The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Foster Care in America: The Case of Marie and Her Sons

Uberimma gave me a head's up about a story in last week's New York Times Magazine that has blown me away.

The article is 15 pages long but well worth reading. To make a long story short, it follows the struggle of a pregnant 29-year-old woman whose 5 children have been placed in foster care to get her children back. The state agency responsible for foster care has decided to terminate her parental rights (TPR). While "Marie" has seemingly gotten her drug problems under control (her last baby was born addicted to cocaine) and has taken some steps to obtain proper parenting skills, the state has decided that her long track record as a drug abuser, and her long record of instability (her five children have been born to 4 different fathers, most of whom have been convicted felons and drug dealers), suggests that she is too unstable to raise the children over the long term.

The article portrays Marie in a relatively sympathetic light given her long history of irresponsibility. They even bring in some ridiculous lawyer from NYU law school who spouts some idiodic politically correct mumbo jumbo:

I believe in the golden rule,” said Martin Guggenheim — the N.Y.U. law professor, who represented hundreds of kids in juvenile-delinquency, child-protection and T.P.R. cases as a legal-services attorney — when I described Marie’s situation. “Test this case against what we would want for our own families.” He spoke about race and class and suggested that we substitute someone influential for Marie and painkillers for cocaine. “If we imagine it was substances that important people use, we can’t imagine that we would be taking those children.”
As far as I am concerned, anyone who studies this case or reads this article who doesn't think it's in the best interest of the children to be taken from this pathetic mother, is delusional. (I'm not suggesting we shouldn't feel bad for the mother; her case is tragic. She was raised by a drug addicted mother and had her first child at the age of 13).

Finally, at the end of the article, the author virtually skips over an incredibly important point: It appears that the mother has bugged out. In the two weeks before the article went to press, she skipped her weekly visits with her kids. The state social workers believe she may have skipped out of Connecticut to avoid having her current baby taken from her at birth.

The article also focuses on the tremendous struggles faced by state social workers in deciding the correct course of action in TPR cases. They are portrayed as almost heroic figures who must balance the rights of the mother (and, in this case, their obvious personal feelings for the mother) with the best interests of the children. No decision to TPR a mother is easy even if the objective facts would seem to make the decision clearcut.

This story resonates with MHW and me for obvious reasons. Fosterboy and his siblings were involved in a long, drawn out, and ultimately successful TPR case. (His sister has been adopted and, with G-d's help, his two younger brothers will soon be adopted.) We have no idea where the case with the Baby stands today. While I am not at liberty to discuss specifics, I will say that, unlike the case with Marie and her sons, there have never been allegations of drugs or abuse of any kind. This will no doubt make it that much more difficult for social workers and courts to decide what to do in this case.


The Law of Unintended Consequences - Baby Version

First, some background. My summer Sunday schedule is almost always the same. I get up between 4:30 and 5 a.m. (depending on hanetz) for minyan. I then ride my bike for two or three hours (you will be glad to know that my testosterone ratio does not even approach 4:1). Every five to six weeks I do a five to six hour ride.

On those Sundays that I only ride two or three hours, I then get to take care of the Baby while MHW and OOD go to a shiur and MHW goes to the chick's gym. (On the weeks that I do long rides I am completely useless all day; first, I'm gone for 7 or 8 hours (I usually drive to the long rides) and second, even when I get home, I am not particularly functional as a daddy).

So, I usually have between one and a half and two hours to entertain the Baby by myself before she mercifully falls asleep for her nap. This is not a simple thing.

Now, to the point. A few years ago, my mom, zzg, bought a set of 12 Shirley Temple VHS tapes for OYD. For a couple of years, they did the trick. The movies are timeless and OYD was delighted. But what entertains a 12 year old doesn't necessarily do it for a 14 year old. So, recently, the tapes have been piled up collecting dust near the VCR in our room.

