Monday, December 22, 2008

Time to play the tooth fairy

Tikvah lost her first tooth about 2 months ago. However, she decided she wanted to keep this tooth rather than to leave it to the tooth fairy. I never got her full reasoning, but no sense in forcing her to do something she doesn't want to.

Then out of the blue, two days ago, she told me she changed her mind, and wanted to give it to the tooth fairy. I told her I'd have to email the fairy and let her know that Tikvah wanted to trade in her tooth. Meanwhile, I snuck out to the store, and got some glitter. I learned a trick from my "blog-father", David Bogner over at Treppenwitz (see Long in the Tooth), about leaving a glitter trail. I was able to find some at the dollar store. That night I left her $2 under her pillow, and a glitter trail. The next morning I had to remind her to check under her pillow. She was amazed. Then I showed her the gliltter "fairy dust" trail. She and Ahava were talking about it for a while, analyzing her exact path, and how she knew to go to Tikvah's bed and not Ahava's. Tikvah carried the $2 around for most of the morning. I did tell her that it probably was $2 for the first tooth, then $1 a tooth afterwards.

Then, while at a Chabad Hanukkah party last night, what happens? She loses another tooth! I told her the tooth fairy would think she's pulling her teeth out on purpose to get more money! :-) Tikvah said it was a good thing we didn't vacuum up the fairy dust yet, since there would probably be more. Smart kid. I almost forgot to leave her the dollar, but last night I watched "The Santa Clause 2" with Tim Allen. Towards the end, the guy who helped save the day was the tooth fairy. (yes, it was a male tooth fairy in the movie). That reminded me what I needed to do!

So 2 teeth down, 18 to go, plus Ahava still has her 20...

This did cause an interesting discussion between Laya and myself. Her parents never did the tooth fairy thing, and at first she told Tikvah I was just making it up. But when I explained letting the kids experience a little bit of magic and wonder in their lives, she changed her mind and went along with it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Read the fine print...

My local radio station is having a contest where you have to find a graphic on their website each day, based on some clues. If you click on it, and log in, you are entered. They are giving away about $1,000 a day. I was reading some of their rules, and saw this (emphasis mine):

Prizes will be awarded in the form of checks written to the winners and will be sent to winners within 2 weeks of completion of contest. Prize cannot be transferred, assigned, redeemed for cash or substituted...

Errr... if the check is not redeemable for cash, then what else is it good for??

I thought of maybe emailing the radio station to point this out to them, but then maybe they'd toss out my entries? ;-)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Site/Motorcycle Logo?

I was telling my brother-in-law that I was thinking of getting some paint work done on my bike. Maybe some pin striping, maybe even a picture put on it. But I could not think of any picture to put on it. He suggested I do something with my "JDMDad - Jewish Deaf Motorcycling Dad" name, since it combines what I'm about. I thought about it for about 4 seconds, and came up with this little doodle (using MS Paint).

The thing on the left is a hearing aid, Laya wasn't sure... Also, in case it isn't obvious, I don't have much (if any) artistic talent. :-)

I think I'll think about this some more...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Posting on BeyondBT

In case you don't follow it, I did a writeup that was posted onto BeyondBT recently. You can view it here.

Other than that, I've been swamped with a meeting for my Jewish motorcycle club, adding lights to my bike, etc. I have some stuff I want to post soon, but want to make sure I spend the time to write it carefully, not a rush job like this one is. :-)

Oh, if there are any Jewish Motorcyclists out there who are interested, our annual Ride to Remember will be based in Savannah, GA, and will go to Charleston, SC. Details can be found here. (go to the registration brochure)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wow, ArtScroll really makes a difference!

This year for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, I tried some new Machzors I got from ArtScroll during their last Hanukkah sale. These were the interlinear type, where the English words are printed below the Hebrew words, so you can follow the English with the Hebrew. (Sample page) May be a tad confusing at first, but I've been using some of their other interlinear products (especially their Mincha/Maariv set) so I was used to it.

Wow, what a difference. Usually during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services, I can either follow some of the Hebrew, when they do some things I'm familiar with, or read in the English. But if I do one, I miss out on the other. With this, I got to experience several things both ways at once. For example, the Ashamnu (We have been guilty...) I could say it in Hebrew with the rest of the congregation, or I could read it to myself and understand it in English, but before, I couldn't do it at the same time, now I could. Same with the "Who will live, and Who will die" and "We are your people, you are our G-d", etc.

These were all things I knew how to say, and enjoyed saying them, or enjoyed reading and understanding them in English, but the juxtaposition makes both possible at the same time. Ideally at some point, if I can learn Hebrew, then it wouldn't be an issue, but that's working out to be a lot more difficult than I had thought.

Of course Chabad has their own Machzor which doesn't follow ArtScroll, but between the two of them, with a lot of flipping around, I was able to get through the service and feel more fulfilled for having done it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why is it on Yom Kippur...

Why on Yom Kippur does conversation always seem to turn to food?

I was mentioning to one member of our shul, who rides, how my Jewish motorcycle group would be having a meeting next month at a kosher restaurant. Then we started talking about the kosher restaurant business (business is hard, when the economy turns bad, people stop eating out), then about specific restaurants here and in Baltimore, then about Dougies, Subway, etc. It was about 4:30 pm (Mussaf was over around 3:15 pm, Mincha was at 4:45, so it wasn't worthwhile to go home), so talking about food definitely wasn't helping my fast. I made it, but didn't need the reminder midday! :-)

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Laya's parents and her brother came down to stay with us for Rosh Hashana. Her brother had to be back at work Thursday morning, and her parents are leaving on a trip to Israel next week and needed to pack; so as soon as the Yom Tov was over, they had to leave.

We had already put Tikvah and Ahava to bed (they were yawning all through the evening), but once the door was open and Laya's brother started taking out the suitcases, Tikvah came down the stairs, soon followed by Ahava. Tikvah said "Daddy, I'm very sad that they are leaving." I reassured her that it was normal to be sad when people leave. Then she said "I almost feel like I'm going to cry!" (as she said that, her eyes got watery, and her lips started quivering. I gave her a hug, and reassured her, and pointed out that sometimes when our guests leave, mommy (Laya) does cry, so it's OK if you need to cry to let it out. Finally she said "Daddy, it hurts right here, it's hard to swallow" pointing to the lower part of her throat. Ahava, ever the echo of Tikvah, said it hurt her there too. This time Laya swooped in and said that it hurt her there too when people left and she was sad.

I then reminded Tikvah that it's nice when people visit, but at some point every does need to go home to get back to their lives. Otherwise, if we focus so much on how much it hurts when we leave, then no one will want to visit other people, because no one will want to leave. I also assured her that we would see them again.

