Tuesday, January 31, 2006

May His Neshama Have An Aliyah

Tonight and tomorrow will be the sixth yahrtzeit of my good friend, Michael Selesny, a"h. For those who didn't have the good fortune of knowing him, Michael and I were very close friends from infancy until Hashem took him from us at age 29. Besides being a great friend, Michael was also a great Jew, husband, father, son, grandson and brother.

Right after his passing, Michael's employer created a virtual condolence page that eventually became a book (since I read it every year on this day, it is one that I mistakenly omitted from the four books I read over and over again when I answered the tag that started this blog). The book is amazing for not only what people had to say but the variety of number of people who posted. Here is what I wrote:

"Being a few months younger, I have had the honor of being close friends with Michael my entire life. I feel so fortunate for all the circumstances that allowed me and Michael to have the close friendship we did from infancy until the untimely end. Not only did Michael and I attend school together from nursery through college, but our friendship went beyond school buildings.

"There are so many aspects of my life that I shared with Michael that I'll never forget-all the Shabbos afternoons spent together with Michael, Donny and Jeff (and sometimes little Joey if we were feeling particularly charitable), the Saturday night sleepovers followed by Abbott & Costello the next morning, shaving cream raids, etc. I could go on and on forever.

"Of all the things about Michael though, the one that stands out about him was his constant ability to see what was right in his life and achieve it. Without ever being arrogant, and actually with an amazing amount of humility, Michael always knew he possessed that something special that allowed him to be on top of every aspect of life, whether it be marriage, fatherhood, religion or occupation. Michael had the vision and ability to achieve anything and everything, without ever compromising. Michael had the marriage and family I can only dream of one day having. At the same time, he gave his all to Hashem as well as the job he loved.

"Michael was as complete a person as I have ever met and led as full a life in a short time as many never will. I have no doubt that the glory of Michael's memory will live on as an inspiration to his entire family as well as those who have had the fortune of knowing him for ever the briefest periods of time."

Monday, January 30, 2006

If I Were a Terrorist

This morning I was in the Macomb County Probate Court. While waiting for the clerk to process my paperwork, a woman entered the courthouse with two young children I presume to be hers. As the boy, who looked to be about five years old, was going to walk through the metal detector carrying some handheld electronic game, the security guard asked the kid if he wanted to put the game into the basket until after he cleared the detector. The kid said he didn't and just kept walking, engrossed in his game. Everyone laughed and the mother offered to have the kid pass through the detector again, this time without the game in his hand. The security guard said it wasn't necessary.

While the whole thing was cute, it made me question just how effective this security, as well as at just about any other building I enter, really is. Granted this was only a probate court where the likelihood of someone pulling a gun or using explosives is pretty low. Yet, it made me realize just how easy it is to evade security, whether it's by using a kid to carry your contraband or utilizing materials that the metal detector won't catch. For example, my parents have a very sharp lucite cutting knife for challah.

In the end, I would prefer that this country's security, whether for government or private entrances, adopt the Israeli approach. In a recent article about how this country's airport security would start mingling with travelers in security lines to assess their demeanor, I loved the following quote from an Israeli security official: "In your country, you look for weapons. In our country, we look for terrorists."

Thursday, January 26, 2006

No Particular Thing to Say

For the last few days, this blog has been weird. It only shows the most recent post and cuts off the post before that. It also doesn't show anything on the side, like the listing the previous posts. I am therefore posting this to see what, if anything, happens. Of course, if anyone can tell me how to fix the problem, let me know.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Moses and Monica

There are very few Torah portions that automatically make me think of a particular d'var Torah on that reading. Every so often it happens that I might be reading the weekly portion and, at a particular passage, remember something that a particular rabbi may have said. It sadly doesn't happen often enough. Even sadder, this week's portion, Va'era, is the only portion that every year evokes memories of a particular sermon. It's sad because of why I remember it.

Eight years ago, I was in another city for Shabbat Va'era. That was the same week that the story of Monica Lewinsky and her exploits with President Clinton broke into the mainstream. The White House was furiously trying to spin away what it had previously dismissed as mere rumors. Just eight years ago, stories of extramarital affairs (we'll leave whether what the President and Lewinsky did constitutes adultery to another day) were still enough to end a politician's career.

