Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The "levush," illustrated--in homemade Ushpizin posters

See here for an explanation of the "levush" (clothing or clothing style, though, in this case, "dress code" might be a more accurate translation).

By way of further explanation:

(a) I am, quite obviously, not a graphic artist! All of these Ushpizin posters were created in PowerPoint using AutoShapes. My apologies to the guys--I had enough trouble figuring out how to create neckties, but putting shirts behind them was beyond my abilities (and/or patience). As for the lack of hair and facial features . . . :)

(b) These illustrations are all, perhaps, a tad exaggerated. No offense intended (and none perceived, I hope).

Moadim l'simchah (roughly, "seasons for gladness")! Enjoy welcoming guests into your sukkah, and/or being a guest in a sukkah yourself!

Left-Wing Modern Orthodox

Right-Wing Modern Orthodox/Centrist


Chareidi (non-Chassidic variety)


[ mechitza :) ]

Left-Wing Modern Orthodox

Right-Wing Modern Orthodox/Centrist


Chareidi (Chassidic or not)

(For the record, only my original Ushpizin posters--namely, the ones now known as LWMO Guy and Yeshivish Gal-- end up on the walls of my synagogue's sukkah. But it was an interesting challenge reworking those two to illustrate the rest of the "levush" spectrum.)

Here's the "Sukkah explanation" that I hang on the walls of our synagogue's sukkah. I consider it my AutoShapes masterpiece.

Public Service Announcement:

Rabbi Gil Student has published an article by Rabbi Ari N. Enkin of Beit Shemesh in which he states that it's permissible to take a hot-water shower on Yom Tov. Note: "The melacha of sechita, squeezing, however remains prohibited and therefore one must ensure not to squeeze one's hair after showering, though a light towel drying would be permissible.[18] As is the case concerning Shabbat, only liquid soaps are permitted on Yom Tov." (That's a good enough answer to this question for me. [Hmm, apparently, I already knew this, but I forgot that I'd read it in the article to which Elie provided a URL in the comments. More's the pity. Rosh HaShanah would have been more pleasant if I'd showered instead of just splashing cold water on myself.]) Articles by Rabbi Michael J. Broyde on the same subject are available in both Hebrew and English here, thanks, again, to Rabbi Student.

Public Service Announcement #2, and Sunday, September 30, 2007 update to this post:

The Friday, September 21, 2007 New York Jewish Press contains an article by Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen, "Food on the Sabbath Prior to Kiddush," stating that, according to some opinions, it's permissible to eat and drink, but not to have a full meal, prior to Musaf.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 update: Elie has published an ushpizin post, as promised in the comments here. Check it out!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Watch your language!

Ed said, "I was gearing up my arsenal to face a hoard of frummie-blood-seeking Srugies, . . ."

Sigh. I repeat, for the 4,564 time (see here and here): Not every Jewish blogger or J-blog reader has had the privilege of receiving a yeshiva education. For some of us, untranslated Hebrew, Yiddish, Aramaic, and/or "Yeshivish" (also known as Yinglish) might as well be Mandarin.

Here are a few (attempted) definitions, for the rest of us (corrections and/or clarifications appreciated):

Frum [Yiddish]--Orthodox Jewish. In this particular case, Ed seems to be using the diminutive (and, from what I've heard, not always considered the most polite) term "frummie" to indicate someone toward the rightward end of what I call the "Orthodox observance spectrum." (For clarification of that term, see my two-part series, "Little House on the Prairie, Part 2.")

Srugie--A Modern Orthodox Jew, someone toward the leftward end of the "Orthodox observance spectrum." Derived from the Hebrew "kippah s'rugah," meaning "knitted skullcap/yarmulke," this term refers to the tendency of many Modern Orthodox Jewish men to wear crocheted kippot/yarmulkes rather than the kippot of woven material (such as velvet) and/or the black hats more commonly worn by right-wing Orthodox Jewish men.

