Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And Death to Other Evil Beverages as well

From the demonstration in Manhattan yesterday:


Hat tip to Little Green Footballs.

Ok, so this sign is pretty funny, but just in case you might have a weensy bit of sympathy toward Hamas buried deep in your heart, let's do a little putting-this-shoe-on-the-other-foot. Try to imagine Jews at a peace rally, protesting violence, with a sign that says "Death to All Arabs" (or perhaps "Death to All Ear Rubs"). Yeah, that would go over well.

Monday, December 29, 2008

I Heart the United Nations

Like we didn't expect this:

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday called for an immediate halt to the violence in southern Israel and in Gaza, where Israel launched rocket attacks against Hamas positions, killing at least 195 people. "The Secretary-General is deeply alarmed by today's heavy violence and bloodshed in Gaza, and the continuation of violence in southern Israel," the United Nations said in a statement posted on its website.
Ahem.

Dear United Nations,

Please kiss my bloggering butt. Go ____ yourself. Take a long walk off a short pier. Go to Hell. Bite me.

Lots of love,
WebGirl

Pass it on.

I am a huge fan of the gemach system. I hate wasting stuff. If there are things that are perfectly good and you don't want them anymore, pass them on. And on the flip side, if there is something you need that is going to be for a very short term use, why invest in it? To me, this sort of recycling is the real "going green," meaning not wasting resources. The problem with doing this is that you need an organized way of getting the stuff flowing in the right directions. Enter gemachs, which are basically a community-organized repository for things that will either be loaned or given to parties who need them. I got my wedding gown from a gemach. I could afford to spend $3,000 on a new, gorgeous Vera Wang for my special day, but why on earth would I? I borrowed a beautiful gown from a gemach, had it cleaned and altered to my size, enhanced it a little with lace and seed pearls, and wrote that $3,000 check to three charities instead, and was thrilled to do so. When my father passed away, I donated thousands of dollars of medical equipment, diabetes supplements and even medicine to various gemachs in New York and Israel. Why should any of this stuff go to waste? I was told by the manager of the diabetes gemach that a man without health insurance was so grateful to take the supplements (which my Dad got gratis from medicare). Pass it on.

There are many versions of gemach systems out there now, thanks to the power of the internet and to the needs that were created by the crummy economy. I belong to two listservers, one Jewish and one not. Let's start with the non-Jewish one, Freecycle.org. Go to the site, look for the freecycle listserver in your community and sign up. Here's how Freecycle describes itself:

The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,658 groups with 6,281,255 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and thus keeping good stuff out of landfills.

Membership is free, and everything posted must be FREE, legal and appropriate for all ages. To view the items being given away or sought in ________, you must be a member of the local group. To view the local group posts, visit the local Yahoo Group where they are located by clicking on the link below.

I joined the list in my area, and so far have gotten new hubcaps for my car (I lost one in an accident earlier this year, and the dealer wanted $75 for just one new one) and a great sewing machine that someone didn't want any more. People give away everything. Thank God, I don't need used clothes or linens, but I have seen people post everything from sports bras to old Ipods to china cabinets to dog food. Since it's all neighborhood based, you post what you'd like to get rid of, and the first taker simply picks it up. If you don't want to deal with people coming into your house, just leave stuff in front of your lawn or in a bag on your porch. If I move this year, I'm going to be giving away tons of stuff via this list.

Then there are the "frummie" lists. These are more specific to the needs of the Ortho Jewish community. For example, people commonly give away stuff like a fleishig dishwasher, or say, a size 8 cobalt blue mother-of-the-bride dress, which you know will be tzniusdik (modest). Also, you can sell stuff on the Jewish lists, like a sheitl that you no longer like or a laptop. These lists are also a little more free-form, asking for things like recommendations for dermatologists or posting a job, or giving out a name for a Tehillim list. There are some excellent community lists on Yahoo and Luach, for starters...write to me if you can't find one for your community. My roommate and I found a great dining room set this way...there was nothing wrong with it, but someone who was richer than we were was redecorating. We paid a local guy to deliver it and we had a table and chairs that probably cost several thousand dollars just a few years ago.

No matter how much money I will ever have, I will always like the idea of conserving resources and recycling things that other people don't need, not because Planet Earth is dying or anything, but because it's ridiculous not to get smart about waste. When I lived out of NY, I had a friend who was married to a multi-millionaire. They didn't live an exorbitant lifestyle, but they lived well, and she never had to worry about money, which is a blessing. When I was getting divorced, I gave away almost all of my shul hats, thinking that if I got re-married, I'd want new, in-style ones anyway. Some of those hats cost around $200. Most of them went to her, not because she couldn't afford to buy herself new hats, but because she liked them, they matched her outfits, and frankly, she is the type of person who will eventually pass the hats on to the next person when she gets tired of them.

Pass it on.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Chanukah songs that are actually good

Happy Chanukah!

In honor of the fact that today was both a Christian and Jewish holiday, I spent the day in bed, sleeping, eating chocolate chip cookies and watching the Law and Order marathon. It's been so long since I spent an entire day doing absolutely nothing. It was great. I feel guilty, but it was nice.

So here are my favorite somewhat secular, offbeat Chanukah songs. I can't link to the mp3s but I can link to the YouTube videos and Rhapsody plays, where they are available. These are the seven songs on my Ipod Chanukah playlist. It seems that I really should have eight. I'm wide open to suggestions.

In no particular order:

1. The Chanukah Song by Adam Sandler (a classic)

2. Rock of Ages by Marc Cohn (from Festival of Lights vol. 1)...you can hear this on Rhapsody.

3. Rock of Ages by Erran Baron Cohen (featuring Jules Brookes)...also on Rhapsody.

4. Latke Clan by the LeeVees (from Rooftop Roots vol. 2: a JDub Mixtape)

5. How Do You Spell Channukkah? by the LeeVees (from Rooftop Roots vol. 2: a JDub Mixtape)

6. Lighting Up the World by Peter Himmelman and David Broza (from Festival of Lights vol. 1)...ignore the video, just listen to the audio.

7. Haneros Hallalu by Le'Eyla (from Festival of Lights vol. 2)...this one is also on Rhapsody

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Finally, for all you fans of the opening on the Monty Python show, here is the very unhalachic but cool way the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design lights their Chanukah menorah.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Investigating and Exonerating....Yourself


Am I off-base here? Am I the only one who thinks it's weird for Obama's own counsel to investigate Obama's office?

Gregory Craig, the new White House counsel, concluded that there was no improper communication between Obama, anyone in his office, and Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich. But Craig is a long-time Obama adviser and this was deemed "an internal investigation." I don't get it. Shouldn't an external agency investigate Obama's office? I mean, how meaningful is it for an office to investigate itself?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Questionable.


Go ahead. Take a look at some of the "questionable" ballots in the Coleman-Franken recount. I just cannot believe sane people are putting up with this crap.

The only thing that's questionable is treating this fraudulent lunacy like it was a just cause. And you know what? Coleman is going to lose the election because good men didn't have the guts to stand up to evil.

Stealing, Lying, Fraud, and how we do nothing to stop it

I cannot believe it. I cannot freakin believe it.

Ballot Madness: Tipping the Scales in Minnesota's Senate Recount

If Franken steals this, it will be because the Republican party is made up of a bunch of weenies who do nothing to fight lying, corruption, and fraud. We are weenies, weenies, weenies, who cannot find our guts with both hands.

I'm so angry. This bs should have been put to an end at the first recount.

Ka-ching

Since my car accident earlier this year, my annual auto insurance premiums went up quite a bit. Just on a whim, I emailed my agent and told her that my premiums were too high and that I was getting bids from other agents and asked if could she do any better.

