Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Freilichen Purim!

Megillah leining in my shul was very long. Some bochurim were a little over-enthusiastic each time the name of our infamous foe, Haman, was recited. Some of the longer Hamans stretched out for a couple of minutes. Nonetheless, Megilla didn't take more than about forty five minutes.

Forty five minutes of reading, it's hard to see tough the Purim story was. Haman about to kill all the Jews? Don't worry, turn the page. But in reality, the story happened over the course of years. Esther sat in loneliness in the palace, not for a couple of pages, but for years. Year after year of sitting and wondering why Hashem had her there, agonizing years of enduring terrible hardships, but Esther didn't know about the neis that would happen in the end.

Now, on Purim, it's important for all of us to realize that we might be sitting in the darkness for years, not knowin when, not knowing why, just waiting, hoping. Just as in the story of Purim, the plan of Hashem will eventually be revealed, and "Revach v'hatzolah ya'amod."

And now, a question for Purim:
Why did Haman attempt to kill all of the Jews? Wasn't it only Mordechai that angered him?
The answer is, Haman knew that if he would only sentence Mordechai to death, his office would be flooded with calls, letters, emails and faxes from the rest of the Jews, requesting that he not kill Mordechai. ;-)

A freilichen Purim!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Multicultural Moments

Episode 1:

I baked some more hamentaschen the other day. Proud of the way they looked and smelled, I packaged some up and brought them into work.

As I held some out to one of the non-Jews who works in my company, I was mentally preparing an explanation about traditional Purim cookies and triumphing over our enemies. But I didn't need to bother. She took one of my cookies, exclaiming: "Oh, Hamentashen! Those are my FAVORITES! I must get the recipe from you!"

Episode 2:

A couple of frum people I work with were standing around shmoozing at work. Suddenly, a non Jew walked into the room. He decided to shmooze too.

"So you guys have a holiday coming up soon, right?"

We all nodded. "We do."

"Purim, right?" He looked proud.

Again, we nodded.

"So what is Purim all about? Are you celebrating an event?"

We explained that we are, but under further questioning, we had a hard time explaining what happened in the Purim story. Finally, he attempted to help out.

"I think I know what Purim is. Isn't that the time when some high up political figure wanted to kill all of the firstborn Jews, and so they all painted their doors?"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Top Ten Types Of Mishloach Manos

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is my attempt to help all of the folks who haven't yet planned their Purim baskets. Simply pick a category that you like, and make em!

10) The Clever Theme: This is the one that everyone feels a need to produce. It's a package filled with assorted food-items and small gifts, none of which would be considered usable on their own. The mini package of unnamed candy, while useless on its own, has immense value as a pink and purple striped package. This is, of course, only for the lady who's theme is pink and purple. The lady who's theme is dentists, would have no use for the unnamed candy, but lots of use for those revolting gummy teeth.

9) The Fancy Homemade: One of my neighbors always makes these. Their cakes may or may not be delicious, but they always look unbelievably gorgeous.

8) The Delicious Homemade: This differs from the previous category in that this shalach manos puts zero emphasis on the aesthetics, and all of it on the taste. This category includes shalach manos such as a cake, still in the disposable pan, placed in a clear food bag with a mini bottle of grape juice, and tied together with a simple knot. This may sound crazy, but these are always my favorite shalach manos. In fact, there's a neighbor of mine who makes the exact same double chocolate cake every year, sends it exactly as described above, and my family always makes sure to pay her a visit. ;-)

7) The Eclectic: this is the shalach manos that fits no other category. It doesn't have a theme, contains no homemade goods, and has no obvious thread to tie the contents together. This shalach manos doesn't have to be all bad. It doesn't contain random inedible foods like the themed shalach manos, so it has more usable potential. This shalach manos also has the greatest recycling potential, as anybody could make one just like it.

6) The Store-Bought: This is the easiest, and usually the most expensive category of shalach manos. This shalach manos can send a message of "I don't have time to make you something nice but I thought of you nonetheless" or "I can't be bothered making something special for you." This shalach manos also has great recycling capabilities, unless the sender commits the ultimate in selfishness: they affix a sticker with their name on it somewhere completely noticable and non-removable.

