Solely In Black and White: 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

What do you Want for the Holidays...?

Hey, if you aren't getting a present or coal, at least get some readers! :-) 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Friend of a Friend…?


Living in close proximity to a member of the other gender can be quite interesting at times. Well, I guess a comment like that can fill a few posts… Hey, a statement like that can fill a few blogs! Regardless, there is one specific topic that recently peaked my interest; how single girls relate to their married friends. 

While I personally can’t describe this dynamic first hand, I can merely comment on what I see and hear. Anyway, the one point I wanted to underline is the fact that my wife’s single friends all keep repeating the same request “ask your husband if he knows of a guy for me…” Granted, that is a valid request and I would love to help each and every one of my wife’s friends and in finding their soul mate. I just don’t know all that many guys. For one, we ascertained that my wife has a lot more single friends than I do. Shidduch crisis aside; that makes my job a lot harder. What, you think I’m made out of shidduch ideas…? Aside from that, of the shidduchim we have collectively redt, none of them have even gone out. 

Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand why some girls do this and I don’t blame them. However, there is a right way to do something and a wrong way to do something. Obnoxiously hounding your married friend in the presence of their husband is probably not going convince them of your stellar and sparkling middos. Furthermore, I see no problem in helping girls who I actually do have ideas for. The problem I have is with girls who are not understanding about how much effort it takes to redt a shidduch. Also, I find issue with girls whom almost demand that we redt them something, or those girls who are unappreciative of our efforts in trying to redt them something after they asked to be redt something in the first place, that just gets to me. 

Am I wrong? Maybe I’m just a guy and clueless about this, but typically guys don’t ask their married friends to set them up. Maybe it’s an unmentioned part of the bro code, send along a shidduch to friend, but don’t openly ask for it, I dunno;… buts what’s up with these girls?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Is there an App for this?

I imagine someone will eventually make this into a nifty app for the iPhone and Android, right? :-p

With thanks to TAW (The Amazing Wife, formally TAK) for finding this link... :-) wait a second... is that a hint... ;-) 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Just Watch…or A Matter of Time?

I have recently been pondering a question: Where does the practice of giving a chossan watch come from and what are the implications of such a practice nowadays? While some people (bloggers, columnists, community enthusiasts, town criers, bellwethers, and paper boys…) have decried wedding gifts as being overly elaborate and a byproduct societies’ infatuation with materialism, or perhaps just our childlike enthusiasm for shiny objects that cost a lot of money, there is one “gift” that stands out: The Chossan Watch. Well, technically, it’s not the only gift that stands out in the fray, since the other exceptions are the ubiquitous diamond engagement ring and the typical wedding band. Obviously we must discount those since they are part and parcel of getting engaged and married. The question that has been perturbing me recently is: is the Chossan watch a typical gift or is it something more? 

 To elaborate my query succinctly, has the widespread adaptation of a chossan watch become the male equivalent of an engagement ring and thus an obligation upon the girl, in most cases her family, or not? To make matters slight more interesting it would seem that boys' (technically, their family) whom happen to buy girls nice real rings and accessories (such as a necklace or bracelet or both, depending on the circumstances or circles) feel slighted if the girl (or ostensibly their family) do not reciprocate in kind. But if a chossan watch is an obligation, albeit a new fangled one, are parents required to provide their future son-in-law with a reasonable watch just as we expect a boy to provide his fiancée a reasonable ring? Would that also mean that a girl would be responsible to buy one if her parent couldn’t or wouldn’t, or is that somehow against the rules? Granted, if a guy gets his future wife a cheap CZ, she can rightfully buy him a knock-off Rolex or whatever fine merchandise can be purchased out of a trench-coat. ;-) Okay, perhaps that is less acceptable as it crosses some ethical and moral lines… but you get the idea, a cheap watch in its stead. :-) 

Watch the watchWhile I personally do not know how often this happens in real life or the manifestation of such a scenario on an engagement, I am aware of a couples of instances where this question has arose. Seemingly this isn’t such an uncommon problem and it creates a rather peculiar predicament. For one, engagements are hard enough as is, being that everyone is trying to walk on egg-shells while trying to plan a complex collaborative event, also known as a wedding. Add a little watch drama and things can get messy quickly or so I am told. I mean I never even knew of this problem, let alone that is a widespread issue. 

Understand that I always thought a watch was a gift and that was all. You take what you get and smile politely. Anecdotally, I am relatively certain my brother-in-law dislikes his watch and my parents know this. Then again he chose the watch himself, but that is a different story! :-) Furthermore, I never realized how lucky I was to receive the watch that I did, and now I am even more thankful. Not because of the actual watch, although I do admire it, but for what it represents and the thoughtfulness behind it! All that aside, perhaps I was wrong in my assessment on what a watch represents until now... 

And thus in a nutshell, the question that I am wondering about, is a chossan watch considered the male equivalent of an engament ring, and consequently an accepted obligatory custom, or is it merely a gift and should be accepted if given and overlooked if not?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Crazy Happy?

Happy people are crazy, at least based on the premise that happiness is a product of the mind. Yup, that seems to be the way it is, or at least it just seems to be; because to be “truly” happy you must be crazy. Granted, crazy is relative. ;-) But with so much pain and suffering abound, as well as life’s little annoyances that crop up on a day-to-day basis, that it would take some pure insanity to be truly happy. Yet, as resilient and resourceful humans we somehow manage to be happy. However, perhaps that is no longer happiness but merely contentment and our goal of attaining happiness is misguided? Obviously, some people are more inclined to be happy than others based on some factors, like this guy: 

See what I am saying?  8-| Surely that cannot be the case! :-p What happened to the pursuit of happiness? Is it mealy a pursuit to find the minimum level of gratification or is it something more? Maybe happiness is a byproduct of our imagination and has nothing to do with reality, which case is point, would imply that being happy requires one to achieve a minimal level of psychosis in order to remove themselves from their own personal reality. One can argue that happiness is purely a fictitious belief, at least in the realm of the tangible real world, and therefore doesn’t truly matter since the only “happiness” that truly matters is true spiritual “simcha.” However, even so the term happiness would still need to be weighed as matter of the mind compounded with the fact that on some basic level ever human must feel happy. 

