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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Through the kindness of women...

Last week I was in Tel Aviv for a couple of days, and the rest of the week was such of a whirlwind that I didn't get the opportunity to properly thank two of the better known women in the J-Blogosphere for saying embarrassingly nice things about me.  Well, actually they said nice things about treppenwitz, but I'll take any compliments that come my way... even by proxy.

First Chayei Sarah, a good friend and very talented writer, posted her personal recommendations for the JIB (Jewish & Israeli Blog) Awards, and was kind enough to give my post 'Daddy Syndrome' the nod in the 'Best Post' category.

Then, based on Sarah's recommendation, another female powerhouse in the J-Blogosphere - Renegade Rebbetzin - devoted an entire post to making me blush.  I've been following RenReb almost since she began her site and love the way she walks that fine line between maintaining the 'midot' (positive character traits) one would expect from the wife of a community Rabbi... while venting both side-splitting humor and very lady-like rage at the sources of stress one encounters in this often-frustrating community role. 

If you aren't reading her you should be... if for no other reason than to gain a new-found appreciation and respect for the smiling, well-mannered diplomat/guiding force your community unknowingly gained when it hired its Rabbi.

As long as I'm already giving credit to women, why stop here when there are so many things in my life that can be directly attributed to the female influences in my life?

To mention just a few:

Shoes:  My two sisters are largely responsible for expanding my footwear repertoire beyond penny loafers and Topsiders. 

My little sister introduced me to the wonderful world of Camper Shoes.  This Spanish company's incredibly comfortable and versatile footwear are by turns reminiscent of bowling shoes and old-fashioned baseball shoes... but they are the closest thing we, the proletariat, will ever come to the rich, luxurious comfort of bespoke casual footwear.

My big sister introduced me to the sometimes-intimidating world of Doc Marten's.  While I don't go in for the more 'militant' styles of Doc's, my 'inner lesbian' has become a devotee of one particular design to the extent that I purchased not one, but two pairs before we moved to Israel!

Bath Sheets:  My lovely wife introduced me to the wonderful concept of a bath towel roughly the size of a racing spinnaker.  I'd grown up with good quality, no-nonsense cotton bath towels, but they were of the sort that were very thick and could barely be wrapped around one's waist (from hip to knee) once. 

Before our wedding Zahava and her mother (OB"M) went out and selected all the linens and bath accouterments for our new apartment.  Among this trousseau of mysterious dust ruffles, hand towels and sham pillows were these marvelous lightweight towels that were large enough to cover one's entire body from chin to shin several times around.  Apparently this is one of those things that girls learn about in 6th grade... and boys only discover (if they're lucky) after marriage.

Big Band Jazz: Although my father gave me a lifelong appreciation for classical music, I suspect that I would have gained at least some of this via studying classical trombone and my participation in youth symphony.  On the other hand, during the musical upheaval of the 60's and '70s, my mother managed to pass along her love and nostalgia for the 'Big Band' era. 

Again, one could easily imagine that my musical education and career might have exposed me to the swing music of the 30's and '40s. .. but I am pretty sure that my mother's enthusiasm and fond memories (from her very early childhood, mind you!) were responsible for my decision to play trombone and pursue a professional career in music.

Birds: My parents have always been big bird-watchers in a very general way, and have always gone to great lengths to attract a wide assortment of birds to their yard.  But it is my daughter Ariella who has really trained me to look around and take note of the incredible variety of avian wildlife that calls Israel home.  This past summer Ariella attended a 'bird camp' run by Israel's Society for the Protection of Nature.  I have never seen a child so revved-up over wildlife, and nearly every morning she calls me over to the glass doors leading out to our back yard in order to hand me the binoculars and breathlessly point out some new (to me) species of bird.  My ride to and from work has been immeasurably enriched by the knowledge she has given me of the feathered wildlife I pass.

Macintosh:  I'd bumped up against the early Apple computers, both in school and at home (my dad was an early adapter). But it was 'her designerness', my wife, who really opened my eyes to what complete and utter crap the Windows operating system was/is.  My little sister and her husband were/are also great fans of the products coming out of Cupertino, and through these influences I have arrived at the conclusion that the smartest thing I can do is to use my balky desktop Windows XP machine for target practice and migrate all my day-to-day computing over to my sexy wide-screened Mac Powerbook.  I'm still on the fence as to whether to stick with OS X or embrace Linux... but I will no longer be rewarding Bill Gates & Co. for inflicting cumbersome, vulnerable, crash-prone software on an unsuspecting world.

