15 June 2004

one nation, indivisible

For those who haven't been reading the news, Supreme Court decided yesterday that Newdon did not have standing in his Pledge of Allegiance case, thereby neatly skirting the constitutional issue that held my interest (and the interest of many others, I would assume) for at least the past several months. I can't be the only one who noticed the irony of them deciding this case on Flag Day. Anyway, only three Justices, Rehnquist, O'Connor, and Thomas, wrote opinions--under different analyses--on the merits, all stating that the "under God" addition 50 years ago was constitutional. For those of you who need me to back up a step further: some guy in California brought a case claiming the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional (under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment) with the inclusion of the phrase "under God." He brought the case on behalf of his school-aged daughter, but there was some question of standing because he and the mother are divorced, and the mother is the custodial parent.

Well, at least we've cleared up a tiny little area of family law. Apparently, noncustodial parents can't bitch to the judicial system about their children being made to say the Pledge in school.

But let's set aside for a moment the Supreme Court's actual decision (or lack thereof) on the Pledge of Allegiance case yesterday. I don't see why I can't have my own little argument right here. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only (monotheistic) religious person who is actually offended by the inclusion of "under God," rather than just understanding of why some other people might be. I never gave much thought to it in school when I was growing up--and that is the problem. Invocation of a deity--whether you believe in that particular deity or not--is disrespectful when said without reverence or even mere consideration of your words.

Of course I am also deeply troubled by the devisiveness of requiring schoolchildren to say the Pledge with an "opt-out." I remember one girl in my class in elementary school who sat out the Pledge every day; even after someone explaiined to me that it was because of her religion (Jehovah's Witness), I thought it was W-E-I-R-D...because that's how may kids think. (Of course, she also didn't bring in cupcakes on her birthday, which I thought was M-E-A-N. On the other hand, I'm sure people thought many odd things about me for never eating hot dogs and hamburgers in the cafetaria or on school trips.)

And beyond the JW, who sit out the Pledge because they find it to be an inappropriate form of prayer (giving allegiance to the nation), there's also the many atheists in this country who do not believe in God. Oh, and also those funny people who belong to those odd little polytheistic, pagan, or animistic religions that have only been around on this planet for about twice as long as Christianity. But they, of course, are insignificant. (Need I actually invoke the sarcasm tag?)

Someone else pointed out, even if you are a monotheist who's cool with the God thing, the arrogance of thinking that God particularly favors our country. Heh.

Finally, the "historical" argument frustrates me because the original Pledge did not have "under God" in it. (It was added during the Communists-Are-Evil era as a way of scaring off those atheist pinko bastards.) Yes, a generation and a half (or so) of us grew up saying the Pledge this way, and it would sound funny to our ears if we relearned it. So what? A while ago, when this case was argued before the Court, William Safire wrote a NYTimes column complaining about the very same thing--in the other direction. Having learned the original Pledge growing up, he thought the phrase "under God" disrupted the flow of the thing.

What will I do when I have children of my own? Well, first of all, let's keep in mind that I only get about 50% of the decision-making power when it comes to raising the kids. If it were up to me, I'd like to tell them to recite the Pledge along with their classmates, omitting the phrase "under God." I would teach them that this was the original form of the Pledge, and explain the many reasons why the addition of that phrase was troublesome to many people and rather unnecessary althogether. Of course, I'll be doing this while sending them to a religious school (or after? Do they even say the Pledge at Orthodox day schools, or do they go straight froom Shacharit to Social Studies?), so that will look pleasantly hypocritical. Oh well. So I'm a hypocrite. I can live with that.

14 June 2004

the numbers game

Tangental to another conversation, my friend N asserted that while a candidate could win the presidency with less than 50% of the popular vote, s/he would still need "close to half" in order to get the requisite 270 electoral votes. I set out to prove her wrong. For those of you who are not familiar with my country's electoral system (and since most of my readers are U.S. citizens, I hope that's not too many of you), here's the quick explanation: Each of the fifty states are assigned a number of electoral votes equal to the number of the state's U.S. Senators (always two per state) plus the number of the state's U.S. Representatives (apportioned by population, minimum one per state, total 435). The District of Columbia, which has no representation in Congress (a rant for another day) receives 3 electoral votes as well, bringing the total number of votes in the Electoral College to 538. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes in order to win the presidential election. Each state's electoral votes are granted as a block to the winner of that state's popular vote.

