Thursday, November 29, 2007


I know this will come as a surprise to many, but I actually like meat. I mean, I like to eat it, anyway. This Thanksgiving, I had a bunch of friends coming whom I really wanted to see who are very carnivorous, and so I agreed that there would be a turkey at the festivities.
This is not as simple as it sounds, since I have a kosher dairy/veggie kitchen, making it somewhat complicated to cook and serve the meat. We have glass dishes, which makes it a bit easier, but I spent oh so many ages kashering pans and getting aluminum tins, and kashering serving utensils, and of course, it's been some time since I prepared meat. SO I ended up looking up cooking times and so on, and in the end did a fine job. There was enough food for everyone, I didn't treif anything up (although I did have to borrow a carving knife from a friend. It survived the experience) and people seemed to think everything was tasty.
I have to say though, I don't think I'll do it again. It's not that it was a pain. I actually didn't mind that so much, and I still like the taste of meat, as rarely as I eat it. And it's not that difficult in this area to find non-Rubashkin's kosher meat, if one is careful ( Check the Trader Joe's labels - some of them are sublabels of Rubashkin's). It was the smell.

For several says after I prepared the turkey, no matter how or with what I scrubbed my hands, I couldn't get the smell of - well, there's no nice way to say it- corpse off my hands.
It was really pretty nauseating.
So, I guess I'll just have to live with not eating meat, or the occasional night out at a kosher place. Not so many in this area, so mostly when I travel to LA, NYC or Israel, I guess.

90s nostaligia momentt

Which, remembering the 90's as I do, must be rare as hen's teeth.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Rubashkin's: will it never end?

The latest from the Forward: United Food and Commercial Workers are now entering the fray over Rubashkin's skeezy practices in their plants. As the Forward reported, "Activists with United Food and Commercial Workers stood outside kosher supermarkets and Trader Joe’s stores around the country last Wednesday, distributing fliers that purported to be a 'Kosher Food Safety Alert.' The fliers cited controversial reports — many of them published in the Forward — about food-safety issues at the Postville, Iowa, slaughterhouse." They also made automated phone calls to households in Orthodox neighborhoods and placed full-page advertisements in Jewish newspapers.

Most of these will be violations that if you read Jewschool or Failed Messiah's excellent coverage, you will already know about - the bribery, the unsafe food handling practices, and of course the mistreatment of non-Jewish workers, prompting the Conservative Movement's creation (at least in theory) of the Hechsher Tzedek. I want to emphasize a citation from Failed Messiah's post on the topic which comes from the USDA's inspector:

There were also at least five instances in which AgriProcessors was cited for not taking the required measures to fend off Mad Cow disease. In one instance, an inspector says he asked for a suspicious cow to be taken off the line and later discovered that the cow had been slaughtered with the rest of the animals. The inspector says he informed someone at the company of the “very serious noncompliance that had occurred.”

I emphasize these words because, of course, Agriprocessor's response, published on its Web site and in Yeshiva World News, was simply to deny, deny deny. “Concerns about Mad Cow disease are simply wrong,” the letter said. “We have never had product from any suspect animals leave our plant.” they claim.

Astonishingly, according to KosherToday,a trade publication that has defended AgriProcessors, none of this has hurt Agriprocessor sales. In fact, they claim that to the contrary, “The net effect of the onslaught against Agri was that sales of its products in some stores have risen by as much as 30% and it has opened an unprecedented number of new accounts.”

Money is the name of the game

Just in case you've been vacationing in outer Mongolia and missed the fact that the Writer's Guild of America is striking, here's a short brought to you by the writers of the Daily Show to outline the very salient points of why we should all be supporting them. It's actually pretty simple. The major corporations who employ them want tofail to compensate them for their work when they use it in another medium, such as say, DVD residuals and internet downloads. The best part, of course, is how they talk outof both sides of their mouths about what such work is worth. It's worth nothing, if they have to pay, but a billion per year, if they're not getting paid. Hmmm.

