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

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bugging Out

In a rare moment of clarity and maturity, I decided to bug out of the Alyn challenge ride and do the standard ride. I came to this conclusion after riding for three days in the hills of Yerushalayim.

I rode in an area called Nais Harim, between Ein Kerem and Bet Shemesh. Very nasty hills for many miles. Although I had no problem climbing the hills, I found myself fried by the heat and very tired at the end of each day. I was reminded about how unbelieveably hot it gets in the Negev, even in late October.

It then occurred to me that I would not enjoy the total experience of the Alyn ride nearly as much if I did the challenge ride, about 80 miles a day, rather than the standard ride, about 60 miles a day. The truth is that I really don't enjoy riding more than 60 or 70 miles a day and I don't really have anything to prove in terms of my ability to ride hard. Indeed, the past three days of riding had parts that were as hard as anything I would face during the challenge ride.

When I contacted the organizers of the ride, they were shocked. I have gained a reputation among the Alyn chevra as somewhat of an intense lunatic (me, intense?) so when I told them I wouldn't be doing the challenge, they had a hard time believing it.

Coincidentally, later that day, the organizers sent around an email saying that, because the demand for the challenge ride was so great, they would be expanding the number of riders from 50 to about 70. But in order to do that, they had to move around the accomodations. Instead of staying at a guest house on the second night, the challenge riders would be sleeping outside on mats at the Mamshit Bedouin tent.

Been there, done that, in 2004. As I said at the time, Mamshit was a once in a lifetime experience that I've already done once so, no thank you. I felt even better about my decision having heard about that.

The other good news is that, with the exception of Psycle Steve and a rider from Chicago, virtually everyone else I know on the ride is doing the regular ride.

This takes all the pressure off. I am actually ready for the Alyn ride now. I have four months to step up my training and get my abs and lower back stronger but the riding part will be relatively easy. Relatively being the key word. It's still not for the feint of heart but considerably easier than the challenge ride.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

La Briut

I travelled to Asia armed with a few packages of LaBriut heat-em-up spaghetti and meatballs. Very amazing stuff. You just pour water on this package and it creates its own heat. America Gonnif.

But, there is a limit to how many nights in a row you can eat these things; they're not exactly Le Marais.

I found myself looking forward to chowing down some good kosher food in Hong Kong after two nights in Tokyo. Then I was told about the dinner that had been set up for me and a few important people from the Hong Kong market.

So it was that I sat through an 8 course meal at a very cool place in the old Bank of China building. The meal looked very good. My coke was excellent. The La Briut meal was looking better already.

Suddenly, I got an email on my blackberry. It was from another of the participants at the conference. He was at one of the kosher restaurants and wanted to know whether I wanted anything. Chasdei Hashem.

When I got back to my hotel room at around 9:30, waiting there for me was a shopping bag with two pitas filled with shnitzel. They were delicious. I am eternally grateful. I will save the LaBriuts for another day.


Back in Internet Land

For the first time in a week, I have access to the internet. It has been a crazy week; one of the craziest that I've had in a very long time. Besides losing a day and then getting half of it back, I've spent 35 hours on airplanes. I spent 40 hours in Tokyo, 30 in Hong Kong, 4 days in Israel and now I am in London for 2 days. I am usually a very good traveller but I was never more messed up, sleep-wise, than I was in Tokyo and Hong Kong. Watched a lot of World Cup at 3 a.m.

My thoughts on Tokyo. Hot and humid and a lot of cigarette smoke. My thoughts on Hong Kong. Hotter and more humid but much nicer.

The good news is that I got to ride a bike in the Jerusalem hills for three mornings; the bad news is that the bike was ill fitting and I wrenched my lower back. I also made a lot of progress on my CD project, spending two days in the studio with Chaim Dovid and Shlomo Katz and a few very talented session musicians. We are almost done.

I have a lot to write about but I have to prepare for a bunch of meetings that start soon.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Seven Beauties

Talk about cultural differences.

We are running a seminar here in Tokyo. As usual when we run large seminars, we hire temporary workers to help with registration. When we do that in New York, we usually get all kinds of weird rif raf and freaks who show up wearing whatever ragged clothes they happen to throw on that day.

