QC-L Version 4.0

Yes, welcome to my lair of evil thoughts and incorrect speech where I don't let go and move on and I talk about whatever I please. On a blog no one ever tells you to shut up. If you don't like what I say, just go elsewhere.

This blog now has a new background and a new theme. It is also using a remotely loaded style sheet. That is a first. It is lush, heavy, and uses a background that has a theme I have never used here before, though I have used it for pressies. Let the show go on! It always does anyway. And yes, we are powered by Blogger.

I am putting a temporary illustration here until I have a logo for this design. Watch this space.

temporary illustration


The Backfile: this blog's archives.

Ajayu, home of my story, The Sneezeweed Chronicles. Yes, I do fiction.

It will have Oneiro, my own little role play.

Unfettered Soul, my flagship site.

The Silk Purse, my play pretend Brainstorms.

Failed Messiah Religious news never sounded so good.

New York Times. Read the news and be smart.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

OLD PEOPLE ARE USELESS! OLD PEOPLE ARE WEIRD! And no, I am not talking about the decrepit old souls in the local nursing home or poor old folks in their trailers or tenament apartments though given better luck, they'd probably be more like the people I'm going to describe than not. The ones that are useless are healthy (They have illnesses but they get around and enjoy life) seniors in their sixties and even sometimes fifties. Welcome to the generation gap. It is alive and well and more alive and well when you become a self sufficient mature adult than it ever was when you are a kid.

My mother had a great name for old women who ran things in an organization who did not make way for younger women: BIDDIES (My mother is alive and kicking but she is seventy-one now and probalby does not use the word "biddie" any more.) , but the tribe of old people who has a strangle-hold on my schul is both male and female and not entirely old. Let's have a good look at this tribe. You can spot them by their dress on a typical Friday night. The men DO NOT wear the white long sleeved dress shirt of the aspiring business person in Columbus, Georgia. They instead wear nice polo shirts or blue shirts. The uniform if it includes a jacket invariably includes cream colored pants (kahki) and a blue blazer. The women dress more heterogeneously, but few of them will wear a skirt and stockings. Few of them have spent the day working in an office where business dress is required. They are either retired or their husbands make enough to support them.

The blue shirt and the occasional mustache on the male members of the tribe (We had one who was bearded) are signs of wealth and power. They are successful enough that they do not have to wear the white shirt and they are powerful enough that they can grow hair on their faces. Interestingly enough their hands are not jeweled. Jeweled hands on a man, in the form of class rings, signet rings, big watch bands etc... are the ultimate indicator of power and prestige. Watch males interview for Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dean, or College President, some time and look at their manicured and bejeweled hands. Then look at their hairy faces.

Thse men with their wives control my schul. What does this mean? We hired an elderly rabbi who says what everyone wants to hear, except for me. I have a very low opinion of feel good religion. He plays the Zionism card, the Christian bashing card, and every other useful card in the deck. He is still working in the field at eighty-four. Rabbi Roth is a survivor. He makes wtice what I do in income because how can those who run the schul listen to someone whose salary is that of their underlings?

Most entrenched members of the schul said they loved the rabbi when he interviewed. He reminded them of a grandfather or of a rabbi from their childhoods. I didn't have any rabbis in my childhood and my grandfather, the one I grew up with and knew, worked as a roofer. He was a working class Jew. Yes, there are such things! The rabbi was a sweet voice who cut corners on the service. That was a bad sign. I thought the women we interviewed were smarter, but they were both extremely overweight, and they made demands (Heaven forbid!) on the congregation. They might have listened to people on my side of the generation gap which would have made those on the other side rather uncomfortable.

Then we have th food issue. The kitchen belongs to the schul President whom some of you out there know as Bitch. It also belongs to C, the wife of a former schul President. Any one who wants to join the cooking crewis out of luck. When there are meals hired help, black help, serves them and helps out. Why we don't put our own teenagers to work at such jobs? I worked parties in my teens and I did not grow up poor. We have a thirteen year old who might be made useful. In churches such as the one my colleague/supervisor attends, members of the congregation take turns working and serving at events. As I have said before, they will be playing ice hockey in teh infernal regions before I ever get to do any cooking in our schul kitchen.

And does this matter? Well when old rich people are in control of things and they don't have to compromise with young people, poorer people etc... they become very out of touch with the wants and needs of orindary people. We had a speaker last fall and charged $20 for one meal and $10 for another. I wanted to see the speaker. A synagogue and its services are public. I did not want to pay $30 for the priviledge. I asked when the speaker would be on so that I could eat elsewhere and still come by to see him. I don't know how many telephone calls I made to get what should have been an easily available piece of information.

Then we have the great cultural event of several years ago when the rabbi brought the Israeli Philharmonic to Columbus on a Monday night. (Uh people might be working and have to rush their tails off to see this concert! People might not be able to pick their own hours.) Tickets cost at least $68 a piece. The rabbi urged us to sell these tickets at work. I pointed out that a family of four could see a first run movie with popcorn and drinks for less than the cost of a single ticket. I was told that people had to have their priorities straight. There was no way I could sell anything that expensive to my colleagues at work. Earth to Rabii Roth and the fat cats! Are we reaching you? Since my schul has a name your own dues policy, I chose the price of two concert tickets as my annual dues.

