# Monday, 12 February 2007

Am I stupid or are they?

Seen on the web site of a telephone provider just now...

"Broadband free for first 6 months, thereafter no extra charge

Go on someone, explain that one!

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# Tuesday, 06 February 2007

My daughter the horseshoe crab

Some time ago, we went to an aquarium, one of these huge ones with loads of fascinating aquatic creatures. Despite the magnificent spectacle of the main tank (which was the size of several olympic swimming pools), my personal favourites were the horseshoe crabs...

Horseshoe crabs

I have always had a fascination for stupid creatures. Penguins have long been a favourite of mine. They stand around on ice floes, not sure what to do. One of them will suddenly decide to go for a swim and, before you know it, ten thousand penguins are having a swim. They enjoy this for a while and then, one of them decides to get out. Before you know it, ten thousand penguins are back on the ice floe wondering what to do. One of them will suddenly decide to go for a swim and, ... well, you get the idea.

Horseshoe crabs have their own peculiar oddity. As you can see from the picture above, they have a domed shell that comes down to the ground/sand/floor/whatever all around. Underneath, they have really little legs.

Now the problem they have is that they are ideally designed for operation the right way up. Flip one over and it doesn't know what to do. It just lies on its back waving its little legs frantically until one of several things happens...

  • A surge of water comes along and turns it back on its front again. This is somewhat fortuitous and cannot be relied upon as an option. However, it is better than...
  • Other horseshoe crabs come along and run all over the upturned one. This causes it to get all upset and wave its little legs even more. At first, you feel sorry for the poor little fellow (at least, we assume it's a fellow for want of an easy way to determine gender), but after a while it's hard not to laugh. They look very comical like that. It's probably not the least bit comical for the horseshoe crab, but maybe I have a mean streak. Either way, this is better than the final option...
  • A passing predator spots the helpless and agitated upturned horseshoe crab and decides it's time for a spot of lunch. One serving of horseshoe crab a la carte later, and that's the end of that.

Now, anyone with enough spare time on their hands to have read this far might be wondering why on earth I bothered writing about this, and (if they had read the title of this entry) what this has to do with my daughter. Read on dear reader, for your patience shall be rewarded (although only slightly).

Simcha is now ten months old. This is a lovely age, full of fat tummies and giggles. She is crawling around the place at a fair speed now, but still has one major handicap in her movment. Unlike most babies, she still hasn't worked out how to roll from her back to her front. This means that if she ends up on her back, which is not infrequent, she does a remarkably close impression of an upturned horseshoe crab! Ah, so that's what all this drivel was about!

Once on her back, she has pretty much the same options as the horseshoe crab...

  • As surges of water are not so common in our house (B"H), the first option can be replaced by a surge of sibling who sweeps her up into their arms and smothers her in kisses with many a cry of "You're so sweet!"
  • Other children come along and crawl/roll/walk over her. This is usually done in a friendly and non-painful way, but does nothing to help the now squeaking Simcha get back on her front.
  • A passing older sibling spots her and decides it's time for a tickle. At this point, she is helpless and easy prey for the PSG ticklers, who will tickle away until they have had their fill.

Oh well, at least she survives to crawl away, unlike the hapless horseshoe crab. For some great pictures of these creatures, you can visit a web site all about them. Just don't tell them we sent you there!

By the way, those who are squeamish might like to know that horseshoe crabs aren't actually crabs at all. They are actually more closely related to spiders and scorpions, so that's OK :-D

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How the NHS saves on prescription charges

We had a family visit to the doctor this morning. Actually, not quite the full family, but three patients and two hangers-on (Mummy and Simcha) who came to offer moral support.

We discovered a whole new side to the NHS. Instead of walking out with prescriptions for medicines, we all three came out with leaflets. Apparently it is more cost-effective to cure ailments with leaflets than with medicines. The only problem was, they didn't tell us how often to apply the leaflets. Thankfully our doctor has a laser printer, so we didn't end up with ink stains on our skin when rubbing the leaflets on.

Still, gave me something (dull) to read over breakfast.

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# Wednesday, 24 January 2007

An open letter to Ikea

Dear Mr Ikea,

I write to you in desperation. I realise that you place great importance on giving your customers value for money, but I really feel that in the interests of the Greater Good, you should increase your prices immediately.

You may feel that this is not in your best interests, but I am inclined to disagree. Your pricing structure is altogether too low, and this can, I fear, lead to domestic stress.

