Let me tell you about this girl I knew…

So, there was this girl I used to know.  The kind of girl who was so out of my league, y’all don’t even know, like  beyond ridiculous.  Gorgeous, sexy, funny, smart and devoted.  She listened to me ramble on and on about whatever nonsense I was on about in that moment, and not just to humor me either!  This is how out of my league she was…my OWN friends couldn’t understand it.  We were at a party and I was introducing her to friends of mine from high school for the first time.  She went inside, i forget why, and as she left one of my friends turned to me and said, “Now tell us.  How did YOU end up with THAT?”, and not in a disparaging why toward her, more of a, “you know she’s TOTALLY out of your league, right?”  

And yet…there she was…with me.

That I would ultimately ask this girl to marry me was a no brainer.  I mean…come on?  Someone this fun, cool, smart and drop dead gorgeous?  Like, when was that gonna happen again?  

You think, “that’s that”, right?

You just have a few kids, settle down, and ride off into the sunset.  Only, life is never that easy.  There are struggles, hard times, lean times, disagreements, ups and downs.  Then I wake up one day and that girl is gone, the girl I married has vanished.  There’s this woman who replaced her.  I don’t know when it happened, but it did.  In some respects, I had to meet a different person, become reacquainted with someone I had chosen to spend the rest of my life with.  I laugh at my own naivete.  

Because, as the 11th Doctor put it, we’re all different people throughout our lives.  And it has been the greatest honor of my life to get to know this woman.

She’s an incredible mother to our children who does not give herself enough credit for all that she does.  Brilliant in only the way a nerd for math can be.  Her artistic talents are mind boggling, what she is able to create always blows my mind.  Strong and true to her principles.  I can go on and on about this amazing woman.  

Above all of this, she’s my partner in crime, my best friend (even to the point that the prospects of a guy’s night out seems diminished because she is not there).

It is us verses the world.  

Also…still stupid hot.

Today, 9 years ago on the hebrew calendar, the 5th of Tammuz, she became Mekudeshet Li.  Often translated as “sanctified to me” it is better understood as “seperated”.  We are seperate, from all other peoples, to each other.  And just as with the girl who preceded her, I consider it amazing that such a woman would walk this lifetime with me.  The love I had for that girl is not diminished, but rather with this woman has only become more enriched as time goes on.  

We have, please G-d, a long journey ahead of us, and I have no doubt that in another decade I will love this woman even more deeply and richly than I do now.

It is my greatest prayer for anyone out there still searching, that you should find the other half of your Nishama, soul, and it should be a true partnership and friendship that brings out the best of you in all things.  I know I count myself blessed in that regard.


Food diary 1

Tonight I did up some teriyaki chicken with stir fry veggies and cauliflower rice.

I started with cutting up about a pound of boneless chicken thighs.  Breast probably would have been better but then the thighs were on mark down (and to be fair I have a thing for legs *giggity*)

So we let that marinate in the Soy Vey Teriyaki sauce for a bit while I prepare the cauliflower.  I cut one head up, cutting off the green parts, and putting the rest in the food processor using the grating blade.

Sorry, fuzzy picture.  Oh, also, I’m never in the kitchen without some tunes on.  Had my “Gangstalicious” mix on…(i am so white, haha!)

Once I’ve got the cauliflower all shredded up I put it on a pan with some paper towels to soak up the excess moisture.  This way when I cook it the “rice” won’t get so mushy.

Then I toss the chicken in the pan and get to cookin’.

I cook it on med-high, using extra virgin olive oil, until it’s cooked fully.  Then I transfer the chicken to a seperate dish as I cook the vegetables.  I just use Wegmans brand frozen asian stir fry mix, it’s cheaper and tastes just as good as anything fresh IMPO.  Once the veggies are soft and cooked I put the chicken back in with the veggies.

While that is going, I take the “rice” and toss it into a pot for about 5-10 minutes on med-high.

Then we’re ready to serve!

Yum!  And everyone had seconds!

The last week or so has seen me falling HARD off the wagon.  I haven’t put any weight on but I can feel the difference in my body.  Eating sugary treats and not exercising, I can feel it in my body, my muscles and joints.  I just have to carve out time everyday to get that burn in and stop making excuses.

