Archive for April, 2012

Tomorrow morning, May 1, 2012, my son, Exhibit Two [1], flies off back to Israel.

He is taking part in the Jerusalem Fellowships program for three weeks, studying at Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem as well as traveling to various other places as part of the program.

His sister, my daughter Exhibit One, did the program last August.

(My son, Exhibit Two, at the Western Wall, Jerusalem)

After his three weeks in Jerusalem, he plans to spend the next three weeks with Exhibit One in Ashdod, a lovely port city on the Mediterranean coast between Gaza and Tel Aviv.

They miss each other terribly and can’t wait to see each other again.

(My children together in Israel last year)

After that, my son will be working as a counselor at a Jewish summer camp in deepest, darkest New Jersey!

Sounds like an amazing summer!

I hope and pray that all goes well and that he returns to Canada safe and sound.


[1] When I was a young rōnin, I was for several years in a relationship and living with an even younger partner. While I did not fully appreciate it at the time, we were in a common-law marriage. That person is, therefore, my ‘first spouse’ [‘SA’], as opposed to the person I legally married (then legally divorced) many years later [‘WHN’]. My children, Exhibits One and Two, were tendered into evidence during the second marriage.


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A very dear friend of mine, LFD, likes sushi.

LFD and I quite often work in the same courthouse.

There is a wonderful sushi restaurant around the corner from said courthouse.

Put the three above statements together and it was not long before LFD and I decided that steps of some sort ought to be taken.

OK, so there I am, across the table from a hungry, little (and I do mean LITTLE… LFD is about 4’11”, I believe) Irish girl who is trying to figure out how to eat with two sticks.

With a bit of coaching, her first attempt went fairly well.

The second attempt… not quite so well. One of the chopsticks flew out of her hand and landed at the next table.

The third attempt… well, not really so good either, with some sushimi ending up on the floor.

“Can I get you some cutlery?” I asked, watching her lean down to retrieve her chopsticks from under someone’s chair.

“No… no,” she said, gamely, accidentally catapulting some wasabi across the aisle and into a young lady’s Diet Coke. “I’m keen to learn new things.”

I suspect more food ended up in our nearby surroundings than in her mouth but she was unfazed and undaunted.

I’m afraid LFD and I became the restaurant’s cabaret entertainment that day. The owner wanted us to come back and do two shows each evening for the next two weeks. We gracefully declined.

I suppose it’s just a matter of time before she and I go back to that restaurant.

So if you should be sitting down ordering some nigiri or norimaki and two people walk in who look oddly like Santa Claus and one of his elves from the North Pole… that would be us.

Do not be disturbed or concerned. Sit back. Relax… and be prepared to be amazed.

Also, please do not try this at home. We are professionals.

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In the beginning, the universe was a single point. But where was that point exactly? What was its location?

As explained in an article in the FYI section of PopSci.com, it was, and still is… everywhere.

In other words, no matter where you are in the universe, you’re at the centre! [1]

It’s answers like these that make my head explode.

I remember when Exhibit Two tried to help me grasp the concept that the universe has no centre. I developed a somewhat similar headache when trying to wrap my kosher samurai brain around the concept while reading the PopSci.com article.

“First, it’s important to know that the big bang wasn’t an explosion of matter into empty space—it was the rapid expansion of space itself. This means that every single point in the universe appears to be at the center. Think of the universe as an empty balloon with dots on it. Those dots represent clusters of galaxies. As the balloon inflates, every dot moves farther away from every other dot. The space between clusters of galaxies expands, like the rest of the universe, at an accelerating rate. (Gravity keeps the clusters themselves the same size.)”

Edwin Hubble first observed this phenomenon in 1929, when he noticed that the light from distant galaxies shifted to the red end of the spectrum, as though it had been stretched as it traveled through space. By measuring the wavelengths of the light, Hubble observed that galaxies were expanding away from each other at a rate proportional to their distance from one another.

In the beginning, the universe was a single point. Where was that? It was, and still is, everywhere. Scientists even have proof: Light from the big bang, in the form of cosmic radiation, fills the sky in every direction.


[1] I will have to modify my remarks to my then 14-year-old daughter, Exhibit One, that she was not the centre of the universe and that we now have the Hubble Space Telescope photos to prove it!

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On April 24, 1990, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope was launched into space. In the 22 years since, it has sent back over a million observations.

