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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Booking through Thursday - time is of the essence




1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?

(I’m guessing #1 is an easy question for everyone?)

2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?

Well, this is certainly a timely question - my semester just ended (at midnight) so I actually have time to answer.

Does anyone get to read as much as they'd like? Of course my answer to this is a resounding no. I'd like to blame it only on school, work, and home responsibilities but the truth is, I'd very addicted to tv and the internet so that too cuts into my reading time. During the semester I do most of my reading on Saturdays, which is my Sabbath, so electronics are off limits. I actually have a bunch of holds at the library that I've timed for my semester break so hopefully I'll be able to get some reading in before the craziness starts up full force.

Well, I definitely wouldn't read anything educational. I read mostly modern fiction, sometimes an interesting nonfiction book I come across. I'm not really into chick lit so when I've been reading too many downers I throw in some suspense or mysteries to lighten it up.

If you'd like to participate in Booking through Thursday, post your answers on your blog, and leave a comment on the BTT Web site.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

History in the making

John Gress/Reuters

One of the advantages (finally) to living on the West coast is that you don't have to stay up till 2 a.m. to find out who won this historic presidential election. It's hard to be in America and not get caught up. In America, they might be a bit less in your face about politics than in Israel, but people still feel very strongly and speak their views passionately.

I think that no matter where you stand or how you voted, it is hard not to be swept up in the feeling that history has been made. America has elected her first African American president, with a feeling of hope and the promise of change.

"That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow." -- President Elect Barack Obama, Chicago, Illinois, November 4, 2008.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The first of the lasts

Note: I started this post a week ago or so but got busy. So forgive me if the beginning is a bit dated.

Deep sigh - the chagim are finally over. I know we're not supposed to feel that way but it's so oppressive. Living in the states for the first time in almost 20 years is allowing me to see things I never really thought about. Of course, I've changed and America has changed, plus I am living in San Jose, California where Judaism (the frum kind or any other kind) does not have a stronghold, as opposed to my native Brooklyn.


When I made aliyah in October 1988 (we left on Halloween), I had been married for 2 years and out of school for less. The only jobs I had held were for NCSY (Yes, it's shocking, I once worked for NCSY - but it was for the Israel program) and for a home heating oil company owned and run by an orthodox Jew. I never had to worry about getting time off for the holidays or explaining to coworkers why I wouldn't be around again. I obtained my undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College, where a glance at the college calendar indicates that there are no classes on Rosh Hashana or Yom Kippur (including erev chag), as well as all of Pesach. I can't complain too much - my instructors are understanding and my job is low key so it really wasn't a huge deal (besides the stress) but I can see how this could get old really fast. Of course, shopping and cooking for two day chagim again and again is no fun, especially when you need to hit 5-7 stores to find everything you need. Between two day chagim and Jewish day school tuition, I can't understand why everyone doesn't pick up and move to Israel.

Early last month I realized that we will be going home soon. Actually what brought it home for me was a dream I had that I was in Costco and when I left the store I realized that it was my last time in Costco and I hadn't bought everything I wanted to take back with me. Wake up call! So now, the shopping spree is on and all the chagim had a tinge of "this is my last Rosh Hashana in San Jose." Plus some friends here are saying, "you're not really going back" and I'm trying to convince them all to move back to Israel with us. I am glad that this will be my last christmas season in America (bli neder). Christmas displays and advertisements have been popping up along with the Halloween paraphernalia and soon you won't be able to enter a store without being bombarded with christmas music.

Of course before we get to Christmas we have to survive the elections on Tuesday. I've never been that into politics but it's hard not to get caught up, especially in a historic election which will give America either her first African American president or her first woman vice president. Here in California the public or legislature can add propositions to the ballot in order to amend California law and the most controversial ballot in 2008 is proposition 8 which would change the California constitution to only allow man-woman marriage as valid. As you can imagine, this is a hot topic and both proponents and opponents are very outspoken.

While most people are glued to their television sets on Tuesday night, Arthur and I will be going to hear Shlomo Artzi in Cupertino. Hadag Nachash will also be in the Bay area but Arthur doesn't want to go with me.

Things here are otherwise quiet. I am bogged down in schoolwork and am glad that the semester is half over. I need to choose my classes for my final semester (yea!) and am trying to figure out if I'm better off doing an internship or taking a class. It's hard to know since nobody at Yahoo knows if our project will be continued past the end of December so I'm not sure whether I'll still have a job come January 2009.

Arthur has just begun traveling again, with a short trip to NASA last week. He didn't bring us anything - not a moon rock, a picture of Ilan Ramon - nada. Very disappointing.

We are thinking about where to go for our last Thanksgiving, a trip made complicated by the fact that Maor vetoes just about everything (except Hawaii and Disneyworld). If anyone has suggestions, pass them along.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sleepless in Seattle

Seattle skyline

Last Wednesday Arthur flew to Seattle for work and his boss (thank you Eli and Optibase, Ltd.) generously flew me in on Thursday evening for the weekend. We've never been to Seattle before and we didn't have Maor saying "I'm not going to any museums!" so it promised to be a nice getaway. [I'm not saying I don't miss Maor, just that it's nice to be able to decide what to do without listening to her whine, scream, complain... you get the picture.]

Friday morning we woke up early and drove to Everett, 25 miles North of Seattle and home to the Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour. This is the actual Boeing factory where they build airplanes, specifically 747s, 767s, 777s, and their new 787 - Dreamliner, the first of which is slated to be "delivered" to ANA airlines, Japan, in Q4 of 2009. Boeing's 737s are built at the Renton, WA plant, and these two factories make Boeing Washington State's largest employer.

On the tour (no cameras allowed) they take you into the factory where the planes are built and it is extremely cool, even if you have two x chromosomes. I decided it's definitely cooler to work there than at Yahoo and you know how I feel about working about Yahoo (Although Boeing doesn't have Beantrees coffee they do have six Tully's coffee shops to keep their employees awake - which is always useful when you're building airplanes).