But in the meantime, we are one day removed from our 9th Hebrew wedding anniversary (5th of Tammuz) and about a week an a half from the english date, 8th of July.  I think I’ll have to write something special for that one….

Must see movies to make you a little more awesome

This topic came to mind when I was watching some clips of one of my favorite underrated films, “The Majestic” starring Jim Carrey.  So here are a few films, IMPO, which are underrated but will make your movie tastes a little more awesome.

“The Majestic”.  Released in 2001 it is Carrey’s first major non-comedic role in a film (you could count “The Truman Show”, but seeing as that had comedic elements and this is a true drama, I’m not).  Set against the backdrop of the Red Scare of the 1950s, the black listing of Hollywood writers and directors, Carrey plays a writer who has been accused of being a communist and has to testify in order to clear his name.  But not before a car crash gives him amnesia, and he spends the rest of the film mistaken for a soldier who went MIA during WWII.  The speech he finally does give at the climax of the film always gives me chills.  It’s one of those types that fill you with the best parts of patriotism.  Carrey is amazing but made all the more so with an all star cast of giants like Martin Landau, Jeffery Demunn, and James Whitmore.  They help elevate Carrey and help him break from the funny man image he had built up until now.  I feel like this is part of Carrey’s filmography that gets missed and it really shouldn’t.

“12 Angry Men” starring Henry Fonda.  Ok, it’s not an underrated movie, it’s actually a classic in every sense of the word.  However, since it was released in 1957, I feel like it is less known by people in my generation or younger, unless you came across it in a film history class or you are a huge cinephile.  Based on a play, it depicts a jury who is charged with deciding the guilt or innocence of a young man accused of murdering his father.  The whole movie takes place in one room, for the most part, and the acting is nothing less than phenomenal.  The dynamics between the actors, the debates, and the moral and ethical issues that ring true today as much as they did in the 1950s.  If you have never seen this gem, take a moment and enrich your life.

“Dark City” starring Rufus Sewell is as mind bending as they come for pre-Matrix era films.  Sewell plays John Murdoch, a man who wakes up in a strange hotel, without his memories, but being accused of multiple murders.  In his journey to find the truth he discovers an even darker and surreal one.  This film has got so much wrapped into it, film noir, mystery, sci fi, and horror.  This film was the Matrix in it’s weirdness and mind blowing reveals a full year before The Matrix was released.  Some of the effects haven’t aged quite as well but it is still soooo good.

“Constantine” starring Keanu Reeves.  With the golden age of comic book movies in full swing this is one from the early days that has slipped into the background, I think, especially with the fan love of the short lived NBC series based on the same character.  Reeves plays John Constantine, a cynical, chain smoking exorcist with mystical abilities who tries to help a detective, played by Rachel Weisz, uncover the truth behind her sister’s suicide.  Yes there are fan boy gripes about the movie, but I thought it was a great adaptation of the character. Reeves needs to play more assholes, he’s got a knack for it.  Also Peter Stormare is one of the best Lucifers to ever grace the screen.

Those are just a few to get you started.  If you have any of your own you want to suggest, let me know!  I’ll do another list in the future.

Happy father’s day everyone!

How did I not have this before?  

We’re almost out of the dirt cheap kosher stew meat we had stocked up on so I’m thinking tonight we’ll do beef and broccoli with cauliflower rice, which is amazing by the way.  You can get it preshredded at Wegmans for like $4 but I just buy a head for $1.75 at Aldis and shred it myself in our food processor, it takes about 3 minutes to do and about 5 more to let it sit in a tray of paper towels to soak up the excess moisture.  I also replace ginger in the recipe with tandoori powder, which adds the ginger but gives it a bit of a kick.  It has become a favorite of me and the wife.  Of course we did late lunches so I don’t know when I’ll whip up this delicious dish.

My grandmother is currently in the hospital, she has a fractured femur, which isn’t great.  At 94 the trauma of the surgery she is going to have to have will most likely kill her.  Doctors say if everything goes well she’ll have, at best a year, due to her health and diabetes she won’t heal properly.  If she is unable to have the surgery for whatever reason, a month…maybe two.  It’ll be a miracle if she makes it to the end of the year.  I’m a little sad over it but, to be honest, she’s 94, she’s buried ALL 4 of her sons, and she’s been suffering for the last two years.  Her quality of life isn’t good and it’s not going to get any better.  She held my hand and told me she loved me, which I can’t remember the last time we said that to one another, and she said it like it was the last time she would ever get the chance to.  

