Friday, November 30, 2007

More Money for You

If you are shopping online, check out this page to see what great bargains Google Checkout has to offer this month. Don't buy anything you wouldn't normally buy, but if you are shopping anyway, Google Checkout offers discounts at over a hundred sites, as well as frequent flyer miles and free shipping!

If you haven't signed up for Ebates yet, you are leaving money on the table. I can't emphasize enough what a great site this is. They give you $5 for signing up and money back in CASH (no points, no tricks, no messing around) on every online purchase you make through their website. They simply mail you a check every three months. This year I got back over $100 in ebates.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What Not to Wear

Ok, boys, I'm only going to say this once.

In your Frumster and SYAS pictures, please do not:

1) post that picture of you on vacation. If I have to look at another guy in a baseball cap, ill-fitting grubby t-shirt (lift a weight once or twice, willya?), and stained jeans, with a 40 lb. camera around his neck and a tote bag, I'm going to heave. You don't look good in that picture, k?

2) post a picture of you with a hand-bag, man purse, shopping bag, fanny pack, etc. Do I really need to explain this?

3) post a picture of you with your kids. Let me make something clear here: women love guys who are paternal, will make good dads, etc. But we like to picture you with
our kids, not your kids. Capeesh? I'm not going to be dating your kids, so why post a picture of them?

4) post your wedding picture. Oh good grief, are you that clueless?


5) post a picture with your arm around another girl. I don't care if it's your platonic bud, your sister, your niece or your co-worker. This is the first impression that we are talking about here. It's just not good.


Do post:

1) that solo picture of you in your suit or tux at your brother's wedding, the one that the professional photog took while your hair was combed. You look good in that picture!


2) a picture with a smile. Chicks love smiles.


3) an action shot as a second pic. Pose on blades, on a boat, bike, climbing, jumping, etc.


Not that my Frumster/SYAS picture is great (it's not) but at least I'm dressed up and smiling. I just had to get this off my chest. For some reason, in the last two weeks my Frumster and SYAS account have been very active, and I just cannot look at another bad picture. What were these guys thinking?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Women of the Tent

I had a long, activity-packed holiday weekend and I'm wiped. Lots of family stuff, friend stuff, guy stuff, most of it fun, some of it tiring.

Among some other events this weekend was my cousin's son's Bar Mitzvah. This is a cousin to whom I am very close...she is in many ways like a sister to me, though our lives couldn't be more different. Chana Leah married a Belz chassid and has a large, bustling family. She's works full-time (her husband is wonderful, but definitely parnassah-challenged) and because she has only nine children, her husband's family considers her "the modern one," as they are all into double digits in the children arena. You are getting a clear picture here? So I walked into the stuffy shteibel in Flatbush where the Bar Mitzvah was taking place. Chana Leah greeted me warmly, sincerely, took me aside in the middle of her simcha to quietly discuss a possible shidduch; her kids were jumping all over me, thrusting candy bags into my hands, fighting each other for the chance to hang up my coat, calling each other "stupidhead" and "poopyface," etc. I am happy. My family is nuts, but I love them so much.

Then all of the other female guests arrived....the small ezras nashim (with the always enchanting floor-to-ceiling mechitza) filled with fur coats, lots of very expensive jewelry and designer suits and shoes. I can hold my own in the style department, but I started to feel very small. I realized why. I was the only female there over the age of twenty who was not wearing a sheitel. I felt myself involuntarily shrinking.

I took a seat in the corner next to one of my sisters-in-law and started people watching. Chana Leah's husband's family is enormous, and most of her relatives knew who I was. I realized through a little lip-reading that they were spotting me, identifying me as "the divorced one without kids" and sighing and nodding. I shrunk even more as I concluded that, omg, these people were pitying me.

I was in a room where the sole measure of success was the quantity and quality of children that one produced, and I was a loser. Yes. A big loser.

I went outside to get some air and pushed away a few self-pitying tears. I was so angry at myself.

I lived through the Bar Mitzvah....I think we all have events like this in our lives, where despite everything that we know is true, we are made to feel unreasonably small and pathetic. These events are part of life.

Later that afternoon, I went to a Tziporah Heller shiur. I consider myself a student of Rebbetzin Heller. Tziporah Heller is a teacher and a kiruv professional, and I'm not a ba'alas teshuvah, but I have attended some of her classes in Israel, read all of her books, listen to her shiurim on my Ipod regularly. Let me explain what a Tziporah Heller shiur is like. You don't go to a TH shiur to get the warm fuzzies. Warm fuzzies, platitudes about bitachon, chessed etc. are for all those other kiruv professionals. TH delivers it like it is. She doesn't cringe in the face of difficult questions and doesn't soft-peddle anything. She always speaks without notes and has an encyclopedic grasp of Tanach and an incredible range of knowledge of textual sources. She is not young, but delivers her discourses with the intellectual energy of a twenty-year old. She realizes that the Jewish world is multi-colored and multi-dimensional; she acknowledges all levels, all backgrounds and all flavors of approaching God. She has a great sense of humor and her anecdotes are instructive and funny. I wish I could be one tenth of the teacher that TH is.

The shiur started out with a discussion of the typical heroines of the Tanach, whom Mrs. Heller called the "women of the tent." They are role models for their modesty, their kindness, their motherhood, their wifely support. In addition to this, as in the case of the Matriarchs, they are important to the history of the Jewish people because of the children they raised and their part in founding a nation.

Then Mrs. Heller went on to talk about a Chanukah heroine, Yehudit. Yehudit's story can be found
here. She is an odd heroine of Jewish history. She, like Yael before her, is famous, not for giving birth to a patriarch or king, or for her chessed, but rather for slicing off the head of an evil Greek officer and saving the Jewish people. Is Yehudit a role model? Hmm.

Like Yehudit, there are other great Jewish women, women who, given their druthers, would be "women of the tent." Women who wanted to have great Jewish marriages, raise great Jewish children, give back to klal Yisroel through their volunteerism and teaching and community involvement. Women like me. But God had other ideas for these women. And He sent them down a different path. And they can still be important to the Jewish people, but not in the usual way, not in the way of the women of the tent.

Mind you, at this point, I looked around the room, and based on what I saw and the questions some of the girls asked, I'm guessing that roughly 75% of the women there were women of the tent wannabes. The pain in the room was palpable. I felt it. This was a room full of the "unfortunates," the mizkeynim, the leftovers, the women struggling through shidduchim, divorces, widowhood, infertility, dating, not dating, etc. , and I realized, with a flash of reluctant self-awareness, that I was one of them. TH answered our questions with sensitivity and straightforwardness. She acknowledged that our paths were not going to be easy, not at all. And that there was still hope for the future, but that what was important was the here and now, what we were doing with our lives right this very minute. We had to live in the moment. We had the choice of reacting to our situations with anger (why is this happening to me?) or by rising to the challenge.

She talked about the middah known as kol (as in Hashem beyrach et Avraham bakol), the characteristic of spiritual flexibility (I found this fascinating). Spiritual flexibility means that no matter what life brings your way, you tried to be the best you could be. No matter which situation God places you in, you could be that person and you could rise to the occasion and still attain greatness. Esther was spiritually flexible. So was Jacob. So was Ruth. So was Yehudit. Could I be spiritually flexible? You know, I think I can.