The factory at Everett is comprised of six hangars, and is huge - all of Disneyland AND 12 acres of covered parking would fit inside. The doors of hangars five and six are each the size of a football (that's American football) field! Workers can sign out bicycles to get around INSIDE the factory! Before there was an air recirculation system, the factory was its own weather system - including rain INSIDE the factory. The temperature at top of the factory reaches 100°F and they need to rotate the workers who operate the cranes that move the planes every couple of hours because of the heat.

In case you were thinking of picking up a souvenir at Boeing, the sticker price of a 747-400 is $225 million. All the planes Boeing makes are custom ordered and there are 600 customization options. The new model, the 747-800 has a sticker price of $283 million. There are 19 747-400's on order and after that production will stop and only the newer model will be manufactured. Each model number designates some sort of upgrade. The most expensive part of the plane is the engine and the second most expensive piece of equipment on the plane is the landing gear.

We saw various planes and parts of planes being made, attached, and tested. There were two 777s for Emirates Airlines in the finishing slots.

Boeing's latest and newest airplane is the 787 Dreamliner. It is smaller than a 747 (at the request of the airlines) and can have nine or ten seats across. It is made of composite materials which means it will be lighter, cheaper (sticker price: $148 million), and more efficient. The Dreamliner will be roomier, have bigger windows (and no more of those window shades - a more high tech system will be used), and because they are not worried about rust (due to the composite materials) there will be more humidity inside the cabin. Also, the cabin will be pressurized to 6000 feet instead of 8500 feet. All this is supposed to lead to a more comfortable flight experience for travelers (now if only we could take more than 3oz of liquid in a ziploc bag on the plane!). The wings will be much more flexible and this is supposed to reduce turbulence by 30%. Nine hundred of these planes have already been pre-ordered. There are six prototypes and the seventh will be the first one actually released in 2009. Two of the 787s are put through rigorous testing and are destroyed at the end of the process. One is tested by having landings and takeoffs simulated so they see how it manages under this stress. The other is subjected to general stress and the last thing they do is fold the wings in half upwards until they break! The 787s wings are so flexible that Boeing is not actually sure the wings can/will break!

Finally, we saw the three hangars where the planes are painted. Paint apparently adds 600-1200 pounds to the weight of the plane! The paint is applied electrostatically which means the plane is charged one way (I can't remember positive or negative) and the paint is charged the opposite way and this makes them stick to eachother. Please do not ask for a more in depth explanation - I'm an English major, not an engineer. Anyway, darker paints weigh more and that is why most planes are a light color and dark colors are used for the trim.

As you can tell, I really enjoyed the Boeing tour. And if I was this enthused you can just imagine how much Arthur liked it (though he's not as effusive as I am).

We then headed over to Albertsons to buy food for Shabbat before driving to the hotel. Our room wasn't ready yet so we left everything in the car and took a bus to the Underground Tour. underground-tour

This tour which is extremely popular gives you an irreverent look at Seattle's early history and is basically a hokey stand up routine heavy on the bathroom humor. But it was still fun.

We then headed back to the hotel since even in the west, Shabbat eventually arrives. Quiet night of reading before going to sleep.

Shabbat morning after breakfast we walked over to the Olympic Sculpture Park which is on the waterfront overlooking Puget Sound. We then sat by the water and watched many interesting looking people heading into Myrtle Edwards Park while a few Jesus freaks screamed about redemption and saving your souls. It was very entertaining to watch and eventually I asked a woman handing out brochures about vegetarianism and veganism what was going on in the park. Hempfest, whose objective is to "educate the public on the myriad of potential benefits offered by the Cannabis plant" was going on Saturday and Sunday. Well, that explained both the preachers and the heavily decorated people heading into the park. I don't think I've ever seen so much tye-dye, piercings, goth, and dreadlocks in one place before.

After lunch, I left Arthur napping and took a half hour walk to the central branch of the Seattle Public Library. seattle public library Yes, I know, I'm a geek but in my defense let me just say that this library has won architectural awards and I've read about it on my various library blogs and I wanted to see it and I'm going to stop apologizing now.

If you live in the U.S. and you haven't visited your local public library lately, I'd like to give you some reasons why you should.

1. You've already paid for it. If you're a law-abiding tax paying citizen your hard earned money is being used to fund public libraries. Wouldn't you like to see where your money is going and what it's being used for?

2. The list price of a new book like Stephenie Meyer's Breaking Dawn is $23.00 on Amazon or Barnes and Noble (though they are both selling it for less - $12.64 and $16.09 respectively). Yes, it's true that you probably won't be the first to read it if you borrow it from the library since there's probably a waiting list, but think about how many cappuccinos (or your choice of poison) you could buy with the money you save.

3. You can also borrow movie dvds, tv series (both old and new), audiobooks, audio cds, computer programs, and magazines from the library.

4. Most libraries participate in interlibrary loan so if your library system doesn't have the book you want they can borrow it for you from a library in another city or state.

5. Libraries have subscriptions to electronic databases on a myriad of subjects that you can access with your library card. If you're not sure what an electronic database is, see #12 below.

6. Many libraries let you download audio, audiobooks and even videos with your library card.

7. Most libraries sell books through their friends of the library association so if you really want to own your books you can buy them for under $2.00 (thanks for reminding me Baila).

8. Libraries host events including author book readings, storytime for children, crafts classes, lectures on a variety of subjects including art and business, computer classes, and even Wii for kids in the summer.

9. When the summer is over, libraries offer homework help for students.

10. Many libraries are being renovated and they are architecturally appealing buildings incorporating art displays and whimsical features - and they offer free tours to highlight these features.

11. Libraries offer internet access to one and all. All you need is a library card.

12. Librarians are knowledgeable, helpful, and according to the NY Times, even cool! Let them show you how to find reliable information online or just recommend a great book to read.

Walked back to the hotel, finished my book, had a brief nap, and when Shabbat was over we walked over to the Space Needle. This symbol of the 1962 World's Fair is 520 feet tall and offers a panoramic view of Seattle and its surroundings. Arthur wasn't thrilled about going up (can you say fear of heights) and in truth neither was I but how can you be in Seattle and not go to the Space Needle? It really wasn't that bad - the elevator ride up takes about 10 seconds and I think it's better in the dark. It is a beautiful view and if you don't look directly down it's fine. We then returned to the hotel to watch Michael Phelps win his eighth gold medal of the 2008 Olympics and beat Mark Spitz's record.

