What Fresh Hell Can This Be: Stars

I haven’t been this inspired to write a blog post in a while, but here I am, and surprise, a rant. Well, more like a curiosity. Or a facepalm. You be the judge.

Last night, I was searching for some activities to use with my class today to teach the lesson of the day, humility. So, I do some Googling. Usually when I search for Thursday activities with ethical themes (truth, integrity, patience) I get homeschooling websites and blogs, almost always Christian. Sometimes, the activities are adaptable for a Jewish school, but if they include something from the New Testament, I click away. I came across this interesting website.

At first glance, it didn’t seem so bad. Then I scrolled down to read some of the details of the activity, and here’s an…interesting one.

Wear Humility: Cut a large star out of yellow or gold posterboard and tie yarn on it so it can be placed around a child’s neck. Explain that wearing the yellow star represents being prideful and place it around the child’s neck. Then, take off the yellow star and give the child a small star sticker to wear and explain that the smaller star represents being humble.

Image result for fran drescher

Ummmmmmmmmmm…yeah. About that.

Obviously, Stacy Zeiger, the author of this article, has either never taken a history course or has not spent enough time around Jews. For those of you who are unaware as to why this is a problem (and Ms. Zeiger, if you’re reading this), allow me to explain.

So, one time, there was this thing called World War II. During this time, the Holocaust occurred, and six million European Jews were killed. But before they were sent off to concentration camps, while they were still allowed to live in cities and towns, they were forced to wear identification in the form of a yellow star, usually saying Jude or Juif inside it, depending on the country and its language. They looked like this:

So, fast forward to now, where Stacy Zeiger is living in New Jersey and putting large yellow stars on children, as a negative symbol. If there ever was a time to clap back, it’s now.

Image result for oh no you didn't jewish

This ::clap:: does ::clap:: not ::clap:: fly ::clap::

Especially not in a Jewish school. I can only imagine this lesson being done in the classroom, and then Grandma coming to pick up little Sarah for a dentist appointment, only to see a room full of children wearing yellow stars symbolizing “excessive pride.” I think you’d need a paramedic before a dentist for that reaction.

I’m not saying that gold stars are bad. I have star stickers, some are yellow, and I use them sometimes. On papers, though. Not on humans. A yellow star on an essay says one thing; a yellow star on a person says quite another. I mean, seriously? Really? You thought this was a good idea to publish? On a website? For anyone to read?

I decided to look up a little more on this Stacy character, and I have to say, everything I’ve found is just. so. awful. Not in an evil way, but…she just sounds terrible. She lives in Bridgeton, New Jersey, even though she is originally from Ohio with degrees from Miami University and Ohio State. She’s a Christian, which goes without saying. According to her Twitter, she’s “Mother of the Year.” Her Amazon.com page is full of self-published books with crappily-designed covers.

Humility is an important lesson, but yeah, this is probably one of the dumbest ways anyone’s thought to go about it.

A gold star for you, Stacy.

Image result for fran drescher shade


How to Be A Crossword Fraud (Or, I’m Sorry)

Wow, a daytime post for once!

Yeah, yeah, but enough about that.

If you’re like me, you always wonder how people can manage to solve New York Times crossword puzzles on Friday and Saturday in insanely short times, like one minute (it takes longer than that to read the clues, for crying out loud).

Today, however, I inadvertently figured out by doing it myself.

So, like most days, I did the daily crossword online. Saturday is usually the toughest one, for me at least, because there are no theme answers like Sunday crosswords and there are usually tough and obscure clues. I was actually proud of myself after today’s attempt; I managed to finish in a respectable 8 minutes and 26 seconds, without a single mistake. Wondering how I stacked up against the other competitors – seventy-five hundred, as of now – and for some reason, my time failed to register. It actually told me that I hadn’t done the puzzle at all yet, which was obviously false. Sometimes glitches happen, and I just go back to the puzzle and refresh the page, and it submits my time, but this time, everything was completely gone and the timer was down to zero. Having just finished it, I remembered it all, and typed it in pretty quickly. I was going to wait until 8:26 so I could get an accurate time, but I accidentally put in the last letter, clocking me in at 1 minute, 37 seconds, which is probably among a world record. I went back to the main puzzle page, and sure enough, it logged my 1:37 attempt rather than my 8:26 attempt, so according to the official stats, I’m now #1 for the day, ahead of AlbyAtLarge, who solved in a piddling 1:39, unless he or she encountered the same issue I did.