That doesn't sound too bad, until you consider that electoral votes in some states (generally speaking, the least populous) are worth more than those in others.

How so? Well, for starters, two of the electoral votes in each state are granted regardless of that state's population, meaning that in Vermont (1 Representative) these votes triple the state's electoral voting power, whereas in California (53 representatives) they add less than 4% more voting power to the state. Furthermore, since every state must have at least one U.S. Representative, and of course no state can send half a Representative to Washington (pity, that), in some states (such as Rhode Island) there are a mere half-million people for each Representative, whereas in other states (like Delaware or Montana) there are closer to 800,000 or more. It all boils down to an electoral vote in Wyoming weighing more than four times as much (in terms of population behind the vote) as one in California.

Don't believe me? I did the math and it's all in this nifty little spreadsheet.

"Ah, but wait--" you say, "you used total population! Obviously not all these people are registered to vote!" OK, then. You give me the number of registered voters in each state, and I'll use those. In the meantime, I'll settle for assuming that the proportional amount of registered voters to total population in each state is roughly the same.

Anyway, the second sheet of that Excel file is set up so you can play some electoral math games. It is currently sorted so the states with the highest weight electoral votes (fewest voters behind each vote) are at the top, and the lowest-weight states are at the bottom. In the scenario I have set up in the saved file, Party A has garnered 271 electoral votes (more than the required 270) with less than 22% of the popular vote! Of course, I finagled this by having Party A win by one or two votes in the 39 most heavily-weighed states, and having Party B sweep the other 12. I agree that this scenario is highly unlikely (given the nature of elections in general and the groupings of states' politcal leanings in particular), but it does show just how misrepresentative our electoral system really is. I suspect (though I haven't played this out yet) that in an election with three candidates, with states that give their electoral votes to the candidate who garners a plurality of votes in that state (rather than a majority), the popular vote percentage necessary to win would be close to 15%.

Feel free to play with that set-up and come up with more realistic projections that still have one party winning with far less than 50% of the popular vote. You should enter only the votes for Party A (column E); everything else will calculate itself out.

13 June 2004

vino revisited

In the past two weeks we have purchased ten bottles of Chateau de Paraza on sale at The Butcherie. I figure that if we ever get sick of drinking it, I can use the rest of our stock for cooking only.

Also, we (OK, Julian) fixed the oven. Turns out it was just some broken wire, not the entire bottom heating element. One trip to Home Depot and a few minutes of fiddling later, and the oven was back in working order....just in time for us to go away for next Shabbat (and with a fridge full of leftovers, too).

Just thought you'd like to know.

confronting reality

I came across this article last night in Haaretz about an Israeli rape crisis hotline and its response to the ongoing (but largely silent) problem of sexual assaults on boys and young men in the Orthodox world. It's worth a read, if you have the time. To the victims, counselors, and other activists I grant a hearty yasher koach--don't let anyone stop you from bringing this issue to the forefront of our minds. The Orthodox Jewish world is far from perfect and its high time we stop fooling ourselves.

Out of the Blue

If my performance on ber exam practice questions is any indication, I should expect to take this test at least four times before getting a passing score. Seriously, who comes up with this stuff?

03 June 2004


The Butcherie here in Brookline is selling Chateau de Paraza Minervois, 1997, at two bottles for $10. I'm not sure why; it looks like they have an unexpected overstock. This wine isn't spectacular, but it's better than decent, and when's the last time you saw a better than decent bottle of kosher red wine for five dollars?

kol zimrah

Shir-Yaakov posted a collection of recordings of (some of) the melodies used by Kol Zimrah in NYC during Kabbalat Shabbat. Beautiful stuff (in my opinion). Reminds me of my time at Brandeis Collegiate Institute. Why didn't I know about this place when I lived in New York? I've updated the links on the side so you can go to either of his music pages now.

NOTE: I am not affiliated with Kol Zimrah in any way. If you are looking for their web site, you can find it here.

02 June 2004


For those of you who don't know this already, now is the time to learn:

I am an injury magnet.

