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Jewish Deaf Motorcycling Dad

Updated: 2015-09-17T03:49:17.743-04:00


Phone wars


Lately I've been thinking a lot about a new smart phone. I wrote this mainly to help get some of my thinking down on virtual paper as that sometimes helps me to consider issues. In my family, I know a lot of eyes will glaze over when reading this. That's okay, I won't be offended. ;-) And if anyone has experience, thoughts, etc., please chime in!I've been using Palm handhelds for several years now. I can't remember exactly when I started, but since I started on the Palm m515, it couldn't have been earlier than 2002 (although I really thought it was a few years before then... maybe I'm forgetting one before that). I was even proficient in Graffiti, the Palm "writing" system since there was no keyboard. I organized my calendar, my contact list, notes, etc. It worked well for me, because before that I would scribble everything down in a weekly calendar that I carried around. The problem with the paper/ink calendar was 1) I couldn't read my writing at times, and if it was an event several months in the future, I'd forget what it was by the time I reached the date, and 2) I tended to misplace these after a while, or the notes I scribbled down on a post-it would fall out.Somewhere towards the end of 2003, beginning of 2004 (again, I don't remember exactly when), I decided to get a Palm Treo 600. It seemed so logical. Matching up a PDA with a phone. Why in the heck not? Then in January of 2008 (this one I remember!!), my 600 finally kicked the bucket, and I got a Palm Centro. This has been working well to date.However, there have been major shake up in the Smart Phone community. Of course there's the iPhone, which has been doing remarkably well. To answer it, Palm did a complete overhaul of their phone and operating system, and came up with the Pre, running the new WebOS. I've been following news on the Pre for about 4-6 months before its release. And I was pretty sure this would be the phone I'd buy as soon as my contract is up (Jan 2010).However, then Apple came out with their newest iPhone, the 3GS. I figured I'd at least look at it. I can see why many people are using it. Besides being a decent smart-phone, there are a LOT of 3rd party software available. And this is one of the biggest things that I have used with all of my Palms to date. I summarize some of my more often used programs later in this post. Anyway, the Pre doesn't have very much in the way of programs written for it yet. The SDK (Software Development Kit) hasn't even been publicly released (supposed to be released towards the end of August). That's what allows vendors to more easily write programs for the device. So the Pre is already behind on that end.While looking around, I also looked at Android phones. Android is another operating system for smart phones, which spread in popularity when Google gave it full backing and support. It hasn't been around as long as the iPhone, but because the OS is open source, it's been easier for people to create software for it. A new phone with Andriod on it is supposed to be coming out the end of 2009. (HTC Hero). I also looked at Blackberry, but it just doesn't seem to jive with me.Below is a list of the most common programs I run on my Centro currently, and my thoughts about if they are available on other smart phones. (roughly in the order of use on the Centro)ChatterEmail (SnapperEmail) - ChatterEmail is a great email client that works superbly with my email system. It was developed by Marc Blank, who was one of the creators of Zork, one of the first text adventure computer games that captured a lot of gaming interest (including my brother and I) in the early 80's. (It is dark. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.) It uses the IMAP4 interface, which means if I read some message on the Centro, but not others, or mark them in some way, that change can also be seen if I log on to my email through the web interface, or using Thunderbird at home. It helps to keep all my email coordinated. Chatter also pushes email to up to 7 of my folders. That means if a folder receives a new emai[...]

Eating in Israel


A little while back, Treppenwitz wrote this post: describing a restaurant in Israel that loads you up on meat. It sounds similar to a Brazilian restaurant near my office where servers walk around with various meats to serve people. Because it's near my office, we frequently have "fare well" parties there. I can no longer attend the parties, because the aroma of the meats is so good, and it's most definitely not kosher.

So I commented to my sister-in-law and her husband, living in Israel, that when I next visited, I hoped I'd be able to eat at this restaurant. My sister-in-law then commented about a similar restaurant (South American) with a similar experience. Bro-in-law then chimed in about taking us to Burgers Bar. And of course I previously mentioned to my wife that I want to go to KFC, Pizza Hut (apparently at a mall in Jerusalem), and Burger King (Ben Yehuda Street).

The time spent in our next visit will be roughly divided up as:

50% - Visit family and friends
49% - Visit restaurants
1% - See the rest of Israel.

I might need to book an extra seat next to me for the flight home... ;-)

We do hope to make it over the pond in the next year or two, depending on when my job here transfers to a new location.

Baby JDMDad - Part 3 - in 3D!!!


JDMDad, Laya, and big sisters Tikvah and Ahava are proud to announce:

Baby JDMDad (Part 3) is here!

Baby was born on Monday, June 15, 2009, (23 Sivan 5769) at 11:59 am.

Weight: 7 lbs. 2 oz.

