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

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Big Pot's Big Day

Tomorrow is the Big Pot's big day. And, alas, it's only day. I love the Big Pot so much that I am reprinting last year's post, "Ode to a Pot".

Ode To A Pot

Every year in the days leading up to Pesach, I bring up from the basement a massive, 16 gallon pot. MHW uses that pot, and another, smaller one, to make chicken soup for the entire Pesach. (Those of you who have followed this blog know my feelings about chicken soup, i.e., the main reason G-d created Shabbos is so that Jews can have chicken soup on Friday night).

MHW makes the soup and I strain it and put it into plastic containers.

Then I wash the big pot and bring it back down to the basement. This pot's work is done BEFORE PESACH EVEN BEGINS. One soup and back into storage until the same time next year. Now THAT is mesiras nefesh.

Let's hear it for the big pot.


River From Eden

I finally got a chance to listen to Michael Shapiro's new CD, River From Eden, on Friday. It is absolutely spellbinding.

One doesn't listen to Michael Shapiro's music to be entertained. Rather, his music is like tefilah, prayer. It is deep and contemplative. It is not for everyone and it is certainly not music you can listen to at all times. It isn't background music. It's music you listen to when you have time to reflect and concentrate.

The new CD is no different. The arrangements are extremely simple; guitar, bass and vocals, including an occasional harmony. That's it. No drums, no percussion. The first four songs of the CD each cover one stanza of Yedid Nefesh, the tefilah we sing before Kabbolas Shabbos (and at the Third Meal on Shabbos), each with a different niggun. The fifth tune, A New Road, is an indescribably beautiful niggun (without words). The rest of the songs are also quite beautiful and the album ends with an especially nice tune, Simple Faith.

I don't know what to make of this in light of Michael's interesting spiritual journey. Nevertheless, there is no denying that this CD is as great, if not better, than any of his previous works.


Friday, March 30, 2007

LA Stories

Just got back from Los Angeles. I hadn't been there in many years; probably more than ten years.

1. Even though my business wasn't there, I stayed in Santa Monica, in a hotel I used to stay at in a previous job. This way, I got to run on the beach and see the freak show. Why just run when you can run and observe a free freak show?

Speaking of which, there was one store front in Venice Beach whose sign actually said "Freak Show". The store seemed to be shuttered. Of course. Why would anyone pay for a freak shoe in Venice?

I fell victim to a rookie mistake during my run. First, I ran from Santa Monica to the end of the Venice Beach. I was feeling fine, strong, as a matter of fact. Then I turned around to go back. Wooooshhh! A headwind the likes of which I haven't felt since last year's bike ride in the Negev. It was a struggle to get back. What a dope I was not to have checked the wind.

2. I also got to eat at two of Los Angeles's finer kosher establishments, Shiloh and Prime Grill. The food was very good in both but the Shiloh was extremely loud and crowded. The ambience at Prime Grill was head and shoulders better and the food also better. I went with non-Jewish business associates to PG and they came away impressed.

3. The highlight of the trip was on Wednesday evening, when I got to dine with Robert and Karen Avrech. As Robert noted, when you finally meet bloggers who write very personally, it is rare that what you get is not what you read. That was certainly the case with the lovely, charming and funny Avrechs.

4. On Thursday evening as I was walking from the Beverly Wilshire Hotel (where my main business gig was held) to Prime Grill, I passed a street sign that had been painted with grafitti. The grafitti said, and I'm not making this up (you can't) MoC. Not even MOC or moc, but MoC!! My left coast double lives!

All in all, my impression of Los Angeles has not changed. Nice weather, nice place to visit, but too weird to live in.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ta Shma

Has very nice things to say about U'Shnuel B'Korei Sh'mo.

Hat tip: BloginDm


Moving On

Last night was my, and more importantly, OYS's, last scholastic hockey game, the varsity championship. Sadly, it did not end well, at least not for OYS's team. It was a disappointing end (3-1 loss) to a spectacular hockey run, both his own and his team's.