Then we have last night's dinner. It is always my stomach that drives me to write this stuff. It was a low-carb Adkinds meal. It was gross. I was hungry so I ate most of it including the desert which had a tiny nut infested crust (I can't have nuts due to diverticulosis) and was mostly sweeted whipped cream with a few pie cherries from a can. The main course was tialpia breaded in walnuts. I had to scrape them off and then look at them. With this were a half dozen whole but very tastesless limp frozen green beans and three of the world's smallest roasted baking potatoes. These potatoes were the size of large grapes. There was plenty of fish but only a few bites of bread and the there little potatoes for a starch. There was also a saucer full of ready made salad mix with bottled dressing. On the table were no pitchers of sweet tea, only unsweetened. I realzie we have diabetics but there is no law against offering both sweet and unsweet tea. Sweet tea is iced tea to which tons of sugar is added while it is hot. It is delicious. I can drink it if it is decaffeinated.

I am 5'3" and weigh about 115lb. I am a small woman. I had a diversionary drink with me, cranberry juice cocktail to keep me away from the tea which has caffeine (I too have my dietary restrictions). With the big sweet drink, the meal was just enough for someone my size. A big football player type or a larger person in general would have walked away hungry and yes some people siad it was a big piece of fish, but not everyone wants to eat so much fish. It was the punishment portions of everything else that I remember.

I hope I can convey out out of the mainstream this food was. Yes, I volunteered for the kitchen and told one of the cooks, C, that it was good. I hate to lie but sometimes it is necessary. She said she would call me. Yeah sure...

Now we do have some people my age and even a bit younger in the schul who are active. I pondered about them in a previous post. I think now I know how they are able to rise within the hierarchy. Having kids may or may not help, because one can become disgusted with the schul for the same reasons I am disgusted even if one has kids and then one has a hard decision since one "needs" the schul for rites of passage. Home religious education, like home worship is always an option.

What does help is one of two things. first the people my age who are active are second generation members. Their parents are active too. These are also children who get along well enough with their parents (They agree on religion which is more than I do with my parents.) that they can do this and so they inherit a place in the hierarchy. Then we have the suck-ups. These are young folks who are traitors to their side on the war of generations. My friend, D., fits this description. He and his wife are very conservative in outlook and hoave no problem siding with the rich old people.

I don't fit into either of these groups and what happens to people like me is they leave. They say "the schul is full of old people." "The schul is not a friendly place." "Going to synagogue is not so fulfilling." "I don't need to go to a house of worship if I believe in God in my heart." We have a congregation with very few young adult members and no teenage students from either college. I've been at schuls that treat young people decently. I remember Tim up in Utica who as a nineteen with uncombed knotted hair to the middle of his back. He was still treated with respect as a maker of minyans and admired for his interest in Judaism. And troublemaker Eileen who didn't always wear a skirt and who hogged a seat in the front row of the ladies' section did just fine too. The old ladies even asked me what I liked to cook which for Jews tells you exactly where in Europe your people come from, where they settled in the United States, and how assimilated you are. No one at my present schul has aksed me what I like to cook. I can even make the legendary "cole slaw without mayonaise" in three different flavors. I have the prerequistites to be a member of the club, but in my schul I am locked out.

And it is not my fault. No I have not done all that much to ingratiate myself, but if I had done more, the result would be the same. I can't bring myself to side with old rich people. It is not in my self interest most of the time to do so. Probably money is the biggest divide. Classism which I find abhorrent is divide number two. I will not side with a bunch of people who consider themselves so upper class they dont' eat in the Golden Corral, and I had an upper middle class upbringing. I have more class in my little finger than those fat cats have in their whole bodies. I can do what they do, do it better, and do it for less money. That makes me a competitor and not an ally. There are more of them. They got here first. My side never formed a side but left the battle before we could even start it.

The sad thing is that I think my side could win if all of us younger people, including the ones who are suck-ups now (the second generation folks I hold out little hope for) band together, for the sake of their older children and even their younger ones. A schul that is unfriendly to my generation is also unfriendly to those coming after me. The children could not eat the Adkins food and ended up with pizza bagels. Now these were the spoilt sort of kids who don't eat people food, but maybe regular breaded fish, a choice of side dishes and vanilla cake with chocolaate icing might have been something they could have eaten and so too could many of the adults. Feel good Judaism and reading stuff off a piece of paper doesn't teach children anything either. What if one day one of the parents woke up about that. Then he wakes the other parents and with him the other young dissastisfied souls. Maybe word gets out and the disaffected return, but this time they come back to fight. And ultimatley we have to win. Etiher we win or the schuld dies and don't say without the old people there is no schul. They do all the work because they don't let any of us young folks do all the work. And they're runing the stinking schul into the ground. OLD PEOPLE ARE USELESS!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

Taking care of business is not a VENGANCE VICTORY but recruiting for Thadea's team at the Golde Elite is. I recruited ten sites today. I doubt I'll see any response. It is all a question of getting enough ups. What does it feel like to do cold calls? It feels empowering and exhausting. Each pitch has to say something good and truthful about the site to prove you are not just pasting boilerplate into the guestbooks or All-yours greeting cards. It's a little mini presentation. It also happily violates the whole Brainstormish idea of social capital. Any one with persistence and determination can go cold calling. It requires no status, clout, or big name friends. It is also necessary and vital, because there are only so many site fighters. Making new ones is like money in the bank or more precisely increasing wealth.

That said it is time for a mast head. It was worth it to be kicked out of Brainstorms. It is worth it to be who I am and say what I say and do what I do. I was polite. I was way too polite until after the end when I told them what for. I seek vengance against all things Braintormish. I try to su pport traditional hierarchy and trditional values. I support intellectual property. I suport site fighting and direct sales. Vengance for me is very much a way of life.

