The Best Motto

Gd, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannon change
Courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

You woke up this morning - Congratulations! You got another chance!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Recently discovered antics of our former governor, subsequent media circus, wonderful confessions of our current governor, continued media circus, and all the resurrected widely publicised marital infidelities amongst politicians in recent times sparked some very interesting discussions.

I personally would have loved to see Spitzer's wife apply the old Celtic remedy: cast iron skillet to his head. Of course, as my friend Subwife pointed out, as much as we all would have loved to see this happen, that option was not very feasible. But these musings made me remember a very entertaining book about Celts I have read a while back. The book's author is Aideen Cremin, and the title is simply "The Celts". In that book, there is a great description about their marriage and divorce laws. Especially noteworthy is this amusing paragraph:

"A woman could divorce her husband if he failed to support her, or failed to treat her with respect, if he was impotent, homosexual, sterile, or gossiped about their sex lives. She could even leave him if he was fat, a snorer or just plain repulsive."

Monday, May 19, 2008


Part 1

As mentioned many times before, I am a book junkie. I read them by the pound, I collect them as much as my finances allow (sometimes more than that), and a library card was my first "plastic" in this blessed country. To me, library always was, to quote Mr. Bennett from the 80's movie version, a place of peace, tranquility, and leisure. Slowly, but very surely, that changed.

First, there was that infamous law suite when a homeless dude was asked to leave the premises because he was stinking them up; after that, they can stink up any library they want as long as they are quite, and using library's lavatory would usually constitute an act of desperation, since so many homeless use it.

Then, in the interest of public's general welfare, libraries added movies to their loanable collection. Oh, brother! Talk of the lack of better manners! The movie section is usually full of people breathing down each other's necks, pushing, showing, haunting the clerk with the "fresh" supply cart, and demolishing that cart before the poor public servant gets a chance to unload the afore mentioned supply on the shelves. The situation only deteriorated with the addition of DVDs. All the above mentioned behaviors have gotten worse; plus, for whatever reason, there is always at least one "fragrant" patron always making himself at home in that idiotic section, and couple of times somebody was busy passing gas as he was occupying himself with the search for a perfect movie experience.

Next, let us not forget the general air of, well, stupidity that always permeates the general vicinity of the public servants. Apparently, some people who were dropped off the welfare rolls, plus some former juvenile delinquents, plus some senior citizens in search of additional income (all of them usually belonging to the same race) found themselves a perfect sinecure: that of the library security guard. Let me tell you, if, G-d forbid, there is a real emergency, they would be less useful than Clinton's autobiography (at lest that can be used as an assault weapon). In the absence of real emergency, or real usefulness, for that matter, all of them have perfectly adapted to the king or queen of the hill routine, which they perform with amazing talent.

The most glaring example of that would be the cell phone users. I mean, I detest those selfish jerks, but let's be logical. One high school intern with a cart of self-returned books makes way more noise than ten cell phone users combined. Preventing people from using those things on the "main service" floor is simply not practical. But, oh, the feeling of power! Some of the guards go even further: there is an official policy of cell phone usage on the staircase. One of them decided that the sundry conversations were disturbing his mating ritual by one of the exits, and he was trying to explain that this staircase is off limits, cell phones have to be used only on the upper stairs. Sorry, dude, for making your life more difficult, but I refused to submit to this petty tyranny, and finished my conversation in full few of his cooing.

After all this, try to exit the library in peace. No such luck. Surprisingly, Brooklyn library, which is usually inferior to Manhattan's and deficient in many ways, has a perfect "exit strategy" for patrons: when you check out materials, anti-theft device is deactivated as well; if it is not deactivated, you will simply make a lot of noise by the exit. Makes sense, doesn't it? Well, not so in Manhattan.

After everything is scanned, you have to make sure that every single book, CD, and movie has a little piece of paper with the due date attached to it: that is your proof that you actually checked it out. Then you have to make sure not to pack anything, since the above mentioned public servant by the exit has to make sure all the library materials have the above mentioned scrap of paper; and then he or she has to check your bag to make sure you are not taking any contraband with you. After all this, you have to contrive to pack everything in your bag somewhere around the exit. Some of them provide some kind of narrow perches to do just that, and there is inevitably some jerk of a library patron occupying the spot of three people and blocking the exit to boot. Oh, joy!

Here is my humble suggestion: let them have a psychologist on staff by the exit, because anyone who steals something from the library has a serious case of kleptomania and needs immediate treatment. That, at least, would add some flavor to the whole experience, which is overwise frustrating, to say the least.


