Sunday, February 22, 2009

M'Talmidy Yoser MeKulam

First of all, I know you all are going to pounce right away and correct me on my title. For I should have been consistent, and if I wrote M'Talmidy, I should also have written M'Kulam. Sorry.
Anyway, one bochur who I learn with always tries to explain things back to me, as if he's the one teaching. Which is fine, by the way. It helps them to make sure they really understand.
So he started explaining to me Moach Shalit Al HaLev, our intellect should control our heart's desires and emotions. He gave the following example:
"Let's say a guy poked out a cow's eyeballs."
"Okay...." I said, unsure if I actually wanted him to continue.
"So intellectually, it doesn't make sense, because animals have feelings, too. But he likes to do it, and it feels good, so he does it anyway."

Isn't that the exact mashal we all heard in school from our chassidus teacher?

Deadly Games

What game do you not want to play in 770?

Capture the flag.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nine out of Ten

Have you ever looked at a cereal box, and read that "9 out of 10 people aren't getting enough....fiber/vitamin Q...." and lo and behold, this very cereal that you are holding actually does contain 600% of the vitamin X that you need!!
One second.
Doesn't that mean that 9 out of 10 people do not eat this cereal??????!?!?!
Isn't that bad advertising?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My following

I have 3 "Followers" as of the time of print for this post. They are all Real Winners in Life. These are the everyday heroes of our generation. They do not care to publicly follow my blog, which undoubtedly not only raises the eyebrows of the CIA and FBI, but also warrants them to be put on the 'shoot-on-sight' list of some of my enemies.
I therefore salute their courage/foolishness to publicly adhere to my propaganda and personal beliefs.
I was thinking that to add to my image, maybe I should create hundreds of bogus gmail accounts and blogger profiles, of course with random pictures as the profile pics, with different names, and then have them all follow my blog.
I mean, when you see that 1,300 well-respected and good-minded people read my blog, than how could you not jump on the bandwagon? Right?
But I later rejected this idea. I do have my blogging ethics. I may not have my dignity any more (See My Dark Past Stories), but nobody can take away my ethical values.
I'm sure somebody important before me said something like that. Lincoln, or Benjamin Franklin, or someone.

Us/Them

My family has this thing now that we're Californians, (I'm not sure that it's Taluy on the state, but more the fact that we moved) that every yom tov which we are all home (normally pesach, and most times also sukkos) we'll take a family picture in our shabbos/yom tov best, minutes before we have to race to shul, in the heat of last minute preparations/yelling.
(Don't ask about our 'kids pic'. I can't reveal more because it may embarrass some siblings of mine)
Anyway, for perhaps the first picture we took, and it must have been a few years ago, one sibling of mine printed out the picture of us, photoshopped the lighting, vechulu, and put it in a nice frame, with the word "US" on the bottom. As in, "This is a picture of us."
We're all smiling, dressed to the nines. (By the way, anyone know where that expression came from? These people don't seem to know, either.)

This morning, as I glanced at the picture, a fun idea came to mind. What if we all dressed up (or down, perhaps) as goth/gang/dark/murderous/creepy/grunge people? The womenfolk in the fam would apply black lipstick, mess up their hair, put on whjte make up, fake piercings, and the guys would...pretty much do the same thing. And we'd all be decked out (again, anyone know where that phrase comes from?) in leather and torn black clothes and chains. We would be standing in the same order, but our pose would have to be different. More...punkish and 'gangsta' with the mouths and fingers, etc.
Oh, add 'punk' to the list of words I used before to denote 'gang members' vechulu.

I think it would be hilarious to have both photos on our mantle. The first saying "US", and the second one, the 'goth/gangsta/you get the idea' picture saying "THEM".

