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Sunday, March 28, 2010

A little feel good post to take you into the holiday

Chag Sameach

Posted by David Bogner on March 28, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

I don't know what's worse...

... losing a cell phone and not having a clue where it is, or losing a cell phone and knowing exactly where it is... but not being able to get it back.

Here's the back-story:

Since I didn't need to make any calls the other evening after getting home from work, I didn't realize my cell phone was missing until the following morning when I was preparing to go out.  I could have sworn it was in that jacket pocket... but maybe I'd taken it out when I got home. 

I looked in the usual spots and even asked Yonah if he'd been playing with it.  Nada!

So I did what I always do when I can't find my cell phone; I called it from the house phone and listened for the ring.  Only this time when I called it, it was busy.  Hmmm.  I called a few more times and still it was busy.

Finally after about ten tries, it started ringing, and a man answered... in Arabic.

In an instant I realized I must have forgotten to zip up the jacket pocket where I put my cell phone, so somewhere along my ride home on the new scooter the phone had fallen out.

I asked who I was speaking to, and the man replied (in heavily accented Hebrew), "I'm the one who has your phone".  There was something about the way he spoke that made me certain he was smiling.  This was clearly the call he'd been expecting since finding the phone... and he greeted me like an old friend

Arab:  I've been waiting for you to call.

Me:  You could have called me, you know.  My home number is programmed into the phone.

Arab:  I know, I saw it.  But when doing business it is always best to wait until the customer enters your shop.

Me:  We're doing business?  How's that?  You found my phone and I want it back.  Where are you... I'll come and get it.

Arab:  But of course we are doing business.  I have something you want... something you need.  This means you have to pay for it.  I think 500 shekels [approx. $135] would be fair.

Me [stunned]:  What?!  That's my phone you have!  I'm not paying you for my own phone.  You can tell me where you are or I'll have Cellcom trace this call to wherever you are.  Once they do that and bring in the police, you won't even get the small reward I was planning on paying for the safe return of the phone.  You'll go to jail!

Arab [chuckling]:  Now you are being naive.  Do you really think the phone company and the police are going to come to a little Bedouin village in the desert... just to get back your cellular?  I think they will tell you to go pay the small insurance fee and pick up a replacement phone from Cellcom.  But we're not really talking about your phone are we?  If we were you would already have hung up and driven to the nearest Cellcom to get a new phone.  No, we're talking about the hundreds of phone numbers that you have programmed into your phone's memory... numbers that it will take you months to replace.  And some of them you will never find again. Surely that is worth something to you.

Me:  What makes you think I haven't made a copy of my phone memory?

Arab:  You haven't.  If you had you wouldn't still be talking to me.

Me:  Look, I'll give you 100 shekels for the phone... take it or leave it.  That's what it will cost me to replace it.  You can come to the gas station at the entrance to Kiryat Arba at 1:00 this afternoon.

Arab... I'll accept 500 shekels... today here in my village.  Tomorrow the price will have gone up.

I vaguely recall yelling some obscenities at him and hanging up the phone.  Then I called up Cellcom and reported the phone stolen.  They immediately shut off the phone and asked me where I'd lost it.  I explained about losing the phone along the road and having spoken to the extortionist who now had it.

The customer service rep made a tsk tsk sound on the other end of the phone and explained that I should not attempt to negotiate with the man.  She said it was fairly common in such circumstances to arrange to meet and make an exchange... only to get robbed of your money, valuables or even your car.

While we were speaking she did a quick check to see if there had been any outgoing calls made since the time I had lost it the previous evening.  Apparently the extortionist and his entire village had spent much of the night waking up friends and relatives in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.  She assured me I wouldn't be charged for the calls, and told me where the nearest service center was so I could pick up a replacement phone.

It took less than 30 minutes in the store before I was walking out with a new phone.  But I was still fuming... precisely because it was new.  The ring tones were not mine.  The phone memory was empty.  The thoughtfully programmed preferences and painstakingly downloaded apps were nowhere to be found.  All of the stored messages were gone, gone gone.