After that, the kids felt a little better, and went off to bed without too much more of a protest. I went back downstairs. It always amazes me how well Tikvah is able to articulate her feelings. Even if she doesn't know the "adult" words, she can still describe how she's feeling, and even the physical aspects. I never thought about the tightness in the throat, but that happens to me as well. And as I told her, it's always sad when our guests leave, but better to experience that sadness than not have them at all.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why do I do what I do

For those who may not be aware, every year I help to plan and put on the Baltimore/Washington Ride for Kids. This ride, along with 36 other "Ride for Kids" held throughout the year in 37 locations around the US, sponsors the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. We are their main source of income for research, family support, information services, etc. Before the rides started 25 years ago, a child diagnosed with a brain tumor had about a 4% chance of survival. Today the survival rate is about 60%. An enormous increase, but NOWHERE NEAR the survival rate it should be! (I'm basing the numbers from memory of the training session I had a week ago, can't guaranty I'm remembering right)

I started attending the rides in 2001. I had seen several magazine columnists write about the events, so figured I'd give it a try. I had no idea of the emotional impact this event would have on me. Every ride has a number of sidecars and big bikes up front. These bikes hold the true "Stars" of the ride, children currently undergoing treatment for, or have survived brain tumors.

I attended the ride again in 2002, with my new bride. Laya also saw and felt the emotional impact. At that ride I spoke with some people I knew who volunteered for the ride. One of them suggested I attend a Task Force meeting and see if I'd be interested in joining the Task Force that plans the ride, or at least be a volunteer at a future ride. I attended the meeting, and really enjoyed meeting and interacting with the folks on the Task Force. I joined, and the next year, 2003 I assisted the parking lead. In 2004 and 2005 I led the parking team myself. Then in 2006, the ride was on the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana. Also about this time I was becoming more observant, and part of the parking lead's job is to train parkers on Saturday, which I no longer wanted to do (required a long drive from home). So I trained a new person to become the parking lead, and that year I only helped to plan the ride, I didn't actually ride. After that year, the Task Force would check the calendar with me to make sure the ride wasn't on a Yom Tov.

Last year I helped to register clubs (the clubs that brought in the top amount of money got to ride directly behind the kids in the following year's ride), and I was supposed to do that again this year. However, I found out there was a conflict, and the parking lead was not able to attend. So I became the parking lead again (someone else agreed to do the training on Saturday for me). This year's event bust out the previous record, and we raised over $276,000 for the kids. Not only that, but my club raised the most money this year (with the help of some friends who credited their amounts to the club, and who just became honorary members!), so next year we get to ride up just behind the kids. I hope to ride, it'll be the first time since 2002 that I actually ride in the event.

But anyway, back to the heart of the matter... Why do I do this.

Take a look at this picture. These kids are all survivors. There were a total of 11 on stage, these are just some.

Paige, the beautiful little girl being interviewed, is 4 years old. That puts her smack in between Tikvah and Ahava. I thank G-d that my kids are healthy kids, (ptu, ptu, ptu) and feel like it is paying back (keeping up the good to help other kids who are not so fortunate). Plus, this type of activity gives a positive public view of motorcyclists. There are still many people out there who go by the old stereotypes of motorcyclists all being gang members, brawling, dealing drugs, etc.

And finally, I have to admit, it's also fun. At the end point this year, I was responsible for making sure 345 motorcycles were able to park without creaming each other. I'm happy to report I was successful! (see below.)

and no, I don't have big, beefy shoulders. There's a guy with a black leather jacket behind me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Transitioning to Shabbos

Jacob Da Jew recently wrote a post about how his brother-in-law recently joined the workforce, and now truly appreciates the "rest" you take on Shabbos.

For me, it was the opposite. I wasn't Shabbos observant until about 2-3 years ago (I never did mark down the exact day I started). Before that, I couldn't figure out how people could observe Shabbos. After working all week, I eagerly awaited the weekend to do all the other things that needed doing. Shopping, going out, having fun, taking rides, etc.

When I married my observant wife, she said she accepted me as I was, and would not change me to try to make me Shomer Shabbos, kosher, etc. And for the first year or so, that's what it was. In fact I used to teach motorcycle classes once a month over the whole weekend. But something happened. I began to miss the Friday night Shabbos dinner. Eventually I made arrangements so I could be home on Friday night, but still teach Saturday and Sunday. But then something else happened. Now I was missing going to Shul! Huh? Where did this come from? I used to only go to Friday night services a few times a year. Now I'm disappointed that I'm not at services on Shabbos? Hmmmmm. Okay, so now I don't teach on the weekends anymore. But still, gotta have my e-mail! I check it several times an hour when awake! Well, hmmm, I guess I really don't get all that much email on Saturday. Maybe I don't need to check that often. You know what, I don't need to check at all. Let's just turn the computer off before we light the candles. Give the hard drive a rest from its constant spinning.

Boy, this is really going to be boring. For over 24 hours, no TV, no computer, no driving around and shopping. What the heck will we do anyway? Well, Shabbos dinner on Friday night is nice. Good family time. Saturday morning I get the kids up and let my wife sleep in a little bit. Then when she's up (maybe with a little nudging from me) I go to shul (the wife and kids will join me later) and I really enjoy davening there. In the afternoon, I play with the kids, or they go to a neighbor's house and run around wild there, and I get to take something I haven't taken since Kindergarten... a nice nap. Some dinner, then if Shabbos ends early enough, Havdalah for the whole family, otherwise we put the kids to bed, and a little private time to talk with my wife before Shabbos ends.

You know what? I like this! I don't miss the Saturday hullabaloo I used to participate in. It's nice to get a rest in, take a break from the average week. I've turned 180 degrees, now instead of being annoyed with Shabbos "interfering" with my schedule, I actually look forward to it and the break it gives me every week.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

They don't teach boys this kind of stuff!!

So Tikvah is now into wanting braids in her hair. Here's my first ever attempt. It actually held for most of the day, just some hair on both sides of her face came out. (of the braid, not out from all her hair! I didn't pull that tight!)

One of the older girls in the shul did a great job braiding her hair last week. Took about a half hour to do though. She actually made three separate braids, then braided those together. I don't think I have the patience for something like that.

Ahava seems to have inherited my curly hair. (drives me nuts! I think it was Rita Rudner who joked about wanting to iron her curly hair) I don't know if braids will ever be in the cards for her.

So anyone know of some good websites or other places where I can learn to do a better, neater job of a braid?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Traveler or Tourist?

Every morning when I boot up my computer at work, we get a splash screen with various daily information. Part of it is a "Quote for the Day." I first read the quote for today quickly, but something struck me, and I went back and read it more slowly.