Length: 19.5 inches

Cuteness ratio (Scale 1-10): 25 (Caution, data may have some internal bias)

Finger Count: 10/10

Toe count: 10/10

_XX__ Has lots of hair
___ Has some hair
___ Has little hair
___ Bald

Crying Loudness (dB): Darn... broke the meter!!!

Mother & Baby are:

_X___ Doing fine
____ Both crying, loudly
____ Baby is trying to get back inside Mother
_X___ Both requesting some ice cream
____ Still enjoying the epidural
____ Trying to sneak out of the hospital
____ In total shock

Father is:

_X___ Extremely happy
_X___ Extremely stunned
____ Regaining consciousness
____ Trying to get feeling back in his hand after mother squeezed too hard during contractions
____ Thumbing through a dictionary, trying to understand all those exotic names that Mother called him this time
____ Wandering the halls, muttering to himself, "Three of them? Mom and I are outnumbered!! What did we do?! What were we thinking?!"
____ Fast asleep. ZZZZzzzzzzz


_X___ is very happy
____ is worried
____ is busy being spoiled by her great aunt.
_X___ is in school, missing all the fun
_X___ Doesn't even know the gender... yet.


____ is very happy
____ is very scared
____ has no idea what's going on with all the commotion
_X___ is busy being spoiled by her great aunt.
_X___ is trying to figure out where Mommy's big belly went
____ is wondering if next week Daddy's belly will shrink, and another baby will arrive
_X___ Doesn't even know the gender... yet.

The doctor said:

____ "I've been studying the Cosby Method. Ready? 'Push him out, Shove him out, WWWWWAAAAYYYY OUT!!!! '" [If you don't know vintage Bill Cosby, don't bother trying to understand this one. ;-) ]
____ "I remember you from last time. I'll be right back!" We are still looking for him.
_X___ "The baby looks fine!"
____ "Next time, I need EARPLUGS!!!!"
____ "Your husband is in the recovery room. The bump on his head from hitting the floor will go away in a few days."

And finally, the baby is a:



Brand new,


(Am I stalling?)


Did I say Cute?



Okay, okay, I give up...

____ Boy (JDMDad is no longer the only man of the house. And loves it!)
__X__ Girl (JDMDad is now outnumbered 4 - 1. And loves it!)

Name to be announced:

__X__ Next Torah reading JDMDad gets to
____ Bris

JDMDad, Laya, Tikvah, Ahava, and the new one. (need to come up with a name, and a blog name, such pressure! :-) )

P.S. June 15th is the 18th annual "Ride to Work" Day ( However, Laya preferred I take her to the hospital in the van rather than on the motorcycle. I should have gotten the sidecar when I had the chance!

Traveling to Savannah


I'll be on the road to Savannah, GA for the 2009 Ride to Remember. I don't leave until Wednesday morning, May 13th. But wanted to put up a map that should (if all works right) track me as I travel down and back. The map should keep updating until I return on Sunday (or Monday, depending on weather/traffic)

Stories and fun stuff when I return!

You'll probably have to refresh to see the latest map. Again, nothing will appear until Wednesday morning (EDT). Those who I know off the blog, I'll be sending you to a more detailed place to see more maps and information, I'll probably send that out late Tuesday afternoon. If you don't get the email, and want that info, shoot me an email.

This map is basically a Google Map, you can zoom in, pan around, etc.

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Not forgotten...


No, I haven't forgotten this blog. I've just been crazy with various things going on.

At work, I'm taking training for the "Black Belt" level of Lean Six Sigma (no, not a strange form of Karate). Certification requires 3 weeks of classes (beyond the 1 for the green belt level), and doing two projects. The last of the classes ends this Friday. I'm about in the middle of my first project. If I can get input/data from the right people, I'll probably finish it within a month. But some are really dragging their feet. Plus I need to do my regular work as well. (and of course all the leave time used for Peasach)

On the home front I'm preparing for my trip down to Savannah for the 2009 Ride to Remember. This includes plotting out a route (I have a nice one planned, mostly following Rt. 17 down from Fredricksburg all the way to Savannah. Passes kosher restaurants in Virginia Beach, VA; Wilmington, NC; and Myrtle Beach, SC (where they are also having "Bike Week"). I've also been getting the bike ready. Got new grips put on, and a throttle lock as well. I also have a new fuseblock coming to hook up my auxiliary lights, GPS, and other electrical doo-dads. I also plan to borrow a "SPOT" unit so those who might be interested can follow my progress down and around the south.

More to come!

Ever have one of those days... er... weeks???


