Sunday, October 30, 2005

My Prolonged Absence

Here's the reason for my absence of late:

Jonas Levi, 6 lbs. 11 oz., 20", born Oct. 23, 2005 at 3:15 a.m. (on right)
Micah James, 6 lbs. 5 oz., 19.5", born Oct. 23, 2005 at 3:17 a.m. (on left)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Zagat's Outtakes

If you want some critiques for restaurants, here are some doozies. I stumbled across these on the Zagat's website. It's a list of outtakes that didn't make the cut for reviews. Others were found here. It was tough to pick a favorite. Many made me laugh out loud. My favorite:

"Suffers from delusions of adequacy."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Pez and MP3s

An entrepeneur turns a Pez dispenser into an MP3 player. Now that's cool.

Check it out here.

This photo was blatantly taken from the Pez MP3 website. Thanks.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

KKK on Michigan Public Television

I like to think of myself as a free speech advocate, but thinking of seeing the Klan on television, public television no less, really makes me sick. I will refrain to falling back onto inappropriate language, slander, stereotypes, and other fleeting thoughts of adolescently vengeful acts against the Klan and people who would agree with them. But I will write that this confirms yet again for me how far our "enlightened" society, our "shining city on a hill" has to go before we can really raise our heads and be proud. For more information on the Klan program, read here; I must admit I didn't see it on the programming at the Midland Public Television site here, but WNEM 5 says it will be on.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Fasting

For the past 24 hours I ate no food for Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement. I feared this would be challenge. I always fear it. Despite spending over half the day with a splitting sinus headache from allergies and being unable to take medications or water, it was a relatively easy fast.

Some friends and acquaintances ask why I fast, especially since I tend to be a bit lax with other Jewish laws. I admit to doing it partly out of religious obligation, but I have also developed other reasons that may or may not be tied to the origins for the fast. As a food lover who lives in a relatively comfortable lifestyle in the first world, I never really want food. "Starving" for me really means going an hour or two longer that I would like for a meal. It means my stomach growls while I teach class. I don't take this luxury lightly, and an annual fast gives me the opportunity to contemplate how lucky I am to have food. When I use the hyperbole "There's nothing to eat in the house," with my wife, it really means I'm being unusually picky about what I want to eat. I understand that drinking filtered water to pacify my appetite so I won't eat a carton of ice cream too close to going to bed so I won't gain weight or have bad dreams seems absurd when people in our country can't get clean water and people in other countries can't get water at all. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I wake up thirsty, but I won't drink the water next to my bed because it's been there a couple of days. Again, a luxury.

So I fast. I feel weak and relatively tired. I think that a simple pill and a glass of water will make me feel better. But I resist. I suffer. And I'm glad. I feel one infinitesimal piece of the suffering others less fortunate may feel. It reminds me to be grateful for what I have. And I am.

There is more. A fast also forces me to focus on my body. I become acutely aware of where my head hurts. A the day wears on I become more aware of my blood circulating without caffeine or carps or fat. I don't have endorphins floating around from chocolate. It is just me. Maybe I'm imagining things, but I feel like there's more room for oxygen in my bloodstream. Despite the way I feel physically, I feel good.

Late in the day, my wife and I take a hike in a nearby nature center, For-Mar. My body does surprisingly well. I am glad to be in nature, even if this spot is like a zoo for trees and animals that are unfortunate enough to be trapped in suburbia. Even without food or water, I feel like I could walk for hours, but we play it on the safe side. My wife, nine months pregnant, would probably not like staying all day, though knowing For-Mar has become my synagogue, I know she would stay as long as I'd like. We walk for an hour.

We return home and shortly after sunset, my wife makes a full dinner for us. My sister-in-law brought some cake by earlier in the day, and we have that for dessert. I'm back to my other life, but I have a recent reminder, a poinient experience to remember how fortunate I am in mind and body and spirit.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Blogging on the Internet

If one blogs on the Internet and no one is there to see it, does it make any pixels?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Germ Warfare on Protesters

Okay, I admit it. I'm a conspiracy theorist. I love them because they explain things that are often difficult to explain. Oh, and the explanations are always interesting and exciting. That's much more fun than some kind of "anomaly" or "hallucination." So, imagine my joy and fear when I discovered this from MoxyGrrrl. MoxyGrrrl's blog entry details her friend's ordeal, including an update from the friend, about a recent protest in D.C. and how he got sick from a rare germ. The story gets creepy when you read the likelihood and how much was seemingly found in the area. Then it gets creepier when you learn that it was found in 6, count them 6, D.C. filters. What are the odds? Okay, it gets still creepier when you view the coincidence that it happened the day of a protest. What are the odds? (If you were at the protest and survived, I say you play the lottery.)