And so, to hell with the women at the Bar Mitzvah. To hell with the fact that I am divorced, alone and childless. This won't be my situation forever, but I am still myself, a Bas Yisroel, a woman with something to contribute to my people. I don't know why God forced me down this painful path, but I am ready to meet the challenge, to learn from it, to grow in spite of it, right now, right here, in this moment.

Online Shopping Deals

On Black Friday, I didn't camp out outside of Best Buy to get an $80 laptop. The last time I stood in line for 6 hours was when I was in college, for tickets to a David Bowie concert. That ship has sailed long ago.

I love shopping online. Maybe it's because I don't like strangers touching me, irritable, semi-retarded cashiers, or wading through poorly marked merchandise. I love the fact that a record of my purchase gets emailed to me (no paper), that I get to anticipate the stuff's arrival, and that even with shipping charges, I tend to do much better than I would in a store, assuming I've done my homework and have a code or coupon or have timed the purchases right. I like the fact that I have access to cool stores outside of my physical geographical area. I love sitting on my butt, getting stuff and saving gobs of money. I'm a chick-nerd.

First and foremost, if you don't join and shop through
Ebates.com, I don't understand you. Even if you shop online one time, it pays. They simply give you money back on every purchase, and they will give you $5 just for signing up (and I will get $5 if you join through this link). Make a purchase before 12/31/7, and you will get $10. Use your rewards points credit card, use discount codes, it doesn't matter; and they have all the major online retailers. This is a no-lose deal, a pure no-brainer....all my friends have signed up and are scratching their heads on why they waited so long. I mean, do you like money?

Ok, now for some other here-and-there deals......
AllPosters.com - 25% off any order paid for with Visa: url is www.allposters.com/25visa
Art.com - 20% off: code 74R20
Avon.com - free shipping with orders $40 or more: code MY40
BlueNile.com - Free overnight shipping; no code. This site has some excellent jewelry priced at the lower end.
Borders.com - 20% off coupon, click here, until 12/5/7.
Chicos.com - $20 off orders of $75 or more, until 12/31/7: code 5941
ColdwaterCreek.com - $25 off orders of $75 or more, until 12/23/7: code PLA9338. Also, 40% off until 12/23/7: code WLP8512 Also $30 off until 12/23/7 on orders of $100 or more: code GIFT30 or WLP8334. Use the code that will maximize your savings.
Danskin.com - 20% off any order until 12/31/7: code click20a
DesignersLinenOutlet.com - 15% off any order until 12/31/7: code shopx7

EBags.com -20% cash back (along with free shipping) if you use your PayPal account on orders over $75, until 12/10/7. Also $25 to spend on a future purchase over $75 with orders over $75, until 12/2/7. also $10 off orders over $50 paid for with Visa through 01/08: url is www.ebags.com/visacard
Fortunoffs-Hewlett.co - 30% off: code SAVINGS until 2/9/8
EddieBauer.com - $15% off & free shipping, until 12/24/7: code RSDEC07
FragranceNet.com - 10% off orders over $35 and free shipping for orders over $60: code CE47
HomeDecorators.com - $20 off orders $200 or more: code 1636518C
HomeDecoratorsOutlet.com - $10 off orders $50 or more: code 8581630
Ice.com (one of my favorites) - 20% off and free shipping on everything: code BCD20-383319 or VSA20 (paid for with Visa)
LampsPlus - $20 off order of $100 plus until 2/29/8 paid for with Visa: code 55VSFB8Z
LLBean.com - Free shipping until 12/21/7.
NeimanMarcus.com - free shipping on orders $150 or more: code NM8 and free shipping any amount (see comment): code WINTER.
NYandCompany.com - $25 off an order of $75 or more or $15 off an order of $50 or more, until 12/19/7: code 1389
Nordstrom.com - Free shipping on order $100 or more until 12/19/07: code HOLIDAY07.
Overstock.com -20% cash back (along with free shipping) if you use your PayPal account on orders over $100, until 12/10/7.
PetSmart.com - $10 off order of $60 plus until 1/31/8 paid for with Visa: code VISA60
PlowandHearth.com - Free shipping: code GAH
ShoeMall.com - 15% off any order until 12/31/8. Free shipping always: code SAVE15
Shoes.com - 15% off regular priced items and 10% off sale items and free shipping, paid for with Visa, until 12/31/7: url www.shoes.com/VISADM07
1800flowers.com - 15% off any order paid for with Visa until 2/29/8: code VF9

Write in if you have any other deals that you'd like to share and I'll happily post them. I obviously take no responsibility on the accuracy of these codes, but if you try one and it doesn't work, please let me know and I'll remove it.

Guys, need a classy, inexpensive Chanukah present for your wife/girlfriend/mom/femalesomebody? This silk and cashmere pashmina is (gulp) $45. That's insane. (Even on Overstock.com, they are $68.) It's cheap, one-size-fits-all, totally elegant. Get the black, dusty mauve or seaside color. If my significant other got this for me, he would get some serious love in return. Sadly, I will have to buy one for myself (sniff).

Happy Stuff Accumulation!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Nice post from my favorite blog. Says it like it is. Thanksgiving does indeed rock.

Happy Turkey Day all. Lots to daven for but lots to be thankful for too.

-WG

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bestest Easiest Pareve Pumpkin Pie in the History of the Universe

1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. cloves (ground)
2 eggs separated
1 15 oz. can Libby's pumpkin
1 8 oz. pkg. Rich's whip
1 pie shell

Blend all the dry ingredients and vanilla (sugars and spices) in a small bowl and set aside.
Pre-bake the pie shell for 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven, just until it starts to dry out. Whip the egg whites on the highest speed until they are stiff and high. In a separate bowl, whip the Rich's Whip until it is thick and stiff and then pour in the egg yolks and continue to mix on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Add the pumpkin and all the dry ingredients and continue to mix for another 3 -5 minutes, until well blended. Fold in the egg whites and mix with a flat spatula. Pour into the pre-baked pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for about 35-40 minutes. Another variation that I used to do for Shabbos is to add a cup of chocolate chips to the mixture for cc pumpkin pie...surprising combination but really good.

The Other Side

Went out with a very, very sweet guy last night, Ben. He reminded me of that Rashi on the description of Yaakov as an "ish tam," someone who is just completely without guile, and doesn't know how to be sneaky. Ben wasn't for me....I need someone who is just a little bit more evil. Anyway, he said something to me that was so sad. He said he found it embarrassing to daven without a talis at his age (he's 37). He really hates it...feels like it singles him out as a freak.

Whenever I go on one of my self-pity binges, I usually wallow in my own stuff...my own shame and sense of failure. I never really consider aloneness from a guy's point of view, and what they have to go through. It was really the first time in a while that I thought about someone else's thorns.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sex

B: On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?
G: Will he offer me his mouth?
B: Yes.
G: Will he offer me his teeth?
B: Yes.
G: Will he offer me his jaws?
B: Yes.
G: Will he offer me his hunger?
B: Yes.

G: Again, will he offer me his hunger?

B: Yes.

G: And will he starve without me?
B: Yes.

G: And does he love me?
B: Yes.
G: Yes.

B: On a hot summer night would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?