Crazy Kawaii Bot
So this leaves us with a very interesting and quite a bizarre situation, at least on a cognitive theoretical level. How is that we can be happy yet be sane…? Well… according to some academics (particularly a fellow by the name of Richard P. Bentall) we can’t be. That’s right! There are wise scholars, well at least one, who would like to classify happiness as a mental disorder, albeit pleasant, based on many factors. Take a look at the excerpt below for some examples of his argument as outlined from the article. And who knows; maybe this guy is right. With his theory we could explain often decried “engagedness” of engaged people (such as bridezilla syndrome etc…) and the peculiar behaviors of newlyweds that seem to make people role their eyes… and the examples go on and on…. So maybe this guy is on to something or not…! 

Excerpts from Richard P. Bentall’s article in The Journal or Medical Ethics (1992) titled: A Proposal to Classify Happiness as a Psychiatric Disorder. 

The epidemiology of happiness has hardly been researched. Although it seems likely that happiness is a relatively rare phenomenon, exact incidence rates must depend on the criteria for happiness employed in any particular survey. Thus, although Warr and Payne found that as many as 25 per cent of a British sample said that they were 'very pleased with things yesterday', Andrews and Withey (7), studying a large US smlple, found that only 5.5 per cent of their subjects rated themselves as scoring maximum on a nine-point scale of life-satisfaction. 

Since the emergence of the profession of psychiatry in the nineteenth century it has commonly been assumed that psychiatric disorders are forms of disease. Whilst this has not gone unchallenged in recent years it remains so pervasive within mental health professions that the demonstration that happiness qualifies as a disease would be a powerful argument for including it within future nosologies of psychiatric disorder. 

Thus, there is consistent evidence that happy people overestimate their control over environmental events (often to the point of perceiving completely random events as subject their will), give unrealistically positive evaluations of their own achievements, believe that others share their unrealistic opinions about themselves, and show a general lack of' evenhandedness when comparing themselves to others. 

I have argued that happiness meet all reasonable criteria for a psychiatric disorder. It is statistically abnormal, consists of a discrete cluster of symptoms, there is at least some evidence that it reflects the abnormal functioning of the central nervous system, and it is associated with various cognitive abnormalities - in particular, a lack of contact with reality. Acceptance of these arguments leads to the obvious conclusion that happiness should be included in future studies of mental illness, probably as a form of affective disorder. This would place it on Axis of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. 

In any event, once the debilitating consequences of happiness become widely recognized it is likely that psychiatrists will begin to devise treatments for the condition and we can expect the emergence of happiness clinics and anti-happiness medications in the not too distant future. 

The second, related objection to the proposal that happiness be regarded as a psychiatric disorder points to the fact that happiness is not normally negatively valued. Indeed, it is testimony to the insidious effects of happiness on some of the greatest minds in history that some philosophers have argued that the pursuit of happiness is the ultimate aim of all human endeavors. However, it is notable that even some of those who have been rash enough to advocate the greatest happiness for the greatest number have been explicit in rejecting those extreme forms of happiness associated with gluttony of the senses. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Objectively Skinny Looking?

Sorry for the unannounced leave of absence. I had some important things to take take care of.... ;-) Now back to work... :-) 

Lose weight now

While fielding some rather strange and interesting shidduch questions recently, I began to ponder a point of contention. Looks, and all of the components that comprise that subject within the line of shidduch research questioning, are technically for better or worse completely subjective. They are relative to each individual’s personal tastes and style preference, for lack of a better explanation or euphemism. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t people out there who are objectively good looking, but those limited examples are typically made of plastic or some other petroleum based substance… or maybe they are just figments of our imaginations created from Photoshop airbrushing techniques? :-p Okay, I’m kidding; those people are the easy examples in this case. Duh. They are good looking, next question please…. But what do you do when you have a friend who you’re a reference for who doesn’t look so great… 

Typically, when it comes to everyday shidduchim-based questions, and more precisely the research phase of the process, this can be quite a sticky topic. For one, how can a mother of child in shidduchim really determine whether a potential date is attractive to their child? Furthermore, how can a reference answer such a question with even a remote modicum of accuracy and without any bias whatsoever? Even so, the hardest part is in the phrasing of one’s question. Asking about someone’s looks tends to be a very difficult process, especially if one intends on avoiding asking direct, rude, or crass questions… or G-d forbid even asking for a picture… of a BOY! :-/ That is so against the rules and oh so patronizing!!! ;-)

While that is not to say that everyone doesn’t deserve a fair shot, but there are plenty of situations where a tad of truthful, objective, and relevant information would go a long way. I understand that answering the question “is so and so fat?” or “unhealthily skinny” or “short?” or “ugly” or some other equally appalling phrase that is rude and demeaning. In lieu of that, how about if people were kind enough to provide their Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) on their resumes in order to provide their potential dates. Or better yet, how about they share their magical number with their references and shadchan! That way people would have an honest and objective metric with regards to their weight. I realize this is so not going to happen, but one can always dream… :-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Will you be my New Best Reference?

Mutual Friends

I find it humorous that since my engagement I have become a shidduch resume commodity. I am not really sure what changed in my conversation abilities or personality, but for some reasons I have received a lot more requests for shidduch info than ever before. I’ve have also got a few request to be a “paper” reference too; you know, the type that people add to resumes under the assumption that no one will call most of the references solely based on the idea that they listed an inordinate amount of friends and no one in their right mind would call every single one… ;-) Okay, maybe not, I have had plenty of people call every single one of my listed references, but I digress.

