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Friday, December 03, 2004

Photo Friday (Vol. V)

Before we dive into Photo Friday I'd like to take a moment to make a few disconnected observations:

1.  I really need to start quoting different movies.  A fellow blogger informed me this morning that she was doing a google search for "how many swear words are in Pulp Fiction?" (I'm not even going to speculate as to why she was looking for this information), and Google helpfully pointed her to treppenwitz.   What can I say... you just don't hear many people quoting Jane Austen dialogue at parties anymore.

2.  While the idiotic/offensive statement last Friday by the OU's fatcat-in-charge didn't mean much to many of my readers, you must have noticed that it really got under my skin.  Well, he issued a formal apology in yesterday's Jerusalem Post in a paid advertisement.  Yes, he was contrite.  Yes, he  specifically stated that the Orthodox Union's policies are quite the opposite of what he said.  But what he didn't say (even after taking almost a week to craft his carefully worded apology) was what he meant to say, and how his words could possibly have been considered less hurtful when taken as part of the larger interview.  Points for the apology, but I'm still convinced he is the last person who should be leading the OU.

3.  Thank you to the many people who offered words of encouragement and advice regarding 'Parent teacher night'.  This was a difficult topic for me to toss into the public arena, and I can say without hesitation that I do not regret doing so.

Enough of that... on to Photo Friday.

Bundle up, because today's installment is brought to you by Lisa of Mitten Musings (and yes, it took me several months of reading her to realize that 'mitten' was her cute way of pronouncing 'Michigan').

Lisa's requests:

1. The magical French Press in action

2. Something that is quintessentially "Israeli," for those of us who are um, y'know, landlocked in the Midwestern US, but still are trying to work on their world view.

3. The infamous BogMobile- and don't you DARE clean it!



Here is one of our many press pots in action.  Notice the orange foam at the top... this is important for a couple of reasons.  First, it proves that your coffee is fresh.  Beans that have been sitting around too long (or which have been ground too far in advance of use) don't foam up like this.  Second, the first 5 or 10 seconds after pouring on the hot water is crucial because the grounds give off some bitter/stinky gases that will ruin the taste of your coffee if you don't allow them to escape.  So, to review: Put the grounds in the press pot... pour in the hot water... stir for a moment to get all the coffee wet... and then WAIT for a few seconds before putting on the top of the press.  mmmmmmmmmmmm

Request # 2 was a bit harder.  There are so many things that could be considered 'quintessentially Israeli' that I've been changing my mind almost daily as to what picture to include.   Maybe I'll do a mid-week post some time with a photo-montage of things that I consider 'quintessentially Israeli'.... but until then, I give you... Loof.  If you are new to treppenwitz, or if you missed my post on the subject, feel free to go back and get some background on this the 'Israeli Spam (as proof that Israel has no 'truth in advertising' laws, please note that the cartoon soldier on the can is smiling... or is that a grimace?):


Last, but not least is my faithful car (note:  NOT a minivan!).  It has served as troop transport for a sizable cross-section of the IDF... it has been stoned... and it has had near misses, and actual contact with a sizable cross-section of the animal kingdom  (and yes, the second picture is from last winter):



That's all we have time for this week.  I hope this installment of Photo Friday has lived up (or down) to your expectations.  As always, new requests are welcome... as are comments and observations.

Shabbat Shalom!


Posted by David Bogner on December 3, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Parent teacher night

I have extremely vivid memories of waiting at home while my mom & dad went off to parent teacher night to find out how I'd been doing in school.

Each time they made this pilgrimage to my school I sat in my darkened bedroom in a state close to panic trying to think of something... anything... good that my teacher might have to say about me. 

Sitting there on the foot of my bed staring out the window, I usually came up empty.

When my ears picked out the familiar sound of the engine and the headlights of the family car splashed across the front of the house announcing their return, I went into full panic mode.  What would they say?  What would they do?  How could I possibly face a new chapter of this horrible twice-yearly ritual.

Simply put, I was a disaster of a student. 

All modesty aside, I was a bright kid... smart as they come.  I knew it.  My parents knew it.  And worst of all, my teachers knew it.  What nobody knew was why a kid who consistently scored off the charts on standardized tests daydreamed his way through almost every class... and ended up waiting like a condemned prisoner for his parents to return from parent teacher night.

Back in those days they didn't know about ADD.  They didn't test for dyslexia.  And they certainly didn't know what to do with an 'under-achiever'.

From 4th thru 6th grade, while my family lived in San Diego, I was placed in a program for gifted children.... kids whose IQ scores were well into a range that would burn your hand if you were dealing with temperatures instead of 'smarts'.

The sum total of the math skills, and a good portion of the other academic knowledge I possess today, are a direct result of those three precious years.  This isn't to say that I got good grades or blossomed academically. 

I didn't. 

However, for the first time in my life I found myself in a learning program that held, however briefly, my attention.  What's more, for the first and only time in my academic career I actually experienced the warm satisfaction of mastering a few precious bits of useful knowledge. [more about this time period in a future post]

When we returned to the east coast I was thrown back into the academic pool to sink or swim, and ended up graduating deep in the lower half of my high school class.  An unremarkable college career followed, completely lacking in distinction or honors... and somehow, largely with the help of the tools I received in 4th, 5th and 6th grade, I managed to graduate with a B.A.

Why am I boring you with this ancient history? 

Because last night Zahava and I attended parent teacher night at our children's school.

The news we got from Ariella's teachers was predictably wonderful.  She fools around a bit too much with her friends... but her grades and overall marks are exemplary.

Gilad, on the other hand, has unknowingly started down a path I know all too well. 

His teachers said he is one the brightest kids in the class.   They gushed about how wonderfully he participates in discussions (when the mood strikes him).  But they also sadly placed before us a list of incomplete homework assignments and poor grades.  "When he is interested", they said, "he absorbs information like a sponge".  But if the subject fails to capture his attention... bupkes! 

Does any of this sound familiar, mom & dad?

As we parked the car in front of the house and strolled up the front walkway, I could see the silhouette of Gilad's head in his bedroom window, back-lit by the glare from the hallway.  He had clearly been waiting, as I used to wait, for the jury to pronounce sentence on a conviction long since handed down.

He's 9 years old.  His path through life can't be completely preordained, can it? 

We've had him tested and he doesn't have any of the ADD or dyslexia that I struggled with.  But he is every bit the daydreamer I was/am.  He is me, and I wish to G-d that I could have passed a richer inheritance to him.  Why was Ariella the only one to get my wife's ability to focus.

I hurt for him to the point that I asked Zahava to let me talk to him... to sit him down... hand him his report card... and calmly ask him where we (meaning all of us) can go from here.  She agreed.

After he had digested the bad news, we started talking about what it means to succeed, and what success - specifically academic success - means to a person's future.   We talked... he listened... and then he talked some too. 

I think (hope) we made progress.

I'm hoping that with our help, Gilad can escape the horrible cycle of failure and distress that plagued my every step through the academic world.

I'll let you know how we do.


Posted by David Bogner on December 2, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack