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Friday, July 29, 2005


Yiddishe Mamme Interviewed by the Pragmatician

I've had the pleasure of interviewing the webmistress of one of my favorite blogs
You can read the Q&A on her blog.


Questions Galore-Interviewed By Chayale

Chayala took the time to Interview me, thanks I enjoyed the questions.
If anyone would like to inteview me or be interviewed, just leave a note.

Chayala's Questions
  1. How do you start your mornings?
  2. If you could be a Muppet, which one would it be and why?
  3. Let's say you had a million frequent flyer miles. Where is your first destination?
  4. Do you squeeze or roll the toothpaste tube?
  5. Would you be willing to be an astronaut on the next mission to the moon?

My Answers

The hardest part is getting out of bed.
Once this is done I walk over to the kitchen take my morning medication and drink a cup or two of Coca Cola.
I don’t like coffee but I need caffeine in the morning.
In between I also get dressed and check on my downloads.

Well I’d have to say Kermit or Miss Piggy because they are the only ones I remember.
I was never much of Muppet fan, so I really don’t recall the names or characteristics of the puppets.
I did enjoy the 3D show featuring them in Disneyworld though.

Israel as you would expect, where else can one walk around in a Shopping center and buy Kosher pizza and ice cream? Not to mention there’s no place like the Kotel to pour out a Jewish heart in prayer.

4) I started out by rolling it out for maximum use, but my wife didn’t bother to follow my lead so I just gave up. I still make an effort to empty it as much as I can.

5) No!

I don’t believe that exploring the universe or moon for that matter, à la Star Trek, will ever bring about any beneficial, life altering change here on earth.

Disclaimer: It could my defensive side answering here. In the shape I’m in, there’s no chance I’ll ever be allowed even in the testing area of a spaceship :)

The Rules

1) Leave me a comment saying "interview me please."

2)I will respond by asking you five questions ( not the same as above)

3)You will update your blog/site with the answeres to the questions.

4) You will include ths explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5) When others comment asking to be interviewd you will ask them five questions.

Thursday, July 28, 2005



I got this amusing email today and saw no reason not to share it with my blog visitors.

1.. My husband and I divorced over religious differences. He thought he was God and I didn't.
2.. I don't suffer from insanity; I enjoy every minute of it.
3.. I Work Hard Because Millions On Welfare Depend on Me!
4.. Some people are alive only because it's illegal to kill them.
5.. I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.
6.. Don't take life too seriously; No one gets out alive.
7.. You're just jealous because the voices only talk to me
8.. Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.
9.. Earth is the insane asylum for the universe.
10.. I'm not a complete idiot -- Some parts are just missing.
11.. Out of my mind. Back in five minutes.
12. NyQuil, the stuffy, sneezy, why-the-heck-is-the-room-spinning medicine.
13.. God must love stupid people; He made so many.
14.. The gene pool could use a little chlorine.
15.. Consciousness: That annoying time between naps.
16.. Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?
17.. Being "over the hill" is much better than being under it!
18.. Wrinkled Was Not One of the Things I Wanted to Be When I Grew up.
19.. Procrastinate Now!
20.. I Have a Degree in Liberal Arts; Do You Want Fries With That?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005



Yiddishe Mamme was kind enough to Interview me!
Thanks for the interesting questions YM.
If anybody wishes to be interviewed by me, just leave a note.

Yiddishe Mamme's questions:

1) Name 10 of your favorite songs (you're not gonna complain that it's too many right? I mean, for a music lover like you, 10 faves is a joke!)
2) What's your idea of 'having a blast!'
3) Do you think blogs are more beneficial or detrimental?
4) If you could be one person for a day, who would you be?
5) How good are you at table tennis and are you up for a little friendly competition one day?

