Solely In Black and White: December 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.