I also support my ladies groups. I hope some day that he smart mobs meet a great collection of us dummies and we'll be armed and waiting, not necessarily physically armed but armed with knowledge. I've been to the wrong side of the net and I can teach. I know their secret and where they work and where they hide. I won't forget.

That said, I owe LOTH region 7 some more birthday cards. This is not my favorite job but it is constructive, and the recipients seem to like them. Hey a happy customer is worth a lot.

I had an extra hour on the desk at work and taught a lot of people how to sign in to their computer accounts and signed in a lot of comunity people and actually had some reference questions. I forgot to bring the new box of herbal tea to wrk and ended up drinking hot water with lunch. That kind of bleeped.

I napped this evening and now do not feel like sleeping at all. Tomorrow I send Thadea to recruit more sites for her team. What does this feel like? It does not feel too awful. I used to do door to door canvassing to support myself long ago. You know that rejection is out there. You also have to read a lot of personal web sites. Some are actually quite good. Some are very different from what I would create. I can't think of any of them as bad because they may be potential fighters and I will be looking after them. A customer is always right, so tonight some of those sites that mmight make me cringe on another day are beautiful. They will be beautiful tomorrow. I have found a guestbook I can use as a supply of sites.

Thadea wishes her fellow staff would be out there recruiting, but you always clean your own apartment first, and mine is currently a scuzz pit. The really new board is an interesting lesson in social control. It is all public. It is a gldiator pit which I should not find attrctive but which I do (talk about Vengance Setback) and it has strong rules against thread drift and staying on topic. This makes breaking into conversations very difficult. Unlike Brainstorms where every one had their own Life Stories stall or Creating Stories where you can also get your own stall, the number of stalls is kept low and everyone shares the same threads. Follow the conversation or else. This means people who have been around and known each other for ages have a natural eduge. It is not as if any one is trying to do anything to you. It makes for a clean and fun to read board, but it is a tough and tempting nut to crack. And yes, I am much better off having Thadea recruit than trying to claw my way in to this place. Haven't I learned my lesson.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

Well I went to Atlanta this weekend. I left later than usual because I was making up for the sleep deprivation I get from keeping abysmal hours. Such is life. It had been raining all week which is unusual for down here in Columbus. My feet were soden by the time I got on the shuttle. I'm glad I went though. I'm glad even though my big bag from whole Foods ripped. I'm glad though I spent a lot of money on food. I think in terms of quality and justifying the price of transportation I di dthe right thing. I found apricots as large as peaches. They were pricey but they were worth it. I tried tamarind when a lady was trying to get her son to try in in the DeKalb Farmer's Market. I found it tasted good. I have yet to get up the nerve to bring some to work to nibble on. It is both very sour and very sweet. It's got the makings of a good snack. I brought home seaweed (wakame) salad. I got some of Whole Food's facmous grilled eggplant plus I got both yellow and red beet roots (no greens and lots of root). This is good for roasting. I have celery roots and Mexican zucchini (also known as coussa) with pale skins. There is going to be some very good black bean soup and some great side dishes this week.

I went to Shavuot celebrations tonight and I did laundry this afternoon. I slept all this morning. The celebrations were good if facile and the schul looked very pretty all decorated with mimosa and magnolia branches. The rabbi's feel good sermons always get under my skin which is why I often resort to home worship, but after the service I really learned something. We were supposed to have a dairy repast. The meal was advertised in the bulletin. All that sat out on the table were plain bagels, plain cream chees, cheeses cut in cute shapes, ritz crackers, vanilla ice cream and three of the world's most prosaic toppings. There were a few sad bottles of soda as well. The woman in charge, Ms. G, apologized and then said her partner the schul's current President no showed with the kugel.

Therefore the spread was strictly from hunger. I could have done a ten times better job. I used to get paid to cook in a private home. I've been cooking since I was twenty years old. I am not afraid to cut up veggies and fruits. I can bake from scratch and save the schul money.

And they will be playing ice hockey games in the infernal regions before any one lets me cook anything in the schul ktichen. It is not that I don't want to work in the schul kitchen or that I aspire to being in charge which (I do but actually I'll settle for a rasonable voice in decision making.) I've made a few inquiries about getting on the kitchen committee, but they always disappeare. I have offered my services, but they are always conveniently forgotten about.

So I think my schul expletive deleteds because I can't get a job on the kitchen committee. The answer is absolutely yes! My discontent over the fact that I can do very little to remedy what is often a very scrubby food situation, is the tip of the ice berg and the schul is the titanic.

Now let me preface all this (even though I am in the middle) by saying that I have no children and am unmarried. Schuls are family oriented. Put another way, I don't know what happens to people with kids. It could well be that my discontent with the rabbi might boil over into the "religious education" program if I had kids.

On the other hand, in a different schul, I might forgive the rabbi and even the indoctrination program for kids. Here is how it works: There is going to be a Shavuous celebration....A magnetic signup board (Since you can't write on shabbos) sits outside the kitchen door. Word goes out asking for volunteers. Any one who thinks they are able may sign up. They put a token by their name on the board or they know whom to email. This is the way parties at work are done. People pick what they want to make and sign up to bring it. In a synagogue with a kosher kithcen, you would bring the ingredients to one of the cooking sessions and make your dish then and put it aside or in the fridge. This would keep the schul in food for celebrations and it would be open to all who had an interest and who were competent.

