Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Leggi.Danza.Beatitudine? Or; the Italian education of RDB, parte uno.

Two weeks ago, it was "The Tiger and the Snow" (La tigre e la neve). Last week, the sad sad "The Son's Room" (La stanza del figlio). Tonight, "Cinema Paradiso", which I immediately realized I had already seen but of course I couldn't remember a thing about it. Amazing how quickly movies leave my memory... books too, to be honest.

Listening to Italian music in the background pretty much all the time. So far, lots of Fabrizio De André - something about him feels comfortable, accessible. Is it a Shlomo-Artzi-ness?

Italian class starts next week. I can't wait. And as soon as I finish what I'm reading (The Rebbe's Army, oddly enough) I can read something Italian, or at least some good heart-breaking plot-driven fiction that takes place in Italy. Any recommendations?

Sunday, August 28, 2011


So, I just bought a Mac. A 15" MacBook Pro, to be exact. It took me two days to work up the nerve to take it out of the box, not because I'm actually so scared of new technology or of switching or whatever, but because I have so much WORK to do and so many THINGS to get done and this transition, however fabulous and worthwhile, is going to take more WORK and TIME than I have right now.

‹end whitewhine/firstworldproblems/whatever›

Anyway, I really am overwhelmed with work right now, in four directions:

0) I live at camp for 9 weeks over the summer, so the paperwork/filing/bills etc just piles up. It takes me forever to get all that shit sorted out again when I get home. How many hours did I spend with Quicken today?

1) I have a new job, a largely administrative position, at the (fabulous) school where I also teach Israeli dance. I'm helping coordinate the program in which the majority of our 10th grade travels to Israel for either a short or long period of time, and in which in turn the majority of our 10th graders host a visiting Israeli for the same period of time. The long-program Israelis arrive on Monday. SO MUCH TO DO!

2) I had to miss a lot of my Monday night dance sessions recently because of traveling and holidays, and it's around the 3-year anniversary of my running this session, so I'm having a big anniversary party this coming Monday night, with all kinds of surprises for everyone (free CD to the first 95 dancers!, for example). I kind of feel like I need to build the session back up after the summer, so I'm trying to make this party a really big deal. OMG SO MUCH TO DO.

3) My stint teaching at Stockton Folkdance Camp really did seem to jumpstart my international career, just like I claimed it would (go figure!). So now I have tons of scheduling/planning/networking/following-up to do and I am wayyyyyyy behind on this. Also... a new love in a faraway land?

But I was going to say, about work...
that you should read this great article in Harper's, "The Language of Work", by Mark Kingwell. Here's a bit:
No matter what the inevitabilists say, resistance
to work is not futile. It may not overthrow
capitalism, but it does highlight essential things
about our predicament—philosophy’s job always.
In his 1932 essay “In Praise of Idleness,” Bertrand
Russell usefully defines work this way:
Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of
matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to
other such matter; second, telling other people to
do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid;
the second is pleasant and highly paid.

Well, back to work.

Friday, August 26, 2011

"You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees."


Oh hey there, post I wrote in April upon returning from Israel, and never posted...

There are some things that Israel does so incredibly much better than the US does. I'm not talking about politics or education or child-rearing or any of that socially-relevant blah blah, I'm talking about what really matters: for example, many public bathrooms have foot-pedal flushers. Here in the states, in public bathrooms most of the toilet flushers are still manual and you got lots of people who don't want to touch the handle so they either waste a bunch of paper wrapping their hands in it and then drop that paper on the floor, or they don't flush at all (gross) or they just go ahead and flush with their foot anyway, making the handle way dirtier than it was and way grosser for the next person who didn't have a thing about not touching it with their hand before, but now that you put the bottom of your damn shoe on it... Anyway, foot-pedal flushers would just solve all that. Is that really so hard to do?

Since we started with flushing mechanisms already, let's keep on: for years and years I've wondered why the Israeli-style toilet with two settings of flush hasn't taken hold here in the US, at least among the environmentally conscious. Two levers, one for small flush and one for big flush. Choose as necessary. Not hard, and they've really been doing that forever. Here? Never seen it, except in the home of Israelis who live here, and one or two Jewish institutions. (Update: they have these at some of the public restrooms at the University of the Pacific, in Stockton, CA.)

Ok: on the street. Parking in the cities is painful and terrible in Israel, but they're eons ahead of us when it comes to paying for parking. Here we've made the giant leap from per-car meters to numbered spots and every-half-block parking machines. I don't know who benefits from that change; I find it infinitely more annoying to have to remember the spot number and find the machine, never mind that the guy behind me now usually doesn't benefit when I put in an hour's worth of quarters and then leave after 15 minutes. Anyway, there's a whole new system in Israel that never requires you to have cash on hand, really lets you pay per-time-used and not estimate-in-advance-and-then-get-screwed-style (don't tell me you've never gotten a ticket after being about 49 seconds late), and lets you pay from your cellphone. I don't know all the details of how it works, I just know it's awesome. Only drawback I see is that if you are just visiting a city or renting a car, you might be a little screwed, but I'm not sure.

But, but, the truth will out: never mind how technologically advanced Israel is in general, how many innovations come from the software and hardware companies there (hello, cellphones) and how they're piloting a huge new electric-car initiative next year... never mind even the flushing mechanisms and the parking system. SERIOUSLY, ISRAEL, WHY DO I HAVE TO SHOWER ON THE FLOOR? HOW HARD IS IT TO MAKE A LITTLE LIP AROUND THE SHOWER SO THAT THE BATHROOM DOESN'T HAVE TO FLOOD EVERY SINGLE TIME AND SO THAT I DON'T HAVE TO WORK WITH A MOP OR SQUEEGEE TO CLEAN THE FLOORS IMMEDIATELY AFTER I'VE JUST CLEANED MYSELF??? Get with the program, man.