Sunday morning we visited the Experience Music Project|Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. The Experience Music Project has exhibits on guitars, Jimi Hendrix (raised in Seattle by his grandparents he's considered a native son), a sound lab to try your hand at playing piano, drums, guitar, bass, and an oral history exhibit including 100 interviews with personalities from the music or pop culture world. The Science Fiction Museum showcases the history of science fiction and included memorabilia from Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, and ET.

We had lunch at the Bamboo Garden, a kosher chinese vegetarian (almost vegan) restaurant. I managed to find something that I would eat which is no small feat for me (Judy - stop laughing!).

We messed up a bit with our time management and didn't really have enough time to do something else so we went to the airport to try and get on an earlier flight. In the end of course there was only one seat available so we hung out and waited for our flight. Our flight was running about half an hour late and then when we finally started taxiing to the runway they tell us that the #2 engine wouldn't fire up so we had to go back to the gate. At first they were going to switch planes but in the end they managed to fix the problem (the starter) and we were off two hours late. Despite seeing them put planes together at Boeing I was not thrilled about traveling on a just fixed plane. Or as I said to Arthur who couldn't understand why I was uptight, "haven't you ever taken your car to the mechanic and he says he fixed the problem but two hours later the engine light goes on again?" Luckily we made it home okay, picked up our car in the long term lot in SFO, and made it home by about 12:30. Arthur had just enough time to unpack, repack, and have a quick nap before a cab came to pick him up for his flight to Virginia Monday morning.

He'll be back on Thursday and then Maor comes home on Monday. I cannot believe that the summer is over. Next week Maor and I will both be hitting the school books and I'll be back to carpooling.

A few final observations about Seattle:

1. Everyone says that the weather there is rainy (or as the tour guide at Boeing said: "we have two seasons, winter and August") but it was quite nice for us. If it weren't for the supposed rain I could definitely see living in Seattle.

2. I have never seen so many homeless or strange looking people as in Seattle (and I live an hour south of San Francisco!). Men in kilts, rainbow hued hair, piercings, etc. - yes I see this all the time in San Jose (and at Yahoo) but not in these quantities.

3. As befitting the birthplace of Starbucks, Seattle seems to have tons of coffee chains. Starbucks, Tully's, Seattle's Best Coffee - the city's residents and visitors are in no danger of ever being caffeine deprived.

Finally, you can see a map of the places we visited in Seattle.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Summer days drifting away...

Yes, I've been incredibly lazy about blogging. The truth is, nothing all that exciting is going on. Lazy summer days which are going by all too quickly. I suddenly realized that my new semester starts in 3 weeks (yikes) so I ordered my books for school. Once again I'll be taking 3 classes and stressing out about it so I can finish my degree before returning to Israel.

The biggest news is that Maor is off in Israel for a month. In July she mostly vegged out, did some math classes, and took swimming lessons at the Y. July 25th I flew down to Los Angeles with her and checked her in as an unaccompanied minor so she can spend August on Zufim. El Al was more of a balagan than I remember and of course some Israeli guy behind me complained/yelled at me because I "let" someone go ahead of me at check in. At the gate they motioned to us to come over and while waiting to show her passport and boarding pass I said to Maor, "prepare yourself emotionally."

"Why," she asked.

"Because I'm going to give you a kiss"

"No you're not," she protested.

So as I tried to kiss her and she pulled away the El Al security guy said to her in Hebrew, "nu, give her a kiss already." So she grudgingly let me kiss her and off she went.

The truth is I wasn't nervous about sending her alone. My parents shipped me off to Israel alone when I was 11 1/2 and I didn't know any of my relatives in Israel.

And she is having a great time so far. She's being well taken care of (thank you everybody) and she even remembered to call all the relatives right away. I hope she's also doing her math work so if you're in Israel and you see Maor, please ask/nag her about doing her math sheets so Mrs. Levy doesn't call me the first week of school!

The first week Maor was away so was Arthur which meant for 4 glorious days I had total autonomy over the remote control. It was a very exciting experience.

My job is still amazing! I've been at Yahoo for three months and I love it! Since I'm good at judging sites I've been chosen with about 15 others to become spotcheckers. That means that we will be doing less judging of sites and we will be checking the judgments that others make. Supposedly we will be hated by our peers (at least some of them) which is always fun. Today we got the final word that we passed the spotchecking training. And one of the project managers came to talk to me. He said that they want me on the spotchecking team but there's some concern that I'm abrasive. Me! Abrasive! Can you believe that? I think I know who ratted me out and it annoys me. Abrasive! You think the combination of being a born and bred New Yorker followed by living in Israel for 18 years has something to do with it? Me, abrasive! I am deeply wounded. I assured him that I can do nice when I need to. Ugh. Touchy-feely Californians. For the record, I may be cynical, obnoxious at times, outspoken, but I am NOT abrasive!

Since Arthur has been traveling so much (or for some other unknown reason) Arthur's boss offered to fly me for a weekend with Arthur. We were going to do it last weekend but Arthur couldn't change his ticket so we will be spending Shabbat Nachamu in Seattle, someplace we haven't been. And since Maor will not be with us, we can go to whatever museums or tourist traps we want without listening to her complain and whine. Hopefully, I will have pictures to post when we get back.

I posted my pictures from Yosemite on Facebook, my favorite new time waster.

That's really it for now. I am hoping that my addiction to the coffee at Yahoo doesn't it make it harder to fast on Sunday though I am quite worried about it.

"All who mourn the destruction of Jerusalem will merit the celebration of her rebirth..."

כל המתאבל על חורבנה של ירושלים זוכה ורואה בבנינה

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A new job

Yes, much has been happening since Pesach and now that my semester is over, I finally have time to write.



I started a new job on May 5th at...