In the course of the past week, I have managed to: burn the back of my left hand with steam; slice open my left thumb on the blade of our food processor; twisted my ankle out of whack by slipping on a plastic bag (no medical attention required); cut the base of my right thumb on a chipped mug; and (you'll like this one) smashed my finger between the toilet seat and the rim of the bowl by--wait for it--sitting down while adjusting the seat positioning.

All in the past seven days, people. Over the past seven years I have punctured or lacerated each foot more than once (one injury required stitches), ripped out said stiches, scraped off at least a total of a square foot of skin (no, not all at once), practically bisected my right thumb (don't ask me why I didn't go get stitches for that one), and burned my forearms more times than I can count. I'm not even going to mention the number of times I've turned my joints in odd ways, broken off splinters under the skin, or foolishly aggravated a minor injury into an oozing, infected mess.

In unrelated news, if the kids in the elementary school behind my building don't stop screaming after each thunderclap, thereby ruining a perfectly enjoyable storm, I am going to give them some injuries to write about.

(I kid, I kid. Mostly.)

01 June 2004

Now I'm Cookin'

Could someone please explain to me why the Kosher Culinary Academy, apparently the only kosher cooking school in the world, admits only men?

Well, that's not entirely true. There is a twelve-week "short course" option for women (which they may or may not run again) that is geared toward "students who are competent in a domestic kitchen." Hmmmm....no sexism there, huh? Of course, I know plenty of 18- or 20-year-old women who are choosing their first career who are already "competent in a domestic kitchen." They will teach, among other things, "catering theory," "the rules of the commercial kitchen," and how to "prepare full course meals comprising both traditional and modern gourmet dishes, according to Jewish law." Students will also "learn about nutrition and health-conscious cooking. A professional baking and cake decorating course is offered as an optional part of the course." Not shabby, I guess. The course description claims "to equip you to work in a catering company, hotel or restaurant kitchen, with the potential to set up your own food business."

Their year-long professional course, on the other hand, seems to be far more intense and offer better preparation for a serious career chef. In addition to the cooking classes (which look far more involved than in the women's course and appear to have a greater emphasis on presentation and menu design), male students will study kashrut laws--including hilchot basar b'chalav (the laws of meat and dairy), checking ingredients, and hilchot bishul Shabbat (the laws of "cooking" on Shabbat)--"using Gemara, Shulchan Aruch and Mishnah Berura sources, b'Chavrusa and with Shiurim by competent Rabbanim." Now, I have no doubt the women will be taught to keep kosher as well, but I'm guessing the women's course will not adequately prepare its students for the many halachic problems which would arise in their own businesses. Of course, we can't let those silly women think they actually know what they're doing.

Oh, the men get to go on field trips to wineries, cheese factories, farms, produce markets, and factories. Hebrew lessons and dormitory accomodations are offered (I guess women all live with their husbands or fathers). The men can take advantage of job placement services.

Look, people, it's not like this is some generations-old yeshiva where at least the faculty can fall back on "tradition" as their basis for sex discrimination. The KCA started teaching less than six months ago. You want to argue that it's not in keeping with tzniut (the laws of modesty) to teach men and women together? Fine, I'll debate that with you. I think I may win, but that's another story. In the meantime, how about at least making the two courses on par with each other? Or are you too afraid that your wives and daughters won't be waiting at home for you with your dinner on the table after you return from a long day in the kitchen?

31 May 2004

paper airplanes

I started Bar/Bri last week, too. No offense to any lecturers, but damn is this boring! Useful, but I had enough trouble making it through 50-minute sessions of stuff like corporations and civi procedure. Now they expect me to learn whole semesters of this stuff in four-hour and seven-hour blocks? And, no, paying better attention the first time around wouldn't eliminate the need for Bar/Bri review. Trust me. On a happier note, a college friend who I lost touch with is enrolled in the same lecture schedule as I am; we bumped into each other after Friday's session and exchanged email addresses. Yay!

thank you for holding

I'm terribly sorry for my extended break from blogging. Batya came to visit for Shavuot (began last Tuesday night) and stayed through yesterday afternoon; before that I was cleaning and cooking and pretending to organize stuff. Ah, who am I kidding? I'm a chronic procrastinator. I'm sure there were plenty of wasted minutes and hours since my last entry during which I could have found time to post a few sentences.

