Sunday, May 29, 2005


I'm in New York. So much to say. But yet, how nebby would it be if all I did all day was sit online posting stories of what I was up to. I'd run out of stuff pretty quickly, and what a waste of a trip - coming all the way out here to see friends only to spend my time doing the same thing I can at home.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


I spent shabbos afternoon teasing this girl who is 25 and single about not being married. Me also being 25 and single. And she has had a lot of pressure to go out with me. But I'm not really interested (she may or may not be, it hasn't really affected me). But that didn't stop me rom teasing her to no end.

I used to be a really nice guy. Always doing things for girls, saying nice things, helping out. I got no attention. Always the bridesmaid...

But at some point I picked up on what I thought was just a pop-culture phenomenon, but is apparently an actual reality to some degree. Girls like tough guys. They like the rebel, they like the edge, they like the assertiveness, they like the control. Obviously this is to varying degrees. And it's not like they like evil. It's just that the angel-guys seem to get overlooked as not manly enough. So over the years I've developed a more complex persona, where I can be more aggressive and less passive. Or at least act the part. And it's worked. At least to some degree. I mean, it's not like some magic potion that has girls falling at my feet. But at least throughout the last few years there have been some girls that were interested to varying degrees.

But it really is bad middos (characteristics). It is mean, no matter if it wins hearts in the short run. And it really is only because I'm bored and want attention that I do it. It's not Tachlis (for any purpose). It really is just to shake things up. Of course, there is also the ego factor. It's fun to play with people like puppets, because you get to see how much power you have over them. I should probably be a little more conscious about my teasing. Stay focused, stay nice. Feel free to give me Mussar (corrective advice) if you see me cheating.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


I came back into my house this morning after dropping my brother off at the train singing the Hokey Pokey at full steam. Forgot that the cleaning lady was here. Yeah, I cut out mid-tune. Fortunately, her hearing isn't that great.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Bitter Pills

I've been carrying a bit of a cold for the past three weeks. I finally broke down and saw a doctor. However, as doctors are wont to do, he started me on some meds. Unfortunately for me, as with most meds, these were the swallowing kind. I don't do pills. Can't swallow them for the life of me. Most of the time I get the kid's version, some liquid, or just chew the thing.

I've tried swallowing 'em. Drank enough water to drown a chicken. And the thing is just sitting there. So rather than just have the bitterness dissolve on my tongue, I bite the bullet and just get rid of it. I could sit there staring at the thing for half an hour. But it's me vs. the pill, and that thing just won't back down.

But I've faught it this time, and have been mostly successful. Of the last five days, I've swallowed it whole three times, with only one of the bites intentional. I found that if I eat it with cookies, I can't tell the difference between the chocolate chips and the pills, and if all goes well, it goes down in one lump.

But I'm still congested.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mean Girls

One of my favorite pastimes is checking up on to find out the latest in the social pecking order. I'm even known to post occasional greetings when I don't expect to have the opportunity to do so in person. But I've always been amazed by one type of post that seems all too common and all too disturbing. No, it's not the "shrieking-through-the-monitor-Can't-turn-off-the-capslock-I've-been-eating-too-much-sugar-I-don't-know-fluent-English" posts. Those become kind of quaint after you've gained some familiarity with subjects of the feminine gender. I've always wondered about the "I can't believe I found out about your simcha from this post." Something about wishing great things on a person and then stabbing them in the back (publicly) for not being a good friend seems contradictory. Why post if they're going to walk away feeling like a jerk? Isn't the point to spread the good cheer? So get over the fact that they had to call two hundred people simultaneously and you didn't make the list. Just say you're happy to hear the good news.

And while we're at it, don't post "I can't wait to dance at your wedding." Who said you were invited? Don't make any assumptions; you don't know how many people they plan on having, or where you fall on their list. What do you really accomplish by twisting their arm into feeling obligated to pay for an overpriced entree?

Just wish them well, and go on to trolling the site for pictures of single friends.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Fodder for Fun

Just thought you would like to know, I sleep in a sleeping bag in my bed. I have this wild tendency to kick off my blanket during the middle of the night. I then wake up in the middle of the night freezing cold. Normal people would roll over and get their blanket; I'm too tired and lazy, so I just lay there freezing. So I've addressed the problem by camping out at home. I still manage to wiggle loose every now and then, but for the most part I maintain my body temperature.

Of course, you're probably just waiting for me to start sleeping in a straight jacket.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Foreign Relations

My cleaning lady was at my house today (yes, I'm using "my" loosely). She comes at the same time that I get ready for work. Namely, when I'm in the shower. So I have to get out of the shower and get dressed while she is cleaning the bedrooms. I guess I could just bring all my clothes into the bathroom, and pop out all ready to go. But I'm not that organized. So instead I run around half naked with her doing her dusting and whatnot in the next room. Is something wrong with this picture?

