Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

must I write?

Days until departure: 14
I’ve been thinking a lot. Probably far too much. And I’ve been reading a bunch.
In the process, I rediscovered the jewel that is Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. As the title of the book suggests, it’s just about ordinary, mundane life. As the cover declares:

I have not survived against all odds.
I have not lived to tell.
I have not witnessed the extraordinary.
This is my story.

The style is nice and quirky and it left me with a sense of wonderment that when properly appreciated, ordinary life can be, well, extraordinary.
When I first discovered her book, I actually emailed her to tell her how much I liked it, and to share a random thought that occurred to me. She even wrote back, with a full response, addressing what I wrote. It was whatever you call the opposite of a form letter. (A freeform letter?) It made me happy.

In any case, not too long after finishing that book, I was talking with my friend Josh, and, via an unneccesarily long quote from Rilke, I decided I ought to start writing again. I realized that one of my problems has been that I try to make long, fully polished posts – things that take forever, and which I therefore never start. I think what I said then sums it up:

Anyway, so I decided I have to write more. I have to write stupid things. I have to write incomplete thoughts. I just have to write.

Well, as self-referential (self-fulfilling?) as it is, let’s call this a start. If everything goes as planned, I’ll have one post a day until I leave for Israel.

Well, Not Yet, But Soon…

So, as I try to return to something resembling a healthy sleep schedule, I’ve been easily distracted. But thankfully, at least some of my distractions are productive. I’m dipping more and more into the world of software and web ventures, as I prepare for entering the industry in August/September in that tiny little country I’m going to be calling home.

As an Orthodox Jew planning on living in Jerusalem and working in high-tech, it was to my pleasant surprise to discover Michael Eisenberg’s blog, an insightful and frequently updated site by an Orthodox Jew living in Jerusalem involved in high-tech. On top of all of the other neat corners of the web I’ve been discovering, this one is very cool.

So I decided that having read so much lately, I ought to start going into some of my thoughts about what’s going on on the web these days. And it isn’t simple, but I think that most people are too quick to dismiss it as beyond their ability to grasp, if they’re not intimately familiar with the online world like an industry insider. I think this is ridiculous, and one of my goals in this space will be to discuss current web issues in a language understandable to most intelligent people. It can be done. Believe me. Science writers call it “translation,” and they do it all the time.

But that’s for later, after I get some sleep, and have the time to write more. In the meantime, I’ll give you something to chew on. Eisenberg brings up some interesting points in his recent post here. Make sure to check out the comments, as many of them are similarly insightful. Also, I have a comment. Go me.

A poem in Hebrew

I wrote this one a whlie ago, and finally got the patience to type it up. Enjoy.

פלילה בתפילה

למדתי הדיקדוק האמיתי
השאר התלמדתי כמו תינוק מתלמד
ללכת לרוץ לרקוד
וכשאני מתפלל
אני שואל
מה זה להתפלל
הפעל פִלֵל מפלילה, כמו מלחמה
כמו סערת הנשמה
כי כתוב בהתפעל
אולי אני לא רק מדבר אל א
פן מילה חודרת להתחוקק
על לבי כמו שהיא
יכולה לפרוץ העננים
מתחת לכסא הכבוד למקום
שה’ יושב וגם מתמודד
עם עצמו ידו הימינה
באגרוף לכבוש את השמאל אחותה
אז אם אני יוצא מבית הכנסת
עם בגדים קרועים כיסויים
בדם יבש
תדע, שאין לדאוג עלי
התפללתי יותר מדי

Adding it all up

Hey all. I recently returned from Israel, where I went to prepare for my immigration to there this summer. It helped me recover from a rather difficult semester, and right now, things are looking pretty good. The trip to Israel, short though it was, was absolutely crammed with activity. For now, I don’t have any poignant reflections or interesting insights (at least not that I’m going to type up right now), so I hope you’re satisified with this:

By the numbers:

  • Days spent in Israel: 19
  • Job interviews: 5
  • Jobs offered: 1
  • Jobs occepted: 5
  • Meals eaten out: 35+
  • Distance covered in cabs or busses: 700+ km
  • Distance walked: 15+ km
  • Amount overspent: $200-$300
  • Books purchased: 8
  • Books read: 4
  • Books lost: 1
  • Passports lost: 1
  • Trips to the US Embassy in Israel: 2
  • Passports replaced: 1
  • Shorelines encountered: 1
  • Shorelines pondered: 1
  • Engagement parties attended: 2
  • Plays viewed: 1
  • SMS’s sent: 136
  • SMS’s received: 118
  • Time spent on phone: 6+ hours
  • Times I unexpectedly ended up on the side of the highway: 2
  • Times I was asked by a stranger if I was a Kohein: 2
  • Times I was asked by a stranger to bless him: 1
  • Times I was asked why I’m moving to Israel: 3+
  • Amount of time until I return to Israel, for good: 6-7 months
  • Amount I’ll miss everyone I’ll leave behind in the US: immesurable
  • Amount I’ll miss my parents, my brother, and my sister: more than that.