(Since 7th grade, OYS's teams have been to 5 championship games in 6 years, have won 4 of them and, amazingly, have lost only 5 games, including last night's. Total.)

(While equally sad for OYS, I think MHW is grateful to the One Above that our two sons played 9 years of scholastic hockey and they and all their teammates came away essentially injury free).

I'm not really here to talk about the game. (It was a really good, intense game and OYS went out in style, playing heroically (he played about 2/3 of the game) and making a pass on the team's only goal that defies description (I hope someone has it on video)).

Instead, I have a few wandering thoughts. MHW and I are grateful to his school for providing an important outlet for OYS and his friends to channel their athletic skills. They take sports very seriously and I think that's a good thing. (The chareidi schools could take a lesson from this). I am grateful to his coachfor whom both MHW and I have great respect and admiration. More important than being a great coach, he has been a great role model for OYS and the boys. I am grateful to his assistant coach who has taught the boys what it means to be passionate.

I am grateful to the parents, so many of whom went out of their ways to make sure to attend games and support the boys. We have all become a part of the club.

I am grateful to the boys. They played with skill and determination. They comported themselves with humility and dignity and class. That is not a small thing when you have been as good as they have been for so long. I am glad that OYS has been able to share the special bond that only comes with being a teammate.

And, of all the boys, I have to say that I will miss one, the goalie, YN, more than all the others. YN was a quiet warrior who exemplified everything good about being a student-athlete. I am happy that OYS and YN are on their ways to the Mother Ship together.

And, finally, a note to OYS. OYS has been a superior athlete from the time he could walk. (At kiddy-soccer I was known as OYS's dad.) When he started to follow in the footsteps of OOS and picked up hockey, it was clear that he was special. (Luckily, he ignored my advice to play right handed; I couldn't understand why a righty would play left handed). And, he has gotten better and better every single year. He has thrilled us and entertained us. We have had loads of fun watching him amid lots of anxiety (I much more than he).

But what made us most proud was that he was always a good kid on the court, a mensch. He never yelled at refs, he never lost his temper. He never bragged or flaunted his talent. He knew how good he was but kept it to himself. He was a great friend and a great teammate.

And, last night, despite his great disappointment, he accepted it in stride, with the same class and dignity that he displayed when he won. He is growing up and he knows that in the great scheme of things it wasn't the end of the world. Accepting disappointment is part of growing up and OYS did it graciously.

So, it's time to move on. I will miss all this.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Future's So Bright...

She has to wear shades


Things I will Miss on Pesach

Don't get me wrong. I love Pesach. But there are some things I will miss.


Flavia coffee.

Pizza (I don't consider matzah pizza to be pizza).


I admit that it's not a huge price to pay for the joys of Pesach. Nevertheless, I will miss those things.


Mazel Tov!!!!

Aidel Maidel is a Kallah!!! I am sooo excited!!


Pizza Pizza

One of The Toddler's first verbal expresions was "pizza, pizza". It is now clear that TT would be very happy eating pizza at least twice a day. In fact, yesterday, that's exactly what she did. And, this afternoon, she was back with MHW at the pizza place. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

It must be a tomato thing. On Shabbos we took her to a very elaborate kiddush. We offered her potato kugel, chulent and chicken but all she wanted were tomato slices. She had five slices of tomato. How weird is that?


Monday, March 26, 2007

To Those Who've Lost A Parent at A Young Age

A poignant letter from Rabbi Yakov Horowitz.

[Note: Rabbi Horowitz lost his own father before his fourth birthday. Rabbi Horowitz's father, Reb Shloime Halevi Horowitz, z'l, my uncle by marriage, was a man about whom my parents spoke with love and reverence. They had never met a man like him before or since.]