Some tips for CH

Here are some tips and hints for getting around Crown Heights, that I either told or thought about telling to my bochurim who came in for Yud Shvat:
  1. At Kingston Bagel, or whatever the place is called, order two bagels, but only one with cream cheese, and snatch a plastic knife on your way out- everyone knows they put way too much on their bagels.
  2. At Esthers, they give free, unlimited supplies of pickles while it takes forever for them to warm up your food. And given the right push, they'll put out free pitas, too! (My guys loved me for this tip, and chowed down on hundreds of free pickles while waiting!)
  3. There is a rumor that there was a dead cat found at the bottom of 770's cholent pot. I could neither confirm or deny this, and left it in the hands of the bochurim to decide how to proceed.
  4. The cheapest (normal brand of) tissues are at Kahn's, at least as of last year.
  5. When checking to see if it's safe to cross the street, push your stroller out ahead of you first.
  6. Buncho versus Crown Bagel: Crown is mezonos, Buncho is Hamotzee. But buncho is better food, although it is on troy, and hence farther away than where you probably are.
  7. Try to wear your jacket when you enter 770, instead of hanging it up to chance.
  8. The cosmetics store on kingston is for guys, too, although normally their pink frilly boas in the front convey that it's only for women.
  9. The cops standing on the corners of Kingston are there to protect you while you walk home at night to where you're staying on albany, troy, montgomery, brooklyn, new york, or any other street besides for where they are standing on kingston. don't worry, they can run fast if they hear you scream loud enough.

Shoe-shopping at Macy's

I went last night to buy shoes at Macy's, and brought my father along because I value his insight, style, opinion, and also credit card. (I'm home for shabbos, and possibly today also. My flight seems to be delayed because of some bad rain storms... but they still want me to be there at the time of my original flight, when now the delay is a two or three hour one!)
I was trying to decide between two pairs I had looked at earlier. Well, actually I was trying to decide the best way to convince my father I needed both pairs....
Anyway, the sales associate kept looking at us and said in amazement, "Wow!! You guys look so much alike!"
"I'm his son" and "He's my son", we both replied in unison. (I was the one who said "I'm his son" and my father is the one who said "He's my son", in case you were slightly confused)
The guy still couldn't take it. "Yeah, but you look so alike!! Like brothers maybe!!!"
Well, maybe it was because we're father and son, you dummy!! We don't look exactly the same, ask anyone. And yet still this guy was flipping out because we looked similar.
I couldn't understand what was so amazingly spectacular and extraordinary that two people closely related may actually resemble each other.
Maybe looking at shoes and feet all day can do that to a person.

Enterprise

Every week I rent from enterprise, to drive on Mivtzoim.
A few times already, the car they give me is parked in between other cars, and in a back row, meaning it needs to drive in between two more cars in order to pull out of the parking lot.
A number of times, the associate will ask me if I need her/him to pull out the car for me, and I'll drive it once it's out in the open.
I'll look at them and ask, "If I can't do that myself, should you really be renting to me this vehicle?"
They'll think about this, realize I'm right, and hand me the keys.