Been a busy few months lately, sorry I haven't been able to write much. But after a crazy week, I just needed to share & unload!Monday I had a tickle in my throat, which for me, is usually a bad sign. By night time, it was an effort to swallow. Oh great. As soon as the doctor's office opened on Tuesday, I called to make an appointment for a throat culture... I'm pretty sure it's strep. Have a 2:30 appointment.An hour or two later on Tuesday, Laya calls, the furnace is getting very noisy. And if Laya can hear it, it must be really bad. *sigh* I called the plumbing/heating/AC company we have a service contract with, have them come over, and since I'm feeling even worse, I head home myself.The heating guys come in, open up a panel, turn the furnace back on, and you can see everything bouncing like crazy in there. Not good. The furnace is the original, about 37 years old, no replacement parts available, etc. Time for a new furnace. They do some measuring, calling, etc. Came back with a price of $2,520. Not chump change, but less than I had feared. They said they'd be in first thing Wednesday morning.Now off to the doctor. The nurse and doctor are both blown away by my enormous tonsils. They are normally big (that's why I don't eat popcorn... gets stuck in the tonsils), so when I'm sick, they really swell up. In fact, all I could get down for breakfast and lunch was applesauce and soup. Anyway, the culture quickly confirmed it was strep, I'm put on antibiotics, and told not to get the rest of the family sick. *sigh*Back home, I set up portable heaters around the house as it's supposed to get cold that night. I include a heater downstairs by the sofa/bed. I'll sleep down there to keep from getting Laya sick.Wednesday finally comes, and the new furnace is being installed. Just then, the washer/dryer pees on the floor, either a leak, or the suds overflowed. But it's been a chain of events, (washer doesn't wash well, have to "spin" 2-3 times, have to run the dryer at least twice to dry a load, etc.) Grrrr... fix it again, or get a new one? Discuss, agonize, and finally come to the conclusion that needs to go as well.So I start looking up stacked W/D's on the net (we have a very small space). Basically there are only two available that fit the space, that I can fine. Sears/Kenmore, which is what we have, or a unit at Lowes. Also have to give major props out to my dad here... I called him to see if he had any thoughts on washer/dryers. He went out and checked several stores out. (There is a shopping center near him that has a lot of the major stores) I head out to Lowes to get more information. The key point when talking with the sales guy there is that it would take 8-10 days between ordering and getting the new unit. Guess I'm getting a new Kenmore then!Thursday morning I ordered a new washer dryer, and requested an early Friday delivery. The delivery folks call, and they'll be delivering right when Laya will be taking the kids to school. Okay, a little more sick time then. The come right on time Friday morning, haul out the old one, and then.... the hose is stuck on the valve (the one that connects the water to the washer.). "If I turn any harder, I'll break it. You need a plumber." At this point I contemplate dropping to the ground and laughing out of sheer frustration. Nah. "Okay, I'll call them right away." They left the W/D, and gave me a number to call them back after the valves are replaced.I called the plumbing company. The woman asks if they have ever been to my place before. "Yes, you just installed a new furnace 2 days ago... it's been a bad week!" :-) The plumber came at about 12 pm, so Laya was there, and saw the new valves installed. I called the W/D installers, and they said they'd be by about 3-4 pm. Okay, Shabbos doesn't start until 5:18, we are good.I get home, and call at 4 pm to see what's up. "We're coming, it'll be a li[...]

Time to play the tooth fairy


Tikvah lost her first tooth about 2 months ago. However, she decided she wanted to keep this tooth rather than to leave it to the tooth fairy. I never got her full reasoning, but no sense in forcing her to do something she doesn't want to.

Then out of the blue, two days ago, she told me she changed her mind, and wanted to give it to the tooth fairy. I told her I'd have to email the fairy and let her know that Tikvah wanted to trade in her tooth. Meanwhile, I snuck out to the store, and got some glitter. I learned a trick from my "blog-father", David Bogner over at Treppenwitz (see Long in the Tooth), about leaving a glitter trail. I was able to find some at the dollar store. That night I left her $2 under her pillow, and a glitter trail. The next morning I had to remind her to check under her pillow. She was amazed. Then I showed her the gliltter "fairy dust" trail. She and Ahava were talking about it for a while, analyzing her exact path, and how she knew to go to Tikvah's bed and not Ahava's. Tikvah carried the $2 around for most of the morning. I did tell her that it probably was $2 for the first tooth, then $1 a tooth afterwards.

Then, while at a Chabad Hanukkah party last night, what happens? She loses another tooth! I told her the tooth fairy would think she's pulling her teeth out on purpose to get more money! :-) Tikvah said it was a good thing we didn't vacuum up the fairy dust yet, since there would probably be more. Smart kid. I almost forgot to leave her the dollar, but last night I watched "The Santa Clause 2" with Tim Allen. Towards the end, the guy who helped save the day was the tooth fairy. (yes, it was a male tooth fairy in the movie). That reminded me what I needed to do!

So 2 teeth down, 18 to go, plus Ahava still has her 20...

This did cause an interesting discussion between Laya and myself. Her parents never did the tooth fairy thing, and at first she told Tikvah I was just making it up. But when I explained letting the kids experience a little bit of magic and wonder in their lives, she changed her mind and went along with it.

Read the fine print...