Turbo Shopper

The last time I bought a suit was almost three years ago for OOS's wedding. The only reason I bought one then was because I was instructed to by MHW. My protestations that my old, expensive suits were still fine fell on deaf ears.

In the old days, I would buy two or three very good suits each year. I often bought them with two pairs of slacks each. They would last forever. Since the late 1990's, when Wall Street went casual, I have rarely worn a suit except for Shabbos and Yom Tov. However, in the last two years, since I have been having more client meetings and making countless presentations, I have been wearing suits more and more frequently.

In a word, my suits are shot.

Last week, I received an email from a Fine Men's Store (FMS) that they were having a serious sale on suits. I took this as a sign that it was finally time.

I walked into the FMS at 10:35. I walked out at 11:05 with three new suits: Solid navy, Charcoal gray pinstripe, solid black. (Actually, I didn't walk out with the suits; they are being tailored). The only reason it took as long as it did is because the salesperson went AWOL for 5 minutes looking for a black suit.

My life is complicated enough as it is. That's why I keep my suits very basic. Black, Navy and charcoal gray. White shirts. Basic ties that can match up with most of my suits.

(My clothing hero remains Peter, the head trader from one of my previous jobs. Peter would buy three identical navy suits for $2,000 each, each with two pairs of pants. He wore the exact same suit every single day. All he had to do in the morning was pick a tie.)

It is always great seeing the reaction of the salespeople. You can tell that they don't get to deal with a turbo-shopper very often.


Shira Belatedly Reviews My CD



Sunday, March 25, 2007

Beyond 12 Gates

Michael Shapiro has a new website (still under construction). He also has a new CD, River From Eden.

Of his five old CDs, my favorite is "The Sparkle of Sunlight" but they are all worth purchasing. They are very beautiful and very deep, about as far from Shiny Shoe music as has ever been written. They are certainly not for everyone but they will move you profoundly if you care to focus.

To my knowledge, the five old CDs (there is a sixth album but it was only produced in cassette form and is not currently available; the master has been lost) were written and produced while Michael was a ba'al teshuva, deeply influenced by Breslov Chassidus. Since then, he has turned away from traditional Orthodox Chassidus and joined the Jewish Renewal movement. He currently teaches classes in Phoenix, AZ.

The new CD was written and produced recently. I have ordered it but not yet received it. It will be interesting to hear how his music has developed as his views of Yiddishkeit have changed.

PLEASE NOTE: The "Teachings" section of the website is based on the "Jewish Renewal" view of Torah and is not mainstream Orthodoxy. I do not endorse or recommend it. Indeed, I was reluctant to link to the site itself but there is no denying the beauty and depth of his music.


My Shul

Tonight was our shul's annual melaveh malkah and it got me thinking.

Over the years, I have used this space to poke fun at my shul from time to time. It's such an easy target. The shul is populated by an eclectic group of people, ranging from wearers of kippot serugot to wearers of Chassidishe Levush and everything in between. Like every shul, it's got its share of do-nothings and hangers-on, and more than its share of weirdos.

But, the truth is, with all its weirdos, it's still a very special place and I could never imagine davening anywhere else. The davening on Friday night alone is worth the price of membership. I have never davened in a place that brings in Shabbos like we do.

But the Friday night davening alone is not what makes the shul special. Nor is the fact that people don't talk during davening. While that is remarkable (especially since we've been able to maintain the decorum even as we've grown to a shul of over 450 mispallilim on Shabbos), it isn't it. The thing that sets it apart, I think, is that the shul (because of the leadership of its Rebbe) attracts people who are mivakshei Hashem, seekers of Hashem. They take their relationship to Hashem seriously. They think about it.

Some do it through davening, others through learning, others through Chassidus, but the common thread is that most of the people in the shul are not satisfied with their status quo and are looking for more, in terms of ruchnius, for themselves and their families. In a sense, it is a shul of ba'alei teshuvah, most of whom have been frum from birth.