Just to add, for those who are not familiar - corporate CEOs: not hurting for money. Writers whose humor, insight and sweat produce those shows: not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

I know that everyone is very hyped on the now viral information that Thanksgiving is actually based on the biblical holiday of Sukkot. Nu, so gesuntaheit.
IN the meantime, I've been thinking for some time about some things for which I am thankful that people don't normally get to hear. Everyone, of course, is thankful for their imas and abbas (mothers and fathers) but how many people get to say that they're thankful for their mother and father in law?
I'm not claiming they change clothing to tights in a phonebooth or anything, but I think it's worthwhile to say that I am very grateful for all kinds of things about them - beyond the fact that they produced the guy whom I married almost 13 years ago. For example, I am grateful that my mother in law is interesting and often funny and tells great stories about her work. I am grateful that she is an unabashed liberal who puts her time where her mouth is defending girls who need an abortion and can't tell their parents and so have to go to court. I am grateful that both she and my father in law, while interested in my and DH's lives, have never tried to interfere with bizarre child rearing practices that I must do on fear of displeasure, nor have they expressed any opinion ever about how many children we ought to have - and I can't even imagine their doing so. I am grateful that my FIL is interested in genealogy, and that he likes to hang out with his GS. I am grateful that they both like to travel and send us postcards from wherever they go. And sometimes even when they don't go.

On an unrelated gratitude note:
I'm also grateful for my former classmates and now colleagues and all their love and support and friendship, which I continue to be blessed by years after we mostly all have moved to cities far from one another.

Happy thanksgiving, or perhaps we should call it Sukkot Sheni.
הודו ליי כי טוב
Turkey for God, because it is good! (or perhaps, give thanks to God, because God is good; polecat/woodkitty)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Up and down the ladder

I know that this portion is over and we're on to the next thing, but perhaps since my travels overlapped with it a little, I can squeeze just a little more juice out of it this week before I put it away.

It's nothing profound really, just that this week I find myself ba'aretz. Usually, I suppose, we must identify ourselves with Yakov, but unlike Yakov, I already knew that God was in this place; I did not need to dream to see the angels, nor to understand that God protects us in all our travels to Jerusalem, and of course, that as Rebbe Nachman said, that wherever I travel, I travel to Jerusalem.
But this time, perhaps I feel a bit more like the angels going up and down on that ladder. I have a purpose for being here, and I pray that as a servant of the HKBH, I will be able to fullfil it, but only God can ensure that end, ultimately.
And I have been the angel going up the ladder, and soon I will be the angel going down. And perhaps it is well to remember that even if I am unlike the angels in that I spend more time at the foot of the ladder, than its top, that in order to carry out one's mission, one has to go down. And that one can love even places that one goes to carry out, rather than those to which one will return.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Holiday PR brainstorming ideas gone awry

Jones soda, which produces some normally pretty tasty flavors, and which I normally like for their failure to use High Fructose Corn Syrup, has apparently decided that all press is good press, and all flavors are good flavors. For the winter holiday season this year they have impartially produced (respectively) a Christmas and a Chanukah soda flavors pack.
The Christmas flavors include Christmas Ham Soda, Christmas Tree Soda, Egg Nog Soda and Sugar Plum Soda; the Chanuka flavors Latke Soda, Apple Sauce Soda, Chocolate Coins Soda and Sufganiya, which they call "Jelly Doughnut Soda."

I note that they have decided that it would be amusing to horrify one's friends by allowing observant Jews to snarf ham flavored soda at their Chanuka parties by making it kosher. SInce it is not yet Thanksgiving, this is at least an episode of Christmas creep, although I note with relief that at least they did not bring it out before Halloween. Shopping at a number of stores this year, I found myself inundated by rows of red and green items and Christmas carols (Which, by and large, I detest) before the end of October. Significantly before. I expect before the end of the decade to stock up on earplugs before August begins.

xp Jewschool

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Effortlessly skinny people, I fart in your general direction...

According to a recent article in the New York Times,"overweight people have a lower death rate because they are much less likely to die from a grab bag of diseases that includes Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, infections and lung disease. And that lower risk is not counteracted by increased risks of dying from any other disease, including cancer, diabetes or heart disease."

This isn't exactly a carte blanche to snork out at the trough, since obese people still die at a higher rate - as do underweight people. But interestingly what we consider to be "overweight" may actually be a more appropriate weight level, as long as people are eating well and exercising and otherwise generally healthy (what the fat activists have been saying for some time, BTW). Despite the fact that culturally, Americans think that even normal weight people are actually somewhat unattractive (cf the slightly stale collection of snarkery over Britney Spears unflattering outfit at some awards event, when it is perfectly clear that the woman, whatever else is wrong with her, is NOT overweight), it turns out that our ideas of what is attractive may not be what is healthy - uh, well, duh. Any other surprises out there?