Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dads are Saps: Songs that Make Me Cry

Gary Allan has a song, called "tough little boys," the point of which is that however tough a man you may have been before you had kids, you become an emotional wreck when it comes to your little children.

This is something I could not have understood before I had kids of my own. Now, the most heart wrenching thing is a child in phyiscal or emtional distress. A song or a movie or a news story on this theme never fails to move me.

I bring you this song: which always makes me tear up a little. Its called Me and Emily, by Rachel Proctor.

Music Codes by

But that is nothing compared to Streets of Heaven by Sherrie Austin. [Scroll down to the third entry the first two are mislabeled]. I can't listen to that song without bawling like a baby.

There is something about a child in pain when she is too young to understand that breaks my heart.

I wonder if that is how hashem sees us.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Who are they? They run for fun; they run for fun in the hot, hot, sun.

An out-of-town award if you know the source for this post's title.

Just signed up for my next Marathon. It will be the Harrisburg Marathon on November 12, 2006. This will be very much a small town marathon. In fact, it's fair to think of it as an Out of Towner's out of town Marathon: out of town even by the standards of out of town marathons.

The time goal will be ambitious, though I don't want to put it in writing yet. I have started training with a very dedicated group of runners who don't run on shabbos. (In all likelihood they probably don't roll on shabbos either -shomer shabbos man! [That was a Big Lebowski reference, for the cultural, though perhaps not literal, in-towners.]) Most of these runners have 10 to 30 years on me yet every single one is faster than me. One of the guys will be doing his 50th marathon in the fall. And here's the cool part, this master of marathons also likes to occasionally discuss gemarah while we run. The group includes a spectrum from non-Jews to velvet yarmulke wearers: surely this can only happen out of town.

By the way this is for Lakewood Venter, who thought my appreciation for Yackov's Pizza in Cleveland demonstrated a seriously out of town attitude :-) The marathon experience is unique. You burn up so much of your glycogen and sodium stores by running 26 plus miles that the body, craves, no, screams, for all kinds of food when you are done. You don't eat, you inhale. It is hard to describe it if you haven't experienced it but it's really something. The salt craving is particularly cool because as a guy I don't crave salt under other circumstances. At the Finish line they provide all kinds of food, much of it kosher. Typically I'll inhale a couple of bags of chips for the salt, and then move on to things like ice cream or bagels or anything else they may have. But that's just the entree. After getting cleaned up we head for pizza, and there is no pizza as good as after-marathon pizza. So its possible that Yackov's is no better than say, that pizza shop on Fourth and Clifton in Lakewood, :-), but after a marathon it really is second to none.

I wonder if Harrisburg has kosher pizza

Friday, August 04, 2006

What a song! This gets me moving when I'm tired as the miles add up

I just discovered, thanks to Chaverah , and this is beyond cool. To be able to find the songs I like would be Dayenu but to post them on my blog, Kossi Revayah.

Music Codes by

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

WooHoo! Hit marathon target!

In my last post I wrote that I was going to Cleveland for the Cleveland Marathon on Sunday May 21st. I implied that if I did not do well I would fall on my sword, or at least not mention it again. Well, don't let the silence fool you, I've just been busy. The marathon was great! What a rush and what a great way to see Cleveland. I finished in 4:02 which is close enough to my target of 4:00 to make me one thrilled runner.

Cleveland was interesting from a frum/out of town perspective. Cleveland, or at least Cleveland heights is not nearly as "out of town" as the community I live in. Over Shabbos many people asked me what the reason was for my visit. When I replied that I am here for the Marathon the reply was either "Cleveland has a marathon?" or "What's a marathon?" I could also see the wheels turning while people tried to figure out whether running in a marathon was a good thing or a bad thing for a frum guy to be doing. Ultimately, I think people were positive about it once they worked it through, but the very idea of making an internal calculation to decide whether something someone else is doing (apart form manifestly anti-social activity, like littering :-) ) is religiously/socially appropriate or not, is not an out of town trait.

All in all, the whole family had a nice visit, it was a great marathon, and the after marathon Pizza at Yackov's was second to none.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Off to Cleveland

I had a really good (final) practice run yesterday so we are going to Cleveland after all. We will be in "the Hights" on Shabbos and the Marathon begins downtown on Sunday Morning at 7:00 a.m. I wonder if there will be anyone from the Cleveland frum community participating in the Marathon. It would be helpful for things like a ride in in the morning or having someone pick up my "packet" on Friday. If anyone other than my Mom is reading this, [Hi Mom!] and knows any Clevelanders participating in the Marathon please give me a shout.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sorry Darling: No Theft or Extortion on this Night Either

I know its really too late for a Pesach post but I was thinking about this today when I was commenting on Chaverah's blog. I was raised in an afikoman-stealing house. On the night of the seder we, like many children, "stole" the afikoman from my father, and he would then promise us presents in exchange for the return of the afikoman. ( I think think there were several years in which the presents never materialized but that's another story.) For me, this ritual was part of the fun and I have fond memories of it. However, when I became older and took another look at the "stealing the afikoman" practice I was at once amused and dismayed to realize that the practice rewards and thus reinforces two behaviors that we would not condone the rest of the year: theft, and extortion. The idea of the Dad (for some reason its always the Dad) being shaken down in order to get his afikoman matzah back was particularly unappealing. Whatever happened to "Millions for defense, but not a penny for tribute"?

Part of the joy or raising your own children, however, is that you get to rethink and either adopt or discard the parenting practices of others. In our case, my wife and I chose to discard the "stealing the afikoman" process. However, we do want our children to be excited about the seder and we wish to create a positive association with the seder that will hopefully last long after they outgrow wanting toys in the first place. (The mitzvah "association" concept is worthy of discussion on its own, perhaps in a future post.) So rather than do away with the presents we modified and enhanced them. The modification is that we have "mah nishtanah" presents with which we reward our girls for saying the mah nishtanah. No theft or extortion need apply; we are rewarding the preparation that went into the mah nishtanah and the participation in a mitzvah. We "enhanced" the presents in that we provide the actual presents at the seder rather than a mere promise of presents. Our girls are 4 and 5 years old and after avodim hayinuh they are ready for bed anyway, but before they go to bed they get their mah nishtanah presents free and clear. In case anyone is wondering this year they got Cinderella Polly Pockets -they love them :-).

To Marathon or not to Marathon

I am scheduled to run in the Cleveland Marathon this Sunday, May 21st. The problem is that I am not really ready, having run only one 20+ mile practice run. Also, an easy taper run of only 5 miles yesterday left my ankle hurting. Still, I am pretty sure that I can finish a marathon this Sunday, but it will probably put me out of serious running for a month for recovery. Moreover, I will probably not meet my time goal. Yet, the idea of not doing something that I planned to do disturbs me enough that I will probably go for it. What price ego.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Santa Clause Syndrome

A non-jewish friend once told me that she does not believe in g-d. She explained that when she was little her parents told her there is someone who knows when you are good and when you are bad and rewards you for being good and punishes you for being bad, that someone is Santa Claus. Later she learned that her parents were lying to her -there is no Santa Claus. Then her parents told her there is someone who knows when you are good and when you are bad and rewards you for being good and punishes you for being bad, that someone is G-d --She refused to be fooled twice. My wife and I call this the Santa Claus syndrome.

Mesorah depends on trust. One knows that her parents tell her the truth and so I believe them when they tell me about G-d and Torah. One lie can ruin your child's trust. Of course not all truths should be told to an inquisitive five year old; we often say we will explain when you are older. But we try never never to lie.