So…yeah, technically, I guess that makes me a fraud for today.

“I’m a fraud, Elle! It’s not like normal women can have this ass!”

Anyway, I’m guessing that while some people might just be that good (and others just cheat for bragging rights), those five-minutes-or-less solving times are results of having done the puzzle, the site failing to register the correct time, and then redoing it quickly just so it registers. So no, I am not a super genius, I just accidentally beat the system. Whoops.

In other news, though, I scrolled down, and my original solving time puts me in a very respectable 193rd place, tied with Jimmy.Leroux, just behind the 8:19 solving time of TBowker and just ahead of the 8:27 solving times of CousinAki and TonyR.

And for someone who usually struggles to place in the top 500 – or even the top 1,000 – of a Saturday puzzle, that’s pretty darn good.


So Close, Yet So Far…

Interrupting the woefully delayed recounting of Summer Odyssey 2015 to announce a delay of another kind: after spending a lovely week in Boston, I was supposed to make it home tonight but thanks to weather delays in Chicago, my connecting city, I…did not.

My flight from Boston to Chicago was delayed by 3 hours, as was my flight to Madison. We got to Chicago after what seemed like hours on the plane, and then I rushed over to find out that my plane had left and there was only one more flight to Madison for the day. I was given a ticket at Gate C5, and then walked over to Gate C3 – literally, feet away – and was told that I couldn’t get on the flight even though I had a ticket because it was packed full, and since I was “late” they gave my “seat” away. What the gate agent should have done was direct me to a bus, but instead she told me to go to Customer Service, for which the line was already miles long. Upset and panicked, I took a short break to breathe and wait, and then wandered over to the B terminal, which had a) an open Starbucks, where I got a venti green tea lemonade (worth it), and b) a much shorter line at Customer Service. By the time it was my turn, the last Madison bus was gone (just my luck!) but I got a seat on tomorrow’s 9:16 AM flight, and the option to either sleep on a cot in the airport, or pay a discounted rate at a local hotel via Airport Accommodations. The lady at the counter said that there were very few rooms left within a reasonable distance, but I took my chances and called, and now, for just $89 and a $62 cab ride, I’m spending the night in Room 421 at the Eaglewood Resort and Spa in Itasca, Illinois.

Knowing how crowded O’Hare will be, I’ll probably need to get there 3 hours early instead of just 2, so I’m setting all my alarms for 6 AM, which is 4 hours from now (2 AM Central).

I’m sad that my trip had to end this way, but at least I’m going to take a hot bath now and then try to get some sleep in a real bed (rather than a mattress/couch) for the first time since Charlottetown.

…But before I left the airport, as I was sitting near the customer service desk waiting on the phone with the hotel, I noticed a passport and some travel documents lying on a table nearby, with no one around to claim them. After I got off the phone, I went over and picked it up, it was some woman from Utah’s forgotten passport along with her plane ticket to Vienna on Austrian Airlines. Rather than risk it being stolen or thrown out, I turned it in at Customer Service, who told me with a smile that I should stick around and look for more lost passports and tickets. I hope that my act of kindness brought me some good karma, and that the woman and her passport are reunited and off to Austria soon.

Anyway, good night. Wish me luck for tomorrow!


That’s So ::splash::

It’s a hot and sunny afternoon here in Charlottetown, and since I left my notebook upstairs, I completely forgot what I was going to write about originally, but I guess that gives me the best excuse to write about the here and now.

I am sitting in the living room of the hostel. It’s much more different than the last one; the Montreal Central was more Holiday Inn and business, and this place, CBI, is a little more Regency Lodge and put-your-feet-up. Benefits to both, definitely, but this leather couch is so comfortable I’d have to say that CBI wins. Sitting on the couch next to me are Jade and Heloise, two lovely students from Quebec, who are quiet with an occasional giggle at the movie they’re watching on their tablet. The three of us have been hanging out a lot and have done a lot of fun activities together, like the lame factory tour and the fringe festival; more on that later.