Fifteen minutes later I got an email from her saying she'd lower my annual premium by $500.

$500! Based on an email request!

Webgirl, what did we learn today?

  1. We learned that it never hurts to ask if a vendor can do a little better for you. The worst you can hear back is "no."

  2. We learned that I need to stay more on top of my expenses.

  3. We learned that I need to be more proactive and stop relying on everyone else to do right by me.

  4. We learned that I was probably getting shafted by my insurance company to begin with.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Interesting meme

Interesting meme. It's from Trilcat and a million other places. Got a blog? You're tagged. Got no blog? Comment or email me.

The idea is, I'm supposed to take this list and color all the things I have done. 47/99

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world (both)
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang/played a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning ( I was afraid I wouldn't die)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables (tomatoes)
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train (in Italy)
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted (unless you count caricaturists, no)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Gotten flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (Moped yes)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury (got out of it every time)
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Made a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Burning down the house to get rid of the termite problem

We ordinary Janes and Joes rely on experts. We get sick, we go to the doctor. The doctor graduated from med school and passed difficult boards, so presumably, he or she knows way more about what's wrong with us than we do. So we trust the doctor. We take the medicine or have the surgery. Whatever you say, Doc. We trust the expert.

Our economy appears to be in the crapper. So what do we know? We're just average Janes and Joes, going to work, putting our paychecks in the bank, buying the occasional stock, mutual fund, cd, paying our mortgages, bills, credit cards. We trust in our government. We trust in the economic experts.

What the _______ was the Federal reserve thinking yesterday when they dropped the Fed rate to near zero? What? Does anyone in charge know what they are doing or are they using a Ouija board?

They have been steadily dropping the rate for months now. Has this strategy actually been working? Let's see how it affects me, the average Jane.

My savings accounts have all dropped their rates. My money simply cannot make money any more. T-bill rates were negative. My credit card rates are still way up there though (not that I am insane enough to be carrying credit card debt right now). It is still extremely difficult to get a mortgage or car loan at any decent rate. I'm afraid to buy stocks because I don't know how to valuate anything and the market is still a roller coaster.

What about the macro picture? Banks are still failing because they won't lend money to each other. The dollar is in the toilet. The only real way to make money these days seems to be asking the government for a bailout. Now that seems to be a lucrative venture.

So what does the Fed do? Drops the rate even more. Has anyone given Bernanke an Alzheimer's test? Are they throwing darts at a decision board? Channeling with the dead?

And since I mentioned bailouts, let me just say this. You know that I have been a stalwart supporter of President Bush throughout his unpopular presidency. But Lordy Lordy Lordy:

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system."
Anyone have a shoe I can hurl?

What the hell is going on here! I'm scared, really scared. And if you think it's going to turn around when President Obama takes office, I caution you to fasten your seat belt. My only comfort is that I keep hoping that it cannot get much worse or much crazier. Or maybe it can. Thinking very strongly of withdrawing all my money, converting it to gold bricks and stuffing it in my mattress.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Happy Belated Birthday to NJG

I want to wish Nice Jewish Guy a very wonderful belated birthday. Fortunately, NJG is way too busy being happy and confused to blog.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

And along the lines of caring about stupid trivialities, does Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich wear a toupee?



What do you think? Rug or no rug?

Obama and Smoking


Why are Obama's cigarette and smoking issues news? Seriously. Who cares? Who gives a damn? Do you? If you do, can you explain why?

Illinois Governor accused of trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat

This is just so nauseating. Uch.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Spread the burden

You have no idea how much this makes me angry. I think the politicians in New York have basically lost their minds.

Solving the fiscal crisis gripping New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority will require every regional employer to pay a new payroll tax and new tolls on motorists on the East River and Harlem crossings, a new commission's report said on Thursday.

Subway and bus riders will also have to pay higher fares, according to Richard Ravitch, a former chairman of the agency, who led the commission that produced the report.

"This is an effort to spread the burden among the largest group we possibly can," Ravitch said at a news conference.
Ok, so let's see. The subway and bus system is broken again. Again. So instead of maybe doing a huge audit and seeing why the MTA is always near bankruptcy, the geniuses running New York are throwing more money at it. Sure thing, that has always worked before!

Maybe the MTA should take a real close look at this instead.

And where is this money coming from? You got it pancho. From me. And you. They are going to raise payroll taxes. Install new tolls on the very few NY bridges that were free (forget about the fact that if you are driving your car over a bridge crossing, you are probably not even a regular subway or bus user), and increase fares on trains and buses.

And why are we being punished? Well, simple. It's the reverse of the "spreading the wealth" theory that our president-elect has espoused. We want to "spread the burden." That's right. Spread the wealth among people who don't earn it and spread the burden among people who do. Thank you Democrat politicians who seemingly care nothing for the middle class. I will particularly enjoy the extra taxes and new tolls and higher fares in the current financial crisis. Looks like I'm getting my Chanukah present early this year.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Have you changed your financial behavior?

Just curious...now that we are officially in the middle of an economic crisis (is it official yet?), have any of you changed your spending/giving/saving behavior?

If you are uncomfortable posting, even anonymously (though I don't know why but) you can email me privately at theroadtaken613@gmail.com. I'm really quite curious. I keep hearing about nationwide devastation, and I will be unemployed in January, but honestly, I haven't really changed a thing. Have you?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Lookit What I Found!

Omigosh! Lookie lookie here! My dog just did her business in the backyard and look at what I found in the poop! Why it's a ballot! A marked ballot!

And it's for Al Franken!

Going Green


So when I first read this (a friend who could not stop laughing sent it to me), I thought it was satire. Really. Eat less meat to minimize carbon emissions? Someone out there is measuring human flatulence?

Yes. Someone out there is measuring human flatulence.

When you take into account meat’s entire lifecycle, each meat eater is responsible for 1.5 more tons of greenhouse gases than a vegan per year, according to a study by the University of Chicago.
This is it folks. We are officially the stupidest generation ever.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Horrors

This past weekend was filled with horrors.

What more can I say about the savage Mumbai murders that hasn't already been said? Every detail that came through about the murders just compounded the horror. Then I read this and I actually threw up. In case you were thinking that anti-semitism was no longer a problem, well, it is. They targeted the Jews and Israelis and tortured them in unspeakable ways.

Then of course, the news that was revealed at Rivka Holtzberg's funeral....that she was six months pregnant, renewed my horror. I threw up a little again. I have a nervous stomach.

And I have no words.

Back home in New York, at a WalMart that I frequent (it is one of two that is close to where I live) in the Green Acres Mall, an employee was trampled by a mob of animals throng of shoppers.

From the New York Times article:

The throng of Wal-Mart shoppers had been building all night, filling sidewalks and stretching across a vast parking lot at the Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream, N.Y. At 3:30 a.m., the Nassau County police had to be called in for crowd control, and an officer with a bullhorn pleaded for order.

Tension grew as the 5 a.m. opening neared. Someone taped up a crude poster: “Blitz Line Starts Here.”

By 4:55, with no police officers in sight, the crowd of more than 2,000 had become a rabble, and could be held back no longer. Fists banged and shoulders pressed on the sliding-glass double doors, which bowed in with the weight of the assault. Six to 10 workers inside tried to push back, but it was hopeless.

Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him. Others who had stood alongside Mr. Damour trying to hold the doors were also hurled back and run over, witnesses said.

Some workers who saw what was happening fought their way through the surge to get to Mr. Damour, but he had been fatally injured, the police said. Emergency workers tried to revive Mr. Damour, a temporary worker hired for the holiday season, at the scene, but he was pronounced dead an hour later at Franklin Hospital Medical Center in Valley Stream.