This morning, as I was chasing the Baby all over the house, she went over to the tapes and began to play. First, she methodically removed each one from the box. Then, she examined them one by one and turned them over until each one slid out of its own case. Then I stacked them all and the Baby dutifully knocked them over. This process was repeated many times. Over and over again. I got a good 20 minutes out of the Shirley Temple tapes.

Perhaps not what my mom expected when she bought these tapes but they're the gift that keeps on giving as far as I'm concerned.

Go mom.


Friday, July 28, 2006

Tending to the Flock II, or They'd Be Better Off Sending Underwear

I am surprised by the strong reaction to my previous post on this topic. I did not mean to suggest that the Rabbanim that go one these silly "solidarity trips" don't mean well, CV. I just think they can do much more good by staying home, giving chizuk to the locals, rallying the locals to take trips to Israel, and doing stuff like raising money for underwear for the IDF soldiers. If it isn't underwear, there are many other worthwhile projects to undertake.


Is Floyd a Dope?

I will post on this topic after the "B" sample is analyzed. If it turns up showing a high level of testosterone, Floyd Landis will, in all likelihood, be disgraced and finished as a rider. It will also be disasterous for the Tour de France and professional cycling.

But what gets me, in the meantime, are the idiots on sports radio who don't know the difference between a 'double' and a 'triple', pontificating on the Tour de France. These are the same bufoons who, in sports that at least they purport to understand, argue that the Yankees should trade A-Rod (for whom? Joe Foy?). It is embarrassing.

While I'm on sports, what was Joe (the genius) Torre thinking when he sent Melke Cabrera up to bunt the other night. Yankees are down by a run in the top of the eight, have first and second, nobody out. Bunting in that situation is always wrong, but with their decimated lineup, Cabrera is the best remaining hitter in the lineup (really, the only decent hitter left; the hitters following him are Triple A/replacement level hiiters). Luckily for the genious manager, Cabrera is a lame bunter and his two attempts at bunting are pathetic fouls. He then proceeds to hit a double in the gap making his manager smell like a rose.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tending To Their Flocks

Following up on a thread started by my good buddy Dov Bear, I saw the following message that was distributed on our community message board:

On Motzae Shabbat a group of leading Rabbis from New York accompanied by other dignitaries led by Dov Hikind will be leaving on a Solidarity Mission to Israel. I will be participating in this Mission and hope to visit and give hizuk to the embattled communities in Israel, victims of violence, bereaved families and the soldiers who are waging this heroic battle.
I hate to be cynical (actually, I don't. I'm frequently cynical) but wouldn't we all be better off if our local community rabbis stayed home and tended to their own flocks rather than going to Israel for photo ops.

It's the nine days, for goodness sake. Tisha B'Av is around the corner. There is a horrible war going on in Israel and I sense so much chalishas hadas and despair in the air. Do these galus rabbis and local political hacks really think they will be giving the people of Israel chizuk by spending tzedakah money to fly to Israel? Wouldn't the Israelis be better off if the rabbis stayed home and raised money instead of spending it? Wouldn't their own congregants be better off if they stuck around and gave them chizuk?

I don't get it.


Monday, July 24, 2006

I Don't Think So...

OYS is on JOLT II, an NCSY summer program that spends a week in Poland before moving to Ukraine. In Ukraine, the kids help run a sleep away camp for unaffiliated Jewish kids in some G-d forsaken area near Karkhov. Although they all have cell phones (it was required), there is no reception where they are now.

We receive periodic emails from the director of JOLT, who actually has to travel back to Karkhov in order to post his emails.

I found this line in his most recent email ammusing:

They do miss you a lot and are a little frustrated that they have no means to communicate with you but I will do my best to pass on any messages.
Inasmuch as we received exactly one phone call during the entire time OYS was in Poland, I somehow doubt that this message was referring to him. On the other hand, the nature of the single call was very different from this conversation. Maybe OYS is growing up.


Saturday, July 22, 2006


What would have happened in the winter of 1980 had Team USA, after beating the Russians in one of the greatest upsets of all time, lost in the hockey final? Nobody would have described it as the "Miracle on Ice" because, after all, who would have cared that the USA team came in second?

