Sunday, November 26, 2006

Bloggers: A body of the disembodied

Poor Chaim. Here the Jewish Blogmeister does a whole interview with him, and everyone has fun getting sidetracked in the comments. Here's my own contribution to the cause:

Shira Salamone said...

Chaim said...

Is that the dirty little secret we are all keeping? We blog because our wives don't want to hear us kvetch? :-)"

Nu, what's so secret about it? :) I joke with my husband that I'd bend his ear even more than I do now if I weren't blogging, and he doesn't exactly dispute the point. :)

PsychoToddler said...

If the people I live with found me as fascinating as the blog readers did I would close it in a minute."

One of the fundamental attractions of blogging is that it's literally all talk and no action. We can make our foibles seem funny to our readers, but our families and friends, who have to live with such nonsense, know how truly annoying some of it is. We're never heroes on the home front. That's just the way real life is.

11:08 PM
It seems to me that one of the pleasures of blogging (and, possibly, of writing in general--Sheyna Galyan, Robert Avrech, and other writer/bloggers are cordially invited to chime in) is that we show our readers the best of us, but not the rest of us. Our readers see what's on our minds and in our hearts, but not the nitty-gritty of our everyday lives. They don't hear our husbands complaining that we talk their ears off, our wives complaining that our snoring keeps them awake all night, our children complaining that we're always yelling at them, our co-workers complaining that we're always, well, complaining. It's an opportunity to expose ourselves in the abstract--and how often does a Jewish woman get to expose herself in public without being accused of lacking tzniut (modesty)? :)

On the other hand, being disembodied doesn't work at all for a choreographer. I first posted this on October 29, 2006, and Mark/PsychoToddler and Ezzie were kind enough to comment. But despite the fact that I've updated that post twice since then, adding two more goodies and some fun trivia, no one else seems to have noticed. (Sniff.) And I have yet to receive a single comment to this updated post. I put a lot of time and effort into these updates. Am I supposed to not be upset that no one seems to care?

And you wonder why I wrote The Kvetching Post. Here's Elie's comment to that one:

Elie said...

It's not a competition. This is your personal diary, which you are good enough to share with us. Anyone who likes it, and/or likes you, will be here for the long haul. So forget about "Blogger A" and just keep being you.

Wed Nov 15, 09:23:05 AM 2006

It's not entirely true that I'm just sharing my personal diary. I have plenty of what I call "memoir files" on my computer that will never be published on this blog or anywhere else. When I want to talk to myself, I'm perfectly capable of doing so. But when I publish a post, I publish it in the hope of getting a response. To be honest, I blog both as a means of self-expression and for the ego boost, and I find it difficult to be sanguine about the fact that so many of my posts get no comments at all.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Like canaries in a coal mine?--on the agunah issue

Canaries: Warning System for Coal Miners"

Early coal miners didn’t have the special equipment miners have today to measure gas in the air, so it was impossible to tell if the gases were building up to dangerous levels.

Miners started to use canaries to test the air quality in the mines. Canaries are very sensitive to carbon monoxide. The canaries would chirp and sing and make noise all day long. But, if the carbon monoxide levels got too high, the canaries would have trouble breathing, and maybe even die. When the canaries were no longer singing, miners would know that the gas levels were too high. They would leave the mine quickly to avoid being caught in an explosion. This is how canaries acted as a warning system for miners.”

Question: What are the three areas in which right-wing Orthodox rabbis seem most likely to issue chumrot (stringent interpretations of Jewish law), and/or rabbis and/or laypersons are most likely to adopt the least flexible interpretation of what constitutes correct Orthodox practice?

Answer (in my opinion):

  • Kashrut (dietary laws, the laws governing what’s kosher)

Within roughly the past five years, the kashrut (“kosherness”) of the following have been called into question—corn (maize) on the cob, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, strawberries, onions (a mainstay of cold-climate cooking, without which my Russian Jewish ancestors would probably have starved), and New York City tap water.

  • Technology

Never mind all the teeth-gnashing about the dangers of the Internet and cell phones. In some communities, even the parents' ownership of a television is enough to get their kid barred from admission to a yeshiva. Movies and video games? Not even The Sound of Music and Super Mario Brothers would pass with this crowd.