Four other people, including a 28-year-old woman who was described as eight months pregnant, were treated at the hospital for minor injuries.

What is going on in the world? We are losing ourselves. As far as the terrorists go, it is hard to believe that such evil exists in the world. I keep mistakenly thinking that the challenge of fighting evil and evil people was the mission of my parents' generation. We have people who are wrong, people we disagree with, people we don't like, but do we have Nazis?

Apparently we do.

And the crowd at WalMart? How did they get into such a frenzy? How did things get to a point where they were stampeding like cattle? Was anyone thinking? Was anyone aware of what they were doing?

It's the week after Thanksgiving, and I am filled with gratitude to God for so much. And I am filled with absolute horror at what Man is capable of.

Nasty Atheists

Don't read the title of this post wrong. Not all atheists are nasty. As a matter of fact, most atheists are not nasty.

But these are.

An atheist group called "Freedom From Religion" have put up a sign in the Washington State Capital that reads as follows:

At this season of
THE WINTER SOLSTICE
may reason prevail.

The are no gods,
no devils, no angels,
no heaven or hell,
There is only our natural world.

The sign is posted next a nativity scene and a menorah.

Now if you want be an atheist, well, God bless you. Be an atheist. In this country, you can believe or not believe in whatever you'd like. You want to celebrate Christmas? Kwanza? Passover? Ramadan? Vesak? Winter Solstice? Halloween? Enjoy. Revel in your beliefs or non-beliefs. Embrace your way.

But don't crap all over everyone else's beliefs. If you are an atheist and want to celebrate reason, fine, but don't go putting down religions that do believe in God. I mean, what if a bunch of Christians put up a sign saying all who didn't embrace Jesus as their lord and savior were damned to Hell for all eternity? What if a group of Moslems put up a sign saying there is no God other than Allah and all non-believers and infidels should die? What if some Jews put up a sign that said Christianity was stupid and derivative and made up? Would that be nice? Seriously? Why be nasty? Why put down people who don't believe as you do? Especially in this nice, pleasant season when people wish each other well and give each other presents? Why be so mean?

There is nothing about a menorah or a nativity scene that puts down anyone else. You want to celebrate the miracle of the oil? Yay for menorahs! You want commemorate the birth of Jesus? Yippee for nativities! Neither of these displays puts down those who don't believe in God. They are positive religious symbols. You can take em or leave em.

Why couldn't the atheists put up a sign that said something like We Love Reason or Go Winter Solstice or We Don't Believe in a Creator and We Still Love Humankind? Why not a positive message? Why do they have to be so damned nasty?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Behaving Badly

For the most part of my dating career, both before and after divorce, I have been a mentch. Really. I have dumped people gently, kindly, and in an adult way. I have never cheated on anyone. I have never really been mean to anyone. I have never degraded anyone.

Except, er, twice.

And both incidents stick in my craw, because I was that yucky to the poor guys. They are both married with kids and it's years and years later. Actually, decades. Seriously. And both these guys are my Friends on Facebook.

What do they have in common? For starters, neither one is frum. I think part of the reason I gave myself permission to act like a total b___ to them was because I really had no business going out with them in the first place.

One of them I've talked about here. I was really quite horrible to Ethan.

Then there's Matt.

I have to admit, the Matt thing bothers me. Still! It happened in freshman year in college. First of all, I'm not even sure we were actually going out. We might have been just friends. Not sure. I think it was headed in that direction though. Matt got tickets to an REM concert for both of us. Then he asked me to reimburse him for mine, which got me thinking that we were just friends. Then I decided that I didn't like Matt anymore, very suddenly and quickly, so I told him that I "sold" my ticket to my friend Lisa. Just like that. He was stuck going to the concert with someone he didn't know, who basically had other friends going to the same concert, so she didn't even hang out with him. So what could have been a totally fun evening was him going to a concert alone. Matt was pretty hurt. We weren't really friends after that. I behaved abominably.

So I was trolling through FB recently, going down the list of people who graduated from my college in my year, and there he was. He looks good. Turns out he is now a writer in the midwest. I Friended him and surprisingly, he accepted the Friend request. He probably doesn't even remember me and thinks I am a fan or something. Or something.

He does look quite good. And he writes quite well. And he is quite married. And I am quite an ass.

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The Shame of Divorce and Childlessness

It's a rainy, miserable, cold day in the Big soggy Apple. I'm catching up on my volunteer stuff (which is always the first thing to go to the bottom of the todo pile) and sorting through papers. I'm always drowning in papers. There will be an inbox on my grave. And it will be full.

I have recently had a major influx of Friend requests on Facebook from old high school and college buddies. It goes like that...someone spots you on a new Friend's list and the requests just avalanche through their network(s). I like it. I like re-forming old acquaintances. It makes me feel connected and nostalgic. But this doesn't mean that I want to rekindle any old friendships. The hardest thing for me is when an old friend messages me on Facebook and says "Hey what's up with you? Are you back in NY? Write me and fill me in on your life." This has been happening pretty frequently. and I just pretend not to get the messages.

I have to think that most if not all of these messages are just innocent requests to reconnect. Everyone knows I got married and moved to Out-of-Town and they now see me on Facebook with my maiden name, living in NY, with a single status. Duh. I'm sure they can figure out that I got divorced. But you know what? I don't want to talk about it. They are all still married. Their kids are in high school or even college. They are posting bar mitzvah pictures, family vacation pictures, joining Facebook Groups like "Yeshiva tuition costs too much." I wish I was struggling to pay Yeshiva tuition.

There is tremendous shame associated with being divorced. There is also shame associated with being childless. I know, this shouldn't be so, I shouldn't feel this way. Neither condition is irreversible. Neither condition was really "my fault," sort of. But I am ashamed. I don't want to hide, but I don't want to share either. I'm fine about getting in touch again, but don't ask me questions. I have such a sense of failure about my sad, barren marriage. I feel like no matter what I do with my life, no matter how much I might ever contribute to my community, my family, my friends, the world, klal Yisroel, etc., I have failed. I have failed at being me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Celebrating Thanksgiving



Thanksgiving. I cannot tell you how annoying I find it when frum people don't celebrate Thanksgiving "b'sheetah." Grrrr.

My Dad emigrated to this country after leaving the infernos of Europe. He thanked Hashem every day of his life for bringing him to a place where he could wear a yarmulke and keep Shabbos and kashrus and not be persecuted for it. Freedom of religion is something we take for granted when we spend twenty, thirty years in Brooklyn/Lawrence/Monsey/etc.

We live in the most amazing country on Planet Earth. I love Israel, but for a whole different set of reasons. I am a raging Zionist, but I will be the first to admit that the government of the State of Israel is freakin mess. Our government has its issues too, but this country is so blessed by God and the American people are so incredibly fortunate. Let's never lose our awareness of that, and let's take this Thursday to celebrate and say thank you to the Boss. My family used to sing Hatikvah and the National Anthem and Yerushalayim Shel Zahav and America the Beautiful at our family Thanksgiving table. Corny? Yeah, but oh, I gotta tell you, faithful reader, on Thanksgiving, my heart is full.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. May God continue to shine His countenance on all of us. May we always reach up to Him and say thanks. And may the turkey not be dry.

Happy Thanksgiving Now Have Some Stuffing

Last year I posted my recipe for pareve pumpkin pie. This year it's stuffing. Ta die faw.