It's as cool as it sounds. I actually work for a contractor and it's a 6-12 month gig as a search quality analyst. That means we're given a search query (actual searches from Yahoo which make you question man's intelligence) and a list of results and we have to rank how the result fufills the query - perfect, excellent, good, fair, or bad. I debated about taking the job even though I was desperately unhappy in my previous job because this ruins my summer plans and I can't go to Israel. I realized that at the beginning of every semester we need to post a short bio in each class and we're asked what our career goals are I usually say I'm hoping for a job where I'm paid to spend all my time on the internet. Well, this is it! So how could I say no. Plus it'll look great on a resume. And it has cool factor - even Maor is impressed.

One of the best things at Yahoo is the free Beantrees organic coffee bar which imho is much better than Starbucks. After a week the baristas knew what I drink - you think that means I'm addicted to coffee?

Near the coffee bar is a game room with a ping pong table and foosball and yes people actually play. I also see people playing board games in the lunchroom sometimes.


Of course there's no dress code so you can come to work in shorts and a t-shirt if you want (and some do). The only thing I can think of that's bad about this gig is that it ruins you for working anywhere else!

I got my grades today and I got A's in two classes (yay) and my third class (in which I also got an A) was only credit/no credit. Three semesters down, two more to go. Now that the semester is over I have joined that incredible time waster - Facebook and am quickly becoming addicted. So you can definitely friend me and if you'd like to play a game of Scrabble, stop by.


This past weekend was Memorial Day and as soon as I upload the pictures, I will post about our trip to Yosemite.


Question: Where did the Yahoo! name come from?
Answer: When Jerry [Yang] and David [Filo] started their student hobby web directory in 1994, it was called Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web. When the site moved beyond their circle of friends and started becoming popular, they decided it needed a shorter, catchier name. The dictionary provided the word yahoo, meaning someone rude, unsophisticated and vulgar. Bingo! Just the kind of self-effacement Jerry & David appreciated. Then they needed an acronym and came up with Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pesach 2008

I'd like to say that I haven't posted since I've been too busy scrubbing my house for Pesach and being insane like I usually am at this time of year. That, however, would be a lie. I am THRILLED to say that we are closing our house and going away for ALL of Pesach (eat your heart out)! We are going to New York/New Jersey for the very looonnnngggg chag (and 2 sedarim - ugh). We will start out at my friend Melissa in NJ since my Brooklyn relatives did not want me and we love spending time with Melissa and family (I've known her and her husband since high school and that's a long time!). We have convinced my family to endure us for the second days so we will spend some time in the holy land of Flatbush. Arthur has once again managed to organize things so he will not fly with us to NY or back home to California. Since he has to work on Thursday, he'll come on Friday morning and immediately afterwards he going to North Carolina for work.
I'm trying to keep on top of my schoolwork, especially since I still have assignments due and final projects as the semester winds down. It's a bit stressful.
Other than that, nothing too exciting to share at the moment. We don't have summer plans yet so you'll have to keep reading to find out what we're doing.
So to all our friends and family (and anyone else doing me the honor of reading my blog) wishing you a chag kasher ve'sameach! To those of you in Israel, I'm insanely jealous of you since you have only one seder and a 2 day chag as opposed to a 3 day chag. To those of you in galut, misery loves company.
And for all, check out this entertaining video: are you smarter than a 10 year old: Pesach edition.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A time to weep and a time to laugh

I posted last week after the pigua in Merkaz Harav that I had wanted to post some funny videos by Billy Ray Sheet telling the story of Purim. Well, I wanted to wait for the shiva to be over and although life is certainly not back to normal for the wounded and families of the victims, as Kohelet says, to everything there is a season, and the season of Adar is for happiness.
The Ballad of Purim chapters 1-2

The Ballad of Purim chapters 3-4

The Ballad of Purim chapters 5-6

The Ballad of Purim chapters 7-10

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Intersecting worlds

Since I am going to school for a degree in library and information science, I read many blogs related to libraries and web 2.0, along with all the other blogs in my blogroll. Sometimes, out of nowhere, your disparate worlds seem to collide. The American Library Association posted about the massacre of the eight students at Merkaz Harav in Yerushalyaim because the attack took place in the library. Eight Students Killed at Jerusalem Religious School Library is a factual accounting of the events, no politicizing in any way.
I like the fact that perhaps people who aren't aware of what happenned are exposed to it. Will it change the way they think or feel? I don't know but at least they are reading about it.
In February the ALA posted about the arrest of Hamas suspects in the destruction of the library in Gaza.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Mishenichnas Adar...משנכנס אדר

For weeks, I've known what I was going to post for Rosh Chodesh Adar. Ever since Billy Ray Sheet left a message on my blog that he prepared 4 videos telling the story of Megillat Esther and I watched them and laughed and laughed, I just waited for Rosh Chodesh Adar to post them . After all, when Adar comes joy is increased - משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה.
And then, I saw the news that 2 terrorists entered Yeshivat Merkaz Harav in Yerushalayim, killed 8 students, and wounded 10 others. Seven of the dead are teenagers, ranging in age from 15-19; the oldest casualty was 26. Suddenly, I don't feel like laughing anymore.
For most of us, life will go on as usual. We'll rant for a while, complain about the uselessness of the government, shed a tear at the heartbreaking pictures of funerals and choke up when we hear the hespedim. But eventually we'll continue to live our lives because what else can we do? Life goes on. Except for those 8 families. And ten others in limbo.
I feel like anything I say will be trite but I just felt the need to reach out.
May we know better days than these.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

So, what's new with you?

T-ShirtHumor.com

Wow, 3 posts in one day! What some people will do to avoid doing their schoolwork!

Seriously, though, haven't filled you in for a while so thought I'd whip up a quick post.

A week and a half ago was Presidents Day Weekend when Americans celebrate the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln. Why only those 2 presidents? Or as someone in my office said, "Let's celebrate ALL the presidents' birthdays. Then we can start on the vice presidents." Well, apparently, it's still called Washington's Birthday, at least as far as the Federal government is concerned.