I’m starting to think that people, both my single friends and their potential in-laws, prefer talking to engaged or married people. All things being equal, there must be some logical explanation, because single people probably have more time to field these questions and in most cases are probably closer to the person in question anyway! Perhaps these people believe that we (I?) know something about shidduchim and dating, and thus they are more likely to provide objective and concise answers. Not that I believe that is true, I think I was able to provide equally unnerving answers to many of the asinine questions that people were able to must. (example: would he be the type of boy to wear shorts during a chol hamoid trip only after he had a seder before doing whatever it is he is doing? Of course, but it must be after davening and only if the shorts are polka-dotted… Seriously, I’ve gotten a modified version of that question!) The other thought that crossed my mind was, once someone gets engaged, they are no longer in the shidduch scene, they are no long competing and thus they have the ability to provide an unbiased and uninhibited viewpoint since they are no longer “competing” with anyone else. 

Personally, I haven’t heard of boys trying to sell themselves to their friend’s potential dates at the expense of their friend’s reputation and dignity. However, I do know of girls who do! I am not trying to say girls are generally more catty than boys, but my mother can attest that some people don’t choose the best, brightest, and nicest people to promote themselves on their shidduch resumes to say the least… I mean I could be wrong, but to the best of my knowledge I don’t think boys commonly do that. 

Does that make any sense? Is there any reason why engaged and married folk, particularly of the male variety, would make for better shidduch resume references?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oh Baby!

Baby in Hand

Paris girl 'survives six-storey fall unharmed. French media are describing as a "miracle" the unscathed survival of an 18-month-old girl who fell from a sixth-floor apartment.

Full Story Here

I’ve heard the line “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” But this story is nuts!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One Wedding, Two Worlds (Part: Two)

Magical White Wedding

Maybe wedding planning has gone to my head but I find the way weddings work to be strange. I wasn’t going to post about the intricacies of planning and of the amount of legwork involved in arranging a wedding, lest I bore you, but I just couldn’t help myself (ourselves? :-p). So as TAK described it, in other words, weddings offer two separate simchas at the same time. The irony is that men don’t even know that there are discrepancies between what they see and what their female counterparts on the other side of the fence see… But all differences aside, I think most of the changes are legitimate. Do men really need fancy flowers and pretty ambiance and such to be happy? Probably not. I think the focal point is as G6 commented; it’s the food that counts.

The one thing that perplexes me about weddings is the shmorg. I understand that logistically it makes sense for the fancy portion of the shmorg to be placed by the kallah/lady’s side, but what exactly are men to do? It should be the exact opposite. Men should have the bulk of the food, while the women should get some sushi, fancy salads, and those decorative cakes that no one touches, but everyone debates starting. I guess the current situation works out well for men who are married… they can just say they’re looking for their wife. On second thought, I guess a single guy could say the same thing all while getting some food… “I’m just looking for my wife”… ;-)

There is another discrepancy that comes to mind that I didn’t realize up until recently. The dancing on the men’s side directly correlates to the amount of alcohol offered, while the dancing on the women’s side is dependent on the amount of girls are in attendance. Don’t ask me how I reached that conclusion… let just say some research, experimentation, and confirmation from experts. My hypotheses are only vetted by the best of course… :-p I mean, I assume once we are analyzing dancing, we could count running through the “arches” as another difference, but I doubt most guys want to run through frilly white half rings anyway! :-)  

I guess this all theoretical, because at the end of the day, being a guy I have very little say in the wedding planning, as it should be! We generally don’t have the capacity to make these decisions! I’m still trying to differentiate “off white” and “cream of wheat.” :-p We probably be making choices at random, not because we don’t have the ability to choose what’s “prettier” but because we just don’t have the patience  to make it all come together. And that my friends, is why we have women! :-) Someone needs to make all those tough decisions. As an aside, I think motherzillas take the wedding cake! Trust me. ;-) And on that note, thank you mommy, I am sure everything will turn out just fine…. And no you can’t control the weather! :-) 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

One Wedding, Two Worlds (Part: One)

Draped wedding dress
This post is courtesy of TAK. I’ll write part two soon, well, hopefully… :-P

Stand at the dais at a wedding- position yourself so that your risk being impaled by the mechitza. (please avoid getting impaled ;-) ) and take a look around. Notice any differences? Ok sure one side contains men and is a flowing sea of black, and other side is (predominantly) female and contains a sea of…..more black!? But even greater differences abound. This dichotomy provides insight into the fundamental differences between men and women. Allow me to illustrate: Ask a man how a wedding was and he’ll say “Nice. The food was decent, the music was good, the dancing was leibidik, and there was an AMAZING bar.” Quite frankly, that’s actually quite a mouthful from the typical male. ;-) Usually its “Eh. Nice.” Ask a female and be prepared for a detailed, play by play account. If you say “How was the wedding” expect the following response: “What part of the wedding??????” :-) and, if you don’t specify soon enough, brace yourself for a ninety mile a minute account of every detail, said very excitedly with over-exaggerated hand gestures. “First of all, they had valet parking- which I love (who wants to be walking alone at night in G-d knows what neighborhood in spiky (gorgeous!!!!!!! :-D) Stilettos, - it isn’t safe!!) So THAT was nice- but it isn’t nice when the valets are rude. WAIT till I get the arches and umbrella out of the car- okay?? I did a quick scan of the entryway….white hydrangeas….daisies? Meh. SO last summer. (and DAISIES!? Hello?!? Where on EARTH are daisies in!?) All elements are taken stock of, flowers, décor, ambiance, lighting, shmorg, acoustics (why always so loud?) general style of fellow females dress (long black, short black or ::gasp:: color) and of COURSE the bride- who gets a very detailed description all her own- covering the following: 

Hair: Up or Down, (curly, straight, piecy, wavy, did it stay up for dancing!?) headpiece (Tiara? Combs? Headband? Flowers?) Dress: fabric (Lace? Satin? Chiffon? Organza? Tulle?) style: (Fishtail? Straight? Mermaid? A-line? Low-waisted? Princess? Straight jacket? White burlap potato sack?) Bridal Bouquet, etc. etc. and of course the train! 