1 lb. box of matzoh or 1 large challah
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup shelled chestnuts, chopped
1/4 cup craisins or finely diced dried appricot
1/2 envelope onion soup mix (without MSG...I use ShopRite's)
1 large onion, diced
8 button mushrooms, washed and quartered
extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups boiling water

If you're using the challah as a base, slice it and cube it and let it dry out on your counter for two days. The "emergency challah" that's been sitting in the back of your freezer is fine for this...freezer burnt works well because you want your base dried out, like croutons. If you're using the box of matzoh left over from Passover, put all the matzoh in a ziploc and crush it into inch-long shards.

Coat the bottom of a skillet with a little oil. Saute the onions and mushrooms for about five minutes in the oil, then put them in a bowl and set them aside. Add a little more oil and fill the skillet with either your matzoh or challah. Doesn't matter if the whole skillet fills up. On medium heat, keep turning the matzoh/challah over and over until all of it is browned. Remove the matzoh/challah from the oil and spoon into a baking pan (most of the oil will have been absorbed...what can I say, Thanksgiving is fattening). Mix in the mushrooms, onions, pine nuts, chestnuts, craisins and onion soup mix. Mix well. Pour the boiling water over the mixture and stir again. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 1/2 hour.

When you are ready to make the turkey, you can either put this into the turkey cavity and then when the turkey is done, scoop it back into the baking pan and bake again for another 10 minutes. Or you can skip putting it into the cavity, roast the turkey, and then mix 1/2 cup of turkey gravy into the stuffing and bake for another 10-15 minutes. If the stuffing is too wet, leave the cover off. If it's too dry, add some more gravy.

BTW, regarding the chestnuts...Israeli stores sell Galil roasted chestnuts, already shelled, for a song. Highly recommended shortcut.

Delish dahling. Gobble gobble.

Monday, November 24, 2008

$100 Newport News Gift Card for $75

If you click through Ebates first, you'll get another 3% off, so your $100 gift card will cost you $72.75. Once you've clicked through Ebates, go here to activate the special deal on the gift card. This is a sweet deal. Newport News has a lot of tsniusdik stuff, like this denim skirt, and they also have some not-run-of-the-mill accessories, like this beaded bag.

If you'd just like to buy stuff from NN and skip the gift card, take 25% off your purchase (till midnight 12/1/8) with promo code 538.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Free Dr. Pepper, this Sunday only

Go to DrPepper.com, click on "Promotions," then "Free Dr. Pepper."

I dunno why they are doing this, but you know how I feel about free stuff. Actually, it has something to do with Guns n Roses.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Please hold.

I had a great-aunt, Aunt Iris, who was not exactly senile, but, let's just say not all of her neurons were firing in good order upstairs. She was one of the kindest people I have ever known. She was also funny and sharp, even in her most confused moments. In later years, she had this awful habit of calling, and then the moment you picked up the phone, asking you to hold on so that she could please use the ladies room. I would hold for about 10 minutes, then she'd come back to the phone and chat for about 5 minutes, and then say goodbye and hang up.

She did this to everyone in the family. It became sort of a family joke. Because Iris was the sweet, kind soul that she was, we all put up with it, even though it became somewhat of a nuisance at work, even after I got speakerphone. During one of these phone calls, I gently suggested to Aunt Iris that perhaps she should use the facilities before she called me. She said that that was chutzpadick for me to point it out like that, and she hardly ever did that, why this was the first time really, and that she was an older woman and needed to use the bathroom more often than she used to, and I would see when I got to her age, etc. I apologized.

What I will put up with from dear Aunt Iris, I will not put up with from anyone else. The other day the phone rang. Caller ID identified it as "Share Group Inc." Interesting. I picked up. A robotic recorded voice told me "Please hold. This is not a sales call. Someone will be with you shortly."

Are you kidding me? You called me and you are putting me on hold? Oh this was not acceptable.

My first instinct was to hang up immediately (which, by the way, I highly recommend in these instances). But I actually wanted to see which bozo was employing this obnoxious technique to solicit something from me, mostly to write down his name and information and report him the Do Not Call Registry police (er, whatever), since I am long-time no-call list member. What I forgot was that non-profit 501(c)(3)s were exempt from the no-call list restrictions. After about three long minutes, some poor guy named Craig came on the phone, and started to solicit me for a local Jewish charity.

Poor Craig.

"Let me ask you something, Craig. Do you think it is the smartest idea, when you are cold calling people to ask them for money, to call and then put them on hold immediately? Without even identifying yourself? Do you think that will endear you to them, so that the minute you get on the phone, I will want to whip out my credit card and fork over a few thou? Do you think that's a winning strategy, Craig?"

"I-I just work for this call center, I don't know..."

"So what you're telling me, Craig, is that you aren't even a volunteer for this charity and you probably don't even care about it? You're just a hired hand bothering people in the middle of their only free time in the evening, asking them for money, right after you made them stay on hold for five minutes? Is that working well for you? Did you make a lot of money so far?"
Craig hung up on me.

Oh well.

This is really something else. Calling people and then putting them on hold when they answer is beyond rude. If you're not Aunt Iris.

BOGO at Borders

Best Borders fiction sale so far...buy one, get one half off. Getcher Chanukah gifts here. This is in-store only.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another Sign of the Approaching Apocalypse...

I haven't checked my stats in a while. Wasn't I surprised that, other than subscribers and regulars, the number one way for people to click over to this blog was to google "Tefillin Date." Yup. Google it. An old posting on TRT comes up as the number two hit. Yup.

Kill me now.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Walgreen's coupon

$5 off $20, tomorrow only

Finally, a reason to live...


The Jack is back. Oh yeah. November 23, 2008.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hell, I didn't vote for him, #1

Barack Obama. A Man of His Word.

President-elect Barack Obama, who vowed during his campaign that lobbyists "won't find a job in my White House," said through a spokesman yesterday that he would allow lobbyists on his transition team as long as they work on issues unrelated to their earlier jobs.
Yah. Right. Click.

Hosting Travelers and Traveling

I've been traveling quite a bit lately and still have some more of it coming up. Here are some ideas that I've picked up:

1) When inviting someone for a Shabbos or Yom Tov meal (or, any meal), never ask if (s)he "needs a meal." No one needs a meal. I can cook. Thank God, I can afford to pay for food. Asking if someone needs a meal highlights the fact that they are alone and needs company for a meal. Would you ask a married couple if they needed a meal? Ask if that person would like to join you for a meal instead.

2) In your guest room, keep a bottle of (The World's Greatest Invention for Travelers,) Downy Wrinkle Releaser. It's inconvenient to keep a bottle in my suitcase because it tends to leak and make a mess, so I always end up buying a bottle when I arrive somewhere and then tossing out most of it when I leave. One of my hosts keeps a bottle in the guest closet....I thought that was very smart.

3) Other nice things to have in the guest room: full length mirror, blowdryer (which can be bought for $10 nowadays), nail polish remover, tampons/pads, bedika cloths (that was something I remember from my single days), disposable razors, pen and paper, a few bottles of spring water, a few small plastic garbage bags (for gathering dirty clothes, etc.). When I was married, I used to collect all of those little bottles of shampoo and soap and lotion from hotel rooms or from free samples sites and put them in a basket in my guest bathroom.

4) If you have an old laptop or desktop that you don't use anymore because it is too slow, create a guest profile on it and put it in your guestroom so that your laptopless guests can check their email. I have an old IBM Thinkpad that is probably too slow to even donate, and my guests are so happy to be able to get their email and tool around on the web.

5) When I come back from my trips and unpack, I usually put a few dryer sheets in my empty suitcases before I put them in the basement. That keeps them from getting all musty and yucky smelling.

Safe travels, happy hosting.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Michaels 50% off

Click here for 50% off any regularly priced item, good till 11/15.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Get some paper clips and envelopes

15% off at Office Depot. Can't be used on software or electronics.