I'm sure there are countless other things in my life for which I have the double-X chromosome crowd to thank... but I'll stop here for now.  Maybe I'll have to come up with a post about some of the masculine influences in my life.  Naaah... who wants to read about 'pull my finger' jokes and a genetic reluctance to ask directions?  :-)

Happy Sunday !

Now go vote in the JIBs (here and here)!  You can vote once every 3 days!


Posted by David Bogner on January 15, 2006 | Permalink


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Well, it wasn't a female that nominated your post...

Posted by: Dave | Jan 15, 2006 2:03:16 PM

Dave - you write so beautifully - i never knew you had it in you. Good luck with the awards. Keep on appreciating all those little (big) things like bath towels and birds.

Posted by: mata hari | Jan 15, 2006 4:21:25 PM

Hmmm.... all I rate is praise for over-sized bath towels? :-(

Posted by: zahava | Jan 15, 2006 4:33:40 PM

Dave... If that was you who made the nomination... then let me say for the record that I am deeply touched. Zahava can tell you that I was a bit conflicted about the JIBs in that I obviuosly wanted to be nominated for something... but didn't want to have to nominate myself. Now I'm even more conflicted about the campaigning for votes going on and how far I should go to try and stay in the race. Anyway... thank you for the nomination. [shutting up now].

mata hari... You seem to be off to a rather spectacular start with your blog! Other than committing the unforgivable sin of taking an unannounced break from blogging (I've been hitting refresh every ten minutes for the past two months) you seem to have arrived at the perfect combination of topics. Thanks for the good wishes.

Zahava... I briefly considered mentioning how nice you look wrapped in one of our bath sheets, but this is a family blog! BTW, I also gave you partial credit for the Mac conversion...

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 15, 2006 4:49:21 PM

Dave - you mean you've been reading my blog and you haven't commented! Don't you know how desperately we pseudo writers crave feedback? I'm at once honored and annoyed. Go back and post. And tell me what to write about next - oh great one.

Posted by: mata hari | Jan 15, 2006 5:08:59 PM

By the way - Zahava - wanted to let you know you look really nice in all those family pictures. Israel is agreeing with you.
And hey - any guy can praise his wife for being beautiful, a good mother, etc. etc. etc. - but we all know that it's the little things in daily life that make the difference in the long run - i.e. large, absorbent bath towels. I'm pretty partial to them myself :)

Posted by: mata hari | Jan 15, 2006 5:11:56 PM

what i meant to say was...living in israel agrees with you.

Posted by: mata hari | Jan 15, 2006 5:46:17 PM

Your "inner lesbian"?
Well, we may not agree on everything but you can certainly make me laugh.
I'd stick with OSX, never crashes.

Posted by: Lisoosh | Jan 15, 2006 6:32:04 PM

Oh, I 'converted' this summer. To a beautiful, 20" widescreen iMac G5. I named her "Eve", and I have never looked back. My old PC has been named "designated game computer" for all my kids' games, and, unfortunately, the "Microsoft Publisher" PC, b/c Microsoft has not yet made a version of Publisher for the Mac. Any suggestions, Zahavah? I cannot drop $500 on InDesign or Photoshop (I have elements). I use Photoshop and InDesign at work, but obviously cannot bring those home (they are for the PC anyway, b/c at work we live in 1985 computer-wise). Shavuah Tov!

Posted by: Ezer Knegdo | Jan 15, 2006 8:31:59 PM

Ezer Knegdo: are you a designer? I favor Photoshop, Illustrator and QuarkXpress at the moment -- am trying to psyche myself up to make the switch to InDesign but after 15+ years using Quark, am dreading the change.... [sigh]....