  • Women

In this case, I’m not speaking only of the Chareidim (right-wing fervently Orthodox). Consider this question: What’s the one thing that differentiates even the most left-wing Modern Orthodox synagogue from even the most right-wing traditional Conservative synagogue? Answer: A mechitza.

This post by Trep about the recent meeting of Chareidi men to discuss the tzniut (modesty) issue involved in the growing trend toward the wearing of tighter sweaters and shorter skirts by Chareidi women garnered quite a slew of interesting comments. I thought this was one of the more pointed remarks:

“. . . It seems to me that the more frightened the rabbis of these communities are of modernity, the more they take it out on women.

It may be about clothing on the surface, but in my opinion it's not nearly as much about clothing as it is about power and control. Something about women today is really scaring this particular rabbi or group of rabbis if he/they could cancel a conference about the agunah issue and schedule one about clothing in almost the same breath.

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I believe that it is not really about clothing at all.

Posted by: Rahel | Nov 21, 2006 1:05:00 AM

Match that with this comment by Mississippi Fred MacDowell to this post by Dilbert: “the matter of feminism is a sticking point. The trend within the rest of Orthodoxy, from centrism on rightward is not in that direction.”

Question: Are Jewish women as a group the canaries in the coal mine for Orthodox Judaism? Is the manner in which issues involving Jewish women are dealt—or, in the case of the agunah issue, pointedly ignored by the more right-wing elements of the Orthodox community—one of the hallmarks distinguishing much of the Orthodox community from the non-Orthodox community?

I invite your thoughts. As always, my only rule is that all comments be written in a respectful manner.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Trep is fed up with extremism from both sides

A commenter called this one of David Bogner "Treppenwitz's" best Public Service posts. Tze u-l'mad--go and study.

Two new blogs with potential: The Maggid of Bergenfield, and a daughter who thought that she was "choosing life"

What tales the Maggid of Bergenfield has to tell! They’re all based on stories from B'reishit (Genesis) , thus far. Enjoy!

There probably wasn't much time to pack a quill pen and/or the ingredients for making ink as the angels were chasing the family out of Sodom. Otherwise, this is the diary that might have been written. I don’t know how long this blog will last, but thus far, it’s been interesting reading.

Several people recommended these blogs, and I apologize if I don’t remember all of you, but I’m pretty sure I owe a hat tip to Ezzie and Jameel.

“Dan l’chaf z’chut—judge everyone favorably”

[Update: Why does this post look weird on every computer except my home computer? And why can't I fix the formatting, no matter how hard I try? Too bad I don't know HTML from Adam. Sorry.]

Rav todot, many thanks, to Fudge, who first introduced me to the saying that I've used as the title of this post. It wasn't until many months later that I finally found the original here: Pirkei Avot, Verses [Ethics] of the Fathers, chapter one, paragraph 6, “Yehoshua ben Perachyah says: . . . “vehevéy dan et kol ha-adam l’chaf z’chut, judge everyone favorably.”

The leader of our women’s Tehillim (Psalms) group at the office was mocking a poor guy who came to davven Mincha (pray the Afternoon Service) after the minyan was over. When I pointed out that perhaps the man had nowhere else to pray in private—since visitors to our organization come and go, there are frequently empty rooms available in our office space, and the stairway landings, especially the less-traveled ones, are also sometimes used as places for davvening—she scoffed at the idea that he wouldn’t wish to be seen praying in such a public place as, for example, a corner of an office lunchroom.

I was not raised in New York City. The only man I knew in my entire town who wore a kippah at all times was the rabbi. (Given the fact that this was the nineteen-fifties, this may not have been only because I was raised Conservative. I’m not sure that all Orthodox men wore kippot at all times outside of major metropolitan areas with huge Jewish populations back then, either. In point of fact, given the complaints of one of the Orthodox bloggers, I am sure that not all Orthodox men wear kippot at all times even now.) I’m pretty sure that this woman has never lived in a neighborhood without a sizable Jewish population. She probably has no idea what it’s like to live in a place like the one described in the Shlock Rock song Minyan Man, a place in which, when one man dies, there’s no longer a minyan in the entire town. She probably has no idea what it would be like to live in a place in which she’d get weird looks from the neighbors and/or be accused of being dressed in an unbusinesslike fashion (as an Orthodox blogger whose identity I can't recall was) if she covered her hair with a scarf or snood in public at all times (in accordance with the tradition observed by many married Orthodox women), as she does now.

