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Thursday, April 27, 2006

My New Cell Phone

So yesterday I decided to upgrade my cell phone. For several reasons. The most important one is that my phone dies after 3 or 4 calls and is generally not very reliable. Also, I smashed the little plastic window in the front when I leaned over a counter in the ER...two years ago...and I've had a little piece of scotch tape over the top since then and it looks...unsophisticated. So I went into my not-terribly-local cell phone store and talked to a very informative young lady who proceeded to sell me a really nice little phone.

BTW I am not going to take this opportunity to rant about how out of control inappropriate cell phone usage has gotten recently and how you can't stand in line, take a cab, or cross the street without some moron yakking on about something completely unrelated to the situation around him or her and not paying attention while engaging in a dangerous activity like driving or operating heavy machinery, or how worried I am about the air around our brains being constantly criss-crossed by an increasing volume of radio-waves containing the most unimportant drivelous chatter, because I've already done so here, and the odds are, if you have a blog, I've done it on your blog too.

So, anyway, this phone I bought yesterday has several upgrades over my previous phone, the most important being that it's not broken. Yet. So it's got that going for it. But it also has....wait for it....A CAMERA!

Yes! This means I can now join the approximately one billion other cell phone users out there who can take grainy, blurry pictures of unidentifiable objects as they drive. Now, you're thinking, "Psychotoddler, you won't sell out. You've just told us how much you look down on other people who use their cell phones irresponsibly." Of course, you're right, I'm not going to subject you to pictures of other drivers picking their noses, because if you want to see that, you can just get stuck in traffic in your own town and look around a little.

But having a camera means that I can finally document all the little things that come up that I've had to describe in prose in the past. For example, not one hour after buying the phone, I took this shot:



Care to venture a guess as to what this is? Need a hint? Look here. A picture really is worth a thousand words. And now, I can also annoy my family and friends (if I had any) by sneaking up on them and taking poor quality pictures when they least expect it! Like this one of Iguana attempting to dry her hands in our new kitchen!



Of course, once you get the pictures ON to the phone, there is the little issue of getting them OFF of the phone. Because it would be more than a little inconvenient if I had to drive out to each of your homes and open up my phone so you could gaze at the tiny picture on its screen. Fortunately, my phone comes with Bluetooth functionality. So, theoretically, I should be able to connect it to my Bluetooth-enabled PDA and transfer the pictures that way.

WRONG! It doesn't work. Oh, the two devices can see each other. They just won't interact in any useful way. Much like me at a party, the two Bluetooth devices will see each other, shake hands, and then just stare at each other. That's pretty much where the conversation ends. The girl in the store told me that the phone companies disable a lot of the useful features, like the one that would have allowed me to use my laptop and my phone to surf the internet while I'm on the road. On the other hand, I can use Bluetooth to stick a headset in my ear and walk around looking like Lt. Uhura.

Ultimately, the only way to get the pictures off the phone is for me to email them to myself. Clunky, but it works. The phone has a few other useful features. As is becoming increasingly common in new appliances, it can take limited video. Get ready for some blurry, garbled, stuttering PT movies!



It also has limited speech recognition. This is nothing new. My old phone had voice dialing, too. But whereas my old phone made me record a voice tag to attach to a number, and then would try to match it up to a live voice command, this one can actually read written text on its own. This is not as good as it sounds. It recognized "Home" and "Office" pretty well (well, Ah-fiss and not Awe-fiss), but try as I might I could not get it to pronounce my wife's name, which starts with a Cha (as in "Channuka", not "Charo"). The closest match it could come up with was "Mom".

We won't even go there.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Fudge-O-Rama

My daughter Fudge returns to the East Coast and spews forth a series of well-written articles with capitalization and other amenities:

The real issue with the new Ten Commandments movie--and what it says about the society that spawned it.

A thought-provoking article from a Jewish Reggae artist--no, it's not who you think.

Also, be sure to check out PT regular Parcefahuqwgads' excellent comment on Fudge's Matis article.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A-Z Meme

Moshe received the Torah from Sinai....skip a bit.....Daled Amos tagged me for the A-Z meme:


Accent:

None. I keep telling you I have NO ACCENT. For the love of all that is holy WHAT DOES IT TAKE!?

Booze:

Say it with me: CREAM MA-LA-GA

Chore I Hate:

Anything involving stooping, bending, squatting, lifting, standing, or walking. Or getting my hands dirty. Does that cover it all?

Dogs/Cats:

Hah! You're kidding, right?

