Thursday, July 29, 2004

Aggravation Level Reaching Monthly Limit

Every person has a level of frustration and aggravation that has mechanical checks and filters placed on it to prevent brain hemorrhages, coronaries, and murders. People who have low threshold levels are often considered insane or Vice President. Moving houses can fill daily, weekly, and monthly levels quite quickly.

We have been here for two full weeks and I am proud, and scared, to say that my monthly level has been filled. The house has loads of difficulties that need time, money, and concentration. The baby, while still the cutest and most lovable human around, needs constant attention. I have been having a two week battle with Sears that has been destroying my arteries with stress.

The irony is that I lived in New York City for 8 years. Yet in two weeks in a sleepy Connecticut town I have had more stupid aggravation than I remember having in those previous 8 years.

One thing that stam New Haveners seem to love is not knowing where anything is and giving bad directions. When telling you how to get from point A to B, they will leave out a street or a compass point. I assume it's because people don't move in and out of New Haven that often. Sure, the Yale students do, but they have their own system.

An example: when moving houses and buying appliances, you find yourself with many empty cardboard boxes. In New Haven, to dispose cardboard boxes you need to cut them into 2'x4' strips, bind them together with twine, then stack the boxes no higher than 4". This would have been nice to know BEFORE we put 40 boxes (collapsed) out on the curb in the rain. The alternative is to shlep them to the dump.

Oh I could go on, but the vibrations from my idling blood pressure is starting to moiré my computer screen.

Update: My wife - who shlepped the boxes to the curb in the first place - just trooped out to the dump. I wish I could go but *somebody* had to watch the baby. Besides the dump stink, she tells me there were VULTURES roaming the sky. Cooool. Yay wife.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Test Post

Blogger now allows me to post via email. This is a test of that capability.

Window Troubles

We are renting a house. It is a beautiful house, with a stunning room for my wife's piano (named George) and what we had hoped was enough room for my books (no). Renting is not optimal, but the house looked great and was near the shul so in we plunged. Renting a house is, now I discover, the worst of both worlds. Renting means you lose with any capital improvement - but in an apartment building those problems are usually offset by having a furnished and well-maintained interior (with elevator, doormen, washers & driers, etc). Owning a house comes with the loads of solitude-based problems but those are offset by the idea that any material enhancement will benefit your selling price. Not so when you rent a house. Live and learn.

I whine like this because we need to purchase and install window covers for the whole house. The windows are nekkid (we are the first people to live here in a long time) and it’s a big annoying job to cover 'em. Now, as you probably guessed, I'm as knowledgeable about home furnishings as I am in ladies eveningwear. Evidently there's a difference between (a) blinds (b) curtains, and (c) shades. This difference is enforced.
  • Blinds = slats
  • Shade = vertical
  • Curtain = horizontal
I bought myself a cordless drill which is, second to the dreaded and awesome Nail Gun, a very dangerous thing to own. Nail Guns are pretty much useless for simple housework but who *doesn't* want to own a device capable of driving 3 inch metal spikes with great power into any surface? Anyway, my portable drill and I have date with drapes (which are part of the curtain family, or so I'm told).

Warning: Appearance Changes Nigh

With the new blog capabilities at my fingertips, I will experiment with a new template, possibly one with a way to respond to my trenchant, wild-eyed commentary.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Back in the Saddle Again

Back online! And in the six days I was off (Thursday - Tuesday) Blogspot has radically improved their blog capabilities. I can upload images, change fonts, font color, add numbered lists. Whooooo.

The Nine Days Joke

It's rabbi humor that the hottest days of the year are days that you can't shower or do laundry.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I Should Not Have Seen That

After an exhausting day of watching complete strangers touch all my stuff, I settled down to veg on the couch. They didn't pack the TV yet so while waiting for the moose to wake up again, I flipped some channels. I came across "Insomniac with Dave Attell" - which is bad enough on its own, but just wait. He began the show with some standup. After his yuks, we see an exterior shot of the comedy club... and it looked familiar. There are 2 clubs within 2 blocks of me, but it wasn't them. I yawped for my wife to take a look: it's the comedy club right next door to the West Side Mikvah! While I stared in horror - gasping at the yucky wrongness of having a late-night TV show televise the entryway to the Manhattan Mikvah - when the horror was realized when we saw someone walk out.

Oughta be a law...

Anyone Know How to Donate a Computer?

We have one, possibly two, computers we can donate. The online help made it sound like an enormous hassle.

Phone Words

I was clued into the fun of phonewords a few years back - creating a mnemonic for your phone number. It doesn't work well when there are too many 0s 1s and 9s. We have a new phone number in New Haven (it'll start on Friday) and I plugged it into this website (drumroll, please) and our word is: NOTHING. It's like Connecticut was saving up on ones nines and zeros for us. I'll keep trying (our contact info will be sent to the cognoscenti in an email).

Update: This site did a better job by spitting out the 2187 letter combination for our phone number and letting *me* choose. Still no good words.