My Answers

Of course I’m going to complain, but not now:)
My top ten changes quite frequently, but here’s the current status
1) Vivo per Lei- Andrea Bocelli (Italien)
2) Bohemienne- Tina Arena
3) Mandy- Barry Manilow
4) You’re the voice- John Farnham
5) L’enfant Soleil- Anne Marie David (French)
6) To Love you more- Celine Dion
7) Monopolis –France Gall (French)
8) A dream is a whish you heart makes (Disney’s Cinderella)
9) If that’s what it takes –Celine Dion
10) I just want to be your everything –Andy Gibb

Hmm tough one, I rarely have a blast.
I’m plenty happy with a board game, a good video or a nice walk.
I don’t attend, nor am invited to many parties and the like.
But one thing that is very exhilarating to me is being proven right.
So lately I advised an acquaintance to take a certain route but he chose to ignore my advice, ended up calling me from his cell since he was caught in an unbelievable traffic. It’s petty I know. It just feels REALLY good.
The latest real blast I had was last winter at DISNEYWORLD Florida!!
Boy! did I enjoy playing around with those fast-passes!

You probably can guess the answer to that one.
It’s not black and white. Many blogs I read, have constructive content, intelligent articles or interesting information.
I see these blogs as enriching to my surfing experience.
On the other hand it pretty much gives a voice to every creepy, scheming evil person knowing his way around the net.
Overall I would label the blogsphere beneficial. Every instrument can be used for good or evil. The unfortunate choice some people make to use basically good stuff for devilish purposes is no reason to spoil it for everybody.

This may sound crazy, but I’d choose to be someone living during Avraham Avinu’s timeline. Perhaps with the knowledge I have I could prevent his union with Hagar and who knows…
In a more contemporary vein, I’d like to freaky-friday with my boss. The glee in simply thinking about the possibilities is priceless.

Oh I’m up for a friendly game of ping pong.
As a kid we had a table at home.
It served as dinner table when we were barbequing, but was used a lot on Sundays and late Fridays for its’ actual purpose.
Let’s just say I had plenty of practice until a couple of years ago.
I still enjoy a pleasant game of table tennis when I get a chance.
The question now, is whether we live close enough to each other to make a match a reality.

Ok, here are the(interviewing) rules again:
1) Leave me a comment saying "interview me please."
2)I will respond by asking you five questions ( not the same as above)
3)You will update your blog/site with the answeres to the questions.
4) You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5) When others comment asking to be interviewd you will ask them five questions.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005



It’s the title of an oldie from The Shadows, splendidly covered by Olivia Newton-John.
But more than that, it’s a truism to me.
The idea of listening to the music I enjoy is a factor that helps me actually step out of my bed in the morning instead of just repeatedly hit the snooze button.
Once the engine starts turning, the music starts playing and my mood improves.
My car functions as private karaoke bar, as this is the one and only place I feel comfortable singing a long.
Nobody can hear, ergo no one laughs at me or cover their ears with their hands. And if it starts raining not a soul who knows I’m to blame.

I’m rarely “early” for Shul, yet sometimes even after I park the car, I let the song finish before I step out.
Music is my companion; it truly helps me in difficult moments.
It helps me release my many "unsung" frustrations when signing along high pitched voices.
There’s always a melody humming in my head, just waiting to be heard by my ears.
Traffic is my worst enemy, but with my favorite CDs at hand it’s so much more bearable.
It calms me, uplifts me, moves me and overall works wonders with me.
Thanks to those wonderful MP3-players, now I can enjoy my favorite songs at work too.
It’s small, unobtrusive and easy to carry on.
I have a 256MB one so I can fit roughly 65 songs on it, enough to keep me busy and happy for a workweek.

Like a few months ago, remembering the tragically deceased talmidim of Rabi Akivah, a.k.a the Sefirah, I’ll have to live three weeks without music again.
Please don’t even suggest I turn to those Sefirah tapes for solace. It’s not that I listen to instrumental music only, but it’s just no substitute.

I hate fasting; I find it very hard when I can’t put an arm around my wife when she’s sad, but this is hardest and the longest “Thou Shall Not”.
21 one long days I’ll just have to imagine the music in my head, weirdly sometimes it’s actually as if I hear it, but this manner of “thinking” quickly adds up to a headache.
Friends of mine have put forward the theory that music was banned during the three weeks, before the invention of recorded music.
Then listening to music implied going out, to a party or a big event performance and applaud to an orchestra.
Today however not all music listening necessarily involve “joy”, therefore, they argue that the ban on music is no longer applicable.
Unfortunately no Rov I know, with some credibility, has concurred with this theory so far.
I’m going to feel sad and lonely these next few weeks.
If anyone knows of a Heter I’d be delighted to hear about it.