5) The Oops-I-Forgot: This isn't so much a type of shalach manos, as it is the delivery method. This shalach manos is hastily thrown together, while the children at the door wait. Often recycled, this shalach manos tells the receiver that they weren't on the giver's list that year.

4) The Gift: This is given by people who forget that shalach manos is supposed to be food. The giver's of The Gift often want to do something "grander" than "just" a shalach manos. They can be nice, or useless, depending on the sender. A subcategory of this would be shalach manos WITH a gift. For example, a fancy plate with food on it, or food items arranged on a wrapped box.

3) The Traditional: These people have not forgotten what shalach manos was supposed to be. They often send a bag with some hamentaschen and a pineapple. Although, in today's day and age of shalach manos wars, things like presidor wafers and mint thins in a green box are also pretty traditional.

2) The Funny: This is what I strive to send. It's usually a themed shalach manos, but the difference is that the theme is funny. Or the accompanying poem. Or graphic. Either way, this shalach manos is definately the most purimdik, as it increases simcha all around.

1) The Smile: This is what you get when you bring shalach manos to a princepal of a big school, or perhaps the rav of a huge shul. They don't attempt to make shalach manos for everyone that comes to them. Rather, they smile and thank you for the shalach manos you've given them. This does make sense, in my mind. After all, Purim is not Haloween, and it's not supposed to be about going to other's houses to GET gifts.

Which one do you give?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Older Girls Don't "Do" That

(Scene: SD is driving, mom is in passenger seat. Mom's phone rings. It is MG, my married sister.)

Mom: Hello MG, Just letting you know I'm in the car with SD, you're on speaker.
MG: Hi ma. Hi SD.
(tedious conversation follows)
MG: So, SD, what are you doing for shalach manos this year?
SD: I'd teeeeell you...but then I'd have to keeeeell you...
MG: Oh stop it. Ma, what is she doi-
SD: (places foot firmly on accelarator) She'd teell you, but then I'd have to keell both of you.
Mom: (holding on for dear life) Er, I don't think I want to die yet...

I'm not sure what monumental lesson I was learning from this, but am I the only one who wonders why "older" girls are not "supposed" to make shalach manos? What if I have a great time doing it? What if I love getting creative? What if I love the feeling of having my shalach manos talked about for months? Do I need to wait till I'm married, just like all the other stuff? Now I know why they call it a "crisis"!

(If this post sounds incoherent, it shouldn't be. It's a quarter to two in the morning and I have no idea why I'm up, aside from the shalach manos designing session I just had...)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Top Ten Emails That I'd Rather Not Get Again

Two weeks ago, Top Ten Tuesday highlited annoying computer users. Lots of commenters seemed to hate the obsessive compulsive email forwarder. This week's Top Ten List is a compilation of some of the emails I HATE getting.

10) Send this to ten people then watch your screen. Something hilarious will happen. THIS IS NOT HARRY POTTER FOLKS! THERE IS NO MAGIC!

9) Get a free laptop by sending this email to a bunch of people and CCing or whatever. Sorry dudes, Anna Swelung ain't got no extra laptops to hand out. In fact, she doesn't exist!

8) I'm dying of cancer and the only way I can be saved is if you forward this email because aol will give me fifteen cents for it.
If AOL really knew which emails you were sending to who, would you really not be scared to use emails?

7) Microsoft is teaming up with AOL to distribute their wealth. Er, I'm mixing something up with Obama here, but really. I have a hard time believing that folks think Bill Gates is handing out checks for forwarding his email.

6) Look!!! I found your driver's license online! And haha you look like a monkey!
Makes me wonder if there is inteligent life on THIS planet.

5) Cell phone numbers will go public next month!!!!!!! If this happened every time they say it would... Sigh.

4) You will die an explosive death if you talk on your phone while it's charging!!!!!! Oh, and the graphic pictures of the supposed demise that should have happened to me numerous times don't make the email any better...

3) I Cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg...

2) Anything with poorly photoshopped pictures of disturbing things such as a barber shaving the hat off a British soldier's head, or a cat holding a baby. Ugh.