The same sort of scenario was played out in today's time trial at the Tour de France. Having put on the greatest one-day display in the history of the Tour de France on Thursday, what would it have meant had Floyd Landis not prevailed over his two remaining rivals this morning to snatch the yellow jersey.

Luckily, we will not have to speculate. Having started the day 18 seconds behind second place and 30 seconds behind first, Landis put on a powerful performance and ended the day with the third best time trial and the best overall time by almost exactly one minute. He will wear the yellow jersey into Paris tomorrow, thereby completing one of the most compelling Tours de France that we have ever seen and certainly one of the greatest individual efforts in the history of cycling (or any sport, for that matter).

(And, to top things off, the French will have to deal with yet another American winning the Tour, the eighth year in a row that that has happened.)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Stage 17

Yesterday's performance in the Alps by Floyd landis was historic. It was on the level of the greatest individual, one-day sporting achievements of all time. It was certainly the greatest single stage ride in the 100 year history of the Tour de France.

To put it in perspective, it is on a level with the Red Sox coming back from a 0 - 3 deficit to beat the Yankees, the Miracle on Ice, etc. It is as if a tennis player were down 2 sets to love, 5 games to zero, and came back to win Wimbeldon. Except, instead of it being in a sissy sport, it was accomplished by a man on a bicycle over 125 miles of excruciating hills that most people would have a hard time driving up, never mind riding up. Landis rode the last 75 miles entirely on his own and was able to hold off some of the greatest riders alive today, all of whom were riding together. (It is much easier, on straight roads and downhills, to ride in a group; by taking turns at the front of a group of riders and and then settling back into a paceline, riders are able to conserve as much as 30% of their energy compared to riding alone).

Landis and Phonak had nothing to lose. Unless they tried something radical, Landis was done. Although he is probably the best time trialer, there is no way to made up a deficit of 8 minutes in a time trial.

The question on everyone's mind is how did he pull this off? First and foremost, he simply rode like a man possessed, much harder and longer than anyone would have thought possible. But even so, how was he able to pull this off tactically?

The Phonak team started the stage at the front of the peleton (main group of riders). They set a blistering pace for the first 50 miles, wearing down all the other riders. Then, during the first brutal climb (a "beyond category" climb), Landis broke away by himself. Why did the other riders let him go? Why didn't they try to chase him down? Four reasons. First, no one thought it humanly possible to sustain a single-rider breakaway for 75 miles. Second, since Landis was so far behind, no one thought it possible that he would be able to eat into the lead by more than a couple of minutes; he needed almost 8. Third, the top five riders had each other to worry about. They couldn't attempt chasing Landis and risk burning out when they needed to preserve their energyfor the end when they would be battling each other for what they presumed would be the actual lead. Finally, the pace Landis was setting during his breakaway was so brutal that I don't think any of the riders could have kept up with him even had they tried.

So, Landis and Phonak brilliantly sized up the situation and took advantage, allowing Landis to break free. At that point, and this can't be stressed enough, Landis singlehandedly took over the Tour de France.

Landis is now only 30 seconds behind and has a very good shot at winning the yellow jersey during Saturday's time trial. Trully amazing.

I have owned only one pair of sandals in my life. That was during my year at Hebrew University over 30 years ago when I went native. In fact, since then, I have never put on shoes without socks underneath. The very thought of going sockless grosses me out.

I was moved to write this post by what I saw this morning at minyan. A bunch of men either wearing Na'ot or loafers without socks, during davening. Call me old fashioned but I just don't get that. Whatever.

Ironically, I am sitting at my desk this morning sockless, in Na'ot. I got caught in a torrential rain this morning for which an umbrella was useless. My regular shoes and socks are soaked and are drying. Feels goofy.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Greatness of Floyd Landis

Some dopey observer wrote the following yesterday after Floyd Landis bonked on the last climb of yesterday's stage of the Tour de France:

Stick a fork in him; barring a miracle, Landis is done.
Well, the miracle seems to have happened. In one of the most spectacular performances ever to be seen in the history of the Tour, Landis broke away early during the first mountain climb, stayed clear for the entire stage, and won the 17th stage by 5:49! He essentially got back most of what he gave up yesterday. He is in third place, only 30 seconds behind the leader and only 18 seconds behind second place. He is a far better time trialer than either of the firdt two riders and, amazingly, has a real opportunity to win back the yellow jersey by the end of Saturday's time trial.