"The traveler sees what he sees.
The tourist sees what he has come to see."
G.K. Chesterton

I'd like to be a traveler, but many times I just wind up being a tourist. When I was in Israel for my first (and so far only) visit while my sister-in-law was getting married, I wanted to travel, but my parents-in-law mostly took us to various places. Some were interesting, but some were just them going down memory lane. My biggest disappointment was at the Kotel. While I was there, I saw the stairs that go up into the old city of Jerusalem. My in-laws had other things they wanted to do, and wouldn't take me up there. Every time I tried to find a chance to go back, they'd have another place they wanted to take us to, or something else we needed to do (I admit, the wedding was important. ;-) ) Towards the end of the visit I finally got a chance to break away from them, and went back to the Kotel. I went up the stairs and saw the many shops and restaurants. It was amazing to behold. I walked around and even up onto some of the walls that surround the city. What a beautiful view! I spent a few hours wandering around, looking at everything. At one point I made a wrong turn and noticed the stores became all Arabic. Something my mother-in-law feared would happen, and would be the end of me. I just turned around and headed back where I came from. No one made any problems. Out of my entire two weeks in Israel, those 4 hours or so are what I remember best.

When I return to Israel again (we are planning a return trip to see my sister- and brother-in-law, plus my niece!) I do want to tour various places, but I hope I'll get some time alone to get into a traveler mode as well. It's a totally different view.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No, really, we aren't laughing at you!!

A friend of mine from college recently wrote to me. He bought a scooter to use for small trips (e.g. to the supermarket) to save on gas. I received this email from him a few days ago:

You know I got a scooter from China last year, I fart around town on its 150 CC glory. I just use it to go to Grade A Supermarket to get some food for dinner or whatever, because it makes no sense to fire up the pickup truck for a quick errand. Sometimes I pass by people on real motorcycles, they give me some kind of gang sign. They lower their right hand and stick out two fingers like a peace sign.

Does this mean "Right on, brother!" or more like "Get a real bike, you jerk!"? The bike looks dorky, I look dorky, I even wear a helmet because even though Connecticut law says you don't have to, you can't appeal Newton's Three Laws. I'm not sure if I should just give this sign back to say "Power to the people!" Or "Twice as much back to you, you loser!"

Inquiring minds want to know!

I answered back:

Motorcyclists tend to wave to each other. Some give a full wave, others just hold down their hand. Some won't wave to scooter riders. I, and many others do. You're on two wheels. You're in the wind. You're a brother.

Sometimes I think of getting a cheapie scooter. My motorcycle gets 30 mpg. I know I can do a lot better, especially for a 10 mile commute that's pretty much no highway.

KTRSD! (Keep the rubber side down!)

He proudly told me about what a piece of junk his scooter is... direct quote: "It's a piece of junk but a really fun piece of junk." (no-name type of brand, comes with assembly required, pieces come pre-broken to save you the hassle, trip odometer doesn't work, etc.)

With gas prices the way they are, I've seen more scooters out on the road, and to a lesser extent, mopeds. In fact my aunt recently emailed the family and asked our opinion of her going out and getting a scooter (I'm all for it! She used to ride a motorcycle). I've also seen some of the impact of these new riders. They fit a sort of gray area. Most of the smaller scooters really aren't motorcycles, so as my friend pointed out, a lot of times helmets aren't required. (even in states that require motorcyclists to wear helmets) However, in at least Virginia and Maryland (I'm sure there are other states as well) they recently revised the laws. Now if your scooter/moped goes over 35 miles an hour, it is considered a motorcycle, and requires things like helmet usage, insurance, registration/license plate, etc. There is also more training being offered for scooter riders. In the past their only option was to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course, which means learning to ride with a clutch. Scooters tend to be automatic drive vehicles (I'm not aware of any that are shiftable, but then again, my experiences with scooters is negligiable. But now the MSF offers a program called "ScooterSchool." I've heard of other training options for scooters as well. Some MSF classes will let you use a scooter in a regular class with motorcycles.

As I said to my friend, I have been thinking about getting a scooter for commutes to work. I can see several advantages to using them. Besides the gas advantages, scooters tend to use the side of the road more, nice during traffic backups. Of course, there are several disadvantages as well. They are mostly smaller than motorcycles, thus even harder to see. They aren't as quick as motorcycles, so might be harder to get out of the way if something should happen. And the lower powered ones definitely can't be used on the highways (nor would I want to!)

This is something I'll be thinking about for a while. But regardless, I still continue to wave to those riding scooters, mopeds, and of course motorcycles.


A picture of the scooter my friend has. But as he puts it: "The bike in the picture looks much nicer than the reality of the one I own too. All the plastic parts fit together in the picture, and without all the gaps in mine. My turn signal stopped working right yesterday, it was always flashing left (turning it to right made both lights flash, like an hazard signal). I took out the switch, looked at it, found nothing wrong with it, put it back, and it worked fine. Go figure!"

Monday, August 18, 2008

AED - I didn't realize they were so simple

Recently my office installed a bunch of AEDs. (Automated External Defibrillator)

I've seen these around more and more at restaurants, airports, just about everywhere. But I always thought they were complicated things that required a lot of training. Our safety division started offering classes in CPR and AED use. I hoped I would never need the knowledge, but I figured I'd brush up on my CPR skills, as it has been a few years since I was last certified.

The course started with about 2 hours of CPR lessons. We had to relearn the sequence... now it's 30 compresses and 2 breaths. If we don't have a face mask, and don't know the person well, they say we don't even need to do the breaths, just keep pressing on the chest.

After that was completed, we started the AED training. To start us off, he had two people "walk in" and find a body on the ground. One started CPR, the other got the AED. That person, like me, never really saw or used an AED before. And he did the same thing I would have. He pulled out the manual. The instructor stopped everything and suggested they try again, this time, when they get the AED, the instructor said to just press the "Start" button. Turns out the AED talks to you and walks you through the entire process. When to hook up the pads (and the pads have diagrams to show exactly where they go), when to stop all contact with the person, when to press the button to shock (assuming all are clear), when to resume CPR, etc.

The AED doesn't do everything, you still need to pump the heart and breathe into the person, but now I know you don't need a lot of training or medical knowledge to use an AED. And I also know now that it doesn't replace CPR, but rather, supplements it. And according to our instructor, it increases the odds of survival from about 7% to around 95%!! Wow, I like those odds much better!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Peer Pressure

I've heard of how easily kids succumb to peer pressure, but now I'm seeing it in Tikvah already (she turns 5 soon). She used to wear pants all the time. Then she started talking about how a few of the girls in her pre-school would always have a skirt or dress on, they never wore pants. (mostly the daughters of some of the Chabad rabbis). Now I've noticed in the last month or two that she hasn't worn pants at all, except for the few occasions she was told she needed them for a particular thing we were going to where skirts weren't a good idea (a playground if I remember right). Well, I guess there are worse things to have peer pressure about, but still, I'll keep an eye on her to make sure future changes are things that she really wants to do, and not just because "the other kids are doing it."