I don’t know what will be for her in the next few months…but for me…I will remember her as the woman with the house shaped cookie jar who always had it filled with chocolate chip cookies.  That was stop number one at grandma’s apartment.  I remember her working at the Woolworth and sitting down as a kid with the JCPenny catalog picking out Christmas presents.

Maybe it’s wrong to eulogize someone not yet dead, but it’s time for her to have peace.  Is there an expression that says that in a poetic way?

Fighting for consistency…and life in general

Hey folks,

One of the things I have been trying to work on is some consistency with my exercise and eating routines now that I’m not doing Whole 30.  I tend to do well in the beginning of the week with exercise since I typically close on Mondays and I am off on Tuesdays, this gives me the opportunity to get a run or yoga work out in the morning, which is typically the best time for me to do that.  The eating has been harder.  I’ve talked about my snacking before and it has gotten the best of me the last few weeks.  Combine that with the inconsistent nature of my exercise and it brings me to a place where I’m feeling bloated, sluggish, and generally gross.  So, I’m going to redouble my efforts on both fronts, avoiding the sweets and snacks and getting my butt out of bed in the morning 3-4 times a week and putting in a good sweat.  I’m also going to make sure I’m blogging more, I feel like when I’m putting it out there to you guys it’s a form of accountability for me.

On another front, I was having a conversation about my future…as it were…and the inevitable question is asked:

“Well, what do you want to do?”

You would think at 35 I would have an answer beyond “not be broke.”  This started another, similar, conversation with my wife.  If I didn’t have to worry about money, what would  I want to do with my time?  (And, just to be clear, apparently “day drinking” is not an acceptable answer).  I gave it some thought…and if I’m honest with myself, I would be learning, steeped in whatever academic topic I was interested in at the moment, and then talk or write about it. This led to a longer conversation about what that would mean as a career…I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself on this. First things first, I need to get the family straight income-wise, so that we’re in a good place before I begin.  

But I think this idea has reignited some amount of hope and direction for my for my future.  That’s what I realized I was missing.  Once I had that concrete goal removed I felt like I was floundering, even though I knew what the next step was…that question kept haunting me, “what do I want to do.”  G-d willing, the next year will see me taking steps to finally answer that question.

Post Holiday update

Wow, it’s been a while.  Sorry that there hasn’t been a posting in a bit, I haven’t had the time to really sit down and collect my thoughts.  I feel like coming off this second round I haven’t been as good as I was coming off round one.  It doesn’t help that I ended just before two holidays, Memorial Day and Shavu’ot, holidays jam packed with eating non-compliant foods.  Since the end of my last round I’ve put that 10 pounds back on and I can see it when I take my shirt off.  It makes me frustrated because I know the truth: If I want to reach a healthy place, permanently, I have to totally give up the things I crave.  I knew that in round one and I’m almost tempted to do another round but I don’t want to jump to that yet.  Someone asked why I couldn’t just do Whole 30 forever, I don’t know that I want to put that kind of restriction on myself indefinitely, but who knows, maybe it’s what I need.  I already know eating things in moderation is something I don’t have the discipline for, even after all this I still catch myself snacking like I always have and when I drink, drinking like I did before.  It’s frustrating and I become angry with myself when I do it.

We went down to Hatteras in North Carolina’s Outer Banks for Shavu’ot with my family which was a nice break although I could have done with another day or two especially if we could have gotten the kids out of our hair for that time.  I love them, but the wifey and I don’t get enough time to ourselves, just being us, a couple, seperate from the role of Mom and Dad.  We want to do that big “no children” vacation next year for our 10th anniversary, hopefully the finances are where they need to be to make that happen.  

We’ll have to do our monthly budget meeting today.  We haven’t been good about it in the past few months and we’re paying for it right now.  The thought of talking about money gives me a serious anxiety attack.  Mostly because I already know there’s not much there and it’s frustrating.  I want to do more so our family has more, so we can have the little extras in life and not have to worry about bills not getting paid.  And as the sole bread winner, I feel like Atlas, trying to hold the world up on my shoulders and scared that it’s never going to be enough, that I’m not strong enough.  That is not a slight to my wife mind you.  She has the serious, 24/7, job of a stay-at-home mom.  Even if she worked a job it would only ever just cover child care.  And I know these kids are more than a handful so I try to contribute at home as much as I can, and then I wonder if that’s enough as well.  