My local radio station is having a contest where you have to find a graphic on their website each day, based on some clues. If you click on it, and log in, you are entered. They are giving away about $1,000 a day. I was reading some of their rules, and saw this (emphasis mine):

Prizes will be awarded in the form of checks written to the winners and will be sent to winners within 2 weeks of completion of contest. Prize cannot be transferred, assigned, redeemed for cash or substituted...

Errr... if the check is not redeemable for cash, then what else is it good for??

I thought of maybe emailing the radio station to point this out to them, but then maybe they'd toss out my entries? ;-)

Site/Motorcycle Logo?


I was telling my brother-in-law that I was thinking of getting some paint work done on my bike. Maybe some pin striping, maybe even a picture put on it. But I could not think of any picture to put on it. He suggested I do something with my "JDMDad - Jewish Deaf Motorcycling Dad" name, since it combines what I'm about. I thought about it for about 4 seconds, and came up with this little doodle (using MS Paint).

The thing on the left is a hearing aid, Laya wasn't sure... Also, in case it isn't obvious, I don't have much (if any) artistic talent. :-)

I think I'll think about this some more...

Posting on BeyondBT


In case you don't follow it, I did a writeup that was posted onto BeyondBT recently. You can view it here.

Other than that, I've been swamped with a meeting for my Jewish motorcycle club, adding lights to my bike, etc. I have some stuff I want to post soon, but want to make sure I spend the time to write it carefully, not a rush job like this one is. :-)

Oh, if there are any Jewish Motorcyclists out there who are interested, our annual Ride to Remember will be based in Savannah, GA, and will go to Charleston, SC. Details can be found here. (go to the registration brochure)

Wow, ArtScroll really makes a difference!


This year for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, I tried some new Machzors I got from ArtScroll during their last Hanukkah sale. These were the interlinear type, where the English words are printed below the Hebrew words, so you can follow the English with the Hebrew. (Sample page) May be a tad confusing at first, but I've been using some of their other interlinear products (especially their Mincha/Maariv set) so I was used to it.

Wow, what a difference. Usually during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services, I can either follow some of the Hebrew, when they do some things I'm familiar with, or read in the English. But if I do one, I miss out on the other. With this, I got to experience several things both ways at once. For example, the Ashamnu (We have been guilty...) I could say it in Hebrew with the rest of the congregation, or I could read it to myself and understand it in English, but before, I couldn't do it at the same time, now I could. Same with the "Who will live, and Who will die" and "We are your people, you are our G-d", etc.

These were all things I knew how to say, and enjoyed saying them, or enjoyed reading and understanding them in English, but the juxtaposition makes both possible at the same time. Ideally at some point, if I can learn Hebrew, then it wouldn't be an issue, but that's working out to be a lot more difficult than I had thought.

Of course Chabad has their own Machzor which doesn't follow ArtScroll, but between the two of them, with a lot of flipping around, I was able to get through the service and feel more fulfilled for having done it.

Why is it on Yom Kippur...


Why on Yom Kippur does conversation always seem to turn to food?

I was mentioning to one member of our shul, who rides, how my Jewish motorcycle group would be having a meeting next month at a kosher restaurant. Then we started talking about the kosher restaurant business (business is hard, when the economy turns bad, people stop eating out), then about specific restaurants here and in Baltimore, then about Dougies, Subway, etc. It was about 4:30 pm (Mussaf was over around 3:15 pm, Mincha was at 4:45, so it wasn't worthwhile to go home), so talking about food definitely wasn't helping my fast. I made it, but didn't need the reminder midday! :-)



Laya's parents and her brother came down to stay with us for Rosh Hashana. Her brother had to be back at work Thursday morning, and her parents are leaving on a trip to Israel next week and needed to pack; so as soon as the Yom Tov was over, they had to leave.

We had already put Tikvah and Ahava to bed (they were yawning all through the evening), but once the door was open and Laya's brother started taking out the suitcases, Tikvah came down the stairs, soon followed by Ahava. Tikvah said "Daddy, I'm very sad that they are leaving." I reassured her that it was normal to be sad when people leave. Then she said "I almost feel like I'm going to cry!" (as she said that, her eyes got watery, and her lips started quivering. I gave her a hug, and reassured her, and pointed out that sometimes when our guests leave, mommy (Laya) does cry, so it's OK if you need to cry to let it out. Finally she said "Daddy, it hurts right here, it's hard to swallow" pointing to the lower part of her throat. Ahava, ever the echo of Tikvah, said it hurt her there too. This time Laya swooped in and said that it hurt her there too when people left and she was sad.

I then reminded Tikvah that it's nice when people visit, but at some point every does need to go home to get back to their lives. Otherwise, if we focus so much on how much it hurts when we leave, then no one will want to visit other people, because no one will want to leave. I also assured her that we would see them again.

