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

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Saved by Little Debbie

I spent all day yesterday meeting with staffers at the United States Senate.

I had taken the Acela Express to Baltimore on Tuesday night and, after a lovely late dinner with OOD, slept over at OOD and THG's apartment.

I arrived in Washington at 8:15 am yesterday. OOD had gotten me a muffin for the train ride and I also had a bowl of cereal. Our meetings started early and did not end until 4:45. Although we took a break for lunch in one of the Senate cafeterias, all I could eat there was a bag of potato chips, a banana and a drink.

Our last meeting was at 4:00 p.m. with Senator Corker's staff. By this time, I was pretty hungry. In the Senator's waiting room was a large basket filled with pastries. What did I have to lose? I took a look. Little Debbie's blueberry muffins and other such stuff. (Little Debbie is part of McKee Foods and is apparently based in Chattanooga, TN) Being a sheltered New Yorker, I had never heard of Little Debbie. To my surprise, they had hechscher from Triangle K.

I stuck a a muffin and a granola bar (a sure sign of desperation) into my coat pocket.

The meeting ended and we raced to the airport. (Only to find out that our 6 p.m. flight had been canceled; about which, more later). Long story short, we were able to get on the 5 p.m. shuttle that had been delayed until 5:30 (but ended up actually leaving 6:15). Bottom line: I didn't even have time to buy a chocolate bar.

We got on the plane and I took out the spoils of my meeting with the staff of the good Senator from Tennessee. Saved by Little Debbie.


Friday, February 19, 2010

How I Really Felt About Mamshit

I wrote a running diary about all my Alyn Rides which I sent out to sponsors (and, in the case of my first two rides, which I posted). That allowed me to memorialize just how much I hated Mamshit, as you can see here.

That post also reminded me how everything is relative (the climb up Hamachtesh Hagadol which once seemed so daunting, is really no big deal at all even though a bunch of British sissy boys had to walk it up) and how much I hated waiting for the stragglers when I used to do the regular road ride.

These posts are also a reminder of how much fun I have on these rides and why I continue to look forward to them.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

I Am Not Worthy

I have been working on an important matter for the past few months (at least it's important if you're a vulture fund). The final act (for now) took place last Friday when I testified before a Judicial Rules Committee (It was pretty cool, although I was so nervous I could barely eat the day before).

I'm having dinner tonight with two of the law firm partners with whom I worked on this project. They are bringing along two other partners whom they want to introduce.

I looked them all up on their firm website. One of the partners I worked with is a piker like me. Among the other three, there are two Supreme Court clerkships, three Federal Court of Appeals clerkships and one Executive Editor of the Harvard Law Review. I am not worthy.

On the other hand, as I've noted before, it's not all about brains.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Endless Day

This has been a long, weird day.

It started at 2:30 a.m. in Tokyo (12:30 p.m. New York time, Monday). This trip has completely wreaked havoc on me and I am completely off. I woke up after only a few hours of sleep. I worked the rest of the night until the gym opened at 6.

I crashed for an hour from 11 a.m. to 12 and then gave my presentation at 1:45. I left for the airport at 3:30 and got there just before 5.

Because I had changed my flight from Wednesday, the best I could do was a flight to Chicago with a connection to New York. (It would have cost about $2,000 to get a direct flight). I was really looking forward to that.

(Again, the wisdom of traveling about 40 hours to make a one hour presentation to a bunch of Japanese businessmen is something I am not convinced of).

The flight was scheduled to leave at 7. As I was walking out of the Admiral's Club lounge, I decided to ask the guy at the counter if he could put me on the direct flight to New York. To my surprise, he said, sure, no problem. I even got an aisle seat (although I had to give up my kosher meals; that's why I always travel with a few chocolate bars).

So, my flight left Tokyo at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday and I was in my house before 7 p.m. Tuesday. Crazy.

Right now my body clock is so confused I don't know what to do. I think I'll go to sleep.


Monday, February 01, 2010


This is my third trip to Tokyo in four years. In my previous two trips I stayed no more than 2 1/2 days. This trip will be no different. I arrived at 11 p.m. on Sunday evening and will be departing my hotel for the airport at 3:30 Tuesday, right after the presentation I'm giving, for on a 7 p.m. flight.