I Hate Moving, Part 2: New York City

Moving out of New York City has its own particular irritants. Cities demand special rules because there are just too many people in a small place. Cities make us more selfish because just by living here we've given up on optimal satisfaction. All of us are needy and deprived, and we expect others to know that and to act accordingly. I get out of YOUR way? You get out of my way! Unless you have a clear indication that you're more needy (e.g. you have no legs, your head is shaved and you have a goatee, you're currently shooting a gun) then nobody gets out of anyone's way.

House-moving is onerous and resource-consuming, which is multiplied ten-fold by the city's inability to be accommodating.

Live in an apartment building? Well, since you live on top of hundreds of people who have their own barely contained needs, you can move out during certain hours of the day, on certain days of the week, and you can use only one elevator. The elevator never leads directly to the street (and the truck) – there's usually 2 elevators to navigate and a long corridor.

Need a big moving truck? Well, it's New York, can't block the intense traffic. Big moving trucks need a place to park – you can do so illegally (the movers give you that option); the move may go quicker, but you need to pay whatever fine they accrue.

Two years ago, three weeks after we got married, we moved ONE BLOCK and that took three days and thousands of dollars.

Don't Forget the Weather!

Also, thank the Lord, it's raining. And the forecast has rain all week. The city freaks out in the rain. Moving in the rain, besides being depressing, gets difficult because if slick sidewalks jammed with pushy New Yorkers taking up 150% space with their umbrellas; all your property (especially boxes) need to be covered and protected. The rain probably adds an hour or two to an already tight move.

Action Packers

We hired our movers to pack up our apartment and they said they need to come two days ahead. We move out Thursday so the packers come tomorrow. Tonight is the last night of normalcy in New York (if you can call it that). Just as you clean for the cleaning lady, we're now packing things away in a manner that we can find it later. I packed my DVDs myself (6 boxes full). Things that we want to keep for the weekend– or give away – we've tucked aside in suitcases. Moving on a Thursday made sense at one point but given the difficulty of NYC, who knows if they can deliver our stuff in New Haven til Friday! Thank God for summer shabbases.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Election Delay

There's an idea being floated by the current administration is that if there's a terrorist attack before Election Day that we would postpone election day!:
U.S. officials have discussed the idea of postponing Election Day in the event of a terrorist attack on or about that day, a Homeland Security Department spokesman said Sunday.
This great idea didn't start with Ridge:
Newsweek said the discussions about whether the November 2 election could be postponed started with a recent letter to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge from DeForest Soaries Jr., chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The commission was set up after the disputed 2000 presidential vote to help states deal with logistical problems in their elections.
So the masterminds behind the wonderful 2000 election are trying to create another disputed scenario??

The article claims that:
What has Homeland Security officials worried is that terrorists could attempt to disrupt the election in the same way that train bombings in Madrid created unrest three days before the Spanish general election, the Homeland Security spokesman said.
All of this logic makes sense. First of all, not like I like Spain pulling out of Iraq, but aren't elections so to allow the general population to exercise their democratic rights? Yeah, the terrorist attack helped change the Spanish opinion, but bright people realized that the Spaniards voted against the incumbents because they LIED TO THEM. Prime Minister Aznar tried to cover up an Al-Queda attack by blaming it on Basque separatists. In doing so, he exposed himself as a manipulative enemy of democratic principles. So yay Spain.

If our government wants to learn from Spain's example, they should start being more confident in the truth. But we know the only lesson they learned from Spain was that Truth is Bad because the Voters are Stupid.

Friday, July 09, 2004

I Hate Moving

Well, duh. I mean, who doesn't hate moving? It's like saying "I hate getting punched in the face." The enormous hassle, the expense of time and money, the guarantee to lose and break valuable things, the chance we will accidentally pack the baby in bubble-wrap, the uprooting of all, uh, roots. Hate it hate it hate it.

However, I have a particular antipathy to moving because of my peculiar abnormal (weird) psychology. While in general I hold no truck in astrology, my protests are dimmed by the fact that I am a pure example of my starry destiny. I am a Leo (and in one remarkable blind-date oodles of years ago, I found out that I was born in the month of Leo and at the time of day when Leo was rising; making me a super megaton King Kahuna Leo). Leos are stereotypically redheaded hot-tempered megalomaniacs who eat a lot a time then sleep a lot afterwards. Uncanny, no?

The key aspect of lion behavior that the stars ordained for me, whether I wanted them to or not (and don't think I truly buy into this but in memory of Reagan, I'll go with it), is the creation of a lair. I love lairs. I love the way the word sounds. Lair lair lair. It's a noun, verb, adjective, interjection (e.g. "Lair!!!") and it's built into my biology due to deep seeded Latvian genetics, moonbeams, or God's little joke.

Lair Dynamics

A good lair is tuned physically, electronically, book-ally, and musically to my needs. When I create a good lair, I can stay there for days without leaving. One reason why I got the reputation as a masmid when I was in yeshiva was because my lair in the beit-midrash was more comforting than my meager pallet in the Kowalsky's basement.

When I move domiciles, and lairs, it will take at least one month to recreate everything I need to function again. Until that time, I am a lairless leonine zombie.