After that, the kids felt a little better, and went off to bed without too much more of a protest. I went back downstairs. It always amazes me how well Tikvah is able to articulate her feelings. Even if she doesn't know the "adult" words, she can still describe how she's feeling, and even the physical aspects. I never thought about the tightness in the throat, but that happens to me as well. And as I told her, it's always sad when our guests leave, but better to experience that sadness than not have them at all.

Why do I do what I do


For those who may not be aware, every year I help to plan and put on the Baltimore/Washington Ride for Kids. This ride, along with 36 other "Ride for Kids" held throughout the year in 37 locations around the US, sponsors the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. We are their main source of income for research, family support, information services, etc. Before the rides started 25 years ago, a child diagnosed with a brain tumor had about a 4% chance of survival. Today the survival rate is about 60%. An enormous increase, but NOWHERE NEAR the survival rate it should be! (I'm basing the numbers from memory of the training session I had a week ago, can't guaranty I'm remembering right)I started attending the rides in 2001. I had seen several magazine columnists write about the events, so figured I'd give it a try. I had no idea of the emotional impact this event would have on me. Every ride has a number of sidecars and big bikes up front. These bikes hold the true "Stars" of the ride, children currently undergoing treatment for, or have survived brain tumors.I attended the ride again in 2002, with my new bride. Laya also saw and felt the emotional impact. At that ride I spoke with some people I knew who volunteered for the ride. One of them suggested I attend a Task Force meeting and see if I'd be interested in joining the Task Force that plans the ride, or at least be a volunteer at a future ride. I attended the meeting, and really enjoyed meeting and interacting with the folks on the Task Force. I joined, and the next year, 2003 I assisted the parking lead. In 2004 and 2005 I led the parking team myself. Then in 2006, the ride was on the 2nd day of Rosh Hashana. Also about this time I was becoming more observant, and part of the parking lead's job is to train parkers on Saturday, which I no longer wanted to do (required a long drive from home). So I trained a new person to become the parking lead, and that year I only helped to plan the ride, I didn't actually ride. After that year, the Task Force would check the calendar with me to make sure the ride wasn't on a Yom Tov.Last year I helped to register clubs (the clubs that brought in the top amount of money got to ride directly behind the kids in the following year's ride), and I was supposed to do that again this year. However, I found out there was a conflict, and the parking lead was not able to attend. So I became the parking lead again (someone else agreed to do the training on Saturday for me). This year's event bust out the previous record, and we raised over $276,000 for the kids. Not only that, but my club raised the most money this year (with the help of some friends who credited their amounts to the club, and who just became honorary members!), so next year we get to ride up just behind the kids. I hope to ride, it'll be the first time since 2002 that I actually ride in the event.But anyway, back to the heart of the matter... Why do I do this.Take a look at this picture. These kids are all survivors. There were a total of 11 on stage, these are just some.Paige, the beautiful little girl being interviewed, is 4 years old. That puts her smack in between Tikvah and Ahava. I thank G-d that my kids are healthy kids, (ptu, ptu, ptu) and feel like it is paying back (keeping up the good to help other kids who are not so fortunate). Plus, this type of activity gives a positive public view of motorcyclists. There are still many people out there who go by the old stereotypes of motorcyclists all being gang members, brawling, dealing drugs, etc.And finally, I have to admit, it's also fun. At the end point this year, I was responsible for making sure 345 motorcycles were able to park without cream[...]

Transitioning to Shabbos


Jacob Da Jew recently wrote a post about how his brother-in-law recently joined the workforce, and now truly appreciates the "rest" you take on Shabbos.

For me, it was the opposite. I wasn't Shabbos observant until about 2-3 years ago (I never did mark down the exact day I started). Before that, I couldn't figure out how people could observe Shabbos. After working all week, I eagerly awaited the weekend to do all the other things that needed doing. Shopping, going out, having fun, taking rides, etc.

When I married my observant wife, she said she accepted me as I was, and would not change me to try to make me Shomer Shabbos, kosher, etc. And for the first year or so, that's what it was. In fact I used to teach motorcycle classes once a month over the whole weekend. But something happened. I began to miss the Friday night Shabbos dinner. Eventually I made arrangements so I could be home on Friday night, but still teach Saturday and Sunday. But then something else happened. Now I was missing going to Shul! Huh? Where did this come from? I used to only go to Friday night services a few times a year. Now I'm disappointed that I'm not at services on Shabbos? Hmmmmm. Okay, so now I don't teach on the weekends anymore. But still, gotta have my e-mail! I check it several times an hour when awake! Well, hmmm, I guess I really don't get all that much email on Saturday. Maybe I don't need to check that often. You know what, I don't need to check at all. Let's just turn the computer off before we light the candles. Give the hard drive a rest from its constant spinning.