"Can we just pop to Ikea dear?" sounds like an innocent request, but beneath it lurks a dark danger. You wander around the shop and she says "Ooh look at that, that's very reasonable." You try and ignore it, but you can't.

"It would look really nice in the front room." - You try a few non-committal grunts, but these don't work either.

"That would be really useful for keeping all the children's toys off the floor." - You try distracting her by pointing out something obviously unsuitable for your home, but it fails.

Try as you might, you can't win. She's been hooked, and you aren't going to leave the shop until she's bought everything.

So you arrive home with a car packed full of huge innocent looking boxes. You can't ignore these boxes like you ignore all the other DIY jobs that she's been asking about for months. These boxes are too big. What's more, they are in the middle of the floor, and the baby is trying to eat them. You have no choice but to stay up until 1am building cupboards, positioning shelves and so on. That's not even the end of it though...

Once you have a new piece of furniture, she does insist on rearranging the entire room to be "more practical" or "give us some more space now we have that big cupbaord you just built" (like it's my fault?)

Please Ikea, put your prices up.

A Desperate (and tired) Husband

P.S. In fairness, I should point out that the instructions were easy enough for my ten-month old baby to understand...

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The Dynamics of Venus and Mars

Let's say a guy named Roger is attracted to a woman named Elaine.
 
He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else. And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: "Do you realise that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?"
 
And then there is silence in the car.
 
To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.
 
And Roger is thinking: Six months.
 
And Elaine is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily toward...I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?
 
And Roger is thinking: So, that means it was...let's see...February that we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer's, which means...let me check the odometer...Whoa! I'm way overdue for an oil change here.
 
And Elaine is thinking: He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed, even before I sensed it, that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid of being rejected.
 
And Roger is thinking: And I'm going to have them look at the transmission again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It's 87 degrees and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.
 
And Elaine is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry, too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure.
 
And Roger is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90-day warranty, the cheaters.
 
And Elaine is thinking: Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centred, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.
 
And Roger is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I'll give them a warranty. I'll take their warranty and tell them just what to do with it.
 
"Roger," Elaine says aloud.
 
"What?" says Roger, startled.
 
"Please don't torture yourself like this," she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. "Maybe I should never have... I feel so..." (She breaks down, sobbing.)
 
"What?" says Roger.
 
"I'm such a fool," Elaine sobs. "I mean, I know there's no knight. I really know that. It's silly. There's no knight, and there's no horse."
 
"There's no horse?" says Roger.
 
"You think I'm a fool, don't you?" Elaine says.
 
"No!" says Roger, glad to finally know the correct answer.
 
"It's just that...it's that I...I need some time," Elaine says.
 
There is a 15-second pause while Roger, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.
 
"Yes," he says.
 
Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand. "Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?" she says.
 
"What way?" says Roger.
 
"That way about time," says Elaine.
 
"Oh," says Roger, "Yes."
 
Elaine turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.
 
"Thank you, Roger," she says.
 
"Thank you," says Roger.
 
Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn.
 
When Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he's never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's better if he doesn't think about it.
 
The next day Elaine will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyse everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification. They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.
 
Meanwhile, Roger, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Elaine's, will pause just before serving, frown, and say, "Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?"
 
And that's the difference between men and women.

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Conversation Stopper (or the dinner conversation that went wrong)

WIFE: "What would you do if I died? Would you get married again?"
HUSBAND: "Definitely not!"

WIFE: "Why not - don't you like being married?"
HUSBAND: "Of course I do."

WIFE: "Then why wouldn't you re-marry?"
HUSBAND: "Okay, I'd get married again."

WIFE: "You would? (with a hurtful look on her face)."
HUSBAND: (makes audible groan).

WIFE: "Would you sleep with her in our bed?"
HUSBAND: "Where else would we sleep?"

WIFE: "Would you replace my pictures with hers?"
HUSBAND: "That would seem like the proper thing to do."

WIFE: "Would she use my golf clubs?"
HUSBAND: "No, she's left-handed."

WIFE: - - - silence - - -
HUSBAND: "Oops!"

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# Sunday, 21 January 2007

Teachings of the Jewish Buddhists

If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?

Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?

Drink tea and nourish life:
With the first sip, joy.
With the second sip, satisfaction.
With the third sip, peace.
With the fourth, a danish.