1) This email actually irked me to the extent that I wrote a rebuttal. I used to send it as a reply-all to people who sent the original email to me. It didn't stop people from passing the email back on to me, so I stopped sending it. I'm talking about the email that comes with the subject line:
Or more specifically,
"Signs you live in the year [insert current year here].
Seriously, that email was funny in the '90's, I'm sure, but it isn't anymore! It's just outdated.
Who wants to see my version?

Which emails do you not want gracing your inbox ever again?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Rosh Chodesh Adar: Compromises

It's adar and we gotta be happy.

That's not difficult for me. See, it's shalach manos season. Nothing makes me happier than an empty basket and the prospect of filling it. I love every part of the shalach manos process. Baking gorgeous cookies- check. Clever themes- check. Neatly arranging things-check. Elegant wrapping-check. And of course, cute and funny poems.

In my house, we kicked off the simcha of the month with some dessert making. We couldn't really decide what type of desserts were best, as my mother thought we should try for something healthy, like fruit. My father, on the other hand, is a stickler for tradition. He claims that hamentaschen are not desserts, but religious items. And so we compromised. I baked these:

Hamenta- I mean, fruit salad wellingtons. ;-)

Have ah gutten chodesh folks!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Why Are You Single?

Recently, in a store, I saw a book called: "Why are you single?" Now, I honestly don't know why I'm single. If I had to guess, I'd say it's because I have not yet met Mr. Right.

I figure though, that if any one ever asks me that question, I better have my answer ready. I wasn't sure what it would be, until today, when I was trying on one of my mother's rings. "You like that?" my mother asked.
"No, I don't like rings in general. I wouldn't know what to do if I had one." That, my friends is why I am single. I don't like rings.

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Days Like Today...

It's days like today that make me feel glad Obama has got the problem of global warming licked. Ahh, the freezing snow blowing around me, the frozen winter air hitting my face, the piles and piles of frozen precipitation all over the roads, who wouldn't want this

It's days like today that make me feel glad for salaried jobs. The poor folks getting- or in this weather, not getting- hourly pay must enjoy the snow only slightly less than my father, whom I connived into picking me up when my boss announced a snowday and I didn't know how to get home.

It's days like today that me appreciate a little pot bubbling on the stove with milk, cocoa powder and splenda. Or that book that I've been wishing I had time to read for weeks. And let's not forget the tantalizingly empty couch....

It's days like today that make me realize that although I hate snow, every cloud has a silver lining. My eyes are closing as I type this, and I'm intending to fully enjoy this day off. Shame though that MP doesn't wanna have a snowball fight with me...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Top Ten Things Overheard On The Grocery Line

Today's Top Ten Tuesday post is dedicated to all creeps who think that texting in public is worse than talking on the phone. Observe from these actual overheard statements just how wrong they are:

10) "I am having such trouble with my shmuly lately. His teachers are complaining of his behavior too..."

9) "My baby kept me up all night last night. I'm afraid she is coming down with something."

8) "My bank account is in overdraft again."

7) "Well the therapist thinks I'm making nice progress on it."

6) "I can't wait for the day I can tell my boss to go to ****"

5) "My husband is really mad at me today."

4) "I trust you not to repeat this to anyone, but my daughter is going on her first ever date donight!"

3) "Baruch Hashem, they got the results of my father's biopsy. The tumor is benign."

2) "But that stems from the psychiatric issues I have..."

1) "She doesn't want anyone to know yet, but she just found out she is pregnant."

What's the most private or embarrassing thing you've ever heard in public?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Simplicity of Old Age

My grandfather came to my house for supper. He's kind of hard of hearing, so conversation is louder than usual, and I had a headache.

I turn the conversation back to a topic that interests me: the iPad. We sat deliberating the various pros and cons of this new gadget, and grandpa was all lost. He asked what we were talking about, so my mother attempted to explain.

"The iPad is similar to the iPod, but it's bigger and has more capabilities."

Grandad was still lost. "Whats an iPod?"

I disappeared under the table in a fit of giggles. Mom kicked me and tried to explain. "It's a device that plays music."