Boy, this is really going to be boring. For over 24 hours, no TV, no computer, no driving around and shopping. What the heck will we do anyway? Well, Shabbos dinner on Friday night is nice. Good family time. Saturday morning I get the kids up and let my wife sleep in a little bit. Then when she's up (maybe with a little nudging from me) I go to shul (the wife and kids will join me later) and I really enjoy davening there. In the afternoon, I play with the kids, or they go to a neighbor's house and run around wild there, and I get to take something I haven't taken since Kindergarten... a nice nap. Some dinner, then if Shabbos ends early enough, Havdalah for the whole family, otherwise we put the kids to bed, and a little private time to talk with my wife before Shabbos ends.

You know what? I like this! I don't miss the Saturday hullabaloo I used to participate in. It's nice to get a rest in, take a break from the average week. I've turned 180 degrees, now instead of being annoyed with Shabbos "interfering" with my schedule, I actually look forward to it and the break it gives me every week.

They don't teach boys this kind of stuff!!


So Tikvah is now into wanting braids in her hair. Here's my first ever attempt. It actually held for most of the day, just some hair on both sides of her face came out. (of the braid, not out from all her hair! I didn't pull that tight!)

One of the older girls in the shul did a great job braiding her hair last week. Took about a half hour to do though. She actually made three separate braids, then braided those together. I don't think I have the patience for something like that.

Ahava seems to have inherited my curly hair. (drives me nuts! I think it was Rita Rudner who joked about wanting to iron her curly hair) I don't know if braids will ever be in the cards for her.

So anyone know of some good websites or other places where I can learn to do a better, neater job of a braid?

Traveler or Tourist?


Every morning when I boot up my computer at work, we get a splash screen with various daily information. Part of it is a "Quote for the Day." I first read the quote for today quickly, but something struck me, and I went back and read it more slowly.

"The traveler sees what he sees.
The tourist sees what he has come to see."
G.K. Chesterton

I'd like to be a traveler, but many times I just wind up being a tourist. When I was in Israel for my first (and so far only) visit while my sister-in-law was getting married, I wanted to travel, but my parents-in-law mostly took us to various places. Some were interesting, but some were just them going down memory lane. My biggest disappointment was at the Kotel. While I was there, I saw the stairs that go up into the old city of Jerusalem. My in-laws had other things they wanted to do, and wouldn't take me up there. Every time I tried to find a chance to go back, they'd have another place they wanted to take us to, or something else we needed to do (I admit, the wedding was important. ;-) ) Towards the end of the visit I finally got a chance to break away from them, and went back to the Kotel. I went up the stairs and saw the many shops and restaurants. It was amazing to behold. I walked around and even up onto some of the walls that surround the city. What a beautiful view! I spent a few hours wandering around, looking at everything. At one point I made a wrong turn and noticed the stores became all Arabic. Something my mother-in-law feared would happen, and would be the end of me. I just turned around and headed back where I came from. No one made any problems. Out of my entire two weeks in Israel, those 4 hours or so are what I remember best.

When I return to Israel again (we are planning a return trip to see my sister- and brother-in-law, plus my niece!) I do want to tour various places, but I hope I'll get some time alone to get into a traveler mode as well. It's a totally different view.

No, really, we aren't laughing at you!!


A friend of mine from college recently wrote to me. He bought a scooter to use for small trips (e.g. to the supermarket) to save on gas. I received this email from him a few days ago:You know I got a scooter from China last year, I fart around town on its 150 CC glory. I just use it to go to Grade A Supermarket to get some food for dinner or whatever, because it makes no sense to fire up the pickup truck for a quick errand. Sometimes I pass by people on real motorcycles, they give me some kind of gang sign. They lower their right hand and stick out two fingers like a peace sign.Does this mean "Right on, brother!" or more like "Get a real bike, you jerk!"? The bike looks dorky, I look dorky, I even wear a helmet because even though Connecticut law says you don't have to, you can't appeal Newton's Three Laws. I'm not sure if I should just give this sign back to say "Power to the people!" Or "Twice as much back to you, you loser!"Inquiring minds want to know!I answered back:Motorcyclists tend to wave to each other. Some give a full wave, others just hold down their hand. Some won't wave to scooter riders. I, and many others do. You're on two wheels. You're in the wind. You're a brother.Sometimes I think of getting a cheapie scooter. My motorcycle gets 30 mpg. I know I can do a lot better, especially for a 10 mile commute that's pretty much no highway.KTRSD! (Keep the rubber side down!)He proudly told me about what a piece of junk his scooter is... direct quote: "It's a piece of junk but a really fun piece of junk." (no-name type of brand, comes with assembly required, pieces come pre-broken to save you the hassle, trip odometer doesn't work, etc.)With gas prices the way they are, I've seen more scooters out on the road, and to a lesser extent, mopeds. In fact my aunt recently emailed the family and asked our opinion of her going out and getting a scooter (I'm all for it! She used to ride a motorcycle). I've also seen some of the impact of these new riders. They fit a sort of gray area. Most of the smaller scooters really aren't motorcycles, so as my friend pointed out, a lot of times helmets aren't required. (even in states that require motorcyclists to wear helmets) However, in at least Virginia and Maryland (I'm sure there are other states as well) they recently revised the laws. Now if your scooter/moped goes over 35 miles an hour, it is considered a motorcycle, and requires things like helmet usage, insurance, registration/license plate, etc. There is also more training being offered for scooter riders. In the past their only option was to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course, which means learning to ride with a clutch. Scooters tend to be automatic drive vehicles (I'm not aware of any that are shiftable, but then again, my experiences with scooters is negligiable. But now the MSF offers a program called "ScooterSchool." I've heard of other training options for scooters as well. Some MSF classes will let you use a scooter in a regular class with motorcycles.As I said to my friend, I have been thinking about getting a scooter for commutes to work. I can see several advantages to using them. Besides the gas advantages, scooters tend to use the side of the road more, nice during traffic backups. Of course, there are several disadvantages as well. They are mostly smaller than motorcycles, thus even harder to see. They aren't as quick as motorcycles, so might be harder to get out of the way if something should happen. And the lower powered ones definitely can't be used on the highways (nor would I want to!)This is something I'll be thinking about for a[...]