G: Yes.
B: I bet you say that to all the boys.


Meatloaf "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth"


The paragraph above is the little introduction that is spoken before Meatloaf cranks out his 1977 hit ballad. It has always been interesting to me that this hot little slice of dialogue is spoken rather than incorporated into the song, which is one of his greats.

This little interchange is sex. It's raw and dark, it's about passion and intense wanting, it's got pleading and romance and sweetness and love and teasing and surrender. It even a little funny at the end, and the best kind of sex (and there are oh so many kinds) always has you smiling and laughing together after it's over.

I've got 600 songs on my Ipod and it takes me days to go through the whole playlist. But when this song comes on, well....

Yes.

Looking for Rachel

What are these voices outside Love's open door
Make us throw off our contentment
And beg for something more?......

....The more I know, the less I understand

All the things I thought I figured out, I had to learn again.

-Don Henley ("The Heart of the Matter")

Went to a women's shiur this Shabbos on the Parsha. When women get together to discuss Torah, it could either go very badly or it could be electric. I have always loved learning with women...if they are even a little knowledgeable, there is a particular energy in the room that is absent with co-ed learning, which is usually more about subliminal socializing than learning. Sometimes though, if one of the participants has an agenda or is either very close-minded or much too open-minded, it could be a bust. But this was a good class, lots of energy, lots of thinking, lots of analysis.

So there we were, talking about Rachel and Leah, and Leah's very sad situation, and how she rose to the occasion. Jacob hated Leah (it actually says snuah in plain Hebrew), mostly because she was not Rachel. There are many textual clues that Jacob saw in Rachel, who was beautiful and younger, his soulmate, his bashert, the woman he would build a nation with, the woman he was willing to sacrifice years of his life for. Leah was someone he was tricked into marrying...he just had no interest in her whatsoever, and he never chose her. But mostly, her biggest problem was, she wasn't Rachel. She wasn't The One.

Leah didn't seem to falter at her hopeless position. She went on to bear child after child, and continued to prove to her husband that she too was part of the vision of the future, even if she wasn't his choice. The Midrash brings some interesting examples of how she slowly removed the layers of his hatred until Jacob recognized that she was indeed his wife and his partner, not more than Rachel, not less than Rachel, but a partner in her own right. It wasn't a quantitative shift...it was a qualitative shift. And in the end, Rachel died young, and Jacob spent his life with Leah, and was eventually buried with her...his partner in eternity.

Many of us hang on to a vision of The Perfect Spouse in our minds. I didn't marry my ideal spouse the first time around. I married a good guy, whom I loved at the time (but was not passionately in love with), who was not right for me on many levels. And so, being on my own again begs the question(s): should I have held out for The Perfect Spouse, or close to it? Is there a soulmate out there waiting for me? Was the mistake of my first marriage a lesson for my second? Do I need to be crazy, madly in love to get married again?

I'm not sure. I've had a lot of blind dates lately, an assortment of first and second dates and not much further than that, and I've asked myself this question over and over again. Who is it that I'm looking for, what is it that I want? Will I hold out (possibly until it's too late) for a fiery "Rachel" kinda-guy or is a "Leah" kinda-guy, who will give me love, a family, a good life, and happiness going to be enough? I know that it would have been enough for me the first time around, but now I have a second chance...do I hold out for The One?

Divorce throws you for a loop. I like what Smoo writes in his profile, that "divorce has been a catalyst in my spiritual evolution." It has certainly been a catalyst in mine. So here I am, trying to find my other half, once again, a little late, but the door is wide open, and I ask myself: what have I learned and how will I do this better next time?

Friday, November 16, 2007

D & B (warning: guys, this post is really for the ladies)

I love Dooney & Bourke pocketbooks. When I was younger, I was addicted to Coach ( oh man, that soft, gorgeous leather...), and I've used this Coach briefcase for nearly fifteen years now, but I got a little less conservative as I got older. D & B bags are stylish and classy, with a little more edge to them than Coach. They are somewhat pricey, but I treat myself to one whenever I can afford it, which is not that often (and that's why it's a treat).

But, OMG, could they have gotten a scarier looking model or an uglier, cheesier looking bag for the front cover of their new catalog? I need to speak to their marketing department. Who the heck did this woman's hair and what were they drinking? And her eye makeup is a little, um, dramatic, don'tcha think? And that ginormous gold bag...what were they thinking?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Getting My Ducks in a Row

I got the December issue of Money today, which means I'm going to bed very late tonight. Some great articles this month.

A great big splash of cold water came in the form of an article (not yet online) called "The Single Life," about the long-term challenges of handling your finances as a Single (capital ess on purpose). I walked away from the article with these two insights: 1) being Single (whether divorced, widowed or never-married) has an very different set of fiscal challenges from being Married and 2) my ducks are very much NOT in a row and I had better get them there soon.

First, the nasty statistics. In the 1950's, Married couples made up 80% of the country's households. Today, they account for barely 50% and they are steadily losing ground. Why? Skyrocketing divorce rates, people marrying later and people not marrying at all. Scary big picture, huh?

Now, here are some important financial things that are commonly overlooked by Singles:

1) emergency plans and disability insurance. If I lose my job, I don't have a spouse to support me while I look for a new one. So while Marrieds need to sock away 3-6 months of their barebone expenses, singles should probably have a cushion of 6-12 months. Along the same lines of what-if-you-can't-work, if your employer doesn't cover you for disability insurance, you need to buy your own. This can be very pricey if you are self-employed, but it is an important safety net.

2) beneficiaries and bequests. If a Married dies, his/her spouse will probably inherit by default, even if the Married dies without a will. If a single dies without a will, it could be a nightmare. Unless you want your entire estate to eventually go to your parents (and possible stepparents?), write a will. If you are divorced with a kid(s), a will is a must. Make sure you fill out the forms for beneficiaries on retirement and bank accounts (often ignored by childless singles). I am embarrassed to confess that I have no will and most of my accounts still list my ex as a beneficiary. It's pathetic. Other important documents commonly overlooked: Living Will and Power of Attorney if you are incapacitated.

I will add my own caveats to this list. I find that many of my frum, female Single friends tend to be very lax about their finances (having no savings, no money for retirement, no long-term career plans, no safety net, lotsa unnecessary credit card debt) because they believe in their heart of hearts that eventually, they will just have to get married, since the alternative is unthinkable, and when (not if) they get married, their husbands will rescue them and take care of everything. Coupla things about that: what if you don't get married? and then if you do get married, don't you want to come into your marriage with assets, without debt, with some sort of financial contribution? No one wants to marry someone who is a financial mess. Would you? And what if your husband-to-be is in no position to rescue you?

Finally, when I got divorced, I realized that I was miles behind on my retirement savings, because during the course of my marriage, I relied on my husband to contribute the lion's share of our retirement fund. After all, he was the guy. When our fund became my fund and his fund, I found myself twisting in the wind. This year, I am scrambling to catch up, but at least I have a plan. If you find yourself suddenly single, don't ignore the bald spots where your now ex spouse was filling in. Deal with them, even if it is depressing and scary.

Haveil Havalim #140

The Carnival of Jewish Blogs, Haveil Havalim #140, is being hosted at Life in Israel. I didn't submit anything, but he picked up my post about my new old cameo. Interesting what people find interesting.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Anonymous Blogging Now Protected Under Free Speech

Interesting ruling.