After a morning of geocaching solo, I met up with the aforementioned Jade and Heloise for two hours of paddleboarding. For those of you who can’t imagine it, paddleboarding is standing on a surfboard while propelling yourself with a paddle; a cross-breed of rowing and surfing. Anyone can do it, all you need is some balance and arm strength, both of which I like to think I have, but apparently do not have enough of.

I started out on my knees, then after a few minutes got to a kneel, then a squat, and finally, my own two feet. I managed to paddle out of the maze of boats in the marina while standing for ten minutes, then had a lovely fall into the water. The first of many. To my credit, I did spend about half of the two hours standing and paddling (or at least standing and trying not to fall; about 1/4 of the time on my knees or bottom frantically paddling to keep up with the girls; and then spent the rest of the time falling in the water (about six times, overall, including onto some rocks) and yelling “I’m fine!”

It was a good exercise for the arms and legs, and I think I might have gotten a blister or two, but it’s not something I wouldn’t do again. Even though while I was out there, I was like “why would anyone want to do this?” by the time I got back, I felt like I was just getting my groove on.

And every time I fell, I got back up, even if it took a few minutes.

And now I know I can do it.

And I raised my paddle in victory and triumph.

And then I landed on my bottom on the dock while Jade was helping to pull me in.


Goat Brothels on Kosher Avenue: Dirty Mental Dyslexia

Have you ever looked at a sign or something that didn’t look quite right, and then you looked again and the letters changed places and then it said something different?

That happens to me…all. the. time.

And usually it’s something dirty.

I bring this up because it happened twice on the trip back.

First, the non-dirty one. As my dad and I were driving through Chicago, we both did a double take at an exit sign, and said to each other almost at the same time “Does that say Kosher Avenue?” For the record, it was Kostner Avenue, but how cool would a Kosher Avenue be, and how weird is it that we not only saw something that was not there, but we saw the same thing that was not there?

Second, the dirty one. I was scrolling through my Facebook feed in the passenger seat, and one of my friends – who is a religious, Orthodox Jewish wife and mother – posted “And we are now proud homeowners!” And what did I read?

You guessed it… “And we are now proud homosexuals!”

My first instinct was to scroll back, so I read it again and it said that again. Just as I was about to comment and congratulate them for coming out of the closet (??) it rearranged in my brain back to “homeowners,” and then I felt dirty.

It happens just about everywhere. I can misread anything and everything. An email from my professor saying “Sure, you can pop in my office any day this week,” became “Sure, you can poop in my office any day this week.” I actually read an obituary, “Mr. Josephs leaves behind a daughter, Patty Ruth,” and somehow I saw “Mr. Josephs leaves behind a daughter, Potty Ruth.” (Apologies, Patty Ruth Josephs, whoever and wherever you are). I swear, one time a bag of Funyans once transformed into a bag of Bunions right before my eyes.

Probably the best ones are when I have to do double takes at bookstores. One used bookstore I went to all the time in college had two books on display in different parts of the store:









Don’t tell me you didn’t read them as Garden of Breasts and Goat Brothels.

Because I did, every single time I passed them.

Also, here’s some free advice: don’t do a Google Image Search for “goat brothels.” And don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Oh, and yay for another six-continent day! North America (USA), South America (Argentina), Europe (UK, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Netherlands), Asia (China), Africa (Egypt), and Oceania (French Polynesia, Australia). Woohoo!


Tag, You’re It

So, today we had our dress rehearsal for this weekend’s dance showcase. Last Sunday, a few of us went to Kohl’s to pick up belts/vests/shirts. We purchased 6 items for $146 (saving $181, but that’s beside the point) and when I got home, I just left my items (vest and tie) in the bag, in my car. Today, I grabbed the bag from my car in my rush to get to rehearsal at Memorial Union. As I was putting on the final piece of the costume – my vest – I noticed some weight against one of the sides.


They forgot to take the security tag off.

For those of you who do not shop regularly at high-end stores (like Kohl’s), a security tag is a plastic/metal/magnet thing pinned into the fabric. Its purpose is to prevent said item of clothing from being stolen from the store. When the item is purchased, a little magnet at the register pops that security tag right off. If the average person tries to rip it off, it will explode ink everywhere, coating the item and the hands of the person who broke it; I kid you not. If it’s not removed from the garment, the store’s alarm goes off when you leave and all hell breaks loose and that’s when people actually start going ballistic.