It’s interesting to note that these differences are widely known among married people (hence the parents of the chossan and kallah created two different universes on either side of the mechitza) Are these differences evident in day to day life as well? How many guys have accidentally fallen into the trap of what a girl likes about weddings on a date? The bigger question…how does one get out of the sticky glue once they’ve stepped in the trap? Oh well. :-P 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Question: Shidduchim National Anthem?


I was wondering, is there a song out there that encapsulates shidduchim? I know Blue Fringe has a shidduch song, but that doesn’t really do justice. Seriously, how many people do you know who get married in a week? That might make for a nice song, but in real life that would just be insane! I’m thinking there must be one song that can be coined the official “Shidduch National Anthem” or at least some song that describes shidduchim really well. Yeah, I know there are a lot of songs of heartbreak and romance, but how many nice songs are there about the process of finding someone? (Imho) My recommendation for the title would be Gotta Be Somebody, but my musical repertoire is a bit limited and perhaps there is a better tune that would be appropriate in its stead. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Link: A Real Shidduch Crisis?

While it is often said that there is a(n arguable) shidduch crisis currently enveloping the frum community, it would appear that the real crisis is taking place in Israel. Whether or not there is a shidduch crisis in general is a debate for another time, or post. However, there is an undeniable and real issue currently brewing in Israel as chronicled in this post by Orthonomics. This isn’t exactly shocking news to me, in and of itself, as making shidduchim in Israel has been dependent on the girl’s side providing an apartment as a prerequisite to marriage. What I found fascinating about the article was the numbers! I guess this has been long in the coming though. I mean I even have Israeli friends who have come to the States to date just to avoid this issue entirely. Well… they also weren’t so keen on joining the army, but that is a side issue. So while people postulate and debate the woes of shidduchim over here in North America, keep in mind that in some places shidduchim is actually a real nightmare.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Disdain for the Dentist

New! Tooth holder Plush
I can’t say I was never afraid of the dentist because that would be untrue. I used to be terrified of the dentist! Well…. it was for a good reason.  He was crazy, (imho)! He loved pulling out teeth and filling cavities. I mean, the guy was trigger happy with a tooth-drill for crying out loud, literally. To give you some perspective: I think most of my baby teeth had fillings, no jokes. I still don’t understand the logic in that; why fill a tooth if it’s going to fall out anyway? That just seems like a waste of time and resources. 

I guess thoughts of dentistry permeated my mind as a kid. I don’t why, but for some odd reason I found it ironic that the fairy-god-mother of dentistry, the Tooth Fairy, is inaccurately portrayed according to folklore as kind and sweet. My dentist does look a bit fairy-like in his attire and he so happens to holds a metallic wand of sorts, but I don’t want him reaching under my pillow at night; that is so creepy. Come to think of it… having anyone stick their hand under my pillow while I’m sleeping is creepy! Especially someone who has the title fairy in his/her name! :-/ I guess that’s why I sold my teeth my parents when I was a kid. That way they can negotiate with this shady tooth fairy being, because seriously, I need my sleep. :-) Oh, and I was taught not to talk to strangers… :-P 

But as I matured, at least in thought, :-P, I came to appreciate dentists for the services that they provide. Not that my fears are unwarranted. I have heard my fair share of dental related mishaps and egregious malpractice incidents. But nonetheless, I also learned that dentistry isn’t supposed to be as painful as I remember it being. As an example, the accuracy of a dental hygienist who is performing a cleaning is crucial to one's overall experience. Or more succinctly, a little hand-eye coordination goes a long way. ;-) And in return, my gums will be very thankful and my saliva will not be as red. I also found out that some dentists are really good at giving Novocain injections, like totally-painless-good, while others suck! (To put it mildly.) But even going to the best of dentists is still annoying. I mean seriously, with the advances in technology and medicine, I am sure someone has discovered the cure to the common cavity, but is unable to publish the secret due to some ADA conspiracy.  

Dental X-rays: my left side teeth
The thing that peeves me the most about the dentist: I always get a mussar schmooze; no matter how well I brush and floss, I still have room for improvement. My dentist even commented once: “You know, we need to get you married so your wife can make sure you brush and floss properly!” Yup, that’s exactly what I was thinking! I think I could perpetually brush my teeth and they’d probably have some problem with that too! So until the days when we have a way to avoid going to the dentists, I guess I am will be going back for more. :-( Hmm… that remind me, I need to whiten my teeth! 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Question: Just Dance?

Formal dance, Pomona College

Formal Dance, Pomona College via Flickr

I think I’ve noticed a trend from my dating conversations: females generally like dancing. I don't think the girls that I was conversing with were referring to the song in the title, although who really knows. I guess it's complicated. ;-) Well life is like this..., after asking one of the most clichéd questions ever - “what do you enjoy doing?” I got a lot of responses directed toward dancing. I can understand pastimes like writing (duh! :-) ), drawing (I play around in Photoshop ;-) ), and music, as well as some others common commonalities, but dancing was almost-always an instant conversation killer for me. I mean I understand the premise behind dancing and why it can, in certain circumstances, be fun. But I am dismayed at the notion of calling it an actual hobby or an activity of great interest. Maybe I am crazy to judge this avocation adversely, but hey, you can never say never... but whatever it is, please don't stop the music...  because that is magnificent!