As for other committees, their meetting times would be posted and any one could join. Show up. Education classes would meet in the evening (well after the end of work days 7:30pm or later so those with a work day ending at 6pm or those who had to travel a long way but worked days could come.) and they would meet at the schul not at some address known only to insiders.

If I were busy actually working in the schul, I would probably love the place. I would think the rabbi was the greatest thing since sliced bread or at least consider him a necessary evil.

But of course I am in the schul that exists. I am still there because you have to throw me out. I don't leave. Others have left. The schul belongs to maybe a dozen families who have been in Columbus since the year one. They accept a few others into their group. Having childrne seems to help, but I amn not sure it is a guarantee. For the rest of us, we may as well not be paying dues. We walk in off the street and pray regularly....and that's as far as we'll ever get. Once and a while I get to invade a schul do. People have disocvered I'm a very dependable pot luck cook though I ffavor a heavy cuisine.

Eventually most foks who can't find a foot hold in the schul organization leave. Maybe they pray at home. Maybe they don't attend any house of worship. Maybe they travel to Atlanta. As a result, the schul is greying. There are very few members in their twenties, thirties, and forties. The one exception is a family who had a daughter recently bas mitzvahed. They bought into the program and needed the schul. The schul accepted them. The schul has no reason to accept me.

I still pay my dues though. I am throwing my money in the street. I have no where else to go. I have an ArtScroll siddur at home for home worship. I can do the whole service without having to deal with the rabbi and it is a more complete service and it is all in English and I can go at my own pace.

Now I'd like to end with a bit of the wit and wisdom of rabbi Max Roth. One of the Ten Commandments, my favorite thus far, is "Thou shalt not covet." I asked Rabbi Roth: "How does the Torah square with capitalism since capitalism?" The rabbi asked me if I'd read the article in the May Harpers about those Bornagain Christians and weren't they hypocrites. I said I didn't find them hypcrites only Americans. Actually if I was Christian I'd be in a megachurch. I think the idea is great. In a megachurch there are small groups or cells and no one feels left out as I do in my schul. The rabbi has to realize that for the schul to be successful (survive) it has to do more than pay his salary. Besides churches and schuls of all stripes are full of hypocrites. There is a whole Zionist/Israeli lobby that operates among Jews and has for years. Anyway, what happened to Torah and Capitalism. Even the late Pope John Paul II had a few harsh words for capitalism. Without a good dose of covetousness, there is no capitalism. This is a very basic question. And what about all those war chapters in Deuteronomy. The rabbi always says Judaism is a relgion of life. There's some Torah of life for you. How about a real answer instead of a nonsequitur.

As for Thadea, Haldis, and company, their comps are ready to go. Thadea did not get to recurit for her team today, but hey I had to do laundry and Shavuot services were tonight. I'll have to do some recruiting tomorrow.

Friday, June 10, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

Where did the table go? It's gone. I don't feel like setting it up and besides, I've been doing some thinking about my blog, about vengance, and even about my my play pretend Brainstorms. I still like my pretend Brainstorms well enough and used it to access this blog. It needs a revision which it will get some time this summer. I need to add new links so it is not all bad. I don't feel like dividing my posts up any more because I'm not transcribing the right side of this blog anyway. It is too much trouble to watch what I say there anyway.

I may get back on the stick and start dividing this blog again. I may not. As for the Third Rail, Thadea's recruiting for Z is for Zeppelin and Creating Stories have pre-empted it. Time passes. Things get shuffled. I feel better about Creating Stories and recruiting than Neopets. Thadea's team represents good vengance work and Creting Stories while a new forum was not one I sought out like a beggar and unlike Neopets writing stories that stay up is socially useful. All in all, I guess this had to happen some time and any time I want to I can always come back.

I will be adding Creating Stories to my Play Pretend Brainstorms and I'll be adding the the new board as well. I may also have another go at the more public boards on Utne. Life Stories is poisoned primarily due to inactivity and secondarily due to the presence of Brainstormers. Neopets is inactive. I haven't been on in four days and face hungry pets if I return. I feel sad because there is a lot of investment in the pets, but it has gone as far as it can go. Playing the same games over and over to earn points and seeing one's writing disappear on a board, is a drag. I like the hurly-burly and hustle and bustle, but not much eles. I'll do what I can to keep the account active in case I change my mind.

Yes, this is a VENGANCE SETBACK but maybe not. Recruiting may not be temporary but if I can really learn to do it and nurture the fighters, both the Golden Elite and ZOID will benefit. Site fighting is antiBrainstormish and that which helps site fighting is antiBrainstormish.

As for the Third Rail, I enjoyed it and probably would again. Done a few posts at a time every day, I feel I am really with Zahava, Cori, and some of the others. I enjoyed Cori's discussions about sewing for the play and Zahava's tales of her job and adjusting to life in the South but every now and again the conversation slips into rank parody of "intelligent conversation." The frightening thing is it sounds just like the real thing...and to think that a year and a half ago I found all that comforting. The bottom line is you can still hate glurge but you sure know when your own people sound like schtick and they are not my own people any more. My people are just me these days which suits me fine.

My people are site fighters. I have worn the yoke. I wear the administrator yoke. My people are my avatars. That is cool! I love my avatars. I love my fighters. I love my characters on Creating Stories. That is a whole lot to love.