Till next time, campers.

The ‘I don’t have time to post’ Post

I have a bunch of new posts lined up, but before I can type ’em up and post them, I have a “few” things to do:

  • ECON Prelim (hopefully, I passed)
  • COMS 330 Design Document for a large-scale database system that may take over my life and/or explode some time around late November.
  • STS 355 essay – 3-5 pages on 19th century computers, and how they give me warm gooey feelings inside. (I still have to check whether the bits I wrote at 4 A.M. are logical, or even coherent. I may be taking bets on that one.)
  • Statistics Prelim (not too painful, but those are the ones to watch out for…)
  • COMS 330 Homework.
  • Run around, wildly flailing my arms about and yelling at squirrels.
    (I also did a bit of general primal screaming for good measure.)
  • Statistics problem set (well, I turned something in…)
  • COMS 474 project, where I have to teach a stupid computer what the stupid word “activate” means. Stupid. I finally got it done, with what I thought were a bunch of errors. it turns out that those errors are not errors, but difficulties that everyone has in making a word-sense disambiguation system. I did ok.
  • Write beatnik poetry for the religious college student
    Here it is:

    Must repent.
    The end is nigh.
    Problem sets?
    I go to a Godless university.

  • Repent.


Disengagement, Disenchantment & Disbelief

I have a piece, or more accurately,a couple of pieces, on the recent issues in Gaza. If you happen to have stumbled upon this site and are somehow unfamiliar with what’s been happening, look at the recent archives on for about an hour, then come back here.

I started this effort, which now seems much larger than it is, because I had free time on Tisha B’Av, over a month and a half ago. I had to write something, anything, about my feelings on the Gaza tragedy. I was tired of the political arguments, ’cause, as important as it is to argue about things that matter (and boy, did this matter), by then, it was a foregone conclusion, barring a miracle. (And as much faith as I have in God to bring one, I’m not sure how much faith I have in the Jews these days to deserve it.) And what bothered me personally more was that I couldn’t decide which side of the argument I was on. Now, acknowledging that this stuff may be just a bit dated, I still wanted to share it.

(To be continued. Check back at this post later.)

Update: I had a bunch of ideas to present here, but as the whole episode drifted further into the past without my having time to comment on it, I felt like my words would be less…less…not relevant. No, that’s not the word…Maybe less impacting, less immediate. It didn’t feel like it fit any more. I intend to incorporate the ideas* I had in thinking about this into other pieces, but for now, I think I’m putting this issue to rest. (Writing-wise, that is. My heart and prayers are still with those who were, justly or not, displaced from their homes.) If you want to understand the basics of how I feel, look at the comments.

* Destruction and its purpose, accusing God of wrongdoing, the mental and halachic status of an onen (i.e. a very recently bereaved mourner), the concept of an emotional refractory period, and a few others.


Just a little FYI. I actually started posting seriously on my less inane blog, On One Foot, so check it out.
Also, if any of you guys (all 5 of you!) want to get informed of when I update, try using the “subscribe to bloglines” button on the right. It’s easy to sign up, and by doing so, you’ll make the world a better place to live in.
For me.

For now…

Yes, I am aware that I have no posts, excluding this one.
I am waiting to see if I have:

1) Something original to say, and
2) The time to post said musings/writing somewhat regularly.

To those of you who know me: if you really think I should write, not just so you have another page to look at, but because you think I have something to say, something to contribute – in that case, tell me so.
– ilan

Links For You

In violation of my long-standing policy of only posting my own original entertainment, and not links to any sort of other entertainment, nor (God forbid) anything truly worthwhile, I present you, dear readers, (all 10 of you) with a link to a rather worthy cause from my friend Alisha:

In return, I believe I have full rights to take her firstborn child or her first million dollars – whichever comes first.

And when you’re done with that, and want some entertaining Purim material, head on over to a site made by dear friends of mine, Yes, it’s everything you were afraid of. Just go with it.

Why should you care?

Why should you care a whit about what I have to say? Well, if you’re someone who knows me personally, then you could have all sorts of reasons. But if you aren’t, well….then that’s a tough question, one which I can’t answer quite yet. I’ll edit this post in the near future to properly answer that question.