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blogger outs himself

The first blog I ever read with any regularity, and that really showed me what a blog was all about, was "Waiter Rant." I've always tried to be a good tipper when eating out, but after reading the Waiter's writings, I made extra sure to do so. The Waiter fulfilled a dream that few bloggers dare hope for, his writing was so popular that he received a book offer. Today his book came out, and he exposed his true identity. I hope his books runs well (looks like it's off to a good start), and that he doesn't come across any disgruntled customers who figured out he was writing about them. :-)

Good luck Waiter!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Be careful how you ask G-d for things...

I was teaching a very basic motorcycle course last week. The weather forecast for that evening called for an 80% chance of thunderstorms. Before the class, I asked "Please, don't let it rain during class!" But I came prepared (ever the Boy Scout), I had my rain gear and my rain hat. I even bought a pack of extra strength dish washing gloves. You may laugh, but they keep my hands dry when teaching, which keeps me more comfortable.

Anyway, the class went off very well. We had 5 ladies in the class. We instructors know that the women tend to make better students. They usually listen better than the men do, and don't challenge us or try to show off quite as much as the guys do. (speaking on the average here) We finished up just ahead of schedule. By 8 pm, the bikes were loaded back in the trailer, the students received their stickers and were on their way back to their cars. I noticed the clouds were getting thicker, but nothing too threatening yet. I said I'd drop off the paperwork and give the keys (to the trailer) back to the police.

After dropping off the paperwork, I went into the building where the campus police are housed. The officer on duty was out on patrol, and said he'd be back in 10 minutes. When he came in, I noticed his shoulders were wet. Uh oh... When I walked out, it wasn't raining it was POURING. Drat, I had put all my rain gear back in the van, which was parked in the parking garage across the street. I made a mad dash to get there. My phone received an alert from the county, a funnel cloud was spotted about 20 miles west of where I was. Just what I need. I began the trip home. The rain just got heavier and heavier. One street was partially flooded (the water was up about 8-12 inches in the right lane). I emailed my wife to ask her to unlock the door so I could dash in the house. But would you know it... about 2 blocks from home, the rain let up! In fact, when I got in, my wife said it looked like it would rain soon, but nothing came yet. And there I was, dripping wet.

Next time I'll broaden my request... "Please don't let it rain until I get home from class!" :-)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bystander behavior

Sorry for the quiet time... we recently had a family vacation for 2 weeks, then a medical issue that took up another week. Then after that my job issued some new computer policies which include not posting things on a website from the office, not even during breaks, when I tend to write to recharge my batteries.

The other day I came the following article in the Washington Post. (I believe the Post removed requirements of having to register to read an article. Sorry if they haven't.)

The basic summary of it is that a lot of times, when people witness an event (a few are given in the article: a woman collapses in a hospital waiting room, and a man is hit by a car when crossing a street, both of these events were caught on video, as well as the bystanders doing nothing) they tend to do nothing, except maybe call 911. Other than that, they don't want to get involved or help. As I was reading the article, I thought "I wouldn't have done that, I would have at least gone over to check on the person." But then the article stated: "Although we might think otherwise, most of us would not have behaved much differently from the people we see in these recent videos." It goes on to quote various sociologists and psychologists, and discusses "Bystander Behavior."

That forced me to think back to events I witnessed and my behavior then. Once I was returning to college after a bad week of chicken pox. I was just cleared to return by my doctor, and still had marks all over me. I was in Grand Central Station, transferring trains pretty late at night. There was a beggar there, in a wheel chair. A group of tough looking guys in their late teens or early twenties came over and started abusing the man, pushing him around unwillingly, prying him off when he would grab on to a signpost or something. I looked around, but didn't see any police in the area. I wasn't familiar with the train station, and didn't have a clue of what to do. Finally the people left the man alone and went to find something else to do. Another time I was on the DC Metro Rail line. A woman standing near me suddenly collapsed on the floor. My brain didn't even seem to register what happened, I was just looking around trying to figure out what was going on. In the meanwhile another woman bent down to hold the first one's head, and someone else called the train operator. When we arrived at the next station, a few people got off with the woman, and I saw them as we pulled out, standing with her, making sure she was okay. Why didn't I think of any of that.

Then again, there were some times when I tried to do something. I was in a shopping mall, and it looked like two kids were fighting. They were throwing kicks and punches back and forth. I saw a security guard and told him. He checked it out. When he came back, he said the kids were just goofing around. I felt my face flush, maybe I shouldn't have said anything. But then there was another time, I was riding my motorcycle and saw a rider pulled over on the left shoulder with his bike. I was a few lanes over, and couldn't make it to him safely. I thought about it, and decided to backtrack. I rode back to a previous exit, turned around, and this time I made sure I was in the left lane, and was able to pull up to him in the shoulder. His bike had broken down, and he didn't have a cell phone. I asked if he'd like a ride to the next exit, I could drop him off at a gas station with a phone. He said he had a friend with a pickup truck two exits down, could I drop him off there? It wasn't far from where I was going anyway, so I took him on the back of my bike and he guided me to his friend's place.

So I don't know, I guess given a little time to think, I can break the bystander behavior. Then again, the article states that if people are alone, they are more likely to come to someone else's aid. It also states "Real heroes are the ones who break out of the group norm."

Still, I hope I remember some of this if I'm ever in a situation like this again, and maybe get off my tush and actually do something.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Where'd they hide it??

The other day I plugged something into my van's powerport. The power instantly went out of the port, and the radio died as well. Must have blown a fuse. I looked all throughout the dashboard, underneath, the sides, etc. No luck. I checked the manual, but it wasn't very clear either. Oh, come on, I have a drive to make the next day!

Finally, out of sheer frustration, I pulled into a Dodge dealership. At the service area, I explained my problem to the office manager. She sent out the head of the shop to help me out. He spent about 5 minutes looking over all the same places I did. Then he popped the hood. Right next to the battery was this black box. Popped the lid off of that, and there were the fuses. We looked at the map, and found the right fuse, and it was blown. I got two new fuses (the spare was missing) and installed one of them. Everything worked fine. (I tossed out the splitter that caused the fuse to pop. Never did that before, but don't want to take any chances.) The service manager wished me well (and no charge, except the fuse) and I was rolling again.

I guess I'm still used to older technology. I never would have thought to look under the hood for a car's fuse box!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

One down... many to go

I just got back from Tikvah's pre-school graduation. Next year starts Kindergarten. They did a great job, the kids had little caps on and everything. They had a luncheon afterwards, and I sat down with the father of one of Tikvah's best friends. He said "This is the first of many graduations." My baby isn't even 5 years old yet, (she's very happy to remind me that it's coming up this summer though!) and I'm already thinking about grade school graduation, high school graduation, college graduation, etc. *sigh* Seems like a long way away, but then again, it seems like I was holding a crying, newborn Tikvah only yesterday.

Friday, May 30, 2008

What's in a name?