Like many rabbis do all the time, the one at the synagogue I attended that week attempted to use this particular current event to give a relevant lesson about the week's portion. The rabbi spoke of how Moses came along and demanded the Jewish people's release only to have Pharoah and his advisors mock and dismiss him. The rabbi continued to talk about how Moses threw his stick to the ground and it turned into a snake. Those powerful men were so arrogant when they all repeated Moses's feat only to discover that his stick swallowed theirs, the rabbi thundered. The rabbi concluded by saying how, just like Pharoah and his men were so arrogant yet experienced defeat at Moses's hands, powerful men in Washington were having their sticks swallowed by one young woman.

The amazing thing was that, while I was thinking to myself, "Did he just say what I thought he said?!", nobody around me flinched. This particular rabbi is not exactly known for his oratorical skills and most of his congregants tune him out. It may not have woken them up, but I always give this rabbi my attention now. I never know what other valuable lessons I can learn from the Torah.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Next Stop- Home

In most sporting events in which my home teams aren't playing, I usually don't care one way or the other which team wins. I just want well played, close games. In this year's NFL playoffs, I obviously had no home team for which to root. I still was pulling for one team in particular, the Pittsburgh Steelers, primarily because of one player, Jerome "The Bus" Bettis. It was therefore great to see the Steelers beat the Broncos today and set up Bettis's last career game here in his hometown of Detroit in Super Bowl XL.

My affinity for The Bus is twofold. First, he's a hometown guy who is proud of his roots and continues to give of himself here. For example, long before he knew he would be playing in this yer's Super Bowl, Bettis committed to headline the big game's accompanying charity event (it's usually a golf outing, but Detroit had to bring the event indoors and no game made more sense in this neck of the woods than bowling). Bettis founded and has long chaired the Bus Stops Here Foundation, which gives grants for various academic endeavors for inner-city kids.

Bettis has also been a great running back who always put his team first. Bettis has more rushing yards than all but four other men in NFL history. He will most certainly make the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. But when the Steelers signed Duce Staley before the 2004 season, Bettis agreed to cut his salary by $2.7 million to make room for the newcomer, who, by the way, was going to take Bettis's spot as the team's top back.

If all that wasn't enough to root for him, Bettis may be the only NFL player, active or not, to have bowled a perfect 300 game. In fact, that's reason enough for me to get on The Bus two weeks hence.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Giving a great show a bad name

I love the show "24" as much as anyone, but I must say that these guys have way, way too much time on their hands: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-65492349032153996&q=fox+24

They should instead be debating things like whether the Pistons, should they get to 35-5, will be more impressive than the '84 Tigers after forty games.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Welcome to the Tribe

Mazal tov to Elazar Shalom Chessler, also known as Oliver Leo, who had his bris this morning in New York, as well as to his parents and the ganza mishpachot. We wish that we could have been there, but Lesley is in Austin for a trade show (woo hoo, wild bachelor weekend-yeah, right) and I am covering a show for her here on Sunday.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


For those unfamiliar with the concept, "tagging" is where someone sends you a list of questions of your top selections in a particular category. Adina, whose blog site is http://theaps.blogspot.com/ (someone please e-mail me privately me how to create hyperlinks), tagged me last week. I guess it's as good a way to get my blog ball rolling, so here goes:
4 jobs you've had in your life:
Lawyer/law clerk
Cold caller for head hunter
Accounts payable clerk for Thorn Apple Valley
Camp kitchen supervisor (moshgiach)

4 movies you could watch over and over:
The Godfather Parts I and II
Animal House
Trading Places

4 places you've lived:
Detroit (Oak Park, Southfield and Huntington Woods sometime in the next few months, God willing)
New York City
There is no fourth place

4 TV shows you love to watch:
The Simpsons
The Amazing Race
My Name Is Earl

4 websites you visit daily:
National Review
Real Clear Politics
Little Green Footballs

4 of your favorite foods:
Hot Dogs
Tuna Noodle Casserole

4 places you'd rather be:
Any place where I can sit in the sun and relax

4 books you'll read over and over again:
The Torah
The Catcher In The Rye
Uncle John's Bathroom Reader (each volume is so full of information that you forget most of it by the time you finish it, so it's all fresh when you start again)
To Kill A Mockingbird

I tag Noah's Daddy and John Smith. You can respond in the comments section.

Hidy Ho!

I've finally joined the blogging world. Well, I've actually been a part of it for a while, but mostly from a reading perspective with the occasional commentary. Various people, including my beautiful wife and Adina, have told me to give it a try, so here I am. I will post again soon, probably to respond to Adina's tag of me from last week. I don't know how often or exactly on what topics I will post, but I hope that you will enjoy and leave a comment now and then.