Truth

I got a Truth-or-Dare email from FrumRocker. Considering what the Dare was (OMG, FrumRocker, you need help), I'm gonna go with Truth:

  • Weirdest Pesach Food Eaten? Chicken shnitzel breaded with pureed potato chips (I was on a non-Gebrokts Pesach trip)
  • Most Fattening Food Eaten Immediately After Working Out? Trader Joe's chocolate covered frozen banana...that was yesterday, btw.
  • Sexiest Article of Clothing Worn in Public in the Last Five Years? I'm a frum girl! Ok, did you read the post about my boots? Actually, in college (more than 5 years ago, but), when I was a little more modern, I wore a really cute off-the-shoulder sweatshirt once to a David Bowie concert, but don't tell my Rav.
  • Worst Song of the Eighties? Easy, anything by Katchagoogoo.
  • Song from the Eighties that You're Embarrassed You Like a Lot? "Hungry Like the Wolf" by Duran Duran. Um, I don't like it that much.
  • Song from a Seventies Sitcom that You're Embarrassed You Like a Lot? Tie between "I Think I Love You" by the Partridge Family and "Welcome Back Kotter" from the series of the same name. I can't believe I'm admitting this.
  • Stupidest Haircut of Your Entire Life? Hands down, the Dorothy Hamill I had when I was 12. Thanks Mom.
  • Ugliest Big Sweater Owned in the Nineties? That's a weird one, but I actually do remember this cotton white polka dotted gesheft that looked like a Twister board. Definitely in the what-was-I-thinking category.
Thanks for the giggle, FrumRocker...these were not run-of-the-mill, I think. I won't tag anyone because last meme, everyone kvetched, but you know who you are. ;)

The Husband Store

Old joke, still funny, on Bangitout.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

4 Bahginz

  • BOGO at Loehmann's and you know that I'll be there.
  • Free, legit Peter Himmelman album download (you can listen to it on the Ipod that you get from the gemach).
  • Free deodorant (it's not a hint, I promise, but why not?); no s&h...really, truly free.
  • Crazycute coral microfiber laptop tote for, gulp, ten bucks! At Tarjay (for the ladies or the really, um, "flamboyant" men).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Gemachs Gone Mad

Guest-posted by Nice Jewish Guy:

I'm a subscriber to several local community shul mailing lists-- you know, the ones where people post curb alerts, ask for rides, sell used furniture and appliances, and ask for doctor referrals, etc. Last week there was a message posted to the list asking for the number for the iPod gemach.

I nearly had a conniption. An iPod gemach?!

For those of you who don't know what a "Gemach" is, it is basically a free loan organization. People donate their used items, be it clothes, furniture, appliances, wedding gowns, wheelchairs and medical supplies, etc., which can then be borrowed free of charge by those in need and returned when they are finished using them. For example, a young couple of limited means that is getting married, might turn to the gown gemach for the bride's wedding dress, the furniture gemach for a bed their new apartment, until they can afford a new one; a man with an infirm relative visiting for a yom tov may borrow a walker, wheelchair, or hospital bed from a surgical supply gemach for his relative's visit.

But an iPod gemach? What kind of a person uses an iPod gemach? Does someone wake up one day and say, "You know, I really would like an iPod. But I don't want to actually buy one-- I'll just go to a gemach."

What's next? The flatscreen TV gemach? The Nintendo gemach? The Lexus gemach? Some people need to be taken outside and beaten.

Ripples continued

Just a little more clarity on my previous post.

I'm not down on kiruv. I'm not opposed to outreach or trying to interest people in Orthodox Judaism. I'm down on kiruv as a mindless draw into observance without taking into account whom you are being mekarev; I object to kiruv as an industry and kiruv as a feel-good-about -yourself thing. One of the biggest problems with kiruv is that once people become frum, they are often left hanging with half-baked beliefs and misdirected religious zeal. There is not much done about integrating them the rest of the way into the community.

I have a friend who was enrolled in a program at a ba'alas teshuvah yeshiva in Israel. This friend, Sarah, was a Brooklyn FFB, learning in a truncated seminary program that was housed there. One day, she was in a pizza store near the school, eating a piece of chocolate. This particular brand of chocolate was not under Badatz hechsher; it was under Rabbanut hechsher.

A girl from the BT part of the school, Brenda, walked into the pizza store, saw Sarah and started admonishing her for eating the non-Badatz chocolate, which in her eyes, was as good as treif. Sarah explained to her that she had researched the kashrut situation in this part of Israel and had decided that she would eat Rabbanut milchigs but only Badatz fleishigs. Linda told her that it was still baffling to her as to why a supposedly religious girl would eat questionable chocolate.

Sarah was so upset about the encounter, she spoke to one of the Rebbeim at the school, Rabbi Goldberg. Rabbi Goldberg spent the next class (jointly attended by Sarah and Brenda) explaining that while eating Rabbanut chocolate would probably not postpone Mashiach's arrival, publicly admonishing someone about it without any prior understanding of the situation would.

That is kiruv done right.

More on Ripples

I wrote a while back about ripples. Part of my coming to terms with the possibility that I might have be alone as I go through life is coping with the frustration of not being able to really give back to my community.

When I lived out-of-NY, I worked for a secular Jewish organization
for a year or two. I was the sole Orthodox Jew on staff. Needless to say, I was often called upon to be the "Rabbi" when it came to matters of religion. Mostly, I found this role annoying, but secular Jews who live outside of the NY area tend to know very, very little about religious/halachic matters. Since I was the token Ortho, I was also very conscious of my actions, knowing that any normal office pettiness or slacking off on my part would be held up as an example of typical behavior of all Orthodox people. That's just the way those things work. I'm sure I messed up quite a few times.

So while I was married, I wore a sheitel to work every day. I used to spend a ton of money on my wigs, so it was a very good sheitel. Then, the day after I received my get, I uncovered my hair. This was the reaction at work:

"Are you not wearing a wig any more because you are angry at God over the divorce?"

"Are you not wearing a wig anymore because you hate men now?"

"Did your husband force you to wear a wig?"

"Did your Rabbi give you permission to take off the wig?"

You don't realize what ripples you cause by simple little actions. It took me a while to articulate the message that a) I was not angry at God at all, b) I covered my hair when I was married because I believed it was the right and good thing to do, not because my ex forced me, c) if I ever remarried, I intended to re-cover it, d) the heter that I received did not mean that my Rabbi "permitted" me to uncover it (very hard to explain to secular Jews that Rabbis aren't the bosses of Judaism) but rather explained to me why halacha permitted me to uncover it.

Luckily, office gossip flies at the speed of light, so the explanation got around quickly. Not sure how much of it was really understood. The most important thing that I wanted to convey was that uncovering my hair was not an act of defiance.

In small, out-of-NY Jewish communities, one of the hottest products of the observant Jewish world is kiruv. Kiruv is very sexy. In this particular community, there were tons of outreach programs, classes, seminars and, to my great dismay, kiruv professionals. Oy.

I do hold one quasi-heretical belief. I don't think that every Jew was meant to be frum. The frum life requires a level of sacrifice, belief and separation that is really hard to sustain. I think that not everyone was cut out for it. So I take issue with some of the methods that these kiruv professionals employed to bring people back to the fold.

