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!