The bike I recently purchased is a 2007 Kawasaki Nomad. The Nomad is part of the Kawasaki Vulcan line. (essentially all their cruisers are Vulcans with varying engine sizes, configurations, bags, etc.)

Yesterday I needed to get a parking pass so that I could park the bike at work. I had to bring in my vehicle registration and insurance card. On the paperwork, I had written "Kawasaki Nomad." I saw the security guard looking at the various pieces of paper, slightly confused. I figured out what it was. On the state vehicle registration, the bike is called a VN1600D. (Kawasaki's internal body type name for the bike.) On the insurance paperwork, the bike is listed as a Vulcan 1600. Heck, on my warranty card it's listed as a VN1600D7FA.

I wonder if my brother had to go through this. He owns a 2007 Kawasaki Meanstreak. It's a Vulcan 1600 with a more customized look to it.

Anyway, I'll just stick with calling the bike a Nomad. On Sunday I'm teaching in the morning, then going to an Israeli festival in the afternoon. Hopefully after getting the little ones off to bed, I'll have a chance to post a picture or two. I did take a short ride yesterday and have to say, it's so nice to be able to back the bike up out of my parking space without having to get off of it. While I loved my old Concours I usually couldn't back her up, even on level ground, without getting off; I was on my tiptoes as it was.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Updates soon!

This past weekend has been extremely busy. I was in Omaha for the recent Ride to Remember with the Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance. The experience was incredible; the way Omaha, Lincoln, and Nebraska in general welcomed us was astonishing, totally beating out DC, TN, and NY. I'm working on a write up, but it'll take a while. (I'll probably have to do it in a few chunks).

Then the day after I returned home, I got my new (to me) motorcycle. Whoo hoo. I just got it registered. I have to get it inspected (it's only 8 months old, shouldn't be a problem) and I'm ready to roll!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Back to my old haunts.

The other day I had to go up to Baltimore for a meeting. Great! While I'm up there, I figured I might as well try the new kosher Subway that recently opened up. I was talking about it with one of my (kosher keeping) neighbors who also ate at Subway before becoming more observant. We discussed whether or not we should have the (fake) cheese on meat based subs, and wondered how close the subs would taste like what we remember. Since I knew I would be going up, I offered to bring back some subs for them.

I also told Laya that I'd be bringing back subs from Subway. Now, unlike fast food places such as Burger King or McDonald's, Subway has a lot of flexibility. First you pick if you want 6 inches or 12. Then you decide what type of sub you want. (e.g. Meatball, Sweet Onion Chicken teryaki, etc.). You also pick what kind of bread you want (Italian, wheat, garlic, etc.), you then pick what veggies you want on top of the sub, and you also pick what (if any) sauces or dressing you want. Apparently the people in Baltimore who have never been in Subway before were having problems, because the Subway store sent out an email explaining step by step how to order. I went over the menu with Laya and we finally figured out what I would get for her and for the kids.

So by the time I went into Subway, I had 6 sandwiches to order. 2 for my neighbors, 3 to bring home, and one to eat there. I thought I ordered clearly, I went through one sandwich at a time, listing what I wanted, and what goes on what. But then the sandwich makers started switching the rolls around and it became hard to keep track of which was which. One thing I noticed is that one person was solely in charge of the Seafood Sensation (which had fish, which needs to remain separate from meat). Smart, I never would have thought of that. But of course he was in the back room when I ordered. *rolling eyes*.

It took a lot of explaining the order over again (3 or 4 times) but eventually we got all the subs made and figured out which was which. I caused a backup in line... oops. I also ordered chocolate chip cookies. Can't leave without that! ;-)

The sub I ate at the restaurant was a meatball sub. The taste was pretty similar to what I remember before. The only problem was they didn't make their meatballs firm enough, so they got mushed up when I was holding the sandwich tightly (not that it was a death grip!). After discussing it with my neighbor, I decided not to get it with the (fake) cheese. Then on the way home I ate some of my cookies. They were over done, but still pretty good.

When I arrived back home, I stopped at the neighbor's house first. We figured out which subs were theirs, and I took the rest home and stuck them in the refrigerator. We had them for dinner the next night. I had the Seafood Sensation. (formerly known as "Seafood and Crab", they have made some changes!) It was pretty good, close to what I remember it being like before. I forgot to order cheese for this one, and I did need to add a little more mayo, but overall, I enjoyed it. Laya had the Subway Club (Roast Beef, turkey and smoked turkey). She liked her sub. We split a cold cut combo (bologna, salami, smoked turkey) for the girls. Ahava really enjoyed the bread! She left meat on her plate, and asked for more bread. Oy. Tikvah liked her sandwich and had some more, plus the meat that Ahava left behind. Laya liked her club. Laya had "The works" for toppings, which means everything. One thing they had on there was sweet peppers. Laya never had them before, and she wound up liking them. Tikvah asked to try them, and she liked them as well. The hardest thing I had to figure out when getting the subs was what veggies to get on the kids' subs. Tikvah doesn't like black olives. Ahava doesn't like lettuce. Tikvah doesn't like sliced tomatoes, neither like onions, etc. I finally settled on cucumbers and pickles only. The girls seemed fine with it. *grin*

So an overall verdict, thumbs up. (My neighbors liked it too, they give it a B+) The decor in the store was just like in the regular Subway restaurants (the updated ones, with bricks), and the food was very similar. Unfortunately I missed Jared by a week. I wonder if they had Subway kippahs when he came?

When I decided to keep strictly kosher, Subway was one of the restaurants I was going to miss. They have a nice variety, and it's not a hamburger based place. Granted, it's over an hour away, but it's nice to know it's an occasional option now.

Monday, May 12, 2008

More ways to torment mom...

I mentioned before that I tormented my mother in various ways when growing up. Here's another.

During Sunday School one day (I don't remember the exact year, I was probably somewhere between 10-12 years old) I was kind of bored. The teacher was talking about the destruction of the first Temple, and the construction of the second Temple. At one point she mentioned that the temple was mostly made of wood. I piped up "But what if the Big Bad Wolf comes and blows it down??" That earned me the first and only time I've ever been kicked out of a class.

While sitting down outside the door to the classroom, several other teachers walked by and they were all shocked to see me sitting there. The worse part was the drive home. You see, I left out one small detail. The teacher happened to be my mother. It was a very quiet drive.

When we got home, I was told to go into the dinning room, sit down, and wait for my father to come home. I don't remember how long I sat there, and I don't remember what my dad said to me, but I never mouthed off to mom in the classroom again (nor any other teacher as well).

Sorry Ma!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

From an orange to a full kosher meal

I donate blood and platelets at a local blood donor center. The type of donation I do takes longer than your average blood donation. Once I'm hooked on the machine, it usually takes about 90 minutes until completion. But with the extra time, they not only take regular "whole blood" but also take platelets and plasma if they need it. They can also do a double red donation through this process. Every time they hook me up to the machine, they ask if they can take X, Y and/or Z. I always tell them, I'm here, just take what you need.