But I know, because I wasn't raised in New York City (or the Five Towns on Long Island, New York State; or Monsey, New Square, or Kiryas Joel in upstate New York; or Teaneck, Deal, or Lakewood, New Jersey; or Baltimore, Maryland, or . . .) So I sit on the subway, self-conscious, wondering whether either of the people sitting next to me notices the word “ReJewVenated scrolling repeatedly across the display screen of my CD player.

Then, I nearly crack up right there on the subway, as the word “ReJewVenated” is replaced by “cedarstarted,” which is, without a doubt, one of the worst, and funniest, mistransliterations I’ve ever seen in my life. :)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Good luck trying to be discrete on a blog (updated)

Yep, you've seen this post before. But click on the link below for tonight's update.

Let's play hide and seek. I've hidden a couple of things that I hope you'll find interesting, and I hope to be able to add more, in the future.

Don't worry: It's all strictly "safe for the office" and perfectly acceptable for family viewing. And there's no lashon hara (gossip) involved.

So nu, what are you waiting for? Go and enjoy!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Update to an old post

Here's the new, improved, hi-tech version. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A must-read post by Mark/PsychoToddler on living up to one’s own standards

If my non-North American readers will forgive the baseball expression, Mark/PT has just hit another one out of the ballpark. If you haven’t the post in which he hit one out of the ballpark the first time, go here. This post, and today's, seem to have ended up being an accidental series, since the first post was not written with a related post on a different blog in mind.

The “money quote” from today’s post:

“You’re starting to think that putting on a uniform equates with higher frumkeit, and you’re confused about me being more stringent with certain things while still not adopting the “levush.” Well the truth is that I allowed my resentment of that attitude to be a barrier that prevented me from observing Judaism correctly. I came from a background of Modern Orthodoxy, where people who went to movies and rock concerts still managed to make it to minyan twice a day and could layn and lead the services, and from that perspective I have been a disappointment. It’s not a matter of me being yeshivish or chassidish and failing to live up to THOSE standards. It’s that I have my OWN standards and have failed to live up to even those.”

Tse u-l’mad, go and study. And don’t forget to read the comments.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Kvetching Post

Blog Envy

Blogger A and a few of his/her blogger buddies happily announce that they've had 100,000 visitors to their blogs. Blogger B, whose blog is almost exactly the same age as that of Blogger A, has not even hit the 40,000-visitor mark yet.

Blogger C publishes a post, and gets over 140 comments within less than 24 hours. Blogger B has probably never received even as many as 50 comments to any post.

Why is Blog B not among the more popular?

  1. Blogger B, never having gone to a yeshiva, is an am haaretz (Jewishly illiterate person) who's never even studied Chumash Rashi, much less Mishnah and/or Gemarah, and, as a result, is unable to write, or hold his/her own in, a scholarly discussion.

  1. Blogger B, being extremely gullible by nature, decided years ago that his/her only ethical stance regarding politics was to avoid it as much as possible. There goes the J-blogosphere's second most popular topic.

  1. Blogger B's only child was already in his twenties and in college when his mother began to blog, so she has no more cute and/or crazy kid stories to tell.

  1. Blogger B tends to write serious posts. When she does try to be amusing, her posts tend to be laced with puns and other types of playful language that are more likely to elicit grins and rolled eyes than falling-off-the-chair guffaws. Nobody feels compelled to drop by lest they miss the latest performance at the Crazy Koferet's Comedy Club.

  1. Last but not least, Blogger B has been struck by the bane of bloggers—recycled posts. She's already discussed, probably ad nauseum, kol isha, the wearing of a tallit and tefillin by women, head-coverings, learning to davven (pray), increasing her observance level, and/or her sense of not really fitting in either the Conservative or Orthodox camp, and is, quite possibly, driving her readers away by boring them to tears, at this point. Reruns don’t generally draw large audiences.

  1. No only can Blogger B not publish posts or response to comments from the office, she also can’t comment on other people’s blogs using her Blogger name and link. Without that link, no one can click through to her blog from her comment, so she’s losing a lot of traffic.

And speaking of not being able to blog from the office, there’s another problem I’ve been having, in addition to light traffic.