Posted by: zahava | Jan 15, 2006 8:38:19 PM

Sort of - I can't really explain w/o giving more detail than I want to right now in my anonymous life out here in cyberspace! I do some designing at work in a particular context, let's just say that. For home, though, I really want a simple program to help me with brochures, holiday cards, calendars, family stuff, etc. Publisher is so perfect for that, and it is a fantastic little program. I have Photoshop Elements for the Mac, and it is perfect for what I need at home. But I have not been able to find a publishing/layout program similar to MS Publisher for the Mac that is under $100. Have you heard of anything? BTW - InDesign takes all the best stuff from Quark and Illustrator and PageMaker all rolled up into one fabulous program. Seriously consider checking it out. Are you a designer? What do you do?

Posted by: Ezer Knegdo | Jan 15, 2006 8:44:30 PM

With apologies to Trep for turning this into a private conversation...

Zahava: Re. the switch to InDesign -- I am now in the middle of switching (after 13 or so years in Quark), and I'm very impressed (it helps if you are already at home in Illustrator). Although I'm still more comfortable in Quark 4 on Mac OS 9, in the move to OS X Quark got left behind. David Blatner (the ultimate QuarkXPress guru -- I've owned 3 editions of his "The QuarkXPress Book") co-authored "Moving to InDesign" (a great book aimed at people like us who already know Quark). He says that he will always keep a copy of Quark handy, but he never has any intention of creating new documents with it again. I recommend the book and the program.

Ezer Knegdo: Re. Microsoft Publisher alternatives -- check out http://www.lowendmac.com/designer/index.html -- There are some articles that may help point you in the right direction.

Posted by: lavlar | Jan 15, 2006 9:24:53 PM

Let's make a deal - you act as a human trapeze in the shower again next year, and I'll nominate you again...

Posted by: Dave | Jan 15, 2006 9:39:24 PM

lavlar: Thanks! Very helpful!
Shavuah Tov to all!

Posted by: Ezer Knegdo | Jan 15, 2006 9:46:49 PM

Well you've lept up a huge notch in my estimation. A couple years ago when my P-4 locked up and was seemingly unresuscitatible .... I put the retarded thing in the trunk for a trip to the goodwill ( the end of 18 years with PCs) and went straight to the Apple store. It's been a joyous voyage of discovery ever since.

I never appreciated seeing my photographs on a monitor untill I added a G5 and a 23" Cinema display to go with my G4 laptop. They look better than large format prints.

Posted by: Scott | Jan 15, 2006 11:09:06 PM

Mata Hari... Guilty as charged. Part of the problem is that I often enjoy reading people's blogs but have nothing intelligent to add. Yours is a special case because much of the subject matter relates to a topic about which I am hopelessly out of touch; dating. Please don't hold it against me. :-)

Lisoosh... I'm glad I can coax a smile once in a while. Seriously... how boring would it be if we agreed on everything? :-)

Dave... Um, I may have to sit out next year's award in this category if that's the price of admission. :-)

Scott... Well color me shocked. I figured you for a MS boy all the way. See, we can occasionally surprise one another! :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 16, 2006 12:15:33 AM

I love Campers, but let me turn you on to some cutting edge shoes that I bet no one on the street is wearing yet


Posted by: Akira Ohiso | Jan 16, 2006 1:06:37 AM

Oh boy, all that talk about dumping Windows is making me feel guilty. During the last few months my eyes have been (violently) opened on the evils of Microsoft, and someone (not a female) has been actively propagandizing... er... advertising Linux... but I'm conflicted. Here, in the US, Windows products are so mainstream, that I feel that making the switch would be a huge inconvenience.

Posted by: Irina | Jan 16, 2006 3:57:26 AM

To you designers out there: How compatible is the Mac/PC files from Quark. I'm thinking of buying a Mac. but may have to work on work files/which are on PC?

Posted by: Shevy | Jan 16, 2006 6:18:06 AM

Women make life more interesting, don't they.

Posted by: Jack | Jan 16, 2006 10:13:25 AM


If you need a Photoshop substitute on Mac, and don't have the budget to buy the very well-made Photoshop for Mac (remember, lots of programs were on Mac first, including PS and MSWord), GraphicConverter from http://www.lemkesoft.de/ is an excellent shareware image editor - only US$35 for a license. Basically, it will do most of what Photoshop does except for layers; and there are a lot of things it does better.

