Hi, my little geeks and nerdlings…
Passover begins tonight (Monday March 25, 2013) at sunset.
I will be in Toronto for a little over a week.
Have a happy, kosher and joyful Passover.
I’ll should be back Wednesday April 3.
See you then!
This morning, I ran into a blog post about how to name your baby. The author of this blog site, Cappy, has written a series of ‘How To’ articles. They’re delightful. Check them out.
With respect to the How to Name Your Baby blog post, I would just like to add one thing.
I call it my Kindergarten Roll Call Test. It is a good way to weed out ‘clunker’ names.
OK… you are trying to come up with a name for your newborn or soon-to-be-born child.
Imagine a group of 5-year-olds in kindergarten. Their teacher, Miss Niedermeyer, is conducting the roll call.
“Jennifer… Scott… Sarah… David… Michael… Montana Sky… “
If in your mind you hear a sound kind of like a game show buzzer indicating a contestant failed… then the proposed name should be discarded.
Let’s try it again!
“Mary… Mark… Anna… Daniel… Constitution… ” BUZZER!!
The Kindergarten Roll Call Test.
Learn it. Live it. Love it.
TRUST ME… your kids will thank you one day.
This New Yorker Cartoon by Jack Ziegler is lovingly dedicated to ♠sabbiespurses♠.
I’m sorry but this little girl is simply Evil Incarnate!
That adorably cute little face says it all (i.e. ‘I am the Spawn of Satan! Can I have a cookie?’)
And yet… there is humour here, as well.
A dark, evil, perverse humour, perhaps… but humour all the same.
A milder, funnier version was put together in this commercial for the 2010 Young Director Award.
My kinda kid!
It bothers me when I see unattended children.
Maybe because it is so rare these days. It seems that when I was a mere tot I was left to run amok completely unattended. Entire weekends were spent with adults having only the vaguest idea where I was.
I somehow made it home for lunch. I learned to come home when the street lights came on. Other than that, my friends and I roamed around town like feral cats and dogs.
It wasn’t really all that unusual ‘way back when.’
Now? A whole different playground, folks.
We seem to have been lured into this mindset that the world is programmed to hurt, maim and kill children if they are not supervised every single minute of the day.
No one seemed to worry when yours truly played with mercury or lawn darts… a toy that appeared to be specially designed for killing children.
Amazingly enough, the Lawn Darts packages actually contains this warning:
WARNING: Lawn Darts can be dangerous and may cause serious of fatal injury. Read instructions carefully. Keep away from children
Often times, this sense of being bothered by unattended children quickly turns into annoyance.
Maybe it’s a feeling of “if the parents don’t worry about their offspring, why the heck should I?”
I’ve begun to notice signs in commercial establishments that echo this feeling of mine.
I admire the tactic. Threaten to make the insufferable little beasts even more of a nightmare than they are already!
I don’t know if it works but I have to tell you, I admire the effort.
Well done, folks!
Americans are lonelier than ever before, according to a growing body of research. All those “friends” we have on the giant social network may be part of the problem
Is Facebook really making people more lonely? Or are lonely people attracted to Facebook?
These are some of the questions posed by a recent article in TheWeek.com.
This is the paradox of the Facebook age: We have an unmatched ability to connect with other people through social networks, yet we still “suffer from unprecedented alienation,” says Stephan Marche in The Atlantic. Evidence from the growing body of loneliness research seems to suggest that the two trends are almost certainly connected. While American tradition holds that there’s nothing wrong with a little individualistic solitude, the isolation of superficial connections with hundreds of Facebook “friends” might just be too much for us to handle.
(California high school student, Ellie Ritter, talks to her friends through Facebook: A growing body of research suggests that a connection is not the same thing as a bond/confidant. Photo: Lacy Atkins/San Francisco Chronicle/Corbis)
But is it fair to blame Facebook for all this?
Here are some reactions to Stephan Marche’s views…
A great discussion indeed!
I do not own a pet nor will I ever again.
There was a time when I did own pets.
There was even a time, way back, when I owned four… count ‘em, FOUR… cats.
I’ve had goldfish and turtles. I even had a snake once.
To this day, in all my life, my best friend in the whole world was a black Labrador retriever named Trista.
The day Trista breathed her last was the day I vowed I would never own another animal, domestic or otherwise.
When she passed away at the age of 13, I came as close as I probably will ever come to having a nervous breakdown.
Relatives of mine have died and I did not weep and sob as much as I did on that day.