'Ad me a fish once. 'Ee was an 'alibut. 'Is name was Eric. 'Ee was Eric the 'alibut.

Essential Electronics:

All electronics are essential. Silly question.

Favorite Perfume/Cologne:

Arrid XX

Gold & Silver:

Yes, please.

Hometown:

Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia...wait, that was King Tut. Born in Brooklyn, moved to Queens, dormed in Manhattan, moved to the Bronx, then settled in Milwaukee. "4 of these things belong together, 4 of these things are kinda the same..."

Insomnia:

What is the question here? Do I have it? Do I want it? How to get rid of it? Everyone wants free medical advice. Go see your doctor!

Job Title:

NOT YOUR Doctor.

Kids:

Umm...yes.

Living Arrangements:

Dyin' ain't much of a living, boy.

Most Admired Trait:

My hairline.

Number of Sexual Partners:

Is this a multiple choice question?

Overnight Hospital Stays:

None that I am aware of.

Phobia:

Arachnoacrospheksophobia

Quote:

"You bubble-headed booby!"

OR

"Take yer stinkin' paws off me, you damn dirty ape!" I use this one virtually every day.

Religion:

Jewish. Duh.

Siblings:

2 sisters with horrendous accents.

Time I Usually Wake Up:

5:25 am

Unusual Talent:

I can tell how Columbo is going to figure it out.

Vegetable I Refuse To Eat:

Raw celery.

Worst Habit:

It would be rude of me to say.

X-Rays:

If you X-Ray my spine, you can see the letter 'S'.

Yummy Foods I Make:

Egg dishes. Grilled Cheese. Salmon (stinks up the house). Burgers (smokes up the house).

Zodiac Sign:

Leo.

Any of my many, many blogging relatives are welcome to tackle this meme.

Last Night Was 10

Hey! I'm still counting the Omer! This has to be a world record for Psychotoddler! In part this is due to me making more Maariv services. And in part it is because I signed up to get email reminders from the OU. Let's see how long I can keep this up.

And they say the internet will destroy my Yiddishkeit.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Four Bloggers

Blessed is the Internet. Blessed is IT. Blessed are those who gave us the Blogosphere. Concerning four bloggers does the Blogosphere speak: The Wise Blogger, the Wicked Blogger, the Simple Blogger, and the Blogger Who Does Not Know How to Comment.

The Wise Blogger: The Wise Blogger is a much better writer than the rest of us. While many are content to write about poop or silly things their children say, the Wise Blogger writes about politics with such authority that we dare not contradict him. Or he is the perfect father, next to whom all other parents pale and are unworthy. Or she is the expert on relationships, so deep and self-aware that we can but wonder why it is that she still hasn't found the perfect mate. The Wise Blogger is the pinnacle of blogging, the unapproachable summit that we can only aspire to but never reach. Yes, we are not worthy even to comment on the Wise Blogger's Blog.

But the Lords of the Blogosphere have told us how to respond to the Wise Blogger: We must comment with the same high-falutin' technical language that they use. Remember, it is better to sound smart, than to be smart.

The Wicked Blogger: The Wicked Blogger exists to cause dissent and chaos! He criticizes everything! Finds fault with all arguments! He holds nothing Sacred! He comes to your Blog and leaves nasty comments, and insults your readers! Yea, verily, he is the quintessential Troll! Why, right now, I bet he's thinking up something nasty to say about this very post! He's so vain! He probably thinks this post is about him!

And the Creators of the Blogosphere have told us how to respond to him as well. We must "blunt his teeth": ban his IP address from our comments sections! Do not reply if he somehow slips in via a different computer at work! Feed not the Trolls! We must remind him that the Blogosphere was created for us, the forces of niceness! Had the Blogosphere lords known about the Wicked Blogger, well, they probably would have had second thoughts about this whole Blog thingie.

The Simple Blogger: The Simple Blogger craves neither accolades nor revulsion. The Simple Blogger blogs for fun and friendship. Sure, the Simple Blogger aims a little lower than the Wise Blogger, but he or she hits his or her target just as often. And more importantly, the Simple Blogger understands something that perhaps the Wise and Wicked Bloggers do not: That there is a market for people who want to read about poop and silly things said by kids. And Cavemen and Sean Connery.

And so the Bloglords tell us to remind the Simple Blogger: The Blogosphere was created for him or her as well, with a strong hand and some Band-aids, or somesuchIcan'treallyrememberrightnow.

