Monday, April 30, 2007

lag b'omer

In 15 minutes the interim report for the Second Lebanese War is due to be released. The prime minister received his copy almost an hour ago and was supposed to review the entire thing before it was released to the media.
I am actually planning on reading the report. I would like to know what Winograd thinks of the fact that my family spent our summer traipsing around Jerusalem. I wonder if he will quote my blog. I doubt it, but he might.
In any event, the prime minister is too seasoned a politician to go down with the ship. He's the kind of guy who will tell the women and children that the rescue boat is on the other side of the ship so they wouldn't crowd him while he tries to survive.

Also in the news today, Yossi Beilin contradicted the PM who said that he had the Knesset's full backing. Beilin sent Olmert a letter with all of Meretz votes during the course of the war. Of course, Meretz wanted to vote on Israel bending over voluntarily so Hizballah could not be accused of raping us.

We're trying to decide if we should have our own bonfire (and get the kids to sleep at a decent time) or join the community bonfire (and have the kids up all night). The problem is that our normal bonfire location has been taken over by weeds. To do the bonfire ourselves, we will have to clear the area and then go gathering wood. We'll probably make the decision tonight.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Today I insulted someone at work accidentally. His computer wasn't working and my technician reported it was because of viruses. In the follow-up email I sent him, I said that his computer was full of viruses and that he should use the anti-virus software (that he should have been using the whole time) from now on. I also included a damage report which , because there was no other damage just included the time that everyone who worked on it had to put in.

Apparently, when you tell an engineer that his computer is full of viruses that is one of the worst insults that you can lay on him. It says that he doesn't know anything about simple computer use and that he is a complete idiot for downloading all types of garbage without a thought for computer security. I found all this out because he went to my boss and told him how insulted he was and how he was upset because I said that everyone wasted all of that time because of him.

I apologized for saying it was full of viruses, I should have been more precise and mentioned that there were only 2 viruses. I also explained that the purpose of a damage report is to explain that even though he didn't lose any information and there did not seem to be any real damage, we still consider time to be very valuable. By the end of the conversation, he was much happier that we had talked and that I had explained myself. Sometimes I hate email, but I always prefer to have the written record.

I was thinking about Jews and Judaism recently. One of the things that slavery in Egypt was supposed to have done to us was forge us into a nation. Looking at non-religious Jews being proud of their Judaism, while hating the religion, makes me think that the Holocaust may have reinforced that. I think Jews were at a point where if they didn't want to be Jews anymore they were just slipping away. Judaism was a religion in Europe, not a nation. There were no secular Jews, Jews who didn't want to follow the religion just faded into society or joined other religions. Today secular Jews blast the country for the few religious institutions that are part of modern society (read weddings and no chametz on pesach). These Jews would never consider giving up their Judaism, rather they want to be Jews without Judaism, in other words a nation with no religion.

Apparently this is a good thing from a religious perspective, though without the religious aspects of our nation we would just fade away as history has proven time and again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

yom haatzmaut

Yom Hatzmaut was a lot of fun. One of the highlights of the celebration is the candle lighting ceremony, in which someone who represents some group lights a candle and says who they are and why they are lighting a candle. I've never seen it but the ceremony at Mount Herzl is supposed to be all that. Anyways, this year is the 50th anniversary of our village and they asked me to light a candle as a representative of all the olim, past and future, who have and will come to build the village into the great town it is today. I thought it was pretty silly, but I got a lot of comments from people that actually consider it to be a big thing.
The first part of the evening was the special prayer which is culminated by the blowing of a shofar. There were a lot of presentations and speeches before we finally got up to the candle lighting ceremony and by the time I finally lit my candle it was 10:30PM. The next day at davening, most people were dressedin their yomtov finest and we sang hallel and heard the special haftorah.
I was asked if I was really participating because I come from a less Zionistic background and we generally don't say hallel on Yom HaAtzmaut (or listen to live music for that matter, because it is a time of mourning). I replied that we always pasken like Hillel and this day should be no different. (אבות ב,ה) .

My aunt was in visiting from Arizona and she enjoyed both Memorial Day and Independence day.

In the morning we went with 2 other families on a nice 5 hour hike around the base of mount meron. The kids did excellent, though they would have preferred if it was an hour or so shorter. The other two families both brought color-coded books on the flowers of Israel and when we saw interesting looking flowers we stopped to find out what they were.