The previous Shabbat did not disappoint in the promise of the gorgeous spring weather. So, after our respective afternoon naps, yours truly and Mini Me went to pay a round of social calls. In case you are wondering who Mini Me is, that reference belongs to my niece. You see, her parents agreed long time ago that she definitely looks like our side of the family, and then, few months after that first verdict, the second verdict went out: she looks like her favorite aunt more than she does like her Mama.

Anyway, the outing proved to be an absolute delight. Towards the end of it, she got understandably tired and requested to be carried in my warm embrace, but reluctantly accepted the reminder that it was Shabbat, and I could only hold her hand. In order to distract her more, I kept pointing out interesting sights. One of these pointers proved to be slightly traumatic.

Her "sosy" (pacifier) remains a big part of her life. So, for some idiotic reason (or the lack of it), I have pointed out to her somebody's lost pacifier by the curb. Oy, gevalt! I keep praising her intelligence to all who is willing or unwilling to listen, so, the reason for my own slip up is that much more annoying, especially considering the fact that her brother owns a pair of pacifiers, one orange, one blue, and that one lying in the dirt was a dead ringer for the blue one. Anyway, she recognized the blinking pacifier immediately:"Baby lost his sosy!" "No, cookie, that's somebody's else's." "No, is baby's!" "No, baby's is an orange one." "Is baby's!! Baby has blue!! Is baby's!"

She was getting more and more agitated. She insisted on rescuing the stupid piece of plastic; I told her that it was too dirty for saving; she did not budge. Finally, I persuaded her to go home and check with Mama to make sure that it was not, in fact, baby's sosy. She agreed, but under duress. As soon as we walked into the house, she ran to Mama with distressed screams of "baby lost his sosy!" It took Mama about five minutes of patient explanations and demonstrations to finally satisfy our Golden Delicious. Ah, the burdens of being the oldest sister!

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Last night I tried to read the report on the latest atrocity committed by the members of the religion of peace on the Arutz Sheva website. I did not go far: I got chocked up by the time I read that one of the rockets scored a direct hit into the children's clinic; I simply could not go on.

This morning I decided to "google" the media reports on this: partly out of masochistic curiosity, but mostly because, according to my sis, very few news agencies covered it. My search did not disappoint me in a sense that I scored very few hits, most of them, unsurprisingly, Jewish sources. Out of more masochistic curiosity I decided to sample a few non-Jewish ones.

Of course, I was not disappointed again. No mentioning of the fact that the attack originated from a place that was populated by Jews before "disengagement", very sketchy mentioning of the fact that the rocket went into a busy mall, even sketchier mentioning of the clinic, and no mentioning of the fact that it was a children's clinic. Very grudging reports of the injuries; only one site reported that a woman and her daughter were both critically injured in the head, may G-d help them in his infinite Mercy. And, most importantly, this: "militant" group Hamas took responsibility for the attack.

Here is the definition of "militant" I just got off Webster's: "1. Engaged in warfare of combat. 2. Aggressively active (as in a cause)". Mind you, this is the on-line Webster's, not some dog-eared copy from the fifties, so, it is definitely updated for political correctness. So, dear honest, non-biased, politically correct journalists, could you please explain to me: are those poor, abused Palestinians engaged in the "warfare or combat" against Jewish mothers taking their kiddies to the clinic, or are they just "aggressively active" in their cause?

Ah, heck, do not bother. Enjoy your lives free of "almost" daily missile attacks. Just remember one thing: a jackal by any other name is still a jackal; and one day it will be you taking your child to the clinic which will be caught in their "aggressive activity".

Master of the Universe, please protect your children in the Holy Land and grant speedy recovery to all the injured! Amen!.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Владимир Высоцкий - Баллада о борьбе

Disregard the deficient Russian cinematography (or laugh at it), but listen to the words: one of my all time favorite, and, in my opionion, one of the most profound poems I have ever heard or read.


Part 6

One pretty dreary (or maybe pretty nice) weekday morning I boarded my favorite "Q" to go to one of my favorite places: work. The reason I remember the morning as being dreary was my everlasting tiredness, which on that particular morning manifested itself with a vengeance. Basically, I wanted to catch a decent snooze on my commute.

So, I got half lucky: I found a seat, but it was in between a skinny oriental-looking high school kid and a regular-size guy, who, in the best tradition of his sex, occupied much more than his allotted spot. Anyway, the snooze was also pretty elusive, but I managed to at least tone out most of my fellow passengers. Till DeKalb Avenue, that is.