Wherever you go, there you are. - Your luggage is another story.

Accept misfortune as a blessing. Do not wish for perfect health, or a life without problems.....What would you talk about?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single Oy!

There is no escaping karma. In a previous life, you never called, you never wrote, you never visited. And whose fault was that?

The Tao does not speak. The Tao does not blame. The Tao does not take sides. The Tao has no expectations. The Tao demands nothing of others. The Tao is not Jewish.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.

Let your mind be as a floating cloud. Let your stillness be as a wooded glen. And sit up straight. You'll never meet the Buddha with such rounded shoulders.

Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers. Each flower blossoms ten thousand times. Each blossom has ten thousand petals......You might want to see a specialist!...

Be aware of your body. Be aware of your perceptions. Keep in mind that not every physical sensation is a symptom of a terminal illness.

The Torah says, "Love thy neighbour as yourself."
The Buddha says, "There is no self."
So, maybe we're off the hook.

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# Tuesday, 09 January 2007

It was 20 years ago today...

Actually, it was more like 25, and no-one can remember any anniversaries, but who cares? On the 30th December 06, a (fairly) grand reunion took place of my teenage friends (ie friends from when I was a teenager, not my current friends who happen to be teenagers, but then of course you knew that all along didn't you?). I say it was fairly grand, as it would have been even more grand had a few more people managed to make it, and had we been able to trace a few more!

Anyway, a good time was had by all, and there were lot's of "Ooh, do you remember when..." and "So what are you doing now?" not to mention the inevitable "I bet you wish I had lost this photo!!" For some odd reason, I seemed to feature in a disproportionately large number of photos, mostly highly embarassing :-D

Anyway, here is a group photo from the evening...

In case you can't work out who these people all are, here is a clue. At the front is Andrew Cohen, formerly known as, erm, Andrew Cohen! Behind him, sitting sedately on the chairs are (L-R) Simon Myerson, yours truly, Nick Myserson, Jeff Flowers and Jonny Straight. Standing behind us are (L-R) Kate Pearlman, Mink Flowers, Mandy Bergin (Homberg), Karen Usher, Debbie Hougie (Pearlman), Carolyn Saffer (Ross), Benita (also known as Bean as I remember) Dapin (Gould), Louise Sherman (Caplan, friend of Carolyn) and Jeff's wife, whose name I never found out (oops).

If you want to see the wrinkles in their full glory, click on the picture above and you'll be treated to a full-sized (2529x1944 pixels, 361Kb) version of it. This is suitable for printing, assuming you consider the subject suitable for printing of course!

Anyway, I intend to make a separate web page for the reunion, and sent out an e-mail to all those who were there asking for a brief update on where/who/why they are nowadays. As only two people have replied, I haven't done the page yet. Come on the rest of you!!

I look forward to the next reunion in another 25 years time. Ooh-err, I'll be drawing a pension by then!

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Simcha's a crawler!

After weeks of trying and almost succeeding, Simcha finally learnt how to crawl on Shabbos morning. She's no Speedy Gonzales, but she has worked out how to get around.

Now nothing is safe! I have to make the house child-proof again. It's amazing how relaxed you become after three years.

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# Monday, 01 January 2007

There were three in the bed

The boys went to a siyum last night. This meant that they got home very late, and by the time we finally managed to stop them chattering and turn the light out, it was 11:40pm. We had all just managed to fall asleep when... crash bang, the world exploded. We had forgotten that there is some curious obsession with marking the change of year with fireworks. Not just one or two, but loads and loads of them.

This is probably fine if you are awake, and even outside to see them, but if you are all exhausted and asleep, this is not so fine. Thankfully, we didn't have too many children wake up. Eliyohu HATES fireworks, and so would have been awful after a very late night and only 20 minutes sleep. The two little ones also slept through, but Shayna Brocho woke up and came in looking for comfort.

To cut a long story short, she ended up sleeping next to me for the rest of the night. It's amazing how much space one small person can take up! I didn't get much sleep, although she did.

Some people have this every night. I suppose I should count myself fortunate that this is only the second time in 13 and a half years I've spent the night with one of the children in my bed. The last time was when the Mrs burnt herself very badly and had to spend the night in hospital. Nechoma Bryna was about 18 months old, and managed to fill a king sized bed, leaving me without any space to sleep! Looks like her sister has inheritied that skill.

Ho hum and yawn. I got a great cuddle though :-)

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