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

Friday, May 30, 2008

Elster Enjoys The Game

As Elster points out, last night was a lot of fun.

And, yes, Joe does need a haircut. (Or maybe I'm jealous; almost six weeks into sefirah, no one notices whether I need a haircut).

The game was a success for four reasons:

Good company

Good weather

The Mets won, and

(most importantly) After a cool manuever, I managed to get out of the parking lot in about 5 minutes. Even after dropping Joe off on Main Street and Elster at his car and OOS at his summer residence, I was home within 40 minutes.

My father, of blessed memory, is certainly smiling in shamayim since (i) the Mets won, (ii) the accursed Dodgers, abandoners of Brooklyn, lost, and (iii) his son, following in his footsteps, got out of the parking lot quickly.

A final thought.

Why do I feel guilty for two days if I eat a couple of hot dogs from Mendys for lunch yet I feel no guilt if I eat two hot dogs and a beer at the ballpark?

Labels: ,

Things I Don't Do

I'm already on record, as a matter of policy, that I don't (with rare exceptions) attend Shalom Zachors. I prefer to spend the time with MHW and the kids rather than rushing out on Friday nights to eat some arbis.

Another thing I generally don't do is attend Sunday morning fundraising parlor meetings. This has nothing to do with family time; it has to do with bike time. Sunday mornings in the spring and summer is when I do my long training rides. I usually daven vasikin (as early as 4:58 a.m. in June), get on my bike sometime between 6:45 and 7 a.m. and ride for anywhere between two and five hours.

I am happy to write a check; just don't expect to see me there.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Higher Worlds Are Shaking

Tonight, two of the old-timers of the JBlogosphere, namely me and The Great Joe Schick, will finally meet.

(As an added attraction, Elster and OOS will also be part of the party).

Although we've shared hundreds of emails over the years, Joe and I have never met. I don't even think we've spoken on the phone. More recently, we've been trying to hook up for lunch to discuss a pet project of Joe's but my frequent travels and his busy schedule have gotten in the way.

Yesterday, Joe suggested that we go to tonight's Mets game. After obtaining approval from our respective bosses and inviting Elster and OOS (who also obtained the requisite passes from their bosses), we had a plan.

Now all we needed were tickets.

Joe offered to buy some tickets, assuring me that he would never pay face value for a week-night Mets game. I told Joe that I was not in the habit of paying anything for Mets tickets and asked for a couple of hours to see whether I could score some tickets from my contacts.

Joe's only condition was that we not sit in a sky box since that would inhibit his ability to scream at Willie Randolph, the Mets incompetent manager. I asked Joe whether field level boxes would be too upscale for him. Joe said that while he prefers to sit amongst the hoi poloi in loge seats, he could deal with field level boxes if forced to.

Sure enough, within an hour one of my sources, a very fine Wall Street law firm, came through splendidly. Four field level seats between first base and right field (very close to the kosher hot dog stand, an added benefit). The tickets even came with a prepaid parking pass.

So, if all goes according to plan, later this evening I will be hoisting a cold one with one of the g'dolei hablogosphere under a beautiful Queens sky.

It doesn't get much better.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hydrox Is Back

Long before Oreos were kosher, there were Hydrox.

And now they're back.


My Latest Toy

I am a kanoi when it comes to riding a bike while listening to an iPod. I think it's crazy dangerous and I went berserk about the issue before last year's Alyn Ride. The previous year, scores of riders were listening to their headphones while riding and I feared that something very bad would happen what with the congestion caused by hundreds of riders.

So, I am happy to present The Answer.

I tested this during long rides on Sunday and Monday mornings. It rocks. Literally.

You hear the music but you still hear what's happening around you.

Where I come from, we call that a win, win situation.

Rock on! Bike on!


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Back to the Future

This Shabbos (besides being Fat Shabbos), was also kind of a look into the future. The Toddler was the only one home for Shabbos, what with OOD and OOS flying the coop.

On one hand, it was fun being able to spend time alone with TT at the Shabbos table. (It was also amusing to hear the little pisher appropriately use words like "actually" and "usually"; she's hanging around with too many adults).

On the other, it was a rude awakening that this is probably the way it's going to be in not that many years. It will take some getting used to.


WQ Alert: The Stairway Screamer

This morning as I was headed out of morning minyan, someone brought to my attention that there was a man screaming the morning Brachos in the shul's stairwell. Sure enough, I opened the door to the stairwell and heard someone screaming out to the One Above at the top of his lungs.

While this is the first I heard of the stairwell screamer, it has apperently been going on for a while.

One could ask, "why us", but that would be a silly question. We are a weirdo magnet. That's just the way it is.


Friday, May 23, 2008

WQ Report: Hilula Version

We actually turned off the WQomometer a few minutes into the hilula. We were concerned that it would blow its top. There are no words....