Torsten Lemke updates the program constantly. There have been points in the 10 years I've been using GC when he had an update coming out every few days :-0


Like HTML, like email, like Word/Excel, Quark is its own platform. Documents created in Quark-on-Windows will open in Quark-on-Mac, and vice versa.

One of the biggest reasons people bail on Quark is that Quark treats its customers like cattle. I was talking to their representatives at Macworld Expo in San Francisco last week, and they were as unpleasant as they've ever been. May their company be buried in a shallow grave.


It sounds like Publisher isn't a full-featured DTP program like Quark or InDesign; those programs are a lot to spend if you're just doing brochures and cards. What you might try on the mac side is Pages, part of Apple's iWork bundle; list price for the whole package (Pages + Keynote presentation software) is US$79.

professional Mac nerd

Posted by: Peter | Jan 16, 2006 10:36:14 AM

Okira Ohiso... Thanks for that link, although I don't think I'm going to be trading in my Campers any time soon for the Terrycloth and Velcro look. :-) I wandered over to your site and found it fascinating... I'm looking forward to poking around your archives.

Irina... That's my big hesitation about Linux too. There are plenty of third party applications that will allow you to read documents created by MS applications like Word, Excel, etc... and user of those apps can read your documents created using the Linux-based apps. However if you want to use some of the niche software that you have become accustomed to, then you might be out of luck. This is why I will probably stick with Mac OS X.

Shevy... I'll leave all the design software questions for Zahava...honey?

Jack... You are the master of understatement lately. :-)

Peter... Thanks! That was quite the scholarly dissertation... clearly you live up to your 'Mac nerd' billing. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 16, 2006 10:42:59 AM

I just can't get past the inner lesbian comment... I attended a rather small all women's liberal arts college with it's share of Doc Martens, and the comment gave me a good dose of the giggles. A sort of visual of Treppenwitz portraying his inner lesbian. Made for a good start to my week, anyway!

Posted by: nrg | Jan 16, 2006 2:40:55 PM

Sometimes less is more. :)

Posted by: Jack | Jan 16, 2006 4:33:18 PM

And thank *you,* dear Treppie. (you don't mind if I call you "Treppie," do you? :-)

Posted by: RenReb | Jan 16, 2006 5:13:34 PM

Bath sheets are one of the best inventions. Guys don't know about those? So glad your wife is good for something. :)

Posted by: Essie | Jan 16, 2006 5:26:00 PM

Well, I've been hanging out here for some time, but for once I'll throw my hat in the ring.

First, on bath sheets - I had to lend my g/f a towel once because she had forgotten to bring one from halfway across the country, and she was horrified at the tiny size. Which startled me, because I figured I had more surface area to worry about. I think it's the hair... women with long hair have a *lot* more water staying with them after a shower... *shakes head amusedly*

Ah, and for Macs vs. Linux, Treppenwitz - I cannot recommend Linux more. M$ is evil, expensive, and poorly designed, so I understand your disenchantement with them.

But the genius of the computer market was the disaggregation of hardware from each other, and software from hardware. Macs, nice as they are in the UI, have completely reversed this trend. You buy a Mac Experience (TM), complete with the operating system, Apple-customized hardware, and (of course) AppleCare. Oh, it's nice (albeit expensive), but it destroys disaggregation.

So, while the UI of Linux is still a bit behind, the diaggregation of hardware components from each other, and the separation of software and hardware allows for infinitely greater flexibility (and cost-consciousness) than Macs. (And for all of you drooling over the monitors, you know you *can* buy an Apple monitor and use it for a PC... they have DVI ports.) Linux is a truly beautiful operating system - you can use a distro like Gentoo if you want to be able to build it up piece by piece, or you can get something fairly user-friendly, like Mandriva (formerly Mandrake)... you have *flexibility*, something that Apple still doesn't believe in.

That, and it's rather cheaper - you can build a pretty nice computer for $1000, compile a free OS on top, *and* rarely have to pay for software.

(Of course, this argument goes out the window if you're doing any multimedia development, generally - those tools still tend to lag a bit in Linux machines... so far.)


Anyhow, I enjoy the blog. I'm just a closet revolutionary against The Mac... er... I mean, The Man.