And finally,

The Blogger Who Does Not Know How to Comment: This one is such an important part of the Blogosphere, and yet he does not even realize it. He is our future. He is the Lurker. It is he who causes our Page Views to creep upwards, allowing us to evolve above our fellow blogs in The Truth Laid Bear. And yet he leaves no lasting trace of his visit. The Bloglords tell us to make an opening for him. Invite him to leave comments. Let him know that we appreciate his visit and would like to hear what he has to say, no matter how irrelevant, moronic, or incomprehensible it may be. Tell him, "this is what the Blogosphere has done for me! You can be a part of it too!"

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Ten More Commandments?


Did anybody catch the ABC miniseries The Ten Commandments this week? Is it just me, or did they portray Moses as a sketchy, hallucinating psychopath whose so-called miracles could be explained by natural phenomena? What's up with that?

Gimme Charleton Heston any day.

UPDATE: Danny's got a great post on this.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Seder: Which do you prefer?


OK, it's time for the first Seder. Everyone is sitting around the table. The old people are whining. They want to eat the fish already. The kids are whining. They want to eat too. I'm whining. For various reasons.

We all have our Maxwell House Haggadahs in front of us, with the coffee stains and bits of matzoh stuck between pages from last year (optimistically speaking).

So who's doing the reading?

Which do you prefer:

Does one person read the whole thing?

Do you say it all together?

Do you go around the table and take turns?

English, Hebrew, or Aramaic?

I ask because for 18 years now this has been a clash of cultures at our Seder table. My wife's family reads the whole thing together, in Hebrew, without translating (or taking breaths).

In my family, maybe because my Father can't read or understand Hebrew, my Mother and I (and the sisters) would take turns reading and translating. And I've always prefered that method. It does take a little longer though. Is there any source to back up one approach vs. the other?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

IM Chat with Wanderer

Time for some more IM logs! This one is with Wanderer:


Wanderer: What a boring meme...
Psychotoddler: crap
Psychotoddler: you have the same avatar as me


Wanderer

Wanderer: really?
Psychotoddler: look now


Psychotoddler

Wanderer: oh wow
Psychotoddler: this is embarrassing
Wanderer: no glasses for you
Psychotoddler: you have glasses?
Wanderer: oh wait
Wanderer: i guess not
Wanderer: i should
Wanderer: otherwise my avatar won't be able to see
Psychotoddler: i have a picture of me wearing the same outfit too



Psychotoddler: well, it has no beard
Psychotoddler: yahoo descriminates against beards
Wanderer: did you shave?
Wanderer: antisemites
Psychotoddler: no, but my avatar can't grow one
Psychotoddler: see, now if you were dr bean, this would be a post by now
Wanderer: yes he really scrounges for topics
Wanderer: i just don't post
Wanderer: then again, yesterday i resorted to recyclng a comment i left at another blog
Psychotoddler: I posted a song at kerckhoff
Psychotoddler: you gotta think big
Wanderer: when?
Psychotoddler: on the toddler spit up post
Wanderer: hang on - checking
Wanderer: kovikovay
Wanderer: cool
Wanderer: are the lyrics posted anywhere
Psychotoddler: no, are they too hard to make out?
Wanderer: well it is louie louie
Psychotoddler: if you could understand it it wouldn't sound right
Wanderer: no i can make them out actually, but its easier to see them
Wanderer: sounds great
Psychotoddler: all me
Wanderer: yesterday i logged in and Doctor Bean actually thought I was you
Wanderer: based on the avatar

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Jewish Newspaper & Mag Meme

The Jewish Blogmeister has challenged me to his meme, the "Jewish Newspaper & Mag Meme." It goes, a little, like-a this:

1) What Jewish Newspaper/Magazines do you read?

I currently subscribe to three:

The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Jewish Action Magazine

Kashrus

2) How do these different publications differ?

The Chronicle is a local Jewish paper which deals with events going on in the Wisconsin Jewish community and also some national/international Jewish issues. I subscribe to it primarily because I have a policy of supporting local institutions. And it gives me something to read Friday nights (assuming it shows up before Shabbos like it's supposed to).

It is technically a "non-denominational" paper which does not espouse a particular religious or political point of view, and often prints opposing points of view on its opinion pages. I would consider it to sway slightly to right of center, although in years past, it has been considerably to the left of center. Center in this case probably being Conservative Judaism. Orthodox perspectives are welcome, as are Reform or Reconstructionist, but usually not the major thrust of the editorial pages. On the whole, the paper tends to be inclusive, but they seem to draw the line at Messianic Judaism (although they did allow the Messianists space to respond to a negative editorial).