Thanks to the efforts of Mark/PT, AidelMaidel , and their sister and fellow contributors Ayelet (host of a by-invitation-only blog), and Avromi (host of more blogs than you can shake a stick at :) ), you can find more definitions of Jewish terms here.

But I could also use some Israeli political definitions. Would someone please explain to me the difference between dati leumi and mamlachti dati? How many versions of "Religious Zionist" are there, anyway? Oh, and let's not forget Chardal (Chareidi leumi? [correction from an anonymous commenter: Chareidi dati leumi], Fervently-Religious Zionist ).

Last (for now), but far from least: When one fulfills a religious commandment, as, for instance, by reciting the Sh'ma at the proper time, one is said to be "yotze." I'm sorry to say that I don't know how to spell that word. I'm even sorrier to say that, in over three years of blogging, I have never seen that word spelled in the feminine. (Yotze-et?) Do we women have no commandments that we are required to fulfill, that the glaring absence of a feminine form of that adjective from discussions on the Jewish blogosphere seems to have gone completely unnoticed by every J-blogger of my acquaintance?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007 round-up

Where to look for a good grin

"Humor is everywhere. You just need to pay attention." (Mark/PT, commenting on a humorous post by his daughter Fudge.)

Wish AidelMaidel's family good health--they need it

See here. Thank goodness Big Girl's surgery went well, at least.

Sleepless after break-fast

We came home from a break-the-fast at a friend's house and fell into bed, thoroughly exhausted. . . only to be awakened at 11:30 PM by the Son-ster. "But it's Saturday night, and you're always up at this hour." True.

Roughly an hour later . . . "Who the . . . Oh, it must be my mother. Who else would call at this ridiculous hour?" There are some drawbacks to having relatives living in Jerusalem.

So here I am, wide awake at an even more ridiculous hour. Sigh.

Well, okay, might as well review YK:

The High Holiday cantor (see RH: A day at the opera, etc.) sang one prayer to the tune of "G-d Bless America, " another to "Bai Mir Bist du Schein" (which I can't even spell), another to "Mein Yiddishe Mama." "Ki Hinei KaChomer" was sung to the tune of "This Land is Your Land." The pièce de résistance for Yom Kippur, though, was a rerun of "La Donna é Mobile" ("Woman is Fickle "), this time used as the tune for "Adam Y'sodo." I give up.

Out of curiosity, I timed the Musaf Amidah: From the beginning of the silent Amidah until the beginning of "U-N'taneh Tokef" took approximately 35 minutes. Is that typical? Mark/PT doesn't seem to think so (see the comments).

I also figured out that the best way to be sure to finish the silent Amidah in time for "U-N'taneh Tokef" was to watch my husband. Since he's the chair of the Ritual Committee, and, therefore, in accordance with our synagogue's minhag/custom, sits next to the rabbi, the rabbi and cantor do him the courtesy of waiting at least until he's finished the silent Amidah before starting the Chazarat Hashatz/Reader's Repetition. So when I see him take the traditional three steps back at the end of the silent Amidah, I switch to English immediately. Works every time. :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Rosh Hashanah 2007 round-up

Here, have some (kosher) links :) :

RH: A day at the opera (etc.)

To eat or not to eat, that is the question (This one comes complete with an update. How does one listen to the rabbi's instructions when said instructions are deleterious to one's health?)

Too slow to pray with kavannah, no matter where I pray

Too slow to pray with kavannah, no matter where I pray

When I davven/pray in a synagogue such as our current local synagogue, in which many of the congregants can't read Hebrew and/or are irregular attendees, I can't expect the rabbi and cantor to wait for me to finish praying the Musaf Amidah prayer on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur before the cantor begins chanting the repetition of that prayer, lest the rest of the congregation get bored.