For a moment I thought about how I might track down this Bedouin Arab, not really sure if it was to pay him his ransom or to exact sweet revenge.  But I dismissed these urges as quickly as they had come.  It was maddening to lose something that plays so pivotal a role in one's life.  But it would be madness to let an inconvenience transform me into a prisoner to - or for - an extortionist.

So the lesson we take from this, boys and girls, is to back up your phone's memory to your computer at least once a month. 

Oh, and needless to say, if your home, work or mobile numbers were on my lost phone, please send me an email or an SMS with your contact info.  In the mean time, please don't take offense if I haven't called to wish you a Chag Sameach (happy holiday).

Posted by David Bogner on March 28, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (24) | TrackBack

Thursday, March 25, 2010

In case you hadn't noticed...

... my posting has been a little spotty lately.  The reason is that I normally do most of my writing early in the morning... and my early morning schedule has had to be adjusted due to my new budget-conscious mode of commuting.

You see, not to over-share, but we have been hemorrhaging money on one very expensive commodity; gas.  We have actually been paying far more to fuel up the car every month than on our mortgage payments! 

Something had to change. 

What we really needed was a Prius.  But a new car is so far over the financial horizon that it wasn't even worth talking about. 

Ideally, I needed to start taking public transportation to work; But there is no direct bus from where we live to where I work.  The closest place where I can catch a bus is 15-20 minutes away.

And to get there, Zahava would have to get up crazy early and drive me... and then race back to try to get Yonah to school on time (or risk making one of the big kids late for school).

So the more I thought about it the more I realized that the only possible solution...




... was to buy a scooter. 






Just to be clear, this is not... I repeat NOT a midlife crisis.  Had this been an actual midlife crisis, you would have been treated to pictures of a black 750 Ducati Monster.

My new Vespa GTS 250ie actually has all the dork appeal of a Prius, and even gets better mileage!  

The only downside is that it looks like I'll have to either get up earlier in the morning to keep decorating this little corner of the blogosphere, or find another time to shake the odd thoughts out of my head.  Please bear with me until things sort themselves out.

Posted by David Bogner on March 25, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (24) | TrackBack

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I don't know where I first heard it...

... but it seems to me that Israel has become the class slut of the international community.  Everyone wants what we have to offer in private, but would rather not be seen or associated with us - in fact they treat us like dirt - in public.

It's about time that Israel muster enough self respect to just say no to anyone who treats us differently by 'day' and by 'night'. 

You want a booty call of arms, technology or intelligence?  Go call one of your Arab buddies... although the only thing their military technology has been proven good for so far is target practice.

Posted by David Bogner on March 24, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Send 'em all packing!

It seems that the U.K. is expelling an Israeli diplomat over the suspected Mossad use of British passports in the killing of a known terrorist.  I stress 'suspected' because unless I've missed something, nothing has been proven and Israel certainly hasn't claimed responsibility!

I say we unceremoniously herd the entire U.K. diplomatic mission onto the next boat out of Israel!  Seriously... the lot of them!  Take what you can carry and the rest goes on the auction block.  Don't forget that picture of the Queen!

The British government is on record as supporting targeting (i.e. extra-judicial) killings.  They have gone on record as being in favor of taking this kind of action at home and abroad.    

Regardless of who actually killed this terrorist... by the U.K.'s own rules, he was fair game!  Do these hypocritical bastards really want to pretend that MI5 and MI6 haven't used forged foreign passports in such actions?!  Do they really want to pretend that they aren't continuing to do so?!!!!

At this point the U.K. intelligence community has far more to gain from Israel than we have to gain from them.  At a certain point Israel has to take a head count of its friends in the world;  Those who are fair weather friends or who feel the need to distance themselves from us in order to curry favor with the Arabs, should be cut loose. 

The British Embassy in Tel Aviv is prime real estate, and could certainly be put to far more productive use without the present occupants.

Posted by David Bogner on March 23, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring is here!

Is it just me or is this sudden surge of Vitamin D giving anyone else out there a total Spring buzz?