Monday, July 25, 2005



For those who fasted yesterday, kol hakavod and hope you caught up by the time you’re reading this.

If there was one, just one rule I could scrape out of the Shulchan Aruch, it would be the fast days, no doubt.
I’m perfectly aware of the fact that there are more difficult Halachos to follow and certainly more recurrent ones.
Still I stubbornly won’t budge in my choice.
I await fast days with fear and trepidation, unfortunately not for the right reasons.
Indeed I often question the use of fasting at all as my feelings are mostly of hunger and want, instead of sadness and regret about past happenings.
Yom Kippur may be the exception to the rule.
Not that fasting feels better then, but the purpose is clearer in my mind, thus more bearable.
Whenever I meet (doesn’t happen often) a candidate convert, I scream to him “the fasts think of the fasts!!!”
Ironically I have to hear from them about how it’s good spiritually, physically and metaphysically.

When sharing my anxiety about fasting with others, it hits me at how I seem to be exaggerating.
Some people barely feel a difference; others just get through the day without complaining, and many people don’t find it to be such a big deal at all.

Why is this so hard for me, why does a fast day elicit such apprehension from me?
I guess the answer lies in the approach to such a day.
This year I told myself to handle this pragmatically.
Ok it’s a fast day, but panicking, hyperventilating and stuffing myself to build up storage won’t do any good.
So I came up with a brilliant plan that I found out later everybody had come up with already light-years ago.

Thankfully Chassidic schtieblers have minyanims till it’s almost time for Minchah.
That helped to accomplish the first part of my ingenious plan:), staying in bed for as long as possible.
Somehow the sticky, somewhat muggy taste in my moth only starts irritating when standing rather then when waking up.
I prepared enough reading material in advance and planned to make those long overdue calls to all my friends abroad.
Preparing all this, gathering the required phone numbers, going to the library and eating, kept me occupied enough not to ponder too much about the upcoming fast.
The fast itself wasn’t exactly my day of the month, but it was less bad than last time.
I was prepared and banished food as much as possible from my thoughts.
In three weeks, there is another one coming up.
I’m still calm for now, but this one will be harder. It’s a very intense day, much longer and overall depressing.
Any tips for to make it easier will be highly appreciated.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Today was awful; half the personnel at work were absent.
Unfortunately it didn’t carry over to the amount of work to be done.
One has taken ill, number two is on leave, another was busy outdoors, and yet another came in late.

Fortunately I’m more or less able to cover for most co-workers, as I’m familiar with the various computer programs,languages spoken and most of the procedures.
Unfortunately I can’t clone myself into 4 and there’s where “awful” comes into play.
I ran around a lot, steps up and down, typed words and numbers on 5 different keyboards, in 4 different rooms and getting my regular work done while catching my breath.
Ironically, or rather sadly this is the closest thing to exercise I’ve done in months.
Although I swore to myself I’d go jogging last month, given that it wasn’t said just before Rosh Hashanah it didn’t really count.

When thinking back I always have good, really credible arguments for not exercising daily. I have plenty of others to blame when necessary. Be it my wife, my mother, my boss, and even my landlord. In addition I have plenty of more constructive things to do. Right now, I’m attempting a career as a Shadchan.
If I have to believe the Hamodia’s ‘letters to the editor’ column, there’s a sore lack of ‘em in the modern-orthodox and, orthodox but not quite Chassidic, public.
If I have to believe my matchmaker, there’s good money to be made.
The subject is important enough to warrant a deeper look but another time.

I write articles for my blog, which is a new big priority for me.
And lastly but not less important, I try to create quality time for me and my better half.

