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I don’t know exactly what it is but there is something about 2013 in that I am hearing more and more horror stories involving ex-spouses.

pod-girl

A very dear friend of mine calls ex-husbands ‘wusbands!’ I love that expression!

psycho-bitch-1(Friend: “My ex is crazy. No really. I’m serious. She’s actually crazy!”)

Whether it’s husbands complaining about ex-wives or vice versa, there sure seems to me a lot more of it than usual.
reverse

Whether the people are just splitting up, in the middle of the divorce process or even if the divorce is finalized and they are still dealing with the ex for custody and access reasons, the complaints are oddly similar.  “They’re unreasonable.  They’re crazy. They’re evil!”

genitals-wallet(Thanks to Robin Williams for that joke!)

I don’t know why I’m hearing more of the “my ex is Evil Incarnate” shtick lately but such complaints are definitely on the rise!

I hope this is just an abnormal blip and not the Way of the Future.

aa-kendo-kanji-red

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One year ago, yesterday, May 17, 2011, I created this blog, the Kosher Samurai.

One year ago, today, I published my first blog article, set out below.

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I prefer to spell it bl*g or bl*gging.

I have some strange aversion to the way the word is usually spelled. Not sure why. I just do.

I’m sure that, in time, I will succumb and use the full un-asterixed version. But for now, this is my bl*g.

I’ve been inspired (or provoked, depending on one’s point of view) to start up this site by a dear friend of mine.

Shameless plug for dear friend of mine:  XUP

Her writing is quite good. If you haven’t done so already, check it out. Quality stuff, I assure you.

A few details about yours truly…

I’m Jewish and I have a fondness for Japan, Japanese food and Japanese culture.

(Hence the name for this site:  Kosher Samurai)

I am a criminal defence lawyer. Divorced

Two kids:

Exhibit One: 21 yr old daughter

Exhibit Two: 19 yr old son.

That’s all for now, I think. I’m new to this so I need to get past my “green as Gumby” stage and start writing.

Bye for now

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Since then, I’ve published 162 blog articles, including this one.

At the Kosher Samurai, I publish three articles a week, usually posted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

At my sister blog, Vampyre Fangs, I also publish three articles a week, usually posted on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

I want to personally thank each and every one of my readers who’ve stopped by and read my articles.

For me, it is a labour of love. I write primarily for myself but if others enjoy my writings too… that brings me great pleasure.

Thank you. And keep coming.

Sincerely,

The Kosher Samurai

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They say that opposites attract. That presumes that the attraction is mutual, I suppose.

(The gun totin’ Southern Redneck Good Ole Girl)

I’m not sure that is always, or even often, the case.

(Hitler Youth – more my son’s type than mine, really… but still…)

Take the example some of the kinds of women to whom I am attracted. [1] Now, I am not saying these are the types of women with whom I’ve ever been involved. I just feel drawn to them in some odd way.

(Goth beauty in black lace)

All are fantasies in one way or another. Figments of my imagination, as it were. Just the kind to which I feel a genuine, if somewhat confusing, attraction.

(Vampyre brides)

They are generally strong, somewhat dangerous women who know who they are and are at peace with that. Even comfortable with it.

(Warrior – Ancient)

If that is who they are, what does that say about what I think of myself? A disturbing thought. Are we attracted to characteristics that we lack… or to those we simply admire or value, whether we have them ourselves or not? Are we drawn to those who openly display traits that we choose to keep hidden?

(Warrior -Medieval)

This is not to say I am not also attracted to women who are ‘appropriate’… of course I am. But maybe it is the very inappropriateness of these ‘other types’ that forms part of the attraction. The whole ‘forbidden fruit’ thing. But even the forbidden fruit allusion implies that you can eat of it, if you choose, even though you know you mustn’t.

(Warrior – mix of new and old)

Conspicuously absent from this list are the types you might expect to see. Hollywood glamour types or blonde bombshells or scantily clad floozies with major league yabbahoes, to steal an expression from the movie Animal House. Aside from an initial ‘wow’ response when I first see them, there is no attraction for me. In fact, as a general rule (and as can be seen from the above sampling), I don’t really hold by what most people find ‘beautiful’ or even ‘attractive.’

(Warrior – Modern)

Hmmm… I just noticed that all but one of the women are ‘armed’ in one way or another [2] and that the last three ‘warrior women’ also happen to be vampyres! Bit of a cross-over of types there but… as I said… it can be confusing.

Luckily for me, I’m not the kind of person who revels in pop psychology. It’s a curious thing being drawn to these types of  women and while I don’t mind pointing this little quirk out, I’m not going to be spending an awful lot of thought on it.

 We all have our little idiosyncrasies.  This is one of mine.

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[1] I take it as a given that none of these types would even acknowledge that I am of the same species as they.