Posted by David Bogner on March 22, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Sunday, March 21, 2010

'Starter' Coffee

Some of you may recall that a couple of years ago we decided to introduce our older kids to coffee (voluntarily, of course... we didn't force it on them).  At the time, Gilad was having some attention issues at school (to say the least), and absolutely hated the 'wired' feeling he got from the Ritalin that his pediatrician had prescribed for him.

Naturally we respected Gilad's concerns about feeling over-medicated, but since he was already on the lowest possible dose of Ritalin, there wasn't much we could do except take him off it and try to figure out something else.

That 'something else' turned out to be a helpful suggestion from a friend/reader.  Simply put, if Ritalin is basically a stimulant... and that stimulant was a bit too strong for Gilad... maybe what Gilad needed was a weaker stimulant. 

The stimulant that was suggested was coffee; the idea being that Gilad could make it as strong or weak as he wanted... and thereby be a bit more in control of how much of a 'jolt' he received. 

It worked like a charm.  This isn't to say he hasn't had any problems in school.  But both he and his teachers all noted the marked improvement in his ability to focus... and stay focused.  And the improvement has continued, along with his coffee consumption.

At the same time, Ariella decided she loved the smell of the coffee everyone else was drinking in the morning, and wanted to try it too.  This has been the status quo for the past couple of years, with Ariella going back and forth between tea and coffee in the morning... but pretty much everyone having a caffeinated beverage of some sort with breakfast.

Except Yonah.

About a month ago Yonah started asking me for a sip of my coffee.  And within a couple of days of his first sip, he started demanding his own cup.

Now, before you start calling Child Protective Services on me, I want to assure you that I am not about to start giving a six year old a cup of hi-test in the morning.  I don't buy into the whole 'stunt your growth' wives tale, but I have to believe that our little Energizer Bunny' doesn't need any more energy!

So what I have started given him is basically a little cup with a splash of coffee, a little sugar, and lots of milk.  He seems pleased with the arrangement, and has even started mimicking the way we hold the coffee cups (with the handle turned away from the hand holding it)... and the way we sip.

Last wednesday the two of us were alone at the breakfast table waiting for everyone else to make an appearance.  After I'd poured him his cup of 'starter coffee', he pushed aside his bowl of Cheerios, picked up his mug in two hands, took a deep sniff, and an appreciative sip.  After he'd lowered the cup from his face he looked me in the eye and said, "I just love a cup of coffee in the morning, don't you?"

It would have been cruel to spoil the moment by laughing at such a serious pronouncement that had come from the mouth of a little boy wearing pajamas decorated with puppy-dogs.   So I looked seriously back across at him and responded, "Me too, Yonah... me too!".

Posted by David Bogner on March 21, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (21) | TrackBack

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Honey, I'm Home!" [and other improbable TV sitcom scenarios]

[Cue the theme music from 'Leave it To Beaver', 'Father Knows Best' or the old-time family sitcom of your choice]

Do you remember those improbable old-time TV sitcom scenarios where the hard-working husband brings home some important out-of-town clients for dinner, and everything has to be just so? 

And in this improbable sitcom scenario the pretty wife is well coiffed and beautifully dressed... all the kids are polite and well behaved... the food and table conversation equally excellent?

And then in this improbable scenario, just when you think that everything is going just perfectly and couldn't possibly head south, the impossibly cute youngest child at the table does something truly mortifying like, say... puking up his dinner (and seemingly everything else he's eaten/drunk for the past year or two), all over himself, the chair, the floor, etc.? 

And then in this improbable scenario, just when you think things couldn't possibly get any worse, the family dogs converge on the scene like one of those old 'Chuck Wagon' commercials, with general unbridled wackiness ensuing? 

Remember that kind of improbable TV fare?

Well, I'm here to tell you that it's not all that improbable.

Posted by David Bogner on March 16, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (23) | TrackBack

Monday, March 15, 2010

Forget what they say. Watch what they do!

[a guest-post by Zahava with little nudge here and there from David]

Have you heard the latest news about the so-called 'moderate' Palestinian Authority''? You know, the folks with whom everyone in the world faults us for not having yet achieved peace? 

