Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Why did my Kippa Fall in the Toilet?

Coming to NY, food is so easy. No matter where you are in the city, Kosher food is right around the corner. However, with more choices comes ambiguity. There are so many Hechsherim (Kosher Certifying Bodies) that it's hard to tell which are good and which are scams. A friend (and semi-loyal reader) recently called me and asked if I knew if a certain Hechsher was reliable. I'm not sure why she went straight to the out-of-towner. But in light of recent scandals, I could see why she was so cautious. But scandals aside, there are some Hechsherim that even when everything is going according to plan are suspect, because they admittedly allow certain practices that are generally not accepted in the Kosher world.

So I started with the requisite Googling, a complex Halachic tool utilized by the finest scholars to discern all truth. Coming up empty, I proceeded to call the phone number listed on the eateries website. Getting an answering machine, I was leaving a message when somebody picked up the line. Stating my purpose of looking into the Hechsher behind this specific eatery, I was instantly greeted with a half hour lecture on the sad state of Kashrus today, which was due in no small part to the Kosher consumer who blindly follows the Big Business Hechshers while shunning the smaller more careful names in the Kosher world. Could be, I don't know. But I really just wanted to find out who was behind the stamp on the restaurant's wall, not question his credentials. I'll do that behind his back.

But how do we come to conclusions? Obviously a Hechsher is an invention of the industrial age, a method of reassuring distant consumers that a manufacturing process follows all Kosher laws. But do we really know what the differences are behind different labels? Do we really have any more reason to trust the food we eat based on supposed policies in place that we aren't even familiar with?

Just some food for thought...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Panic Button

OK, so apparently the Jewish blogosphere has gone to sleep. People have stopped posting, people have stopped commenting. I've looked around, and the old timers seem to be moving on, and nobody seems to be stepping up to take their place. So it's getting pretty quiet, which makes me wonder if the whole frumosphere was just a fad. But never fear, I'm not going anywhere. This blog is all about me, and I'm still here.

I went to dinner last week with a (guy) friend. Now, you should all know that my guy friends are all better than average looking, because, hey, it's me we're talking about here, and I'm sure they all want me to bump their status up a few points. So we're at a fairly busy restaurant, when the waiter comes over and hands my friend a folded up piece of paper, signalling that it came from some unspecified "other" table.

Opening it up, my friend finds a girl's name, phone number, and email address. Was this somebody who had noticed a stain on my friends shirt, too shy or nice to interupt our meal to tell him? Perhaps she had lost something of value, and was hoping he could help return it? My friend thought she was hitting on him, but I know that is a myth that only exist in Hollywood. We stared at the note, wondering where it had come from, and curious whether we were still being watched. Yeah, it was kind of spooky, but it made for some great entertainment. The waiter played dumb, and we were left in suspense.

Did I mention my friend has a girlfriend? Yeah, so he really wasn't so interested in solving this mystery. So of course, I volunteered to do the leg work, and walked home with the note in my pocket.

The next morning, I called the number to see what the young maiden was so distressed over. When I said it was the guy from the restaurant, I think she almost dropped the phone. That was silly - if she hadn't expected a call back, why'd she leave her number? After recovering, I explained that I had called her back to find out what I could do for her, since the note had implied some kind of reason to get in touch. Oh, did I mention I didn't let on that it was me, and not my friend, returning the call?

I asked her if the whole effort was really just to discover what delicious looking dish I had ordered, and while she did inquire, I question the sincerity of her motives. Or perhaps I'm bitter because she mentioned that she didn't think "I'd" have a problem with her leaving a note, but wasn't sure about my "friend." Um, excuse me? I told her I was dating somebody, and left it at that. Although, she asked me to keep her number, so maybe she really thought my meal looked tasty.

Now what I found memorable about this story was not that some random girl actually passed a note to a hot guy in a restaurant. What bothered me was the implication that a frum guy (me) would have a problem with that, while it would be cool for a more modern guy. I mean, I would have no problem if any girl decided to pass along her digits in a public place. If I wasn't interested, I might pass up on the spontaneous opportunity, but hey what's there to lose? Afraid that it looks bad for Shidduchim? Is it that bad if a girl gave out her phone number - is it a bad thing that she wants to grab onto an opportunity to go out with a guy that she may have no other way of ever meeting again?

So I say go for it girls - you're more than welcome to hit on me wherever I may be, and I may even return your call.

Monday, October 16, 2006

What a Week!

Hmm, I don't know what was more fun - winning (read: buying) a new cell phone on Ebay, switching my insurance to save $200 (not Geico), or having my shoe heel fall off on the way to work (staples may seem like a good solution, but they make a lot of clicking noises when you walk on them). Of course, after sleeping outside for a week, everything sounds like a good idea.