Anyway, our oven broke again. For about a year, the bottom heating element didn't work. Julian and I (ok--Julian and his father) replaced the element in December, and the oven worked just wonderfully from then until last Wednesday morning. Yup, in the middle of Shavuot. And, yup, I had planned to cook more stuff in the oven for later in the holiday and for Shabbat. Looks like my tendency to make ten times more food than necessary was not such a bad thing this time around. Of course, now I am back to stovetop-only cooking plus broiling. No more brownies, no more kugel, no more roasted chicken, no more cheesecake. Maybe it's time for a full kitchen renovation after all.

20 May 2004

musical midrash

...and while I'm linking to Jewish sites, I need to put in a plug for Shir-Yaacov's Musical Midrashim. I will be the first to say that you have to be in the right mindset to listen to these, and they're not for everyone, but I like them. Consider this my first music review.

He has a blog too, in case you're interested.


It seems a fellow Brookline resident is running this site. Restaurant reviews, wine discussions, travel tips, but most importantly: "exotic" product finds! The sort of foods that the non-kosher world takes for granted--good cheese, decent balsamic vinegar, stuff like that--is fairly hard for us to find, and even harder to find at a decent price. Mr. Abbett, thank you. I look forward to bumping into you in shul one day.

17 May 2004

goin' to the chapel

Congratulations to the hundreds of same-sex couples who will celebrate their marriages--full on marriages--today, this week, this year. I have never been so proud to be a Massachusetts resident; I spent the past 20 minutes reading the news and grinning like an idiot. It's almost enough to make me a Red Sox fan.

Also, Governor Romney: Shut up.

14 May 2004


My grandfather's unveiling was this morning. The weather in Netanya was hot, mostly sunny, slightly breezy. Just a few degrees above what I consider comfortable, enough to leave a film of sweat on my back and make me thirsty. Not too humid, though.

We started saying Tehillim (Psalms) and about two verses into the first one, I felt a drop of water hit my shoulder. I looked around: no one was washing a nearby gravestone, no one was pouring water over her head or even drinking from a bottle. *ping* A drop hit a nearby stone. My aunt whispered to me: "What--it's raining!" And indeed it was. Even Rabbi Wolicki noticed and looked up to the sky somewhat befuddled. The rain lasted only a minute, maybe less.

I guess God was a little sad that Grandma and Grandpa had to leave us. It's hard to find good people like that to do Your work here, huh?

11 May 2004


I'm quite certain there were no mosquito bites anywhere on my body when I went to sleep a few hours ago. I woke up around 2 AM with some sort of buzz-detection system going on in my head. If I recall correctly, certain items in my dream needed to be "together," and when they were separated there was this droning sound. Or maybe it was the reverse. Whatever it was, it seemed perfectly logical at the time. After about ten minutes of this semi-conscious confusion, I realized the droning was--surprise, surprise--an insect of some variety. Another few minutes...hey, my arm itches! Lights on: agh! big, ugly, swollen mosquito bites.

For those of you who don't know this, I do not react well to mosquito bites. I am incredibly thankful to Ms. Mosquito for attacking my left arm way up near the elbow, and reserving the hand- and wrist-bites for my right side. Had she bitten my left hand, I'm pretty sure we'd be cutting up my wedding ring in the morning.

Anyway, I read for about half an hour, half-noticing a faint buzzing in the room but figuring maybe Ms. Mosquito would take the hint that she's not welcome and buzz off (sorry). Close book. Turn off the light. Snuggle down into pillow. Doze slightly.


Lights on. I stare alternately at the ceiling, the corner near the window, and the space between my pillow and the wall, waiting for the buzzing to come back. Ten minutes go by. Turn off the light. Snuggle. Doze.

Bzzzzzzzzz. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

I think I understand water torture now. As if I weren't already sleep deprived. It's going to be a long, long day.

10 May 2004


In Israel. All in one piece. Admit it, you worried about me just a little.

There will be lots to post when I get back home, I'm sure, but expect the blog to be kind of quiet for the next 10 days or so.

09 May 2004

coming and going

In case you're playing along at home, my bar application is finally ready to be mailed. Unfortunately, Julian is going to have to mail it for me, because...