Here are just some of Hubble’s greatest images, year by year, courtesy of those wonderful space geeks at HubbleCast.


Articles about ASTRONOMY: http://www.scoop.it/t/science-news?tag=astronomy

(Speaking of milestones, my friendly neighbourhood blog service, WordPress, informs me that this is my 150th posted blog article. Thanks to those who read my musings and thanks to my friends, associates, colleagues, relatives and loved ones as well as the occasional innocent bystanders who constantly provide me with material!)

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Ever been within earshot of elderly people when they are in mid-rant?

I don’t know what happens to older people when they reach a certain point in their lives. Perhaps old age loosens inhibitions, kind of like drugs or alcohol but without the knowledge that tomorrow, everything will be back to normal and you’ll be in your twenties again. Maybe they are just so damned tired of it all.

Don’t ignore what they are saying. Tune in. Catch a few gems from what is left of the minds of people who have been around so long, they remember when there was only one World War. [1]

I remember an aunt who took me aside one day and said, perfectly seriously, “Never marry a French girl! You’ll spend the rest of your life eating out of a can!” To this day, I’ve never been in a relationship with a French girl. I’m not sure that ready-to-eat tinned food had anything to do with it. I don’t think so, anyway.

I also had a grandmother who held some pretty crisp views on Orientals. I use the world ‘Orientals’ because said grandmother did not distinguish between the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Thais, etc. In fact, she may very well have been surprised (and more than a little disturbed) to hear that there were more than one kind of Oriental. To her, they were all “i cinese”… pronounced “ee chee-NEH-seh”… i.e. the Chinese.

To be honest, I sincerely doubt that my grandmother ever met an Oriental person, Chinese or otherwise, so I am not altogether sure how she came by her strongly-held beliefs. But she was not loathe to expound on the subject, believe you me.

So, next time an old person goes off on a tear on one topic or another… e.g. an uncle of mine complains about the government full-time… give a listen. You’ll probably not learn anything new but see if it doesn’t make you think about what you yourself will be harping on about when you are in your dotage.


[1] BTW: In case you never thought about it, it was only called World War One when people figured out we better start numbering them. Before then, WW1 was called The Great War or simply, the War. NB: To people in The South, “The War” refers to the American Civil War (i.e. the War of Northern Aggression).

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The giant dinosaurs that roamed the world some 150 million years ago shared the planet with equally daunting parasites: blood-gobbling fleas that were up two centimetres long.

This according to a recent article in Nature, the international weekly journal of science.

(Long, serrated piercing tubes and grasping claws suggest adaptation to feed on hairy animals or feathered dinosaurs)

The article reports on the work of Chinese and French palaeontologists, who have pored over nine extraordinary fossils unearthed from Inner Mongolia and Liaoning province.

The ancient fleas measured just over 20 millimetres long (just over 3/4 inches) for females, and nearly 15 millimetres (over 1/2 an inch) in males, compared to a maximum of 5 millimetres for today’s fleas.

(a, 154244a, female, imprint. b, 154244b, counter-imprint of ac, 154245, male. Scale bars, 2 mm.)

The dino-era fleas were wingless and, unlike their counterparts today, could not jump and had comparatively small mouths, says the study.

But for all that, they were supremely adapted to their environmental niche.

They had claws which enabled them to grip onto hairy or feathered reptilians, whose hide was then pierced with a long, serrated “siphon” to suck out a blood meal.

(The amazing colossal prehistoric vampyre dino-fleas!)

The fleas were so successful that when the dinosaurs were wiped out some 65 million years ago – an extinction linked to a collision with Earth by a space rock – they smoothly moved onto mammals and birds, sizing down in the process.

The study was conducted by Andre Nel of France’s National Museum of Natural History in Paris, along with paleontologists Diying Huang, Michael S. Engel and Chenyang Cai.

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Dust devils occur on Earth as well as on Mars. They are spinning columns of air, made visible by the dust they pull off the ground.

Unlike a tornado, a dust devil typically forms on a clear day when the ground is heated by the sun, warming the air just above the ground. As heated air near the surface rises quickly through a small pocket of cooler air above it, the air may begin to rotate, if conditions are just right.

For more articles about astronomy, visit Scoop.it | Science News.


I don’t normally publish blog articles on Tuesdays (or Thursdays) but I saw this last night and couldn’t resist!

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