Absolutely astonishing.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Landis Blows Up...or the Greatness of Lance

Ten kilometers from the finish of today's stage, Floyd Landis bonked. His teammates had all vanished and he was left all alone. He was attacked a few times and finally had nothing left. In those final miles, he lost 8 minutes to the current holder of the yellow jersey. Stick a fork in him; barring a miracle, Landis is done.

Landis fought valiantly on a ruined hip and he deserves our admiration. With just four days left, this Tour is as wide open as I've ever seen. In fact, with one more stage in the Alps and a long time trial on Saturday, there are still at least five riders who could win.

Today's events bring home just how amazing was the performance of Lance over the past 7 years. Admittedly, he had better teams than the current Phonak squad. Nevertheless, even on those ocassions when Lance found himself isolated in the Alps or Pyrenees, he always found something inside and rose to the challenge. We will probably never see his likes again.
The House That Ruth Built

I had the pleasure of spending 2 and a half hours at Yankee Stadium today. And about 5 and a half hours in my car going to and fro.

I left my house at 11 to pick up Fosterboy. It is usually a 45 minute drive to where he is staying. It took me an hour and 45 minutes. I don't know why.

In any event, the ride back to Yankee Stadium should have taken less than 15 minutes. Because it was now so late and because driving near the Stadium is ridiculous, we didn't get into the park until 1:40, 35 minutes after the game had begun.

The game ended about 4:15 and we proceeded to the parking garage. My car was on the third floor. 65 minutes later, I made it to the street. More than 1/2 hour after that, I still hadn't made it onto the highway. Finally, at 6:30, I arrived back at Fosterboy's place.

What's amazing is that people apparently put up with this all the time. The Yankees are averaging about 50,000 fans per game (today there were close to 55,000).

I seriously doubt that I will ever drive to a weekday Yankees day game ever again. Ich kenesht.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006


It just occurred to me....

What would the J Blogosphere do without me? While everyone else is busy blogging about the situation in Israel, posting Tehilim, or just being too upset to post, I continue to faithfully keep my co-religionists up to date and informed about the greatest sporting event of all, the Tour de France.

It isn't easy but someone has to do it.


Bob Roll is a Doofus

Bob Roll is one of the commentators for the OLN Network who is covering the Tour de France. In general, the coverage has been spectacular. They have cameramen on motorbikes and in helicopters that never seem to miss an important moment.

However, their commentary has been surprisingly goofy. Never more so than the hysterical reaction Bob Roll had to Floyd Landis' tactics in stage number 13. Landis started the stage in the yellow jersey but his team, Phonak, decided that it would ride at a predetermined pace and only chase down breakaways if they included riders who were real threats to Landis.

The Phonak team wanted to preserve its energy for the Alps which were scheduled to start today. They didn't care about retaining the yellow jersey and, in fact, had much to gain by giving it up to someone who would not be able to challenge Landis in the Alps. This is a strategy that Lance Armstrong had used many times in his seven Tour wins. There is nothing radical or strange about it.

The only reason for raised eyebrows is that the breakaway was able to gain an incredible 29.5 minutes on Landis and one of the riders was actually able to take over the yellow jersey for a couple of days.

Roll and his fellow commentators went apoplectic. (Landis and his Phonak team could have easily narrowed the gap at any time had they chosen to do so, thereby retaining the yellow jersey. They couldn't understand why Phonak wouldn't pick up the pace for the last 10K). Roll called it a sign of weakness and said it sent a bad signal to Landis' closest competitors.

I thought Roll was nuts. I thought Phonak's strategy was brilliant and, indeed, a sign of strength.