Anyway, we wanted to go away for the weekend - Arthur wanted to go to Northern California and I wanted to go to Los Angeles (you know me, always cold and looking for warmer places to be) but Maor vetoed both ideas. I believe her words were something like "I am NOT sitting in a car with you guys for 5 hours." She had already made plans with 2 friends to go see a movie on Sunday. So we compromised and Sunday afternoon after doing homework she went to see Definitely, Maybe and Monday we went out with friends, a couple with 2 sons. We drove up to Calistoga to see the Old Faithful Geyser of California, which is an underground river that erupts at regular intervals when the water is heated by hot molten rock underground. To get there we drove through Napa and passed beautiful wineries which of course we couldn't check out.


View Larger Map


Afterwards, we headed over to The Petrified Forest, where we got to see... petrified trees (duh). Over 3 million years ago a volcano erupted and the force of it knocks down the trees and covers them with lava and ash. The trees remain buried and over time minerals and silica in the ash replace the living molecules in the trees turning them into rock. Eventually the ash erodes and the now petrified trees are discovered. Pretty cool. Below are some pictures from our day out.

Other than that, life is routine. Arthur is traveling (currently in North Dakota), Maor is doing okay in school except for one teacher who all the kids hate, and I am having a good semester in school. I am taking a class in medical informatics through the University of Pittsburgh which is really interesting and the teacher is great. I am also taking a class in web design which is tons of work but also a lot of fun and also with an exellent instructor. My third class is in reference librarianship which I think is important for any type of librarian although I don't think I'll actually work as a reference librarian. My instructor in this class is also terrific - I had her for a previous class so I knew she's good.

Yesterday in the supermarket I saw them unpacking and setting up the matzoh display which always makes me so happy knowing that Pesach is getting close. We're not sure yet what we're doing for Pesach. Besides suffering through 2 more 3 day yomtovs. Why didn't I check the calendar before I agreed to come here? I totally forgot about this awful phenomenon. If ever there was a reason to make aliyah, besides the cost of Jewish day school tuition, that would have to be it.






Do you blog? Do you love coffee?


If you answered yes to both those questions then Joffrey's Java Beta Test is for you. I found this via Mashable, one of the many (too many?) blogs I read. You sign up to be a beta tester and Joffrey's will send you their new flavored coffee, Jamaican Me Crazy, to try. Plus they'll post a link to your blog on their page.

I must admit that in my excitement for free coffee, I didn't even think about whether it's kosher. So I sent off an e-mail asking them but haven't heard back yet. Of course, I already signed up to get the coffee. I cannot resist coffee, especially if it's free.
UPDATE: According to the e-mail I received back from Joffrey's ALL (emphasis theirs) their coffees and teas (wimps) are kosher! Yeah, I'm psyched!

Art in unexpected places









One day as I was walking from my office in downtown San Jose to the nearby King Library, I was stopped in my tracks by these beautiful gates. Since I am not like Batya walking around with my camera (or so it seems from her blog) I had to go back another day. But I really wanted to share this unique and interesting work which i came across unexpectedly almost hidden in a passageway. They were created by Bill Gould for The Globe, a new condominium community.
You can also view these images on Flickr.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Booking through Thursday - after the honeymoon


I haven't been posting much lately so I decided to answer BTT's question (suggested by Chris at book-a-rama):

Have you ever fallen out of love with a favorite author? Was the last book you read by the author so bad, you broke up with them and haven’t read their work since? Could they ever lure you back?


I had no trouble coming up with an immediate response to this one - Patricia Cornwell. And as I'm thinking that my eyes go to a post in my Google reader by Fausti who took the words right out of my mouth. For so long I would avidly await Patricia Cornwell's next Kay Scarpetta novel. Even when they got really silly (Benton: dead or alive?) I remained a loyal reader and plodded through, sometimes yelling at the book while reading. But no more. There are just too many books I want to read (and not enough hours in the day) to torture myself and force myself to read a bad book by a once enjoyable author.




Monday, January 14, 2008

Five years without her...

video

Sunday, the 13th of Shvat, is 5 years since the awful and unreal day that my daughter, Liam died, just 2 months short of her 14th birthday. Although I do not usually talk about it, I decided to share some thoughts.

In the days and months after your child dies, you don’t believe that you will survive. It hits you first thing in the morning and last thing at night – your child is dead. I remember there were times when I was out and I wanted to just stop on the street and yell “How can you go on? Don’t you know that my daughter died?” The unfairness of life continuing and moving forward as though nothing happened was unbearable.

The question everyone wants to know is does it get better. Five years after Liam’s death I can honestly answer yes… and …no. The raw pain that is always with you in the beginning fades. It doesn’t assail you when you wake up. Flashbacks happen less frequently. And yet, time moves on. It is hard to believe that it has been five years since I’ve seen Liam. Since I’ve spoken to her, or heard her voice. Kissed her, touched her, hugged her, been exasperated by her, or yelled at her. The pain comes from watching her friends grow up and wondering what she would be like not as a child of 13 but as a young woman of 18. What she would look like, what decisions she would be making, how she would be changing and maturing. I am losing my frame of reference for things I measure by Liam’s age; it is getting too complicated to figure out. We left kibbutz the summer she finished 3rd grade. My mother died the winter she was in 4th grade. We moved to Zufim the summer before she went into 6th grade. How old would she be now? So how long ago was that? I wonder about her interactions with other people – how would she and Maor get along these days? How would she get along with my cousin’s daughter who is a bit younger than her? Or with my friend’s daughter who’s a bit older than her? And you realize that the questions will never stop. For as long as I live, I will be astounded that time continues to march on without her. One day I will be amazed to discover that Liam has been dead longer than she had been alive.

When Liam died, everyone in my circle knew that I had a daughter who died. As time moves on you meet new people, your circle expands, and you have to decide who to trust with this information. The simple basic question “How many kids do you have?” asked innocently and often is a loaded question. If you don’t include her, you feel guilty. But you don’t always want to get into it. At least I don’t. I don’t want to explain my life story to people who are basically strangers. They inevitably ask what happened and I don’t have a simple answer. I don’t want to see the pity in their faces. I am quiet and I keep things inside and I don’t want to talk about it in every casual social encounter when some unsuspecting person asks what they believe is a mild straightforward question. By not disclosing this information, however, I lose the ability to share parts of my life with others. I made aliyah when I was pregnant with Liam. We went to Disneyworld when Liam was 6 and Maor was a baby (Without Liam why we took Maor to Disney when she was 4 months old is a mystery). My parents came to Israel when Liam was one year old. There is a lot that I do not say without the context of Liam.

