Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Before I start ranting again, I’d like to clarify that I am a believing Jew.
I have some controversial opinions and I’m certainly far from perfect where Halachah and mitzvahs are concerned, yet basically I’m Frum.
That does not mean I’m always happy with what being frum entails.
You’ve heard me cry about the fasts, you’ve comforted me when I shed tears over the three music-free weeks and 9 meat-free days and now if can still bear with me, you’ll hear all about my sleep deprivation.
Indeed since Monday, there’s an addition to the Shacharis prayer.
Because everybody still needs to get to their jobs on time and because it’s in fact the point of these added tefillos, it is said half an hour before the regular prayers
It’s Slichos time every morning (Shabbes excluded) till Yom Kippur.
My alarm clock has been set to 30 minutes earlier than usual and when I leave home it’s eerily dark outside.
Elul is a special month do to teshuvah, to sincerely repent all the misdeed we have and may have committed, even the unintentional ones. Of course so is the month of Av and Adar and the next month (till Hoashana Rabbah), but in Elul there seems to be something that really speaks to people.Is fear or is it reverence?
Most people make honest resolutions to improve and work on their middos, even if they don’t last very long, the intentions are genuine.
People seem to greet you friendlier and it gets a little awkward when someone asks you for forgiveness.
It’s probably the only time of the year you can relax knowing no one is talking about you.
It’s a very inspiring and productive time of the year. And by being Jewish we escape the shopping frenzy that goes on by those who celebrate new years later in the year.
With all this in mind I just can’t help feel sorry for myself every morning when I wake up half an hour earlier than usual.
I tell myself it’s only for two weeks, followed by a long fast (25 hours!!) concluding with my favorite festival Sukkos(no food restrictions, and Chol Hamoed!)
So tomorrow morning I’ll wake up, go to the Selichos and continue on my way.
I’ll realize that on a working day from 9 hours, 30 minutes extra to devote on the preparation for the high holidays, just isn’t that much!
Friday, September 23, 2005
Thursday, September 22, 2005
EMMAIL-Electronic MIS MAIL
I run a modest mailing list of people I send jokes to.
I get daily jokes in my 5 email boxes from three different people; I proofread them and the best ones I forward to friends and family.
While I take the time to forward the good ones and attach all the documents and images, only rarely do I get feedback.
When I meet someone I always ask them if they enjoyed that week’s jokes and they usually nod or say they had heard them already. No thanks or appreciation. All things considered, all I do is forward an email.
Not a big endeavor, true, but replying with a kind word is even less of an effort.
But woe to me if I don’t send emails out for a couple of days. All of a sudden they rember how to send an email not just receive one. “Hey where are you”, “what’s happening”?
The point is I don’t expect a reply anymore. These people are good friends and for some strange reason they are rude and unappreciative when it comes to online dealings.
I have come to the realization that the people you see regularly consider anything written on the net, be it by email or msn as somehow not real.
An appointment made on MSN has to be confirmed on the phone or by text message, otherwise it's considered net-ranting.
The ease with which things are written to known and anonymous people, make it possible to invent complete new identities for oneself.
I’ve noticed about myself that exaggerating something I did is so much easier online than in person or through the phone.
When I write “I looked him right in the eye and said No Way!, If told in person it would sound a lot less assertive.
Perhaps this explains the reason my emails are not seen as anything worth mentioning when outside the web world.
This morning I forwarded a really great video clip (thanks Normal Jew) to my wife and the other 7 people on the list.
Having the afternoon off from college, she replied to the email.
Unfortunately she’s not very computer, or internet literate for that matter, and her reply was sent to all recipients of the jokes.
She probably hit the “reply to all” button instead of just “reply”.
This wouldn’t be a major deal, were it not that she wrote something quite embarrassing (I know it’s Ellul but she didn’t mean it the way it looks) about one of the subscribers.
Not only can he see her reply, all the other can too.
I’ m at loss on how to handle this.