Don’t get me wrong, as one of the boys I can have a good time dancing, and I do happen to do so on occasion, such as on holiday and whatnot. I’d even venture to say that boys might generally be more lebedik than girls (hey, I’m biased! :-p but feel free to disagree) . Also, I have recently been informed that girls have this whole hierarchy of who they must dance with and at what point in time. That doesn't sound like fun; that sounds like politicking or a circus. I’m not sure of all the exact nuances involved, but aren’t there also rules on whose hand you can hold and which circle you can join too? Blah :-/. Notwithstanding, I got a feeling that girls still enjoy dancing more than boys! ;-) So maybe you can enlighten me, do girls really enjoy dancing, and if so why?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Phone addicts….

Toilet Kitty
I am sure you’ve heard the story about the Chinese fellow who jammed his arm in a toilet (if not, click the link for the story and video) while trying to valiantly rescue his cell phone. That must have been a real sticky situation. Let just say he was in deep doo-doo. :-) Thank goodness it all worked out! :-P In fact, the fire department had to disembowel the toilet to free his arm! ;-) Although, I am still wondering if he was able to call 119 with his hand submerged. Now that would have been an impressive maneuverer! I just hope this guy doesn't decide to become a plumber now... All kidding and potty humor aside, I “really” feel bad for the guy. I’m actually debating what I would do if my phone got lodged in the can. 

On the one hand my phone contains so much of my life and maybe a little sentimental value too…. On the either hand, getting it back might not be so pretty, and even if I did manage to fish it out relatively intact: 1. It may never work the same again 2. I don’t know if I could hold it to my face! But the funniest thing about this entire incident is that it displays how we as a global society are extremely addicted to our phones… or perhaps how badly  our withdrawal symptoms push us to do crazy things. Especially when we don't have those little thing that have come to really on.... (a text capable anyone ;-) ) While on the topic of cell phones, it would be remiss to avoid stating the obvious sentiment: it's scary how cell phones have changed our lives, habits, and routines; but no matter how you slice it, this fellow takes the cake! (Well hopefully not literally). I am wondering something here, if your beloved phone were to accidentally fall into the loo, what would you do?

Also, if you haven’t already seen Microsoft’s ad for their new Windows Phone 7, titled “Really” I think you should defiantly give it a watch! Now that reminds me, I am now going to backup all the data on my phone, just in case! Hey, you never know… :-/

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Burring Question: Loyalties?

Let us try this again. In continuing with this post, which I was purposely and immensely crypt about the subject matter, there are now more details and facts that I can share with you and I hope that I can now present a clearer picture. For the record the reason the original post was so cryptic and convoluted was because I was worried perhaps one of the parties involved may stumble upon the post. But now that the post is irrelevant entirely, I can proceed with clarifying some details. 

Alright, so here is (was?) the situation. I knew a little secret about a friend of mine. In short: he smokes occasionally. Terrible, I know. ;-) Now I should clarify that. He isn’t a big smoker, but I knew he used to smoke with “boys” once in a while, vis-à-vis (because the French are notorious smokers :-) ) a social thing, not a dire addiction. If I had to guess, or if I were to ask the fellow directly, I am sure I would walk away with the conclusion that he wouldn’t smoke after he got married. Or so I would be lead to believe by his demeanor and personality. Also to confound the issue, this little secret is probably something that his parents probably don’t even know about and it’s probably something only a handful of his friends know about. Okay, we’ll that’s all fine and dandy… that is… until one day someone calls me up and asks me for Shidduch info on this guy. :-/ uh-oh…. :-( 

If you have ever been questioned by a mother in shidduchim, you know one of the primary questions she will ask is: “does he smoke?” and the response to that question is general of significant importance, as it should be. So the question I have, to which I am still very unsure, who should I be loyal to? The mother who is placing her trust in me, and to which I am one the few people who know the truth? Or should I be loyal to my friend who is also placing his trust in me and allow him to answer for his actions himself when the time is right?

Although I specifically used smoking as the primary example in the above scenario because that was the pertinent issue at the time, there are so many others issue that are synonymous. :-/ And don’t for a second think this doesn’t apply to girls either! ;-) Girls have been known to cover for their friends too! The few classic examples include neatness, tznius related issues, and nuanced shabbos observance or lack-there-of…. As an aside, this particular incident is now just a theoretical discussion because the aforementioned shidduch idea never came into fruition. I mean it was never even redt to begin with! But that is beside the point. So the question I present to you, the original question, who was I supposed to be loyal to: The inquisitive mother or my friend? 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What’s all this about Clothes?

Woman's clothing from the Army and Navy Stores Catalogue, Edwardian.
I’ve been contemplating Bad4’s posts (part 1 and part 2) about female attire in relation to men. She does make a compelling point. Shopping for clothes, or more aptly a lovely dating ensemble, is an arduous task that requires patience, time, and money. I do empathize with your, collective, plight as I have learned the same lessons about shopping in general. Oh, not necessarily in everyday clothing! Living “solely in black and white” ;-) makes most of my shopping comparatively easy! But I digress…

Anyways, regardless of one’s difficulty in ascertaining proper attire, I don’t believe that as a general rule boys care what color girls adorn themselves in! Do boys care how a girl dresses? Yes! Do boys care that a girl “looks” good? Absolutely! Do boys care about the minute nuances, styles, and intricacies of female fashion in relation to seasonality and moon-phase? Predominantly no! (There are always exceptions to the rules such as male commentors on blogs and werewolves :- ) ) Besides, we can’t analyze all the pieces of ones' outfit in 8.2 Seconds anyways! :-/

Case in point: Once upon a time, in flashback fairytale land, our main character SiBW went on a date with a girl who wore some interesting, funky, abstract, and colorful attire on a first date. Personally, I was not a fan of that “look” (hello! I think I might really be impartial to black and white! ;-) ) That’s not to say that this girl’s attire wasn’t pretty, it may have been, but personally, and subjectively, I think it made her looked more like a peacock, or some other exotic bird. Needless to say, I don't believe one can allow the way a girl dresses to severally impact their decision on whether this person is ultimately for them. (Assuming that the situation is within the realm of normalcy and halacha) And why should it? It's just clothes... pardon the 
cliché, but it's what's on the inside that counts!   

