Ever have one of those days when you’re all ready to have some fun…
… and life just seems to get in your way?
I hate days like that!
In most parts of Canada and the U.S., school starts this week.
With that in mind, here’s some unsolicited advice for high school students.
Finish high school. Seriously. I mean it.
If you think life in general is hard…
Try life without a high school diploma.
Bill Gates (supposedly) once said, “If you think your teacher is tough…
Wait til you get a boss!”
Studying is not fun. Studying is rough.
And do yourself a favour… don’t use short-cuts.
They’ll test you on the parts of the book that weren’t in the movie.
OK, that was my rant for the day.
Go forth and slack no more!
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!
In one of my blog articles last month, I set out my theory of the Stealth Hasidim.
Since then, I have been developing and expanding this theory with the help of my dear friend and fellow stealth hasid, SB.
Well, it was time to put theory into an even more extended practice and see just how stealthy and hasidish I could be!
The perfect opportunity provided itself the other day when my friends, D&RB, were in short supply of kosher baby food. Apparently, in Toronto, there is now a dearth of baby food with an acceptable hechsher (kosher certification mark). Baby food brands such as Gerber and Heinz don’t make the grade. They have either cut or lost their COR kosher certification in Canada. 
(A small sample of various kosher certification symbols)
Bottom line… the only brand of baby food that my friends would accept were those produced under the name Beech-Nut, manufactured under strict rabbinical supervision and bearing the ‘Circle-U’ hechsher of the Orthodox Union.
Now while many kosher food retailers do carry the Beach-Nut brand, the selection of flavours in Toronto is somewhat limited. My dear friends were, in a word, distraught. Running low on supplies, their options limited, D&RB were in a tight spot, and no mistake.
This looked like a job for… The Stealth Hasid!
Living, as I do, a mere hop and a skip from the Canada-U.S. border, I hatched a plan whereby I, with the assistance of my not-so-stealthy hasidic cohort (i.e. the local Chabad rabbi), would slip across the border, infiltrate a certain supermarket in a largish western New York State city (which store carries a wide variety of kosher foods including Beech-Nut baby food), obtain about 50 jars in a variety of flavours, make our way back across the river to The Great White North whereupon I would personally transport the goods to my dear friends in Toronto in time for Shabbes.
I arranged a rendezvous in scenic Niagara-Falls. My cohort suggested I meet him across the street from the Jewish cemetery at 5:45 yesterday morning, which totally appealed to my Orthodox Goth (OrthoGoth?) side!. Now while I am usually an early riser, the thought of me standing in the snow in the pre-dawn hours waiting for my cohort to arrive did not help me leap to the task with my usual alacrity.
However, a stealth hasid must be made of stern stuff. “Suck it up, princess!” I said to myself, peering into the night as I held my Tim Hortons coffee cup in both hands. “A baby’s health and nutrition is at stake! And you are helping fellow frummies in their hour of need. Stealth Hasid to the rescue!”
OK, so… I drove up to the Canada-U.S. border by 6:00 am. The process was uneventful. While my cohort was an old hand at crossing into the States and back, I was a bit nervous as this was my first foray into the U.S. since the Passover before 9-11. A lot’s happened since then, homeland-security-wise. Notwithstanding the fact that I had my brand-new spiffy enhanced drivers licence which permits me to drive into the U.S. without a passport, I didn’t know what to expect. I need not have worried. Things went smoothly with the border guard asking only a few questions. Before I knew it, we were in The Great Republic to the South.  A quick in-and-out and we’d be back in the land of Mounties and maple syrup, beavers and butter tarts before you could say, “How’s it goin’ eh?”
Did I mention that my cohort goes into the States every day? No? Well, he does. Why? He attends morning services at the holy Young Israel of Greater Buffalo orthodox congregation. I had never been there before and I must say, it was quite enjoyable. As it was Rosh Chodesh, we had a Torah reading and, after services, my cohort did a little one-on-one learning with an extremely UN-stealth hasid. Not exactly the quick in-and-out I originally imagined but you have to learn to roll with the proverbial punches in this line of work.