We finally got back home around 4ish and started preparing for the big mitzva of the day - BBQ. We had about 30 people (including children) and tons of meat. Each of the participating families brought a lot of food. We had hot dogs, steak bits, chicken bits, steaks, bigger steaks, lamb chops, chicken wings, shnitzels and so on. The kids ended the eating by roasting their marshmellows over the grill.

Now life is back to normal until the next big holiday - lag b'omer.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

memorial day

Talk about a busy day at work, I didn't have a minute to breathe and I am in the middle of a dozen projects. It is much better then when I was sitting at work with nothing to do, and I threatened to quit, but there should be some sort of middle ground.

I just got back from a memorial day ceremony. Growing up in America, Memorial Day was the beginning of spring, a day to BBQ and big sales. I never really thought about it as a day to think about the soldiers that fell to build the nation and to keep the nation safe. I think it would really benefit the youth of America to understand what Memorial Day really means. Maybe now with the war being close to home and our soldiers losing their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, people will take a minute to think about it and educate their children on May 28.

The chief rabbi of our village spoke at the ceremony and talked about the Israeli professor in Virgina who gave his life to save his students. There was a prayer for the dead, the kel malai rachamim, and a video in which each person who died in the Israeli wars with a connection to our village had a picture shown and his name announced. At the end they announced the names of the people who were killed during the war last summer, including the arabic people from our sister village. We left when the boys started really complaining in the middle of the speeches.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

the lebanese

BTW, I've started facebooking now. So if any of you are on facebook, you can add me to your list.

The Lebanese are planning on taking Israel to court for reacting inproportionately to their kidnapping of our soldiers and firing missiles at us. The fact that Lebanon still exists after I had to spend the entire summer in Jerusalem tells me that we did not act proportionately enough. One of the raison de etres of a state is to protect its citizens, worrying about the enemy should not even come into the picture. They aren't even saying that Israel attacked them unprovoked. They are simply saying that 2 of our soldiers and a couple missiles are not worth the destruction that we caused.

I have some advice for the Lebanese. If it isn't worth the damage, don't start up. If they felt it was worthwhile for them to attack us, because we would only respond with what they felt was fair then there would be no such concept as Deterrence. The only way to keep people from attacking you is by making them assume that if they do they will pay for it a lot more then they want to. The only way to make them assume that is that when they actually do attack you, you make them pay more then they wanted to.

In any case, a friend of mine just came back from his reserve duty and told me that this summer's war will most probably be in the Gaza strip and they aren't really concerned with the northern border. I don't know if this should make me worry more because they will not be prepared on the northern border again or relax me because maybe they actually have decent intelligence.

new york to london

I generally ignore email forwards, but I glanced at this one and thought it was good enough to share with you.
Take 60 seconds to do this, I guarantee you will show someone else, it's too funny not to.

1. go to <>
2. click on "maps"
3. click on "get directions"
4. type "New York" in the first box (the "from" box)
5. type "London" in the second box (the "to" box)
6. scroll down to direction #23

Now I also tried going to Jerusalem and it wouldn't calculate the driving directions. If everyone will please email google and tell them that you consider them racists and anti-semites because they didn't include driving directions to Jerusalem from the US even though they included driving directions to Europe I would find that amusing.
Dumb, but amusing.

Monday, April 16, 2007

holocaust day

My son came home from gan (nursery) today wearing a yellow star that said Jude on it. In fact, all of the kids were wearing the star except for one little russian boy and the other children were all throwing things at him yelling "sheigitz,sheigitz." Ok, that last part didn't happen, but it probably could have. When my wife tried taking the yellow star off of his shirt he got very upset and said, "but my teacher said I have to wear it."

Yes, it is once again Holocaust Day in Israel. This morning at 10AM a siren sounded and we all stood quietly for the 2 minutes that it went off for. Except in Sderot, where the children screamed and hid under their desks for the 4th time this morning. Ok, that last part might not have happened, but I don't know for sure that it didn't.

On the radio yesterday they were playing sad, dlow songs to get people in the mood of the day. In Israel if you want to know how you are supposed to feel on a given day you can always listen to the radio and the songs they are playing will let you know.

