Defending Ourselves

Over Pesach, there have been at least four three attacks on Orthodox Jews in the Baltimore area. These included incidents that happened in broad daylight. I’m in Detroit for Pesach and I’ve been told that many people here have been harassed as well. Thankfully, the incidents in Detroit aren’t usually anything more than taunting or black-hat tipping, but it could easily escalate. From what I understand, in one of the Baltimore incidents, one of the victims had to be sent to the hospital.

This has to stop.

While most of us can’t or won’t fight with our fists, the least you can do is carry some pepper spray with you. This is a non-lethal, safe way of defending ourselves. The people who carry out these attacks need to learn that there will be consequences to their actions. If anyone needs pepper spray, I can get it for you at a good price. Leave a comment with your email address (it doesn’t get published), and I will get you set up. It comes in all sorts of sizes, and can include holsters if you want.

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Rite Aid Passport Pictures (or lack thereof)

Don’t ever get your passport photo’s at Rite aid. I went to the Rite Aid in the Greenspring Shopping Center to get photo’s for my infant daughter so that we could travel outside of the country. I should have known things would be bad when the person taking the picture had to ask her co worker how to turn on the camera. The lady had me hold my daughter in front of the white screen so that she could take the picture, and she went ahead and took the picture. Now in the past, my passport pictures have been ready within five minutes. However, she told me that I should come back in an hour, as it had to go through the one-hour photo process.

Sounded weird, but I agreed. I get back later that night to pick up my pictures and took a look at the pictures and saw that each passport photo was a picture of both my daughter and myself. I went over to the lady and told her that I thought the picture has to be only of my daughter and that I can’t be in the picture. She answered that since I was the parent/guardian, I have to be in the picture. Again, sounds weird, but I don’t know the rules, so I made a mental note to check up on passport photo requirements when I got home.

Sure enough, the passport website says specifically that the baby’s face has to take up most of the photo and that no other people can be in the background. Additionally, the entire background has to be white, so by me holding her (I was wearing a blue shirt), the photo wouldn’t have been accepted in any case.

Now my daughter’s schedule doesn’t allow me to go and get passport photo’s at any time. It’s a big deal for me to have to take her out at a specific time. So I went back to Rite Aid (without my daughter; someone was babysitting, as she was sleeping) to ask them what the deal was with the picture. She mumbled something about Rite Aid not being a professional photo place. Since she wasn’t offering it, I finally had to ask for a refund, since the pictures were not usable. Thankfully, she gladly agreed to refund the cost of my photo’s. However, she did say that I should bring it into a professional photo place that does passport pictures.

While I’m happy that I got my refund, what kind of place advertises that they offer passport photo services if they don’t know how to take the passport pictures, much less turn on a digital camera? Not only that, they’re so bad that they’re actually telling me to go to a “professional photo place” to get my pictures done. Does that mean that we shouldn’t get our day-to-day pictures developed there either?

I just went to Walgreen’s, and the lady very obviously knew what she was doing, and we were out of there in 5 minutes. If anyone needs passport pictures, don’t go to Rite Aid. Instead go to a “professional place” like Walgreen’s.

I’d also like to add that if anyone ever needs to get their passport application done, you should come to Michigan. In Michigan, there’s no such thing as having to make an appointment a month in advance. You just walk right in, and they take care of it on the spot.

24 Hours in New York

In 24 hours in New York, I had the following experiences:

  1. Mess up my signature on a kesuba, making the mesader kidushin write it all over again (how often do YOU sign your name in Hebrew?)
  2. Get a $60 parking ticket for parking on the correct side of a No Standing sign. Is there a way of fighting this over the phone? I don’t want to do it in person. Also, the person who gave me the ticket put down some wrong information on the ticket, so I’m guessing there is a way of fighting it?
  3. Figured out that it takes longer to find parking than it does to actually get to your destination, even if you’re destination is 30 minutes away.
  4. Almost smashed into a car on the BQE who decided not to take off any snow from the top of their car. The woman braked, causing the snow to fall and cover the entire windshield, blinding her, which caused her to all out stop on the BQE.

    Some good things:

    1. Hungry-Man Special at Garden of Eat-In – $4.95 got me a big pancake, two scrambled eggs, home fries, two slices of toast, coffee, and a tiny cup of orange juice.
    2. Krispy Kutlet’s at Subsational

      Note that the only good things involved food. Maybe that’s why I keep going back.

