Thursday, February 26, 2015

PhD in pictures

Presenting Our Son the Doctor:  PhD in Physics, April 26, 2015

The proud parents claim bragging rights

(In the lab after the graduation ceremony)

Link to photo of our son's Bachelor's in Science graduation here.

[This post actually published on April 30, 2015.  Original post here.]


Sunday, February 22, 2015

"Blueprints" followed by "Fashion Week" :)

That's how a wiseguy co-congregant described Parshat Terumah (a "blueprint special") followed by Parshat Tetzaveh (in large part, a list of the clothing to be worn by the Kohen Gadol/High Priest and the "ordinary" Kohanim/Priests), both of which I'd describe as  "vocabulary-builder" parshiot/weekly Torah/Bible readings.  Rabbi Ethan Tucker has insisted that there's no such thing as a boring parshah.  I'm sorry to say that I don't find his positive attitude contagious.  How would you make this interesting reading, both for your child/ren (if any) and for yourself?

Related--these previous posts of mine:

~ Parashat T'rumah/Terumah, 5774 edition (WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2014)

~ Parshat Tetzaveh, 5773/2013 thoughts (FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2013)

My latest kitchen experiment

I decided to try roasting my own almonds because most commercially-prepared nuts seem to be cooked in canola oil, which along with corn, cottonseed, safflower, and soybean oils, has been getting some bad press lately regarding how healthy it is.

350 degrees Fahrenheit (176.67 Celsius) for 10 minutes left me with some pretty schvach (bland, dull) almonds, so I tossed 'em back into the oven for another 10 minutes with a good coating (one tablespoon) of coconut oil (supposedly, in terms of healthiness, one of the safer oils with which to good at high heat).  Better, but still shvach.  The sea salt didn't stick very well when I sprinkled it on after roasting--my husband suggested that I salt the almonds before roasting them, next time.  Will do.

Later, I read that high-heat roasting is not the best for preserving the health benefits of nuts, so next time, I'll pre-heat the oven to only 170 Fahrenheit, (76.67 Celcius) add the coconut oil, then the sea salt, and then roast the almonds for 20-25 minutes.  Stay tuned.

"Freezer-ville" competition

Here's an e-mail exchange from early afternoon this past Friday:

Mom to son:  it was 3 degrees when I left for work this morning.

Son to Mom:  -6 here

[Convert from Fahrenheit to Celsius here.]

Oy.  Hope we can all thaw out before Pesach.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Weather report

Boston had eight feet of snow.  They're suffering so badly from "cabin fever"  that some Bostonians have amused themselves by jumping out of windows into the snowdrifts, a practice roundly condemned by Boston's mayor.  (I wouldn't recommend it--one never knows what's hidden under the snow that could kill a person.)

New York City is merely doing its "Frozen Apple" routine. I've overdressed on several recent days because I thought it was going to be colder.  Could be worse, and probably will be.  :)

Much to my pleasant surprise, my skin has not been following the weather reports--it's been gradually improving over the past few weeks despite the cold and snow, and, at the moment, my knuckles and lips aren't cracked at all.  I think that's because I've started tossing plenty of sunflower seeds into my nightly salad--I've heard and read that sunflower oil is good for the skin.  Try it, you'll like it.

To all my readers in the northern hemisphere:  Stay warm, and be careful out there.  You know what the signs on the highways and bridges say:  "Slippery when wet."

Monday, February 16, 2015

Shira takes another look at Jewish liturgy

Naturally, I can't find the post, but a few weeks ago, I read a discussion among Orthodox women about prayer, and was struck by one woman's choice to say "Baruch . . . hamechin mitz'adei adam" (roughly translated, "Praised [is the One who] makes firm the steps of a human") rather than "Baruch . . . hamechin mitz'adei gaver" ("Praised [is the One who] makes firm the steps of a man").

Previously, I had posted:

"since the Hebrew language does not have a neuter, any word in the masculine can be assumed to include the feminine unless otherwise specified. The most common form of specification is "Avraham, Yitzchak, v'Yaakov (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob)," which clearly excludes women."

I am no longer of that opinion.  The words "gever" (or "gaver") and "ish" both mean "man" pretty unequivocally.  The word "adam" (pronounced "ahdahm" in modern Israeli Hebrew), though technically masculine, is the closest that the gendered Hebrew language comes to "person" or "human."  The proof is in Tanach/the Bible, in B'reshit/Genesis, Chapter 1:

כז  וַיִּבְרָא אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ, בְּצֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים בָּרָא אֹתוֹ:  זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה, בָּרָא אֹתָם.27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.