On that particular stop, the school kid got off, and the seat became available. Mind you, that seat was right next to the doors, which were both blocked by two hefty ladies who looked like they might be Obama supporters. Around five meters diagonally from that seat stood another healthy looking lady of undetermined origins. As soon as that coveted seat became vacant, she run those five meters in her fashionable high heeled shoes, plopped herself down, took out her cosmetic bag, and, in the best tradition of New York subway riders, proceeded with the full make up application.

The projected Obama supporter who stood closer to that now occupied seat finally realized the folly of just looking proud and dignified. She directed a disdainful glance at my present neighbour and proclaimed very loudly:"look at her: running to that seat and busy with her make up! I have no respect for people like this!"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I love the way computers point out your mistakes! Recently, I was trying to book a flight for my boss to our main office, which is in Columbus. So, at first I tried JFK (which he prefers), then La Guardia. Apparently, at some point I was typing too fast, because the poor, confused Expedia screen warned me that there were no flights between JFK and LGA!

Another one of my pet peeves is the way people mangle language. Apparently, cell phones are now a days called "blackberry". Not only this, but the last time somebody asked me for "blackberry number", he was also, in following with another great tradition, trying to simulate the twiddling of nubs on blackberry, to emphasise his point. Every time I see this, I always remember a great quote: "Do I point at my crotch when I ask for the bathroom?"

My dyslexia, thought slight, is a constant source of exasperation and amusement for me. For example, I love Chinese thick rice noodles, as apposed to thin ones; but for the life of me, I could never remember which ones are "mai fun" and which ones are "chow fun". Every time I think I finally got it, I always end up with thin ones. Ah, food is food anyway.

Another language quirk: for a few weeks now, my niece got into habit of not just saying "no", but saying "nope". I do not know about her parents, but for me, the exasperation is always tempered by the adorable picture. I know, I know, eventually it will pass; but for now, I am enjoying the moment.

An entertaining Manhattan moment: a bike messenger who carries his packages in a huge shopping bag with "Elle McPherson Lingerie" logo.

Guys can never get sick or suffer quietly. The truth of that statement was once again visited on me recently, when one of my co-worker got a kidney stone. Not only was I treated to the whole story of when and how, but, at one point in the saga, he treated me to the fact that, apparently, he did not yet pass the stone, and now he is supposed to go to the john with some kind of sieve to check. Believe me, that was way more when I needed to know, especially considering the fact that, due to quirky design of our office, everyone passes my desk on the way to the bathrooms.

I love the way people always jump on the current fashionable bandwagon. Case in point: Mendy's provides pretty expensive looking napkins, and they are take for yourself kind in the take out session. Recently, a sign went up next to those napkins: "Please be green: one napkin per customer". That's a bit rich from Mendy's, considering that they do not recycle their cans and bottles.

I love the way people are trying to advertise their stuff on e-bay. Sometimes, it borders on the absurd. Recently, somebody was trying to sell a Cinderella-themed watch, claiming it's unisex. I can only imagine any poor boy whose parents or guardians decide that it's OK for him to wear this watch, and the years of therapy he will require as a result!

A terrible confession to my sister: every time I shop for a card, or just find myself in the vicinity of cards, I always eye the ones that congratulate with impending baby, or congratulate with arrived baby.

Speaking of babies: congratulations to my niece! Somewhere between Purim and Pesach she got the first ever dress dry cleaned!

Another Manhattan moment: a young girl (probably tourist) got a potato knish at Mendy's and ended up photographing it with a very expansive-looking Nikon. She took about ten shots from all different angles before consuming it.

The best compliment I have ever got: "For a religious fanatic, you are pretty normal".


A very belated, but most sincere, congratulations to my friend Moish, who's blog finally got the official adult rating. Now, before entering, you have to affirm that you are eighteen and above.

Gongrats, Man! I know the road was long and thorny, but you got there!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Part 5

As mentioned many times before, I, like any New Yorker worth her salt, spent a decent portion of my day riding a subway; and, while riding, try to accomplish as much as I possibly can. To my slight shame, my morning commute is the time for my daily prayers (another staple amongst New Yorkers).

So, one fine morning, I boarded the "Q", found a seat, and proceeded to do just that. Diagonally from me, another Jewish woman was similarly occupied; and at a ninety degree angle to my seat, there were two Russian speaking women, who were occupied with something totally different. They were just discussing their lives. The only reason I couldn't tune out their conversation was that they were pretty vocal; so, willy nilly, in between trying very hard to concentrate on my conversation with G-d, I was subjected to listening to theirs.