This doesn't mean I love everyone in the shul or that it's a shul of only tzaddikim. Believe me, I don't and it isn't. But even most of the people who drive me crazy and who, I think, are seriously flawed, still seem to be striving for something more in their relationship with The Master of the Universe. And that's not a small thing.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Pesach Special: Link to Links

You know you'be been doing this blogging thing too long when you can actually link to a post that was originally a link to even earlier posts.

Clicking here will take you a post with links to some of my earliest and most profound posts about Pesach.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

MoChassid, Litigator

The Aibishter works in mysterious ways.

I didn't know exactly what kind of law I wanted to practice when I was in law school but I knew I didn't want to be a litigator. It just wasn't for me.

And, for the first 25 years of my career, I managed to steer clear of anything smelling of litigation. I once had to testify at a bankruptcy hearing (I was represented by a Very Famous Lawyer who never bothered to prepare me and I was crushed during cross-examination because I was so unprepared) and I once supervised a trial on a complicated derivatives matter, but other than that, I've almost never stepped foot into a courthouse.

That's what makes my current situation so amusing. In the 21 months I've been at my job, we have already intervened as amicus curiae (friend of the court) on two major cases and have intervened in a couple of other cases through affadavits and joinders. We have also declined to intervene in a couple of other situations. Consequently, I've had to read scores of pleadings over this period. Complaints, motions, briefs, TROs, etc., etc. Stuff I managed to avoid for so long. Not only do I get to pick and choose which cases to get involved with (Technically, I make a recommendation to the board and they approve but in reality, I do a lot of homework first so that I never make a recommendation to the board that they are unlikely to accept), I also get to choose and supervise the lawyers in all these cases. What a joke.

The sad part is that I actually find this stuff interesting, indeed, sometimes absolutely fascinating. How pathetic is that?


Another Crackberry Moment

Last night, I arrived home with my upper back in knots from tension. Since I don't drink (except for wine and perhaps one shot of scotch on Shabbos) and OOS was not around to knead out my knots, I took MHW's suggestion and took a hot bath.

Good idea. It worked well.

Shortly after the bath, I went to check my berry. Except, I couldn't find it.

I looked everywhere. I retraced my steps. Nothing. I started calling my cell phone figuring I'd hear the vibrations. Nothing.

I started to panic. I cannot be separated from my Blackberry for more than a half hour without breaking out with hives.

MHW came over to help. We started back in the bathroom where I took the bath. MHW opened the laundry hamper. There it was with my recently discarded clothes. That explained why I didn't hear the vibrations.

I'm thinking that there isn't much difefrence between me and my crackberry and The Toddler and her pacifier.


OOS's Goals

Even though he is a married father of two, OOS is apparently jealous of his little brother's hockey exploits.

So, in the interest of sibling harmony, I have agreed to post his hockey highlights here.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I Need a Beer

And I don't even like beer.

I have been out of my office on business for almost two weeks. Today was my first day back. I had 30 telephone messages (the capacity of my voicemail) and over 200 emails waiting for me (despite the fact that I've been checking most of my emails on my crackberry).

My workday started with an important breakfast meeting. After another hour-long meeting, it was time to do the dirty work that I had been dreading. We had decided to terminate my assistant when I got back from my business trips. While the guy totally deserved to be let go, it was still not a very pleasant experience. He isn't a bad guy, just not a good assistant.

I will never get used to this.

After a few long phone calls, I had a business lunch with a reporter but couldn't eat much because I was still incredibly tense about the firing.

My afternoon consisted of a number of very intense calls and an hour and a half special board meeting at which only one topic was discussed; a topic that was contentious and legal-related and over which I presided. The issue was important and at times I felt as though I was being cross examined. Ultimately, the board overwhelmingly followed my recommendation.

By this time, my upper back was in knots. (Where is OOS when I need him?)

The craziness of this job is part of what makes it fun, but I could use a slightly calmer day tomorrow.