I'm leaving for Israel tomorrow--er, today. Train to NYC at 11 AM, flight from JFK at 11:30 PM. I'll try to update this blog when I get there (Monday afternoon Eastern Daylight Time, Monday evening local time) but no promises. Back to New York on Sunday the 16th, graduation on the 18th and 19th, then (finally) back home on the night of the 19th.

It's not as much fun as it sounds like. For starters, I'm leaving Julian in Boston. I love you and I miss you already (even though you're just in bed in the other room).


07 May 2004

Stupid FDA

We're going to ignore how much hell they put my father through at work. Today I read this. It's just such a brilliant idea to deny OTC status for Plan B. Of course making emergency contraception readily available to scared and embarrassed teenagers is just going to make them have more sex, right? We'd best pull the condoms from the shelves and make abortions even harder to get while we're at it. Gotta make sure those silly little girls mess up their lives damn good in case they're stupid enough to have sex, especially if, I don't know, they were raped or something.

(Really, if you couldn't detect the sarcasm in that last paragraph, you should probably stop reading my blog. Do I even know you?)

Look, I'm all in favor of "delayed" sexual activity; it's not a bad idea to wait until you're 16 or 18 before you start having sexual intercourse. I promise your penis won't rot off, or your vagina won't shrivel up and wither away to nothing. I'm also not a huge fan of abortion, but you will never catch me denying a woman her right to choose what happens to her body. This, though? Not abortion. Not even close. Halachicly speaking (that is, according to Jewish law), the product of conception is "like water" until 40 days gestation. Whether you count from fertilization or from last menstrual period, I'm pretty sure that Plan B falls squarely in the 40-day time frame. Setting aside my religious beliefs, though (becuase I'm not one to impose my beliefs on others, or to be particularly thrilled when others try to do that to me), I'd like to point out that Plan B affects ovulation and implantation. Once a zygote has implanted, it doesn't work anymore. If you have a problem with that, I hope you don't use any sort of hormonal birth control or an IUD. (Also, if you have a problem with that, email me. I honestly want to know why.) But the way in which Pan B works is why it's so damn important to make this treatment available to women who need it as quickly and conveniently as possible. The sooner you take it, the more likely it it to be effective. I promise you, with all the fun nausea and vomiting and possibly heavy bleeding that comes with Plan B, people are not going to be using this as their regular form of contraception.

OK, end rant.

06 May 2004

bless you

To the nice woman on the Green Line B this afternoon who handed me a wad of tissues on her way out to the Park Street station, sympathizing with my allergies: thank you. I needed those.

05 May 2004


What do you know? I start sending my resume out, I get a few bites. Nothing full-time (yet). Hell, no actual offers (yet). Still, it's kind of encouraging. This doesn't mean I'm "done," though. Those of you who have been peeking at my resume: don't stop peeking. Don't stop showing it to your friends, and your friends' friends. If it's in the Boston area, and it involves the law, I'll consider it for at least a moment.

Of course, now I'm having life regret. Aside from the bit where I wish I'd gone to Drisha for a year between college and law school, and the bit where I wish I'd just gone to B.U. Law in the first place, I'm now wishing I'd taken some of these part-time, real-work type jobs while in school. Don't get me wrong, I love the warm-and-fuzzy pro bono (and quasi-pro bono) work I was doing all through school and last summer. Still, I never really found jobs where I did stuff. My research and writing skills are great, but court experience? Bleh.

Twenty-four years old, and I have "life regret." What the hell?

04 May 2004

Don't you want me, baby?

When I started at Columbia Law School, I was thoroughly impressed with their employment rates: something like 95% of students secured employment by graduation, and 99% by six months thereafter. Woo! I'll get me a job with my eyes closed, with numbers like that.

Well, yeah, that didn't work so well. For starters, the big corporate law firm life just isn't for me. Don't get me wrong; I like a six-figure salary right out of the gate as much as the next person, but the life (or lack thereof) that goes with it is not attractive to me. Not to mention that whole selling your soul bit. I couldn't even if I wanted too, since my college buddy Satan stole it sometime in the middle of my sophomore year. Oddly enough, that's about when I met Julian. Go figure.