I was never purposefully mekarev anyone. I just don't have the tools to do it in what I think is the proper way. And yet, I do believe in "kiruv by example." Just as what is wrong with Orthodox Judaism is really Jews behaving badly, what will make Orthodox Judaism shine and grow is Jews behaving well.

I don't save birthday cards or those sorts of things. But I have a goodbye card that a friend of mine gave me right before I moved back to NY. This friend is not the mushy, fluffy emotional type....she's a straight shooter and a bright woman. The card she gave to me is something I treasure. Here's an excerpt of what is written on it:

Your knowledge and love for Judaism have taught me so much. You have educated me by example on how to live a Jewish life. You are my gold standard for Jewish living.

I tear up a little when I read that, because even though the author of the card gave me way too much credit, I find it incredible that perhaps I was able to introduce someone else to the truthfulness of a God-centered life. It gives me some comfort that in my barren, painful, mostly wasted last few years, maybe I did a little good in this world. Or at least, that's what I like to tell myself. Sorry, there's that obnoxious self-pity again.

Maybe these ripples are what I will ultimately end up contributing to the klal. Because in my current situation, there sure isn't much else that I can give.

Aliens have kidnapped my friends and replaced them with Frummies

I realize that EVERYONE thinks that they are square in the middle when it comes to religious practice. We all think that those to the right of us are wacked-out frum and those to the left of us are not religious enough. But WE, we are practicing the "golden mean," or optimal middle-of-the-road Orthodox Judaism, that is the perfect confluence of modernity and mesorah (forget about the fact that just being Orthodox puts you way over on the right).

So yes, I do feel this way about myself, that I am floating somewhere in the middle of Perfectly Balanced Land...a frum, college-educated, career girl who wants a family and a life immersed in Yiddishkeit. And a new Ipod.

And I also realize that I am totally full of it. Because what does that mean, middle-of-the-road Orthodox Judaism? Modern Orthodoxy comes in about ninety different flavors these days. Who declared my brand of Jewish practice the one that is Perfectly Balanced? How do you quantify what is ideal? How do you arrive at the Perfectly Balanced equation? Add Flatbush and Passaic on one side, the Upper West Side and Riverdale on the other side, average them together, and then re-average that with weighted portions of Out-0f-Town, Queens, Teaneck and Long Island? Huh? So I know that my perception is completely colored by my need to feel that I am skipping down the right Jewish path and that my lifestyle doesn't need too much work. Ah, but doesn't it?

I have some friends that used to live on the UWS when they were single. We were all on equal hashkafic footing in those days, all pretty much the same flavor of MO, with just different toppings. So, they met and married and lived in a variety of places before the kids arrived, and finally bought a house in Passaic. The last few times I've been there for Shabbos, I've been hearing alarm bells that tell me that they are slowly moving away from me in their religious outlook (or maybe it's me moving away from them?) and I can't help but wonder why. This Shabbat, it became clear from some of the arguments/discussions we've been having, that my friends have left the building and Passaic has eaten their brains. From their side, I think they sensed the growing rift as well. I heard some comments like "what happened to you, WebGirl, that you have become so liberal."

Wow, no one has ever, EVER accused me of being liberal, not in my politics, nor in my Judaism. Could it be that somewhere in my internal wanderings, I have moved to the left?

Nah. Has to be that they have moved to the right. But I wonder.

I don't like change. Frankly, I have had way too much change in my life over the last few years. I don't like stuff that rocks my world and makes me rethink things. It's scary, Ma. If my friends' hashkafic outlooks are going/growing one way, why isn't mine going that way too? Is it because their lives are full with a good marriage and children, and mine is so empty? What is the difference between change and growth? Are my friends growing spiritually and leaving me in my holding pattern? Or have aliens landed and lobotomized them?

Or is it me they have lobotomized?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rick, No More

Ok, so for this one, I really set myself up to be disappointed. And I am. Our lunch date was pleasant enough, but I felt zero emotional connection to this wonderful, sweet, brilliant man. Zero. Not a flicker, not a spark, nothing.

I'm going to get on my treadmill and run about five miles till I really hurt so that I don't cry.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Rick, yet again.

I had phone call #4 with Rick. We spoke for hours. He has an amazing vocabulary. Why do guys with large vocabularies turn me on so much?

Now I am dying to meet him. I might even break my vow and blow-dry my hair on Sunday. I know I am setting myself up for a major disappointment, but at least I'm feeling something again. It's been a while.

So, what should I wear?

Watch this space. :)

I Like Shredding


I hate paper. I do everything on my computer. I mean everything. I can't even think with a pen in my hand anymore. I barely print out anything...in the past 10 months, I have not gone through even a full ream of paper. I am a big thrower-outer. I save virtually nothing unless I absolutely need it.

And yet, I have so much paper in my life...it just accumulates and takes over and fills up my desk and the spare chairs in my office. I have three filing cabinets, all nearly full. Even with all my weeding out and proactive discarding, I am still swimming, drowning in paper. I don't know how it happens. And my office trash bin is constantly filling up with paper paper paper.

In an effort to reduce the deluge, I bought myself a shredder. It has changed my life. I shred everything. Junk mail, catalogs, notes, stickies. I go through everything all the time and I shred it all.

And ya know what? I really like shredding. A lot. It's perverse. After I sort my mail, I like putting all the refuse through the slot, watching the little teeth mash and slice away at the paper. I really like putting through the periodicals, and watching the shredder work to destroy the multiple layers of evil papers. It's fun. It's so oddly satisfying. It's like when Letterman drops watermelons out of windows.

I am such a three year old.

Please no comments/flames about needing a life or recycling, pretty please. I know.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

!#$%^&*!


Damn writers strike! They are postponing the airing of 24 indefinitely. They can't do this to me. This is terrible. Mamzerim.

You know, Jack Bauer would know how to resolve this strike. Permanently.

OMG

Three different people have written to me asking why I always say "God" and not "G-d." I didn't realize that this was such a burning issue.

Here's the deal. "God" is no more the name of Hashem than "Dieu" (French) or "Dios" (Spanish) or "Dei" ( Latin) is. It is simply the English noun for Hashem. While I can appreciate the extra respect given to the word that is implied by the dash, I feel it is not necessary. I also feel that dashing out the center letter might erroneously lead people to believe that "God" is the name of Hashem.

Thanksgiving's Coming Up


I love Thanksgiving.

The idea of taking one day out and stepping back and saying, "heya God, thanks!" is really appealing to me. Plus I love all the trappings of the holiday...the joyfully unhealthy food, the men gathered around the football game, the long weekend, Macy's parade, the bad turkey jokes, the family squabbling, the pageantry, the shopping....love it love it love it. Love everything about it.

Growing up in NY, I used to go to Manhattan on the Wednesday night before with my friends, to watch the parade balloons being blown up ....it also got us out of the house so our Moms could cook in peace. Later on, I used to do that with dates. No matter how warmly we were dressed, it was always freezing. No matter how comfortable my shoes were, my feet always ached afterwards.