The Pass

A friend emailed me the link to a video that was taken of The Pass. Unfortunately, you can't really make out the gadlus of the pass since OYS is mostly blocked out by the (rather large) goalie. But you do get a good shot of the one-timer by Yoni that put OYS's team ahead to stay.

While you're at it, watch this.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

One More Game

OYS keeps wreaking havoc on my business travel plans. Last week, I left London a few hours early to get to his quarter-final. Today, I left Ft. Lauderdale a few hours early to get to his semi. And, because OYS's team won again, I have to reschedule my trip to LA next week from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday morning.

But, as long as he kept on winning, I was happy to keep on adjusting. OYS rewarded my efforts last week with the nicest pass I have ever seen (a video of which I hope to display shortly). Today, OYS's team completely shut down their semi-final opponent 4 - 0. Once again, excellent coaching, swarming offense, superior depth, great goaltending when needed, and very tight defense. I think it was the best game the team has played all year and everyone contributed.

(The other team had one player who was reputed to be one of the best players in the league. He was a total non-factor. OYS's team shut him down completely. He had so little freedom tonight that unless someone told you he was a great player you wouldn't have known it from watching the game. In general, teams with one or two great players don't do anything against OYS's team).

I am really looking forward to my last game as a hockey dad. I'm glad OYS's hockey career is ending this way, in the last game of the year in his senior year. It is a fitting end to a great individual career on a great team. He will be playing in his 5th championship game in six years of scholastic hockey (he's won all four previous championship games). Not too shabby.

Besides the fact that OYS's team is a very good hockey team, the thing that I am most proud of is that they are a wonderful bunch of young men. More than the games, I will miss the boys.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

The End of the World As We Know It

I was horrified to find out at lunch this afternoon that Cookie Monster's name has been changed to Veggie Monster. I thought the young lady who told me that was joking but, alas, not. Is nothing sacred? Has no one got a sense of humor? Has political correctness gone this far?

(By the way, I was never a fan of Sesame Street. I never thought it was an effective educational tool. I think Mr. Rodgers (or even Captain Kangaroo) was much more effective).

Anyone who thinks that by changing Cookie Monster's name kids will suddenly prefer carrot sticks to cookies, is delusional.

In any event, he'll always be Cookie Monster to me.

And, finally, I leave you with this courtesy of OOS


Friday, March 16, 2007

On Making Aliyah

This column, from Rabbi Yakov Horowitz (RYH), is intriguing.

In response to a question from a dad of 4 kids (including a thirteen year-old girl) who is thinking about making aliyah, RYH suggests that it is a bad idea given the age of the eldest daughter. He believes that the transition for teenagers is very difficult and even dangerous and should not be done cavalierly.

While I would not necessarily conclude that it is never right, I agree with RYH that one must proceed with extreme caution. Among my own friends and family, a number have made aliyah with teenagers. On the other hand, a number of other friends who were set on making aliyah pulled back when they concluded (and were supported in that view by their Rav) that since their children were not with the program they would be putting their children at risk.

Things seem to be going well for my friends who have moved. I believe that a part of their apparent success is that they have all moved to the same Anglo community and have friends from the US. Of course, it is too early to tell how things will work out but I am pretty optimistic.

RYH's article hits home because MHW and I reached the same conclusion a number of years ago. Once our kids reached a certain age, we deferred the idea of aliyah. Interestingly, under normal circumstances, we would be approaching the time when we could start making plans again for a few years down the line, our youngest being 14.

Of course, The Toddler situation lends a sense of urgency. She's almost 2. Heeding RYH's advice, we would prefer to move with her (assuming everything works out) by the time she is 8, 9 at most. The clock is ticking.


Two Colleagues

My first legal job was with an old-line, white-shoe Wall Street law firm (that has, sadly, gone the way of the dinasour). There were two associates there who have attained fame. One is dead. The other is under siege.