To tell you the truth, most of their recitations were pretty sad. The granddaughter of the first one was apparently assaulted by her date, and these two spent about half an hour discussing the consequences: how she refused to talk to him, how sorry he was, and how handsome, and that he comes from a good family, blah, blah. Then they were discussing somebody's Birthday party, and how important it was to find a great present, so they got a Fendi (insert Ukrainian pronunciation here) bag that was very nicely wrapped by the helpful staff at Bloomingdale's. Then the second woman was bemoaning the fact that MTA Employees (her husband amongst them) got such bad rap after the recent strike, and how the media did not properly describe their benefits, which are not so abundant, blah, blah. Then they went on to discuss their circle of mutual friends, and who amongst those people was sleeping with who's wife or husband; after that followed the discussion of a specific hound dog amongst that nice group of people, and the first one recalled a recent episode when he came to her apartment one fine evening all fired up, so she immediately had to call in a neighbour as a reinforcement, so he eventually went home.

In the midst of all those reminiscences, all of a sudden, a silent finger with a smirk went into my direction. "Yes, I know", said the second one, "this moron and that one (the other finger went towards the second Jewish woman); why do these idiots need all this?" ( meaning praying, probably, and all that's attached to it). Then one of them probably realized that such blatant finger pointing might be too much, even if they speak in foreign tongues, nudged the other one in the ribs, and shushed her. The silent conversation went on for a few more minutes, than they continued on with something else.

No, I did not tell them off; I was in the middle of Shmona Esre, the moment was lost, my usual persistence to be polite prevailed, they were close to my Mom's age. Whatever it was, is not important anymore. What's important is the irony and the hilarity of this whole episode (and if you do not see it, I can't help you).


Last week, about half an hour before I left work, I have decided to open the Net for the last minute check up of my e-mails and library account. That was when I experienced the moment of unholy glee when I saw one of the new headlines staring me boldly in the face: "Biofuel is a crime against humanity!" (according to some UN experts and studies).

Oh, really? Now you have realized it? Of course, by themselves both the UN and the entire environmental movement are crimes agings humanity, so, obviously, anything they cook up will follow suit. Unfortunately, united or separated, they will not simply kiss or kill each other, depending on the mood; everyone else is caught in the flying feathers. None the less, savor the moment I definitely did.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Few weeks ago I have stopped in one of the local hotels to peruse the latest crop of tourist brochures (yes, I actually do that). Anyway, one of the little brochures not only attracted my attention, but produced tons of laughter. Apparently, now visitors to our fair city can treat themselves to "daily walking tours (Sunday through Friday): your window to authentic Chassidic life (Kosher NY Deli lunch included)".

According to the brochure, "Now everyone can experience 3,300 years of history, heritage and tradition in only 3 hours!" Tour begins "only 35 minutes from Times Square" via #3 train to Kingston Avenue. You get a "friendly, Chassidic Jewish" guide, "learn about Kabbalah and Moshiach", can "see a handmade-matzah bakery (Dec.- Apr.)", and even get the "discounted shopping at finer Crown Heights merchants and eateries with tour participation". According to some kind of Professor from India, that tour was "The highlight of our U.S. experience."

All I can say is: hurray for Jewish ingenuity!


A couple of weeks ago, something possessed me to take a bus to train instead of walking. Usually, unless the bus comes right away or it's raining buckets, I always end up kicking myself for this exercise, because I invariably end up spending more time in getting to the subway, plus, half the time the bus is usually pretty full. This time would have ended with the usual feeling of self-recrimination, if not for the following amusing story.

The bus was taking its sweet time arriving; by the time it finally graced us with its presence, it was stuffed to the rafters; thankfully, it was not alone. So, I boarded the second bus, which was not so stuffed, and mentally continued to reiterate all the reasons why taking the bus was folly on my part. Somewhere between Park and Madison I was rudely interrupted because the bus braked rather suddenly. The culprit for this violent break job was the armored NYPD vehicle. In the almost seven years after the terrorist attacks New Yorkers have gotten used to the constant presence of the police and the armored police vehicles and their inexplicable behavior, so, all of us, including the driver, just cursed and moved on. Next thing we know, somebody was banging very loudly on the side of the moving bus.

So, the driver stopped and opened the door. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the shmuck who was dying to get on the bus was a policeman in a bulletproof west. "Great", was my first thought, "now I will get home at around nine in the evening". The officer politely wished all of us good evening, and then asked if anyone on the bus had a medical procedure recently. What??? Well, to everyone's everlasting surprise, a yeshivish looking little dude in the back just raised his hand with the official looking paper in it. The policeman checked out the paper, wished the dude the best of health, and then, probably realizing that citizens demanded explanations, explained to all of us the the guy had a procedure done that left some radioactive particles in his body, which a cute-looking little gadget in his hand picked up.

Hurray!!!!! Homeland Security is actually working!!! Next step: racial profiling at our airports (I can dream, can't I?)