Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Honey, I shrunk the" file

Last Wednesday, when I was making last-minute corrections to a document, the Project Director mentioned, in passing, that s/he thought the table of contents was in too large a font size and occupied too many pages.  But we had more pressing corrections to make, so we both forged ahead with the far-more-important changes.  After I was done with the changes and had reformatted as necessary, though, I thought I'd take a quick look at the table of contents and see what I could do.  So I reformatted each of the four levels of the table of contents individually, reducing the font size to 10 and the space between lines from 5 points to 2.  Not only did I cut the length of the table of contents, I shrank the document by two pages.  This was in addition to having shrunk the length of the file, when I first began updating it, by over 50 pages, simply by reducing the main-text font size from 12 to 10, reducing the space between main-text lines to 0 before and 0 after, and putting one of the sections into two columns.

Then there was that long section of the file that had multiple lists of items separated by tabs.  I thought the section looked sloppy and was hard to read, so, on my own initiative, I added dot leaders to every single list.  That reformatting project took me more than two days.

Formatting  isn't usually difficult, but boy, can it be time-consuming!  Extensive reformatting can also be boring and require a lot of patience, and can put considerable stress on the fingers, wrists, and shoulders from all the pointing, clicking, and general mousing around.  (It's a good thing I'm ambidextrous with a mouse--I was constantly switching hands due to pain in the shoulder.)  But the results are well worth the effort.  That section now looks much more professional and is much easier to read.

'Tis a job well done, if I do say so myself.  And I don't think it's only myself who says so--in these days of frequent downsizing by my cash-strapped employer, I suspect that it's jobs well done such as this one that are helping me keep my job.

"Garbage in, garbage out" is not the way I work.  There's an old saying, "You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear."  I beg to differ--as far as I'm concerned, making a silk purse from a sow's ear is part of my job.  And apparently, it's a specialty--I was on loan to another supervisor for this project because my organization couldn't find anyone else who was as good at it as I am.  I've been working on editing and formatting long documents such as this one since I was a temp here, and have, apparently, become the go-to person for getting them done well.  Fortunately for me, there are several long documents produced by my organization that must be updated every few years, which may help me avoid the ax in future rounds of downsizing.

[This post was actually published on November 30, 2014--I put it here to keep it off the top of my screen, thus making it semi-invisible to my co-workers.]

Casting my lot with the Conservative Movement, part 2

Here's part one.  (Let me just mention that I was pleasantly surprised by the comments.)

And here's a quote from the same ancient post of mine to which I linked in that post.

  • Freedom of role(s)
Anyone who's been reading this blog for more than about 2 1/2 minutes has already figured out that I'm not only a feminist, but an egalitarian, as well, believing that women and men should have equal opportunities in all aspects of Judaism. As I've blogged previously, it's not the mechitzah that's the problem, it's everything that doesn't come with it: being counted in a minyan, being allowed to lead any part of a public religious service, etc. Some of us just can't reconcile ourselves to the idea that the separate roles assigned to men and women by the rabbis over a thousand years ago are still binding on us today and can't be changed. "

Sorry, folks, but not even in the most left-leaning Modern or Open Orthodox synagogue or minyan, Women's Tefillah Group, or Partnership Minyan would a woman be allowed to lead K'dushah.  That's a deal-breaker for me.  I might put up with it on a temporary basis after our local Conservative synagogue closes, assuming that the local Orthodox synagogue is still among the living, but once the local Ortho shul closes and I have to go back to commuting to shul anyway, why on earth would I choose a shul in which I wouldn't be allowed to lead d'varim sheh bi-k'dushah?*

*those parts of a service for which a minyan is required

Monday, October 27, 2014

Casting my lot with the Conservative Movement

Been here, blogged this, but, in the final analysis, it's the freedom-of-movement argument that's going to keep me Conservative.

This past Yamim Noraim (High Holidays), we saw congregants who hadn't been in synagogue for months due to mobility limitations.  How did they finally get to shul?  By car service.

It's all very well and good to say that those with mobility challenges can invest in a Sabbath scooter (see linked post), but some of our congregants can't afford even a plain electric wheelchair.  Are those who are challenged both physically and financially supposed to stay home every Shabbat (Sabbath) and Yom Tov (holiday) for the rest of their lives?

