Category: Personal

Can’t Find My Way Home

Ever since I returned from Chicago I’ve been trying to move back to New York. Until now I’ve been staying in Springfield, which has had it’s advantages, but it’s really not a long term solution. However, I’ve been finding that moving back to NY after a few years isn’t as simple as it used to be.
The first obstacles were short term logistical ones. I needed to wait until the job came through and I had an income. Then I was sent out to Seattle and came back just in time to get hit with the hagim.
Most of my time and energy since then has been directed to fighting the old adage that “you can’t go home again.”
Unfortunately, the adage has been winning handily.

Seattle Wrap-Up

The recent trip to Seattle went off with out too much excitement. Sure there were definitely some ups and downs along the way, but the over experience wasn’t terribly unpleasant. The really short version is that Seattle is largely a combination of unbridled beauty and mind-numbing stupidity – everything you’d expect from the major city in a state whose official gem is petrified wood.

Many thanks to everyone who helped out with their suggestions. I’ll spare the gory details up here, but if you’re really interested in my exploits, observations, and digital photography, feel free to read on.

Personal Updates

Hey Loyal Readers,
A lot has been going in in YUTOPIA land recently and it’s time to catch up a bit.

  • I’m back working at Information Builders as a “Programming Analyst.” While this was not my first or ideal choice, there are worse things in life than having a good paying job in a decent field, a pleasant working environment, working with great people, and getting the occasional trip to Seattle. Although I appreciate finally having health insurance, this sadly means I have less time and energy for blogging, reading, researching, writing, and other fun stuff. I suppose it also means I’ll just have to compensate.
  • The Talent Show was a disaster. While I’m well aware I’m hardly a talented performer, it’s much harder for me trying to play a large room with no amplifier and no real sound check such that I can’t even hear myself. Really really bad news. In the future, I think I’m just going to stick to more intimate settings like kumsitzes and helping others find their voice.
    As far as the event itself, I left relatively quickly but not after finding my own reasons for never attending a singles event1 ever again. And believe me, it has nothing to do with fear.
  • We Get Results! The Monday after the mikvah debacle the shul closed the mikvah for cleaning/repairs. I’m not sure how long it’s going to take or if we’d ever see that spoon again, but it’s a start.
  • For those interested, my father is currently working in Baltimore for Congregation B’nei Israel in the inner harbor area. There’s a whole lot more to say here, but nothing I’m free to discuss at this time.

That just about covers everything major. With the trip and hagim coming up, I’m in somewhat of a holding pattern until things settle down and have to hold off on several plans until then.
Until next time….

1. Technically, it wasn’t a single’s event but that was the perception of many of the people there.

Charity Cases

Now that it’s the month of Elul and we’re officially pre-Yamim Nora’im mode, you’re probably going to find many calls for increasing charity. As we say in the liturgy, along with repentance and prayer, charity can undo the negative decrees, and we get to help out those less fortunate in the process. It’s a win-win for everybody.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), there is no shortage of charitable organizations out there. The problem from the giving end is figuring out which charities are more deserving than others. Not only is there the near impossible question of what causes to support, but also which organizations best fulfill their stated mission.
While we can’t answer the first question for you, we can help out with the latter thanks to the good people at Charity Navigator.
Based on their detailed methodology, Charity Navigator uses tax returns to calculate the economic efficiency of a given organization. For example, they take into account how much money goes into fundraising vs. how much they receive, total expenditures towards programming, and administrative costs. Frankly I’m a little confused with the numbers myself, but the logic behind them seems to make sense.
As a public service and sheer curiosity, here is how some well known Jewish organizations rank in their system. Just remember that this only evaluate organizational efficiency and NOT the quality or merit of their mission.

Westward Ho: Seattle

I’ve barely been back at Information Builders when I was assigned my first ever business trip. From September 18th-28th (maybe the 29th depending on flight), I will be in Seattle. I’m not sure yet where I’m staying, but it will probably be in the downtownish area. Also, I suspect I will have a rental car at my disposal.
I’ve found some info on the web, but if any loyal readers can help out with any of the following, it would be greatly appreciated:

  • Good kosher places downtown
  • Where the Jewish communities and shuls are
  • Any place interested in hosting a nice Rabbi for a Shabbat (or even a scholar-in-residence?)
  • Anything out of the obvious of which I should be aware.

Many thanks in advance.
More posts are forthcoming. One of the downsides of working is the unfortunate lack of free time.


For all those interested, tonight is the End The Madness talent show featuring an extremely rare live performance by myself. If you’d like to know why the performances are rare, stop by KJ (125 East 85th St.) at 6:30 PM and hear for yourself.
In all seriousness, it should be a fun evening and I’m looking forward.
And yeah, I know I’m behind in regular blogging yet again. The past few weeks have been crazy with the niblings (who got back all right – pics forthcoming), school work, and currently a return to “real work.” Lots to write about, but sadly no time.

Mid-Week Notes

To allay the fears of the loyal readers, everything is fine but really busy. I’m trying to finish off the albatross of the thesis before I start working on Monday, spending time and schepping nachas with the niblings (pics forthcoming), and practicing my “act” for the talent show.
On the plus side, there is much going on worth writing about once the required stuff gets out of the way so stay tuned.

Audition Hoax

It seems that the audition was just a ruse to get me to sign up for the Arts Festival; there is no audition and I’m apparently on the bill. This means that choice 1 with 86% of the vote wins in that I’m playing, as does choice 3 with one vote in that I get to slap the person who suggested it.
The next question is what to do…

Arts Festival Audition?

I was just asked to audition for the End The Madness! Talent Show on Aug 25. Sure I can play a bit and figure out chords, but I’ve never really considered myself a performer and this isn’t the same as an open mic night or a random talent show.
I could use some help here, especially from people who have heard me play. Whaddaya say?

Keep in mind that if the audition does go well – or at least better than everyone else – I’d probably have to actually perform.

Down Time

Dear Loyal Readers,
There may be some blog downtime this weekend since we’re going to try the proposed upgrade to MovableType 3. Shaya filled me in on most of the details, known problems, and (hopefully) good ideas for solutions.
You may also notice a design change. I figure that if we’re doing the overhaul on the backend, it may be a good opportunity to update the design as well. I found some interesting templates online with which I can tinker, and we’ll see what I can manage. (I’m open to suggetsions, especially if someone wants to do the redesign). Then again, I may just leave things
At any rate, we’ll see how things go.
Shabbat Shalom,