[2] The Goth Girl may give off the air of having a dark side, so the potential for harm is there… but not openly so. The others have weapons or, in the case of the Vampyre Brides, fangs and preternatural powers.

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Let’s file this under the “Yew jus’ cain’t make this $#!t up!” category, shall we?

Apparently… and I am NOT making this stuff up… sexually deprived male fruit flies exhibit a pattern of behavior that seems ripped from the pages of modern man’s ‘That’s the Story of My Life!’

When female fruit flies reject their sexual advances, the males are driven to excessive alcohol consumption, drinking far more than comparable, sexually satisfied male flies.

(Fruit fly porn! Eeek!!)

It seems that a little molecule is what’s behind this sad and somewhat loserish behaviour.

According to our pals at ScienceDaily.com, a group of scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has discovered that a tiny molecule in the fly’s brain called neuropeptide F governs this behavior – as the levels of the molecule change in their brains, the flies’ behavior changes as well.

So… why do we care?

Well, it turns out that the brain mechanisms that make social interaction rewarding for animals and can shed light on those that underlie human addiction. You see, a similar human molecule, called neuropeptide Y, may likewise connect social triggers to behaviors like excessive drinking and drug abuse. Adjusting the levels of neuropeptide Y in people may alter their addictive behavior — which, by the way, is exactly what the UCSF team observed in the fruit flies.

“If neuropeptide Y turns out to be the transducer between the state of the psyche and the drive to abuse alcohol and drugs, one could develop therapies to inhibit neuropeptide Y receptors,” said Ulrike Heberlein, PhD, a Professor of Anatomy and Neurology at UCSF, who led the research.

Clinical trials are underway, she added, to test whether delivery of neuropeptide Y can alleviate anxiety and other mood disorders as well as obesity.

Now the question that intrigued me was, “How did they get a whole bunch of jilted male fruit flies in the first place?”

Piece of cake, it seems!

It appears that despite being floozy as all get out when virgins, pregnant female fruit flies no longer show any interest in male fruit flies. It was just a matter of putting a whole bunch of horny male fruit flies  together with a whole bunch of “talk to the hand” pregnant female fruit flies. The result… sex starved and somewhat depressed male fruit flies.

But the weird thing is… the rejected males then gave up trying to mate altogether. Even when placed in the same cage as virgin flies, they were not as keen to have sex. Their drinking behavior also changed.

Now I was really interested. How do you get sexually rejected male fruit flies to drown their sorrows in booze?

Again, ludicrously simple!

(Set ’em up, Joe!)

When placed by themselves in a new container and presented with two straws, one containing plain food and the other containing food supplemented with 15 percent alcohol, the sexually rejected flies binged on the alcohol, drinking far more than their sexually satisfied cousins whose advances were never spurned. The difference was not only apparent in their behavior. It was completely predicted by the levels of neuropeptide F in their brains.

“It’s a switch that represents the level of reward in the brain and translates it into reward-seeking behavior,” said Galit Shohat-Ophir, PhD, the first author of the new study.

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A few weeks ago, I signed up with a program called Partners in Torah.

It is run by that fabulous adult Jewish education organization, Aish HaTorah. [1]

The premise is quite simple. People who, for various reasons, cannot get together with a study partner to learn Torah, Jewish history, Hebrew, Talmud, Halacha (Jewish law), and so on, can get connected with an appropriate person and, together, they study on the phone for 30 to 60 minutes a week.

(I saw this at Aish HaTorah’s Village Shul in Toronto)

As per their website…

Partners in Torah’s signature phone study program offers Jewish adults of all backgrounds across North America a cost-free learning opportunity to discover Judaism – its culture, history, and traditions – at their pace and their schedule. Jewish men and women with an interest in acquiring specific skills or who simply want to build on their Jewish knowledge-base, are matched, one-to-one, with a carefully selected personal Torah trainer or “mentor” for up to an hour a week of over-the-phone study and discussion. Participants can choose any topic including Hebrew, Jewish philosophy, or history. In its decade and a half of operation, Partners in Torah has engaged more than 40,000 intellectually curious Jews across North America, and today supports some 4,000 weekly study partnerships (over 8,000 individuals!).

I emailed Partners in Torah and very shortly thereafter received a phone call from a charming young lady who asked me several questions confirming my status as a Jew, a bit of my background, what I was interested in studying and why, etc.

I told her that while I spend about half of my week in a Orthodox neighbourhood in Toronto, the other half of my week I practice as a criminal defence lawyer down in the Niagara Region of Southern Ontario. Not exactly The Heart of the Old World and certainly not a bastion of Torah Study. In fact, you can count all the Orthodox Jewish men in the entire region on one hand. So I was very keen on being able to learn with someone as opposed to studying on my own (not the ideal method, by any means).

