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

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Twenty Years Later

The truth about Len Bias.

Hat Tip: Big Bro


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bitten By the Biking Bug

On early Friday morning I rode out to Point Lookout with the Memphiser Rebbe.

After six years of research (including about 200 emails to me), the Rebbe finally bought a new road bike.

After tooling around for a couple of months with the Melaveh Malkeh Bike Club (average speed - negative 5 mph), the Rebbe decided to find out what it really means to ride. I rode at a decent clip and the Rebbe valiantly tried to hug my wheel but couldn't. So, I waited for him a number of times but, all in all, he did a nice job riding to Point Lookout.

Then we turned around and hit a very light headwind.


The heiligah Rebbe insisted that I not wait for him on the way back so I took off. The Rebbe made it back to Woodmere in time for a Mikvah just before Shabbos.

I could tell that the Memphiser was smitten. He digs the speed.

Prediction: In short order he will drop his fat-wheel friends from the Melaveh Malkah Club and find a new, skinny wheel chevrah.

In the meantime, I offered to ride with him every Friday morning.

Next time: No rachmunus.



That's how much it cost me to fill up MHW's GMC last night.

Not that I'm complaining.


OOS and The Stockholm Syndrome

Is OOS suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome?

He is back in the US, finishing his masters in social work at the Block program at Wurtzweiler, my financial partner's graduate school.

During the past two summers, by this time in the semester I would have received multiple text messages like "Shoot Me!", or "I'm going to jump out the window", "I feel like I'm in Cuba".

This year, nothing. He actually likes three of his four classes. Sheesh.

Can it be that, after two years of clinical work and two and half summers of course works he finally drank the Cool Aid?

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Celtics Pride

The greatest one-season turnaround in NBA history culminated with the Celtics utter destruction of the hapless Lakers last night.

It isn't often that a team wins by 39 points and you can honestly say that the game wasn't as close close as the score indicates. Demolition? Humiliation? Pick your term. They smothered the Lakers and crushed them in every single aspect of the game.

(I was actually tempted to go to sleep at the end of the third quarter because the Celtics were up by 29 and clearly in control. But that wasn't going to happen).

So, the Len Bias Curse has finally been exorcised after 22 years and Celtics Pride restored.

I didn't end up seeing that much of the series so it's hard for me to comment (which doesn't mean that I won't) but, notwithstanding how great a series Paul Pierce played, it's clear to me that the heart of the Celtics in this series was Kevin Garnett. He is the main reason why the Lakers interior players were totally outclassed and played like sissies. The good news is that I'm sure Garnett couldn't care less who got the MVP as long as he finally got the elusive championship.

(The other thing that I loved about last night was the ridiculous shooting of Ray Allen. After a number of playoff series where he mysteriously lost his touch, he finally got it back against the Lakers, never more so than last night when he hit 7 threes. It seemed that any time the Lakers tried to put a few points together in the second half, Allen nailed a long range bomb.)

Finally, the most poignant moment of last night's telecast (which made it worthwhile staying up) was when Garnett went over to Bill Russell after the game, hugged him and said, "I finally got my own. I finally got my own. I hope we made you proud."



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bruce Who?

My newest toy was a big hit on Sunday during the Ohel Bikeathon.

The toy, of course, is a handlebar-mounted speaker into which I attach my iPod so that I can ride with music without endangering myself and everyone around me by wearing headphones. The group of 12 guys that I rode with enjoyed the pickup from my 3 hour play list of vintage rock songs.

I knew that the music aged me, but so what? Steely Dan, the Allman Brothers, Mountain, Dire Straights, Steppenwolf, Traffic, The Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, and, of course, Bruce. Bruce?

We were climbing one of the few hills on the ride to the sound of "Born in the USA" when one of my riding buddies, Ephraim, whose year of birth has a 1980s handle, asked, "Who is that?" I said, "Springsteen." "Who?"

You can't make this up.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Weekend Report: Ohel Ride Version

1. OOS and I did the first annual Ohel Bikeathon on Sunday morning. The 50-miler started on the south shore and went north and then back south. It was pretty easy and relatively flat and OOS and I hammered it. We rode in the lead group of about a dozen guys that, in the last 13 miles, broke in two, and we ended up in the lead group of 5.

Considering the fact that, initially, none of the organizers at Ohel had any experience organizing a bike ride, the ride went quite smoothly. They also ran a ten miler and a 25 miler that were also well done and well received. All in all there were over 200 registered riders; a very good showing for a first time event.

I, and a couple of other experienced riders, got involved somewhat late in the process to give some guidance. My main message was that this year was an investment in the future. The main thing was to get the logistics right so people would have a positive experience. Good experiences lead to return riders and great word of mouth. This was accomplished.