So for the past few years, I've been getting an invitation to their annual donor dinner. I usually had conflicts. This year it was an open night, and I really wanted to see what goes on at these events. The dinner choices were Chicken, Steak, or Veggie. I called to make a reservation (it's an answering machine that takes it) and said that I keep kosher, so I wouldn't be eating, I just wanted to hear the presentations.

So late yesterday afternoon, I ate some left over spaghetti, then headed on over. It was being held at the local Marriott. When I checked in, they didn't have my reservation for some reason (seemed to happen to a lot of people, maybe using an answering machine to take reservations isn't a hot idea). Anyway, they wrote out a name tag and asked me what I wanted to eat. I explained that I keep strictly kosher, and wouldn't be eating there. The woman started fussing and kept trying to convince me to take the veggie meal, or else wanted to call down to the kitchen and have them make me something else. Another volunteer there was Jewish, and she understood the situation and explained to the first why that wouldn't work. I told them that really, I was fine, I just wanted to hear the presentations and see what the event was like.

After that, I was wandering around a bit, checking out the hotel. I decided to buy a Snickers bar to eat during the dinner. At the desk, they also had a bowl of oranges. I asked if I could have one, they said "Sure." I then said that would be my dinner for tonight. The hotel worker looked me over (I wear a kippah). He then said "You know, they keep kosher food on hand in the kitchen." I looked at him and asked for more information. He said they have wrapped kosher food set aside for when they had people staying who required kosher food, and they could provide it at the dinner. Well, SURE, I'll agree to that!

I was a little late in the seating, but found an open table near the front of the room. Turned out I sat next to another Jewish woman, and also at the table were two people from the JCC! (they sponsored blood drives there). The Jewish woman who helped me before came up to me and said that they did have the kosher food, and I would be getting it soon.

First they came out with a roll and plasticware. The plasticware was wrapped up REALLY tight. I needed a knife just to open it up! Everything was wrapped and sealed with the name of a kosher restaurant that I know (and trust) plus the local Vaad oversight.

Then came out the main course, chicken, potatoes, and green beans. Okay, granted this was a reheated meal, and a tad dry, but still, considering that I thought I was only going to have an orange and a Snickers bar for dinner, it was pretty darn good!

I had the orange for dessert, and saved the Snickers bar for another day.

After the dinner, they had several people come up and speak. The most heart wrenching one was the mother of two children, 3 and 5 years old. (Instantly hit me, as Tikva will be 5 this summer, and Ahava just turned 3). Her 3 year old son came down with a very bad fever (106 degrees), then had pneumonia, and then they found he had a rare disease (I can't remember the name), but basically resulted in him having almost 0 platelets. He was in and out of surgery and the OR, tubes everywhere, and at one point actually died and had to be resuscitated. Without the donated blood products, he absolutely would not have survived. He needed to be pushed around in a wheel chair for months, and needed to have his head supported, but eventually he relearned to walk, talk, eat, etc. And his mother said he's almost back to normal, running around, playing, etc. They then showed a picture show, before, during, and after his ordeal. I admit, I had to wipe my tears to see the pictures clearly. From now on, whenever I hear negative comments about the time I spend donating blood/platelets, etc. ("Maybe bad people will get it," "They make money off your blood," "There are other people who can donate, why do you have to?" etc.) I'll see the face of that 3 year old boy and know that without donors, he would not be alive today.

Oh, and I got a nice mug for my 20th ABC (Automated Blood Collection) Donation. They had people there who had their 100th, 200th, and even 300th donation (you can donate this way every two weeks). I have a lot of catching up to do!

Monday, May 5, 2008

A Holocaust museum in Richmond, VA. Who'd of thunk it?

Recently my Jewish motorcycle club had a booth at a big regional motorcycle show. We are trying to recruit more members. One of the most common responses was "There is a group of Jewish Riders? I thought I was the only one!!"

Anyway, one of the people who came up was a volunteer at the Virginia Holocaust Museum. What? Virginia has a Holocaust museum? Who knew? I've only been living here for 14 years. (Okay, to be fair, the museum first opened up 11 years go, so I get 3 years off my flak)

Anyway, the person who stopped by welcomed us to come ride down to Richmond and visit the museum. The group board thought this was a great idea, and the ride was scheduled for May 4th. Due to various conflicts, it wound up just being the president of the group and I. However, just outside of Richmond we met the person who first invited us down there, and another Jewish motorcyclist. They gave us an escort through the highways and streets of Richmond directly to the museum. (okay, disclaimer here... I'm still bikeless, so I went in the car... oh the shame! ;-) )

I've been to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC 3 times, and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem once. I didn't think there'd be much new. Heart wrenching, of course, but still, things that we've seen before. Well... yes and no. Some of the things were the same, but they were presented in different ways which made an impact. One of the first things that struck me as different was a room that was designed to make it look like you were on a boat, the SS St. Louis. Then later, there was a room with a crawl space. I thought it was just for show, but the person showing us around crawled in. Okay... As soon as you stood up, there were the sounds of a nasty dog barking like mad. My heart started racing. The room was designed to look like you were at the fence surrounding the concentration camps. Then we crawled again, this time the "tunnel" was completely dark, no light at all. It was very effective. It lead to a mock underground location where 13 Jews survived hidden for 9 months. We continued to crawl to exit. Very thought provoking.

Later, to exit another corridor, you enter the gas chamber. You know it's not a real gas chamber, but you see the nozzles, you see where they drop the gas, you see how the door is barricaded. Not a pleasant place to be in at all. But again, a reminder of what so many people suffered.

At the end of the museum was a new exhibit (opened on May 1st). It is a recreation of the courtroom at the Nuremberg Trials, along with a film of the trial taking place. I kept hearing over and over "Not Guilty! Following orders!" etc. Sickening.

After the museum, our escorts took us to the Richmond JCC, which had the only kosher restaurant in Richmond. We enjoyed wraps and smoothies, and wound up talking for over an hour, covering everything from motorcycles to politics, to the Holocaust, etc. I certainly hope to return again some day. Hopefully on a bike the next time!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ah, so my memory IS playing tricks with me!

I just recently read this article here. In case you don't want to read it, it's about why people make the same mistake 2, 3, 4, multiple times. Basically if something is at the tip of your tongue, and your brain is struggling to remember what it is, then your brain learns the "wrong pathways" to the answer, rather than learning it the right way so you'll remember things the next time. (even the next day).

This is something I struggle with occasionally, like trying to remember a person's name, I wind up having to go through a bunch of names... "Harry? no, Tom? no, Bill? no.... Ummm... Oh yeah, hi Chuck!" Something along those lines. And it happens the same way the next time I see him. Or try to remember a book, or the definition of a Hebrew word, etc.