Posted by: matlabfreak | Jan 16, 2006 6:49:46 PM

nrg... Well there you are... buried under 800 - 1000 really ordinary words is sometimes a gem or two. In fact, if you need a visual... I'm wearing a plaid flannel shirt right this very minute! :-)

Jack... I hope this isn't something you share frequently. ;-)

RenReb... You're very welcome. As to 'treppie'... I've been called worse. :-)

Essie... I really couldn't begin to document all the essential things I've learned about since I got married. Interestingly, there are a bunch of 'guy things' that my wife has inherited from living with me as well.

matlabfreak... Thanks for the tips (and for de-lurking). A couple of people have recommended a distribution called Fedora/RedHat to me... any thoughts on that?

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 16, 2006 8:45:28 PM

Well... I have only used the old Red Hat (which is obsolete - the last release was in early 2004). Since then, the product has split into an Enterprise version (for businesses, a subscription-for-support deal), and Fedora Core, the 'personal' version. Fedora Core is supported by the Fedora community and not primarily by Red Hat (the company). I don't know what this has done to the quality of product; it's probably still pretty good.

Red Hat was one of the most popular distros of its time, and got pretty polished by the end. I only used it in passing, but I know a lot of people liked it as it didn't require much in the way of 'getting your hands dirty' - that is, you could treat it as just a normal OS for most things (assuming you use a stable release).

I didn't use it enough to really know how its UI or compatibility compares, but I'm told it's pretty good in both respects. There are apocalyptic flamewars on the internet about 'which Linux distro is best', but you can find some pretty decent reviews/comparisons with some googling. Fedora is a decent bet, as it's a large community and a lot of non-superusers us it.

Also... if you don't like it, good news: it's free! (as in beer and speech, but not pot) So you can try something ELSE that is also free, neh? Additionally, since you already have a PC, you can easily set it up with Linux (Macs are a bit more finicky, but I'm told it's possible... generally) for a trial run.


Posted by: matlabfreak | Jan 16, 2006 9:17:44 PM

I know a lot of success stories that involve Linux, but most of them include someone who had some technical proficiency and was able to diagnose and repair problems as they occurred.

Posted by: Jack | Jan 16, 2006 9:38:43 PM

treppie (what does treppenwitz mean anyway?)
- not be beat a dead horse, but only 2 of them were about dating.

Posted by: mata hari | Jan 16, 2006 9:55:28 PM

It was also a woman who taught me about large bath towels. Why didn't they tell us about this in 6th grade too?! My inner lesbian won't speak to me since I stopped liking kd lang - glad yours has been good to you...

Posted by: mcaryeh | Jan 17, 2006 7:15:20 AM

HEY DAVID. You sleepin in or are you over in Hebron getting in trouble?

Posted by: Scott | Jan 17, 2006 10:42:32 AM

Jack... That's part of my hesitation. Right now I am pretty self-sufficient in either the PC or Mac world. But in Linux I worry about having to go back to being a newbie and having to beg free advice from people (I do that enough as it is).

mata hari... Well, I guess that proves you're only an occasional treppenwitz reader! :-) You can go back a couple of days and read the definition there... or you can click over to my 'about me' page and scroll down to the bottom.

Mcaryeh... I have a feeling that when they split up the 6th or 7th grad classes along gender lines in order to have 'health class'... the girls learn a lot of useful stuff and the boys get to see bad transparencies of human anatomy cross sections that look as un-sexy as possible.

Scott... Don't get me started about Hevron. I wrote and deleted several posts about what's going on there right now. Be thankful that I didn't inflict them on you.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jan 17, 2006 3:54:53 PM

Well... Linux does take some getting used to. But any of the desktop-oriented distros (Mandriva and Fedora Core are two big ones) are fairly intuitive, unless you want to really get into the nuts and bolts. I should mention that there are still some hardware compatibility issues, though those have been drastically reduced in recent years. *shrugs* Why not give Linux a spin? It's free, if you've already got a PC to try it on (though if you've never done a dual boot before, I'd recommend you backup your HD first).

Posted by: matlabfreak | Jan 17, 2006 8:57:20 PM

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