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.

Did you adopt a dog from a rescue shelter this year?

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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

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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?