The first was Ted Ammon. He left in the early 80s to go to a firm that I had, at thye time, never heard of called KKR. After making a fortune there, Ted left to start his own mergers and acquisitions firm. A few years ago, he was brutally murdered, probably by his estranged wife's lover.

I never really got to know him because he was shy and aloof. It was weird reading about his tragic end.

The other was Todd Stitzer. Todd was an extremely nice and friendly guy. He was also an outstanding tennis player, as I recall. While we were not particularly close, he always had a nice word for me, a younger associate. In 1983, we both left; Todd to join Cadbury and me to join a bank.

I'm thinking about Todd now because his company, of which he is CEO, is in the newspapers, under attack from a corporate raider, Nelson Pelz (ironically, I had lots of dealing with Pelz's company when I was counsel at a second bank).

I hope Todd makes it through this challenge. He is one of the genuinely nice guys who has made his way to the top. There aren't enough of those.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Addicted II

More evidence that I am addicted to my crackberry.

While in Israel last week, my BB suddenly stopped working on Motsai Shabbos. I had a major case of anxiety until Monday afternoon in London, when my IT department finally got it going again. I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown.

Then, this morning, I ran out to shul. In days past, I would never leave home, even to shul, without my wallet. This morning, I took my crackberry but left my wallet on the kitchen counter.

I need help.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Quick Roundup

1. I landed in New York with a couple of hours to spare before OYS's playoff quarter-final. Short story: OYS's team won 4 - 0. OYS made the sweetest pass I have ever seen to set up the go-ahead goal. More on the game and the weird story of how it came about that I got to watch this game (and visit OOS in Israel) on Friday.

The good news: I will be back from a trip to Ft. Lauderdale on Tuesday (airlines permitting) in time to watch the semi-final.

2. Having flown to Israel last week, from Israel to London on Sunday and from London to New York today, I am pondering the question: Do Jews as a people have shpilkes? The scene on the flight from London to New York was entirely different from the scene on the two Israel flights. People on the London-NY flight actually remained seated for most of the flight. I will reflect on this phenomenon in a forthcoming article I am writing for the Jewish Star.

I am too tired to continue with any sense of coherence so I'm calling it a night.


Karduner in Brooklyn

Yosef Karduner will be playing on motsai Shabbos at the Jewish Music Cafe in Brooklyn. Details here.

I'm about to hop on a plane but will be back from the road later today. Hope to post some nonsense tomorrow.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Senior Moment: "Please Call Me Mo"

I am supervising the filing of an amicus (friend of the court) brief in New York State court. I gave the assignment to a prominent Wall Street firm and capped the fees at a very reasonable rate (Firms are willing to do work for me because these assignments are prestigious and good marketing opportunities).

In order to keep costs down they gave the nitty gritty work to a young associate who bills out at a rate much lower than that of a partner (the work is supervised by a partner and, ultimately, me). I spoke to her a few times. She was very bright but sounded awfully young.

I looked her up on the firm's website and calculated that that she was born when I went to law school. !!!

Later that day, she sent me an email with the first draft of the pleadings attached. "Hello Mr. Chassid..."

She sure knows how to hurt a guy.

I responded that I thought the work was excellent and that she should call me Mo.


Site Meter

Would anyone have a theory why my sitemeter stopped working yesterday?


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Third Anniversary

Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of my first post. (I am marking it today because I am going back on the road tomorrow and may not be able to post. In fact, my ability to post will probably be spotty for the next week).

I've had about 150,00 hits and a quarter million page reads during that time (my current site meter only counts from when I changed my template) which says a lot for how much time people have to waste.

Writing this blog has been a lot of fun. It has provided an outlet for my goofiness and occasional creative energy. It has also served as a diary of sorts, albeit a very public one. Finally, it has given me the opportunity to get to know (sometimes in person, other times by email) a lot of very nice and interesting fellow bloggers.