Fat Shabbos

Two things converged today to allow me to set up "Fat Shabbos".

First, both OOD and OYD will be a way for Shabbos. The significance of this will become apparent shortly.

Second, I took today off and offered to run some errands for MHW.

First, I was dispatched to Gourmet Glatt to buy salad, Splenda and watermellon, three fairly non-fattening foods.

Then I was instructed to go to Chop a Nosh and pick up a potato kugel. (MHW does almost all the cooking for Shabbos but potato kugel is not her thing; she does squash kugel and broccoli kugel etc.(huge surprise there)).

I dutifully did as I was told and came home with salad, Splenda, watermellon and kugel. I also came home with a checkerboard cake from Zomicks. And the kugel was a real kugel, not diet kugel.

I justified these acts because the girls would not be home and I would not, therefore, be guilty of Lifnei Iver (Do not put a stumbling block in front of a blind man).

Since MHW has the discipline not to eat the cake (ok, she will probably nibble at three "boxes" of the checkerboard cake over two meals) and have a microscopic piece of the potato kugel, I don't have to feel guilty about setting her up for excess calories.

So, it's Fat Shabbos over at chez MoC. Good thing I'll be riding 50 miles a day on Sunday and Monday.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

More Proof That G-d Loves Me

I spent the day in Washington, D.C. yesterday. I had business meetings all day and had to stay overnight for a breakfast this morning.

Not wishing to let an opportunity pass, I bought tickets online to last night's Phillies-Nationals game at the brand new Nationals Park.

(G-d loves me, part I: It was miserable in the morning; raining for hours. By the time the game rolled around it was absolutely perfect baseball weather).

After bravely taking the Metro to the stadium (and getting a bit lost before figuring out the route), I walked in to a beautiful new ballpark, very similar to the new stadium in Philadelphia (and, I assume, elsewhere. I expect that Citi Field and the new Yankees stadium will be similar).

I had field level seats between first base and left field. Fantastic sight lines; very impressive.

(G-d loves me, part II: I was all prepared for a dinner of Haagen Daaz and beer. But, as I was walking to my seats, I happened on the kosher hot dog stand which I didn't even know existed (ok, I admit it, faulty research on my part). Chasdei Hashem! Two hot dogs, mustard and sauerkraut. Gevalt!)

A final thought. Why would anyone drink Miller or Miller Lite at the stadium when, for the same (ridiculous amount of) money you can get a Stella or a Blue Moon? I just don't get it.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekend Roundup UPDATED

1. WQ Report: Pretty high but not stratospheric.

2. Riding Report: I rode thirty eight miles today with a group of about 20 Alyn riders. I was supposed to do 60 but the ride was going so slow that I wouldn't have been done until 1:30 or later so I bugged out early. For someone who hasn't been on a bike since November (except for 26 miles last Sunday), and doesn't get to the gym nearly as much as I used to, I wasn't bad.

(The problem with today's ride was a microcosm of the problem with the Alyn ride. Too may slow riders for whom we have to wait. Sixty miles should take less than 4 hours including breaks; we were only at mile 24 after more than 2.5 hours. I'm looking forward to OOS's return for the summer because he is an ideal riding partner; a bit better than I so he pushes me, but not so much better than me that it's boring for him).

3. The Toddler: Tonight we moved her into her bed. She had a really busy day and was extremely tired, a good time to make the transition. At first she was reluctant but after we moved her stuff from her crib to the bed and made a big fuss, she was cool. She fell asleep almost instantly. Let's see if she makes it through the night.

UPDATE: TT slept until 6 a.m. As I was about to leave for shul, she got out of bed, walked into the hall and started whimpering. I took hr into our bedroom and she snuggled up to MHW. I think she's going to dig this new gig.

I will try to expand on my "decline and fall of the Jblogosphere tomorrow, work permitting.

UPDATE: I have successfully insulted many of the good bloggers whom I do still follow, such as Gil and Jameel the Chpped Liver Man (and my inspiration, BloginDm, who hasn't commented). When I have time, I will explain more fully what I meant.

Labels: , ,

Friday, May 16, 2008

On Parenting...A Second Time

Having just blasted the entire Jblogosphere for being "over", I now refer to an excellent post by Mother in Israel about raising kids "by the book". It really hit home.

How many times have we thought about the stupid things we did raising our children and how we would do things differently if we had another chance (indeed, our younger children are generally the beneficiaries of our earlier mistakes).

Well, MHW and I really have the opportunity to put our live's lessons to work with The Toddler. There are thirteen years separating TT from OYD. We have raised four children, done a lot of things right and made many mistakes. We go by "the book" but it is the book that we've written, not read.