While relating this story over to a few of my female relatives, I was astounded to her how that “style” was at the time so funky and “with-it.” Furthermore, they lauded the girl with praise for her color coordinating abilities and flair. To this I was dumbfounded. Only recently, with some help from TAK, did I finally understand the disconnect at play. Girls and guys don’t evaluate clothes the same way. Not even remotely! Maybe I’m wrong, but girls maybe you can provide me with some perspective, when you choose your attire, whether it’s for a wedding or a date, are you making your selection based on what would be appealing to the tastes of a girl or a guy? 

Love at First Sight Quantified

Because I love you...........(EXPLORE)

Although I am not a believer in love at first sight, scientists have finally released a study stating that all it takes is 8.2 seconds! Now that is pretty quick to fall in love! Do you realize how how long 8.2 seconds even is? More or the less the time it took you to read those few sentences! Okay, so the study isn’t entirety based on love at first sight and all that. Basically, the researchers concluded that men who find their dates attractive will initially gaze into their date's eyes for about 8.2 seconds on average, while those who only find their date to be, umm… “less attractive” tend to gaze at them for a total of 4.5 seconds on average. Not surprisingly, this phenomenon doesn’t work the other way around… although I do wonder why…? :-/ Regardless, I would assume that publishing this research will only contribute to bolstering society’s fear of first impressions! Don't worry though, for better or worse that moment will be over in a blink of an eye... or at least a few....

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

(redacted) IKEA projects!

Wulffmorgenthaler – Leather sofa from IKEA

Fair warning this might be a short post, my fingers still hurt. Ha… who am I kidding? I know how long this post is going to be already… :-) You see… today I was assembling some IKEA furniture. Oh no, it wasn’t for me or more correctly, our future humble abode, it was for someone else. This situation isn’t all that bad; he agreed to give me a hand (i.e. he’ll help me shlep stuff) so all is good and dandy. Besides, I had some free time on my hands anyways….

To begin, I have come to the conclusion that IKEA is really Lego for adults. It looks like so much fun, until you have to sort all the pieces and figure out why something just doesn’t look right as per the directions. And just like Lego, the instructions make it seem so easy! It’s also like Lego in the sense that there are always extra pieces, but you always wonder if perhaps the few pieces still sitting on the side are those crucial pieces that hold everything together. Oh, and like Lego, the feeling of accomplishment is astounding. It’s amazing how with some effort and the necessarily tools one can accomplish amazing things… (That statement wasn’t intended to be profound, but feel free to darshen it however you see fit ;-) )

Now this task wasn’t all fun and games. For one, it took a long time. Secondly, my fingers kill! I have learned a valuable lesson; don’t even think about undertaking a serious do-it-yourself project without a good Power Drill and a decent set of screwdrivers, oh an a pair of pliers wouldn’t hurt either! The other lesson I learned was that one should be exceedingly careful to watch their extremities, especially the digits! This was a rather painful lesson to learn. To make a long story short, or short story a post… ;-) I somehow managed to drop a cabinet on my finger! THAT (insert an expletive or yeshish imitation here) HURT!

So as the story goes I was lowering the cabinet on its side in order to attach the hinge assemble mechanism thingy and I somehow managed to get my finger wedged between the floor and some rather hard Swedish assemble-able material. I’m not a science or health major, but I think it has something to do with gravity and pressure (maybe a little toque too because it was falling?) not being conducive to one’s body. What I can tell you the equation is something like exceedingly large amounts of pressure * small fingers = immense pain. And then all of a sudden as the pain shot through my finger, neurons firing, adrenal glands secreting, and my sensory system processing the flood of information, my mouth formulated a lovely, albeit different plan. Subsequently as my eyes moistened and rolled slightly upward, I opened my mouth to loudly utter some rather uncalled-for profanity. Before I was able to breath a single syllable, I realized I was in the presences of a captive audience of children! And for a split second my eyes meet theirs, and I saw their youth, innocence, and purity, like cherubic angels holding lutes ( :-P ) and I just knew I couldn’t do it. My whimper trailed off into an audible, yet completely indecipherable, mumble. Although cursing is therapeutic, at least in the sense that it provides pain relief (at least according to one of this year’s Ig Noble prize winners), I couldn’t bring myself to corrupt those children’s virtuousness. :-( Or maybe its because I favor traditional medicine to alternative medicine! :-)

Yes, I know; cursing is quite bad for many reasons, but it seems that the only times I have been tempted to spew such vulgar terminology is in the midst of exceedingly trying situations. Granted, that is something which I am/should be/and will be working on correcting, but it also happens which appears to be something that is quite common nowadays. Surely, I can't be the only one like this! How about you? Do you happen to curse when the proverbial doo-doo hits the fan? :-P 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Question: Simchas Torah from a Woman’s Perspective?

Shalem Lev Helping Soferet Fix Sefer Torah I have been wondering about this for a while and being that there are a lot of females reading this, maybe you can shed some light on this topic for me. Basically, what do women do in shul all Simchas Toah? Okay, so I understand situations like bar mitzvahs where mothers dance and are misameach separately amongst themselves, but on Simchas Torah, at least in the shuls I frequent, the women don’t dance! While it may be the heartfelt moments or miracles that keep them there, but that doesn’t seem like very compelling reason to justify sitting in a (in some cases stuffy and perspiration scented) room for an inordinately long amount of time just watching others. I don't think its the alcohol, because that is reserved for bochurim who claim they need it to dance... ;-) So maybe I am naive or just missing something, but what is the allure of watching men dance for hours on end?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Top 10 People Whom I’m (We’re) not Inviting to our Wedding