Eventually, we made it to the supermarket. I stocked up on Beech-Nut sweet carrots, sweet peas, squash and sweet potato, getting about a dozen of each. I found out, to my chagrin, that not all Beech-Nut flavours were kosher. We cleared the shelves of all kosher flavours D&RB needed but we fell a bit short of the 50 jars I was hoping to get and there was no time to drive to the other supermarket around the corner (my cohort was already late for a meeting on the Canadian side). I cashed out and before long, we were heading back home. Crossing into Canada was smooth. All went according to plan.
All Stealth. All Hasidic. No Sweat!
Sadly, a snow storm in Toronto today and tomorrow has prevented me from coming in this weekend. Luckily, D&RB have enough food to last them until next weekend.
This coming Friday, I hope to arrive in Toronto on the eve of the Sabbath and deliver the much-needed supplies to my dear friends. D&RB will, I am sure, be quite relieved and happy. As far as baby food is concerned, they will be flush until my next foray into the wilds of western New York.
Yesterday morning’s jaunt taught me several things. Crossing the border at 6:00 am isn’t all that rough, really. I enjoy the Young Israel of Greater Buffalo congregation and intend to continue going there at least twice a week (tentatively Tuesdays and Thursdays) when I am not either in court or in Toronto. Food prices, even kosher food prices, are much lower in the States. Aside from pain in the tush of getting up so early (4:00 am!!), it is nice to share a couple of hours chatting with my cohort, the local Chabad rabbi.
Tentatively, our next cross-border raid is this coming Tuesday. Time permitting, I am hoping to hit that other supermarket in search of more Beech-Nut baby food and maybe even a few provisions for myself.
UPDATE: (As of 9:40 am Friday Feb. 24/12)
It turns out that the bad weather has been averted! The snowfall anticipated for this weekend is not nearly as bad as originally predicted and that I am indeed heading off to Toronto after all. I will be leaving as soon as possible, dropping off the baby food for D&RB, picking up some provisions for dinner tonight and enjoying the Sabbath with friends and loved ones! Yay! The Stealth Hasid scores again!
A good, restful, peaceful and spirit-filled Sabbath to all.
 COR is the kosher certification trademark used by the Kashruth Council of Canada, the largest kosher certification agency in Canada. COR has been servicing the Canadian food industry for over 65 years and now certifies over 45,000 products at over 1000 facilities across Canada and around the world.
 Technically, where I live, The Great Republic is to the East… but that’s another story.
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!
Somewhere in my Grade One view of the human head, I imagine a tiny switch between the brain and the mouth. It is this switch that prevents one from saying everything that happens to go through one’s mind.
Some people either lack this switch or the switch is faulty/burned out.
Either way, if they are thinking it… they are saying it.
Little kids tend to say what they are thinking. This is what allows them to look at a total stranger from their vantage point in the grocery store shopping cart and exclaim loudly, “He’s fat!”
The switch has not fully developed. It has not matured. It is not yet properly in place and functioning.
The 3-year-old in the shopping cart has an excuse. Adults don’t.
(Dogbert explains it all for you!)
The Mouth Switch keeps the internal dialogue… well… internal. Very few people need or even want to hear what you are thinking. And just because you are thinking it, that in and of itself does not mean there is a corresponding interest in hearing your random thoughts.
Faulty Mouth Switch Disorder seems to be spreading throughout our society.
My dear friend RS was commenting just last night on how some fellow-moms (and, more irritatingly, non-moms) in her neighbourhood feel free to beak off regarding her parenting skills and techniques. And these aren’t even friends or acquaintances… just random people. Now, I am sure these women mean well. I will not presume that they are meddlesome busybodies or full-time kvetchers or even merely opinionated. The point is, you don’t walk up to a young woman and start rattling off your opinions on parenting and how you feel she is falling short of your expectations. ESPECIALLY someone you don’t know!