These peace-loving souls just held a ceremony officially naming a prominent locale in the center of Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi.  This ceremony adds to a growing list of places – including two schools for girls (in Hevron and Gaza respectively), several summer camps and training courses for both the Palestinian police & security forces, that already bear her name.  In fact, along with the Ramallah square naming ceremony, the P.A. also announced a Dalal Mughrabi conference on Sunday, to be attended by several hundred West Bank University students this summer.

It speaks volumes that the P.A.'s idea of a national hero is Dalal Mughrabi who, 33 years ago, led an attack that came to be known as the Coastal Road Massacre – one of the largest single acts of terrorism Israel has suffered in it's short history. 

However, that it speaks volumes doesn't necessarily mean that anyone in the world is listening.

For those unfamiliar with the sort of acts that the 'moderate'  P.A.  – our peace partner - considers worthy of praise, please meet the late Dalal Mughrabi:

On the morning of March 11, 1978, Mughrabi and her Palestinian unit of eleven members, including one other woman, landed on an Israeli beach, killed an American photographer named Gail Rubin and hijacked a taxi, killing its occupants. They proceeded along the coastal highway shooting at traffic along the way. They next hijacked a bus and later a second bus, from which the passengers were transferred to the first one. The bus was finally stopped at a police roadblock. A shooting battle ensued. Eventually, Mughrabi blew up the bus which became a large deathtrap of fire. Many of the passengers were killed. In total, Mughrabi and her team killed 37 people, including at least 10 children. Some 71 people were wounded.   [Source]

And do you know the reason Mughrabi and her fellow terrorists planned and carried out this horrible attack?  It was an unsuccessful attempt by the PLO (now officially called the P.A.) to halt the then on-going peace talks between Israel and Egypt!

This recent ceremony is especially troubling at a time when the U.S. is castigating Israel for daring to build [~gasp~] homes in its own capital city, and is demanding that Israel make further concessions to the Palestinians in order to demonstrate that we are serious about peace.

The Americans and Europeans were appalled by the timing of Israel's announcing its plans to continue building in our own sovereign territory, yet seem strangely un-phased by the timing of this P.A. ceremony honoring Mughrabi as well as the fact that most of the people feted by the Palestinians and their leaders seem to be people with significant amounts of innocent blood on their hands (a fact that the Palestinians try to obfuscate by labeling these perpetrators "soldiers").

To be clear, the unpleasant job of a soldier is to kill.  But this is not a soldier's only function/responsibility. Under civilized norms and international law, soldiers are also tasked with the protection of non-combatants.  In every army in the civilized world, that protection is expected to extend not only to the civilian population from which the soldier comes, but also to the civilian population being protected by the enemy forces.

Nearly every country in the world has a standing army.  Yet Israel's army is the only one that the world openly and routinely accuses of being immoral.  And yet, who are our military heroes?  Israel honors the men and women who've managed to save lives -- sometimes, as in the case of Major Roi Klein (of blessed memory) - at the expense of their own.

How can the world expect us to sit down to discuss peace with a people who consider Dalal Mughrabi to be a role model?  How can anyone even contemplate creating a state for a people who can hold up such a monster for current and future generations of Palestinian children emulate?!

Posted by David Bogner on March 15, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Knowing when to call

As an immigrant, I will likely never be a match for the incredible self assurance that the typical Israeli can bring to bear... and I certainly will never be able to emulate it.  There is just something of the expert poker player in this behavior that I lack.  Simply put, I don't know how to bluff.

If you are ever lost in this country, most Israelis will confidently give you directions... even if they aren't entirely sure they know how to get you to the destination you've mentioned.  And you'll have no way of knowing  the difference until you find yourself hopelessly lost in the wilds of South Tel Aviv... while looking for Ramat Gan.

I haven't figured out if this kind of senseless bluffing is due to embarrassment at not knowing the real directions, or if these Israelis think they can actually change the location and direction of streets by sheer force of will. 

Whatever the case, anyone who has ever heard an Israeli confidently declare "Go straight until the end and then ask... it's right there.  Trust me" will immediately regret not having bought a GPS unit.