Yet, for what it’s worth, I managed to get the vest out of the store with the security tag intact.

I couldn’t very well take it off myself, so I danced through the rehearsal today with it on, looking like some kind of tagged dancing fugitive. I kept having images of it beeping during the performance and some mall cops invading the dance floor and arresting me. Or that it would trigger the building to explode, or something.

But seriously?

You had one job, plastic security tag.

At least now I have an excuse to go back to Kohl’s tomorrow.



Two Of Them Almost Kissed Last Night…

I went to Chabad for the first time in awhile tonight. It was the “midsummer Chabad event” thing or something, I don’t know.


I was going to save this story for the first Shabbat of the school year, but I can’t wait that long, so here it is.

Shabbat is a time for seeing and greeting friends, especially those you haven’t seen for a while, or at least since last Shabbat. I think it was one of the first Friday nights of my senior year at UMass Amherst. I was (and still am) a pretty affectionate person, and at Hillel, the rules of negia were not always in play. I mean, I usually messed up the first time I met anyone because I have terrible negia-dar, but after awhile, you know how to greet which friends, and you do it the same way every time. I would do the man-shake with a male friend, or a quick hug. With a non-shomeret female friend, I’d do the squeeze thing and maybe an air kiss or a cheek kiss if I felt close enough to her.

So, one Friday night, I was greeting people like I usually do, but with a bit more enthusiasm since it had been a while since we’d seen each other. I went to hug one of my female friends, who was similarly happy to see me as I was to see her, and with our heads turned to our left, I kissed her cheek briefly without my lips directly touching her face. Like I usually do, I exited the hug by stepping directly backwards, keeping my face turned away from hers until I was out of her personal space. Only this time, as we released the hug, she turned her head to the right, and her lips brushed against mine for a millisecond.

I know, I know, accidents happen, and this is nothing to write home about, but it was one of those moments that’s so sweet that it’s awkward and so awkward that it’s sweet. Her eyes went big as did mine, and we looked around; thankfully, everyone around us was talking and hugging each other so nobody noticed.

Well, until she started giggling awkwardly, and someone near her said “what?” and she said “Nothing, we almost kissed.”

Then it got a little awkward. I started apologizing, and she said something like “no, I know you weren’t trying to kiss me, our heads just went in the opposite direction.”

But fortunately, it was only awkward for like five minutes. Then everything went back to normal.

I will not be identifying said friend, but should she read this, she’s a pretty cool chick and a good sport. This story had no point, I just wanted to tell it.

Please enjoy this clip from Friends.


Breakfast with Friends/Friends with Breakfast

Today I had a friend over for breakfast.

Well, technically, he came over last night to hang out, spent the night on my couch, and then I made us breakfast when we woke up, but it still counts. It’s been really tough for me lately. My friend came over last night to talk, to listen, and to help me deal with some issues, and even though I thanked him for coming over, I don’t know if he knows how grateful I actually am that he not only came over, but stayed the night to see that I was OK in the morning. It felt really nice to have a friend who would do that for me.

We woke up around the same time (where I discovered I had visitors from two new countries, Angola and Costa Rica…hey y’all!), and I offered to make breakfast. I was standing at the stove, tending to some boiling eggs as we talked about different ways to prepare eggs, then all of a sudden – BOOM – a glass dish that was sitting near the stove exploded. No, I am not making this up. I don’t know exactly what happened – maybe the counter got too hot – but the dish was empty, and thank goodness no one was hurt. I can’t say that the breaking of the glass was cathartic in any way, and now I have one less glass dish, but I cleaned it up right away, and resumed cooking eggs, which we enjoyed with some toasted wheat bread with raisins, and I just felt better. Like, yeah, bad things happen, but you clean them up and then move on with your life. And it led to me just having a really enjoyable breakfast, sitting at the real table, eating real food off real plates, just like they do in Friends.

When I was a child I loved those little moments that made me feel like a grown-up. Being a grown-up and having those moments with friends you love – just sitting at the table, eating a homemade breakfast, talking a little, enjoying each others’ company – sometimes that’s all you need, in that moment in time, to feel calm, safe, relaxed…happy.

I’ll take breakfast, with a side of friends, please.

That reminds me…I need to buy another glass dish tomorrow.