Sleepless in the City

It finally dawned on me that it’s not my imagination that I seem to have less time and be more tired since my employment status went from temp. to full-time permanent. When I was still temping, I worked on whatever computer was available, so, between assignments, I could publish posts, response to comments, and comment on other people’s blogs under my Blogger name without worrying about my blogging “history” being “trackable.” Now that I have my own computer at the office, I can no longer take that chance. So now, whenever I want to publish a post, respond to a comment, or post a comment on someone else's blog using my Blogger name, I have to wait until I get home. The result is that not only do I have less time in the evening to do other things, I’m literally losing sleep over blogging—I get several hours less sleep per week than I did when I was temping. As a blogger buddy of mine wrote recently, "I hate when work/family gets in the way of blogging."

"A Tale of Two Cities," Los Angeles version

An old friend of ours recounted this tale of a trip that she and her husband had taken to LA to attend a conference. Having arrived early on Friday and wanting to stock up on food and other necessities before Shabbat, they went to the hotel desk and asked how to get to a shopping area via public transportation. The person at the front desk looked at them as if they had three heads, and informed them that there was no such thing as public transit in LA. Didn't they have a car? Stumped, they walked away from the desk—and were promptly called over by a lower-ranking employee, who lead them outside and showed them a bus stop, clearly marked, within a block of the hotel.

The same thing happened at the other end of their trip: When they asked the store manager how to get back to their hotel, he hadn't a clue, but a lower-ranking employee gave them step-by-step directions for getting there by bus. Apparently, the bus system in LA is not great, but it's manageable, and, more to the current point, it exists.

My friend concluded that LA is two different cities—one for those who can afford cars, and another one for those who can't.

"My Refrigerator Disability"--A grin-inducing post by Robert Avrech

Smile here.

Hat tip for the above goes to Jack.

Would that Trep's friend's "Modest Aspirations" for making a simcha were more acceptable in the Jewish community

“ . . . if you are filthy rich and make a low-key affair, people quietly applaud your modesty and compliment your priorities behind your back. If you don't have money and make a modest affair out of necessity, your friends all understand... but in the back of their minds... and perhaps in their private conversations at home... they'll make note of what a shame it is that you couldn't afford to do more. “

See here for the rest.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

AidelMaidel is back . . . with a vengeance

Discussing the difficult situation in which she now finds herself (divorced for a year, with two pre-schoolers), she asks Hashem to get mad at someone else .
Looking at both the past and the future, she tries to explain the way her mind works (oy, another "cockeyed pessimist"), and why she finds it difficult to relax even when she's just going on one date.

A "package deal," but with wings--A few words about Tamar Ross's "Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism "

Rabbinic law is a wonderful thing. It gave us the ketubbah, the marriage contract, (the original purpose of which was) to protect women in marriage.

Rabbinic law is a terrible thing. It continues to find reasons why it's impossible to enact a ruling that would reinterpret permanently the Torah/Biblical law that gives the right to grant a get (Jewish religious divorce) to the husband exclusively. (A woman who remarries without a get is considered an adulteress.)

One of my problems with rabbinic law is that it's a "package deal." One can't pick and choose what one is going to accept. Or can one? It's a matter of interpretation (literally speaking) and/or circumstances.

Me: How can you say that a man is forbidden to hear a woman sing because a woman's singing voice is considered provocative, when the rabbi who said that also said that looking at a woman's pinky was the functional equivalent of looking at her completely naked? Why can't I just say that Rav Sheshet was having a bad day? Why can't I say that the notion that looking at a woman's pinky is the functional equivalent of looking at her totally nude is patently absurd, and/or that the rabbi who said that was either a hard-core male chauvinist or reflected the blatant sexism of his era?

Anonymous Blogger A: One doesn't say such a thing of rabbinic law. I would look to see whether there’s a different interpretation. (He found one, apparently, in this case—he's already told me that he listens to the music of Neshama Carlebach.)

Anonymous Blogger B, part 1: Remember that the rabbi who said that a woman's singing voice is provocative also said that a woman's pinky was provocative. (In the context in which it was posted, this comment was intended to be dismissive.)

Anonymous Blogger B, part 2 (from a different post): But I can't allow my daughter to sing in the presence of men (other than family), lest, by giving her permission to do so, I undermine the authority of the rabbis. So I find myself in the dubious position of having to enforce an interpretation of halachah (Jewish religious law) that I, myself, don't accept.