If I davvened in a synagogue in which the majority of the congregants were Yeshiva graduates who could davven at blinding speed, I wouldn't expect the rabbi and cantor to wait for me to finish praying the Musaf Amidah prayer on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur before the cantor began chanting the repetition of that prayer, lest the rest of the congregation get bored.

So I end up racing like mad and davenning/praying parts of the Musaf Amidah in English because that's the only way I can possibly "catch up" in time for the U-n'taneh Tokef prayer, which I love.

The upshot is that I davven with less kavannah (focus, intent) on the Yamim Noraim/High Holidays than on an ordinary Shabbat/Sabbath. Sad, isn't it?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

To eat or not to eat, that is the question

For the life of me, I can't find it in my e-mail, but I had a nice conversation with DovBear last year around this time about this post. I wanted to know how on earth a person could go half a day on Rosh Hashanah without eating when I thought it was assur/forbidden to fast on a holiday (other than a fast day, obviously). He replied, as I recollect, that "we serve G-d first." Well, yeah, but, we're still fasting. Okay, you can have a snack, just not a meal, he said.

So I ran it past my rabbi--who promptly nixed my new habit of having a hard-boiled egg before synagogue on Sabbath and/or holidays because an egg constitutes a small meal, not a snack. I had thought I'd be in the clear as long as I didn't eat bread. He said I was allowed to eat milk with cookies or cake, which is clearly a snack.

"But I don't want to have junk food, Rabbi--I want to eat something healthy!"

He finally came up with a "bypass strategy/work-around"--if I said the brachot (blessings) over the Torah (in Birchot HaShachar) and all three paragraphs of the Sh'ma, I'd be "yotzeh" (yotze-et?)--I would have fulfilled my obligation--having prayed first, and could eat anything I wanted.

That works perfectly for me, since I've been saying Birchot HaShachar and P'sukei D'Zimra anyway before going to synagogue on Sabbath or holidays for a couple of years now.

So I'm back to eating a hard-boiled egg before leaving for shul.

Of course, today would have different, it being the half-fast of Tzom Gedalia. On half-fast days, one doesn't eat between sunrise and sunset. (I've heard that some people break the fast after Mincha, or after Mincha-time, but I don't know whether that practice is really permissible.) Unfortunately, I noticed, Friday night, that I was sniffling again--and by Saturday afternoon, it was clear that I was rounding out my recent bronchitis with a full-fledged flu attack.

The weird part is that, while I'm sick enough that I could probably justify eating, I'm sufficiently under the weather that I can barely force myself to drink plain water. Last night, I was coughing so hard that I actually hurt my temporo-mandibular joint, which is some kind of a first for me.

And here I thought I was getting better. I actually had enough voice to sing on Rosh Hashanah, though not nearly at my usual loud-mouthed volume. (For a harmony singer, singing loudly is pretty much a necessity, unless you don't care that nobody but you, yourself, can hear the harmony.) I was hoping that I'd have enough voice back by this coming Friday that I could lead the Yamim Noraim/High Holiday tune for Yigdal, which I've been doing at our local synagogue for several years. This year, the Punster had to pinch-hit for me on Rosh Hashanah.

Well, we shall see. In the meantime, there goes the rest of my sick leave. :(

Monday, September 17 update:

Darn, here's that missing discussion with DovBear. And, apparently, I goofed--my rabbi did not say that I'm allowed to eat a hard-boiled egg before going to synagogue. But my acid reflux, which was aggravated by my recent bout with bronchitis, and which is also aggravated by the consumption of nuts (not to mention chocolate, citrus, tomatoes, . . . ), takes the nuts-and-fruit solution off the (literal) table. A hard-boiled egg is the only protein source that I can think of that isn't a big deal to put together and doesn't risk aggravating my health problem. So I'm afraid I'm just going to have to say "nuts!" to my rabbi's solution and eat a hard-boiled egg before going to synagogue anyway.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 update:

I showed my rabbi a Friday, September 21, 2007 New York Jewish Press article by Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen, "Food on the Sabbath Prior to Kiddush," stating that, according to some opinions, it's permissible to eat and drink, but not to have a full meal, prior to Musaf. His response was that, since I'm "weak" (I'm pretty sure that's the English word he used, though I forget the Hebrew), I'm permitted to eat a hard-boiled egg before coming to synagogue on Sabbath. (Presumably, the same would apply to a holiday.) I was hoping to get a more clear-cut explanation of why he had said that junk food, but not real food, was fine before shul, but I'll take any kula (lenient interpretation of a law) that I can get.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

RH: A day at the opera (etc.)