The other day I walked in on a couple of co-workers talking about the vacation which one of them had taken the previous summer.  When they saw me enter, the post-vacationer turned to me and said, "Oh good, here's someone who can appreciate this... you've been to the Rockies, right?"

I assured him that I had crossed the Rockies several times... and then began telling them about past trips to Colorado, Utah and New Mexico.  He looked at me like I was out of my mind and said, "No... the Rocky Mountains!".

I assured him that I had indeed been talking about the Rocky Mountains.  But he just dismissed me with a wave of his hand and said... "you've obviously never been to the Rocky Mountains, because if you had, you'd know they are in Canada!".  And with that the two went back to their stories as if I had never entered the room.  As crazy as it may sound, I actually walked timidly back to my office and ended up sitting at my desk wondering how I could have made such an embarrassing mistake about North American geography. 

Then it hit me that once again I had been the victim of the Israeli equivalent of the Jedi Mind Trick; using force of will to convince someone of something, whether it is true or not.  I'd been bluffed... and bluffed badly.  And the worst part: I had folded like a high school kid at a fraternity poker game.

I did a quick Google search to re-familiarize myself with the map, and then went back to where the two men were still going on about whether it was better to rent a Mobile home or simply drive a rental car from hotel to hotel. 

When they finally stopped for a breath, I fixed the erstwhile traveler with a baleful glare and said, "Did you know that there are both U.S. and Canadian Rockies... and that together they stretch almost 5000 miles from the top of British Columbia to the Rio Grande River in New Mexico?!"

I then waited for the inevitable apology.

But instead of sheepishly admitting that he didn't know these things, my Israeli colleague replied, "It might be... but everyone knows that the real Rockies... the BIG ones... are in Canada!" 

Luckily, my reading had prepared me for this gambit and I countered with, "Nooooo, actually the highest peak in the entire Rocky Mountain range is Mount Elbert in Colorado".  And again I waited for this Sabra bluffer to fold. 

But instead of doing so, he simply offered that infuriating dismissive wave again - this time along with a smile and a sideways glance at his partner to convey the message that he was clearly dealing with a mental defective - and then shut me down with the following parting shot (for which no retort was possible):

"Maybe, but with all the traffic and people in the U.S. wearing them down, the U.S. Rocky mountains are much smaller and unattractive.  So like I said, the real Rockies are the Canadian ones."

I left the room defeated.  There is just no arguing with some people... and oy-va-voy to anyone who is silly enough to call an Israeli's bluff.

Posted by David Bogner on March 10, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (22) | TrackBack

Monday, March 08, 2010

Another county heard from [sigh]

The initial hypocrisy eluded most people. 

Dubai was incensed that someone (actually at least 27 someones, according to the Chief of Police) had come to their country using false passports and committed murder.  Yet neither Dubai nor any of the other countries who later entered the fray, seemed particularly bothered that the victim - a known terrorist, and admitted kidnapper and murderer - had entered Dubai using his real name and passport... and had been welcomed like the prodigal son.

Then Great Britain, Australia and a couple of other countries whose passports had been forged, began crying about how their passports are sacrosanct, and how dare they (presumably the Mossad) violate the sacred nature of official state documents! 

Alan Dershowitz was among the first to really notice the blatant hypocrisy.  As he put it:

"Every good intelligence agency uses stolen and forged passports. The British have been especially adept at this means of spycraft. No country that uses fake passports in their intelligence operations has the moral authority to complain about the alleged misuse of passports in this case."

Dershowitz makes a bunch of other good points, but I'll let you read the rest on your own.

Well, it now appears that Interpol has decided to join the hypocrisy party.  They have issued 'Red Notices' (their highest alert level) for all 27 of the alleged hit-people.  At first blush this would seem perfectly natural given that the crime involved a lot of border crossing and international intrigue.

But wait.  Let's take a peek at Interpol's own constitution:

Article 3 states, "It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character."

Maybe I'm just dense, but is there any way that this hit could possibly have been anything other than 'political' and/or 'military'?!   I mean, seriously, I think we can rule out robbery as a motive... and if there was another possible reason for the murder then the political/military one, I haven't heard anyone mention it. 