ImprovEveryWhere: Black Tie Beach 

While this post might be an idiotic lament of engaged folks, I am sure this I (we) cannot be the only ones who have this issue. Mainly, the problem is whom to invite and whom not to invite. While I (we?) would love to invite the world, I doubt that would be possible. In retrospect, I think we collectively invited too many people as is. I mean, so much so that I hope there is room for me and TAK! :-P Anyway, so this week’s Top 10 list is a compilation of people who didn’t make the cut on my invite list. I use the term "my," because I don’t definitively know who TAK invited nor does she know who I invited. This would so much simpler if there was a way of mailing people an invitation with some little note that informed them that they don’t need to feel obligated to come. Really. But until someone figures out how to do that politely, I present to you this week’s top ten list. Granted, this list was created after we already sent out the invitations… :-)

1. Bloggers – Yes, I know that is hypocritical of me. How can I differentiate someone based on their computer habits, for lack of a better way of phrasing it? So what I mean is if you know me through the blogosphere, you’re probably not getting invited. However, I do wonder if TAK has some friends who happen to blog that I don’t know about… :-/ I guess we’ll have to look for posts post facto that implicate them. 

2. Anything past 2nd Cousin once removed- Does that even count as relative anymore? Alternatively, any relative whom I don’t know by name or even how I’m related to them... do we really need them there?

3a. Aunt and Uncles who didn’t give me a bar mitzvah present- I don’t even like gifts, “it’s the principle of the matter.” :-p This should be very self-explanatory. You know who you are! :-)

3b. Nephews and Nieces who can’t behave- Again you know who you are! :-( And don’t tell me it’s because you didn’t get a bar/bas mitzvah present!) :-p

4. Friends who the amount of times in a year that I have seen them is greater than the amount of words of our last conversation. Commonly: Hi, how are you? Followed by an unspoken agreement: This conversation will be repeated in 6 months…

5. Former, annoying, roommates – For one, who wants to be annoyed? Two, who wants to be annoyed at their wedding?!

6. Anyone who has ever taught me secular studies at some point in my life. It’s not that I have anything against my English teachers, but I can’t say they are the apple of my eye. Is it just me whose memories of Secular studies teachers are that they were always a bit strange??

7. Celebrities – What, you think I want someone else stealing the show?! I want the paparazzi all to ourselves, thank you very much! Hamodia and Yated photographers and their pictures not included in that one.

8. Former Dates – Yeah, now that would just be unnecessarily awkward. I guess I should broaden that to include people I was redt to, just for prosperity.

9.(From TAK) Persistent good shabbos texters - ....You know, those overly considerate people who texts good shabbos on Wednesday afternoon for the heck of it. I can picture dancing with her at the wedding, her remaining silent...only to find a slew of texts later such as "mazel tov!'...and then "where did you get your hair done" and then "do you wanna sit down? I think you’re a little tired from dancing so much!" and then "should I get you a drink?" Keep up the good work, but isn’t wonderful how you can text from anywhere?! ;-)

10. (From TAK) Shul members' children- If I don't recognize you when you’re not standing next to your seat on rosh hashana...I don't think I can invite you. Maybe there is an exception for children of close family friends since that would be another story… 

Those Bloody Telemarketers!

Blood Sponge Bag
I always marveled at telemarketers. The idea of cold-calling anyone and trying to sell them a product that they don't necessarily need must be a hard job, or at least require some innate talent. Then again, a job is a job. I guess what I marvel at is the services that are offered. For example, the last call I got was a chimney sweep service. I didn’t even know they still had chimney sweeps! And seriously, who on earth is going to trust some fly-by-night shady “professional” chimney cleaning company who calls you at random? While I am a big proponent of the National Do Not Call Registry, mainly because it has diminished the amount of telemarketing calls substantially, the fact remains that companies can still use creative tactics and loopholes to solicit their wares.

The purpose of this post wasn’t to lament about telemarketers, although they deserve to be decried about. But on the topic, I recently got a call from the Red Cross. When I answered the phone I assumed they would be fund raising for some worthwhile cause, like the Haiti Relief Fund, Emergency Preparedness Training, or providing support for Armed Conflict Overseas, but alas, I was mistaken. They wanted my blood. Now that was a new experience for me; vampiric telemarketing. Perhaps in the era of Twilight and our society’s infatuation with vampire paraphernalia this is a new fad I am unaware of, but that is bit creepy. Moreover, my blood type isn’t even all that special, relative to the rest blood type spectrum! Tasty? :-/ Maybe, I wouldn’t really know… Not my beverage of choice...

See, I am one of the many O+ people out there, the most common blood type, which makes me a bit less unique. :-( I always knew deep down I was typical! :-p While O+ isn’t necessarily special, (at least in the United States) I am happy with my blood type. For one, I know that I am not an “A+” person which works out fine, but that also means my blood type isn’t trying to give me advice on how to think about life. Or more specifically, I’m glad I’m not a "B-", because being negative is not a wise idea… ;-) So while I am not a universal donor or universal recipient, it’s nice to know I am wanted…. we’ll at least in pint sized bags once every few weeks…. 

Hmm… I usually don’t fall for marketing ploys, but I think I might donate again soon. Donating blood is a wonderful thing. As they say “it’s better to give than to receive” and I wholeheartedly agree. I mean, donating blood is wonderful in and of itself, but the feeling of helping someone else is amazing, especially when that something is an item which there is no substitute for! (At least until a viable artificial blood substitute is found.) Also it so nice to get that feeling…. I guess it can be described as something that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, and a bit high on euphoria. Or maybe that’s just the feeling I got from substantial blood loss…? And I forgot the best part, free soda and cookies! Seriously, how can I say no?! :-) Now I know why someone recommended blood donating as a "fun date" idea! :-P