Should I call him and explain? Should I send an email to the list apologizing? The pragmatic thing to do would be to tell him it was a mistake and that it won’t happen again.
The question is whether the pragmatic thing is the right thing to do in this case?
Friday, September 16, 2005
UNFAIR FINGER POINTING:GUSH KATERINA
I’m quite upset.
Remember when everybody got that astonishing email saying how everything connected to the tragedy of 11 September could numerically form amazing coincidences?
After awhile it turned out it was all bogus, the pilots name and surname did not contain 9 and 11 letters. The flight number had nothing to do with 11’s or 9’s, and so on.
Now they want to connect the drama of hurricane Katerina with the drama of the forced evacuations.
To me nothing could sound more ridiculous.
The brainless statistic somebody came up with, that calculated that proportionate wise as many Americans needed to be evacuated as the number of Israelis in Gush Katif, have been disproved as fast as it was made up.
Unfortunately I cannot claim I understand the workings of G-D, equally unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.
Jews suffer so the culprits have to pay.
This is probably the way it will work once Moshiach comes (today I hope!!)
If it were so simple, do you think there would be a single anti-semite ,openly voicing his feelings, left? Unfortunately again that isn’t the case.
If everyone who messed with the Jews were struck by lightening or a chronic disease, I think I could finally go everywhere with my Kippah openly exposed, perhaps even in Paris.
That is one point, the other one is that the victims of New Orleans have absolutely nothing to do with what happened at Gush Katif, I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them didn’t even know what was going on there.
So feel for the Israelis who were poorly treated by the Israeli government and lost so much. Think and donate if you wish about the unfortunates who lost everything to the streams of water(bitter irony huh?) but don’t blame Americans for the errors of heartless politicians and what they did to stiff necked but courageous Israelis.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
KAZAA VS HALACHA
“Free” what a delightful word, especially when used as adjective.
When used as adverb it gets a little trickier.
While I haven’t been hiding in a cave the last few years, the possibilities of the peer-to peer industry have just recently sunk in by me.
A friend needed a program that edits digital pictures and images, whose price was prohibitively high.
He asked me if I could get a hold of a copy of this program for him. He insisted that he was only interested in that particular software and no alternative cheaper photo editor (like window’s paint, which amateur me uses) would do.
I said I was going to ask someone who’s into these things and said my goodbyes.
When I got home, I launched a peer-to-peer (P2P) program on my computer.
Until now I had never looked up anything but a few oldies from time tot time.
While I’m familiar with the ethical questions surrounding file sharing, I usually rationalize that I only download songs I wouldn’t buy anyway and so no one actually ‘loses’ any money.
Still thinking about my friend’s request I typed the name of the program without much thinking, and to my surprise it showed up in the results window. I double clicked the name of the program, wondering if this would work seen the enormous size of the file.
A couple of days later it was fully downloaded and I called up my friend to let him know I was able to get him the requested software.
He was very happy, and said I just saved him a 1000$.
I was puzzled, but then he explained and said that since he thought I couldn’t find it, he had made up his mind to go out and buy the program.
He thanked me and left.
I was somewhat distraught, at his reaction because I realized that someone (probably not anyone that lacks food or other comforts) but someone still ‘lost” money because of the download.
In this case my usual reasoning didn’t work. And it got me thinking about the subject.
Lately the file sharing world has been very turbulent, and certain statistics suggest that downloading has caused significant losses for the record companies.
Those pro-filesharing argue that the companies suffering from the P2P trend, had been using their monopolistic position in the music industry to ‘rob’ the CD buying public for years.
This sound more like an excuse than an honest claim to me. (But it sounds very true nevertheless.)
However I still think that if you have no intention to buy CD’s from artist X or Y, or if you like old stuff impossible to find in music stores be it on- or offline, why not?
I’d like to know if anyone is familiar the Jewish take on this.
I wrote this question to the Aish rabbi, and he just answered that it wasn’t right, but he wrote no elaboration on the subject nor on his ruling.
An acquaintance I met the other day, asserts that his Rosh Yeshivah said it’s ok if one has no intention whatsoever to buy the product.