If you look closely at the siddur, among a number of other prayers in small print that nobody says is a blessing for those that will fast on the Monday, Thursday and Monday following the festival months of Tishrei and Nissan. While a forgotten fast, these days were instituted as an atonement for the excessive joys which we partake of during the week long holidays of Sukkos and Pesach.

What is it about the Yetzer Hora that emboldens it when we are filled with good times? Is it trying to dampen our good spirits? Or were our "good" times only a sham, corrupted in their selfishness from the outset?

I'm just a regular guy. I try hard, but I have the same weaknesses as everybody else. So how far does a person go in avoiding those tests? Some people don't use the internet, but there is enough shmutz on the streets anyways. Some people walk with their heads down, but they miss the opportunity to greet others with a smile.

When do we accept others as imperfect, and when do we chastise them? When is a person a Tzaddik who struggles, and when is he just another shmendrik? When can a guy grow his beard long and still stumble, and when does he just have to go along with the crowd?

More importantly, I have to get back to my dating list...this really isn't nice of me to keep all these ladies waiting. The Josh Train departs on schedule...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Just in Time

Some people have a mid-life crises at say 50. Others have one after some traumatic event forces them to reconsider their life choices. I don't get it. What's stopping them from sitting down right now and deciding what path they want to take? Whether it's your job, which shul you go to, what you wear, or where to take your next vacation, why should you wait for something to jolt you out of your stupor? From the times of the Bible, it seems people have been waiting for acts of Gd to teach them lessons. But why wait? If you're unhappy, just take the leap already, and stop see-sawing.

I remember when I started wearing pants in 8th grade (to the exclusion of shorts, not skirts). Nobody required me to, nor did anyone inspire me to. But I knew that it was expected in High School, and therefore I assumed that the same ideal should apply to me immediately. So I just acted. But we know I'm Superman. The question is how do I get the rest of the world to follow their convictions and, in the immortal words of Marco the Lunch guy, "Do the right thing?" Maybe that should be the theme of my next Google Video...

In the meantime, a nice story. I left work late today, and barely had time to get to Mincha. It was raining and traffic was backed up from the office all the way until the shul. I arrived 10 minutes late, and dashed inside. I was greeted by a group of guys dashing outside. They asked if I needed to daven Mincha, because they needed a 10th. Um, good timing. The good news is they waited for me. The bad news is they waited for me - I ask everyone present Mechila for the Tircha, delay. Chasdei Hashem.

And the lesson - don't work late. Unless there's an early Mincha Minyan (which will resume next week, I"YH)!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


The world of finance can, I'll admit, get a little slow. I may not be able to even draw a decent smiley face, but there is still a creative urge buried somewhere in me. Blogging is one of my expressive outlets. I'm also going to be working for West Coast NCSY. (I know, wrong coast...) But a single guy my age needs as many healthy outlets as he can get. And that's where Google Video comes in.

You watch some of these clips that go around, and you're amazed at some of the stupid things people choose to immortalize in front of the rest of the world. And Jewish Shtick is no exception (whether people frum enough not to watch TV should be watching videos online is a whole other issue). So those that know me know that my first reaction was to join the idiot parade!

I'm up to four videos, available here. Do I have any higher goal? Not really. Everything up so far is just really glorified photo albums, of greater interest to the seedy characters they feature than the world at large.

But not anymore. I'm embarking on a bold, visionary project. I'm going to take over the world with a cleverly woven short film that will change the way people think about society. I've got a test audience in NCSY. Google is buying You Tube, creating a global empire of video sharing. My plan is falling into place. Now I just need a little bit of your help, because I don't have the slightest clue what my next video should be about.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Line Up

Yom Kippur was fine...yadda, yadda, yadda...I'm alive still, right? Well at least it went better than Rosh Hashana - I had five minutes of decent Kavana (and 12 hours of sore feet).

On an unrelated note, why do people make it sound as if there is something wrong with a guy having a "list" of girls to date? Do people come up to me and ask me if I'm interested in dating some girl? Yeah. Can I go out with all of them at the same time? Depends whom you ask. But at some point, there is going to be a bottleneck where even if I'm not currently dating somebody, I have to somehow put the suggestion into a queue. I mean, I guess I could just say I'm not interested, but that would shoot me in the foot if the girl I was seeing didn't work out.

I think people are just upset by their position in line. Like, "You mean, I'm only second in line? ME? I thought we were friends - how come I'm not next!" I have to be so diplomatic explaining that Mr. X spoke to me yesterday, so I had to put him first, or Mr. Y just threatened me with bodily harm, so I moved him ahead in line.

These lines are problematic, because as long as they exist, you feel you can judge each girl that much harsher, because the next girl on the list will probably be better. But from my experience, if your problem with the first girl is that her hair is too thin, the next girl will probably be bald, so you have to learn to focus. Which I've never been good at.

So all I'm saying is, take a number.

Now serving number 33...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?