I can't give a real book review of Tamar Ross's Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism because I finished reading it right before Rosh Hashanah, and I have a sieve for a memory, these days. But this is her basic premise, if my so-called memory serves me correctly: Halachah (Jewish religious law) is authoritative, but not all of halachah was given at Har (Mount) Sinai, nor did Matan Torah (the giving of the law) stop with the early and later scholars (rishonim and acharonim?)--Matan Torah is a continuous, and continuing, process. Hashem's will is revealed to each generation. We look to the scholars of the past for guidance, and accept their authority, but that which is revealed in each generation through scholarship is no less authoritative. Therefore, the questions currently being asked concerning laws regarding women, and the answers being given and/or sought, are as much a part of Matan Torah as what we inherited from previous generations. And the answers may very well change over time, as more and more women become qualified Torah scholars, and more and more women learn Torah from qualified female Torah scholars. (Please correct me if I've misinterpreted Dr. Ross's premise.)

Here’s a fundamental part of Tamar Ross’s approach, in her own words (pages156-157):

“Any interpretation must contend with certain existing frames of reference in order to qualify as relevant and worthy of consideration in the eyes of the traditionalist. Irrespective of more specific and substantive considerations of content, three elements are indispensable: appeal to the consensus of experts, solidarity with the larger community in which the transformative narrative is to be played out, and acknowledgment of the law’s clams to transcendence.”

And her quote from R. Kook (page 193): “we should not immediately refute any idea which comes to contradict anything in the Torah, but rather should expand the palace of Torah above it, and through this exaltation the ideas are revealed.”

Tze u-l'mad--go and study. This book, while not always the easiest of reading, is well worth the effort. As a feminist, it gives me hope that the efforts of those Orthodox women seeking expanded roles and/or more control over their own marital lives may bear fruit in the future, though I probably won't live to see it.

(Link>) “Out of uniform,” and other stereotype busters

Seen standing in the subway: A young woman in jeans (pants) reading a small but very thick paperback book in Hebrew—while moving her lips. (Traditional Jews move their lips when praying, a custom based on the story of Hannah, found in I Samuel, verses 12-20.) Lest there be any doubt about what she was reading, at one point, she wrapped the book-bearing arm around the pole—and covered her eyes with her free hand. (It’s traditional to cover one’s eyes when reciting the first line of the Sh’ma (“Hear, Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is one.”)

Scene two, recounted by one of the Israeli bloggers (sorry, forgot which one): Homeowner offers a drink to a skilled trades person after a repair—and the bareheaded tradesman asks for a kippah (yarmulkeh, skullcap) so that he can recite a brachah (blessing, in this case before drinking and/or eating).

Scene three (well, chronologically the earliest of the three scenes): Just before the Yamim/High Holidays, my husband and I attended a concert of Ladino music at Shearith Israel, the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue. Shearith Israel is an Orthodox synagogue. All the singers were female. And the concert was open to men. This is yet more proof that not everyone in the Orthodox community is of the opinion that a woman’s singing voice is too lascivious for a man to listen to.

Ambiguously dexterous

Many years, a co-worker gave me a recipe. I’ve made the dish in question exactly twice. . .

because, even though I used a food processor, it took me an hour and a half.

A few years ago, I showed the recipe to one of my best friends—and she told me that she could make the same dish in half that amount of time.

That’s when I finally understood why I hate cooking—my limited fine-motor coordination makes working in the kitchen not a pleasure, but a time-consuming and onerous chore.

Call it fine-motor coordination or manual dexterity, as you will, but, whatever you call it, I simply don’t have it. Just about anything that I do with my hands takes me forever. I always needed an eternity to complete handwritten homework. Essay tests were a nightmare—I had to practically kill myself to write quickly enough to finish the test in the allotted time. I gave up mending my own hems a few years ago, even though I do beautiful nearly-invisible stitching, when I realized that mending a hem could take me as long as two hours. Back in my job-hunting days, I had to spend literally hours in front of a computer before an interview, trying to rev up my typing speed.

Frankly, one of the few advantages of working for my parsimonious current non-profit employer is that, since they can’t afford to pay decent salaries, they can’t afford to be too fussy, either—never once in the nearly five years that I’ve worked here has anyone tested my typing speed.

On the other hand . . .

One of my colleagues was scandalized when I told her that I was buying take-out for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), saying that she would never do such a thing for a holiday.