I have my doubts however, whether he phrased the question correctly…
Maybe this a good analogy to the issue at hand:
When you stand outside a building in which a concert is taking place, sometimes you can hear the music loud and clear. Technically you have the right to bring a chair, sit there and enjoy, even though you didn’t pay for a ticket.
Did anyone read or hear a Jewish outlook on this question?
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Few of Life's Unanswered Questions
Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?
Why is the word dictionary in the dictionary?
Why isn't there a special name for the tops of your feet?
Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food?
Why can't they make the whole plane out of the same substancethat little indestructible black box is?
Why do you need a driver's license tobuy liquor when you can't drink and drive?
Why does the sun lighten our hair, but darken our skin?
Why can't women put on mascara with their mouth closed?
Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?
Why don't you ever see the headline"Psychic Wins Lottery"?
Why do you park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?
Why is "abbreviated" such a long word?
Why is a boxing ring square?
Why is it called lipstick ifyou can still move your lips?
Why is it that doctors call what they do "practice"?
Why is it that rain drops but snow falls?
Why is it that when you're driving and looking for an address,you turn down the volume on the radio?
Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavorand dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
Why is the third hand on the watch called second hand?
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
STAND UP FOR YOURSELF!
Hi everyone, I had a very nice vacation. I hope everyone had a chance to refill their batteries for the long year ahead of us.
I’m very glad to be back and start blogging again, so here I go.
One of my principal flaws, is the inability to say “no”.
It’s quite relative as my family and friends will point that out as my most desirable characteristic.
In connection to the former I avoid conflict as much as possible, usually accepting and doing things much to my disadvantage.
This vacation again proved how badly I need to work on this.
Part of the problem comes from my pragmatic side.
In the hotel we were assigned a different room than the one we ordered through the agency.
I explained as nicely as I could that there must be some mistake.
After they verified, I just said:”never mind how much time do you spend in your room anyway”? [pragmatic right there]!
Naturally the room I should’ve gotten was much nicer and we ended spending a lot of time in the room…
There were many more examples, but the point is I have to be more assertive with people when the situation calls for it.
The other day I called a good friend to say hi. After listening to him criticizing and complaining about everything and everyone for half an hour, I started to hint that I needed to hang up.
Needless to say my hints were ignored and I continued to listen and respond.
My wife made the “just hang up” gesture but I couldn’t just slam the phone down in the middle of a sentence, could I?
At last I said “hello, hello? Are you still there! and hung up. [Fear of conflict]!
Unfortunately this has got to be the oldest and most pathetic trick in the book.
My mother wanted to take me somewhere and made an appointment, of which I was only informed one day in advance, less than 24 hours actually.
I explained I couldn’t make it the next day as I would be unable to take off from work just that Monday.
(Obviously the appointment was made Friday already, but I was only notified on Sunday).
She argued that there was no way she could cancel now, and that I was expected to be at place Y the next day at 1 pm.
Remembering my fifth grade Rebbe with his large scary eyes, preaching”Kibud av V’aem,which incidentally also includes your class Rebbe, is the most important Mitsvah there is!
I acquiesced and went along.
Then last week something happened! I was half asleep when I received an unexpected phone call.
“We’d like to invite you to a (boring, endless, no good food, barely know any of the other guests) Shevah Berachos we’re hosting this Wednesday.
Because I was so tired my ‘careful’ mechanism was offline and I answered no thanks.
I shockingly realized what I'd done, but too late, the words were out.
The caller just said that it was a shame and hung up.
I saw him two days later on the street and he gave me a friendly greeting.
Suddenly it dawned on me, I don’t have to go, and he wasn’t even insulted or mad.
I wanted to kick myself for all those times I had grudgingly accepted invitations to Shevah Berachos for fear of insulting the host, when in fact nobody cares!
The same week I declined another invitation and politely refused to drive someone to the airport , even though I had plenty of free time!
I honestly feel like a new life is about to begin for me!