And what happens when the last shul in our neighborhood finally gives up the ghost and closes its doors forever?  Again, are the folks who can't afford to move--and I'm sorry to say that that includes us--supposed to davven (pray) at home every Shabbat and Yom Tov for the rest of our lives?  No more of any ritual and/or prayer that can't be done/said without a minyan:  no Torah reading (except from a printed Chumash), no Bar'chu, K'dushah, or Kaddish?  And what about the synagogue Kiddush, an opportunity to socialize with other Jews on Shabbat and Yom Tov without preparing a four-course meal for guests, which some of our congregants are no longer healthy enough, while others are no longer wealthy enough, to do?

Nope, not happening.  When the last shul in our neighborhood closes its doors, I'll be back to schlepping to shul by subway on Shabbat.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The reward for a job well done

. . . is another job, of course.  I just recently finished updating, editing and reformatting a document of over 200 pages, so, naturally, I've been assigned to do the same for two similar documents from two other divisions.  In the bad old days, I would have asked, "Who died and left me in charge?"  But my Rosh HaShanah/Jewish New Year resolution is to develop a positive attitude.  So now, I simply consider these assignments an opportunity to show what I can do for my employer, which should, I hope, help me stay employed.  I've been doing unpaid overtime for about two weeks now and expect to continue working unpaid OT for another few weeks, which should enhance my reputation with at least one of the folks in the Executive Office.

I just thought I'd come up for air during this temporary respite and say hi, before my three readers wonder what's become of me.  Now, back to work!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A "Happy" Adon Olam for Z'man Simchateinu

This video has been making the rounds since late August.  I thought it appropriate to link to it during this Season of Our Joy.  Enjoy!

Here's the original, by Pharrell Williams.

Monday, October 13, 2014

"Cheater's" Tzimmes

One of our co-congregants "accused" me of cheating when I showed up in our synagogue's sukkah with a tzimmes (A) made with baby carrots instead of cut-up "grown-up" carrots, (B) made without sweet potatoes (which I'm not crazy about, and which are pain to work with), and (C) cooked in a pot, instead of roasted in the oven.  Well, they can tease me all they want about this recipe.  My version of tzimmes tastes good, is easy to make, and doesn't contain ingredients that bother my cantankerous metabolism.  Note:  This recipe contains neither honey nor sugar, but it may still not be good for diabetics because of the high natural-sugar (glycemic?) content, especially from the carrots and fruit juice.  That said, it's an improvement for those of us who have trouble with refined sugar and/or honey (both of which give me leg cramps), but not with juice.


~ 1 apple
~ 1 1/2 (one and a half) pounds baby carrots
~ 1 (one) 20-ounce can unsweetened pineapple chunks
~ ground cinnamon

Core the apple, and place it in the middle of a three-quart pot.  (Do not peel the apple, or you'll end up with applesauce!)  Sprinkle cinnamon both outside and inside the cored apple.

Stuff the inside of the cored apple with pineapple chunks.

Pour 1 1/2 pounds of baby carrots around the apple.

Pour entire balance of canned pineapple--juice and all--on the carrots and stuffed apple.  Mix a bit, to get some of the pineapple underneath the carrots.  (Or perhaps you should pour the carrots and pineapple chunks into the pot in layers.)

Sprinkle contents of pot liberally with cinnamon.

Cook approximately forever, until the carrots break with a fork (at least 1/2 hour.)

This is an easier and less acidic--no orange juice--variation of my original version.  Enjoy!  Moed Tov!

Friday, October 03, 2014

G'mar Chatimah Tovah--May you be sealed in the Book of Life

. . . for a happy, health, and prosperous year.

Sorry I haven't posted much lately, but I've been insanely busy at the office and have been getting home late.  I expect this to continue for probably at least another few weeks.  Oh, well, that's what they pay me for.

In better news, I managed to sneak in a super-quick shopping trip, and bought myself a new, better-fitting pair of non-leather shoes for Yom Kippur (and Tisha B'Av), mostly because it's supposed to be pouring rain around here tomorrow morning--I don't want to wear my non-leather sandals and arrive in synagogue with soaked soles in addition to an in-need-of-repair soul.   Like my usual shoes, the new ones are lace-up athletic shoes that (I hope) won't slip and irritate my bad foot, and are ugly as sin--which is, I suppose, appropriate.  :(  But I asked my husband to take my gorgeous--not--Niagara Fall sandals (see linked post) to shul this afternoon before our pre-fast dinner, just in case.  :)

Have an easy and meaningful fast.
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