Yesterday I heard an interview with a Polish minister in which he complained that Israeli youth come to visit Poland and all they do is go to death camps. He felt that it gives a very negative impression of Poland to Jewish teenagers. If I'm not mistaken, Poland is the same country where a number of air force pilots got caught a couple months ago inspecting the local culture in their hotel rooms and were dismissed from their duties. That being said its probably better if we only send our teenagers to look at the death camps instead of introducing them to Polish culture.

My little brother had a baby boy today and I'm not going to write what I was just thinking.
You're all welcome.

In any case, as I've mentioned in the past I am not very pro holocaust day. We already have a Jewish holocaust day, Tisha B'Av, which is an all-inclusive Jewish tragedy day. I do think that it is great that Israeli culture keeps it in the public conscience. We must always remember that as Jews we will only be safe under the protection of God himself, in our own land when we are following the Torah as we are supposed to.

"May God avenge their blood", as it is said, so it is written and so it shall be done.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

long day

It's 9:45 PM and I'm still at work. I guess this is my own fault because my application screwed up the data. I just finished the function that went through the logs and put all the data back in the place where it is supposed to be and I'm waiting for the production supervisor to go through the numbers with me to make sure they are all right.

Anyways, back to Pesach. I didn't finish all my beer beforehand and I threw out a couple bottles. I wanted to burn them, but it wouldn't have worked. In the olden days we used to have a pre-Pesach beer party with a couple friends to finish them off.

I just heard that Dan is in the country. If anybody has a phone number for him, please send it my way.

Finally finished fixing the problems and I'm going home.
Have a good shabbos.

I'm UpBeat

According to survey results my typology leaning is : Upbeat. I think that's a good place to be.

A lot has been going on that I have been wanting to write about, but life is so busy these days, especially at work. (I'm one of those strange people that actually works at work)


Based on your answers to the questionnaire, you most closely resemble survey respondents within the Upbeat typology group. This does not mean that you necessarily fit every group characteristic or agree with the group on all issues.

Upbeats represent 11 percent of the American public, and 13 percent of registered voters.

Basic Description
Upbeats express positive views about the economy, government and society. Satisfied with their own financial situation and the direction the nation is heading, these voters support George W. Bush’s leadership in economic matters more than on social or foreign policy issues. Combining highly favorable views of government with equally positive views of business and the marketplace, Upbeats believe that success is in people’s own hands, and that businesses make a positive contribution to society. This group also has a very favorable view of immigrants.

Defining Values
Very favorable views of government performance and responsiveness defines the group, along with similarly positive outlook on the role of business in society. While most support the war in Iraq, Upbeats have mixed views on foreign policy – but most favor preemptive military action against countries that threaten the U.S. Religious, but decidedly moderate in views about social and cultural issues.

Who They Are
Relatively young (26% are under 30) and well-educated, Upbeats are the second wealthiest group after Enterprisers (39% have household incomes of $75,000 or more). The highest proportion of Catholics (30%) and white mainline Protestants (28%) of all groups, although fewer than half (46%) attend church weekly. Mostly white (87%), suburban, and married, they are evenly split between men and women.

Lifestyle Notes
High rate of stock ownership (42%, 2nd after Enterprisers).

2004 Election
Bush 63%, Kerry 14%.

Party ID
56% Independent/No Preference, 39% Republican, 5% Democrat (73% Rep/LeanRep)

Media Use
Upbeats are second only to Liberals in citing the internet as their main news source (34% compared with 23% nationwide); 46% also cite newspapers. No more or less engaged in politics than the national average.

Friday, April 06, 2007

chol hamoed

It's been a busy pesach. Having only one seder and one day of chag gives me more time to go on tiyulim during chol hamoed. Early Wednesday morning we piled into the car and headed Southward towards the Negev. We had reservations for the night in a Sde Boker motel. Sde Boker is the kibbutz where Ben Gurion lived and was buried. There is an interesting custom associated with visiting Ben Gurion's grave, but we did not partake (the kids were with us).
We did some nice tiyuling in the crater (mikhtash) itself and went to an alpaco farm. We ended off the trip with a bbq at the dead sea and then drove on home.
Our seder was multi-ethnic. We had a sefardical family and they did some strange things. We did tell them that they could not slaughter a goat at the table because it would make a mess, so they compromised on that custom.

I bought sticker sheets to keep the kids happy but I only got 2 spiderman sheets and there were 3 boys, so there was some crying. but all and all it was fun.