Losing a child creates a hole and a gap that cannot be filled. Yes life goes on (because what choice do we have) but you always feel that someone is missing. Everything you do as a family, both the big celebrations and the small mundane activities, leave you thinking and wondering and just plain missing her.

People imagine that missing a loved one works kind of like missing cigarettes.
The first day is really hard but the next day is less hard and so forth, easier and easier the longer you go on.
But instead it's like missing water. Every day, you notice the person's absence more.
Back When We Were Grown Ups, Anne Tyler

חמש שנים בלעדיה

.יום ראשון, י"ג שבט, נציין 5 שנים לפטירתה של בתנו, ליעם, שהייתה כמעט בת 14 במותה

בימים וחודשים לאחר פטירת ילדיך קשה להאמין שתשרוד. זה מכה בך דבר ראשון בבוקר ודבר אחרון בלילה – ילדיך מתה. אני זוכרת שלפעמים כשירדתי לעיר רציתי לעצור ברחוב ולצעוק "איך אתם ממשיכים בשלכם? אתם לא יודעים שבתי מתה"? הרעיון שהחיים ממשיכים ומתקדמים כאלו לא קרה כלום היה בלתי נתפס.

כולם רוצים לדעת אם זה נעשה יותר קל ככל שעובר הזמן. חמש שנים לאחר שליעם נפטרה אני יכולה לענות בכנות כן... ולא. הכאב החד שתמיד מלווה אותך בהתחלה דוהה. זה לא מכה בך כשאתה מתעורר בבוקר. פלשבקים קורים לעתים רחוקות. ובכל זאת, הזמן ממשיך. קשה להאמין שעברו חמישה שנים מאז שראיתי את ליעם. מאז שדברתי אתה או שמעתי את קולה. מאז שנשקתי אותה, חבקתי אותה או התעצבנתי עליה. מקור הכאב נובע מלצפות בחבריה מתבגרים ולתהות איך הייתה ליעם לא כילדה בת 13 אלא אשה צעירה בת 18. איך היה הייתה נראית, איזה החלטות היא הייתה מחליטה, איך היא משתנה ומתבגרת. אני מאבדת את נקודת ההתייחסות שלי לדברים שאני מודדת לפי גילה של ליעם. זה מסובך מדי. עזבנו את בית רימון כשליעם סיימה כתה ג. אמי נפטרה בחורף שליעם הייתה בכתה ד. עברנו לצופים לפני שהיא התחילה כתה ו. אז בת כמה היא צריכה להיות היום? לפני כמה שנים זה היה?
אני מדמיינת איך היא הייתה מסתדרת עם מאור. או אם הבת של בת דודתי שצעירה ממנה בשנה. או אם הבת של חברתי שמבוגרת ממנה בשנה וקצת. ואתה מבין שהשאלות לעולם לא ייתמו. עד יומי האחרון אני אתפלא שהחיים ממשיכים בלעדיה. יבוא היום ואהיה נדהם לגלות שליעם מתה יותר שנים ממה שהיא חיה.

כשליעם נפטרה, כולם מסביבי ידעו שהיתה לי בת שמתה. אבל ככל שעובר הזמן אתה פוגש אנשים חדשים ואתה צריך להחליט למי לספר. השאלה הבסיסית ופשוטה "כמה ילדים יש לך" שנשאלת בשיא התמימות היא אקדח טעון. אם אתה לא כולל אותה, אתה שטוף ברגשי אשם. אבל לא תמיד בא לך לחלוק את המידע הזה. לא בא לי להסביר את סיפור חיי לאנשים שהם בעצם זרים. הם שואלים מה קרה ואין לי תשובה פשוטה. אינני רוצה שירחמו עלי. אני שקטה מטבעי ושומרת דברים בפנים ואינני רוצה לדבר על זה כל פעם שאיזה מסכן שואל מה שהוא חושב שאלה סטנדרטי. מצד שני, כשאני לא מגלה את קיומה אני מאבדת את היכולת לחלוק מידע על חיי עם אחרים. עליתי לארץ כשהייתי בהריון עם ליעם. נסענו לדיסני כשליעם הייתה בת 6 ומאור בת 4 חודשים (בלי נוכחות ליעם זה באמת תעלומה למה לקחנו את מאור לדיסני כתינוקת). הוריי בקרו בארץ כשליעם הייתה בת שנה. יש הרבה שאינני יכולה לספר בלי להזכיר את ליעם.

אובדן של ילד יוצר חור ששום דבר לא יכול למלא. אומנם החיים ממשיכים (יש ברירה?) אבל תמיד מלווה בהרגשה שמישהו חסר. כל דבר שהמשפחה עושה, מהקטן ועד הגדול, משאיר אותך עם מחשבות ותהיות וסתם געגוע
.

Friday, January 4, 2008

3 for January

Shelly from Shelly's Book Shelf has 3 questions for January:

1. List up to 3 books you read in 2007 that you loved.
2. List up to 3 books you read in 2007 that were disappointments.
3. List up to 3 authors you discovered in 2007 you definitely will put on your Must Read list.


1. I am not an easy reader to please and I do not give out superlatives very often. So I'm not sure that I "loved" these books but they were definitely among my favorites:
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle - this was the first book in a VERY LONG TIME that I stayed up way too late to finish. I really enjoyed this book, even though it is on a heavy subject.
  • How to be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward - I listened to this book on audio. I thought I had it all figured out (and I often do) but this book managed to keep me guessing and surprise me.