This morning, seven very attractive Japanese women, all wearing identical suits, showed up to assist us with registration. And, of course, they could not have been more polite!


Thank Goodness for the World Cup

Even though the World Cup is the most boring spectacle in the history of mankind, it served its purpose last night.

I am in Tokyo on business and last night, after having travelled 15 hours from the time I started at JFK until I reached my hotel, I fell asleep at 9 p.m.

Unfortunately, I woke up at 1:30 a.m. Thankfully, Japanese TV was covering the World Cup. Even though I watched another thoroughly boring game, Saudi Arabia vs. Ukraine, it did keep me more entertained than I would otherwise have been at that hour of the night.

And, it was boring enough to have put me back to sleep at 3 a.m.

I will never say another bad word about the World Cup.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Road Trip

I am circumnavigating the world over the next ten days. Lots of frequent flyer miles. I have no idea whether I will have access to the web during that time.

Since pretty much all I write is meaninless drivel, I don't think anyone should care too much.



I thought I would be open-minded and give metric football another chance. On Friday afternoon I had a chance to take in the second half of the Mexico - Angola game. Maybe I'm not, as Dov Bear (who is writing endlessly about soccer, probably because he can't deal with the good news that has been coming out of Washington) might say, intellectual enough to appreciate a sloppy scoreless tie, but I found the game even more boring than I anticipated.

What really killed me was that Angola was actively seeking only a tie and when they acheived it acted as if they had just won the Super Bowl. You call that a sport?

Thursday, June 15, 2006


This weekend presents the highlight events of the two most boring spectator sports ever invented in the history of all mankind.

In Germany a bunch of 100 pound sissies will be playing the world's most boring sport in the annual World Cup. (Oh, it's every FOUR years? It just seems like it's every year). Contrary to what the Bear thinks, I'd rather watch the Tampa Bay Bucaneers vs. the Florida Marlins than Brazil against Holland.

If soccer isn't boring enough, you can switch channels and go over to the U.S. Open golf tournament. This so-called sport is a very close second to soccer in its sleep-inducing properties.

The only real difference between soccer and golf is that the former is populated by skinny malinks and the latter by overweight bulvans who can barely walk 18 holes.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Soccer: The Most Boring Sport in the History of Man

Let's face it. All this hype about the World Cup is getting nauseating. As usual, Americans are right and the rest of the world is wrong. There is nothing more boring than a soccer game. Not even golf. I'd rather watch NASCAR.

(And, as usual, the media have totally overhyped the American team. They stink. But who cares? Not me.)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Meanness Poll

I noted recently that the fellow who sued my shul and our contractor suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of a jury.

Before testifying, I received a check for $15 from his attorney as the statutory fee that he is obliged to pay me to testify. I still haven't deposited it.

After learning of his humiliating defeat, I was tempted to endorse the check and send it to the plaintiff with a note, "I understand you lost. Enclosed is your attorney's check for $15. I figure you can use this more than I."

Here's my question.

Should I do it or is it too mean? Remember, this guy tormented the shul and me for years. I had to miss four days of work for depositions and testimony.

Readers, you decide.


It's Elementary

This Thursday evening OYD graduates from elementary school. Mazel Tov, OYD, on a job well done. We are very proud.

Besides this being a momentous occasion for OYD (who is looking forward to a very exciting freshman year at a new school), it marks a major milestone for MHW and me.

OYD's graduation marks the end of our elementary school parenthood after more than 40 kid-years of schooling (including 4-year nursery and Kindergarten). Despite all the nice memories, I can't say that I am sad to see this phase of our lives come to a close. I'm tired of the teachers' conferences (which MHW went to way more than me), I'm tired of the chumash and siddur plays, I'm tired of the narishkeit.

Of course, the thought of not having to pay elementary school tuition after having expended at least $300,000 over the years is not too shabby either.

(Indeed, we are only 5 kid-years and about $100,000 away from being finished with yeshiva tuition altogether. Yay!)