I also indicated to the young lady that I wasn’t all that interested in Talmudic civil law. If a wall crumbles and collapses and a person gets injured, trust me, I could not care less who is liable to pay damages. I went to law school for three years. I hated tort law then and nothing since has improved my outlook on the topic. Bunch of ambulance chasers, if you ask me.

(A page from the Mishnah Berurah, this one dealing with the laws of Passover)

I told her that what I was interested in was the practical day-to-day application of Jewish law. When asked to be more specific, I suggested studying the Mishnah Berurah (the Chofetz Chaim‘s commentary on the Shulchan Aruch [2]), especially Hilchos Shabbos (Sabbath Laws).

Surprisingly, she said, “I know just the person for you!” She then set me up with one of their volunteers, a guy in New Jersey.

He and I emailed back and forth a few times, and spoke on the phone the next day regarding what I was interested in learning and what would be a mutually convenient time for us to learn.

We agreed to study together Wednesday evenings from 7:30 to 8:30 pm.

The first study session went really well, I thought. It was exactly what I was hoping it would be. I couldn’t have been more pleased. I am looking forward to the next study session!

As the poster above says, “There’s happy. And then there’s ‘I have my very own Partner in Torah’ happy!”

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[1] For those of you who follow this blog even semi-regularly, you will probably recognize the name Aish HaTorah as also being the international organization that runs, among other things, the Jerusalem Fellowships program which my daughter Exhibit One, attended in August 2011 and which my son, Exhibit Two, will attend this coming May 2012 in Jerusalem.

[2] Mishna Berurah (“Clarified Teachings”) is an important and widely used commentary, consisting of six volumes, on the Orach Chayim section of Yosef Karo‘s digested compilation of practical Jewish Law, the Shulchan Aruch. It combines his own elucidations and differing opinions with those of otherAharonim (post-medieval authorities.)

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Just when I barely got my mind around the fact that my son, Exhibit Two, was no longer five years old and was, in actual fact, a teenager… he turns 20!!

(My son with his sister, the lovely Exhibit One)

It seems hardly fair, to my mind.

For those of you who think that you might have seen this guy before, if you look at the photo up at the top of this blog page, you will see a familiar figure…

Yes, folks… that is my little (6’2″) schmendrick praying at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem last summer.

If things go well, Exhibit Two will return to Jerusalem in May to study at Aish HaTorah as part of their Jerusalem Fellowships program.

Happy Birthday. May HaShem continue to bless you, my son.

I am so lucky to be your father. No one could ask for a better son.

Let’s continue growing closer into the future!

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Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Sheril Kirshenbaum [1], science writer and author of the recent book, The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us, sheds light on exactly what goes on biologically when we lock lips. Kissing basically “acts like a drug by stimulating the natural chemicals in our bodies, yet unlike other human behaviors, science has barely begun to ‘put kissing under the microscope’ to study this intriguing evolutionary behavior,” says Kirshenbaum.

(The most famous kiss ever photographed – Times Square, August 14, 1945)

As recently reported in that bastion of scientific journalism, the Huffington Post, “Our lips are packed with sensitive nerve endings so that even the slightest brush sends a flurry of information to our brains that often feels very good. Although we often don’t think of them in this way, our lips are the body’s most exposed erogenous zone. When they are involved in a passionate kiss, our blood vessels dilate as our brain receives more oxygen than normal. Our pulse quickens and our breathing can become irregular. Our cheeks flush as our pupils dilate causing many of us to close our eyes. Five of our 12 cranial nerves jump into action as we engage all of OUR senses in interpreting what’s going on and anticipating what may happen next.”

(My personal all-time favourite – the upside-down Spidey kiss)

When there’s real chemistry between two individuals, a kiss sparks romance by triggering a cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters that cascade through our bodies and brains! (Actually, that sounds kinda hot in a nerdy biochemical sort of way). Thusly (people don’t say ‘thusly’ enough), locking lips with our respective sweetie-pies serves as humanity’s most intimate experience because it conveys more than our words can possibly express. It’s nature’s ultimate litmus test telling us when to pursue a deeper connection with someone special or to step back because we’re incompatible with a partner.

And understanding the science behind how this happens doesn’t take any magic out of the moment. Well, not for me at any rate. Instead, it provides a better understanding and appreciation of our ourselves and our relationships.

So in this super-smoochy lovey-dovey ‘food tastes better when I’m with you’ time of year, let us not forget to blow kisses to the Sheril Kiershembaums of the world who remind us that, like the wonder of a kiss, science is indeed all around us.

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[1] Ms. Kiershenbaum is also Director of the University of Texas Project on Energy Communication (or as she puts it, “communicating science to a nation watching reality television”) and appeared last year as a speaker at TEDGlobal 2011.

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