Tefillin Paint

While I was in New York last week for Yud Shvat, I decided it was high time I bought some tefillin paint. I hated noticing a spot needing paint, and walking around from bochur to bochur, mimicking painting with my hands, trying to get someone to understand what I was looking for.
In a judaica store in Crown Heights, I'll call it Judaica Universe, to preserve anonymity and keep me from being sued, I went in looking for the tefillin paint.
Right at the counter, I saw two containers. One had tefillin paint in the form of a marker, and one in the form of white-out, with the paintbrush and paint. Both were being sold for five dollars. Between the two, I quickly made an educated decision that the marker variety would both fit my needs, and be less messy than the paint variety.
That's when my life turned upside down. For when I reached to pick up the tefillin paint marker, I saw the following line, which I'll translate to English: "This is only for the Batim of your tefillin, and don't even think about using it on your Retzuois, buster."
Uh oh.
Trying to control my heart rate and stabilize my breathing, I slowly reached for the white-out style tefillin paint, and to my horror, read the following (again, I'll translate it to English): "This is only good for Retzuois. If you thought you'd only have to buy one of these things, think again you fool."
Biting back tears, I turned from grievous to furious. I started talking tough to the thugs behind the counter. What's the meaning of this? I cried. How dare you! I shrieked. You guys are forcing me to buy two when I only want to buy one!!
The guy behind the counter told me coolly to just paint the tefillin on my head and arm, and then I don't have to worry.
This only got me madder. I called up everyone on my contact list, but nobody could tell me if this was indeed the cold hard truth, or if one paint would suffice both the batim and retzuois. Nobody in the store escaped my halachic dillemma, either. And sad to say, nobody knew the answer.
I had rememberd R' Moshe Klein explaining that M'Doraisah, the batim could be white, but the retzuois have to be black, so I figured (with the shockingly brilliant gemara-logic I have at my disposal, and often utilize) that I could probably get the paint for the retzois only, and use it also for my batim. But that meant the actual paint, and not the marker.
What had I done to deserve such suffering?
I started threatening with everything from lawsuits to picketing outside the store, if it indeed was a scam, a trick, a conspiracy. I promised to get to the bottom of it, and if it meant a conspiracy leading all the way to the top of the tefillin-paint manufacturers, then so be it. My life may be put in jeopardy from the thugs that the CEO's undoubtedly had access to and would have to be used in order to silence my lone voice of justice and truth that could stop the world cold and confront and bring to justice these denizens (cool word, no? I'm pretty sure I got the context right...) of the paint-scam underworld.
The guy behind the counter just laughed, but he wouldn't be laughing if he could picture the vision, no premonition, of me sitting in the witness chair in a courtroom, and my trial lawyer asking me who the culprits were, and with tears in my eyes and a shaky finger, pointing straight at the Judaica Universe staff, the CEO's of whoever makes the tefillin paint (probably rokeach or paskez, or something) and saying "It was them!!" and I would faint, to which the whole jury would simultaneously gasp, and the court would explode in pandemonium, causing the judge to bang his gavel and demand order....
So I passed the guy behind the counter my choice-the paint made davka for Retzuois, and when he asked me if I was certain, I begged him once again to reveal the inside knowledge he must have been privy to, "Please. Why would they make paint that could only be used for one and not the other? I could probably use it for both, right? They just want to make money?" The truth was that deep down inside, I was more worried about my paint from a Halachic standpoint, and less from a class-action-lawsuit-of-the- century-standpoint.
After he rang me up, and snatched the bag from him, he thought he'd stick it to me one last time, where it hurt, and said: Remember, that doesn't work for your Batim.
I almost strangled him.


Actually, I was amused by the whole thing. I didn't really want to strangle anybody, except maybe for the makers of the paint. Why would they write that it only should be used for batim, and not retzuois, or the other way around? Can't there be a universal paint? Are they just trying to squeeze out an extra five bucks from anyone who wants to keep their tefillin kosher?

Red paint

I once saw this guy in my neighborhood painting his curb with red paint.
I thought it was hilarious.
I also started wondering, what would happen if he decided to park outside his own house, and began to explain to a police officer that it was he who painted the curb, not the city.
Is it illegal to declare somewhere a nonparking zone? Then he would get in trouble for painting, not for parking. And if it isn't illegal to just buy red paint and choose anywhere on the street you don't want people parking, then would you be fined if you parked there yourself?

I didn't have my camera on me when I drove by. I would totally send it to... well, some website or newspaper that caught people in the act of doing possibly illegal things, I guess.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Yud Shvat

I'm here in Kahn Tziva!
Back again. I really miss the place, let me tell you.
So much has been going on lately, and if I had normal internet access, you would probably know about it. This past shabbos we flew in Rabbi Mendel Gordon the mashpia from London to farbreng for the mesivta, he was really great, and he farbrenged for the shluchim separately later.
Anyway, I gotta go, everyone should Praveh Yud Shvat the way the Rebbe's Chassidim should.