Identity Crisis?

I recently ordered a textbook for college through Amazon.com’s Marketplace. I got it today after nice and speedy service and did a double take upon seeing the return address:

##### Ohio St.
Pittsburg, Kansas

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Interesting Google Maps Find

Anyone who has been to San Diego, and more specifically, Coronado, knows that the Navy SEALs have their training base there. A quick Google search on the address “2524 Eniwetok Rd, San Diego, CA 92155” brings us to this page, which identifies the address as an obviously military address, meaning it is government. Now if you switch over to Google Maps’ satellite view, you see the shape of the building:

I’m trying to think how this could have possibly slipped past the architects, but I’m not really sure. Either way, I found it interesting.

Updated on October 4, 2006:

Please see my follow up post on this.

Posted in News. 3 Comments »

Jewish Websites and Shabbos

The Wall Street Journal seems to like reporting on Orthodox Jews and e-commerce as it pertains to Shabbos. They had an article back in 2004 that quoted Rabbi Heinemann explaining all the details. It was an excellent piece that described the issues pretty well. At the time, Rabbi Heinemann ruled that people needed to close their shopping carts so that no business would take place on Shabbos. He apparently retracted the ruling (link to original article doesn’t seem to exist anymore, nor can I find the link to the relevant Kashrus Kurrents article).

Regardless, the Wall Street Journal published another article today about the subject:

For all its putative godlessness, the Internet abounds with religion; most major faiths have thousands of sites devoted to them. One run by the Eretz Hemdah Institute in Israel, www.eretzhemdah.org, features an “Ask the Rabbi” service. We asked some questions about the Internet of Rabbi Yosef Carmel, dean of the institute and a rabbinic judge, educator and author.

* * *

What are some issues involving the Internet that an Orthodox Jew might be concerned with?

 

An Orthodox Jew who runs a business is supposed to close it on Saturday, the Sabbath. But what about a business on the Internet — a Web-site business? The answer is he doesn’t need to close his Web business on Saturday, and for two reasons. First, he isn’t doing anything, and thus he isn’t violating the Sabbath according to Jewish law. And second, on the Internet, it is not Sabbath for everyone in every place.

 

 

Why can you keep your Web-site business running, as long as you don’t work at the computer, but still have to close a physical business?

 

One of the most important things in Jewish law regarding Saturday is the atmosphere of Sabbath. If you are opening on the street your market or your store, that disturbs the spiritual atmosphere. If your Web site is working, it doesn’t disturb anything.

 

If you are an Orthodox Jew, you aren’t supposed to open your computer on the Sabbath. But you can leave it running because you are not doing anything on it and thus not violating the atmosphere of the special day.

 

 

What if you know there is a big game on Saturday, and you leave the monitor on to check the scores as you pass by?

 

You have no permission to look at it. Because it’s not the atmosphere you want for a Sabbath. You can ask the same question with a VCR, since you can set it to show a movie anytime you want.

 

Are there other special concerns with the Internet on the Sabbath?

 

Can a Jew in New York look at an Israeli Web site which was updated on Saturday, even if he is in New York and it is still Friday? No, because Jews must also not enjoy the work of another Jew on the Sabbath. So it is not permissible according to Jewish law to use an Israeli Web site that was updated on Saturday. If the Web site were somewhere else, and you knew for sure the workers were Jews, you would also have no permission to use it if it was updated on Saturday.

 

Do these answers represent the consensus of many rabbis?

 

Not many rabbis have dealt with these questions.

 

Are there things about their own holy days that other religions can learn from Judaism?

 

I don’t think Judaism wants others in the world to observe their own holy days according to Jewish law. But Jews would like non-Jews to take the values of the Sabbath and adapt them. To try to be more spiritual. To try to make a break in your everyday running of things. To try to think how you can be a good person, and do good things for others.

I guess I can’t look at Haaretz on Friday afternoon.

Pachelbel’s Canon

I didn’t even know this video existed until I got it by email tonight, but this guy is amazing at guitar!  Push aside any feelings you have regarding the overplaying of Pachelbel’s Canon and just appreciate the guitar.

Apparently, there was a big to-do about figuring out who the guy who played it was, but the New York Times just published an article about him. Click here for the article. I would post the link to the original video, but it has over 7 million views and doesn’t seem to be working now, so the video above is another version of the same video.