They offer a possible solution, once you know the right answer, say it (either out loud or mentally) over and over to beat the new pathways in your brain. I'll report back and let you know if it works... If I can remember the password to post to the blog that is...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

So long...

I accomplished part A of my plans to get a new bike, selling my old one. I put an ad in the Concours Owners Group forum, and got a few hits. The first person tried to negotiate the price of the bike down from my asking price (and I had already knocked about 1/3 of the price off the Blue Book value because I knew of, and was honest about the damage). I told him thanks, but I'll see if others are interested. The next day I received a very excited email from a person in Tennessee. We conversed by email a few times, then he left TN Saturday night, drove up all the way here and got here Sunday morning. He checked the bike out, rode it for about a minute, came back and told me I had a deal. I signed the title over to him, he paid me in cash, and we loaded the bike up in his truck. Oy, I've only loaded my bike onto my (pretty low) trailer (see here for an example). Getting it all the way up the ramp onto the truck was hard work! But we got it done. Whew! I took one last picture just before he left.

I tried to keep away any anthropomorphic feelings. The bike worked well for 10 years, but after the drop I had last year, I realized I wanted to get a bike that was lower to the ground. Now I get to do some serious shopping! :-)

However, I will probably not be riding to the Ride to Remember this year. When I do get a new (or new to me) bike, I want to take the time to get the know and get comfortable with the bike. Starting off with a 2,500 round trip journey seems like a rush. I will be there though, just via airplane.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Awww man! I missed it!!

I just sent the last post when I a whim, I went to check the history of this blog. Drat, I missed my first Bloggiversary. My first post, "Hello World" was posted March 21, 2007.

At the end of the post, I stated:
How often will I post? Will this be one of those many deserted blogs? I don't know. I'm figuring this out as I go along. (Literally! I have a copy of Brad Hill's "Blogging for Dummies" next to me, and several "" help pages open as I type this).

According to the dashboard, I made 58 posts (not including this one and the one I just made, since they technically are in the new year). So a little over a post a week. And there were a few dry spells where I didn't post for a while. So all in all, not too bad. It's not like I have a huge readership. (A few family members, and Mordechai!) but anyone is always welcome to read and pick my thoughts. And Laya likes the posts because they preserve some of the stories of our kids. I need to back some of them up, or print them out so the kids can read them later. (hopefully I won't be scarring them or anything ;-) ) Oh, and I haven't used a book since that first week, I may not do any of the fancy stuff, but I have the basics working.

Anyway, thanks for reading... hopefully I'll have more soon. (here's a teaser, I dropped my motorcycle off this morning for a motorcycle auction to be held this weekend. I'm hoping I won't have to go back to pick it up!)

Use of internet at work...

We received a note at work a few days ago that all "non-official" internet use was to be banned. They were going to be tracking everyone's usage of the internet, and any use that wasn't for official business would be reported to the director. This certainly put a scare into everyone. Now, I admit, I do use the internet a bit at work, mostly for non-business e-mail. Some people get personal email delivered to their work address, but I think that's crossing too many lines and can cause confusion. I also do read a few blogs, and post to this one, during breaks. My brain can't take straight work work work the whole time, I need to explore a little bit every now and then to keep fresh. I actually find Wikipedia refreshing, I learn so many new things on there, some useful, and some just for pop trivia knowledge. (Some people smoke during their breaks, I try to learn something new during breaks)

Then we got an email today saying the first one was taken out of context, and it was just being considered right now, and probably wouldn't be that harsh, etc. But still, it has me thinking, where is the line? How much is too much? If I wasn't checking email or looking for something new to read, I'd probably leaf through a book or a magazine, something not work related to jog my mind a bit. Granted, I do see other users who seem to hog up things on the internet, such as videos, instant messaging, etc, which I believe is going too far, but then again, my boss who never uses the internet at work, except for what he absolutely needs to could say that I use too much just to read emails. (probably wouldn't say it, since I still do get all my work done, but could)

No magic answers, just some things to ponder.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Whew, that's over

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. I had been taking a Hebrew class, and was struggling to keep up. It killed a lot of my time for other activities. It's over for now, I might take it again next fall after reviewing everything starting back at chapter one. It helped a little, I'm recognizing more and more words in the siddur. But at the same time, when my brother-in-law from Israel was visiting, I asked him in Hebrew "Where are you going?" and when he answered, it went straight over my head. Oy!

The other thing that has been going on lately is my quest for a new (or new to me) motorcycle. My beloved Concours still runs, but is now at a stage where she needs a more mechanical hand to keep her in tip top shape. Mine is not that hand. I also want something that's lower to the ground, I'm tired of tip toeing. Right now I'm focusing in on the Kawasaki Nomad 1600 (2005+). It's several inches lower, has fuel injection (most of my problems with the current bike are from the carbs), a shaft drive, and lockable luggage, things that are important to me.

Anyway, I have a few new posts in mind, just need to sit down and work on them (one of them may require a video... Hmmm....)

Friday, February 29, 2008

My first experience with La Briute self heating meals

A few weeks ago while my folks were in town, we were at the local kosher supermarket, and I saw a display of La Briute self-heating meals. I've heard of them, but haven't seen any before. I got a box of their Cheese Ravioli. The meal is packed so that you don't need to keep it refridgerated at all. And it is supposed to be self heating. The expiration date is 12/2010, so it keeps for a while!

I left it at work for a day when I forgot to make or bring my lunch. That happened earlier this week.

It took a few minutes to figure out how it all worked, but next time it'll be really quick. I was also surprised at how much was in the box, I thought would be just the ravioli. There was also a package of oatmeal cookies and a packet of soup broth. If I had a cup, I could have made myself some soup. (that part is not self heating... I would need to boil some water) They also included a fork, knife and spoon, plus some salt and pepper. The napkin was kind of wimpy (fortunately I keep some napkins in my office) but they make up for it with a "moist towelette."

Anyway, I place the sealed package of ravioli in a bag that has a heating element made of magnesium and iron. Then I pour in some salt water (they provide the pack of salt water) and close up the bag and set it down. Yikes, you can see the water start to boil up quickly and steam comes out of the bag. I let it go for about 10 minutes, I probably should have given it another minute or two, it was hot, but could have used a tad more.

Anyway, I (carefully) took the package of ravioli out of the bag (hot!), and opened it up. There were five large cheese raviolis. Okay for lunch, but if I were really hungry I'd want more. (although the soup could have taken the edge off my hunger if I had it...)

The ravioli was good. I wouldn't say the best I've had, but it was good.

Their meals are Chlov Yisrael, Glatt Kosher, or parve. They actually have a pretty good selection on their website, and it's cheaper on the website than it was at the supermarket. I'll have to check their shipping rate.