I can go back to the Third Rail any time I please. I'm free to change my mind. The Third Rail was NOT a direct response to being booted out of the original Barinstorms but instead, a response to Neopets threatening to take the edge off my vegance. Neopets was the wrong thing to do that. Recruiting and even writing fiction are another matter.

Don't ask me where the new board fits in. I feel it slipped away from me. It's not there fault. It's not my fault. Golden Elite and Creating Stories just happened. Not letting go or moving on takes work. I don't mind work. I like work. No I love work, but it is hard to fight against time, and time is taking its toll.

I could move some of my Third Rail stuff to Creting Stories. That would keep it alive. I'm not sure I want to do that. I'm writing a story with adult characters in it and that is helping out a lot. The story almost wants to write itself. I'm letting it flow with a weird kind of urgency. I don't even think it is a very good story. It is just a story that wants to write itself. It is a story about Gianna Perusi who falls in love with a married man, marries him after he divorces his first wife, bears him a child and then in turn is abandoned and divorced when her husband finds somebody new. Live by the sword. Die by the sword. What do you do when the grass and trees and ground are swords and blades? It would be bits of broken blades on the ground.

I am not sure why I am writing this story. I think in some ways it is fiercely autobiographical. I can't figure out who the husband, Earl, is since I've never loved a man like that. He has a bit of my father in him but he also has a very different personality. Earl is ultimately fairly secure in who he is. He is a good mammal, spreading his seed, rutting away, and letting his genes be successful. He is not particularly mean. He just does what he does, leaving my main character in his wake.

I wonder how the crowd on the creative writing board of the new board would feel about Pnin's Daughter from Texas. That's an awful title for the piece but it refers tothe last chapter of Pnin by Nabokov which will be much like the last chapter of this story which isn't really an ending anyway because Gianna is a character in a group role play in another part of Creating Stories.

Let's talk about my schul. They are having their membership meeting on the 26th of June. I got to read the committee reports that came to me in the mail. The absolute combination of lies and fantasy contained in that packet was fascinating. My skin stopped crawling an awful long time ago. I know if I had grown up Jewish in Columbus, Georgia I would probably be a practicing Christian as an adult.

How do I count the ways of what has gone wrong? Let's start with the rabbi. He is an old man who has managed to stay in the clergy all his life. He is proof of how far a handsome body and a sweet voice and a pretty face and some musical ability can go. He gives the old rich people who are on the Board of Directors what they want, a lot of Zionism, some thinly disguised racism, some popular and facile politics, and he makes Judaism look great by ripping down other faiths both ancient and modern. This teaches nothing. It makes some people feel good but it can sends my bovine excrement meter off the scale.

I can picture an eleven year old Ardsley Middle School student (I don't know what they teach in middle schools in Columbus, but in my middle school they taught about Sumer, Ur of the Chaldees, a great civilization) hearing what the rabbi said and realizing it contradicted with what he knew. I can picture an eight year old kid (or a bit older) who remembers the old adage that if you have to build yourself up by tearing other people down, you are in trouble. The high school boy with liberal politics will see an old man eager to root for a war where will never fight but where young men may get drafted and even nice ones from neighborhoods like Green Island Lakes and Sears Woods and less tony but up and coming subdivisions in North Columbus.

Feel good Judaism is worthless in the light of day and in the dark night of the soul it does nothing. All the appeals to "our beautiful tradition" are useless if you can't pray to God without the crutch of a liturgy. Liturgy is great for public services because it prevents people from using prayer as a means for showing off. In a diverse group, one size fits all makes sense, but how often do we need God when we are not in a group of like minded individuals? What do we do for ourselves when we are alone? How can one learn to pray freelance and in English? In a community this small, spiritual self reliance is a necessity.

This is especially true for the two kids we bas mitzvahed. How do you create solo practitioners (Yes, they practice with their families but they are not with their families all day) of Judaism and do it responsibly? I bet neither girl was given the tools and help to have a personal relationship with God and to work on that. I think it is irresponsible by the way to educate children in to a faith for which there is no community unless you really work with them on being solo practitioners. I would feel better if we bas mitzvahing sixteen or eighteen year olds. The decision to be a solo practitioner of Judaism should be one's own and not a rite of passage foisted on them by family with bribes (gifts) and a party. There is always the morning after that party. This is a real issue and one my rabbi does not address.

The second issue feel good Judaism fails to address is how do we interact with the surrounding community of believers. Yes, CHRISTIANS in their various stripes and varieties. The rabbi's response is a wet blanket. He does not even like the idea of public prayer by private individuals. He talked a private group of citizens from not holding a prayer breakfast. Now think of this, the constitution does not say nothing about prayer in public. It says that the government can not establish religion. This means that at government sponsored events you can not have a public prayer.

But lots of public events are private. The government doesn't have a thing to do with them. The constitution also says that government will not interfere with the free practice of religion. Say that one three times fast folks. If a bunch of ordinary citizens or clergy go to eat at the Golden corral and they want to begin their meal with a big fat table grace or have praise reports or a prayer cricle in the middle of the restaurant. That is legal and constitutional and if you are Jewish and worried there will be too much Jesus in there for your liking it's your job to talk to people in the group, express your feelings, and work something out. Private groups if they are small enough can work something out. There is nothing wrong or distasteful about public prayer if the government is NOT involved or if everyone's faith is taken into account. There are ecumenical prayers that Jews can say. Jews in turn can say their prayers in English. There are always the Psalms which both Jews and Christians share.