My former office buddy S., now retired, routinely cooked for her children and grandchildren, and, when she used to describe to me the dishes that she made, I felt as if I barely knew how to find a kitchen.

And now, at the women’s Tehillim (Psalm) group, nearly every Wednesday or Thursday, one of the women will ask another, “What are you making for Shabbat (Sabbath)?”

I live in dread of the day that someone asks me that question.

What am I supposed to say?


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

As Trep was saying, it is, indeed, instructive that some rabbis rail against gays & ignore agunot: Chief Rabbi Amar withdraws from conference

Chayyei Sarah thinks it's typical that Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar withdrew his support for a conference concerning agunot ("chained" wives whose husbands refuse to give them a get, a Jewish religious divorce).

My comment to her post:

"Essentially, being an agunah is very close to the functional equivalent of being a slave: In many instances, a "chained wife" cannot free herself from her marriage unless she literally buys her freedom from her husband. From the point of view of halachah (Jewish religious [law]) as currently interpreted and applied, it may be no coincidence that the word "baal" means both husband and master.

Here's the "money quote" from the article in Arutz Sheva:

"Reminded that some hareidi elements felt that the women's groups that pushed for the conference were themselves exerting pressure, Rabbi Blau said, "I resent the notion that rabbis can't stand up to women's groups' pressures. Any solution that would be considered would only be a Halakhic one. It's very sad that people are afraid of discussion."

In other words, it's not even okay for rabbis to seek solutions to the problem that, according to Jewish law, only a man is authorized to grant a get. Heaven forbid that women themselves might actually try to advocate for being treated as human beings. Radicals! "Reformot!" Feminists! Apikorsot (heretics)! Kofrot (atheists)!

A must-read: David Bogner (Treppenwitz) on the Gay Parade in Jerusalem

Yes, indeed, as Trep says, it's instructive.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Of beards and "bellies"

Mark/PT, thanks for reminding me (read the comments along with the post)--I knew there was something else that I wanted to post about. One of my favorite radio hosts ended up in a long discussion with Weed (the station manager, a fellow student) and a few callers (including a certain bearded bass player of her acquaintance) about beards. Beards come in several sizes and shapes, ranging from full to goatee to "like an Egyptian"--think of those paintings and statues of the Pharoahs. Apparently, the growing and/or removal of any type of beard can result in all manner of reactions, ranging from children who've never before seen their father beardless running and hiding in closets to threats of divorce to comments about the appearance of one's now-"naked" face. Mustaches were also mentioned in passing and given the thumbs-down. (Full disclosure: Years ago, I asked my husband to shave off his mustache as an anniversary present--I was tired of kissing the "Fuller Brush Man.")

But there's one change in appearance that no man ever has to deal with:

Having "a belly." Also known as being pregnant.

Yessireebob, nine glorious months of nausea, followed by more nausea, not being able to sleep on your stomach, looking like a Mack truck, and suddenly finding that your body is no longer your own.

If you think that having your kid hide in a closet is bad, try having some guy whom you normally wouldn't let within 10 feet of you reach right out and, without so much as a "May I?," pat you on the tummy, as if your abdomen were no longer part of your body once there was a baby inside.

There are some advantages to living in a shomer-negiah community.

(Link>) I'm so vain; you prob'ly think this post is about me. :)

Mark/PT and Mrs. Balabusta, the next time you speak to Fudge, kindly give your darling eldest daughter a bop on the head with a wet noodle on my behalf for her nefarious influence on me :) : I honestly cannot remember the last time I so thoroughly misplaced my glasses that it took me and the poor Punster roughly four hours to find them! (Apologetic wife to long-suffering husband: "You know my motto--panic first, look later.")

And it all happened because I'm vain.

Years ago, when it came time for me to make the big switch, I chose so-called "blended bifocals," the kind with lenses ground in such a way that the "distance", middle-range, and close-range viewing sections blend into one another with no visible lines. But, in recent months, I've noticed that I often find it easier to read or do close-up work without wearing my glasses at all. When I asked my husband why he'd switched to regular bifocals, he told me that the close-range viewing section is so small that it can be difficult to find, and is placed so close to the bottom of the lens that one must tip one's head up high enough to give one a literal pain in the neck. So I'd already made an appointment with the ophthalmologist--I hope to be wearing a pair of regular bifocals within a month. Vanity to the contrary notwithstanding, I really like to see, which is why I absolutely refused to ditch the specs for my wedding--I was hanged if I was going to walk around half blind on my own wedding day!