Sorry for the pity party, this was supposed to be a check-in and it turned into a long whiney rant.  In any case, I’ll check back in a few days from now, hopefully with something less serious and more upbeat and fun.

What is deserving of glorification? Also, how many on my Facebook can I piss off? LETS SEE!!

It has been a conviction of pressing necessity, it has been a belief that we are to be deprived in the Union of the rights which our fathers bequeathed to us, which has brought Mississippi into her present decision. She has heard proclaimed the theory that all men are created free and equal, and this made the basis of an attack upon her social institutions; and the sacred Declaration of Independence has been invoked to maintain the position of the equality of the races…When our Constitution was formed, the same idea was rendered more palpable, for there we find provision made for that very class of persons as property; they were not put upon the footing of equality with white men–not even upon that of paupers and convicts; but, so far as representation was concerned, were discriminated against as a lower caste, only to be represented in the numerical proportion of three fifths.

– Jefferson Davis farewell address to the US Senate, January 21, 1861

The people of Georgia having dissolved their political connection with the Government of the United States of America, present to their confederates and the world the causes which have led to the separation. For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic. This hostile policy of our confederates has been pursued with every circumstance of aggravation which could arouse the passions and excite the hatred of our people, and has placed the two sections of the Union for many years past in the condition of virtual civil war. Our people, still attached to the Union from habit and national traditions, and averse to change, hoped that time, reason, and argument would bring, if not redress, at least exemption from further insults, injuries, and dangers. Recent events have fully dissipated all such hopes and demonstrated the necessity of separation.

 Declaration of Causes for Secession, Georgia, January 29, 1861

In the momentous step which our State has taken of dissolving its connection with the government of which we so long formed a part, it is but just that we should declare the prominent reasons which have induced our course.

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.

– A Declaration of the Immediate Causes which Induce and Justify the Secession of the State of Mississippi from the Federal Union.

We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.

For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the *forms* [emphasis in the original] of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.

– Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union, December 24, 1860

In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color– a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States…

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

That in this free government *all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights* [emphasis in the original]; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states.

– A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union. February 2, 1861

The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, having declared that the powers granted under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression; and the Federal Government, having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern Slaveholding States.


But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other — though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution — African slavery as it exists amongst us — the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.”

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. [Applause.] This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science.


With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system.

– “Cornerstone Speech” Confederate Vice President Alexander Stevens, Savannah; Georgia, March 21, 1861

I apologize for the long winded quotes but it is necessary.  I had crowd sourced topics and one I got via private message was to write, essentially, a history lesson related to current events.  I don’t know if this will constitute a history lesson but it is related to a current event, namely the question of whether or not to remove statues of confederate leaders in various cities in the south.  In New Orleans they just finished such an endeavor with the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee.

My views on the matter are based on the history of the events of 1860 and the reasons argued for secession as given above.  Understand those are not the only primary documents that support such a view point.  For example, in working on this blog I came across a link to the Library of Congress where newspapers from that time period are on record for viewing, discussing the conventions held to regarding secession from the Union.  As you can probably guess they are not favorable toward the Confederacy or anything glorifying it.  The Confederacy was formed by slave holding states of the south for the expressed purpose of preserving, in perpetuity, the institution of African Slavery.  Period.  The Union came in to bring the rebellious states back into the fold, yes, but this would never have been the case had secession never occurred.  And secession would never have occurred if not for slavery.  Don’t think so? ok…

Name 3 politically charged and divisive issues facing the United States in the 1850’s, other than slavery, that were forever resolved by the Civil War.  Go ahead…I’ll wait.

I don’t have to, just go back up to the documentation I have provided, read it from the horse’s mouth.  In all of them there is one overarching theme as to why the south left the Union and founded it’s own nation.  It was fear of the end of slavery and all that it would entail.  After events like Bleeding Kanses, Nat Turner’s rebellion, John Brown’s raid and the legal fight that led to the Dred Scott ruling, the nation was ready to break and the election of “Black Republican” Abraham Lincoln was more than the south could bare.  Even though they lost the war the southern leadership would endeavor to reestablish the old order that had once existed, so much so that it would be another century before traction would be gained in the cause of racial equality in our nation.