Today, in the Alps, Landis showed how silly Roll et al were. Landis was fourth to finish today's brutal stage up the Alp du Huez (a 9 mile climb to end a gruelling day), first among the real challengers, took back the yellow jersey by more than a minute, and put a little bit of time between him and all other challengers but one, Andreas Kloden (over whom he has a 2.5 minute lead).

If Landis can hold off Kloden and a couple of other riders for two more hard stages, he should be standing on the podium next Sunday wearing yellow and Phonak's strategy will have been vindicated.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Romantic Weekend

All of our kids are away this Shabbos. OOS is married with children, OOD is at Camp Simcha, OYS is in Poland on JOLT and OYD is at the in-laws with her cousins from Israel. So, for the first time in a long time, it's just me and MHW!

Oh...., and the Baby.


Labels: ,


Dovbear tagged me to disclose how I broke my fast last night. He assumed kugel. Kugel is for Shabbos.

No, I had my usual vegetable soup from Sabras (the best vegetable soup around, IMHO) and two slices of grandpa pizza (easy on the dentures).

BTW, does anyone know why they call these modified Sicilian slices "grandpa" slices?

I tag Psychotoddler, Joe Schick (if he's still around) and Gil.


Very Strange (UPDATED)

I don't really understand what happened at today's stage of the Tour. Discovery Channel's Yaroslev Popovich (the new team leader in the wake of George Hincapie's implosion), who was 9 minutes behind Floyd Landis of Phonak, was permitted to escape and won today's flat stage by a whopping 4:24. With time bonuses for winning the stage, he has effectively cut his deficit in half. Why would the Phonak team have let Popovich get so far in front and not reel him in?

While 4:30 is still a formidable lead, they have just invited another serious threat to join the party.

UPDATE: Upon reflection (I's time to get a life) I think what probably happened is that the teams with the sprinters decided that it was not worth the effort to chase down the breakaway; they would save their energy for another day. Once they conceded the stage to the breakaway, Phonak realized that it could not chase down the breakaway without help and decided to keep Landis' lead over Popovich to a manageable 4.5 minutes.


It's Not Just Me...(UPDATED)

Who thinks that the World Cup stunk.

Money quote:

As it is, watching World Cup soccer is like watching switch engines move railroad cars around a freight yard.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Landis in Yellow

After a very interesting stage in the Pyrenees mountains yesterday, in which a couple of unknown riders were permitted to break away and win by more than 9 minutes (allowing one of the riders to lead the overall race by almost 5 minutes), Floyd Landis and a small group of the real competitors took control of the Tour De France today, in a much more gruelling mountain stage.

Although the previous leader tried valiantly, he could not hold off Landis, who came in third in the stage. At the end of the day, Landis was in front by a mere 8 seconds over the previous leader and one minute over his next closest competitor.

The other interesting news is that Levi Leipheimer, who had a miserable time trial, finished the stage in second place, just in front of Landis. He is still over five minutes behind so, unless Landis and a couple of other riders collapse, he is still a very long shot. Finally, it's all but over for George Hincapie who struggled and dropped over 20 minutes on this stage. Indeed, the entire Discovery Channel team is in big trouble.

The Tour does not get any easier and the pressure is now on Landis. Let's see what he can do.
Ben Nails It

As usual, Ben Chorin has the most astute take on what's going on in Israel.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

CD Update

Soon after my father, z'l's, petira, on Thanksgiving Day, 2004, I had the idea of producing a Jewish music CD in his memory. My dad was a chazan and was very attached to music. He incorporated many niggunim into his davening which was full of communal singing. He also understood the power of music to attract unaffiliated Jewish kids to Yiddishkeit.

After a couple of fits and starts, we really got rolling after my dad's first yahrtzeit. The CD is now almost complete.

It will feature 12 songs, 10 of them original, never before recorded, one rarely heard Carlebach tune and a Breslov niggun that I had never heard before. Chaim Dovid, Shlomo Katz, Aron Razel, Yosef Karduner, Avraham Rosenblum, Ben Zion Solomon, Eitan Katz, and Nochie Krohn are all featured on the CD. Meir Solomon, Andy Stadman and Mo Rosenblum are among the many excellent musicians who also contribute.