Jewish Action comes with my paid Orthodox Union membership (and BTW, I encourage all Kosher consumers to join and pay up--there may be plenty of Kosher food in NY, but when I see aisles full of Kosher prepackaged food at a Piggly Wiggly in Wild Rose, Wisconsin, it makes me want to kiss Steven Savitzky's tuchas).

Jewish Action is an interesting magazine which adheres to a relatively Modern Orthodox, Yeshiva University-oriented view of Judaism. In fact, several writers are familiar names from my YU days (including Rabbi Krauss, my old rebbe). Moreover, it seems to tackle problems that other publications don't want to deal with. Like how computers can actually help you with your Judaism, as opposed to being a tool of the Devil(TM). They seem to go with the assumption that the real world actually exists, and that Modern Jews need to be prepared to deal with its challenges, not stick their heads in the ground and hope that it goes away. I feel fairly comfortable with the points of view it espouses, and unlike more right-wing publications, which I may read and then shrug away into irrelevency, I often find myself contemplating change based on what I find in its pages.

I think my wife subscribes to Kashrus. I'm not sure how we started getting it. Mainly it's interesting for the travel guides (remember when we used to drive cross-country?) and the lists of what is/isn't kosher now/anymore. And why.

3) How often do you read them?

Same answer for all three: when they come.

4) Do you ever read the ads?

All the time. Hard to miss them, no? I'm particularly peaved by all the ads for non-Kosher restaurants in the Wisconsin paper. I guess it's understandable that they should solicit ad revenue from non-Kosher places in light of the fact that there are no Kosher restaurants in Wisconsin. But personally, I would rather they printed no restaurant ads then fill an entire section with traif places. But it is an accurate depiction of the level of dedication to Yiddishkeit that the great majority of Wisconsinites display, in that they can't manage to support a single Kosher establishment, but are obviously frequent customers in the other places.

5) Which one is the worst?

Far be it for me to disparage any honest effort. Let's say Jewish Action is the best.

6) Whats the best article you ever read ?

Jewish Action had a great series on Paying for Jewish Education which I referenced here in the past. The Jewish Chronicle had a nice article about me in 1995. Kashrut has never mentioned me, but had an interesting piece on bugs in your lettuce.

7) Which Pub do you despise?

All the others.

8) Ever find your picture in one?

Very rarely. I have 6 good-looking kids and you'd never guess that they attended any community or school events in this town.

----

But the truth is, these days, I get all of my information about the Jewish Community at large from the J-Blogosphere.

The Boro Park Chillul Hashem

You don't need me to write about what went on in Boro Park yesterday. It's all over the J-Blogosphere. Chaim is keeping tabs on it here. All I can say is that I'm disgusted and upset, but unfortunately not that surprised.

It seems to be part of a growing trend that I'm noticing amongst Jews. For lack of a better title, I'll call it "the Heck with it" trend. If it works for them, then it'll work for us. If they riot, why shouldn't we? If they attack the police, why shouldn't we? If they are racist, or rude or cheat on their taxes, why shouldn't we? If they get violent over cartoons, why shouldn't we?

Well, why shouldn't we?

Because we're supposed to be different, that's why. We're supposed to be better than them. We pride ourselves on being a "light unto the nations." What kind of crappy light were we being yesterday in Boro Park? Burning magazines over a traffic stop?? I don't want to go into the details of the case, but the person arrested was doing something illegal and probably dangerous to boot, and it's probably better that he's off the road. Did the police manhandle him? Quite possibly, and that's justification for a community sponsored discussion with the authorities, or maybe a peaceful little demonstration. But rioting like animals? Why shouldn't we?

Is it our turn to be as base as the rest of the world? Are we tired of holding ourselves up to higher standards? Do we need to "let off steam" as Tom Wolfe put it in the Bonfire of the Vanities?

Have we learned nothing from this Torah that we hold so dear? What, exactly, is the POINT??

There's a line in a favorite TV show of mine, where the leader of the surviors of his persecuted race discusses their survival in a cataclysmic war, and he says, "we never asked ourselves why we deserved to survive." And later on, a member of the enemy race answers him: "Maybe you didn't deserve to survive."

Do we deserve to survive? What makes us special anymore?

We need to remember who we are and what is our purpose on this world.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Cro Magnon Day at the Office

I saw this in a patient room this morning and I couldn't stop laughing. Good thing the guy was demented.