Maryland State Fair

Because of my role as Jewish educator, I was able to get a free pass to the Maryland State Fair, good for up to ten people. Since we had some family in town, we decided to make use of the coupon, and went to the fair yesterday. My family and I used to go as a matter of tradition year in and year out. This was where we’d stock up on book covers and pencils for the upcoming school year. It has been several years (probably 10) since I’ve gone, but I remember always enjoying going, so I looked forward to going this time.

Upon arrival, there was no parking, so we ended up parking quite far in ‘scout parking’ (only $5), and walked to the entrance. One of the first things we learned upon entering was that people like food. Not only do they like food, but they like greasy food, as the smell of grease and fried foods permeated the entire fairgrounds. If my visit to the fair was a lucky one, I will win at least 6 cars and over $100,000. So hopefully when they draw all the raffles, I’ll be rich. Yeah right.

I was also able to pick up some Ehrlich signs and bumper stickers, which was interesting, because while there was an O’Malley booth, there were definitely a lot more Ehrlich supporters out there. I saw people wearing Ehrlich stickers on their shirts throughout the time I was there, but not a single O’Malley sign.

Because it was so humid out, one of the highlights of the trip was visiting the Pepsi booth. If you sign a paper saying that you promise not to drink and drive, you got a free can of cold Pepsi. I guess they’re worried about 9 year-old’s drinking and driving, because they let my brother-in-law have a soda too.

There was one building where they awarded everyone who submitted things, like best cucumber, best tomato, etc. I don’t know how they judge these things, but there were three piles of hay, one with a first prize ribbon, one with a second prize ribbon, and one with a third prize ribbon. And they all looked identical. It’s just funny that they even judge hay. What’s next, pig manure? Most of the stuff that was there was entered by kids who were members of 4-H, and there was a group of them giving presentations on various things, like always wear a helmet when riding a bike. One presenter had the same exact name of someone in my family, so we ‘borrowed’ her name card and took pictures.

The only other exciting thing that happened was that I signed up for a credit card that gave me a t-shirt (with a Maryland crab on it) for signing up, as well as a free night’s stay in any Marriott in the world upon activation. Vacation, here we come.

Overall, I think the state fair is a great place to go if you have kids and money to spend. There are tons of arcades, rides, and games to play, but even if you don’t want to spend money on those things, you can always milk cows, pet rabbits, watch horse races, or see pigs swim. Older kids (teens) would probably be bored here.

David Chu’s

I know that David Chu’s has scored very well in the kosher survey that was recently published.  And deservedly so.  I have always loved the food, the ambiance, and the service.  But after eating there twice now in the last two weeks, I’m thinking that times have certainly changed, especially in the wake of their supposedly new management.

On both occasions, I was there during the 5:00 hour, an obviously busy time, as that is when people go out for dinner.  While David Chu’s has always done well, and was always popular, I have never seen things so completely chaotic.  Luckily, we had made reservations today, because when we got there, the entire doorway area was filled with people waiting for tables.  The line was literally out the door.  After being seated, we had to wait over 5 minutes until our glasses were filled with water.  The ordering was quick, but two people in our party finished their appetizers before the other two people even got their appetizer.  We finally got our food after approximately 15 minutes, but after two bites, my wife had to call the waitress, as her mouth was now on fire due to someone giving her extra spicy sesame chicken…NOT what she had ordered.  The beef and broccoli was way too salty.  Other than that, the food was very good.  But we sat there waiting for 5 minutes before someone even noticed that we were finished and waiting for our check.  When we did get it, I was in a rush, so I took it straight to the cashier, and that probably saved me a good 10-15 minutes right there.

It’s very possible that  this surge in people at the restaurant is because of the kosher survey.  I don’t know.  But the service is starting to seriously slip.  When I was there last week, we never got our rice until we asked for it.  The lady gave us our check too early and had forgotten that we had ordered a birthday cake, thus ruining the surprise when we had to ask for it.  The waiters and waitresses were literally running to get to the kitchen and back, so it’s not an issue of laziness.  But they have to either somehow control the flow of people or do something to make sure that the quality of service continues like it used to be, or their ratings will drop very quickly.

Last Chance

A credit card company just sent us a warning that this was our last chance to sign up for their card before the offer goes away. But its not really our last chance, it’s just a trick, as we’ve gotten three other last chances. Don’t they have something else to waste their money on besides postage?

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