Under, and now I can do it without flying 29 hours.

1) Here, it is the first day of autumn - Wednesday 1st of March. However, in some parts of the world, the new seasons do not arrive until the 19th of the month, or later; due to large cattle breeds called solstices and equinoxes that issue huge amounts of methane, which increases global warming and makes the seasons run late. Question: what is your favourite season, and why?

Early spring, which is increasingly in short supply around here - we get a few weeks of really pleasant, 65-70 degree temps (that would be 18-21 degrees for those of you in the Celsius/Centigrade part of the universe). It's usually a fairly quick turnaround from there to Bloody Hot & Humid, so I enjoy the brief respite of no jacket, no AC weather.

2) When you started your weblog, did you deliberate over whether to choose a nom-de-blog or use your real identity? What swayed you either way?

No deliberation at all - I went directly to nom-de-blog. I have a New Yorker's inbred paranoia about people knowing too much about me. Heck, my wife doesn't even know my last name. The only downside is I've chosen to use the name that covers most of my email addresses and other online names. It's increasing the odds that someone who actually knows me will stumble across me and I will be outed. But living on the knife edge is just how I roll, homey.

3) Discussing religion, politics or sex has always been impolite at cocktail parties, because of the risk of embarrassing face-to-face arguments. However, this is not a cocktail party, but a blog. And since the whole point of a blog is to have robust discussions, make a comment on the first thing that comes to your mind about religion, politics or sex. Pour yourself a martini first, if it helps. Don't forget the olive.

Try not to have sex with a minister who is also a congressman.