Now I'm not a regular reader of MoxyGrrrl, so I can't really comment on the blog, but it caught my attention and freaked me out a bit. I haven't totally lost my grip with reality, so I did just a little bit of investigating (clicked on one of her links), and found this. ABC News, the corporate media, carried a blurb online about the germ. I have to get back to work, so I can't dig too much further, but all the details make for a great conspiracy theory. Maybe one that's too good.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Other White Meat

I stubbled across this in one of my recent insomniatic fits. It appears our government find it fit to spend 500 grand, yes $500,000 dollaroonies to paint the side of commercial airliner to look like a fish.

I'm sure just how outraged I should be. It's only art. Art can't hurt you. Of course, it won't serve as body armor for our soldiers in Iraq and it won't provide shelter for those who lost their homes in recent hurricanes. It will promote salmon fishing and tourism in Alaska, just as the cooler season up north rolls in. I wonder how many college grants 500 grand would buy? I wonder how many full-ride scholarships to help kids out of poverty 500 grand would buy? I wonder how many roads could be paved in Flint with 500 grand?

Maybe it's better if we continue to prop up the ailing airline industry. We're overdue for another corporate welfare bailout anyway.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Verification of Comments

I've added a feature to this blog that requires readers verify they are sentient beings before leaving a post. Sadly, I've been getting more spam lately and want to cut it out. Spam is easy to delete, but as many of you know, it can become time-taxing and a regular annoyance. Other bloggers have been using different approaches to solve this problem, including eliminating comments all together. I don't want to do that, or even limit comments to those registered with blogger, so I've added the verification feature.

On a related note, I get frustrated because our government vilifies spam, passes laws against it, and increasingly wants to regulate the Internet to control it. But, the government doesn't seem to care about junk mail we get via the USPS. Now, I'm not so naive to think it doesn't have to do with money. Small government advocates (who used to be republicans, but now I'm not so sure) would say we give too much money to the USPS already and that "direct mailers" helped keep the USPS afloat and the price of stamps lower. That may be true, but when viewed holistically, the time it takes to eliminate the mail so one's identity can't be stolen and the space it takes in landfills must equal, if not outweigh, the financial loss to the government. I admit this is more an armchair theory than a well-researched argument, but I wonder.

The moral of the story is: please verify you are a human when adding comments to this blog. Thanks.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Bangkok Peppers

My wife and I regularly get a hankering for Thai food. Our favorite dish is the common and popular Pad Thai, but we also love a good beef salad. (If someone knows where to get an outstanding beef salad, please let us know. Our initial foray into beef salad was with a friend in Pasadena, California. We've been mildly disappointed ever since. Ryann, if you read this, please send me the name of that restaurant along with some of that amazing beef salad.) But finding the perfect beef salad is not the purpose of this post.

Last night we went to Bangkok Peppers for a light meal. We each started with a spring roll, which they do quite well with. I could make a meal of them. For a main dish, I had rard na. It was a noodle dish with a brown sauce; it was quite good, but not the "medium" hot I asked for. In fact, it was mild, but good. My wife had a beef salad and a cup of tom yum soup. That was fabulous. Their version is a soup with "lemon grass, straw mushrooms, onion, tomato, Thai herbs, lime juice, and cilantro." It is a popular soup in Thailand and should be more popular here. As you know, we only think the beef salad is adequate. If it were worse, we wouldn't order it, but if it were better we wouldn't dream of a beef salad had years ago in Pasadena.

Having eaten here a number of times, I would regularly recommend it, but we had a problem last night. The food and service was fine; it was the bill that infuriated me. I looked at the bill, which I never look too closely at, and I saw a two dollar charge. We ordered nothing for two dollars. I drew attention to the server, who said the hostess, who wrote the bill, added the charge because we were "sharing" our food. I imagine she assumed my wife's salad was considered an appetizer. The server said she would take care of it. She took the bill, returned a minute later, and said it was taken care of. The two dollar charge was removed. I looked at the bill and the final cost was a penny more than it was before the two dollar charge was scratched out. What the heck?! I totaled the bill and saw it was wrong. I brought the bill to the hostess to pay and told her I thought it was misadded. This time the bill was correct. I paid; we left.

Will we return -- probably. The choices for Thai food in our area are slim. But I will be wary if we go, and I'll never embrace it as I had before.

Bangkok Peppers is located at 1040 E. Hill Rd. in Grand Blanc. Don't confuse it with Bangkok Cafe which is located just a few blocks away. You can read my comments on the Bangkok Cafe here.