When I moved out-of-town, I had to learn how to make Thanksgiving food from scratch. Outside of NY, it is not so easy to pick up kosher stuffing mix or a can of cranberry sauce with a hechsher. So, I'd buy the real cranberries for the sauce and roast the pine nuts and chestnuts to put into the stuffing, etc. I'm actually a pretty good cook when I bother. My pareve pumpkin pie is, like, to die for, dahling.

This year, I invited my family over to my house for Thanksgiving. Imagine my surprise when my sister-in-law announced to me that they would be happy to come, but that they no longer believed in Thanksgiving. It was, ahem, pagan and goyish. Yes.

Just by way of explanation, my brother married a more Yeshivish girl, who has been progressively going further and further over to the dark side these last few years.

I said to her, "Leah, you are an idiot."

I'm usually not that articulate, but I felt the need for clarity. She was messing with one of my favorite things and imposing her Yeshivish wackiness on it. I sent her this link to a halachic discussion of the nature of Thanksgiving, which only seemed to strengthen her resolve that it was not to be purposefully celebrated.

Whatever.

I got her to promise that she would not be mentioning this nonsense in front of my Mom. And she and my bro and their kids are still coming for the meal with my other siblings, so I can't complain. See, this is the sort of stuff that is not Jewish, it's just neuroses hiding behind Judaism.

Gobble, gobble, baby.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

In a Nutshell


I have had a few interesting email back-and-forths from a new reader (also a blogger) who found me through this (thank you JDJ), asking me what I believe, where I am at Jewishly, etc. I guess certain blogs follow a particular style and he questioned the absence of religious angst in mine.

Sooooo.....

Here's my attempt to neatly package up What I Believe:
1) I think that 95% of what is wrong with Orthodox Judaism is the fault of the people who practice it, not the doctrine. This is an important distinction.
2) The presence of evil in this world does not challenge my belief in God or Torah.
3) Sometimes I just face the fact that I don't like halacha and I don't understand halacha, but this doesn't mean that I am entitled to reject halacha.

This is not one of those blogs where I am going to post a great deal about my struggle with religion, mainly because I just don't struggle all that much. I question many things about my Orthodoxy and there are beliefs and practices in the Chareidi world that make me want scream. But questioning is not the same as struggling. I think that since I grew up Modern Orthodox and not Yeshivish, I don't have a lot of the issues that some other bloggers have, mostly because I wasn't subject to some of the hypocrisy with which they have had to deal. MO Judaism has its own set of challenges, of course.

Mind you, regarding these bloggers, the ones that do struggle, I am in awe of their scholarship, their thoughtfulness and their intellectual honesty (most of the time), and my heart goes out to them when I read that blogging is the only outlet they have to air out their issues. The closet atheists, Orthopraxs, self-proclaimed tongue-in-cheek apikorsim...most of them are functional Orthodox Jews who are so torn between what they feel, what they know, and what they must do. It's a little tragic that we have produced this sub-culture and that there are so few places in Orthodox society for them to go public. That said, their struggles are intellectually challenging, but they're not my struggles.

When I come face to face with an ugly aspect of my religion, I make distinctions between Jews behaving badly and Judaism behaving badly. I know that many other bloggers will write this off as hair-splitting, or worse, a cop-out, but I have known so many warped people that have hidden behind religion in order to play out their neuroses.

First case in point: I know a frum married woman who is terrified of sex. Instead of trying to work through it, she buries it in what she calls tsnius. Her husband, who has one foot off the derech at this point (largely because of this), is in a state of ongoing torment and guilt. I have had conversations with him where he lashes out at the oppressive Jewish upbringing that has made his wife so tsanuah, that it has wrung all the joy out of their intimate life. When he inevitably divorces her, he will surely look for a less-than tsanuah woman as his second wife. I try to convince him that nothing about Orthodox Judaism promotes this twisted view of tsnius, that it is just the opposite, and that it is his wife that is wrong, not Jewish feminine modesty, but he is in so much pain, he can't hear it.

Second case: I know a woman who is an agunah. Without going into her story in great detail, her ex-husband (who beat her during the course of their marriage) repels all demands for a get with the words "I am exercising my right as a Jewish husband to hold on to my marriage." Now, many of this agunah's supporters are furious with the halachot that are keeping this innocent woman bound to this psychotic monster, and feel that these halachot need to be changed. I don't. I understand the legal and halachic construct of Jewish marriage. I don't like it. I wish it didn't work the way it does. But I'm not angry with halacha, because what this get-withholding bastard is doing is clearly not the will of God and even more clearly a perversion of halacha. I loathe
him, not the halachic rules that technically empower him to keep his wife chained to him.

I don't struggle with the presence of evil in the world. It doesn't shake my belief at all. In many important ways, it strengthens it. My father, ah"s, was a force to be reckoned with. He survived the Holocaust, losing half of his family members along the way. When Dad would speak to my siblings and me about what happened to him, he would always wind it up with a warning that what happened in the Holocaust was the clearest indicator that it was the job of the Jewish people to bring light into this world. My father believed that the only way to stamp out the thinking that leads people to commit evil was through Torah, that ethical behavior, ahavas chinam and ahavas Yisroel, would replace the flames of Hitler's inferno with the fire of the Torah. Call this corny, call it a platitude, but it's hard to argue with a survivor.

Stephen King has a wonderful quote in his introduction to
Four Past Midnight:

"I still believe in the resilience of the human heart and the essential validity of love; I still believe that connections between people and the spirits which inhabit us sometimes touch. I still believe that the cost of these connections is horribly, outrageously high...and I still believe that the value received far outweighs the price which must be paid. I still believe, I suppose, in the coming of the White and in finding a place to make a stand...and defending that place to the death. They are old-fashioned concerns and beliefs, but I would be a liar if I did not admit that I own them. And that they still own me."
They own me too.

What about the bad stuff that happens in this world that is not caused by people, but by chance and nature? What about cancer, car accidents, tsunamis, babies dying, etc.? The honest answer is that I don't know. I simply don't know. And struggling with this question is noble. But I don't let what I don't know force me into rejecting what I still believe. I'm sorry if that's a weak answer. I guess much of this comes down to belief.

I don't believe in platitudes and I don't believe in making excuses for religion. It is what it is. If you don't like it, question it, challenge it, fold, mutilate and spindle it, but see it for what it is. I don't pretend to understand or like everything about halacha. But God didn't ask me what I thought when He designed the Torah, so it's my tough noogies. Luckily, He put many faces on the Torah, and gave us some leeway (though not much) to choose our roads to Him. Like a sign I saw on the West Side Highway over a yoga studio: One Truth, Many Paths. So my particular flavor of practice is Torah U'Maddah Modern Orthodoxy. It works for me, continues to strengthen my dveykus to God, and lets me sleep at night.

So, yeah, that's it.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for....

To anyone who needs cheering up on this dreary Tuesday, click here and take a friend out for a little sugar.

Good quote...

...on an online ad for The Economist: "Great Minds Like a Think."

Allocate and lower your risk

MyMoneyBlog has a good post on asset allocation. I tend to be a risk-taker and I pretend to myself that I will be able to work forever, so I definitely need to throw some more of my retirement money into bonds. Hate losing those steep returns that stocks give me, though. I'm such a baby.