Free Nikka Costa mp3 download

I have no idea if this artist is any good or not, but if you give me something for free, I'm always willing to give it a listen. I'm at work now, but I will download this at home...we'll see if it's listenable. Download the mp3 here.

40% off Borders cds.

40% off of all cds at Borders and Waldenbooks (limit 3 cds, but wow). Today and tomorrow only. Free shipping with $25 order.

Buy those Chanukah gifts now...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Well

I got nothing.

Yeah. Last night was bad.

Ok, one thing...I hope everyone will be willing to take responsibility for their vote over the next four years. If you voted for Obama, be prepared for what ensues, good and bad. If you drank the KoolAid, be prepared to digest the KoolAid.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Four free NBC episodes on Itunes

From Facebook. Here.

Now if I just cared about these shows, this might be worthwhile. Eh, it's free. Free is good.

Monday, November 3, 2008

And now for something totally unrelated to the election

Beauty hurts. Feminine beauty hurts like hell. Anything that has to do with, say, hair removal, high-heels, itchy nylon stockings, body-cinching undergarments, etc. all hurt, but help us girls look our best. So we suck it up and do what we need to do, because we like to look good.

But gentlemen, we have been keeping a secret from y'all. There is one beauty ritual that we go through that not only doesn't hurt, but oooo, it feels great. That is

The Manicure/Pedicure.

Yes, the manicure/pedicure. I go, more or less every other week to a small, Asian-run nail place a few blocks from my home. For $15 plus a $6 tip, I am treated to an hour of pure pampering. I am always amazed that a manicure/pedicure is so cheap. Let me explain the details.

First, I sit in a Sharper Image-type leather massage chair and set it to run for a full cycle. I put my feet in a scented mini heated whirlpool bath that has tiny little bath beads spinning around in it. After a few minutes of this, the pedicurist alternates taking each foot out and removes my old polish, cleans, trims and files my nails, applies cuticle oil, pushes back and trims my cuticles. She pumices my heels and soles, and razors off any yucky calluses. She applies a mild scrub to my legs and exfoliates me. Then she applies scented lotion to my feet and calves and gives me a vigorous five minute leg massage. She puts my feet into little paper slippers with separators between my toes, and puts on four coats of nail polish, clear-ballet slipper-ballet slipper-clear. She does this to each foot.

While my toenails are drying, she does my manicure. I alternate soaking each hand in a mild moisturizing solution. She removes old polish, expertly files my nails so that they are all even, applies cuticle oil, pushes back and trims my cuticles. Then she applies scented lotion and massages my palm and forearm. Then she applies four matching coats of nail polish. When I am all done, she walks me over to the drying area (carrying my purse), and I sit under heated hand and foot dryers while she gives me a five minute back and neck massage.

Did I mention this costs $15? Understand now why I give them a 40% tip?

Mani/peds are the cheapest treat of a lifetime. I also think nothing ages a woman worse than dry, brittle looking hands, and a mani/ped is part of good grooming. Your hands are the only part of your body to actually lose weight naturally as you age. While I hate talons and think they are classless, I also think short, naked, bitten, stubby nails and dried out skin is very unfeminine. And guys notice hands, ladies. They do.

So when you're done biting your nails over this election (I had to work it in somewhere), go to your neighborhood nail salon and treat yourself. It's your feminine right. It's so worth it.

Vote Vote Vote Vote Vote

Free stuff for voting:


Good grief. I even got this email from 9 Inch Nails today:
Next Tuesday we will elect the next President of the United States. The result will have great consequences for the nation.

This election offers a choice is between two men with dramatically different visions of the future. We have strong feelings about this choice. But we feel even more strongly that all Americans, regardless of political preference, have a stake in the outcome and should vote in this critical election.

This is likely to be a close election. Your vote matters. Please use it and make a difference.

Sincerely,
Trent Reznor
I mean, how hard is it to vote that we need to have free coffee, ice cream and NIN urging us on?

Sharing America's crayons

Ahem.

Senator Obama, here's the difference between charity and socialism. Ready?

When you share your crayons with the other children, that's charity and generosity.

When the government forces you to share your crayons with the other children, that's socialism, and eventually, fascism.

School's out. Keep your hands off of America's crayons.

The Gestalt of Shopping

God bless Macy's. No matter how fat or ugly I feel, I always seem to find something to buy at Macy's that makes me feel a little bit less fat and a little bit less ugly. Not sure if it's the huge selection, the decent (not cheap, but definitely decent) prices, or the fact that they don't count how many items you bring into the dressing room (which is always clean and nice-smelling), but the whole shopping gestalt at Macy's is just pleasant.

I'm not exactly a fashionista, but I do follow style, and I do care about what I wear. I will spend more money on clothes and accessories for an occasion, but not ridiculous amounts. I actually got my wedding gown, doubtlessly the fanciest dress I've ever worn, from a gemach. I hate it when I'm wearing something that everyone else in shul is wearing. But I also don't like to be too different. I certainly go for conservative over daring. Because I sew a little, I'm always trying to think of ways to make bought clothes a little better, by adding a little trim here, changing out the buttons (which can absolutely transform a suit, by the way, for very little money), adding or subtracting length, or swapping out a ruffle. I love accessories, and I spend far too much money on bags, shoes, belts, hair adornments and jewelry.

I get most of my basics (shells, sweats, tshirts, denim, pencil skirts, simple sweaters) online. Between online coupons, programs like Ebates, and the ability to compare many different sites, I do extremely well online. I buy my basics very, very cheaply. But for stuff like coats, jackets, suits, dresses, Shabbos and date clothes, I head to department stores. I've bought nearly all my coats at Lord & Taylors. I wear coats for multiple years, so I generally go for classic styles and spend more money on them. Most everything else comes from Macy's. It's just a great store. Tonight I got two cashmere twin sets (forest green and pumpkin) for, after all my discounts, $65 each. I got an outfit for a wedding for $80. I got a cream colored silk shell for $25! Macy's is one of the few stores where it pays to have their credit card. You always seem to get 15% or 20% off when you use it, and on days when they don't run those specials, I have tons of coupons that they send along with my bill.

Then there is the sheer feminine joy that is the ground-floor of Macy's. I love trying on new makeup, perfume, hair-clips and jewelry. I love ogling the overpriced Italian handbags, the pashminas, and the elbow length leather gloves. It is Accessories Heaven. If I buy anything on the ground-floor, it is generally an impulse buy, as I can get all that stuff more cheaply online if I do a little research. But every now and then, I indulge.

God bless Macy's, capitalism and shopping. I do occasionally revel in shopping. I am, if nothing else, a girlygirl.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Vote Early. Vote Once.

So this Tuesday evening, we'll know. Hopefully. After all, remember what happened in 2000. Don't want that again.

It's going to be a very, very close election, which still amazes me. All the mainstream media outlets keep crooning that it's over and Obama has won, but since many of them have basically served as Obama campaign workers over the course of the year, I wouldn't worry about what they say. They are saying that because 1) people who are on the fence like to vote for winners if they can, and 2) to discourage McCain supporters and workers and take the wind out of their sails and 3) to keep people who might vote for McCain at home, since they will be lead to believe that it doesn't matter anyway.

I am on everyone's mailing list. I get mail from MoveOn.org and John Kerry and the Democratic party, and believe me, they do not really believe this campaign is over. Far from it.

The voter fraud is really freaking me out. There is the ACORN fraud, which is frankly astonishing. Then of course there are the places where there are more registered voters than adults of voting age, in Alabama, Indianapolis, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania. Gee, do you think something nasty is going on there? But if McCain wins, I'm sure there will be cries of disenfranchisement, and how Republicans suppressed the African-American vote, blah blah blah, and stole the election, etc.