I cannot and will not bring myself to do that again. I seriously don’t think I’d be able to handle it.
In the aftermath of Trista’s death, one by one over the course of a few months, I murdered all the plants in my house. All save one, which I tried to kill through active ignorage. The little thing… an aloe… seemed to thrive on neglect.
Eventually, months and months later, I tossed a small glass of water into it, partly out of pity and partly out of curiosity as to what would happen. Within 24 hours the aloe had perked up and started showing signs of life, as if nothing had happened. That spiky-edged little twerp earned her place in my home.
Eventually, I started to do the same.
Riposa in Pace, Trista.
This evening, Friday April 6, at sundown is the beginning of Passover. It is by far my favourite holiday.
I will be leaving for Toronto Friday morning.
This blog will shut down until after Passover.
I hope to return Monday April 16.
Until then, may you all have a meaningful and spirit-filled holiday season.
I heard they grow them big down in Texas, but… DANG!!
Janet Johnson gave birth to a baby boy, JaMichael Brown, at Good Shepherd Hospital in Longview, Texas. He entered the world at sixteen pounds and was two feet tall (long?)!
But wait… there’s more!
A mother in China gave birth to a nearly 16-lb. boy, possibly setting the all-time record for the country’s biggest baby. Chun Chun, weighing in at 15.5 lbs., was born Saturday in the city of Xinxiang, in Henan province.
Just to give you darling little geeks and nerdlings a bit of perspective here… both of these titanic tots tipped the scales at over twice the weight of an average baby (about 7.5 lbs)! Put another way, these bundles of joy are about the size of an average 5-month-old baby.
The articles (Google ’16 pound baby’ and you’ll find dozens of media reports) usually go on to talk about gestational diabetes and macrosomia and other such disorders being contributing factors, among other things.
But what arrests the attention… what really grips the imagination of the average reader, listener and viewer… is the pure unvarnished mass of these kiddie-winkers.
One can’t help but imagine what it must be like having these bouncing bruisers as one of your own. A relatively simple task such as changing diapers becomes a logistical problem of, quite literally, huge proportions.
And these brogdingnagian bambinos are by no means the biggest on record!
Most recently, a woman in Indonesia gave birth to a baby weighing 19.2 pounds!
And notwithstanding even that baby’s size, he is not the largest baby ever born.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s heaviest baby was born to Anna Bates of Canada in 1879. The baby weighed 23.12 lbs and died eleven hours after birth.
The largest baby to ever survive was a boy weighing 10.2 kg (22 lb 8 oz) who was born to Carmelina Fedele at Aversa, Italy, in September 1955.
I swear… it’s enough to make your eyes water!
My aversion to household pets (aka household pests) did not developed gradually over many years like so many of my dislikes. No, this one came upon me virtually overnight.
Before The Great Epiphany, I was much like everyone else in that I had deluded myself into thinking that cats, dogs and other such fur-bearing freeloaders were my ‘friends.’ There was a time when I had four (count ‘em, FOUR) cats. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine that any best friend in the whole world could possibly be better than my black labrador retriever.
The main purpose… the raison d’être for any household creature… is to eat and poop, get you to spend money on them and have you clean up after them in the process. And in return you get… what? Some feline fleabag rubbing against your leg and almost causing you to fall and get a concussion as you try to navigate your way across the room? A canine con-man who sheds, drools and barks whenever it’s not knocking things over as it clears the surfaces of coffee tables with its tail?
Some pets are more or less easy to understand. People have been mooched off of by dogs and cats for thousands of years. There is at least an element of history and tradition to these deadbeats. Some are less easy to fathom. Rodents, for example. For millennia, Man has been trying to rid his living quarters of rodents. To bring mice, gerbils, hamsters, etc., into one’s house is a slap in the face of progress.
(Copper: What a chazzer!)
While we’re at it, why not bring in lice, cockroaches or bedbugs? I’ll tell you why. Because lice, cockroaches, bedbugs, etc. are not cute. They are every bit as parasitic… just not nearly as adorable as other scroungers like bunnies and pot-bellied pigs.
And don’t even get me started on birds. Evil-tempered, nasty creatures who will take a nip at you just as soon as they’d poop on your head (a feat few other household pets can pull off).
I’ve noticed that the photos I really like are ones that show these household bums in distress. They really do bring a smile to my face.
It makes me want to throw a bucket of cold water on a kitten just to see this reaction in real life!
(Now this is just funny!)
It also, I suppose, makes me an evil, wicked, cruel and heartless person. So be it. I am at peace with that.