Recording and mixing was done in a bunch of studios both here in the states and in Israel. Each musician has been extremely generous with his time and I am eternally grateful.

For someone like me who knew virtually nothing about producing CDs or arranging music, this has been a fantastic learning experience. In general, we have tried to keep the arrangements relatively simple but some are less simple than others.

There is a little bit of recording left, some mixing and then the mastering. I am also in the process of working on the cover and the insert. I have no idea when I will be finished but I'm hopeful it will be soon.

While I know I am way too close to the project to be objective, I think it will be something special and a very fitting tribute to my dad. All the net proceeds (assuming there are any) will be used to fund additional music projects that I have in mind.

I will follow up again as I get closer.

Labels: ,

Sanitation District Fiasco

The candidate of the Orthodox community got his butt kicked by the incumbent in an election for a seat on the Sanitary District Board.

I thought it was a mistake to contest this silly election. There are only so many times you can go to the well and the Orthodox community would be well advised to spend its political capital wisely, i.e., on school board elections.

As an aside, I also take all these elections as a sign that we should should seriously be considering aliyah rather than getting involved in this silliness. At least in Israel, your political battles are meaningful).



In the past, when we have 'given up' foster kids (either back to their parents or to 'pre-adoptive' parents, friends have asked us how we do it. How do we give up kids with whom we have bonded?

In those cases, MHW and would look at each other and smile. "Think of it as a job", one of us would say. "Our job was to take care of this child for as long as he was in our care. It was a very hard job at times and we are relieved that it the job is over for now. Perhaps things will get back to normal in our house."

Indeed, even in the case of the Baby, as a practical matter, life would be much simpler if Ohel called up and said the Baby is going back to her biological mother.

With only older children in the house, MHW and I would be able to go out for dinner pretty much whenever we pleased. MHW would be able to join me on business trips to Europe once in a while. We would be able to pick up and visit our children and grandchildren when they move to Israel later this summer without much thought. MHW wouldn't have to severely limit the number of hours she works as a speech and language pathologist. The list goes on and on, as it does for anyone with small children.

This time, of course, it is different. What started out as a "job" quickly turned into something very different. When you start taking care of a baby when she is ten weeks old and are still taking care of her when she is a year and ten weeks old, it has long since become anything but a job.

That's why the uncertainty is so difficult. The only thing we know for certain is that this process, whatever the outcome, is likely to go on for a very long time. We don't see any hope of a quick resolution, which means the Baby will be staying with us for quite some time. But not necessarily forever.

And, even more difficult, (and without being able to go into any detail) I know in my bones that the best result for the Baby is to stay with us. I can't speak for Ohel but I think they have also reached the same conclusion. Even MHW, who has gone out of her way to give the biological parents the benefit of the doubt, knows in her heart of hearts what the best resolution is for the Baby.

(It is important to make this point...It isn't about us. Fostering IS a job; whether you take in a ten year old or a baby, you are supposed to be caring for a child on a temporary basis. That's what we signed up for. If the best result for the Baby would be to go back to her biological parents, we would be heartbroken on a personal basis but would be able to deal with it. What we would not be able to deal with is if it isn't the right result).

The problem is, what happens to the Baby it isn't up to me or MHW or, to a certain extent, even Ohel. It's ultimately up to a judge whom we can only hope does the right thing when the time comes.


Monday, July 10, 2006

One Year

Almost exactly one year ago, I was sitting at my desk when the phone rang. It was MHW. Ohel had called. They had a 10-week-old baby girl. They had called a number of certified foster parents but had been unable to find a 'taker'. (Interestingly, as we would later find out, they had even contacted four childless couples). What, MHW wanted to know, did I think?

We discussed the issues for a few minutes. And then I said what I usually say when Ohel approaches us. "Since most of the heavy lifting falls on you, if it's ok with you, it's ok with me." "Good", she said, "cause I already told them yes."