So, these statues.  What to do about them?  Do they stay?  Are they altered?  Removed entirely?  For my money, I think the best solution would be either:

  1. Leaving the statues but contextualizing the history with markers talking about the history of the statue and the reasons for them being there along with counter-monuments, maybe not necessarily about slavery but about other figures, not just old confederate white guys.
  2.  Removing them from their current location and transplanting them to museums and battlefields where they will remain on display, but within the context of a discussion about the war.

The statues are meant to honor and glorify men who served and fought for a nation built on the principle of inequality of races.  And I know all of the counter arguments.  I know because I used to make them myself.  I used to rock confederate flags on everything I wore, it’s even on my old high school class ring.  So lets address a few of them now:

  1. You can’t judge them with our standards of morals.  It was a different time.  Um, yeah I can.  The concept of “slavery is bad” was not lost to these men.  They acknowledge that half the country thought it was evil.  Other nations like Great Britain had already abolished slavery.  The difference is they didn’t buy the argument of the moral wrong of slavery.  Or at least they weren’t willing to do anything about it aside from let Jesus sort it out.
  2. They fought to defend their state, their homes and neighbors.  Noble enough sentiment, however it was a fight that wouldn’t have been necessary without secession.  And those states left the union, committed treason, in order to found a nation based on racial inequality.
  3. These were great men, leaders and generals, who were proud Southerners.  No one disputes their prowess in their respective fields.  But then no one is building a bunch of statues to Jefferson Davis to honor his service as US Secretary of War or Lee for his service in the Mexican-American War.

Look you could write a book about this topic…and books HAVE been written, at length, on it.  And as a historian (yes, I have the degree and student loan debt to go with my academic field) it would be irresponsible to not acknowledge that there are many historians with differing views on the Confederacy, secession, and it’s relation to slavery.  You can find authors who would support a diminished role of slavery in these events, giving other reasons from states rights to tariffs.  But I think the primary source material at the dawn of the Confederacy makes it pretty evident as to the thought running through the minds of southern leaders at that time.

Again, I am not one to run up with pitchforks and torches to smelt the statues down to their base elements.  Give them the historical context they need.  Yes our views of history have changed over decades.  My mother went to school in an age when slavery was described with two sentences: 1. slavery wasn’t so bad 2. it was best for them.  Robert E Lee, who had a very Virginian view of the topic in a letter to his wife in 1856 said something similar:

The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically, and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things.

Is this a history and heritage we really want to glorify?  As a nation we have come so far in a pursuit to offer the promise of equality of all men, why would we continue to allow the glorification of an age and men who stood against such ideals?  At a recent trip to Monticello, home of founding father and slave owner Thomas Jefferson, with my children’s 2nd grade class, I was struck by how much of the grounds were dedicated to a real look at the lives of slaves under Jefferson’s ownership.  All the honor and respect still in place for an important figure in the birth of our nation, but context was given to flush out a full image of the man and the age.  These statues as they are do not offer that.  They only offer to glorify a period of history that isn’t deserving of glorification.

But then, as Dennis Miller would say, that’s just my personal opinion, I could be wrong.

Sources below:

Jefferson Davis farewell address to US Senate

Declaration of causes of seceding states

Cornerstone Speech

Robert E Lee letter to wife on comments of Pres. Pierce 1856

Newspaper samples from Library of Congress. Different views on the topic even in their own time.


Whole 30 Round 2 round-up

Ok lets start with a baseline…

Jeezus…ok so that’s my infamous “before” pic, right at 230

that was end of Round 1, at 192 lbs…

Ok…this is start of round two, 186 lbs.

This is the end, 174.6 lbs…
Now, for the record…you have no idea how nerve racking it is to think I am posting pics of myself without  a shirt on.  Even now, I am SUPER SUPER self conscious about how I look (and not because of the farmer’s tan either mind you lol) especially without my shirt.  There’s a part of my mind that still is like, “FATTY!”

Admitting that to myself, publicly, is one of the saddest things.  I’m looking at these pictures and I am simultaneously amazed at my progress and yet there’s that voice…”NO ONE WANTS TO SEE THAT!”