Third, there is NO OUR BEAUTIFUL TRADITION. My grandfather on my father's side was a working class Jew, a Jew without money and not much religious education. He bore about as much resemblence to the descendents of Columbus Jews as I don't know what. These Jews ate greens. My father loved the greens. Only the poorest Jews ate greens which are religously forbidden but cheap and nourishing. They ate muenster cheese on black bread for breakfast, the cheapest cheese. They ate lingin miltzen stew (lungs and spleen stew) for dinner. They lived in a tenament and had heat because they were the landlord. No one else could afford heat. My grandfather blew out his knees working as a roofer and squatting on those flat sheet metal roofs. His business went under and for a while he was living with relatives. He mother wanted her sons to be lawyers so they would never go through the vagueries of losing a business. Every time I eat greens, I remember my heritage. Not all Jews have money. Not all of us come from the same place in Europe. Some Jews even became Southerners though that is not my tradition.

Traditions don't survive unless you tweak and adjust them. Ours is dying because we are allowing it to turn to stone here in Columbus. I still eat the traditional foods because my mother's mother, altered the recipes for American ingredients. My schav is made with spinach and lemon juice or cider vinegar not sour grass. My cholent has anise in it for the flavor. I also make Boston baked beans. And I eat my greens and potatoes. Thankyou Grandma Kramer and dad for that one.

And thankyou Mom. I know you would listen if I said: "Mom, that stuff about Sumer that the rabbi is saying is not like what we are learning in school" or "Mom, I have Christian friends and I don't like it when the rabbi tears down their religion." You might even find this behavior disturbing and start religiously educating me at home. You though you don't believe take religion very seriously and I take it seriously too. I guess some of your ideas rubbed off.

Finally, you can't expect somebody, some symbol, some person to do it for you. Religion is an individual thing even if fellowship is a part of the picture. People praise the rabbi yet the head of the Ritual Committee wonders why people don't come to services. He says we have to decide whether we want a shcul or a social club. Well religious observance and services were voluntary last time I looked and there is nothing wrong with a social club. It's a choice and if people are choosing no and just glad we have this "wonderful and inspiring rabbi" maybe they figure he is doing it for us. Well, you know the result. How much are we going to spend to keep this symbol on and living in the style to which he is accustomed which brings me to the next paragraph...

The truth comes at the end of the annual report. The schul is in the RED. We can not afford to pay the rabbi and he makes twice what I do and gets a free house. All that feel good stuff pays off. The rabbi is a survivor, either that or he is a parasite. I haven't decided. They want to raise every body's dues to cover this gap. I ask myself why. I have no children. You can't have the fantasy of a schul like your nonexistent grandparents went to or that they have in big cities without ponying up the bucks. You can't maintain that fantasy without newer younger members but how many people come to services and then either find the place too small or too old or too closed off or maybe they too hear all the bullshit in feel good Judaism and go elsewhere for spiritual nourishment. It ends when we run out of money. The ship sinks when it springs a leak. How many more dues raises will we need to pay to keep the schul afloat and can it be kept afloat indefinitely?

I might pay another twenty-five or fifty dollars in dues. I want there to be a schul no matter how crumby, but I will not increase my dues any more and yes, I am like the lady in that joke about will you sleep with me for x amount of money. The punch line comes when she asks "what kind of a girl do you think I am?" The answer is "I already know. Now we are just discussing the price." I will not double my dues or even increase them by fifty percent. If it comes down to you can't be a member if you can't afford the new higher dues, I'll say fine. The schul is a public place. I can still come to services. And should I stop paying dues at all and just let the crazy ship sink itself? Well, if they agree to something really outrageous at the meeting, I'll probably do that. The ironic part of all this is that I may go to schul tonight. Services are now at 6:30pm on Fridays which makes it hard for people who work to get there. Oh well, people who work are not in power at schul.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

Well it's not really a vengance victory, just a prevention of a set back. I've gone back to posting to the Third Rail at my Play Pretend Brainstorms. That is a good thing. My role plays at Creative Stories are still alive and I'm also once again doing Ghostletters. I'm setting up the big summer adventure that is going to occur in Africa on an archaeological expedition. I'm looking forward for that. As for the goings on at Rose Among Thorns house the other half of my thread, I finally found a way to make them work out, so it's back to that old and very ugly parent/child thing. Fiction can be so seductive.

Webleagues has had a coup de'tat which means Haldis will be doing redesign work, whicch means it is a shame that my art supplies are at work and the Golden Elite is again open for business. If you want a traditional web site competition, this is the one for you. The staff are great. You see your numbers. The teams are small so you don't get lost, and best of all, Thadea, is a team manager. I am proud of Cari Cota for sticking with it and honored to be working for the best of the business, albeit under another identity and for those who don't know, I came out to Cari in April.

I am also out to Candi at RAOK. I did not plan to come out, but the guestbook which needs a run in the worst way, got vandalized. I suspected I may have drawn the fire and confessed. I am still a member of RAOK and still run their guestbook. I ought to draw hazardous duty pay for that one since a guestbook signer perpetrated a forced download of malware on to this computer, but that is another story. Someone had to ride point in this world and that someone may as well be me.