AED - I didn't realize they were so simple


Recently my office installed a bunch of AEDs. (Automated External Defibrillator)

I've seen these around more and more at restaurants, airports, just about everywhere. But I always thought they were complicated things that required a lot of training. Our safety division started offering classes in CPR and AED use. I hoped I would never need the knowledge, but I figured I'd brush up on my CPR skills, as it has been a few years since I was last certified.

The course started with about 2 hours of CPR lessons. We had to relearn the sequence... now it's 30 compresses and 2 breaths. If we don't have a face mask, and don't know the person well, they say we don't even need to do the breaths, just keep pressing on the chest.

After that was completed, we started the AED training. To start us off, he had two people "walk in" and find a body on the ground. One started CPR, the other got the AED. That person, like me, never really saw or used an AED before. And he did the same thing I would have. He pulled out the manual. The instructor stopped everything and suggested they try again, this time, when they get the AED, the instructor said to just press the "Start" button. Turns out the AED talks to you and walks you through the entire process. When to hook up the pads (and the pads have diagrams to show exactly where they go), when to stop all contact with the person, when to press the button to shock (assuming all are clear), when to resume CPR, etc.

The AED doesn't do everything, you still need to pump the heart and breathe into the person, but now I know you don't need a lot of training or medical knowledge to use an AED. And I also know now that it doesn't replace CPR, but rather, supplements it. And according to our instructor, it increases the odds of survival from about 7% to around 95%!! Wow, I like those odds much better!!

Peer Pressure


I've heard of how easily kids succumb to peer pressure, but now I'm seeing it in Tikvah already (she turns 5 soon). She used to wear pants all the time. Then she started talking about how a few of the girls in her pre-school would always have a skirt or dress on, they never wore pants. (mostly the daughters of some of the Chabad rabbis). Now I've noticed in the last month or two that she hasn't worn pants at all, except for the few occasions she was told she needed them for a particular thing we were going to where skirts weren't a good idea (a playground if I remember right). Well, I guess there are worse things to have peer pressure about, but still, I'll keep an eye on her to make sure future changes are things that she really wants to do, and not just because "the other kids are doing it."


Blogger outs himself


The first blog I ever read with any regularity, and that really showed me what a blog was all about, was "Waiter Rant." I've always tried to be a good tipper when eating out, but after reading the Waiter's writings, I made extra sure to do so. The Waiter fulfilled a dream that few bloggers dare hope for, his writing was so popular that he received a book offer. Today his book came out, and he exposed his true identity. I hope his books runs well (looks like it's off to a good start), and that he doesn't come across any disgruntled customers who figured out he was writing about them. :-)

Good luck Waiter!

Be careful how you ask G-d for things...


I was teaching a very basic motorcycle course last week. The weather forecast for that evening called for an 80% chance of thunderstorms. Before the class, I asked "Please, don't let it rain during class!" But I came prepared (ever the Boy Scout), I had my rain gear and my rain hat. I even bought a pack of extra strength dish washing gloves. You may laugh, but they keep my hands dry when teaching, which keeps me more comfortable.

Anyway, the class went off very well. We had 5 ladies in the class. We instructors know that the women tend to make better students. They usually listen better than the men do, and don't challenge us or try to show off quite as much as the guys do. (speaking on the average here) We finished up just ahead of schedule. By 8 pm, the bikes were loaded back in the trailer, the students received their stickers and were on their way back to their cars. I noticed the clouds were getting thicker, but nothing too threatening yet. I said I'd drop off the paperwork and give the keys (to the trailer) back to the police.