I guess when there is the possibility of putting Israel in the dock, everyone is perfectly willing to ignore their own practices and rules. 

But we really shouldn't be surprised at the bedfellows turning up at this particular slumber party. 

The U.K. (as I've pointed out far too frequently recently) is no stranger to anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism. 

And Interpol's headquarters is, not surprisingly, located in France... another country that is not burdened by any great love for us sheenies.  Case in point; the telling words of France's former ambassador to the U.K., the late Daniel Bernard, who in an unguarded moment called Israel "that shitty little country" [and further added] "Why should the world be in danger of World War III because of those people?" [emphasis mine]

'nuff said

Posted by David Bogner on March 8, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Sunday, March 07, 2010

I am daddy, hear me roar! [sorry honey... I'll keep it down]

My good friend Jack has done a fine job with his first daddy-blogger round up.

Something there for everyone.

Of course, I'm still partial to this bit of sterling parenting.

Posted by David Bogner on March 7, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

A shout out to trivia victims everywhere

It's funny how the mind works (or doesn't work, as the case may be). 

I often forget what my wife has asked me to pick up at the store less than 30 seconds after hanging up the phone;  But for some inexplicable reason, when it comes to trivia, my mind is a well-organized, perpetually accessible database containing an incredible collection of the most irrelevant, extraneous, completely superfluous crap imaginable.

For example, a couple of weeks ago my friend Ben Chorin asked me if I had a recording of the song 'Shout' that I could lend him for Purim (I'll leave it to him to explain why).  A quick search of my iTunes library turned up both the original '59 Isley Brothers recording, as well as the better known (at least by people of my generation) 1978 'Otis Day and the Nights' (actually Lloyd Williams) version that was used for the famous toga party scene in National Lampoon's 'Animal House'.

Being a good friend, I burned Ben a copy of the 'Animal House' version of the song and brought it over to his house.  The crazy thing is that, without having made a conscious effort to retrieve the information, I found myself sharing the following bit of trivia along with the disc:

About half way through the song 'Shout' (in every version I've ever heard), the singer yells; "Now waaaaaaaait a minute'"... followed by 3 or 4 seconds of absolute silence... and then continues with; "I feel aaaaaaaaaalriiiiiiight...".

Now, most people my age or younger who hear the song probably never gave much thought to why the singer would suddenly ask the listener to 'wait a minute', or why there is a short pause in the song immediately after he has done so.

However, people just a tiny bit older may recall that 'Shout' was released in 1959 as a single on a 45 RPM record.  And because 'Shout' was so long, in a departure from the usual practice of putting one song on the 'A' side and another (usually less promising song) on the 'B' side, record execs decided to split the song into a 'Part 1' and 'Part 2', and use both sides of the 45. 

The lyric "Now waaaaaaaait a minute'", which is the last thing one hears on the 'A' side, is meant to assure the listener that the song is not over.  And once the listener flipped over the record, the singer continues with "I feel aaaaaaaaaalriiiiiiight..." and continues on to the end of the song.  Radio DJ's dealt with this unorthodox situation by having two turn-tables set up with the same record to save themselves the problem of having to turn the record over.

My guess is that this little nugget of useless trivia is taking up the storage space normally used to keep track of the milk and bread I was supposed to pick up at the store.   Because until I finally call Zahava and admit that I've forgotten what she asked for (or worse, end up buying something else that seems likely), I find myself shuffling up and down the supermarket aisles quietly singing "You know you make me want to [shout!] kick my heels up and [shout!] throw my hands up and [shout!] throw my head back and [shout!]...".

Don't thank me... I'm a giver.

Posted by David Bogner on March 7, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Friday, March 05, 2010

Freeze Turkey

It boggles the mind that in this day and age, Turkey still can't manage to come clean about the Armenian genocide

In fact, a U.S. congressional panel has just passed the first part of a resolution on the subject (not bad, only 95 years late!).  But within moments of the successful vote, Turkey recalled its ambassador to the U.S. ' for consultations'.