Monday, September 27, 2010

Question: Blogging on Chol Hamoed

seven days of succot

I am kinda wondering; can one blog on Chol Hamoed? Or more specifically, is it muttar to blog on Chol Hamoed? So while my knowledge of hilchas Chol Hamoed might be considered lacking, I am not about to go ask this question to my local orthodox rabbi for some odd reason… :-) Don't get me wrong; either way is absolutely fine with me. I have nothing against vacations, including blogging, nor do I have a problem with writing a few posts due to the fact that I now have some free time on my hands. Even though the internet is a repository for abstract and obscure information, it seems the only other discussion of interest on this topic (that I found easily) was written a few years back on Hirhurim, but even that post didn’t reach a definitive conclusion. So what do you say, can one blog on Chol Hamoed? If you cannot type out a comment on Chol Hamoed, then figure out some other way of letting me know! :-P

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Succos and Esrogim

The Big Citron Slow Food Event

The Big Citron Slow Food Event by SusieFoodie

Via Flickr: Licensed under Creative Commons

Okay, back to work… at least from my blogging perspective. I’ve completed the majority of tasks that need to be taken care of at the moment so I can kick back and spend time doing extraneous stuff like writing posts and plotting my next surprise as part of surprise warfare. (Side-note: TAK is currently winning. :-( (Maybe we should take bets on who will win…. ;-) )

Incidentally, and on the topic of Succos preparations, I find it bemusing how much money Arba Minim vendors charge for esrogim. When you try to describe this phenomenon to anyone who is unaware of this market dynamic, you get some rather confused stares and quizzical looks. Luckily this only happened to me once, but the fellow was wise enough to nod apologetically in his state of disarray. Logically, how can it be possible that a somewhat typical citrus fruit which is grown within the contiguous United States in mass quantities and sold throughout the year for pennies on the dollar per pound can fetch upwards of $200 in certain markets? The answer is really quite simple but irrelevant. I guess the simplest analogy to explain this issue would be to juxtapose esrogim to diamonds. I’ll have to remember that next time I have to explain it…

Regardless, esrogim are mystical objects that are arguably worth the price (depending on what you spend of course...) because they complete the set; they make up a part of the whole. There are many explanations and reasons given for the symbolisms associated with the esrog and what it represents within us and within the context of Klal Yisrael, but that is not where this post is headed. Incidentally, I can share with you a bracha I received upon finding my esrog last year, to which I should note was quite nice and proved to be rather hard to find (the esrog, not the bracha! Okay, maybe it’s both…): “May you find a Kallah as nice and beautiful as your esrog!” and B”H I did! Although after showing the esrog to my friend he found a negligible defect in it. :-/ Hmm… I wonder if I should avoid introducing TAK to him…? :-P

In retrospect, I am quite happy that person didn’t give me the same bracha for my lulav and hadassim last year, those weren’t nearly as good, to put it mildly…. :-/ ::shrug:: I really have no idea how these mystical thing work. I guess this is why I was always skeptical of trying obscure simonim on Rosh Hashanah. Who knows what they really might mean?! For example: eating Life cereal. So while eating “Life” might connote one’s asking for a sweet (or cinnamony) life, but does that also mean one is asking for a mass-produced life that comes from a box? That doesn’t sound good… unless of course one is “cookie cutter,” then I guess its okay, right? Or perhaps those who eat the store-name brand version, does that mean they’re asking for a cheaper and imitation version of life?! I’m not even going to get into the issues that come up if the cereal in question is spoiled, dried out, or extra crunchy! I cannot see any of those boding well for anyone… Also wouldn’t a cereal life be phonetically a little too close for comfort to a serial life…. :-o I dunno, I'm just saying... Yeah, so while I commend those who chose to utilize obscure, unique, and creative simonim during Rosh Hashanah, Succos, and all year round, to which they’re actions are fully supported by halacha and admirable, I think I’ll pass at the moment and stick with tried-and-true ones.

Wishing everyone a Chag Sameach and all the best.   

Monday, September 20, 2010

An Engaged’s Lost Friends?

Toy Love

There is a known phenomenon which occurs when one gets engaged: they hemorrhage friends. The use of the word hemorrhage is quite succinct really; it’s a slow trickle and progression… While this fact of life is nothing new, it is an interesting eventuality of getting engaged and ultimately married. I am not the first one to blog about this topic either. This actuality has been chronicled in many blog posts and stories. Although I don’t know which friends I am going to unwillingly be distanced from yet, it remains a sad thought that this dynamic has to happen. Granted, there are ways to minimize the loss or the severity of one’s impending fallout, but let’s face it, once you’re married other consideration and priorities take precedence, as they rightfully should, and one’s focus on their friends will ultimately suffer. But then again, this is a two-way street as well, and I can remember being on the other side the median. It is also something that even if one is cognizant about, they are still somewhat helpless to control.

Anyway, the point of interest I wished to add this topic was that science has actually done a study on said phenomenon. Researchers from
Oxford University concluded that falling in love costs on average two close friends from one’s core circle of friends.

Single women often complain that their girlfriends, who were once as close as sisters, dump them when they find a new guy. They're left hurt, upset and bewildered. Whatever happened to sisterhood, they wonder? 

Based on this report, however, it seems to be a matter of simple arithmetic: You can't add a consuming new romance and keep your other tight-knit relationships at the same number and level of intensity---and this phenomenon isn't limited to women. 

The research team found that men and women are equally at risk of losing two close friends when they get involved with a new romance. After that, they're left with four remaining friends, on average, one of them being the new person that has come into their life. 
Article Link

"If you don't see people, your emotional engagement with them drops off and does so quickly. What I suspect is that your attention is so wholly focused on the romantic partner you don't get to see the other folks you had a lot to do with before, and so some of those relationships start to deteriorate." 

In a separate study, Dunbar's team looked at how men and women maintained friendships on the social networking website Facebook. They found that women's Facebook friends were more often friends from everyday life that they spent time with, while men tended to collect as many friends as they could, even if they hardly knew them. 
Article Link


Venn Peagram by SFWeekly 

Machete Bear by ~sebreg

Alex Noriega