But meanwhile, back at the ranchhouse, oh where, oh where had my spectacles gone, oh where, oh where could they be?

In a rare (and getting rarer by the day) flash of memory, I finally recalled that I'd cut the label out of one of my blouses that morning because it had been irritating my skin. So I took the sewing box down from the shelf, flipped open the lid--and, sure enough, there were my glasses, folded neatly next to my sewing scissors, patiently waiting for me.

Now, about that hair. Yes, Mom is still only half gray, even though she's eighty-something. And yes, you know that she doesn't dye her hair because her doctor forbade her to use hair dye (and eye make-up) some years ago, after she'd had an eye infection. (And yes, you do realize that you may be one of the few people on earth who believes that Reagan may actually not have been lying when he insisted that he didn't dye his hair.) But still, did you expect to stay completely gray-free forever? Now stop kvetching about all your gray hairs being in front, where they're nice and visible. Be grateful that you're employed and that, therefore, you don't have to dye your hair in order to find a job. (Yes, age discrimination is illegal, but prospective employers will always find ways to discriminate that are sufficient subtle to be almost "unprovable.") Get with the program, gal: Either dye it or deal with it! You're 57. Get used to it.


I'm so vain.

Thoughtless treatment--A rant against "industrialized" medicine

Parental guidance warning: This post is rated PG-13. It includes details that you may deem inappropriate for, and/or not wish to have to explain to, a young child. So this would be a good time to tell your 10-year-old to stop reading over your shoulder.






The story from the patient's point of view

(Unspoken thoughts after seeing the doctor exit hurriedly from the examining room and close the door)

Doctor, I appreciate the fact that you used gloves and gloop when you examined me. But you've left me lying here leaking lubricant. Do you seriously expect me to get up, get dressed, and go to work in this dubious condition? Couldn't you have left me something with which to clean myself up? Tissues? Paper towels? Anything??!


Well, there's always this handy-dandy paper gown, the one that ripped clean down the middle when I tried to put it on. For lack of an alternative . . .

The story from the doctor's point of view

(Overheard on the way out of the office)

Doctor to front-desk staff: "This is ridiculous. I can't do this. I don't care what they tell you, I can't see a patient every 10 minutes. I need at least 15 minutes. It's not fair to the patients."

Assembly-line medicine is a lose-lose proposition.

Granted that I've been known to joke with health-care professionals that one of the hazards of the profession is that no one ever wants to see you, but the perception, given by time limits on office visits, that health-care professionals don't want to see me, either, is a bit distressing.

As for doctors, what's the point in spending a decade or more paying back the loans for medical school if you aren't being allowed enough time to help people get and/or stay well?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Good luck trying to be discrete on a blog

Let's play hide and seek. I've hidden a couple of things that I hope you'll find interesting, and I hope to be able to add more, in the future.

Don't worry: It's all strictly "safe for the office" and perfectly acceptable for family viewing. And there's no lashon hara (gossip) involved.

So nu, what are you waiting for? Go and enjoy!

WestBankMama on the importance of honoring one’s parents and elders, no matter what—a hair-raising story of a major holiday mishap well handled

The haggadah (liturgical text containing the Passover seder service speaks of the child “she-éno yodéa li-sh’ol, who doesn’t know to ask,” often interpreted as referring to a child so young that it doesn’t even register with him or her that the seder night is different from all other nights. But it doesn’t get much worse than this:

“Most of the laws of Passover relate to the injunction that we remove all chametz - leavened substances (bread, cookies, pretzels, etc. and anything containing even a minute amount of leavening) from our homes. We spend weeks before the holiday cleaning out every corner, and we use a completely different set of dishes and cooking utensils for the entire week. We only buy food that is certified not to contain chametz, and many people follow very strict traditions during this time. So bringing a loaf of bread to the Passover seder [which is what her aunt did] is probably the equivalent of bringing an expensive bottle of whisky to an Alcoholics Annonymous meeting - saying that this was a faux pas would be a gross underestimation.”

See here to find out how WestBankMama and her brother managed to deal with this unbelievable situation without hurting anyone’s feelings or breaking the laws of Pesach/Passover.

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