The real sickening part is that rather than telling the Turkish envoy not to let the door hit him in the @ss on the way out, White House spokesman Mike Hammer quoted Secretary of State Clinton saying "further Congressional action could impede progress on normalization of relations" between Turkey and Armenia. 

Yeah right.

I get that the Obama administration has invested a lot of time and effort in trying to get Turkey (a NATO member and ally of the U.S.) to play nice with Armenia.  But how can the U.S. think that allowing the Turks to go on sidestepping responsibility for the act for which the word genocide was coined, is a good idea?

I'd also like to draw the American administration's attention to the following quote by Adolf Hitler from a speech he delivered to his senior military staff on the eve of the German invasion of Poland (pay special attention to the last line):

Our strength consists in our speed and in our brutality. Genghis Khan led millions of women and children to slaughter—with premeditation and a happy heart. History sees in him solely the founder of a state. It’s a matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me. I have issued the command—and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad—that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness—for the present only in the East—with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space [Lebensraum] which we need. Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?


The above quoted paragraph is inscribed on the walls of the U.S. Holocaust memorial in Washington.  Perhaps someone should walk Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama over there and help them understand what comes from giving genocide a pass. 

Everyone has been conditioned to have a knee-jerk aversion to offending the Turks.  But what about the Armenians.  Don'tcha think they're just a tad offended every time someone glosses over the 1915 attempt to wipe them out of existence?  Oh yeah, I forgot... the Armenians aren't as strategic a potential ally as the Turks.

IMHO, The U.S. should freeze relations with Turkey until they acknowledge their past and make amends.

Posted by David Bogner on March 5, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Thursday, March 04, 2010

16 Years: In Loving Memory

[a guest post by Zahava]

Dear Ima:

Tonight will mark the 15th year that I will light a candle on your yahrzeit.  I can't imagine how the time could have passed so quickly. 

How could that be possible?  It seems like just yesterday that I presented you with your first grandchild - the only one you would get to hold - and begged you to want to continue your fight against cancer.... to be here for her... for me... for us.  

Just before you died, you apologized to me for lacking the strength to continue your fight.

Today, as I prepare to open myself again to the grief of losing you, I want you to know that I am grateful for the many ways that you have continued to be here for me -- precisely due to your strength: your strength of character; your strength of conviction; and the strength of the love you showered upon all who continue to feel and mourn your loss.

So many times I have glanced around our Shabbat table and have seen you in my family; your laugh; your sense of humor; your great capacity for love and compassion. 

On this, the eve which marks the 16th year of your departure, I want to thank you.  I want to thank you for building a relationship with me which is so rich with good memories that I know I need never fear 'running out'.

As your child I say: I miss you. I love you. I wish I could have you back... if only for a moment. Your loss still hurts. 


Posted by David Bogner on March 4, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Parental fieldcraft vs. Technology

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I was a kid, my parents could come home and know in an instant if we'd been camped in front of the TV all afternoon.  All they had to do was go over and put a suspicious hand on top of the now-dark Television set.  If it was warm, you were busted.

With today's flat screen LCD and Plasma TVs, that bit of parental fieldcraft doesn't really work anymore.

What's next, downloading homework and reports from the Internet?!

oh wait...

Posted by David Bogner on March 3, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Making another deposit in the memory bank

One of the [many] reasons I keep up this little slice of virtual real estate is so I'll have a place to write down things that I might otherwise forget to share with my kids (or that they might forget that I've shared).

This morning I found something in my inbox purporting to contain "all of my childhood memories in one email".  While that proved to be a bit of an exaggeration, it did contain pictures of a nice collection of things that were certainly still very much part of popular culture when I was a kid (I've added a few at the end that they missed):