      Not My Day: Monday

      Due to the snow last week, I had a class that was cancelled.  The week before, the teacher wanted us to go to the MOTA Legislative Reception, so we missed class (no one went, but what do you expect if its going to be all the way in Annapolis).  Since we missed two weeks in a row, we suddenly got an email saying that we’re expected to make up a lot of the work on our own time.  This meant going to school and examining two cabinets full of occupational therapy assessments.  Since the person in charge of checking out these assessments is only there certain hours of the day, I had to be there at 8am.  Fine.  I get there, write up all the assessments in cabinets 3 and 4, and come home.  I find out I was supposed to do cabinets 4 and 5.  It’s now 9:30am, and I see this is going to be a great day.

      As part of my graduate project, I have to interview teens for a special project, and they live two hours away, in Pennsylvania.  Today, my group and I were going to drive there and conduct the interviews and get our research under way.  Just as I was getting ready to leave, I was finishing my deli sandwhich, and it slipped out of my hands and subsequently painted my nice pair of pants with mustard. Great.

      Next, I’m on the way to Target (our meeting point; it made sense for only one car to drive the four of us two hours away), when I get a phone call from my group member.  The teacher had called her and had found out that none of the teens we were going to interview were going to be there so we shouldn’t bother coming.

      The fact that we weren’t going to Pennsylvania meant that I was going to have to go to class tonight, which is something I was hoping I’d miss.

      Tuesday, please be kind.  Thanks.

      Not My Day

      Pennystock and SaraK had their moments.  Now its my turn.

      It actually started last night with my not being able to fall asleep until welll after 2am due to my extended Shabbos nap. I woke up this morning to the shrill of my alarm clock at 6:30am so I could shower before taking my parents to the airport.  I get to my parent house, where I’m told that I had been informed that they got a ride from someone else and that I didn’t have to take them anymore.  Fine.  I then prepare for teaching at Gesher LaTorah, located at the JCC.  I get there and the lights are all out.  Turns out they’re closed for Presidents Day.  Doh.   I already had my morning coffee so I doubt I’ll be able to fall asleep anytime soon.

      So here we are, about to begin one of my busier school weeks, and as of 9am Sunday morning, its already going bad.

      Alleged Pledge 2.1

      The same organization who was responsible for my post, “Alleged Pledge 2.0,” is responsbile for this one.  This envelope is labeled “Second Reminder” and also comes in two colors.  Like last time, the letter tries to guilt you into giving and reminds me twice that this is the second reminder.  Argh.  Should I just post the name of the organization and see if anyone else has this problem?

      Posted in Mail, Rants. 4 Comments »

      Alleged Pledge v2.0

      As a follow up to my original post (that was also picked up by Orthonomics), I got the following in the mail today. It came in an envelope with a very nice yellow image in the shape of legal pad paper saying, “Remember our telephone conversation?” At the top of the following letter, it says in big, bold letters, “Sponsor One Shabbos Raffle Pledge Reminder”

      Dear Mr. Aishel

      Thank you again for your warm response to our Telephone Raffle Campaign on 11/26/2006, with your pledge of $18.00. Your raffle numbers have already been electronically entered into the final drawing to win $3,600.00 in cash, which will IY”H be held in May ’07.

      Sitting at a Shabbos table without food, on a cold Friday night in Jerusalem or Sefad is painful beyond belief. Thanks to your contribution, joy will replace despair, and the warm glow will replace hunger, thereby turning their Shabbos into the day it is meant to be.

      However, in order for us to provide Shabbos food to these needy families, we are counting on you, Mr. Aishel, to please redeem your pledge of $18.00.

      Thank you in advance for your prompt response and may the merit of this special mitzvah bring upon you good health, happiness and success in every endeavor.

      [Signed]

      P.S. Please help us defray the expense of additional reminders by sending in your contribution promptly. Your immediate response will enable us to provide more Shabbos food to the needy.

      What chutzpah! Not only did I never pledge anything, now they’re trying to make me feel bad by saying that they already entered me? And if they really wanted to defray costs, they’d stop sending bogus mailings requesting pledged money that was never pledged.

      Posted in Mail, Rants. 5 Comments »