How Long Will People Find Your Child Adorable?
Not very long at all and certainly not as long as you think, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 
Psychologists Lu Zhu Luo, Hong Li, and Kang Lee - in China, and at the University of Toronto - recruited 60 men and women and showed then a large sample of children’s faces ranging from infants to 6-and-half-year-olds. The participants were asked to rate each face’s likeability (i.e. how much do you like the face?) and attractiveness (i.e. how attractive is the face?). The researchers wanted to know if younger kids would be given higher attractiveness ratings than older kids - and, if so, at what age does the cut-off happen from ‘OMG how adorable’ to ‘merely cute?’
The answer? Yes, it’s as expected. Men and women rated infants as cuter than toddlers, who, in turn are rated as cuter than young children. The big drop-off in cuteness appears to happen somewhere between preschool and kindergarten. The researchers identified it as approximately age 4 ½.
So why the big drop-off with school aged kids?
It has to do with the change in the shape of the children’s faces.
Infants have a special set of features, such as a protruding forehead, a large head, a round face, big eyes, and a small nose or mouth. As a species, we have evolved to be attracted to these very babyish features and find them adorable. These cues make us feel soft and protective, whether or not we’re biologically related — which increases the likelihood of the baby’s survival. Their cuteness is a kind of self-defence mechanism because, I presume, if parents weren’t reduced to cooing high-talking idiots at the sight of their baby, any rational adult with have tossed the little bundle of trouble onto the trash heap long ago. Good for the parents… but bad for the long-term survival of the species.
Doubt me? Scientific studies have found that infants that have tiny eyes, flat foreheads, and square faces, for instance, are less likely to receive attention.
So, that explains why most people are dippy for babies. What about older kids? And why four and a half years old?
Facial cranial growth is gradual, as is a child’s independence from constant care-giving. Children’s faces lose some of their universal appeal right around the age that they don’t need it anymore to (merely) survive — somewhere around kindergarten-age. Incidentally, this interval — four to five years — is the same as natural birth spacing — when our foremothers would become pregnant with their next baby.
In short, we find kids less adorable at about the age where they are more or less able to take care of themselves to a large extent… and it is also at about this age (give or take) that mom’s are ready for the next child.
So next time you find a baby too cute for words and want to pinch its cheeks… just remember… if it wasn’t for this reaction, you’d probably put the baby on the curb on recycling day.
 A tip of the hat and a huge debt of gratitude to Jena Pincott’s blog for the inspiration and source of much of the material in this article.
Full Disclosure: I am not the kind of person who usually gushes and coos when I see a baby. In fact, almost every time I have an infant presented to me, it is all I can do to stop from saying, “Oh my goodness! This baby… looks just like every other baby I’ve seen in my whole life!”
There have been exceptions. A certain RLS comes to mind. Yes, the next generation of Stealth Hasidim has begun to arrive!
A week ago, my SigOth (i.e. Significant Other) and I were at a hasidic bar mitzvah. Afterwards, we were kindly invited to have lunch over at the bar mitzvah boy’s house. As we were getting to know the various members of the extended family and trying to figure out who was what, religiously, my SigOth asked a married couple if they, like the bar mitzvah boy’s parents and grandparents, were hasidim. They answered that they were hasidim but they were ‘under-cover’… that is, while they defined themselves as hasidim, they did not overtly dress or speak like hasidim. They were, in effect, ‘plainclothes’ hasidim.
It occurred to me that we knew a few people like that. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my SigOth and I were also, to a some extent… ‘Stealth Hasidim!’
You’d never know it to look at us. You won’t see payess, a shreimel or a bekishe being worn… at least not yet… not even a black Borsalino fedora. We look frum, I suppose… but not ‘ultra-Orthodox’ (I hate that term)!
So the thought of us being Stealth Hasidim holds an enormous appeal for me!
For example, we both dress conservatively, but not out of the 18th or 19th century.
Aside from a hat (a greek fisherman’s cap, btw, not a black fedora), a yarmulke and a sheitel, I don’t know that a non-Jew would instantly spot us as Orthodox.
So, Gentile World (i.e. 98.3% of the population out there!), be aware that the nice conservatively dressed people next to you on the sidewalk or the grocery store or the coffee shop may not be who or what they appear. Outwardly, they might be missing the fur hats and side curls and long coats… but inside, they may be not a heck of a lot different from those bearded ‘ultra-Orthodox’ Jews you sometimes see in the movies or on TV.
They may be us! They may be… Stealth Hasidim!