I'm going to be out of town on Election Day, which is one of the reasons I voted via absentee ballot. I'm trying to muddle through all the election noise and figure out how this election has changed me. I have surely become more partisan, much more Republican and conservative, or at least, I feel more vocal and clear about my beliefs. I started the year as a Democrat, and when I had to fill out my voter registration in New York, I did hesitate before I checked the Republican box. After all, I've been a lifelong Democrat. It was a little bit of a paradigm shift for me to declare myself that way. Now there is no hesitation. I am so repulsed at some of the actions of the Democrat party, particularly of their politicians and pundits, that I have been driven over to only side that makes any sense to me.

I posted a little Road Taken election poll on the upper right side of my blog. It is very sharply in favor of McCain. It tells me something about my readership. To the 29 people who are voting for Obama and are still reading my blog, thank you for staying with me and for reading a blog with which you don't agree. I do that too, and I think it's really good for your character. I try to be fair. I know I'm certainly not balanced, but I do try to be fair. And for the 53 people who are voting for McCain, thanks as well.

Vote Early. Vote Once. (Vote for McCain.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lotsa free mp3s

There are over a 111,000 free mp3's on Download.com. I never knew that. Sometimes it pays to Google the obvious.

Hey, that's a bumper sticker for ya: "Google the obvious."

Anyway, you've got to cherrypick through here, but I found some goodies, including two Aimee Mann songs that I hadn't heard before.

Some of these don't suck too badly

Free mp3 downloads from MTV.com. I found About a Girl tolerable.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Michael's coupon

40% off.

Nesting.

It's storming out here in the Big Apple. I'm working from home today. I've always loved storms, as long as I don't have to go out in them. I'm listening to the rain and wind and it's very cool. I have a gigantic fleece sweatshirt on, and I'm sipping hot coffee. It's going to be a quiet, low-key day.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

An oldie but goodie



Watch Obama ignore the facts. Fact: when tax rates go down, revenue into government coffers increase. It happens EVERY SINGLE time. But Obama is more concerned with "fairness." Why should a good investor pay less taxes than "his secretary?" It's not fair.

Excuse me, but isn't that, er, socialism?

But okay, socialist philosophy aside, why raise taxes if it will lower revenues? Why wouldn't you want to increase revenue?

I don't get it. Apparently, neither did Charlie Gibson.

Where Ortho Judaism parts ways with the Christian Religious Right

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that most people don't really have a clue on where halacha/Orthodox Judaism stands on two issues: abortion and fetal stem-cell research.

I'm thinking that because Orthodox Jews share so many of the "Judeo-Christian values" with the Christian Religious Right, people think that our views on these two hot issues are identical to theirs. No sirree Bob.

Halacha
(Jewish law) takes a very complicated view of abortion. We do not believe that life begins at conception, for example. However, we also assign rights to potential-life. So while we do not believe that abortion is equal to murder, we do not sanction any abortions unless very specific circumstances are involved, mostly those threatening the life of the mother and only very early on in the pregnancy. So, say, if a 16 year old girl got pregnant and having the baby would be a tremendous hardship for her socially and financially and would keep her from going to college, she probably wouldn't be able to get a halachically sanctioned abortion, because those reasons just aren't strong enough. On the other hand, if a woman discovered she had cancer and she was one month pregnant, and the pregnancy was accelerating the advancement of the cancer, she probably would be able to get a halachically sanctioned abortion, because the baby's growth was seriously threatening her life. By the way, I always say "probably" because I am not a rabbi or halachic expert, and every single case is different when it comes to evaluating something halachically. I am rendering conclusions based on the broadest set of circumstances.

So is halacha pro-Life? Yes. Is halacha pro-Choice? Yes. Confusing, isn't it?

Many Orthodox Jews prefer to align themselves with the pro-Life movement because 1) of the slippery slope possibilities that pro-Choice opens up, like late-term abortions, and partial-birth abortions, which probably would be halachically labeled as murder and 2) the whole gestalt of the idea of arbitrary abortion-at-will, which, while not necessarily deemed murder, is still completely contrary to Halacha.

Some Orthodox Jews, myself included, prefer to align themselves with the pro-Choice movement because there are instances (though, as we said, relatively rare) in which Halacha permits abortions, and making abortions illegal would close the door on these instances. We also are a little turned off to being lumped in with the Religious Right, since while Halacha assigns enormous value to potential life, it also differentiates it from actual life, and this is an important distinction. We don't view fetuses as mere extensions of women's bodies, but they aren't people either. They belong to some gray-area middle ground, which is why we so urge those who Orthos who would seek an abortion to not make any assumptions either way on its permissibility, but to speak to a Rabbi who is a halachic expert in this area.

Embryonic stem cell-research is, believe it or not, a much clearer issue than abortion. There is a strong halachic distinction between a fetus and an embryo. A fetus is a fertilized embryo that has been implanted in a uterus. Halachically, it has that previously-mentioned potential-life status, and may not be destroyed for its stem cells. Fertilized embryos, however, that have not been implanted in a uterus, have no potential-life status, and so they may be destroyed for their stem cell tissues. Once again, it's important to understand that halacha does not believe that life begins at conception. The distinction is implantation vs. no implantation. Although the embryonic stem cell issue is a more clear-cut one, let me still add the caveat that it is important to consult a halachic expert when faced with this situation, given what is at stake. If you are interested in this subject, read the RCA's letter to President Bush in support of embryonic stem-cell research.

So while we may share a value or two (or three) with the Religious Right, here are two politically charged issues where Halachic Judaism differs with them. Food for thought.

Junkie of the Supernatural


Tonight I watched a goofy 1963 horror flick called The Terror with Boris Karloff and a very young and handsome(!!!!) Jack Nicholson. Yes, that picture is actually of Jack Nicholson, 45 years ago. Hottie, yes? Can you see the grizzled man he would become a few decades later?

I do love old horror movies. Not sure why. I've always been drawn to horror genres in literature and film. I did a unit in college on Stoker, Shelley, Poe and other classic horror novelists, and some of my best papers were on vampire literature. Weird, huh? There used to be a show on in the wee hours called Forever Knight about a vampire named Nicholas Knight. I was a junkie.

Not surprisingly, I also like science fiction. Star Whatever, anything with aliens or hobbits, I'm hooked.

I love stuff that has nothing to do with reality. No need for a psychologist to figure that one out.

Friday, October 24, 2008

More coops to combat crappy economy

Borders: 25% off

Michaels: 20% off

Walgreens: $5 off $20

Pampers $1.50 0ff coupon

Prilosec free sample

Office Depot: $40 off $200 purchase

Folgers coffee free sample

Barnes and Noble: free cappuccino and 15% off

Monday, October 20, 2008

Identity politics at it's lowest. Shame on you Colin Powell.

I want to explain to you in no uncertain terms why Colin Powell is endorsing Barack Obama. I know that many of you who are incapable of understanding anything beyond the politically correct surface will label me a racist after this post. That's okay.

There is only one reason why Ronald Reagan's National Security Adviser, George H. Bush's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and George W. Bush's Secretary of State would abandon his party, ideals and everything he supposedly stands for in order to endorse someone whose ideas for this country are basically socialist.

Colin Powell is a black man. Barack Obama is a black man.

That's it. Nothing else. And if you are telling yourself something other than that, you are deluding yourself.

This is identity politics, folks, and it is low. Shame on you, Mr. Powell. Think President Reagan would agree with your endorsement, Mr. Powell? You could have still been proud of Mr. Obama for getting as far as he's gotten without selling out. You are cheapening the meaning of your endorsement and sucking all the credibility out of your career. And by going with identity politics instead of voting for the best person for the job, you are being racist. Yes.