Young moms aren’t the only ones are risk. People feel free to express whatever floats through their minds on any number of subjects… politicians, celebrities, the law… politicians and celebrities at odds with the law, etc.
As some of you may know, I am a criminal defence lawyer. Apparently, this gives many people carte blanche to pontificate on what they think is wrong with the criminal justice system. They are almost never informed (let alone rational) opinions. These people put the ‘jerk’ in ‘knee-jerk reactions!’ I try my best to smile and nod and hope they suddenly remember a pressing appointment to which they need to go immediately.
To sum up… No one cares what you happen to be thinking. Seriously. I really mean it. NO ONE CARES!
Thumper’s Mom had it right. Follow her simple rule and you should be fine.
If you can’t say somethin’ nice… don’t say nothin’ at all.
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 repost of the Aish HaTorah article, An Open Letter to the Beit Shemesh Spitter.
How dare you?
How dare you spit on an 8-year-old schoolgirl and terrorize her as she walks to school? I don’t care what she’s wearing; spitting, verbal abuse, and threats of violence cannot be tolerated.
How dare you call yourself a Hareidi, God-fearing Jew? Your despicable actions are diametrically opposed to Judaism. You are a thug and a hooligan whose conduct, in the words of the statement from Agudath Israel of America “is beyond the bounds of decent, moral – Jewish! – behavior.”
How dare you put us in a position where we need to state loud and clear that we condemn your loathsome actions. We do not share the same theology; we resent having any association with you that necessitates our stark denunciation.
How dare you wear the garb of a religious Jew and create a massive Chillul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name, where uninformed Jews and non-Jews around the world mistakenly believe media distortions that you somehow represent religious Jews in Israel. You are like the kippah-clad thief who dines on pork; he cannot call himself a ‘religious’ Jew. You refuse to listen to rabbinic leadership and your actions are causing irreparable harm to the Jewish people.
How dare you reject the Torah’s way of “love your fellow man” and instead erect barriers of hate and intolerance.
How dare you – through your reprehensible actions – turn off Jews who are curious to learn about their Jewish heritage.
How dare you reject the Torah’s way of “love your fellow man” and instead erect barriers of hate and intolerance.
Perhaps you should try following the example of a real Torah Jew, the great Mirrer Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel, of blessed memory.
A non-religious Israeli couple was married for 12 years and could not have children. They were distraught and decided to seek counsel from the renowned Rosh Yeshiva. It was a hot summer day and the couple knocked on the door. The woman was wearing her typical summer attire and was not modestly dressed.
Rebbetzin Finkel opened the door and greeted the couple. “How wonderful that you came to meet my husband!” Then she turned to the wife and warmly said, “You know, my husband is a great scholar – he learns all day. When I go in to speak with him, I wear a shawl out of respect. Why don’t you come with me and see if I have one for you, too. I think I even have a perfect piece of jewelry to match. And we’ll go in together to speak to him.”
They entered his study and told the rabbi why they had come. Rabbi Finkel had great difficulty talking due to the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s. He mustered his strength and said to the woman, “You and I have a lot in common. We both know what suffering is.” He began to sob, along with Rebbetzin Finkel. Then the couple started crying.
Rabbi Finkel spoke with the couple for a while, offering words of comfort. He then took their names, and vowed to pray for them.
No yelling, no threats, no spitting. Just love, respect and compassion of one Jew for another.
Maimonides writes (Laws of Character Development, 6:7) that the only way to draw people close is through love. That is how the Almighty relates to us, and that is how He wants us to relate to others.
Abandon your hate and choose the Torah’s path of warmth and understanding. I dare you.
When I heard about this story, it made my blood boil! Luckily, Aish.com posted this article before I was able to put down my two cents.
I hate ending the year on a sour note… but hopefully, some good will come out of this sad affair.
Happy New Year… and may the coming year be filled with good things for all!