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Archive for December, 2008

Year in review

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 by Ari

Well, everyone else with Internet access is busy writing their year in review pieces. Seeing as the internet strips you of your ability to formulate independent thoughts, I have no choice but to do so as well.

2008 was a year of change. We had a child, Rebecca graduated medical school and started her residency, I got a new job, and we moved back to Washington DC, my brother got engaged, and my sister-in-law got married. In world news, the Democrats dominated the elections, a Philadelphia sports team won a championship, there’s a brand new recession for us all to enjoy, and most people’s 401Ks shrank so much they’re now 301Ks. Want to know what I’m looking forward to in 2009? Stability. I plan to wake up each morning at 6, drop Aliza off at daycare, do my job, watch Aliza grow, lead the Rambam Chaburah at Kesher, read a few books, go running at least twice a week, and generally lead a boring life.

This wasn’t in my job description

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008 by Ari

There’s a PA system at work. It presumably used in emergencies (luckily there haven’t been any since I started), and the occasional announcement of corporate events and reminders. Today, around 9AM, they hooked up the PA system to Christmas music. ARRRGGGHHHH! Of all the days to leave my Metallica collection at home. Although I must say, never before have i been so grateful for a pair of noise canceling headphones and internet radio.

This wasn't in my job description

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008 by Ari

There’s a PA system at work. It presumably used in emergencies (luckily there haven’t been any since I started), and the occasional announcement of corporate events and reminders. Today, around 9AM, they hooked up the PA system to Christmas music. ARRRGGGHHHH! Of all the days to leave my Metallica collection at home. Although I must say, never before have i been so grateful for a pair of noise canceling headphones and internet radio.

Move over star trek

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008 by Ari

Now, for the first time ever, we actually know just what it was Geordi had on his face.

Murder most foul?

Sunday, December 21st, 2008 by Ari

Back when I lived in St. Louis, I attended Bais Abe, an eclectic synagogue in The Loop. (I can’t really emphasize the word eclectic enough.) One of the people who perhaps best embodied the diversity that was Bais Abe was Dan Kliman. As an openly gay man who attended an Orthodox synagogue he was someone who could not be categorized simply. He was active in starting the Central West End Minyan, a non denominational minyan near his home. He was also a pro-bike/anti-car activist. He frequently rode his bike to shul, putting a pair of bike shorts over his nice suit so it wouldn’t get dirty from the bike seat. (I know, I know, get over it). I always found him to have a wry sense of humor, and was someone who wasn’t afraid to tell you how he felt. I always admired him for his willingness to stand up for what he believed in. In 2002 he moved to the bay area (I teased him that he just wanted a more liberal and bike friendly atmosphere than what the Midwest afforded him), and to be honest I haven’t spoken to him since.

I got an email today from another friend that he was found at the bottom of an elevator shaft last week. When I thought up this post, I didn’t mean for it to turn into a full blown eulogy, but rather a discussion of elevator shafts. How the heck does anyone fall into an elevator shaft?!? Don’t most elevator shafts have doors on them? I always assumed that “fell down an elevator shaft” was code for “murdered, possibly by the mob”. I can see how Dan could arouse anger in some people. He was very vocal in the gay rights movement, the pro-Israel movement, and the anti-car movement. When biking, he took a certain pleasure in making cars slow down to make way to the bicyclists. While people have been pressing the police for an investigation, the police have maintained that the fall was an accident. Frankly it doesn’t seem like it’s very hard to secure an elevator shaft, so I’m surprised it’s even possible for someone to get hurt in one. The elevator car is essentially the size of the shaft, so I don’t see how anyone stepping out of the car could fall down the shaft. The doors should always be locked unless the elevator car is at the floor. (This last part seems like the most obvious and the most deadly. Take for example this story where two people fell down the same elevator shaft. Lock the freakin doors!) I’m not a conspiracy theorist, and if the police say they have proof it was an accident then I tend to believe them, even if it makes little sense. However, I would like to think that this is an easily preventable type of death, and would like to see simple engineering changes made to try and minimize the number of casualties).

Baruch dayan haemet. Wherever you are Dan, I just hope they made sure to build enough bike lanes for you.

When you die

Sunday, December 14th, 2008 by Ari

I started reading The Passover Seder: Afikoman in Exile by Ruth Gruber Fredman. The preface begins with the following lines:

Abdul Hamid M. el-Zein, my teacher and my friend was to have written the preface to this book. His words would have honored the work, but Zein died suddenly in August 1979, and has returned to his native Alexandria.

So that’s where you go when you die.

bad relationship

Thursday, December 11th, 2008 by Ari

NPR’s Robert Siegel had a very revealing interview with Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn. The two things I found most interesting were his comments at the end. He said that he hadn’t exchanged more than pleasantries with Blagojevich since August 2007 – over a year ago. I know high ranking politicians frequently lead sheltered lives, surrounded by layers and layers of handlers, but the fact that the governor and his second in command didn’t talk for over a year is mind boggling. If I ever went even a month without talking to my immediate superior at work I would think something was dysfunctional. The second revealing comment he made was when Siegel asked if Quinn was surprised, and Quinn’s reply was no.

The clock shows 14:59

Thursday, December 11th, 2008 by Ari

I think Joe the plumber’s 15 minutes of fame are pretty much done. Move along now, please don’t come back.

Rod Blagojevic

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008 by Ari

I know that everyone deserves a fair trial and the right to defend themselves, and Rod Blagojevic is no exception. That being said, if even half of what is in the indictment is true (and there are recordings so it looks like it is), then he has done more to directly harm the country for his personal benefit than any American that I can recall since the various Russian spy cases during the cold war. There should even be a special category for this type of crime – abuse of power and conspiracy to harm the people who elected you. Maybe his punishment should be that he has to spend the next 10-20 as Ted Stevens’ roommate. They can even have the cell next to William Jefferson and Duke Cunningham at the “abuse of power” prison.

The galaxy

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008 by Ari

Ever wondered what’s at the center of the galaxy, holding the whole thing together? Turns out it’s a massive black hole.

Clean uses: 1, Perverted uses: 56,392

Monday, December 8th, 2008 by Ari

When I got my camcorder (required for new parents), one of the features that both Rebecca and I remarked on was the NightShot Infrared system which allowed you to take videos in complete darkness. Since I don’t know many people who do nocturnal birdwatching, I could really only think of one use for that feature. Last night, I discovered the other use. After being asleep for a little while Aliza sometimes wakes up just enough to cry a few times (usually with her eyes still tightly closed). The best litmus test for knowing if she’ll fall back asleep in 2 minutes or if you have to go in and pick her up is to see if she’s standing up. If she’s standing up, go in and comfort her. If she’s still lying down, she’ll be back asleep in two minutes and picking her up will just wake her up more. The problem is that entering her room allows light in and could disturb her if she’s still asleep. Enter the camcorder. I open the door just a crack, reach in with the camcorder, turn on the IR system, zoom in, and see her status on the LCD screen.

The world’s finest news source

Thursday, December 4th, 2008 by Ari

If it weren’t for the Onion’s crossword puzzle and the boring part of a class this morning, I never would have learned that Hustler is making a porno parody based of Sarah Palin. It is entitled Nailin Paylin.

All I can say is drill baby drill!