I'm disgusted. This is just as idiotic as women voting for Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin because they want to see a woman in the White House, except it's worse because of Mr. Powell's betrayal of the people who have helped him get to where he is, not to mention his abandonment of his ideals. Because of race.

Race means nothing, folks. NOTHING. It's a skin color, for crying out loud.

Do you have ANY IDEA WHAT IS AT STAKE HERE PEOPLE? You don't vote for the most popular kid at school to be Leader of the Free World. You are selling off your future because it feels good to vote for a black man, even when that man is utterly wrong for leading this country. Shame.

And by the way....

Warren Buffet still believes in stocks. I think he might have something there.

"I'm not even looking..."

What is the deal with people who don't want to look at their 401K's and IRA's because they don't want to get depressed? Seriously? What is the deal?

Ok, I understand that you are not going to sell. Neither am I. I strongly believe that it would be collosally stupid to sell off and get completely into cash because of the way that the stock market is behaving these days. But to not know how badly you've been hit?

I got hit pretty nastily. I lost about $20,000 on a $100,000 retirement portfolio so far. And though I'm not selling and getting into cash, I am looking to rebalance my portfolio a bit. Get into some funds with less risk (I'm still investigating) and definitely buying some gold. I'm not panicked and I'm not depressed. I'm upset at what happened, but I definitely feel more in control knowing how bad the damage is. Look, I have 25 years until I retire. A lot could happen in 25 years and I'm confident that I will Gee"doubleyou regain that $20K and then some over that period of time. But things are not going to be turn around so quickly, regardless of the "bailout" and regardless of how much we want them too. So why wouldn't I adjust my portfolio for the short term?

So for those of you who are saying "I'm not even looking. I don't want to know. It'll come back and there is no point to getting depressed," for Pete's sake, LOOK! Now's the time when you need to look. Do a little research, and rebalance some of your money so you can stop some of the bleeding. If you're not sure how to rebalance, do what I'm doing and turn to people who do know, or at least have sound ideas. No good comes of not looking. Geez, people are such babies.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hooked On a Feeling

At this stage of the game, I think this election is all about feeling. If you haven't developed some sort of emotional reaction to either Obama or McCain, come out from under that rock. And may I say, there is no stupider way to vote for the President of the United States than to base it on feelings. But okay.

I am out of town right now, but will return shortly and post about the holiday. Lots to tell you. Ooo baby....I've got a bombshell. Stay tuned.

So far, I've had a wonderful Yom Tov, really outstanding. But one of the things that put a huge damper on some of my Yom Tov meals was this election. I have heard some of the most idiotic comments ever expressed about this election. Seriously. What are these people using for brains?

"McCain is terminally ill. I had a cousin who had what he has and he died."

"Obama cares much more about the poor than McCain does."

"I love Sarah Palin. If Hillary couldn't get in, at least we'll get a woman in the White House."

"The minute Obama takes office, a skinhead is going to kill him."

"Most pro-lifers are crazy. They don't believe in aborting rape victims' babies."

"I can't vote for either candidate. I'm writing in Hillary Clinton."

"Obama is going to give money to 95% of taxpayers. He's only going to tax millionaires like Warren Buffet."

"If Obama gets in, health insurance will be free!"

Etc. I just keep my mouth shut most of the time. I'm tired of this election. It's probably the most important one of my life so far, but it exhausts me. I've ordered an absentee ballot so I can vote for McCain and get it over with. I'm just so sick of it. I don't even like arguing anymore.

Coupons

Borders coupon: 40% off cds

Barnes & Noble: Free cappucino and 15% off coupon

Walgreen's: $5 off $25 purchase

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Free (legal) Aimee Mann mp3s

Click here.

(Note to Paul...you've already got these.)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

HNY

How meaningless will it be if I wish you all a general Shana Tova?

Ok, pretty meaningless.

I don't care, gonna do it anyway. I do mean it.

So to you, my little group of constant readers about eighty or so strong, no matter where you are on the belief scale, no matter what religion or non-religion you choose to run your lives by, may you have a very happy and meaningful New Year. May God grant us all the strength to deal with our challenges, and the opportunity to appreciate His many gifts to us. May He deal mercifully with us and justly with our enemies. And may we all find our own way to Him.

Take it as you will. I do mean it. As Rosh Hashana approaches, my heart is full. See you on the other side of the new year. Thank you for sticking with me through my little dramas.

-WG

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Francesco Mugnai

For those of you who are into beautiful design (all types, print, online, etc.), look at Francesco Mugnai's blog. Italians are design geniuses. Must be something in the wine or sumthin. I spent hours at this site.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Charlie Rangel Needs to Go.

Rangel is an insulting, amoral, criminal, classless, tasteless ass. Am I being clear about this?

On Friday, he called Sarah Palin "disabled."

In a CBS 2 HD exclusive interview, Rep. Rangel called Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin "disabled."

The question was simple: Why are the Democrats so afraid of Palin and her popularity?

The answer was astonishing.

"You got to be kind to the disabled," Rangel said.

That's right. The chairman of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee called Palin disabled -- even when CBS 2 HD called him on it.

CBS 2 HD: "You got to be kind to the disabled?"

Rangel: "Yes."

CBS 2 HD: "She's disabled?"

Rangel: "There's no question about it politically. It's a nightmare to think that a person's foreign policy is based on their ability to look at Russia from where they live."

Later Friday, Rangel issued a statement saying "disabled" wasn't the word he meant to use.
Rangel is an ass, and is repeatedly shooting off his mouth in a childish, idiotic manner. He's an embarrassment. He is a boil on the buttocks of the body politic. Now that he has finally been caught engaging in criminal activity abusing the rent-stabilized status of his four apartments and using congressional stationery to solicit money for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service (Lordy Lord Lord, this man is as stupid as wood), perhaps it's time to throw this jackass out of Congress?

John Cole is a genius.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The "Other" Orthodox Jews

In practice, dress, belief and observance, I am probably what you would call a mainstream, centrist, middle-of-the-road Orthodox Jew. Whatever the hell that might be. Everyone thinks they are mainstream and centrist, right? It's the other guy who is way off to the left or way frummed out to the right. I am perfectly balanced. Hah. If only.

But objectively speaking, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say I'm truly somewhere in the middle. I think something like 95% of Jews who call themselves Ortho would feel comfortable eating in my home after spending 10 minutes with me [swing to the right] But I've got a tv and listen to rock music [swing to the left]. I daven every day [swing to the right]. I went away to a secular college and lived in a co-ed dorm freshman year. [swing to the left] I covered my hair when I was married [swing to the right]. I let my bangs show when I wore baseball caps [swing to the left]. I don't wear pants [swing to the right]. I wear pants when I'm rafting, skiing, and on more advanced hikes [swing to the left]. I think the noblest job a woman could hold is a stay-at-home Mom [swing to the right]. I think that a frum woman should be encouraged to pursue virtually any career she chooses [swing to the left]. I wear sleeves to my elbow, scrupulously [swing to the right]. I don't bother wearing sleeves over my elbow, unless I'm somewhere where that would be disrespectful [swing to the left]. I give occasional shiurim, to women only [swing to the right]. I think secular learning is really important and I think just about everyone should go to college [swing to the left]. I respect guys who observe the prohibition of Kol Isha [swing to the right]. I respect guys who think the prohibition of Kol Isha is too much for them and go to concerts and musicals [swing to the left]. Etc.

You get the idea. I'm everywhere and nowhere. Which puts me squarely in the middle. I think.