One thing about our current High Holiday cantor is predictable: He's bound to get me upset sooner or later.

Make it sooner: What, exactly, was his point in singing the first brachah (blessing) of Kiddush (the sanctification of a Sabbath or holiday over wine or grape juice [or anything but water]) to one of the tunes for the Sabbath song "Yedid Nefesh?" Neither day of Rosh Hashanah fell on Shabbat this year.

But, of course, the high point--or low point--of the holiday, musically speaking, is alway Musaf (the "additional" service commemorating the Temple sacrifices).

The High Holiday cantor started out, in "Hineni" ("Here I Am," the "Reader's Meditation"), with the line "Kol tzarot" sung to the Sabbath song "Shalom Aleichem." Huh???

He always really goes to town, though, on "Adam Yesodo (A human comes from dust. . .)" and Kedushah.

First, there were the usual Broadway tunes. But the "high point" of Kedushah was the cantor's apparent tribute to the recently-deceased Luciano Pavarotti: "Hu Kelokeinu, Hu avinu, Hu malkeinu, hu moshieinu (He is our G-d, He is our father, He is our king, He is our savior)" . . . to the tune of, would you believe, "La Donna é Mobile (Woman is Fickle, " from the Giuseppe Verdi opera "Rigoletto")?!!!

Then there's his usual irritating habit of singing "Va-anachnu kor'm (We bow . . .)" to the tune of the old Israeli folk song "Erev Ba" ("Evening is Coming"). That's harmless enough, I suppose, and at least it's Israeli, but what does evening coming have to do with prostrating ourselves and giving thanks to the King of the King of Kings? (Historical note: I've heard that the king of ancient Persia was known as the King of Kings, so, of course, G-d had to be the King of the King of Kings.)

The pièce de résistance, though, was the post-shofar-blowing hymn, "Hayom harat olam (Today is the birthday of the world)" sung to--are you sitting down?--"Cielito Lindo" ("Beautiful Little Sky [Heaven?])."

Attempted translation of the prayer:

Today is the birthday of the world; today all creatures of the earth stand in judgment, whether as children or as servants. If as children, have compassion upon us, as a father has compassion on his children . . ."

Attempted translation of the Spanish song:

From the brown mountain, Beautiful Little Sky [Heaven?], come down
One pair of little black eyes, Beautiful Little Sky, of contraband.
Aye, aye, aye , aye, sing and don't cry
Because singing makes happy, Beautiful Little Sky, the hearts.

(A bit too literal, perhaps, but you get the idea.)

To make a long story mercifully short, not only did I and my girlfriend in the seat to my right go on strike and refuse to sing, but, possibly for the first time, the High Holiday cantor managed to offend one of the congregants who's subsidizing his pay!

The High Holiday cantor's operating principle--and the synagogue president agrees with him--is to get people singing along at any price. It doesn't hurt, of course, that the cantor encourages the president to join him at the amud (reading stand from which services are lead) and lead some of the singing himself.

But some of us are not, or are no longer, amused. Suffice it to say that, if he didn't have another year on his contract, he'd be out o' here.