All this is to say that when we move, and my internet is cut, my books, files, and pens are boxed away, my clothes covered with infant nervous indigestion, you'll know why it's hard to reach me.

P.S. my brother thinks I'm more like a bear than a lion; but that may be because of the Simpson's snippet about "Gentle Ben" the talk-show bear.

Bye Chandra

Today is the last day we use our cleaning-lady, who I've employed for the last four years. If anyone needs good, reliable and honest cleaning help, let me know.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Family Guy Has Its Day

Even though the show often failed the 'no-honk guarantee,' I am an early supporter of the show and I'm glad that it has been resurrected (The Young Guy of 'Family Guy')

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

The New Battleground

The fight over our hearts and minds has be detoured for the battle over our mouths and stomachs. Because the Republican Heinz family has been linked of late with soon-to-be-President Kerry, a new 'counter-ketchup' has emerged: W Ketchup.

According to the FAQ, the "W" stands for "Washington" (we assume the person as he is pictured on the label, along with an eagle and some minutemen) and not the President. Sure.

The ketchup is made by the "Fremont Company" from Fremont, OH (city motto: "The Town Ketchup Built"). They also own the website so they can't be all bad.

Last Day

Today (Wednesday) is my last day of work. There is no way I can get everything I need done today (I lost Sunday to childrearing and Monday because the building had no A/C and felt like the Black Hole of Calcutta, and Tuesday to the Wretched Fast). After today, I'm on vacation - which means I'll show up to continue packing up my office, just with no tie.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004


The news this morning, Kerry Picks Edwards as His Running Mate, is the first good election news I've heard this year. It actually means that Kerry may know what he's doing.

Fast Blues

I hate fast days. Right now, I am going through my weekly order of Supersol with my wife - who can eat today, remember - deciding what to order in our last week in New York. One of the specials this week is (no joke) "Bison Salami." I have now successfully lost my appetite.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Qritiqs Qorner

Not much time anymore to watch movies, TV, or anything. I did get to see two things recently, "Fifty First Dates" and "The Ben Stiller Show."

"Fifty First Dates" [(2004) with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore] is a nice romantic comedy that manages to be watchable despite the requisite Sandler scatology. And at this moment, my older brother has taken control of the Styx. Lemme tell you all about my brother -- he's gone soft. Years ago, the pre-incarnation of this blog had biting commentary HEY! OK, I'm back. Uh, where was I? Oh yeah, scatology. Sandler is a funny dude but lazy. It's no feat to be funny when you talk about doo-doo, barf, and sex. And his movies are diminished by it.

"The Ben Stiller Show" (1992) has been touted for years as brilliant and funny and ahead of its time as well as launching the careers of Stiller, Janeane Garofalo, Andy Dick and Bob Odenkirk.

Odenkirk, who fell off the face of the earth, was one of the two dudes in "Mr. Show" (1995, with David Cross) - which was too disturbing, even for me.

"The Ben Stiller Show" is a half-hour, sketch comedy, SNL knockoff that constantly and consistently missed the mark. I rarely laughed when I saw the 6 episodes, but each skit was brilliant in conception. Which means that during the viewing experience, it didn't feel so good, but the *memories* of the show last longer and are brighter.

An example of Ben Stiller show humor:
[Janeane Garofalo as MTV News announcer]: The censorship battle over rap star Ice Man McGee's latest release is heating up. A Los Angeles man by the name of Doug Szathkey is protesting Ice Man's new hit single, 'Kill Doug Szathkey.'
or "The B Minus Time Traveler" - a high-school student who went back in time and was of absolutely no help to the historical figures she meets.

or "The Grungies" a TV show parody of the Monkees but of the 90s Grunge scene (as opposed to the 60s mod-band thing).

SNL knockoffs (e.g. "Mad TV") don't realize that sketch comedy is never all that good – but because SNL is live, and written in just a few days – we give them a lot of credit for even having a marginally decent product. Ben Stiller etc. made high quality sketches, special effects, costumes, etc. and the quality of the humor doesn't match the production skill. The live shows (SNL, Carol Burnett, Monty Python) know that low-quality production is, counter-intuitively, funnier.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Shtender Cleaned

Yesterday was my last Shabbat as assistant rabbi here. I cleaned out my shtender last night. Now comes the 72 hour project to pack up my office. I have, in my office, about 1 mile of books and 2 miles of papers/files. If you don't hear from me in a while, call Haztoloh.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Brando, Overacting, is Dead

Brando died today. The Times (Marlon Brando, Is Dead at 80) claims: The cause of death was being also withheld, but the theories cannot be too far from the truth: anorexia. If you thought he was fat, you should have seen what his self-image was!

Anyway, Brando was incredible in many of his roles but he was a horrible ham (badam-ching) is too many others. And I detest Elia Kazan movies so very very much that I need to discount his early years.

He was critical in "The Godfather" and necessary in "Apocolypse Now." The Times claims: Simply put: In film acting, there is before Brando, and there is after Brando. And they are like different planets I suspect the "planet" line is an intended entendre.

Holy Moly

I am impressed. YU Torah Online