2. I'm not going to list books that I just didn't like but books that I had heard great things about that let me down:

  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy - I kept hearing about this Pulitzer Prize winning book and every time I picked it up I thought, no it's not for me. But it got so much praise I was curious so in the end, I opted for audio and suffered through 8 hours of misery. Sometimes you just have to trust your instincts about what you like.
  • The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon - this was the first book I read by Chabon and all the reviews were great. And everyone who saw me reading it said "Oh, how is it? Did you read Kavalier and Clay? It was great." I didn't enjoy Yiddish Policemen's Union and it was disappointing after all the raves. I did then read Kavalier and Clay and enjoyed it.
  • T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton - what can I say? I really like Sue Grafton's writing, the Kinsey Millhone character, and this series. I was very excited when I saw a new book was coming out and I was #20 on the waitlist at my library. It wasn't one of her better works. I know I should cut her some slack after 20 books but I was still disappointed.

3. When I read something I like I usually look for other books by the same author. Here are some authors I'm looking forward to reading more of:

  • Julia Glass - She won the National Book Award in 2002 for Three Junes and followed up with The Whole World Over in 2006. They were both quite good, with some overlap of characters. I look forward to reading whatever she writes next.
  • Amanda Eyre Ward - I haven't yet read her other novels but I will definitely add them to my forever growing TBR list.
  • Carolyn Parkhurst - I would give her book, Lost and Found, an honorable mention for question one, and will also try to read some of her earlier works.

The problem of book lovers everywhere, too many books, not enough time. The list of books I want to read keeps expanding but there are only so many hours in a day. Ah well, we'll see what 2008 holds in store for us.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Winter break 2007


We began our winter break with a JSN shabbaton in Santa Clara. Maor babysat for the little kids and we hung out with the adults, listened to some interesting divrei Torah, particularly by Rabbi David Fohrman, and enjoyed not having to cook for Shabbat.

On Sunday morning we grabbed some food for the long drive and set out for Las Vegas.



I took my laptop so Maor could watch movies in the car. I think she should be able to occupy herself without always being plugged into a screen (tv, computer, mp3) but for the sake of not listening to her whine for over 8 hours (and saving my sanity) I gave in to the electronic box.
The drive down was uneventful and after arriving Sunday night we went out for pizza and settled into our hotel.

On Monday we visited the small and unimpressive Las Vegas Zoo (alas, no tigers) and then headed over to the Las Vegas strip where we saw 3 slumbering lions at the MGM lion habitat, visited m&m world, and walked down to the wildlife habitat at the Flamingo Hotel. That night we went out for dinner at Tari Grill and Deli with my Uncle and cousin. I haven't seen my cousin in about 20 years and the last time I saw my uncle was 10 1/2 years ago when he came to see us in New York when I was visiting my mom. As we reminisced, at that time, he came to the NY Aquarium with us, where Maor had a tantrum during the dolphin show (she was 2 1/2 at the time) and I had to go out and find her milk for her bottle while my uncle watched the rest of the show with Liam. Anyway, one of the highlights of the trip was spending time with my uncle, my mother's brother.

Tuesday we headed to Circus Circus where Maor played arcade games at the Midway and we all played skee ball. This was definitely a trip down nostalgia lane since when I was a kid my uncle would take my cousins and me to Coney Island every summer, and skee ball was always a hit. We then headed to the adventuredome but Maor didn't want to go on the rides by herself so after one 4D movie and a spin on the bumper cars with my cousin we headed out. We went to Adar pizza for a late lunch again with my uncle and cousin and headed back to the hotel. That night we left Maor with the electronic babysitter and went back to the casinos by ourselves. We are not big gamblers but it was fun to soak up the crazy atmosphere and gamble a bit.

On Wednesday morning we headed South to the Hoover Dam. I was never very interested in history or geography, and being a typical New Yorker (as my Chicago husband is constantly reminding me) I think the USA revolves around NY so now I actually find seeing the USA quite interesting and a real eye opener. I am amazed at the vastness of the United States. As a kid my family didn't really go on vacations and except for a few trips: a weekend in Washington DC in 6th grade, Disneyworld with a friend in high school, and a high school trip to Canada I didn't leave New York (well, a few summers in Israel as well). After my year in Israel where I met people from other parts of the US and the world, I had the chance to visit both Southern and Northern California and then before making aliya we drove cross-country. But for some reason it is only now that I am really appreciating the sights of the US. When foreigners think of America they imagine the big cities - New York, Los Angeles, Boston, maybe Chicago but not the wide open spaces and the beautiful landscapes that America has to offer. Anyway, back to the Hoover Dam. For those of you as ignorant as I, the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s to control the Colorado River. It was a government project that actually was completed ahead of time and under budget. The dam supports itself by selling electricity and the electricity generated by the dam serves over one million people in Arizona, Nevada, and Southern California. After our tour of the Hoover Dam we stopped to eat lunch at Lake Mead, the largest US man made lake, which was created by the building of the Hoover Dam.

On Thursday we went to Red Rock Canyon and again, it's amazing that this beautiful site is located so close to the Neon of Las Vegas. We did the scenic drive and took a very short hike where we saw a frozen waterfall. Thursday night we went to see a magic show - Steve Wyrick Real Magic. We all enjoyed it although I thought it was a bit too much gimmick and show and not enough magic. We walked around Planet Hollywood and while passing by some of the carts selling things I started to say to Arthur, I wonder how many of these kids are Israelis and sure enough, we hear them talking Hebrew to eachother.

Friday we went to the shark reef at the Mandalay Bay (what can I say, we like zoos and aquariums) and then to the Pinball Hall of Fame which has pinball machines and some old video arcade games. To Maor's chagrin they do not dispense winning tickets like in Circus Circus but we all had a good time playing. I used to love pinball, since I used to play in the bowling alley when I went bowling with my friends and I hated to bowl. They also had games like Ms. Pacman and Centipede in this hall of fame, definitely a blast from the past. Maor and Arthur played this old time baseball pinball:



We then went to buy food for Shabbat and checked in to our new hotel conveniently located literally next door to 2 orthodox shuls! Arthur and Maor went to shul Friday night and we ate in the hotel room, played some card games, read, and went to bed. Shabbat morning we went to shul and were invited to the Rabbi's house for lunch. In shul we met a family who had made aliyah to Karnei Shomron and were there for 3 years before coming back to the US since half their family was here (work and school) and it was too difficult with the family split. They hope to go back to Karnei when their kids finish college. Some of the kids went to the same school Maor went to and when certain teachers were mentioned, she grimaced and everyone laughed. One of the nicer things about traveling is meeting people in shul and doing the Jewish geography thing. In New York if you're an unfamiliar face in shul no one gives you the time of day.