Anyway, I wouldn't use it for day to day use, but I could see leaving a few packages at work for times I forget to bring something, or if the group is going out somewhere and I don't want to lug along a peanut butter and jeally sandwich. It will also be useful for trips out of town, such as when I go to the Ride to Remember in Omaha, or my upcoming college reunion.

And yes, Blogger-in-law, I know I wouldn't need something like this in Israel, as there is plenty of Kosher food thoughout. ;-)

Monday, February 4, 2008

Vocabulary Review, and football too.

Ah, Superbowl Sunday. I was looking forward to the game (okay, I like the commercials, usually). During the day though, we realized that Tikvah was sick. It started with her complaining her throat hurts. Okay, that happens every now and then. But then when we were out for lunch, she didn't eat any chicken nuggets, but the biggest sign of a problem was she only ate ONE FRENCH FRY!!!! When we got home, I took her temperature. Yep, almost 103. Okay, take it easy, keep warm, no running around (she wasn't in a running around mood anyway).

About an hour before kickoff, I was finishing up some things when Tikvah said "Daddy... I feel like I have to cough." So I wisely said "Oh, it's okay to cough." BBBLLLEEEAAAAHHHHHHHH, there goes everything that was in her tummy for the past few hours. After getting some paper towels and a garbage bag, I kept reassuring her that it was okay. Then I mentioned... "By the way, that's not coughing. That's 'Throwing up.'" She asked me to repeat it a few times (that's how she makes sure she learns new words). I thought of tossing in "vomit, barf, puke, ralph, heave-ho, blowing chunks," etc., but decided that her vocabulary didn't need to grow that fast.

A light dinner later (three bites of a buttered slice of bread) and she was zonked out and ready for bed. Fortunately I Tivo'd the game, and didn't miss the commercials (or the game). Pretty lame this year. A only a few good ones, especially the one with Richard Simmons. I have to admit, my thought was the same as the driver's. :-) The dalmatian/Clydesdale one was cute too. I was very disappointed (although not surprised) in how few of the commercials were closed captioned though. :-(

And to top it off, the Giants won, meaning I have to buy the ice cream when my folks come down to visit in 2 weeks. (not that I'm a Patriots fan, but I always take the AFC, and dad always takes the NFC)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

No Wire Hangers!!

The title of this post is a double reference. Over the weekend I mentioned to my parents that my high school 20th reunion was going to be held later on this year, but because it's on a Friday night, I wouldn't be attending. I never really kept in touch with anyone in my high school, most of my friends were from when I worked at Wendy's, or were people I met at college. They asked about one friend, but I reminded them that he moved when I was around the 9th grade or so. He loved the movie "Mommy Dearest" and would frequently turn to me and start quoting "NO WIRE HANGERS!!!!!" But I lost touch with him several years ago, and didn't know how to contact him any more. My dad, Mr. Retired, said he was pretty good at finding people, and would take the challenge. He contacted me a day later and said he tried all 50 states, but couldn't find him. He asked if I knew his parents name, and I did. A few hours later dad called me and told me he contacted my friend's mother, and I'd be hearing from him soon. My friend called about an hour later and we had a nice conversation. We traded addresses and phone numbers. No e-mail address though, he doesn't have a computer and doesn't e-mail. Yikes, how do I keep in touch?? Might have to actually write letters on paper or something. *grin*

The other hanger reference is something that occurred when I got home. Laya informed me that Tikvah locked the bathroom door, and closed it. This was after Tikvah and Ahava conveniently placed all of our shoes in the bathroom. (Why? Who knows what goes through the minds of 2 and 4 year olds???) The doorknob had a small hole in it, so I thought it was the type you have to poke, so I found one of our few wire hangers and tried to unlock it. No luck. Grrrr... The screws that hold the knob together were on the outside of the bathroom, fortunately, so I unscrewed them, and was able to unlock the door. I also learned that to unlock it, I'd need to insert a very small screw driver, and turn it. Ah, I'll remember that. (although I may replace the knob with the kind you can unlock with a regular screwdriver, or a butter knife for that matter) But Tikvah has been told that she is not to close the bathroom door for a while. I'm just glad Ahava wasn't in the bathroom at the time. Kids... ARUGH!!!!! :-)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Whew, that's over!

Sorry for the long delay. Besides visiting family over the last holiday break, I got involved in one other thing, and I didn't realize what a time commitment it would be. I started reading the first Harry Potter book. I knew it was popular, and since I hate waiting for the next book in a series, I waited until they were all available, and bought the full set of 7 books. I figured I'd read one or two, then later on pick up another one, etc. No dice. I read the first two books in 4 days. I didn't have the rest of the books with me while on vacation, so had to wait until I got home before I could start on the third. But then this pesky thing known as "Work" got in my way, and it took longer to read books. Oh, and I also needed to do the basics... you know, eat, play with the kids, sleep, etc. But I finally finished the last book. Whew! What a ride! And it ended differently from the way I heard through the grapevine. Maybe a false rumor was put out or something. Anyway, now that that monkey is off my back, hopefully I can get back to writing more!

The following Sally Forth comic pretty much summed things up for me.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Sharing Leisure...

My parents have been going to the same resort hotel in Massachusetts for almost 30 years. When I was growing up with them, I would go annually too. We went with several other families. Just about all the fathers (and some of the mothers) were teachers, so it was during the holiday break. One thing I remember is at some point, I'd always grab a book and go sit in the lobby, near the big fireplace which always had a nice fire going, and just read for a while. Now that we live so far away, I rarely get to join my parents anymore. However, this year we loaded up the kids and made the trek to visit and relax.

Somewhere around the middle of the day, I told the girls I was going to sit by the fireplace and read. Ahava jumped up and grabbed a book to join me. Tikvah ran after us after we started off. After we all settled by the fire, the girls opened up their books and looked at the pictures, and I started to read. It was only about 5 minutes later when Tikvah piped up with "I'm ready to go back now." I told her that she'd have to give us another 5 minutes (I wanted to finish the chapter I was in) then we'd head back. I was a little disappointed as I wanted to read more. About halfway back to the room, we ran into my mother. She was heading toward our room, and offered to take Tikvah back. I asked Ahava if she wanted to go back with grandma, or back to the fireplace with me. She didn't answer, just gripped her book (Sesame Street Dictionary) and turned right around and headed back to the fireplace.

We sat down and enjoyed the fire for a good half hour before heading back. It felt so nice to share an activity like that with her. Laya sometimes thinks that I favor one child over the other. I really don't think I do. Tikvah is older, and is at the point where she should be expanding her horizons and trying new things. Some things, Ahava just isn't ready to try out yet. But this was something she could do, and when I stole a few glances at her, I could see she was really enjoying the book. While she can't read yet (that I know of anyway!) she was pointing at all the pictures and talking to herself about them. And I had a chance to catch up with a few more chapters of Harry Potter. If Ahava did catch the reading bug from me, she has a lot of books ahead of her to read.