Thus began our amazing journey. A journey that continues today but a journey that has no predictable future (does any?).

The Baby was delivered to our doorstep the next afternoon. For the past year we have raised her as our own. She managed to penetrate into our hearts in no time flat. She has the good fortune of being very cute, funny and engaging. She is an absolute delight who makes us laugh and smile all the time (but would it have mattered; do you love your kids less if they are not funny, cute and engaging?).

Our children have played a major role in her development. They certainly love her no less than they would a biological sister. Like any biological little sister (14 years younger than our youngest), she can, and does, drive them crazy. (It is particularly galling that the Baby prefers to be held by me rather than them even though they spend much more time with her). Nevertheless, they are heroic.

And, of course, the Baby can, and does, ocassionally drive us crazy. Like any baby. We see her developing a pretty formidable temper. And we are so much older. Finding the patience (at least for me) is that much harder. If she wasn't before, MHW has become my hero. She has sacrificed professionally and personally to an extent that is hard to measure. She is moseret nefesh every single day. Every day. MHW has raised the Baby the way she raised our other babies.

But whatever we do, we do with love and gratitude to Hashem for bestowing this gift upon us. We have been blessed.

Hanimtzah Kazeh. Had we been searching we could not have found a treasure such as the Baby.

The hardest part, of course, is not knowing what the future will bring. Of course, we never know what the future will bring but at least we have some control over it. Here, we have virtually no control. The longer we have the Baby, the harder that is to deal with.

More about that next.


Now We can Get On With The Business At Hand

Now that the World Cup has mercifully ended (and, thankfully, soccer will no longer be so much as mentioned in American newspapers for the next 3.75 years), and now that some tennis tournament that apparently takes place in England every year is also over, we can focus on what's really important, the Tour de France.

But first, a final word about the World Cup.

It was fitting that the final ended in a 1 - 1 tie decided, entirely randomly, by penalty kicks. This has been the second lowest scoring tournament (and probably nmost boring) ever. And, settling a championship on the basis of a penalty kick shootout is analagous to settling the World Series on the basis of a home run derby. How sad. (I have to admit that I was spared from having to watch the final because of family responsibilities).

Now, back to what's important. I am hopeful that once again, the French are going to have to deal with the fact that an American will win the Yellow Jersey. Floyd Landis had a wonderful time trial (despite having his handlebars snap off in the middle of his ride), and, as MoC predicted on Friday, is well positioned to win the whole thing. Among the other Americans, unfortunately, George Hincapie did not do nearly as well (but is certainly within striking distance in the mountains), Levi Lepheimer had a disasterous time trial and is all but out of the competition, and Bobby Julich had an even more disaterous time trial, crashing while rounding a curve (at 30+ mph) and breaking his wrist and ending his ride.

Today is a day off and in a couple of days the riders reach the Pyranees where this year's race will probably be decided.

On the personal riding front, MoC is pleased to report that he had a strong 72 mile ride yesterday on the North Shore of Long Island. While not quite ready for the Tour de France, he believes he is more or less on target for the Alyn ride in late October.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Only Compelling Sporting Event in Europe

My views on the World Cup have been made very clear. Wimbeldon is another bore, although much less boring than the World Cup.

The only really compelling event going on in Europe right now is, of course, the Tour de France. This is especially so because this year the tour is very wide open with the retirement of the Greatest Rider Ever.

There are more than a half dozen riders who have legitimate shots to be wearing the Yellow Jersey at the end of the Tour. And, of course, the strategy, tactics and teamwork are amazing to watch, to say nothing of the stupefying strength of these riders who bike for 5 hours a day for three weeks at an average speed of 25 miles an hour. (Try riding on a flat surface for one minute at 25 miles an hour.)

Tomorrow's time trial will begin to differentiate the supermen from the men and, when the Tour gets to the mountains, all hell will break loose.