After breakfast on Sunday morning we headed back to San Jose with a short stop to see Calico ghost town which was way too commercialized and not enough information. Unfortunately I felt nauseous the entire way home and eventually threw up about an hour away from San Jose. That hasn't happened to me in a very long time.

We had a quiet new year's at home and are now back in the routine of work and school. One of my classes is starting this Tuesday (it's from the University of Pittsburgh) but the other two don't start till the 23rd. I am NOT liking my job and hope I can hang on till the summer. That's all the news that's fit to print for now. Enjoy the photos from our Las Vegas trip below.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2007 Reading Wrap-up


2007 was the first year that I kept track of all the books I read and listened to on audio. I used librarything to index my books and although it is not perfect for now it is the social cataloging site I like best. I don't review the books I've read (I did think about it but I have no patience for analyzing why I do or don't like a book - I just know if I do). So without further ado, here is my list in alphabetical order:


1. The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde
2. The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta
3. The Accidental (audio) by Ali Smith
4. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
5. Arba'a Batim Ve'gagua (ארבעה בתים וגעגוע) by Eshkol Nevo
6. Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child
7. Beautiful Lies: A Novel by Lisa Unger
8. Brick Lane by Monica Ali
9. The Case of the Missing Books: A Mobile Library Mystery by Ian Sansom
10. The Cleaner by Brett Battles
11. The Cold Moon: A Lincoln Rhyme Novel by Jeffery Deaver
12. Corelli's Mandolin: A Novel (audio) by Louis De Bernieres
13. The Corrections (audio) by Jonathan Franzen
14. Cross by James Patterson
15. Death Row by William Bernhardt
16. The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman
17. The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
18. The Echo Maker: A Novel by Richard Powers
19. Echo Park by Michael Connelly
20. Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder by David Weinberger
21. Fragile Innocence: A Father's Memoir of His Daughter's Courageous Journey by James Jr Reston
22. Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee
23. The Garden of Ruth by Eva Etzioni-Halevy
24. The God of Animals: A Novel by Aryn Kyle
25. Good Grief (audio) by Lolly Winston
26. Happiness Sold Separately by Lolly Winston
27. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
28. The History of Love: A Novel by Nicole Krauss
29. How to be Lost: A Novel (audio) by Amanda Eyre Ward
30. I Know This Much Is True (audio) by Wally Lamb
31. Invisible Prey by John Sanford
32. Judge and Jury by James Patterson
33. The Kindness of Strangers by Katrina Kittle
34. Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name: A Novel by Vendela Vida
35. Little Children: A Novel (audio) by Tom Perrotta
36. Little Women (audio) by Louisa May Alcott
37. Lost and Found: A Novel by Carolyn Parkhurst
38. Lucy Crocker 2.0: A Novel by Caroline Preston
39. Magical Thinking: True Stories (audio) by Augusten Burroughs
40. Mask Market by Andrew Vachss
41. A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists, and One Man's Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance by Ze'ev Chafets
42. Matrimony by Joshua Henkin
43. The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
44. The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander
45. Mountains Beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer by Tracy Kidder
46. My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman
47. Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks
48. Nineteen Minutes: A Novel by Jodi Picoult
49. On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, David Kessler
50. One Shot by Lee Child
51. The Overlook by Michael Connelly
52. The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
53. Promise Me by Harlan Coben
54. The Road (audio) by Cormac McCarthy
55. Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers by Elizabeth Edwards
56. The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer
57. Shvuat Rachel (שבועת רחל) by Michal Shalev
58. Simple Genius by David Baldacci
59. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
60. Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaver
61. The Slow Moon: A Novel by Elizabeth Cox
62. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: A Novel by Lisa See
63. Songs Without Words by Ann Packer
64. The Spellman Files: A Novel by Lisa Lutz
65. Swimming across the Hudson by Joshua Henkin
66. Swimming Toward the Light by Angela Tehaan Leone
67. T is for Trespass by Sue Grafton
68. The Teahouse Fire (audio) by Ellis Avery
69. Terminal by Andrew Vachss
70. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
71. Three Junes by Julia Glass
72. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
73. Waiting for Daisy: A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, an Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Quest, and One Woman's Quest to Become a Mother by Peggy Orenstein
74. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
75. We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel by Lionel Shriver
76. The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
77. The Whole World Over: A Novel by Julia Glass
78. Wild Fire by Nelson DeMille
79. Without Fail by Lee Child
80. The Woods by Harlan Coben
81. The World to Come by Dara Horn
82. The Worst Thing I've Done: A Novel by Ursula Hegi
83. The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon

Of the 83 books I consumed in 2007, there were 11 authors I read more than one of his/her works, 11 were audiobooks, 10 were non-fiction, two were in Hebrew, two won Pulitzer prizes (one of which I hated: The Road), and one I both read and listened to (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows).

Among my favorites were Corelli's Mandolin, Good Grief, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, How to be Lost, I know this much is True, The Kindness of Strangers, Lost and Found, Mountains beyond Mountains, Nine Parts of Desire, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Three Junes, and Water for Elephants. Books I thoroughly disliked were The Accidental, Brick Lane, The Corrections, The Echo Maker, The Road, Swimming Toward the Light, and We need to talk about Kevin. I found the Yiddish Policemen's Union disappointing after all it's hype.

I have a pile of books waiting to be read in 2008, and two that I started this weekend that I'll finish in 2008 so I guess my list will continue to grow. And if I haven't convinced you to pick up a book or two this year, maybe the following quotes will:
The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them. ~Mark Twain, attributed
TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book. ~Author Unknown
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go. Dr. Seuss