Yes, in the original (or earlier portion, if you prefer) of the creation story, Adam is both male and female.  (Notice that the original Hebrew word is "ha-adam (the adam)"--in this instance, the word "adam" is not being used as a name.)  Consequently, I think it can be assumed that, even in modern Israeli Hebrew, the term "adam," when not used as a name, means "person" or "human."

So now, not only do I say "Baruch . . . hamechin mitz'adei adam," I also say "Ashrei adam sheh-yishma l'mitzvotecha (Happy is the person who listens to Your commandments)" instead of "Ashrei ish . . . Happy is the man . . ." in the prayer text after the three paragraphs of Sh'ma.  Why should I exclude myself from my own prayers?

On the other hand, I've adopted a practice that I first saw in the birkon/bentcher/Grace after Meals book Shaarei Simcha/Gates of Joy (edited by Adena K. Berkowitz and Rivka Haut) in order to comply technically with the tradition that one doesn't change the chatimah ("seal") of a b'rachah/blessing (the part that begins with Baruch)--I add words in my head, rather than aloud.  So I no longer say "u-foked Sarah,"* I think it.

Apparently, my choice of wording in prayer is still a work in progress.

See also these posts of mine:

~ Hem u'nsheihem (them and their wives)" . . . : A woman's place--if any--in the siddur (Sunday, January 08, 2006)

~ Sheh-asani (updated) (Saturday, April 12, 2014--click on the link in that post to read the original.

*Rough translation: "Who keeps His commitment to Sarah."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Hot tip for skirting the cold in a skirt

  • Buy full-length (thigh-high) legwarmers.
  • Pull them all the way up, but don't bother leaving them there--they won't stay up anyway.
  • Fold the top of each legwarmer down so that it covers the knee with a double layer--this will both keep your knees warmer and help keep the legwarmers from falling below the knee.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Season's greetings :(

I heard the little squeaker in the kitchen almost the minute I walked into the apartment.  I can't really blame the poor thing--it was just trying to stay warm.  But what are we supposed to do with a mouse in an urban apartment?  We can't use a catch-and-release trap for a mouse because there's no place to release it.  In the past, we've left a mouse stuck on a glue trap until it was dead, or nearly so, then swept it into a bag and thrown it down the compactor chute, but I've always thought that that was cruel.  Only in recent months have I finally worked up the nerve to try something that I hope is more humane--I put a heavy old printed hardcover dictionary into a couple of plastic bags, and "bombs away."  If you're going to kill a mouse, at least make it quick and put the poor thing out of its misery.  I wish the Digital Generation good luck with this--you can't kill a mouse with a Kindle.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Kashrut and common sense

Start here.

Not only does all that inspecting and washing of fruits and vegetables take forever, it also ruins the flavor and/or forces us to waste food in a way that would have scandalized some of our ancestors.  (Me to my late grandmother:  "I've looked all over New York, and I can't find rice knishes anywhere.  Why are you the only person I know who makes rice knishes?"  Grandmom:  "We were poor, and rice was cheaper than potatoes.")

I've gone back to eating lettuce because we need more greens in our diet to stay healthy, and I've gone back to eating fresh strawberries because they taste much better than the frozen ones.  I refuse to give up eating vegetables and fruits that are both delicious and good for me just because inspecting and cleaning them takes more time and effort than a person employed full-time (and/or caring for children and/or the elderly) can spare.  How could I possibly inspect raspberries one by one when making a fruit salad in the few minutes I have before Shabbat after rushing home from work?

One local rabbi with whom we've studied is of the opinion that you don't eat bugs if you see them, but you needn't go looking for them.  That may not be ok with the OK, but it's good enough for me.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Prolozone Therapy progress report

When last we saw Ms. Porcupine, she was up to her, um, hip in injection needles, the treatment leaving me wearing enough bandaids to look like one of Yaakov Avinu's (Jacob Our Father's) spotted sheep.  :)  I'm happy to report that the prolozone therapy has greatly reduced my discomfort in my right hip.  A caveat:  Be sure to find a health-care provider who's willing to spend plenty of time giving painkilling injections first, as mine is.
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