Monday, September 10, 2007

A very young shadchan (matchmaker)

One of my oldest and best friends was at a local restaurant this past June when she spotted a cute toddler—is there any other kind?—and went over to the little girl’s table to coo over her. The toddler’s mother was accompanied by her father, who turned out to be a widower who also had a son. Much to Grandpa and my girlfriend’s mutual surprise, they discovered that they were members of the same synagogue and lived only blocks away from one another, though they couldn’t remember ever having met. Next thing you know, Grandpa is asking my girlfriend, a divorcee whose thoroughly miserable first marriage lasted far too long, in my oft-stated opinion (she always asks for my advice, she just never takes any of it), for a date.

And next thing you know, within about two-three weeks, he’s asking for her hand in marriage!

We finally got the privilege of meeting this guy wonder when I proposed a trip to a Piamenta concert the weekend before Shiva Asar b’Tammuz. Being a couple of blunt-spoken types, they both asked for my assessment of him—and, being an equally blunt-spoken type, I told them both that he was a vast improvement over her ex.

They announced their engagement officially just after Tisha B’Av. Originally, they planned to marry in December, but their rabbi suggested that it would be a better idea for them to marry before combining households. So everybody got a week’s notice for a wedding yesterday evening!

It was a lovely, simple ceremony, with a small crowd, in the chattan's (groom's) back yard. Their rabbi officiated, with some of the bride’s and groom’s children holding the poles of the chuppah (wedding canopy), and a family friend holding the little shadchanit. The younger of the kallah's (bride's) two daughters made a heart-felt toast after the ceremony.

What a joy, to see my girlfriend finally happy after all these years! The newlyweds certainly have an extra reason for dipping apples in honey this Rosh Hashanah! I pray that this new year will be the start of many happy, healthy years together for the two of them, and may they enjoy much nachas from their collective children and grandchild(ren) (present and future).

An "interesting" Elul for me

I spent a nice chunk of Elul helping schlep the Son-ster and the better part of his possessions from thither to yon while fighting a case of bronchitis so severe that it caused asthma attacks. The only reason why I went back to work so soon is that I’d already used three of my six annual sick days within three weeks. Being too tired and/or debilitated to get up at a decent hour, I’ve managed to miss every single weekday morning minyan, and, consequently, every shofar blowing, for the entire month of Elul. To boot, I’ve been so wiped out that I’ve skipped praying a lot of services at home, as well.
So there I was, having accidentally taken an express train, standing on an elevated subway platform waiting for a local and admiring the full moon when it suddenly hit me: Elul was half over, and I hadn’t recite Hashem ori v'yishi (Psalm 27, the penitential-season psalm), even once! Eek!
Adding insult to injury, I managed to pick up what I suspect was a mild case of food poisoning this past Saturday night. (Remind me never to eat egg salad at seudah shlishit again.) So, while everyone else was at synagogue enjoying the Selichot service, which I’ve always thought of as the musical introduction to the Yamin Noraim/High Holidays (since it’s during this service that one hears the Yamim Noraim melodies for the first time), I was stuck at home, um, shall we say, getting rid of everything I’d eaten all day in a most unpleasant manner. (Not the pleasantest way to lose weight, lemme tell ya. (: )
Oddly enough, this is the first time in my life that I’ve recovered from laryngitis without getting my singing voice back along with my speaking voice. I really dreaded the thought that I might have to go through all of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) unable to do more than croak along with the cantor. Remember the lyrics to that old song, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog . . .”? Well, that’s how I’ve sounded for the past few weeks.
Imagine my relief when I recovered just enough of my singing voice to be able to lead Birkat Hamazon (Grace after Meals), at my girlfriend’s request, on this, the happiest occasion I’ve enjoyed since our son’s graduation . . .

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"Little House on the Prairie," part 2--links to this two-part series

Both sides against the middle

Little did I know.

When I was younger and even less knowledgeable about the Jewish community than I am now, I used to think that the Orthodox were divided into only two camps, namely, the Chassidim and the "regular" Orthodox Jews.

As I grew older and lived in New York City longer, I became aware that it was possible to be a right-wing Orthodox Jew without being Chassidic. But I didn't even know the word for that approach. Chareidi? Vus is dus? (What's that?)