Case in point. TT just turned three and we figured she was ready for toilet training. We figured, but she didn't figure. After a week, it has become quite clear that while she will humor us by occasionally going in the potty (and getting rewarded with a marshmallow) she is just as happy to revert to form. She is simply not ready. We can either stress over it or give up for now. To paraphrase Mother in Israel, I am quite certain that she will not be wearing diapers when she walks down the chupah. We decided that whether she's three or three and a half is not important.

MII's post was a reminder that we've been given the opportunity to channel our angst over what we may have done wrong in the past into action. What a blessing.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Decline and Fall of the JBlogosphere UPDATED

Update: In my haste, I left out The Chief Rabbi of the Jblogosphere, Rabbi Gil Student as a blogger who keeps delivering after all these years.

I was talking to the Great Joe Schick earlier today about blogging. It is clear to all with eyes to see that, with certain exceptions, the Jblogosphere is a total wasteland.

As someone who's been at it over four years, I lament that decline. (I myself am a shadow of my former self. The glory days where I was blogging about things like macaroons are long gone).

Let's face it. J Blogging is SO over.


"Red" Heads

Why do they call redheads redheads when their hair is actually orange?

Curious minds want to know.


Not Retired

It's been over a week since I last posted. No, I'm not retiring for the fourth time. I'm just very busy and under a lot of pressure at work. As I've noted before, my mind has a limited capacity and the more I have to concentrate on work, the less space I have in my head for narishkeit.

I have noted with interest how my most recent post, ostensibly about the WQ in my shul, has morphed into something entirely tangential, simply because I have not posted anything new.

I hope to be back with some chidushim in the near future as things here calm down.


Monday, May 05, 2008

More on WQ

I thank my readers for their attention to the important issue raised in this post. Special thanks to those who offered formulas for calculating the WQ.

I'm inclined to go with the Weirdness Points formula (basically, the sum of a person's WP is equal to the number of normal people it would take to offset such person's weirdness).

I only have one hesitation.

The WP formula is, admittedly subjective.

You might think that I am concerned that we will, over time, like university professors, suffer from weirdness inflation, giving higher weirdness grades than people really deserve.

On the contrary. I am concerned about exactly the opposite.

I am concerned that after going to shul with certain people for ten years or more, the WQ committee will UNDERVALUE their respective weirdness. Indeed, one gets used to profound weirdness over time and is prone to discounting the severity of the weirdness.

We will have to be careful about this issue. Perhaps we should appoint a weirdness ombudsman to keep us honest.

(A final word. Lest you accuse me of sexism, while I use the masculine pronoun when describing weirdos, rest assured that there are quite a few female members who are likely to accumulate very high WPs.)


Free Years Old

The Toddler turned free, uh, three today. We had a little party yesterday and she did an admirable job answering the age-old question, "How old are you now?" ("I am free years old now...")

It is hard to believe that so much time has passed. It is also hard to articulate just how much she has changed our lives.

Happy Birthday, TT and many, many more happy days.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

A New Look At WQ

A number of years ago, Bill James revolutionized the way people looked at baseball. By taking a new approach to statistical analysis, James challenged much of the conventional wisdom of baseball. Some forward thinkers, such as Billy Beane of the Oakland A's, adopted many of the methods proposed by James (and his chassidim). These day, much of the baseball world has come to realize the value of the James approach.

Today, I am suggesting a new way to look at the Weirdness Quotient (WQ) of my shul.

Until now, we have calculated WQ as a simple percentage, to wit, the number of weirdos in shul divided by the total number of people.

Over the past few weeks, it has become clear to my chaverim and me (who are responsible for determining the WQ), that this calculation (like batting average as compared to OBP or OPS), does not capture the true extent of the weirdness. There are times, we concluded, that there are present in the shul individual weirdos of such magnitude that simply counting them once, like stam a weirdo, would not do justice to the WQ.

But where do we go from here?

Sadly, the WQ committee is comprised of three lawyers. None of us is a math geek (although one of us was valedictorian at YU and the other is a computer geek (neither of whom is me, btw)). We need help.

We are open for suggestions as to how make the WQ a more meaningful statistic. Ben? Anyone?


Thursday, May 01, 2008

What A Short, Strange Trip It's Been

I'm never taking the Delta Shuttle again, B'li Neder.

I'm officially an Acella Express guy.

I can leave my house at 6:52 a.m. and get to Washington at 10:45. I can read, work, and sleep. A michayeh.

Instead, I took the Shuttle. Left my house at 8:15 a.m. Got to Washington at 12:30.

I got to the airport early and I could have taken an earlier flight but I had a restricted ticket. $275 vs. about $675. Ich kenesht.

But I digress.

Washington is a very strange place.

I've been in banking for 25 years. Washington is not like banking. It has different rules. I know banking rules. I don't get Washington rules. Yet.

Washington is just another business. Like every business, it's just a matter of figuring out the rules.