He didn't seem to appreciate this. "I have a cassette player at home, it also plays music."

I had to defend my turf. I started to explain. I held up my iPod touch. "This little thing can hold your entire cassette collection."

My grandfather didn't get it. "But how could you get cassettes onto that?"

I explained. My mother explained. My father explained. My sister explained. At last, grandpa seemed to get it.

He nodded. "This thing does sound impressive." All around the table, heads nodded in agreement. Granddad continued. "In fact, if they keep on perfecting that thing-" he glanced over at my touch. "It might one day be as good as a cassette!"

Thursday, February 4, 2010

But I WANT It!

I was standing in my married friend's apartment, doing my hair. (Don't ask and don't ask.) She held her squirming baby, shmoozing with me and watching for bits I missed. At some point, the baby got bored of talk about jobs and shidduchim, and decided to take back the conversation. She leaned over and reached for the iron.

I jumped back, scared she'd get hurt. She reached further, but I just moved further away. She started to cry. Her mother tried distracting her with something else, but she wanted none of it. All she wanted was my piping hot hair iron.

The baby wailed, and her mother and I marveled at the phenomenon. I wrote a poem along these lines once, but this mashal is so awesomely clear now.

How often do we stretch out our hands, begging Hashem for something? How often do we cry and plead for a specific request? How many times have we refused to he placated with anything else? All that while, Hashem is holding it as far away from us as possible.

We only see the "no," we miss the "no my child, I don't want you to get hurt."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Top Ten Apps I Couldn't Live Without

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is dedicated to my friend, who just bought an iPod touch. She wants to know which apps to get, so here goes:

10) Siddur- there are a number of em on the app store, but the siddur app from Rusty Brick, while not cheap, is excellent. You can chose from any nusach, including some I never heard of. The tefillos are very clear and organized, and it is calendar sensitive, i.e. It will automatically include yaaleh veyavo on rosh chodesh. And hey, it even has shabbos and yom tov davening!
Nah, I tricked you. Haha!

9) Cuberunner Lite- I. Love. This. Game. Firstly, it's free, so IMO nobody is entitled to complain, but this game is just plain awesome. What I love about it is the simplicity. No complicated graphics or controls; it's just you and your accelerometer.

8) IM+ - I have a love hate relationship with this app. I always forget to sign myself out, then I have people mad at me for ignoring them, but in general, it's excellent for making sure you are more connected than bubby ever thought possible.

7) Dictionary- I'd venture a guess that the app store has a bunch of these, but I use the one from One app has the dictionary and theasaurus, plus no wifi connection is required for basic functions.

6) Flood-It- This game is great for mindless playing. Unlike accelerometer games, which you can't use in a crowded waiting room, this game is totally non obtrusive. It also doesn't need too much concentration, which makes it ideal for boring phone conversations. Er, I shouldn't admit to that, should I?

5) Unblock Me Lite- Rush hour minus the complex graphics. Fun, and more importantly, free.

4) Calorie Check- in case anyone was wonderig why a person like me, who needs to have accurate carb-counts for food, doesn't have a carb counting book in my (duffel) bag. This handy app is the reason. Without a wifi connection, the user can get calorie, fat and carbohydrate information and a whole ton of foods.

3) Easy Relax- I don't rememer if this was free for a limited time only, or it's always free, but it's pretty cool. Think, free customizable sound machine. [super fast voice]iPhone or iPod touch not included. Some restrictions may apply. See app store for details.[/super fast voice]

2) Face Melter- this is one of the few apps I actually shelled out my hard earned cash for, but it was worth every penny. Call me cruel, but there is nothing quite as satisfying as puffing up MP's cheeks and distorting her Perfect bump. :-D

1) Blogwriter Lite- this, my friends, is the reason BOSD is still in existance. It's the entire secret behind my blog. Nobody seems to believe me, but 99 percent of posts get typed up right here in this very app. In fact, I live in total fear of my iPod getting lost, simply because I have about 50 or 60 different blog posts in varying degrees of incompleteness, stored nowhere but Blogwriter Lite.

Which apps do you use?