That leaves LOTH as the only place where I am not out about my personnae. I am a state director in LOTH so there are a limited number of things I can say that are truthful on this blog, but LOTH is a large and very beaurocratic organization. I do not like the top leadership. I do not dislike them. I like my regional director because I've had some dealings with her and they have been OK. I have had only very indirect dealings with LOTH's top brass and I'm not sure it is necessary to come out to people who hardly know you and who don't seem to want to know you. It's OK that they don't want to know me. You don't have to want to know everyone in a 600 person organization. The top brass at LOTH do a very good job in other ways. This by the way is getting in to territory I can't discuss here so I am going to have to stop.

And one last note: There are no more Friday evening services at my schul. They are now 6:30pm which means any one whose work day ends at six and who has an hour to walk to schul is out of luck. I don't want to getup early Saturday morning which can often by my only day to sleep inand go to schul so that pretty much is it. I fell off the home worship wagon but I figured God did not want to hear from any one who was out of cat food until they had bought cat food and then I came home and Haldis had her team to roster and there were bills to pay etc.... Such is life.

Lysistrata has finally made a nest on the extreme right side of the desk and fallen asleep. Cats tire easily, even Lysistrata who just awoke with a pair of sweet sleepy mews. She must have had sweet dreams because she woke up all purry. She preens, stretches, licks herself nad falls off the desk and begins the whole operation again standing in teh bathroom doorway. Now she has gone off to drink water. You know you are a serious cat lover when you need to take a dump and find you have to wait because Hertzel, your boy of job white neutered male kitty, is having a drink from the commode, and you patiently wait your turn. Lysistrata is currently having her drink from the commode in the other bathroom right now. Yes, these posh souther apartments have two bathrooms. That is good with two kitties.

They are predicting a significant chance of thunder storms for this afternoon, so I can not do hand laundry and have no desire to go sit in a laundromat. I have enough shirts and panties to get through a week. Tomorrow I have to work in the afternoon but today I am off.

I finally paid my bills last night and have to take them to be mailed. I also paid my rent. I got to watch my landlday watching TV. They watch CNN which spent close to half an hour on a teenager who went off with two men from a nigh club in Aruba. Sorry, this is just a stupid missing peron's case even if the teenager is white and female. A man who doesn't come hom from work one night doens't get half this coverage. "Like a river that don't know where it's flowin' I took a wrong turn and I just kept goin'" there's even a line from a song about it. Anyway, I thik the teen was a total slut who went off for a good time and maybe even planned her disappearance. Call it a ruanway bride knock off.

There was hardly any news about Iraq except saying the crackdown in Bagdad was successful and a brief mention of a suicide bomber in Mosul. The sheer lack of international coverage is enough to put the war on the back burner and keep the population supporting it. That is pretty slick propaganda if I don't say so myself. Since most of my news comes through the net and through decent sources, I live on another news planet. I heard nothing about the "missing Alabama teen" until I saw the news at my landlrod's house. I still think big you know wahtting whoop about that one. I suggested my landlady subscribe to Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches. Real news is sometimes not carried out by the big name news agencies.

I alsso think the BBC and even NPR kicks CNN's butt and don't even mention Fox News. Fair and Balanced my you know what. Now Clear Channel radio is interesting. It gives me real insight into how moder propaganda works. First, there is political programming and some right wing radio shows. They also carry Dr. Laura. I am convinced that very few people listen to Dr. Laura because they agree with her. They listen because she is MEAN and she tortures her callers. The poor callers are masochists. If I want good sympathetic advice, the last person I'd go to is Dr. Laura who picks on people for making what were probably good decisions at the time that later turned out wrong or that may still be right. This might include a parent leaving his/her children to pursue economic opportunities or an education in another state. If the other parent is a good parent and not abusive or if the opportunties are too good to pass up, or the woman who is engaged and gets pregnant (Engaged mindyou...) and then learns before the knot is tied that the fiance has been unfaithful. Excrement happens. It's not worth abusing people over. People do weird things. Anyway, Dr. Laura has high entertainment values because it appeals to a ver low instinct.

Phil Hendrie falls into the same category. He impersonates his guests and then the callers call in to argue with the fake guests. The callers either forget or don't know that the whole thing is a set up. Again the clalers are victims. Phil Hendrie also because he is doing "comedy" can say things that no news commentator could get away with. Usually Phil Hendrie lets loose with these in the monologs. I can't think of any cracks offhand except for one ver ethnocentric piece aobut him not wanting to understand arab culture. Well if we are attacking an arab country, it might be a good idea to learn something about the country we are attcking, but forget reason. Phil Hendrie reaches people who would never listen to a political commentator or right wing talk radio. Phil Hendrie is after all only entertainment. I've booted Phil Hendrie out of my kitchen sveral times for his political views.

Lately he has found his way in due to the Columbus Catfish. The The Columbus Catfish are our local minor league baseball team. There is great drama in radio baseball. The Catfish are an awful team. They are under 500 and they frequently choke near the end of a game. Catfish games are thus full of drama, or as much drama as one can pack into a lot of white noise. I am fast becoming a Catfish fan. When the game is over Phil Hendrie comes on. Thankfully, the Catfish pre-empt the odious Dr. Laura most nights.

Then we have th eother offerings that are quite interesting. there is a trouble shooter show and a home improvement show. There is a religious broadcast but only on Sundays and tons of ads for health remedies and nostrums. In short, good people are supposed to be taking care of their homes, enjoying their entertainment such as Phil, Art Bell, and baseball, and don't trust anybody. It's a dog eat dog individualistic world. If you ask for help as the callers on Dr. Laura do or if you speak your mind as th callers on Phil Hendrie do, you'll be made a fool of or torutred publicly. Thisis a really nice stealth propaganda messages. Kudos to Clear Channel for putting this together.