But I am trying.  I try to remember the double takes I get from people, friends and co-workers who can’t recognize me anymore, even noticing the longer look overs that were never there before.  Seeing these pictures, scrolling down the transformation, is a huge help.  Still can’t deny that the thought of posting these photos is terrifying.  I am though.  

*deep breath*

Whole 30 R2/D30 

Well, that’s that.  Another round done and done and I feel pretty great.  Now begins the long journey of keeping to a clean and healthy diet moving forward.  

I’ll do some new before and after shots tomorrow.  It won’t be as drastic as the blog posting from the end of round one.  Hopefully I won’t need to reintroduce another round of Whole 30 for a while, I’d like to make it through the summer and the High Holidays without having to do something that extreme to course correct.

I hope everyone has been enjoying the blog and I hope that it has been a source of insight and maybe motivation to make the kinds of changes you want to make to be a better, happier, and healthier you.  Or, at the very least, it’s been good for some laughs.

Explaining Shabbat to Goyim

It was asked of me to explain how modern jewish famlies keep shabbat by one of my non-jewish friends on the Facebook, so I will give kind of a run down on the subject, translating terms and hopefully not getting too bogged down in the many, MANY, complexities of halachah (jewish law…the ‘ch’ is prounced like the ‘ch’ in Achmed the Dead Terrorist) dealing with Shabbat.

Shabbat, the Holy Sabbath, is the central point in time for a jew.  It is commonly called “the day of rest”.  Shabbat as a day is meant to remind us of G-d as both creator and liberator.  It is a rememberance of creation and how G-d completed all of His work in 6 days and then rested on the seventh.  It is also a rememberance of the exodus from Egypt, G-d freeinf us from the house of bondage.  And so we both try to be like G-d and also remember that there is only one true creative and controlling force in the world….and it ain’t us.

I will be doing my best to explain this in the way Orthodox views of judaism interpret sabbath observance, but know that there are many jews from many parts of the jewish world who do things in their own way and I am in no way diminishing their style of observance.  As a good friend of mine, Rabbi Mike Moskowitz would say, “It’s a big Torah”  (actually he would say “It’s a big Toyrah” haha).

Sabbath preperations are often times things which can span the course of the week.  Getting choice meats, produce, wine, making sure the house is clean and clothing is prepared are all part of being ready for Shabbat.  Food for Shabbat is cooked beforehand since there is a prohibition on the use of fire and cooking.  Now you can have a special hot plate, called in yiddish a blech or hebrew a platah to warm solid foods and many people utilize a slow cooker to make a kind of stew called chollent.  The food is ready, many people wear special garments (imagine your “sunday best”), the house is prepared and it is friday at sunset and the lady of the house lights a pair of candles to bring in shabbat with a blessing.  Some go to attend an evening service at synagogue.  Others stay home bringing in the sabbath with songs to angels and one dedicated to the lady of the house known as Aishet Chayil.  Then a blessing known as kiddush is made over wine or juice, a ceremonial washing of hands followed by a blessing over bread and a festive meal in honor of Shabbat.

During this time no one is messing with electricity, no one is driving, we’re basically Amish for 25 hours.  The next day many will go to synagogue, walking there, for shabbat service, the length of which varies from place to place.  Afterwards there typically is a kiddush with snacks, sometimes even a full lunch, and people schmooze.  Then lunch back home with a special kiddush for the day and after that, if you can, a nice schlof or nap lol.  The day is spent with resting, eating, drinking (if that’s your thing), learning Torah, schmoozing…really anything you want that falls within the realm of permissible during Shabbat.

Saturday night, at nightfall, ends Shabbat. A special ceremony known as havdalah ends the day, blessings said over wine, spices, and a special multi-wicked candle.

So that’s a really really condensed explanation of what happens on shabbat.  If you have friends who are Jewish and celebrate shabbat I would suggest floating the idea of checking it out with them, or maybe look up a local synagogue and see what services look like.  I hope this illuminates this special day for my non-jewish readers and if you are jewish too, what are some ways that your family uniquely celebrate shabbat?  I like to let the kids get a little goofy during Shalom Alaichem, welcoming the Shabbat angels, and I roll Sephardic style, not using a knife but rather tearing my challah bread by hand.

I would recommend both chabad.org and jewfaq.org as good online sources to read up on this as well.  Jewfaq.org was a great source for me when I first began exploring Judaism.

Hope you all enjoyed.  Shabbat Shalom.