45 rpm spindles, Green Stamps, Metal Ice cube trays, Beanie and Cecil, Roller-skate keys, Cork pop guns, Marlin Perkins, Drive in Movies, Drive  in restaurants, Car Hops, Studebakers, Topo Gigio, Washtub wringers, The Fuller Brush Man, Sky King, Reel-To-Reel tape recorders, Tinker-toys, Erector Sets, Lincoln Logs, 15 cent hamburgers, 5 cent packs of baseball cards, Penny candy, 25 cent a gallon gasoline, Jiffy Pop popcorn, 5 cent stamps, Gum wrapper chains, Chatty Cathy dolls, 5 cent Cokes, Speedy Alka-Seltzer , Falstaff Beer, Burma Shave signs, Brownie camera, Flash bulbs, TV Test patterns, Old Yeller,  Chef Boy-AR-dee, Fire escape tubes, Timmy and Lassie, 'Ding Dong - Avon calling' , Brylcreem ("Just a dab'll do ya"), Davy Crockett hats (with the raccoon tail), Pendleton Jackets, Banana bike seats, Ape Hanger handlebars, Wonderama, Howdy Doody Time, "I pledge allegiance...", home-made kites, home movies and slide shows, Polaroid Land Cameras, "It's not nice to fool mother nature", playing 'Cowboys & Indians' and 'Cops and Robbers', TV Dinners (with 'tater tots'), Square Dancing in school, putting a penny on the arm of a phonograph to keep it from skipping,  Sears & Roebuck catalogs, Woolworth lunch counters, Rexall stores, 'Fountain Service', PF Flyers, Mumps, Captain Kangaroo, ...

Feel free to add your own memories to the list.

Anyway, the reason I've shared this today is that the bit about 'Car Hops' and 'Drive-In restaurants' got me thinking about a hall where I used to play in my previous life as a club-date trombonist.

Without mentioning the hall by name, suffice it to say this venue was one of the least favorite of most of the guys in the band (in the music industry!).  Aside from the fact that the place was owned by the mob and that musicians were treated like dirt there (one band leader was even hospitalized!), it was geographically undesirable... located way in hell over in Staten Island; a schlep from just about everywhere!

I think it puzzled the band's office staff that I always seemed delighted when they told me I had a gig there.  In fact, on more than one occasion I tried to switch with another musician so I could play there and not in one of the 'better halls' in a more desirable location.

The reason for my preference was not the fake marble or tacky decor.  It wasn't the ham-handed, neckless staff or the bandstand set-up between the two main doors.  It was the fact that the place was located just down the block from an A&W Root Beer joint (one of the few left in the region), and they were open nearly all night! 

This meant that no matter how late the gig ended, or what a blood-bath it had been, I knew I could stop off afterward for an ice cold, frosty mug of fresh Root Beer!  It didn't matter that I probably looked foolish sitting in the neon-lit booth quaffing my Root Beer in a Tuxedo.  The promise of that frosty drink kept me focused throughout the gig, and the lingering taste of sarsaparilla and wintergreen made my two hour drive home to Connecticut pass in a flash.

I hope I didn't bore you too badly today. Sometimes a guy's gotta make a deposit in the memory bank... before the memories all fly away. 

Big hat tip to my friend Karl Newman who sent me the original email that triggered this wool gathering session.

Posted by David Bogner on March 2, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Monday, March 01, 2010

Suggestions please

I rarely turn to the readers here for help and advice (although as a rule you are generous with both), but yesterday I got a real wake-up call.  We were goofing around taking photos of one another in our Purim costumes yesterday, and when I started looking at them I was appalled by how much weight I've put on. 

I have been walking (although not in an organized fashion like before), but the whole food intake/exercise equation is just completely out of balance.  In short, I don't see myself taking in much less food (although I could certainly improve the mix of foods), so I need to find new, and more challenging, physical activities that will fit into my schedule.

My schedule doesn't lend itself to joining a gym, and I know from past experience that even if it did... without a gym buddy, my chances of sticking with it are slim to none.

This leaves me with two possibilities:  A treadmill and swimming.

So first off, if anyone in Israel is selling (or knows of anyone selling/lending/giving away) a good quality treadmill, please be in touch. 

Second, I am looking for advice about pools anywhere in the Gush Etzion and South Hevron hills areas.   My major criteria are that it have very early morning hours... and late evening hours would be a plus.  Seasonal pools and those which have women-only hours first thing in the morning are not a good fit.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can offer some advice. 

Posted by David Bogner on March 1, 2010 | Permalink | Comments (27) | TrackBack