I think that Floyd Landis has a great chance to win the overall competition. He has played the Tour perfectly so far, staying in the front, out of trouble, but not bothering to mix it up with the sprinters. His time will come tomorrow and in the mountains. I would also not underestimate the chances of George Hincapie or two other riders from the Discovery Channel team. They have the strongest team (so much so that they have four potential team leaders and have not yet formally selected any one of them) and have proven over the years to have the best strategy and tactics (of course, they also had Lance so it's hard to determine how much was Lance and how much was tactics).

The next two weeks will rock. Then France will once again have another 49 weeks of not having any purpose to exist.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

World Cup - NHLitis

Everyone, including intellectuals like Dov Bear, has to admit that this year's World Cup has been brutally boring (even more boring than usual). The average sore is about 0.5 - 0, the refereeing has been atrocious (especially if you are an African team), and there have been more flops than in the Yeshivish shidduch world. They shouldn't hand out Man of the Game awards, they should offer Oscars.

This is more or less what happened to the NHL a number of years ago. The New Jersey Devils figured out that you could win Stanley Cups with stiffling defense and a great goaltender. Most teams followed suit, scoring went way down, offensive stars were held and interfered with and the NHL became unbearable to watch.

Last year, the NHL made some radical changes to fix the game and they worked. The past season was reminiscent of times gone by. Scoring was up, offensive players got to shine and the product was much more watchable. Soccer needs to figure out what to do. Maybe 9 men? Maybe more subs? I don't know.

(In the meantime, all those intellectual Africans, South Americans and Europeans continue to watch this garbage, so maybe they don't really have to do anything at all).

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

An Important Observation From MoC

While OHDIL was in the hospital preparing to give birth, we had the pleasure of taking care of our grandson who is 15 months old. This is, of course, in addition to caring for the Baby, who is 13 months old.

Shmuel is a perpetual motion machine who has been walking since he's around 9 months old. He walks up the stairs as many times as you let him. When he's not walking up the stairs he's walking around, trying to touch and open all those things that he shouldn't be touching or opening. The Baby, while not yet walking, moves about on her hands and knees at a rapid pace. She, too, is an innocent trouble maker.

My observation: At the age of 51, it is easier to ride my bike uphill for 30 miles than run after two kiddies for 30 minutes. Where's the oxygen?


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Bugging Back In

In a moment of stupidity and immaturity, I have decided, largely because of the influence of the devil himself, PsycleSteve, to re-enter the Alyn challenge ride after deciding to bug out last week.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I would be very frustrated with all the waiting around that will undoubtedly be part of the regular route. I decided I would rather ride in the broiling heat than sit in the broiling heat.

And, although most of my friends are in the regular route, most of the better riders are in the challenge route. And, as PS said, it is maninly about the riding.

The downside is that I will be useless each night because of the difficulty of the course and that I will be spending two nights in unimaginable dumps, including, amazingly, the Mamshit faux Bedouin tent (which I promised after 2004 that I would never do again).

It also means that I will have to get very serious about training again instead of taking it relatively easy.



Monday, July 03, 2006

Mazal Tov to the Greater MoC Family

With gratitude to Hashem, I am pleased to inform the oilam that OOS and OHDIL late last night produced our second grandchild and first granddaughter. OOS was zoche to name her this morning. Atarah Rina.

Mom and baby are doing very well, BH. (Dad is very tired, having listened to his father and gotten up at 4:30 a.m. to daven vasikin so that we could ride our bikes 25 miles early yesterday morning. Little did he realize what the rest of the day and night would bring).


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pat the Moon

It occurred to me over the weekend that I would have been much better off figuring out an idea like Pat the Bunny or Goodnight Moon rather than spending three years in law school and working like a dog the last 25 years.

What a scam! Every self-respecting parent feels compelled to buy each of those overpriced books or risk being considered an oisvorf. By virtue of caring for the Baby, we are actually on our second set of these books. Ka-ching!

(I can understand Pat the Bunny but I don't really get Goodnight Moon. "Goodnight nobody?" What's pshat? Can someone help me out?)

Whether I understand them or not, why didn't I think of them?