60 Second Wisdom/60 Second Drivel

The University of Pennsylvania has something called "The 60 Second Lecture Series." Each week, a professor, who is usually at the top of his/her field, delivers a one-minute lecture on a relevant topic. They have distributed a cd-rom of some of these and I'm listening to a few on my Ipod. Many of these are excellent, like this one, delivered by Vijay Balasubramanian, Merriam Term Associate Professor of Physics:

The most amazing thing about this world of wonders is that we can understand it. It is not at all evident why this had to be the case, but it is the case, and there are two reasons why. First, underneath all of the immense complexity and apparent randomness of the natural world, there seems to be an intricate order. To perceive this order we must look beneath the surface - often with specialized instruments, but it is there nevertheless. What is more, the human mind can apparently understand the underlying structure in the universe. A cat can’t understand calculus, and likewise there is no compelling reason why the inner workings of the universe should be comprehensible to us. But they are. The human mind apparently apprehends the abstract patterns within the universal weave. We can see, for example, that the orbits around the sun can be simply described as ellipses. We can give a complete description of the physics of light in four short equations that would fit on a t-shirt. Nature is replete with such miraculous orderly relations. And the human sense of aesthetic simplicity seems to be an excellent guide to comprehending that order. Perhaps, as the poet concluded, "Beauty is truth and truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know."

Oh baby. That is great stuff. And this guy is a physicist, for Pete's sake, and he's pointing out how amazing and near miraculous it is that people can understand how the world works. And he's right; it is, and we need to revel in that more.

Then there's this guy. Ok, maybe I shouldn't lambaste him just because I vehemently disagree with him. But boy is he wrong. This is from Dennis DeTurck, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Evan C. Thompson Endowed Term Professor for Excellence in Teaching, Department of Mathematics.

Math educators at Penn, Rutgers and the City University of New York have recently joined together to found something called “Metro Math,” which is a project funded by the National Science Foundation. One focus of the group is to study how schoolchildren cope with the arithmetic of fractions and to seek and test new ways of teaching fractions. Well, I have a simple suggestion when it comes to teaching fractions in elementary school. Don’t.


Now, it’s difficult for me as a mathematician to entertain the notion that fractions, or “rational numbers,” as they’re known in the math biz, should be eliminated, not only from the curriculum but from polite society as well. But I’d argue that imposing the study of fractions on kids does much more harm than good by replacing confidence and understanding with confusion and memorization, and by using up time that could be better spent understanding about more about decimals and other things. It’s not that writing ratios like 385 over 23 should be banned. But such expressions should simply no longer be considered to be numbers. After all, what kind of answer is “385 over 23,” when “about 16.7” conveys the same information so much more directly?


Fractions have had their day, being useful for by-hand calculation of non-integers. But in this digital age, they’re obsolete as Roman numerals are. And there’s nothing so rational about rational numbers anyway. You have different representations for the same number, like three-sixths and four-eights. Fractions are harder to add than to multiply. What’s with that? And you have all the jargon, like “improper fraction” and “mixed number.” My gosh, if Tom DeLay hears about this, he’ll be proposing a constitutional amendment to ban it.


Despite the fact that great historical and theoretical significance has been imported to fractions and rational numbers, its study should be deferred until it’s really needed and can be appreciated, which may not be until after somebody learns calculus. Premature emphasis on rational numbers is of little practical use and turns kids off to further mathematical study because it’s so confusing. So I say, “Down with Fractions.” Thanks.


I can barely believe my ears. I don't even know where to begin to attack this. Ok, how about this....visualize .125. C'mon, visualize it. I know you can do it. Can't? Ok, how about visualizing 1/8? Right.

And that political crack about the language of fractions and the Tom DeLay joke was so obnoxiously typical of an Ivy academic.

I don't care how good this guy's credentials are. I don't understand why the concept of fractions has become obsolete. Mathematical concepts don't really do that. And what about fractions "replacing confidence and understanding with confusion and memorization?" Huh? Not only doesn't he make his case, he is substituting mushy, misplaced liberal thinking for logic.

He's just wrong on this.

Girl Stuff


I was helping my Mom clean out some things on Sunday, and she took out her jewelry box, which is always fun for me. My family is close, and my sisters, sister-in-law and nieces all swap and borrow jewelry as needed. It's like a family gemach. If someone is going to a simcha and they want to borrow Bubbe's diamond circle pin for their suit (which my older sister inherited), or Great-Aunt Shaindy's pearl bracelet (which my niece got on her Bas Mitzvah), no prob. When I got married, I got a hideous ruby pendant from one of my aunts and I traded it for my sis-i.-l.'s vintage emerald ring, that I remember my grandmother wearing. Sharing and swapping just extends your jewelry possibilities, and keeps everything in the family. We all love and enjoy our trinkets and each piece is full of memories.

So my Mom's jewelry box has become a repository for all the fake and real jewelry that the females in my family have left in her house over the years. Some of it is beyond ugly, some of it is very pretty, lots of it has sentimental value, much of it begs to be thrown out. That jewelry box held everything from dainty old filigree brooches from pre-state Israel that are probably over 100 years old, to gigantic clunky plastic Madonna wannabe earrings from the 80's. My family was never wealthy, but we always did love our baubles. So Mom and I sorted out jewelry that needed to be returned to family members, rarely worn valuable jewelry that had to go into the vault, hideous dreck that I was definitely putting on eBay, and jewelry that needed to be cleaned or fixed.

Then she surprised me.

She took out a little dark green box that I had never seen before. Inside were three cameos, of different sizes and colors. They were beautiful and looked very old. Apparently my grandfather had picked them up in Florence many years ago. I didn't remember my mother or anyone else in my family ever wearing them. My Mom told me she wore them in her youth, and very few times after she was married. She showed me an interesting way of wearing a cameo in my hair (!), with just the front part of my hair twirled up to meet in the back, and the cameo anchoring the twirls in place. It looked so pretty and feminine and unusual, even in my curly mess. She said that's how she used to wear them. Funny, I never thought of wearing jewelry in my hair. So old-fashioned and girly. I really liked it.

My family is very "real." We don't have a lot of Kodak moments, but when we do, they are infused with reality and salt...nothing fluffy or mushy about Famille de la WebGirl.

Mom gave me the cameos. I am the only one in my family who really has a love of old things and she knows that. She told me she was sure that I would someday have a daughter or daughter-in-law to pass them on to, just as she passed them on to me. Of course I started bawling at that, not just because of the jewelry, but because I am starting to lose faith that I will ever have a family. My mother said she had no doubt that I would and that I would love my children even more because they will have been hard-earned, and that I really needed to stop feeling sorry for myself, because it was unbecoming and would only drag me down.

I do love Mom sometimes. And I love my beautiful new old cameos.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

So whatcha think of the new colors? I was just bored. Needed a new look. Not sure if it's a keeper.

I'm thinking of cutting my hair too.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Rick Again

Third phone call with my future husband, Rick. I like him. I think if I can just buy him a sense of humor, we might have something here.

He takes himself a leeeettle bit to seriously. Just a smidgen.

Good signs: each time we talk, it's for two hours and even when we hang up, I always feel like I could have said more. He's frum, worldly, has his ducks in a row, is polite, sweet, hardworking sensitive, incredibly learned, well-read. He drops little side tidbits of information that make me like him more. He's very open...asked me about my divorce but not in that intrusive, judgmental way that former dates have. Never been married, dying to, wants to have kids , picket fence, badly. He just seems to want to get to know me. I don't feel like he's evaluating me.