I think I dehumanize her.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Platonic Relationships

There's a famous Torah lecture by Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky, a respected teacher at Jerusalem's Ohr Sameach institute entitled "Platonic Relationships." (Click on link to listen for free.) This specific lecture, widely circulated on tape, is well known amongst the young religious folk. Mainly for its humor. But of course, also because the topic is of such interest to the young mind - specifically, the opposite sex. I thought you could benefit from my take on this topic. And, yes, I am being serious.

The basic contention of Rabbi Orlofsky is that there is no such thing as a platonic relationship. Sorry to spoil the whole tape, but in one sentence, that's what it boils down to. Guys and girls, but especially guys, have difficulty in remaining "just friends," and inevitably became involved in deeper relationships. That's what he says. But while I think generally he is correct, he missed a few points, that while may seem semantic in nature, really force a reevaluation of his conclusion.

I think that there are such things as co-ed platonic relationships. A guy and a girl can be friends, without being "in love." What I think Rabbi Orlofsky was mainly pointing out is that many guys and girls get confused about love when they are in these relationships. In a marriage oriented relationship, two people connect on a deep level, but also share passions and life goals. Their love is the basis for spending a lifetime together making their impact on the world. In a platonic relationship, two people connect on a deep level, but may have very different goals.

So what Rabbi Orlofsky is trying to do is discourage people from entering into such relationships, where they feel strong emotions, but marriage is not right. This could lead to bad marriages, so he warns people against forming such relationships in the first place. These relationships are like High School romances. They have the interpersonal connection, but lack the long-term viability. It would be a shame for a couple to mistake their short-fused passion for a lengthy potential relationship. And the indulging in such relationships can be contrary to Torah goals.

But this means that such relationships do exist, just that we misinterpret them. But I would go further. There is a relationship that doesn't exist, and should not be ignored. There is no such thing as a non-sexual relationship. This is more fine tuned than saying platonic relationships don't exist. But whether a relationship is platonic or romantic (what I'll call the relationship where a couple does share their life goals), there is a certain sexual tension involved. (As Rabbi Orlofsky says on the tape, girls- if you don't agree, just know that the guy has this in mind. OK, well that's a rough paraphrase, anyway.) So really it's the non-sexual relationship that does not exist, and that is why platonic relationships must be avoided. Because even "just friends" can have influences not in-line with Jewish law.

It may all seem like a small distinction, but I think it's important to be exact. When trying to explain to somebody how they should examine their behavorial choices, it's important to identify the right psychology. Because otherwise, somebody says, "So the Rabbis say there is no such thing as a platonic relationship? That's not true! I'm friends with X, and I know we're not interested in each other in any romantic way! So there is no problem with us being friends!" But according to my understanding, the above person would realize that despite their logic being true relating exclusively to the tape, in reality it is still not beneficial behavior based on a religious Jewish framework.

That's why it's important on any issue not to just issue blanket statements, i.e. that some activity is forbidden. People like to make their own explanations, which conveniently allow for their own exceptions. So no matter how taboo a topic, it's important to be clear and appropriately explore all concerns.

And yes, sometimes I can be serious.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Good Old Fashion Fun

Celebrating the legacy of Ric Flair - Hamaven Yaven.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Holocaust Museum

Some disturbing news reached me yesterday. The Illinois Holocaust Memorial Museum is undergoing a project to expand into a multimillion dollar campus. No news there. But the museum, as part of the rededication, will change it's name to the Illinois Institute of Genocide Awareness. Out with Auschwitz, in with Sudan.

Sure the holocaust will be there, alongside such tragedies as the genocide in Rwanda and other tribal warfare around the world. But gone will be the need to remember the holocaust as the single most important, albeit tragic, lesson in human existence. All murder is evil, but if mankind is ready to just write-off the scientific destruction of neigbors by an enlightened society as just another human condition, then the lesson of the holocaust has been forgotten while survivors still walk.

The lesson of Rwanda is clear - people are suffering, and we must hear their cries. This too was a lesson of the holocaust. But in that distant strife there lies none of the urgency of recalling a people who led lives like our own, build relationships like our own, but one day found themselves starving on the wrong side of a barbed wire fence. The lesson of the holocaust isn't about helping your fellow man. It's about the real hatred that we must be aware of, and fight, even in our own societies. Struggles in Africa, with agricultural starvation and generations of of tribal rivalries at their root, have none of the imperative lessons that make the holocaust a must for every child's education.

The holocaust is an example of a genocide, but we should never forget that no genocide can be compared to its horrors.

While I found no mention of these plans at the official website, I consider my source a reliable insider. It does appear that some of the Museum Campaign Leadership has more interest in human rights than a traditional holocaust focus. And a job posting related to the new project states, "the new Museum will be a state-of-the-art human rights center dedicated to preserving the history of the Holocaust and alerting future generations to the dangers of unchecked bigotry." Will the holocaust be central or tangential?

Feel free to contact the Museum with inquiries.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Fear of Gd

I am scared of dogs. I went out to lunch at a family's house where they have this pleasant little golden retriever. I jumped no less than twice during the meal when the dog came up and touched me. No barking, no biting, just a little touch. I can't handle having something come out of nowhere and just touch me. It just freaks me out. I don't do well with surprises.

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