Now that I've (a) been living in NYC for well over 30 years (more than half my life), (b) have been working for an Orthodox Jewish non-profit organization (first as a temp, now as a permanent, full-time employee) for considerably more than half a decade, and (c) have been reading blogs since 2004, I can practically name the "Orthodox observance spectrum":

(a) what Chana calls "cultural Modern Orthodox" (they like the name but don't always play by the rules of the game);

(b) left-wing Modern Orthodox (where you won't get thrown out of synagogue for starting a women's tefillah (prayer) group, or, maybe even (gasp!) a "partnership minyan";

(c) right-wing Modern Orthodox, also known as Centrist (may or may not permit women's tefillah groups, depending on the rabbi and/or synagogue and/or community);

(d) "Yeshivish";

(e) Chareidi (fervently Orthodox, of both Chassidic and non-Chassidic [mitnagdic?] varieties).

Figuring out the "Orthodox observance spectrum" and its dress code is certainly something interesting, educational, and helpful that I've learned through surfing the Jewish blogosphere. But a more important thing that I've discovered specifically as a result of reading blogs is that not only is my Conservative family not the only one that feels as if it's living in a "Little House on the Prairie," there are some Orthodox families in remarkably similar situations.

It's not that our family is in the boat as these fine frum folks, but rather, that we're on the same lake. The difference is that their boats are being pulled so far into the deep end that the occupants risk drowning, whereas our boat is being yanked so far into the shallow end that we risk running aground.

And how do our children react to being in the middle?

Our son still hates synagogue, and has little interest in practicing Judaism in any form at this time.

Other young people, more traditional, observe their place in the Orthodox world and can't really figure out quite where their piece of the puzzle belongs: "i have never really been acquainted with another family like my own, which i think is really half and half. by which i mean half 80s action films and half minyan points. "

Serious advice to home-seekers: If at all possible, never move anywhere without first spending a Shabbat in your prospective new neighborhood. With the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, I realize that, if we had spent just one Sabbath at our current local synagogue, it would have been patently obvious that we would be complete misfits, both in terms of our level of observance as compared to that of the other parents of young children, and in terms of the pathetic number of children who attended synagogue on a regular basis. The fact that I got yelled at for bringing a pre-schooler to synagogue should have been our first clue.

Some people will end up, for various reasons (e.g., proximity to educational institutions and/or place of employment and/or family), in neighborhoods in which they're the minority, religiously. I suppose that the only feeble advice I have to offer is to be aware that raising kids as a minority within a minority is a major challenge. An open mind, a good sense of humor, and the ability to withstand, politely and respectfully, the pressure to conform (including a willingness to stand your ground and stick to your own principles, when necessary) probably help.

Update: See my guide to the Orthodox observance spectrum and my "levush" illustrated.

The "levush," or "clothes make the (wo)man": A guide to the "Orthodox observance spectrum" & its "dress code"

"Members of the Tribe"

Portrait in tile, 86th Street/Broadway subway station, downtown platform
Shira's Shot, July 7, 2007

Thanks to Mark/PT for introducing me to the term "levush," which I gather means "clothing" or "clothing style." (Mark used the term "uniform," which was probably appropriate for the "levush" that he was describing.)

Here's the "Orthodox observance spectrum," in clothing terms, as far as I've been able to determine (corrections and/or clarifications welcome):

(a) what Chana calls "cultural Modern Orthodox" (they like the name but don't always play by the rules of the game):

Woman--sleeveless or sleeved, pants or skirt, bare head for a married woman, except, perhaps, in synagogue

Man--kippah (of any color[s]) in synagogue only

(b) left-wing Modern Orthodox (where you won't get thrown out of synagogue for starting a women's tefillah (prayer) group, or, maybe even (gasp!) a "partnership minyan"):