Anyway, my dream job involves helping women in some form or another--most likely as an advocate for domestic violence victims, but I'm pretty open on that. I would also be thrilled providing legal services for underprivileged members of the Jewish community. Ah, who am I kidding? I have a soft spot for pretty much anyone with a good story. But, truthfully, I am passionate about women and Judaism, and I went to law school with the dream of fixing the agunot problem, so finding work in DV advocacy would be a great place to start.

I've done more networking in the past few months than I care to think about. I have no intention of slowing down, but I figure it can't hurt for me to show y'all my resume and see if you can toss any leads my way. [As of March 23, 2005, I have removed the link to my resume. -s] Yes, I realize my name, address, and phone number are there. You could get the same information with the URL of this site and about 30 seconds with a phone book. I'll just take the loons as they come.

meet me at the bar

Here I am filling out my application for admission to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (also know as The Place With Too Many Damn Syllables, and soon to be the home of legal gay marriage). I'm glad I have all my old resumes knocking around on various hard drives, because damned if they don't want records of everywhere I've worked since I turned 18. That's eleven entries, in case you're playing along at home. It's too bad the resumes don't have full mailing addresses, because looking them up was harder than you'd think. I realize the safety concerns the drive many Jewish organizations to list only P.O. Boxes on their websites, but trust me when I say it doesn't make my life any easier. It was nothing a good memory and some reverse lookups on WhitePages.com couldn't fix though. I'm also sweating getting my two character references back from my recommenders in time. I'd like to file this thing before I leave for Israel this weekend, so that Julian isn't stuck putting together the last little bits and waiting at the post office on my behalf. After all this, I'm thinking the exam itself will be a piece of cake. Not carrot cake, though.

I've been told I have it easy, though. Apparently the New York application calls for a witnessed handwriting sample, a list of everywhere you have lived in the past some number of years, and three vials of blood. I'm kidding about the blood. I think.

blood for oil

Rabbi Josh Cypess's treatment of the murders in Gaza last weekend is quite insightful as well. It's the May 3 entry, in case you're reading this some time in the distant future.

02 May 2004

all good things

That was fun. Then I came home and got updated on the news. Too angry to write anything on either topic right now, but for a treatment of today's Israel events, I suggest today's entry in The Land of Oz.

30 April 2004

like a band of gypsies we roll down the highway

Food made. Clothes packed. Sleep had (though of course not enough, but that was due to insomnia, not unpreparedness). I just have to put stuff in the cooler, change into something halfway-decent to wear to this brit I'm going to on my way out of town, and perhaps burn a few mp3 CDs. There's a lot of driving ahead.

29 April 2004

much food

A gallon of chili and four small lasanges now dwell in my freezer. Fourteen loaves of challah are cooling on the table, next to a sticky pan of baklava. There are two pans of cheesecake brownies and a large yerushalmi kugel in the fridge. Two quiches just came out of the oven.

I never thought I'd say this, but I'm sick of cooking.

28 April 2004

going away

This Friday I will be leaving for a weekend in the Poconos with 21 other women, many of whom I know only online. It will be only the second weekend since our wedding that Julian and I have spent apart...the first one was also a gathering of online friends, although those of you who know about that one should understand why I want to sort of block it from my mind.

Anyway, the upcoming gathering consists of people from the boards at Indiebride, which is a cringeworthy name for a web site, but not a bad place just the same. We'll be staying at several neighboring houses in the Poconos, and on the way down I'm stopping in NYC to pick up N and grab some food. (For those of you who don't know this already: the kosher restaurant options in the Boston area are pitiful.) Hopefully I'll see Adam and maybe Batya over lunch also, and of course Rivah is coming down from Boston with me. All in all, the traveling should be a blast. I'm a little more concerned about the gathering itself, as I haven't spent as much time on the IB boards recently as I used to. I'm worried that I'll get all cliquey with the ladies who've been in touch with me via email, and that no one else will know who I am.