I realize I need to buy both shoes and snakers or I will wind up running around barefoot. I will head out shoe shopping some time today. I tell myself that anyway though I'm not sure I believe it. Pat of me wants to see if I can catch a live CatFish game this afternoon. That should be interesting. I guess I can pack lots of safe soda and see where my feet take me and where I end up. I don't think Catfish tickets sell out though it is a long walk back home.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

by Eileen Kramer

If I stop writing here it is a colossal vengance set back. I can't have that. I'm back, fingers on the keyboard, two cell table set up. I'm not transcribing these days. I don't like the fact that only half my blog can be transcribed. I'm listening to some very emotional rock music I couldn't listen to right after I got kicked out of Brainstorms. I like the music but a lot of it is about breaking up, except the breaking up is regretful.

My breaking up wasn't. I didn't do the kicking out, but by the time it was over my feelings were mutual. I regret getting involved in the first place but little else. The good part of it is that I have my play pretend Brainstorms which really rocks. It needs some minor revision, but it is running.

I've also gone back to doing my multi-voice Third Rail board. Woo hoo shout that one out loud and proud. And now it is time for a mast head.

It was WORTH IT to be kicked out of Brainstorms. It was worth it to do what I did and say what I said and be who I am. I did not say anything that impolite. In fact I was way too polite until the end. Would I have forgiven them if they kept me? I was dumb enough to do just that. I guess I was the classic spouse in a bad marriage, hanging on.

I hope I'm not carrying a torch for Barinstorms. I mean someone could construe my play pretend Brainstorms that way. It's just that I don't believe in letting go or mving on and on the web I don't have to. I guess vanity presses and church basements fulfilled this role before there was a net. Somewhere there are files of unsent letters or vanity published books full of diaries. As I once said on Future Culture, you don't know you see who races home to write every night with great excitement in their journal and look sforward to that as better than a real world encounter because face it, it is great to say whatever you want and with no one to tell you to shut up.

Anway, I averted the vengance setback that Creating Stories might have caused. I am back with both the Third Rail and Ghostletters. Ghostletters is currently older and more stable than Creating Stories and I can post there as much as I like. As for the Third Rail it is as close to Brainstorms as I can get so let me drink my half measure every daday. I love it!

The Webleagues is currently out of bandwidth. This is public information, and it happened betwen 8pm and 10:40pm tonight. It is not Haldis' fault. It just happened. It is not a vengance setback because it is business not taking care of itself. Taking care of business is not venbgance and stuff out of my personnae's control is not a set back.

Thadea went out and huslted for more sites for her team at the Goldden Elite tonight. That is good.

I started a single person role play thread at Creating Stories to absorb those times when I want to write and my role play refuses to roll. That feels good since this thing wants to write itself. Ghostletters takes work, but I believe in discipline way more than I believe in happiness. I probably believe more in discipline more than I bleieve in anything. That is good.

Today (5/31) was my 43rd birthday. Since I don't believe there are any exams unless you are in school, I like that my life is fairly stagnant. I prefer the word, stable. My cats are fine and the apartment is warm and quiet. I took a nap earlier tonight.

I opened most of my cards and they were OK. I read the birthday wishes that were in my email and they were nice. Erma, my colleague/supervisor took me out to lunch at a restaurant she would not otherwise have set foot in and she liked it. I got to eat the world's best hot apple cake. My colleagues aate three quarters of the prune bread. I haven't had any of it yet.

If this sounds like a weird birthday, it really isn't. I haven't gotten to the presents yet but that is OK. I think the fact that it poured and that I worked today makes this birthday muted but I don't mind. I don't even mind that Lou is not here. He'll get here whenever.

I have the tail end of my period. I feel grimey. I napped earlier this evening and scored ZOID late. They say it will rain for three days, but I don't have the heart to look at the weather forecast.

The rain and my black stocckings and shoes dyed my feet black in weird patches. I now have very ugly feet. I'll finish reading the birthday cards and get to those presents. I fear they will be disappointing. I like them better unopened. My dad sent money and I hven't even spent his Christmas money. I guess it's my Christmas money now. I'll send my dad a letter for Christmas. I'll ask him to send me his summer address. My dad is travelling agian this summer. I work twelve months so it's not easy to get away.

On the 11th I get to go to Atlanta. I do get away. I forget that. What I want to see in Atlanta is the Martin Luther King historical site and maybe the Eyedrum gallery. The shuttle to Atlanta is now $55. That bleeps big time. I need to price Greyhound tickets again. I think I am back to early morning magic and long walks. I wonder what if anything this means. It means gas prices are going up. Good things come. good things go. The shuttle is the reason I have been going to Atlanta so much but $55 is getting a tad pricey. With Lou around we can go to Atlanta by car. Sooner or later all love becomes a lot of reciporical deal making and back scratching. I guess that is good in the long run.

I am not marooned int his apartment just because I can't go to Africa on a safari. Besides, I wonder what will happen to my dad ater he runs out of places to go. there aren't that many once you've done the big things. When it comes to big things, one should save them even if one is seventy because big exciting things are scarce commodities.

Oh well I should at least have some birthday cake and tomorrow when I feel stronger, I'll open the boxes from my mother and start all the obligatory gratitude rituals. By the way I am grateful to both my dad, Erma, and most of the people who sent e-cards. I did not get inundated and that was a very good thing.