I tip my hat to the Ohel organizers because they were very open to our suggestions, did not have any ego about the event, and really adjusted on the fly. (The final 50 mile route was settled until Wednesday evening. The street markings were painted at 4 a.m. on Thursday!).

Next year should be even better as we hope to add a metric century (62 miles) that should be much more difficult than the 50 miler.

2. MHW and I went to a bar mitzvah of the son of neighbors whose kids go to a different school from ours. It was like a time warp back to the days (pre-95) when our kids went to that school. It's amazing how, as a general rule, there is a different mehalech for the simchas of different schools.

3. Despite promising to stay up for last night's Celtics game, I was sleeping shortly after half-time. I assumed, correctly, that the Lakers would prevail at home and, since I had done the 50 miler and hadn't napped, I was beat. Good call. My only problem is that I have an early breakfast on Wednesday and have to daven vasikin (which starts at 4:58 a.m.). Yikes.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Sports Friday: Sleeping Through A Classic

I grew up a crazed Boston Celtics fan.

I became a Celtics fan because of my admiration for John Havlicek, in my opinion the single player who did more with his natural talents, through sheer determination, hustle and hard work, than anyone I have ever seen in any sport.

(It was not necessarily a safe thing to be a Celtics fan in Madison Square Garden during the Willis Reed, Walt Frazier, etc. era. But that's what I was.)

After the death of Len Bias and the consequent Len Bias Curse, I stopped following the Celtics as closely and never really again cared much for the NBA.

Until this year.

The Celtics have been nothing short of phenomenal, taking three glorious veterans and using a stifling defense and unselfish offense, to dominate the league (and, as importantly, play the type of game that I really enjoy and respect).

After last nights shocking come-from-24-points-behind-victory over the accursed Lakers, the Celtics are on the brink of their 17th championship.

The problem is, I've slept through it all.

The games start close to 9 p.m. I get up every morning at 5:10 a.m. Ich kenesht.

I went to sleep last night with the Celtics trailing by 18 points with 6 minutes to go in the third quarter. It was already past 11. Driving to shul this morning I nearly swerved off the road when I heard that the Celtics won the game.

I promise to try to stay up on Sunday night when the Celtics finish of the Lakers once and for all.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cross Ventilation

For a good part of my youth, we didn't have air conditioning in our home.

How did we survive?

Well, we lived near the beach and we relied on, as my father, z'l, would say, "cross ventilation". In other words, open windows. (Indeed, my father was never a big fan of air conditioning and always preferred fresher luft.)

The reason I am thinking about those glorious old days is that, this morning, I am relying on cross ventilation at work. Our AC has been out all week (BH, I was home the first two days for Shavuous). Luckily, I work in an old building where the windows actually open so, between the "cross ventilation" and a fan, I am surviving.

The good news is that the mechanics are (finally) on the scene and it appears that the problem is well on its way to being fixed.

With all the whining going on in my office, you wonder how people ever worked in Manhattan without air conditioning.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Preparing For Matan Torah in an Unusual Way

Early this afternoon, I dropped off OYD for a haircut in town and then went to Gourmet Glatt, as instructed, to buy some last minute items. MHW warned me that parking would be difficult but, l'maisa, I was able to find a spot immediately upon pulling into the lot.

The store was insanely busy; it was difficult to manuever my wagon around the aisles. But, I only had to get a few things and, after calling MHW only three times, I was done. Checkout at the express lane was quick and I was on my way.

Or so I thought.

Someone had parked his van right behind my car. As in right behind my car. As in not in a legal spot but lined up exactly behind me with his flashers flashing (like that mattered). In all my years in the Five Towns, including the frequent double parks and countless U turns, I had never experienced this before.

Being dan l'kav z'chus, I assumed that the owner of the car would be back in a minute or two. So I waited. And waited.

After about five minutes of standing in 95 degree heat, I decided to try to take things into my own hands. I started the car and tried to manuever out of the spot (there was a small amount of space between my car and the sch*&$k's car). Although I am pretty good at stuff like this, I couldn't figure out how to do it.

Then the phone rang. It was OYD, done with her haircut and ready to be picked up. I told her to hang tight. I was busy dealing with the consequences of a moron.

Just then, David Mandel of Ohel happened by and was nice enough to try to direct me out of the spot. Even with his help, it took about 8 manuevers to get out of the spot - and then just barely.

Sadly, I didn't have a pen on me. I would have left an appropriate note for the thoughtful person who was so involved in preparing for matan Torah that he evidently didn't notice that he boxed me in.

My other thought was to leave the carton of ice cream that was melting in my car on his hood. But, I decided that I like ice cream too much and went on my way.