In my excitement over this whole gathering (and really, as an excuse to cook, because that's one of my favorite things to do), I offered to make enough challah for everyone to sample, along with some desserts. That's in addition to providing real food for myself and N (who also keeps kosher) for the entire weekend. Two friends had babies in the past ten days, and I'm making meals to bring to one of them this week and probably some sweet thing to bring to the other next week. Out of the kindness of my heart, I'm going to leave some food at home for Julian as well. So, all in all, I am making: a dozen medium-sized challot; a pan of baklava; two, maybe three, pans of brownies; two quiches; a double recipe of pumpkin soup; three loaf pan sized lasanges; a huge pot of chili (to be divided and frozen); two pounds of green beans; broiled portabella mushrooms; a yerushalmi kugel; roasted potatoes with mushrooms and onions; spicy chickpeas in tomato sauce; and mustard-baked chicken. All in the next forty hours or so, plus I'd like to sleep. I'll let someone else sort out what goes where.

Don't believe a word of my complaints. I love to cook.

26 April 2004


It's amazing how involved we can get in hypothetical conversations. Batya and I have been discussing our commune for years now. There are several other parties knowingly involved (who shall remain unnamed until they tell me whether they want blog aliases or not), along with a scattering of friends who we're going to pull along for the ride, even though they don't know it yet. The whole thing started with our frustration with the education system--specifically Jewish education--along with some base desire to shut out the rest of the world. It occurs to me now that the commune has no name; we'll have to work on that.

The first big issue I remember us discussing was where to set up house. I like snow, Batya likes warm weather, and one of the nameless people wants to live in the trees. Not just in a clearing in a forest, mind you. In the trees. Like the Swiss Family Robinson in the summer, I guess. After years of debate and many discarded potential locations, I think we've decided on the Galil. Nice weather most of the year, a little snow in the winter, good vineyards, and lots of trees.

Tonight's discussion with Batya oscillated between dietary issues and monetary issues. Yeah, kind of free-ranging there, huh? It seems we disagree on the proper amount of animal-source protein, specifically dead-animal-source protein, needed in our diets. I'd like the commune to raise all of the animals from which we will benefit (milk and eggs, wool, plowing--along with meat, becuase we're not vegetarians). That makes it difficult to have chicken and beef every night, and considering that a diet high in dead animals is not exactl the healthiest in the world (no matter how lean the meat is), I'm OK with that. There are plenty of other protein sources (soy, quinoa, brown rice, other beans and grains), most of which are generally more ecologically and econimically efficient. I suppose we'll have to get fish from elsewhere--farmed salmon isn't the best thing in the world, after all--but ideally fish consumption would be limited to once or twice a week. High mercury deposits and all that. I suppose if we can get a good source of low-contamination fish, we'd have it more often. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are wonderful for you, and fish protein isn't so bad either. Still, I think most of us are too enthralled with eating dead animals, and just haven't sampled a wide enough variety of vegetarian meals. (Watch this blog for a more in-depth discussion of my dietary views at a later date....this bit is getting too long.)

Anyway, Batya is worried about our children being malnourished, and she is further concerned that people who won't or can't eat dairy--like herself--will have problems as well. Looks like we'll have to bring a nutritionist on board to help me with the menu-planning (I've appointed myself in charge of the commune's pantry and kitchen). I also suggested having a few family meals each week, rather than only communal meals. That has a social benefit as well, since we all need a break from the larger group and could certainly do well to build up family intimacy. It would probably result in fewer food fights, though.

We've just started to tackle the financial stuff. To be honest, I don't have the head to get into it all here now, so it will have to wait for another posting. Still, Batya wants it known that while I will describe her as advocating modified communism, "it's not communism in a monetary sense." Gotcha.


Pardon me while I pass out, so that I can recover in time for the bar exam.

out with a whimper

Well, that kind of sucks. My last law school outline for my last law school final exam for my last law school test...will never be finished. I could blame my study partner but, really, it's my own fault. I managed on my own for many years, and I could have just done this one alone too.

not a bad philosphy

Eat when hungry. Sleep when tired. Laugh all the times in between.

I miss you, Neil.

25 April 2004

it's time

In roughly fourteen and a half hours, I will be done with law school. Assuming, of course, I get passing grades in everything. Finishing this outline couldn't hurt, especially since someone else is counting on it for tomorrow as well.


Inspired by my 24-day stay at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in the summer of 1999.

in southern California,
with an empty water bottle,
parched, blistered, and bee-stung,
I sit above the hawks and can’t imagine
what holds them down.


Watch this space.