After dropping off the paperwork, I went into the building where the campus police are housed. The officer on duty was out on patrol, and said he'd be back in 10 minutes. When he came in, I noticed his shoulders were wet. Uh oh... When I walked out, it wasn't raining it was POURING. Drat, I had put all my rain gear back in the van, which was parked in the parking garage across the street. I made a mad dash to get there. My phone received an alert from the county, a funnel cloud was spotted about 20 miles west of where I was. Just what I need. I began the trip home. The rain just got heavier and heavier. One street was partially flooded (the water was up about 8-12 inches in the right lane). I emailed my wife to ask her to unlock the door so I could dash in the house. But would you know it... about 2 blocks from home, the rain let up! In fact, when I got in, my wife said it looked like it would rain soon, but nothing came yet. And there I was, dripping wet.

Next time I'll broaden my request... "Please don't let it rain until I get home from class!" :-)

Bystander behavior


Sorry for the quiet time... we recently had a family vacation for 2 weeks, then a medical issue that took up another week. Then after that my job issued some new computer policies which include not posting things on a website from the office, not even during breaks, when I tend to write to recharge my batteries. The other day I came the following article in the Washington Post. (I believe the Post removed requirements of having to register to read an article. Sorry if they haven't.)The basic summary of it is that a lot of times, when people witness an event (a few are given in the article: a woman collapses in a hospital waiting room, and a man is hit by a car when crossing a street, both of these events were caught on video, as well as the bystanders doing nothing) they tend to do nothing, except maybe call 911. Other than that, they don't want to get involved or help. As I was reading the article, I thought "I wouldn't have done that, I would have at least gone over to check on the person." But then the article stated: "Although we might think otherwise, most of us would not have behaved much differently from the people we see in these recent videos." It goes on to quote various sociologists and psychologists, and discusses "Bystander Behavior."That forced me to think back to events I witnessed and my behavior then. Once I was returning to college after a bad week of chicken pox. I was just cleared to return by my doctor, and still had marks all over me. I was in Grand Central Station, transferring trains pretty late at night. There was a beggar there, in a wheel chair. A group of tough looking guys in their late teens or early twenties came over and started abusing the man, pushing him around unwillingly, prying him off when he would grab on to a signpost or something. I looked around, but didn't see any police in the area. I wasn't familiar with the train station, and didn't have a clue of what to do. Finally the people left the man alone and went to find something else to do. Another time I was on the DC Metro Rail line. A woman standing near me suddenly collapsed on the floor. My brain didn't even seem to register what happened, I was just looking around trying to figure out what was going on. In the meanwhile another woman bent down to hold the first one's head, and someone else called the train operator. When we arrived at the next station, a few people got off with the woman, and I saw them as we pulled out, standing with her, making sure she was okay. Why didn't I think of any of that. Then again, there were some times when I tried to do something. I was in a shopping mall, and it looked like two kids were fighting. They were throwing kicks and punches back and forth. I saw a security guard and told him. He checked it out. When he came back, he said the kids were just goofing around. I felt my face flush, maybe I shouldn't have said anything. But then there was another time, I was riding my motorcycle and saw a rider pulled over on the left shoulder with his bike. I was a few lanes over, and couldn't make it to him safely. I thought about it, and decided to backtrack. I rode back to a previous exit, turned around, and this time I made sure I was in the left lane, and was able to pull up to him in the shoulder. His bike had broken down, and he didn't have a cell phone. I asked if he'd like a ride to th[...]

Where'd they hide it??


The other day I plugged something into my van's powerport. The power instantly went out of the port, and the radio died as well. Must have blown a fuse. I looked all throughout the dashboard, underneath, the sides, etc. No luck. I checked the manual, but it wasn't very clear either. Oh, come on, I have a drive to make the next day!

Finally, out of sheer frustration, I pulled into a Dodge dealership. At the service area, I explained my problem to the office manager. She sent out the head of the shop to help me out. He spent about 5 minutes looking over all the same places I did. Then he popped the hood. Right next to the battery was this black box. Popped the lid off of that, and there were the fuses. We looked at the map, and found the right fuse, and it was blown. I got two new fuses (the spare was missing) and installed one of them. Everything worked fine. (I tossed out the splitter that caused the fuse to pop. Never did that before, but don't want to take any chances.) The service manager wished me well (and no charge, except the fuse) and I was rolling again.

I guess I'm still used to older technology. I never would have thought to look under the hood for a car's fuse box!

One down... many to go


I just got back from Tikvah's pre-school graduation. Next year starts Kindergarten. They did a great job, the kids had little caps on and everything. They had a luncheon afterwards, and I sat down with the father of one of Tikvah's best friends. He said "This is the first of many graduations." My baby isn't even 5 years old yet, (she's very happy to remind me that it's coming up this summer though!) and I'm already thinking about grade school graduation, high school graduation, college graduation, etc. *sigh* Seems like a long way away, but then again, it seems like I was holding a crying, newborn Tikvah only yesterday.