I hope he has a wonderful tikun lail Shevuos.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Amazing Gracelessness

In February, I wrote:

* Will Hillary slink away graciously or will she engage in a death fight until the end? Assuming she loses Texas and Ohio, will she concede? Grace is not a word normally associated with the Clintons. I have my money on a fight to the death.
Obviously, it was no big chiddush that she would fight, tooth and nail, to the end. In a certain way, one must admire her tenaciousness.

On the other hand, even I was taken aback by her utter lack of grace on Tuesday evening when she spoke after the final two primaries.

Despite the fact that the fat lady had sung, she still wouldn't make nice and concede. What a wretched woman. What a wretched couple.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Marketing 101

Here is a great example of marketing.

With bike training season having begun in earnest, I recently ordered two twelve-paks of Hammer Gel (one chocolate, one espresso), the only certified kosher sports gel of which I am aware.

I just received an email that my order has been shipped.

But the email was strange. It listed much more than I had ordered.

Had a mistake been made?

This was what the email listed:

Please keep this E-mail for your records.

Ordered from Hammer Nutrition
Web Address
Order Number 0815448400
Order Date 06/02/2008
Ship Date 06/04/2008
Reference Number 206485

Hammer Nutrition

Your order 0815448400 has been shipped as follows:

Package Method Tracking Number
1 FEDEX RES-GRND 043130061598064

Ordered By Ship To
------------------------------ ------------------------------
Mochassid Mochassid

Woodmere NY 11598 Woodmere NY 11598

Quantity Qty Back
Item Description Shipped Ordered
HBC Hammer Gel Chocolate (12-Pk) 2 0
HBE Hammer Gel Espresso (12-Pk) 0 2
EL Endurolytes (120 Capsules) 1 0
FBCB KIT: 12 Count box of Bars 0 1
HPR Hammer Gel Raspberry Pouch 1 0
HPA Hammer Gel Apple-Cinnamon Pouch 1 0
HPV Hammer Gel Vanilla Pouch 1 0
HO1 HEED Mandarin-Orange (1 Serving) 1 0
PO1 Perpetuem Orange-Vanilla (1 Serv) 1 0
CD Capsule Dispenser - Red Or Clear 1 0
NCP KIT: New Customer Packet - 1 0
----------------------------ORDER COMMENTS----------------------------
Moc, The FREE samples in your order is our way of thanking you and helping you with product knowledge and use. THANK YOU!

The last part of the email (in bold) says it all. They sent me samples of virtually their entire nutrition line.

I already love these guys.

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Free Chaim Dovid Concert in Far Rockaway

Monday, June 23rd.

Free Rides for the Kids

Inflatables - Moonwalk - Slides - and More

Reads Lane and Oak Drive Far Rockaway, NY (Weather Permitting)

Rides start at 4:00pm - Concert 6:30pm

Concert Rain Site: TAG Elementary School Auditorium 444 Beach 6th Street

For More Information or to Sponsor Call The JCCRP 718-327-7755

Also Featuring The Music of Aryeh Kunstler



I just arrived back in New York after a short trip to Charlotte.

The US Airways flight to La Guardia was slightly late, owing to some purported nasty weather in New York (always blame the weather).

When we finally boarded the plane, it stunk. Literally. Of a smell that I hadn't experienced since China.

The pilot went on the PA system and actually apologized for the stinky plane but said that it was the only one available and that if we wanted to get to New York on time, this was the equipment he would have to fly.

The good news is that the flight in relatively short and we made it back without incident.

I just hope there are no long-term effects to my exposure to whatever it was that stunk.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Pen Twirling And Other Things I Can't Do

This morning, I started a chavrusah with OOS who is in for the summer to complete his masters degree. We've agreed to learn for 45 minutes every weekday morning starting at 5:45 a.m. (On Sunday mornings we daven vasikin then ride our bikes, talking Torah the entire 32 miles. Not).

I use the term chavrusah in the loosest sense. Basically, OOS teaches me the gemarah and I sometimes check out a word or two in the Artscroll. But that's ok. While I am essentially hopeless, it's good to see that OOS's $150,000 pre-college education had some good results. (The reality is that only the last $30,000 really had results, but I digress).

But learning is not the only thing I can't do. Much to my dismay, try as I might, I am simply unable to duplicate OOS's "pen twirling".

The pen twirl, of course, is the act of continuously rotating a pen (or pencil) through one's fingers while immersed in a text. This is done effortlessly and without conscious thought.

From time to time I have tried to master this art with absolutely no success. This is annoying as heck since, generally, I am very well coordinated. (My failure to pen spin is right up there with my inability to teach myself to juggle; another skill that OOS has been able to master).

So, I will just have to deal with watching OOS twirl his pen every morning and try not to let it distract me from the main purpose of our morning meetings.