So Jogging, treadmill and co, will just have to wait until a Doctor declares keeping fit a must.
Then I know I’ll do it, because I take health matters with an almost exaggerated seriousness.
Why? You ask. That’s a story for later.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005



I don’t mean the age old Minhag of brining joy to the Chosson and Kalleh.
I’m talking (actually writing) about people who sit at weddings or other Simchas and appear to be bored out of their minds.

It’s normal for people to automatically look up people they know, from the Beth Medrish, Yeshiva, or same neighborhood. Taking a chair next to friends, even though you were seated at another table, is pretty common.

Often however there is this one guest who doesn’t seem to fit in any category.
Perhaps a business relation from another town or country, an old Yeshiva mate from one of the Mechetonims, in any case someone who appears t have no one to schmooze with.

It’s happened to me a few times.
While in Israel for a few weeks, I was invited to the Bar Mitzvah of a distant cousin.
I planned not to go but they insisted, so I went.
I was seated on a table where everybody spoke Hebrew and very little English.
One of the men was smoking, thereby spoiling my appetite.
Except for a few polite pleasantries it was obvious that my tablemates were all acquaintances of each other and felt more comfortable exchanging news and ideas between them.

It’s also happened to me in my own city.
I was at the third wedding that week, seated with people that remember my father as a kid, bored stiff.
Sure there were people I know present, but everyone seemed to have a conversation partner already and you just pick up sometimes by the greeting you get, when trying to join in, that three’s a crowd.

That’s when a guy I had never seen before asked if the seat next to mine was available.
Then he proceeded to ask my name, relation to Chosson/Kalleh etc…
At first I was annoyed, I thought it was one of those exasperating curious guys, that need to know everybody’s name, what they do or don't, and by whom they are an Eidem (son-in-law)
As it was, he turned out to be a nice person, enjoyable to talk too, and time flew by till it was time to hit the dance floor (on which I never stay longer than 5 minutes).

He doesn’t even know how much I appreciated it then and still do.
He probably doesn’t even realize what a Chessed he did for me.
There I was, bored, annoyed, and angry with my wife for not wanting to go already.
At the end, she was the one to insist we get going.
Instead of a lousy time I had a nice time.
And the next day I was able to sincerely say to the Ba’al Simcha “it was a lovely wedding”.

I hope I’ll get a chance to reciprocate with him or to someone else, like me at that wedding.

Monday, July 18, 2005



Coca Cola, not Pepsi, neither any makeshift soft drink will do.
One might think that their aggressive marketing techniques have gotten to me.
They attack with one of the most fearful weapons on earth: Mass Media.
Everywhere they press their merchandise almost literally down my throat.
Magazines, billboards and the way it is always shelved so conveniently to my reach.
But it’s not that!
I firmly believe that I’m completely immune to any form of advertising.
The only type of advertising that might trigger a reaction is the informative one.
If I’ve had in mind that I need product so and so, then if I would see and ad about it, I would go out and make a purchase.
I (almost) never feel that I need something just because it’s advertised.
Neither do I run out to every store that has a “ big “sales day.
It has come to my attention that the only “sale” really going on, is for the storeowner.

As religious Jew, I’ve been immunized from my younger years, not to pay too much attention in general to publicity, as so many of the ads are for food products there’s no way I’ll be eating anytime soon.
Same goes for clothing and other products that an Orthodox Jew can’t do a thing with, except give away to non Jewish colleagues.
That’s one of the factors that help.
The other one is that I’ve studied marketing and strategic communication.
I had a great teacher who dissected prevalent methods that target our brain and subconscious functioning, with his students.
Simply knowing about these even cursorily, removes the effect of the aggressive messages for an important part.
There’s no need to be alert or anything, it works like a vaccine.

If this blog ever attracts a significant number of visitors I’ll try to get in touch with this teacher, turn my attic upside down to find my notes from then, and finally share these, potentially money saving, tidbits of wisdom with my readers.

So why Coca Cola?I guess my taste buds are responsible.
And I happen to have very discriminating ones.…

Friday, July 15, 2005



As a kid when complaining about homework, exams, mifranims and the like, invariably I’d get the overused reply that I should enjoy my school-going years.
“When your school career is over you’ll look back nostalgically and wish it had never ended”, they said philosophically.
When in an agreeable mood, I would just nod, when I had just failed math (again), I’d answer that nostalgia had to be better than what I was feeling (despair and exhaustion).