But I am drawn to a particular culture of Ortho Jews, not so much as a personal choice for me, but just as people I really enjoy hanging with and observing. Call em hippie Orthos or Carlebach Jews, or whatever you like. They are Orthodox Jews that find their spiritual home outside of the mainstream. You've seen them. They are the guys with the ponytails or earrings, who wear a kippah srugah all the time. They are the women with the flowy skirts who are the first ones to get up and dance at a Neshamah Carlebach concert. They are offbeat and interesting and pretty religious. They are sometimes misguided, but that's rare. They really love music, or dressing unconventionally. They are almost always volunteers at chessed organizations or involved in some other organized way to show kindness to other people. They often sound spaced out, but they aren't. They just sound that way. I used to think most if not all of them were ba'alei teshuvah, but this not so. Some FFB's end up in their ranks as well.

I love their confidence in themselves, their style, their utter freedom from conventional thinking. They have taken real Jewish values and infused them with creativity and off-center implementation. In a way, they bring in the best of the sixties and leave the shmutz behind. I love this sort of stuff.

But strictly as a spectator. I'd never marry a guy with a kippah and an earring (though I might be tempted to date him). That's just not my style. But I'll go to the Carlebach concerts and those strange frummie jam sessions in Park Slope and just wallow in the culture. Recently, I spent an hour on the phone with an Ortho Hippie friend dissecting a very cool section of Tehillim. He learns Tehillim with such love and passion, something I wish I could do, but know I never will. He is a true student of Reb Shlomo in his love of God and constant celebration of life. He owns like 2 pairs of pants. He never eats bleached flour. He's a little bit of a wack job.

I love that kinda guy. I love that kinda stuff. I love that kinda Jew.

20% off at Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, PiperLime. Do it through Ebates and get another 3% cash back.

OldNavy.com, Gap.com, BananaRepublic.com, and Piperlime.com are having a 20% off, free shipping sale, until midnight Sunday (today). Enter BFF at checkout. This is an unbelievable sale.

I got a whole buncha long sleeve tees for less than ten bucks each! If you shop these stores through Ebates, you'll save an additional 3%. First-timers at Ebates will get $5 and save 3%.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Comparing apples to apples

Could Charlie Gibson's utter contempt for Sarah Palin be more obvious? Let's compare him asking Palin and Obama virtually identical questions. I've transcribed the interview snippets, but do watch the YouTube clips for the apparent visual cues of his hatred of Palin and his love for Obama.

First Palin (about 38 seconds in):

Gibson: What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?

Palin: Well first, we are friends of Israel and I don't think that we should second-guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.

Gibson: So if we wouldn't second-guess it and they decided they needed to do it because Iran was an existential threat, we would be cooperative or agreeable/agree with that?

Palin: I don't think we can second-guess what Israel has to do to secure its nation.

Gibson: So if it felt necessary, if it felt the need to defend itself by taking out Iranian nuclear facilities, that would be all right?

Palin: We cannot second-guess the steps that Israel has to take to defend itself.
Now, Obama (5:07 in):
Gibson: So what if Israel decides in the name of its own security that it needs to make strikes on Iran?

Obama: Well, it is not my job, certainly as a candidate for president to tell Israelis what their defense posture should be. Um, I have said that I would not take military options off the table when it comes to Iran and dealing with their nuclear capacity. Beyond that, I think that we have to make sure that we are doing everything we can to avoid having to make that choice.

Gibson: Senator, good to talk to you.
Both Obama and Palin answered by saying that it wasn't appropriate for the US to tell Israel how to defend herself. Gibson responded to Palin by drilling at her, asking the question not twice but three times, implying that she was giving a non-answer. And when Obama gives virtually the identical answer? Gibson responds with acceptance and makes kissyface.

Gee Charlie, as long as your reporting remains unbiased and balanced.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Before you bail...

Excellent, common sense post from My Money Blog.

New system of logic

Ok. So the word is:

If Obama\Biden lose, it will be because the country is overwhelmingly racist.

I see. So:

If McCain\Palin lose, it will be because the country is overwhelmingly agist and exist.

Yes?

Hackers Publish Palin's Email

I have always, ALWAYS believed that when it comes to politics, All is Fair. If you don't want your past exposed, your life examined under a microscope by people who don't like you and aren't going to be fair to you, well, don't run for office. As Dennis Miller once told a candidate, "if you're in the race, wear a cup." It's brutal, and it's one of the costs of the fame and celebrity of public service. Frankly, I don't really know why anyone would run for President.

This said, I can't stand it when candidates whine. When they are reproached on their record, when their sometimes stupid words are quoted back at them, when they are raked over the coals because of something they did, said, voted on, or supported, well, it's too bad. If you want the power of representing the people, you better be able to defend yourself, your past and your record.

But what was done to Sarah Palin this week was WAY outside of the borders of All is Fair. Hacking a candidate's personal email and publishing the contents is heinous. There is simply no justification for that. It's like rummaging through their underwear drawer on national television or putting a webcam in their bathroom. Public service also entitles you to a private life. Shame on those hackers. Disgusting.

Wall Street and the Economy. Oy.

Well, I guess I didn't see this coming.

It's scary. Under the radar, Wall Street has allowed a few unofficial monopolies to form: major mega-brokerage firms, major banks holding huge amounts of assets, major insurance firms. The size of these institutions has given us a certain amount of warm and fuzzy security; after all, how can they fail when they hold billions of dollars of assets, affecting hundreds of thousands of people? When these institutions do fail, we stand there with our jaws gaping, powerless, wondering what's going to happen next and worrying and panicking about our money and our futures.

Since there's a major presidential election going on, the blame game is going on in full swing. Democrats, of course, blame the incumbent administration, and warn the American public that the future holds more of the same if McCain gets into office. McCain blames greed and the old boys network of Wall Street.

So who is right? Here's the thing. No one knows. Really. This Wall Street mess is a complex one. Does it have to do with the mortgage disaster? Absolutely. The failing banks and brokerage firms overextended themselves on risky, ridiculous mortgage deals. But it goes far deeper than that. It has to do with the falling dollar. It has to do with risky securities called derivatives. It has to do with greed and it has to do with deregulation and under-monitoring. It has to do with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It even has to do with some things that Alan Greenspan did way back when. But the bottom line is that even the financial and economic experts are scratching their heads on this one and scrambling in their analysis of the situation. Why this is happening now and why all these formerly sound entities are falling simultaneously is not easily determined. I think it's pretty funny when I read blogs and articles that definitively point to one thing or another as THE reason for the Wall Street mess. These are often expressed by writers who have never bought a security in their lives. It's complicated, people. We're still in the middle of it. It'll probably get a little worse before it gets better. We are still bleeding and we've got a few more bullets coming. One of the reason the politicians are speaking in such enormous generalities is because no one really knows for certain what has happened here and no one knows for certain what will fix it.

That said, I don't think it's the End of the World As We Know It. I'm not pulling a dime out of the stock market. (Unless, God forbid, Obama wins the election. Then I will have to rethink things.) It makes no sense to sell stocks in companies that are fundamentally sound, just because the market is so low. I never invest money that I need immediately, and I am willing to let things ride, settle down, and come back. I'm also not pulling my money out of my bank accounts. I've got the bulk of my money in Chase, Coutrywide, and WaMu, and all accounts hold less than $100,000, so they are covered by FDIC insurance. If WaMu fails, my money is still safe, and even if I have to wait to get it back, I've got money in the other banks. If you have all of your cash in one bank, I strongly advise you to spread it around just a bit, and certainly don't keep more than $100,000 in one bank. Sign up for online banking so that you can exert more immediate control over your money.

Fasten your seat belts. Let's see what today holds. Let's see what this week holds. Hang on to your blame and watch closely. Here we go.