(As a result of our position, I read all the blogs that talk about the yeshiva tuition crisis with sympathy but a certain detachment: Been there, done that. BH, after many, many years of struggling mightily to make the tuition payments, we are almost on cruise control.)

Of course, should the Baby stay with us, we would be right back in the elementary school parsha. Can't wait for the siddur play. Aren't they cute with their little costumes? And those chumash plays! The best! $80,000 more. No problem. Where do I send the checks?


Our Tuition Dollars at Work

This morning I received text messages on my phone from three of our four kids. They are all in the middle of class. (Probably the only reason I didn't get one from OYD is because she doesn't have a cell phone yet).

OOS, in summer graduate school, writes: "Somebody shoot me. This class is so fluffy I can't take it any more".

OOD, in summer school (college) sent me some good news.

OYS, in high school, asked me to pick up something for his Ipod.

Too bad they didn't have text messaging when I was in school. I had to resort to drawing comic book figures all day.


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Deep Conversation With OYD

It's deep conversations like these that make me such an effective father...

The scene: Walking MHW and OYD to shul this morning, pushing the Baby carriage, after having come home from the hashkama minyan.

Me: "I think I'll go visit Friend".

OYD: "What's wrong with Friend?"

Me: "His foot is messed up".

OYD: "Why's his foot messed up?"

Me: "He has gout."

OYD: "What's gout"?

Me: "It's a disease that messes up your foot".

OYD: "Oh."


Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Shlomo Katz's new CD, about three years in the making, is finally available. It was worth the wait.

Check out, for example, Niggun Nevo, Vehakohanim and, of course, Shlomo's original live recording of Niggun Neshama (from Binyanei Ha'Umah, November, 2003).

Full Disclosure: Shlomo is a ben bayis in our house when he is in the U.S., and he actually gives me a shout out in the CD insert, so I'm not exactly objective.

So, rather than take my word for it, check out these samples and decide for yourself.
Is There A Doctor on the Road?

I was looking at the 50 participants who are doing the "On Road Challenge" of the Alyn Ride. There are at least 6 student/soldiers on the ride, including one female. I love these guys (and gal). 5 of them are Anglo Israelis and one is from the States. They are the sweetest kids, polite and respectful and awesome riders. I expect to mainly see their backs.

There is only one other woman on the challenge ride. This is her third ride and she is very tough. One of my goals is to not get dropped by her.

The best news is that 9 of the riders, almost 20%, are doctors, including one emergency medicine doctor and one anesthesioligist. I hope he has good drugs. I feel better already.

The other good news is that there are at least two riders who don't seem to belong on the challenge ride. At least I won't be last.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Just What Shlomo Had in Mind

Raw Deal

Orthomom has been focusing on a number of challenging children-realted issues of late such as underage drinking and bullying.

While these issues are surely important and worthy of focus, let me bring up an issue that has threatened to cause a major rift within the MoC family.

Raw or well-done.

For the past couple of years our family has been forced to confront this issue head on. Nary a Shabbos goes by without the problem raising its ugly head.

As with most issues, it arises because, in life, no good deed goes unpunished. In our case, the good deed is that MHW bakes both chocolate chip cookies and challah virtually every Shabbos. The problem: I like the cookies and challah well done and everyone else in the family likes them raw (of course, MHW has never eaten an entire cookie in our 25 years of marriage so it is of less importance to her).

I have repeatedly written in this blog and in comments to others' that it doesn't matter what a parent says, kids learn from what a parents does. Nevertheless, my children rebelled. So, you can imagine my heartache at seeing each of our kids prefering raw dough over well-baked despite my consistent actions (not just talk).

How did this happen?

I have thought long and hard about this but I just can't figure it out.

Nevertheless, as Drs. Pelcowitz and Blumenthal would surely say, a parent must continue to show his or her kids unconditional love, despite their preference for raw cookies and challah. And so I do.

Thankfully, we have also found a practical solution, owing to the quick thinking of MHW. MHW now makes two batches of chocolate chip cookies; one barely baked, for the kids, and one very well done, for me. On the challah front, MHW started baking well done challah rolls for me and raw challahs for the rest of the family.

Consequently, everyone is happy and shalom bayis reigns once again at the MoC household.