Aside from the fact that this gives a very gloomy picture of what is awaiting us later in life, after all they’re saying pretty much that it gets only worse; it is simply no comfort to an overstressed kid.
Teachers and even Rabbis are often bitter and bored individuals, and the latter one often way too aged to relate to their talmidim on any level.
They hand off homework like school was a 24/24 activity, and not just from 9 am to 6 pm.
Every morning I see the kids carrying backpacks that would be large enough to carry them, if they had been horses (the backpacks).
Occasionally I feel so sorry for a small child that I offer to carry it for him/her as far as I’m going in the same direction.
More often than not I’m shocked by the weight of these things.
Admittedly I’m no Hulk, but still if something feels heavy to me, to a 12 year old it must feel like lead or the suitcases I’ll be schlepping soon(check second article of this blog).

And 20 days ago, at the end of last month, I went to visit my in-laws, parents and, friends with teenagers, and saw the revulsion and desperation of those youngsters at the sight of those obese study books.
I tried to give them some encouraging remark, but three sleepless nights,spent studying, in a row would make anybody numb to gentle support or anything else.
At that moment I thought back to what my parents used to say to me and said loud enough for everyone to hear,” you were so wrong!”.
I may not walk to my daily job with the enthusiasm of a kid who just heard he’s going to Disneyland (or –world).
However there are very few circumstances I can come up with in my darkest imaginations that would make me yearn for those so-called good old days.

Thursday, July 14, 2005



While for a part ingrained within, it's fairly recently that I was officially labeled a pragmatic thinking person.
My family and friends, most of whom know me from the day I met the sun, just thought of me as a level headed, responsible person. When I met my parents-in-law, at the ripe age of 24, I got upgraded from level- headed to pragmatic.

I spent a lot of time at their place assisting with the arrangements for the wedding, as well as fulfilling a more important role, all the while getting to know each other a little better.
Anyone who's ever worked on organizing a Simcha and having the dubious honor of being crowned the mediator between two parties will know and understand it was nothing short of a nightmare.
Everyone has his/her own idiosyncrasies and meshigassen.
"The hall is not large enough for OUR side”! shouts one.
"The band's not to OUR taste!" yells another.
"You want to poison OUR guests?” says someone who will eat just about anything.
At this point I’d like to add that none of the “OUR”’s were uttered by either the Kallah or the Chosson, just the Mechetonim.

Given that I saw both parties regularly it became my job to work out compromises between them, and I have to say that in the end, amazingly and perhaps thanks to my pragmatic approach, something was worked out that left everyone happy.

They (A) wanted a large hall to accommodate an endless stream of guests, while they (B) thought a large hall was too ostentatious.
So I said to A “you know what let's have it in a smaller hall, but you can still have all your friends and relatives, you haven’t spoken to in the last 25 years, over, and I'll just limit myself to three of my good friends.
I meant it then, and not in a sarcastic reproaching way.
I felt that a FEW hours of ONE night in my life wouldn't determine or influence what lay in store for me.
Seeing that I was serious they stopped this particular quarrel, and agreed to a medium sized hall.
And so it went for several weeks, the band, the food, the bridesmaid’s dresses, the number of guests, the time, Mitzvah Dance vs no Mitzvah dance ad infinitum....

It was during the many weeks of intense preparation, when it occurred to all present that I had a very easy going nature, and pragmatic reasoning.
For all of the aforementioned I tried to suggest a middle way, or took side A for the food and side B for the music.