It's a good time to thank all of you who have taken the time to read my gibberish and, especially, those of you who have taken the time to comment.



Many companies ask you to punch in your phone or account number before a customer rep takes your call. Ninety percent of the time, the customer rep then asks you for your phone or account number. Why is that?


Yentas 1, Beethoven/Bose 0

This morning I was disabused of the notion that by Bose noise cancelling headphones were perfect. They were roundly defeated by the "6:52 Yentas", a group of five women who ride the 6:52 Long Island Railroad train from Woodmere every day.

These women yap loudly every single morning. You can hear them at the opposite end of the train car.

But, this morning, I confidently sat in my seat knowing that my Bose headphones, tuned to some nice music (in this case, Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 ("The Emperor")) would drown out their narishkeit.


The Bose headphones and Beethoven met their match.

Blah, blah, blah. Yap, yap, yap. Blah, blah, blah. Yap, yap, yap.

Crushed, I resorted to plan B. When in doubt, rock and roll. Dire Straits in this case. Never heard another word from the Yentas. Order restored.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Terminator

One of the most unpleasant aspects of being in management is when you have to fire someone. Thankfully, I have never managed more than a few people at a time and I've only had to do this twice, both times in firm-wide cost cutting moves. One of the people I had to whack (after a huge fight that I waged with my own boss but ultimately lost) was a very competent lawyer who got a very generous severance package and landed a job with a prestigious investment bank one week later. We remain good friends to this day. The other was a very incompetent secretary who I was glad to get rid of (but it still didn't make the process any easier).

These days, not only do I manage a small staff, but I supervise the work of a number of different law firms that manage projects on our behalf. And, unfortunately, once in a while I have to whack one of them. Today, for only the second time since I'm here, I pulled a job from one of the firms that had been doing a very important project for us. Sheesh. It was painful.

It isn't about money, it's about exposure. The fees that we pay are negligible in the grand scheme of things. But the exposure that a law firm gets by doing a project for us is worth a lot. Getting taken off a project is a very bad thing. In this case, the partner in charge just wasn't getting along with the project manager.

Besides the painful conversation I just had, I will also, undoubtedly, have to take this partner to lunch in the near future and try to mend fences. I hate this.


Monday, March 05, 2007

Tickle Me Elmo

There are gazillions of TMX Elmo videos on YouTube. Since I now have to play one for TT every time I sit down at my home computer, I have gotten to sample quite a few. This is the funniest one yet.


The Cutest Strawberry

In the History of the World


JMusic Video of the Year



Sunday, March 04, 2007

Insider Trading

I have to admit that I don't get this. Thirteen people, many executives in important investment banks and hedge funds, were charged by the SEC with a brazen insider trading scheme that has apparently been operating since 2001.

I have absolutely no sympathy for these people (assuming they are guilty as charged). What they allegedly did was a breach of trust, a breach of their duty to their employers, and, finally, outright theft. One of them was in the compliance department of an investment bank, for crying out loud! Throw the book at them, MoC says.

I also have a couple of questions:

1. What were they thinking? Did they think the SEC wouldn't ultimately pick up their trading patterns and scope out the scheme?

2. Did they really think it was worth jeopardizing their careers for a few extra bucks? From the looks of it, many of the people involved had very significant positions and were either already making nice money or had the potential to make a lot of money?

3. I don't think the answer is that they were greedy. I deal with greedy people every day. 99.9% of them don't break the law or don't cross the line with outrageous and brazen schemes. There is more at work here. A need to gamble? A need for excitement? A need to prove that you can get away with something? I don't really know what it is.

The bottom line is that these people have sacrificed the rest of their lives in the financial markets for a few extra bucks. I feel bad for their spouses and kids.


Ode to Lekvar

This post from last year is so deep and profound, I thought I would repost it in its entirety.