Bad signs: He's a little socially awkward, at least on the phone (wished me a good Shab on Tuesday, etc.). He can't stop quoting things. He tends to go on and on, though he'll catch himself and let me talk. Never been married (that's a double-edged sword).

Of course, all of this is academic until we go out. He's 6' 1" (he let that out by accident), and I love tall guys and as I've mentioned before, I've already seen his picture, but you know how fickle chemistry can be.

I like him. Today speaking to him, I felt, a tiny little spark. Yes.

Shakey Money

So the big financial news yesterday was that the Fed Fund Rate dropped another quarter point to 4.5%. Supposedly this is to enable people to borrow money more easily "in hopes of boosting the ailing housing market and buoying the overall economy." Someone explain this to me please, because I am dumb. I thought one of the problems behind the "ailing housing market" was the flood of foreclosures from all those people who couldn't afford to buy houses, who got sub-prime mortgages that they couldn't pay? So the solution to that is to enable more people who are incapable of paying mortgages to qualify for them?

I don't know. I ain't no economist but does that make sense?

What I do know is that hardworking Joes like me who have been socking most of their nest eggs into high yield savings accounts are going to suffer, because banks everywhere are dropping their rates like rocks. I hate to lose the liquidity, but I am scouting around for a high yield cd, just so that I can lock in a decent rate for a while. I've got Everbank's intro rate of 6.01% until January, and then it's going to be slim pickin's. Thanks a lot, Ben Bernanke.

I keep debating whether to start thinking about buying a house this year. Yes, it is certainly a buyer's market, but this slump will continue for a few more years, at least. If I do buy, I need to be able to commit to living in it for a while and paying the mortgage for a few years. I keep asking myself, what if I get married in a year and move to Oshkosh? I will be forced to sell it at a loss or rent it out; both prospects make me nervous.

This is one of the reasons I miss being married. When finances get scary, at least you have a partner in the same boat as you.

Scientist Busts Al

This was a good article on Townhall.com.

It basically mentioned, that hey, guess what, there were actual scientists who also won the Nobel Prize this year, besides that idiot, Al Gore.

Here's an excerpt from an interview with Nobel winner John Cristy, a member of both the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and director of the University of Alabama's Earth System Science Center:

Miles O'Brien: I assume you're not happy about sharing this award with Al Gore. You going to renounce it in some way?

John Christy: Well, as a scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, I always thought that - I may sound like the Grinch who stole Christmas here - that prizes were given for performance, and not for promotional activities. And, when I look at the world, I see that the carbon dioxide rate is increasing, and energy demand, of course, is increasing. And that's because, without energy, life is brutal and short. So, I don't see very much effect in trying to scare people into not using energy, when it is the very basis of how we can live in our society.

O'Brien: So, what about the movie ("An Inconvenient Truth") do you take issue with, then, Dr. Christy?

Christy: Well, there's any number of things. I suppose, fundamentally, it's the fact that someone is speaking about a science that I have been very heavily involved with and have labored so hard in, and been humiliated by, in the sense that the climate is so difficult to understand, Mother Nature is so complex, and so the uncertainties are great, and then to hear someone speak with such certainty and such confidence about what the climate is going to do is - well, I suppose I could be kind and say, it's annoying to me.

O'Brien: But you just got through saying that the carbon dioxide levels are up. Temperatures are going up. There is a certain degree of certainty that goes along with that, right?

Christy: Well, the carbon dioxide is going up. And remember that carbon dioxide is plant food in the fundamental sense. All of life depends on the fact carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere. So, we're fortunate it's not a toxic gas. But, on the other hand, what is the climate doing? And when we build - and I'm one of the few people in the world that actually builds these climate data sets - we don't see the catastrophic changes that are being promoted all over the place. For example, I suppose CNN did not announce two weeks ago when the Antarctic sea ice extent reached its all-time maximum, even though, in the Arctic in the North Pole, it reached its all-time minimum.
And so heretically on. There are others like Dr. Christy out there in the scientific community who don't believe the best way to approach science is in a panic.

"Heretically on" indeed. People are so concerned with spouting their politically correct garbage blahblahblah about the environment, that they don't realize how many good scientists don't believe there is enough evidence to support the whole global warming theory at all. The science is actually pretty ambiguous on both sides of the coin. And that, Al baby, is an inconvenient truth.

So sorry to disappoint, Al, but you got trumped on this one by an actual man of science, not propaganda. But don't worry. I'm sure you will still be able to go on Oprah.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Yet another gripe (I wish I would just shut up)

Why do so many guys from the Midwest sound effeminate on the phone? SYAS guy called. Yuk. I need a guy to sound like a guy.

You're going to hate me for saying this, but this just fuels my sneaking suspicion that any guy over 40 who has never been married might be.... well, you know. Not that there's anything wrong with that. ;)

Then again, I am the queen of bad judgments. For example, in my pre-marital single days, I thought that it wasn't normal for guys to not be interested in spectator sports, and that was surely a sign of, ahem, non-masculinity. I suspect this came from my idealized vision of my father, who was very masculine and paternal, and loved watching football, basketball, baseball, soccer, you name it. God played a cosmic joke on me. I was married to a pretty masculine guy...one who was constantly glued to the tube and preferred watching sports to spending any time with me. So much for that brilliant theory.

I'm in a bad mood. Maybe today was just a bad day to call.

Five somewhat interesting things about me that you will not read in my stupid Frumster profile:

1. I would rather eat pickles and olives than chocolate. Yes. I eat them right out of the jar. I have been known to eat pickle/olive sandwiches.
2. I was a National Merit Scholar in high school and it paid for most of my college education.
3. I once went hang gliding in California. I loved it. Whoosh.
4. I dig vampire literature, tv shows and movies.
5. I've never seen a pornographic movie or magazine. Ever.

Your turn. This means you, NJG, Lubab No More, Smoo, Jacob Da Jew, Come Running, Shmilda, Curlygirl, Myrtle and anyone else out there. Even if you want to be anonymous, I don't care. Just be interesting. Go.

Superstitious (how appropriate for motzei Halloween/isru chag)

So this is kinda creepy. (cue Twilight Zone music. du du du du...du du du du....)

I just said yes to a match on SYAS. Sounds like a good guy, though he is ten years older than me. But that's not the creepy part. This is:

His last name is only one letter off from my former married name.

Ok, now I'm just being stupid again, right? I am, right? Right?

My future husband, Rick, again

So Rick called again tonight. Another very intellectual conversation, at least on his part. I find that when someone is overly academic, I dumb myself down a bit, always feeling the need to "average" towards normal. I like him so far, but I'm still concerned that he can't be ordinary and human.

I have another concern. You're going to think this is stupid. I mentioned my father passed away a few years ago? Rick has the same first Hebrew name as my Dad. Is this ridiculous? I don't know. It would be a tremendous comfort to me to someday have a son with his name. On the other hand, it's so hard to meet someone with whom you click these days. I know if my father were here, he would tell me to concentrate on getting married and nothing else.

We also might have some hashkafic differences, though if I like him enough (we'll see when we actually go out), these are workable.