Quite sometime has passed since then but for my sister’s wedding, 'A' finally had their dream hall……….the mechtonim where from out of town, and didn’t know better:)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Not quite knowing exactly how to define “pragmatic", I cheated and looked it up on the Merriam Webster online dictionary.
Here’s M-W.com description (thesaurus)

MerriamWebster Online Thesaurus
One entry found for pragmatic. Entry Word: pragmatic Function: adjective Text: also pragmatical.
Willing to see things as they really are and deal with them sensibly (a pragmatic man, not given to flights of fancy)

I'm quite happy with this explanation as it is more or less what I intended.I'd just like to add that when being pragmatic one shouldn’t get the image of a ruthless, unfeeling bully.
It's not necessarily accurate.It's a no nonsense approach, yes, but when dealing with sensitive issues, discretion, understanding and kindness can perfectly well be applied in the pragmatic framework.



Vacation is supposed to be something you’re looking forward to, something you can't wait to have.
Yet I can't wait to be back from it.
People stress for weeks, if not months in advance, making plans, changing them, and then returning to the original plan, arguing and paying fortunes to get away.
If you ask me it's nothing less than some sort of illness that has ensnared almost everyone I know.
People seem to forget the three N's of vacation: No Alarm clock, No Stress and Need to Relax.
My ideal vacation would look like that: I'd move into my parent’s spacious apartment five blocks down, while they are away. And I'd do ,well, pretty much nothing, just unwind and enjoy the fact that I don't have to sit in front of a computer for 9 consecutive hours and taking orders all day long.

But the three N's are no longer a reality.
A) No Alarm clock: Forget it!
-Waking up early to catch a minyan before the flight leaves
-Waking up early before the breakfast room closes
-Waking up early 'cause the bus is leaving at 6:30 am to dodge traffic
Before I know its back to -Waking up early- to go to...Work

B) No Stress: In my dreams (if I get any sleep, with the mosquitoes and all)
-Three weeks of planning, booking, canceling, changing dates and using my lunch break to take care of all the aforementioned details.
-Packing, running, realizing passport has expired and flight is delayed
-Walking miles in huge airport, being stopped 51 times to show passport and boarding ticket, having foreign(clean???) hands rummage through private belongings in luggage. (Though I must admit they always show proper respect for my Tallis/Tefflin batel)

C) Need to Relax:” we didn't spend a fortune just to hang around the hotel"
-Daily trip, usually two or three hours driving (getting lost on the road not incl.)
-Reading a book only possible in the plane.
-Believe it or not my Ipod just crashed.
-Seeing you hard earned money spent on hangers, postcards and other useless souvenirs that won't be appreciated anyway...

But I'm being pragmatic about all this.
First I calmly suggested we stay on deck this year, the response was sheer laughter.

Accepting that my counter attack had backfired, I just smiled and am going to go ahead with this tiring and needless trip.
After all I’m the eccentric one. Which “normal” person would want to stay in the same city for the summer holidays?
It’s worse thinking about the fact that the only two weeks ‘till Sukkos, I could really relax if they would let me, is going to waste. When I come back I'll be exhausted from the long trip but the next day I’ll be back in front of my favourite flat-screen.I'll tell everyone how wonderful it was and how much we enjoyed it. I’ll smile before, during and (even brighter) after the trip.
If we're going to go, why spoil it for the others.
It's the pragmatic thing to do...is it also the right thing?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


I know there's a lack of just about everything in this world, besides terrorists and blogs.

However I have a lot of spare time and I feel I have a lot to say, and to share.
To say about myself that I have a lot of wisdom to impart would probably sound very presumptuous, however to start with my imparting, it's not always well advised to put oneself down just to appear humble or not appear haughty.
In the Pirkei Avos(Ethics of the Fathers chapter 2) it says "in a place where there is no man, strive to be a man".
Besides the obvious it implies that if you are able to help, don't deny others this help for fear of appearing self-important.

Ever since I can remember I have always spend a lot of time observing others, and how various people interact with each other.
It has taught me a lot about human behavior. At times I found myself hopelessly irritated at the irrational, pathetic and plainly stupid manner in which people handle various problems and issues.
Having had my share of both, I’ve become someone who thinks in a very straight line.
Some people might think I don't "feel" or that I’m insensitive; however I don't think that's correct. Rather my philosophy is that there are so many things in life we have no control about, let’s spare our energy and time crying, fighting and depressing for those.
For the ones we have (some) control over let’s handle them PRAGMATICALLY.

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