The Sad Life of a Jar of Lekvar

I opened my refrigerator this morning and staring me in the face was a 3/4 full jar of lekvar (prune filling). MHW and the girls had made hamentashen for Purim using the lekvar but the vast majority of the jar remained.

What will become of it? There is absolutely no use for lekvar other than filling hamentashen.

In all likelihood, MHW will toss it in the trash just before Pesach. How sad.


Friday, March 02, 2007

At The Knicks Game with "Judah"

It's always a trip to go to a Knicks game with Judah and this past Monday was no exception. I picked him up from the residence at 5 p.m. and brought him back to Manhattan. Strangely, there was little traffic so we were in the city just past 5:30.

We discussed dinner options. I mentioned a new place near the Garden, Olympic Pita, and he was game. So, instead of spending $20 at KD, I got to spend quite a bit more. But it was worth it watching Judah get a major g'shmak from his steak, fries and rice. He is only 12 but he ate me under the table. Keep in mind that it's probably because he hardly eats at the residence except on Shabbos (when we order food from a take-out place and he gets to eat some meals with families)because they serve him dreadful "airline food". He cleaned his plate and it was off to the Garden.

The tickets we got were very good but not the courtside seats we had last year. This was not going to stop Judah from trying to get to the court and get some autographs. I told him they would probably not let him down but I let him try.

Of course, 30 seconds later, he's on the court. It is hard to describe how charming Judah is. Adults seem to fall in love with him at sight. In this case, he went over to a man in the courtside seats and the next thing I see is the man asking the security gurad to let Judah down. The man even tried to get a player to interrupt his warmups and give Judah an autograph but it didn't quite happen.

Judah was very into the game and was very pleased with the result, a 6 point Knicks victory. We look forward to seeing him on Purim.



Thursday, March 01, 2007

Sports Friday: Unscheduled

I have to be in London a week from Monday through Wednesday. I still don't have flights reserved.

I have to be in Orlando on March 19th and 20th. I still don't have flights reserved.

I have to be in L.A. on March 27th. I have flights scheduled but may have to change them.

All because of playoff hockey. OYS's team is seeded second, has a first round bye and is waiting for all the teams to finish playing that round. Only then will OYS's team know which team they play in the second round (and when). I can only schedule my flight to London once all that is known (and hope that the game takes place on Sunday afternoon). Forget about the third round, that's a complete mystery. I am hoping that the league championship game gets scheduled soon (and I hope it's March 26th) so that I can go to the left coast as scheduled.

I am caught in a difficult position since I have to be in all these places for work but I also don't want to miss any of OYS's final three games (assuming they win out). I am actually lucky that I have the flexibility to schedule my flights so late. This is driving me (and my travel agent) crazy.

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More Shuffle Stuff

Intrigued by the imbalance I experienced listening to the first 20 songs on my iPod shuffle, I decided to listen to a lot more. After listening to over 150 of my 895 songs, I can report, without hesitation, that the shuffle feature is, indeed, random, as advertised.

While seemingly unusual patterns emerge from time to time, listening to enough songs makes it clear that the "patterns" are random.

One other advantage that came from shuffling: There are a number of albums on my CD that I have no patience for. I could never sit through an entire Adi Ran or Sinai Tor album, for example. But I found myself much more able to deal with their weird stuff on a song by song basis. I even liked some of it (and admired much of it for it's freshness (weird though it may be).

Which brings me to a legal point (I'm sure you see the connection).

The Federal Trade Commission will have to rule on whether the proposed merger of Sirious and XM satellite radio firms would violate anti-trust law. I have seen some discussion about how to define the "market". Is it the market for satellite radio or all radio?

I have another thought. I think the market should also include iPods. Why would you pay $15 a month for satellite radio when you can just shuffle your iPod? I think iPods are the real competition.

(BTW, that's my expert legal opinion coming from a lawyer who knows zilch about anti-trust law. Ignorance has never stopped me from offering opinions before).