Woman--short sleeves, pants or skirt, head-covering for a married woman optional in general, but often considered required in synagogue

Man--kippah (of any color[s]) or hat (of the sports variety), except, perhaps, at work

(c) right-wing Modern Orthodox, also known as Centrist (may or may not permit women's tefillah groups, depending on the rabbi and/or synagogue and/or community):

Woman--short to elbow-covering sleeves, skirt only, head-covering for a married woman, perhaps a greater concern for modesty in terms of length of skirt and height of top

Man--kippah (of any color[s]) or hat (of the sports variety) at all times

(d) "Yeshivish":

Woman--sleeves that cover at least the elbow, skirt only, head-covering for a married woman, perhaps a greater concern for modesty in terms of length of skirt, top that covers all but about an inch of the collarbone at the center (leaving room for a short necklace) or covers the collarbone completely

Man--kippah (almost always black) or hat (almost always black, but, occasionally, for informal occasions, of the sports variety) at all times, white shirt (at least for Sabbath and holidays), possibly a black suit

(e) Chareidi (fervently Orthodox, of both Chassidic and non-Chassidic [mitnagdic (?)] varieties):

Woman--long sleeves, skirt only, head-covering that covers the hair completely for a married woman, perhaps a greater concern for modesty in terms of length of skirt, top that covers the collarbone completely. One of my co-workers tells me that some of the women in the Chareidi community in Lakewood, New Jersey have taken to wearing black and white clothing, as the men do.

Man--black kippah or hat (or Chassidic fur hat, differing in design depending on your Chassidic group) at all times; black suit; white shirt at all times (even when playing hard-rock guitar at a concert open to the general public).

Then, of course, there are the Ashkenazi/Sefardi (B'nei Edot HaMizrach/"Mizrachi"?) differences of opinion:

1. Is wearing a wig/sheitel a permissible way for a married woman to cover her hair? Ashkenazi rabbinate--yes; Sefardi rabbinate--no (or so I've heard).

2. Are bare feet permissible, or must a female of 12 years or older cover at least her ankles? I've become aware of this issue only within the last two or three months. My impression is that this is a hot country/cold country split: Those whose ancestors came from countries where the wearing of sandals was standard see nothing immodest about bare toes, whereas the rest of us poor souls (soles?) . . .


Monday, September 03, 2007

Learning to love statistics

I’m as much of a lurker as the next person. I read enough blog posts that I generally don’t leave a comment unless I have something to add to the conversation. So I can understand that a lot of readers don’t comment, being pretty bad at commenting, myself.

I publish a number of posts to which I don’t expect comments. I also publish a number of posts to which I hope readers will respond.

I try to follow the "rules" promulgated in the comments to one of my posts, a while back. My blogger buddy—you know who you are—patiently explained that, if I read my statistics, I’d realize that most people read blogs at the office, and, therefore, there’s no point publishing posts after Thursday night and before Sunday night at the earliest, since they won’t be read until Monday anyway. (I still haven't quite figured out the finer points of reading my statistics, so I hadn't realize that.) In other words, I shouldn’t expect comments over a weekend. So I try to avoid posting after Thursday night and before Sunday night. (Notice that I waited until almost 6 PM on Labor Day to publish this, since it's likely that few people will see it before returning to work tomorrow anyway.) My blogger buddy also explained that posts with photos are more likely to attract readers’ attention. So, when I want responses, and the post lends itself to having a photo added, I try to add one. My blogger buddy also patiently pointed out the blatantly obvious fact that posts at the top of the screen are the most likely to be read, so, if I want to be sure that people notice a post, I should try not to publish another one for at least two business days.

But what do I do when a post that was at the top of the page for two and a half business days, came with three (later four) photos, and was included in a subsequent "link collection" post, still gets no comments?

Simple—I check my stats.

Last week (as of Friday), my blog had 340 visitors . Neat! I’m delighted to know I have such a nice group of readers. Welcome, and enjoy!
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