In my previous trips, I never strayed more than one block from my hotel; I might as well have been in Chicago. I am thinking of getting up at 4 a.m. tomorrow to go to the Fish Market which I hear is very cool. Chances are I will be awake anyway since this trip wreaks havoc on me.

It took me 21 hours, door to door, to get to my hotel in Tokyo from Ramat Shiloh. I flew El Al to Hong Kong (10.5 hours) and, after a 2 hour layover, went the rest of the way to Tokyo (a four hour flight). The bus ride from the airport to the hotel took over an hour and a half on a Sunday evening when there was no traffic. The bus ride back is scheduled to take over 2 hours. (Taking a cab from the airport costs around $250).

The saving grace is that I flew business class and that the hotel I'm staying at is first class (The Four Seasons at Chinzan-So). Nevertheless, this trip wipes me out and it takes me a long time to recover. It's very hard for me to reconcile spending all this time traveling, and getting so messed up, for, effectively, a one-hour presentation. But, that's the way it is.

The only reason I'm posting now is because it is delaying me from having to prepare my notes for tomorrow's presentation. I've procrastinated long enough. I have to do some work.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ode to Ramat Raziel

Besides getting to see my sons, HDIL and grandchildren, I got to ride my bike a bunch of times during our recent trip to Israel.

OOS rented me a very nice carbon bike from the wonderful bike store in Har Nof (on Kanfei Nesharim). We rode on the first Friday and then on Sunday in the Nes Harim area, doing the nasty 3.5 mile climb and descent. On Wednesday, I rode by myself, doing the Nes Harim thing and adding climb up from the Stalactite Caves (another 2.5 miles).

This past Friday, OOS and I did the climb up Ramat Raziel. I had done this climb twice before but hadn't done it in about four years. The ride is about 5.5 miles, about 5 of which are uphill with some very tough gradients. As usual, OOS, with his inferior bike (but superior legs) smoked me and left me in the dust. (He kept climbing towards Ein Karem until I called him when I got to the top of Ramat Raziel; it's good to be 26).

I may not be particularly fast up the hills but at least I get up the hills. It was especially tough since I was riding without my shoes and pedals (I was too busy and too lazy to remove my pedals from my bike and take them with me; big mistake in light of all the riding I did) and the fact that I was riding a bike with a compact double with only a standard 12-25 in the back (rather than the 12-27 I use on my bike).

It's amazing how one remembers these hills so well. It was like I had climbed it last week rather than 4 years ago. I guess pain will do that to you.

The biggest hoot of the week (riding-wise) was the descent down Ramat Raziel, which I had never done before. (We didn't have time to do a sivuv up to Ein Karem, Nes Harim and then down back to Ramat Shiloh; that's a fabulous ride but takes about three hours). I'm not one who usually likes to descend but, for whatever reason, I really enjoyed it. Not for the feint of heart and, in one really scary section where the road narrows to one lane, freezing to boot. It was good for a couple of primal screams.

If there aren't enough reasons to live in Israel, living 10k from Ramat Raziel ought to clinch the deal.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Worse Than Shiny Shoe Music

I was sitting this morning at the Rimon Cafe in the mall outside the Jaffe Gate having a lovely working breakfast. (I have recently bought in heavily to the idea of taking a lap top everywhere I go and hooking into wifi; a little late to the game but not bad for an alter kocker)

They were playing very nice music (including a tune from Mati Caspi from about 35 years ago when I spent a year at Hebrew University that had me going nostalgic). Then they played a pretty song called "Killing Me Softly" by someone whose name escapes me. Suddenly, after a couple of verses, a rapper intervened in the song. The whole rap thing then surrounded the pretty song and totally ruined it.

I've been meaning to post about this phenomenon for a while but haven't had the chance. This morning was the last straw.

What IS this?

I am often subjected to this horror at spin classes. They take classic rock songs and surround them with either a rap or disco beat. I recently went to a spin class where the instructor was a few years older than I. She announced that she would be playing "oldies" from her era and hoped that everyone would get into it. Unfortunately, I was then forced to listen to 45 minutes of this horrible music. I felt myself longing for The Chevra or the Yeshiva Boys Choir! (OK, not really, but you get the point).

There ought to be a law.

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