Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why not turn the clocks back in July next year?

It is 5:43 a.m. and I am sitting at my computer. Is the problem apparent yet?

For those of you who don't "get it", let me spell it out. It is now 5:44 and I am awake. Normal people who are not night watchmen or nightclub staff are in bed at this hour. I am not a night watchmen or nightclub staff. Now do you get it?

I am awake because despite my best efforts to ignore the light pouring in through my bedroom blinds, it is pelting me in the face and screaming MORNING. RISE AND SHINE. And my body can't help but oblige.

So, needless to say, I am not amused. (you can tell it is the week of Yom Kippur because I have toned down my language. I have enough things to repent for this Saturday without squeezing a few extra items in as I try to slide into home.)

This is the point in my standard little rants where I usually say "Back to the point" but today THIS seguay is precisely the point.

Approximately five years ago, 5700 odd years into the history of the Jewish people, the egomanics in the religious political party Shas decided to tamper with Jewish tradition which apparently wasn't working for them. Apparently it took more than 5000 years to see this whopping flaw and great thinkers of many generations (such as Maimonades, Rashi, Nachmonides, Feinstein and more) simply missed it.

Some of you are already smiling and nodding -- and yes the rest of you are still in the dark (lucky you).

Here's the problem: Five years ago, it became the law to turn back the clocks away from Daylight Savings in the days preceeding Yom Kippur. The thinking of the short-sighted ultra-relgious Shas Party was that it would be easier to fast the exact same 25 hours if you could sleep for one more of those hours. The plan actually worked just fine until Yom Kippur found itself in mid-September.

In this day and age when any eight-year-old can with the aid of a basic computer and an internet connection can tell you when Yom Kippur is going to fall until the end of time, the excuse of short-sightedness does not hold any water.

Despite anger from all corners in the State, Shas has held it's ground (and hijacked the country) on the basis that changing this law would damage the Jewish character of Israel.

Do I have to say this again?

5770 years of survival from every conceivable enemy the world could throw at us.

OR.........A five-year-old law imposed by a minority player in the mishmash of Israeli politics.

What has this got to do with protecting the Jewish character of Israel? And do you really think that a mental trick like this is going to be a determining factor in our future Jewishness?

All I know is that I can't sleep and I am going to be awake for as much of the fast this weekend as I would have been without the clocks turned back. AND, in the meantime turning the clocks back harms our pocketbooks. by causing people who live in the Jewish country to spend more on electricity. It also means that the same Jews in Israel must now drive home from work in the dark. Israelis are lousy drivers in daylight so this should really improve the situation. And no more little extra time for lots of people to come home from work and play with their kids outside in the last few minutes of daylight before it is time for bed. Nope.

Family time isn't important either. Nor is highway safety. All that matters is a 25-hour fast that is STILL 25 hours.

And of course, did I mention that I can't sleep.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The people of the school book

Well, I am thrilled to say that the People of the Book (I prefer that to the Chosen People because I am not sure what we were chosen for) have now sent the Children of the Book back to school. And not a minute too soon.

If I had to clean up my kitchen one more time 20 minutes after I had just completed a proper and thorough clean-up of my own doing, I was going to murder someone. Death for Crumbs might not sound like reasonable cause for you, but it does for me.

Which brings me back to the Children of the Book. When I was a kid I loved school. All my friends were there and how much black and white tv could you possibly watch on two channels? School was were the action was -- nevermind those ancient teachers with the wobbly underarm fat that entranced me for minutes on end or the incompetent teachers who I quickly realized were older than me but definitely not smarter, which wasn't saying much for them. School was fun.

And when I later figured out ways to have my parents think I was in school and my stupid teachers to think I was home ill, I was set. Without school, I would have been sunk. So why do my kids think that going to school is such a punishment?

I have told them at least a trillion times that if they are home they better be in bed with a temperature of at least 102 -- and preferably vomiting. I have also said that I am not going to hang around all day keeping them company or taking them places. NO, I am sorry. Children need to go to school to hang around with other like minded cranky people who think they would be having more fun at home and I need to be able to go to the bathroom without someone looking for me.

I took care of them when they were babies. We went to more stupid playgroups than I care to remember. Gymboree. Baby Ballet. Baby Karate. Baby Swim. Oh, and my personal favorite, Baby Sing-a-Long, where my son would promptly leave me in the circle of mothers and agreeable babies while he went outside to play alone. I have paid my dues and now I want to send off happy children for a wonderful day of learning.

I do not want to be SMS'd from class. I do not want to receive calls from the bathroom where someone is on the toilet and constipated. I do not want to make social plans for three weeks from today when you should be in class. I do not want to know what bitchy thing the teacher did to you today. I do not want your teachers to call me or send me notes -- particularly in hebrew. I do not want your teachers to know my name.

I want you to sit in class. Learn a little something and be the Children of the Book that you were chosen to be.

How heat waves can alter history

After experiencing a month of what I consider intollerable heat, I have come to the realization that many things that have or have not happened throughout history were probably influenced in someway or another by the weather.

Israel, like much of the northern hemisphere, has experienced its hottest August in recorded history. While I love to say that I was there for superlative events, I prefer the good ones and "hottest summer in recorded history" is not one of those. That said, the last time I complained about the weather on my blog, my old high school friend who now lives in Cyrus wrote to say: "38 degrees? That's it? It's 44 in Cyprus." That took the steam out of my rant and also provoked me to make a mental note to stay away from Cyprus in the summer.

The heat also proved to be the deciding factor in the cancellation of our end-of-summer family trip because how can you go on a day-long water hike when all the hiking routes that had water, have dried up because of the heat?

Which brings me one of those historical moment thoughts. It dawns on me that if someone like Vivaldi had lived in Israel during a heat-wave, he might never have written the Four Seasons. Actually, skip the heat wave, if he had lived in Israel he, at best, would have written, the Two and a Half Seasons: Hot, Hotter, and Damp. Not the most inspirational environment.

And the hotel chain? I think it would be hard to market the Two and a Half Seasons Hotel.

And all that Ansel Adams photography?All that would have survived were his mountain views. Lovely, but without the depth of his existing porfolio.

Now, on the upside, maybe many of the world's wars and other such skirmishes (I don't know why they call them that in the media, but I like that word) might never have happened.

If the Crusaders had arrived in Jerusalem wearing all that iron-clad gear in the middle of a heat wave they would have been smart to have just turned around and left Jerusalem alone or even better, they would have died of heat exposure and saved the Jews a lot of subsequent grief. Without the Crusaders initiating a couple of hundred years of murdering Jews for no good reason (of course it took until 1990 something for a pope to admit that), we Jews could have been much better positioned to beat the pulp out of that little evil part-Jewish pyscho dictator Hitler and now we would be at least twice as many people as we are. This in turn, would have possibly (I said "possibly") made the modern-day fanatic anti-semites reconsider their plans to annihate us. Oh, they would still want to but we would be a much bigger and stronger group and since they are all essentially rhetoric heavy, action lite, we might have been in a better position than we find ourselves.

Notice that all the good heat waves come when you don't need them.