Tuesday, May 31, 2005
help send celestial blue to Israel!

Some of you know me and have been reading my blog for some time now, and some of you may be new. For those of you who are new, let me get you up to speed as to what this is all about....

Several months ago I wrote to the folks at Livnot U'Lehibanot to get information on their 5 month program in Israel (kinda like an extended Birthright trip). For my non-Jewish readers, Birthright trips are free educational trips given to young Jews in order to help them connect with Israel and their Jewish roots and often inspires them to make aliyah (move to Israel) later on. They show them the country, the people and how life really is there.

At any rate, I had contacted them for more information about their 5 month program as I had just returned from a brief trip to Israel and was thirsting for more of an experience. My two trips at two weeks a piece the past couple of years just weren't doing it for me. I wanted to see and experience more, including what it's like to really live there. Who knows, it might even inspire me to move too....

Before I knew it I was having a phone interview with someone in Jerusalem and after a lengthy conversation I was accepted into the program. All this from just filling out a form online for more information! I hadn't even applied! I took this as a sign and started working on a plan.... how can I afford to drop everything and walk away from my life here in Canada to go and have an experience of a lifetime in a country I love and support? I would need help... lots of help. And I would need financial aid.

Livnot (in conjunction with MASA) accepts applications for financial aid, so I have sent my application in and am now waiting for a response (which I am told is coming June 15th). However, my guess is that, at best, I will receive only about half of what I need. This still puts me nearly $4,000 short of what I will need to cover tuition, flight, and living expenses (including storage for all my belongings back here at home... I will have to get rid of my apartment). Where then will I come up with the rest of the money?

I needed to come up with a way to raise funds, and asking for straight donations isn't my style; I prefer to offer something in exchange for someone's kindness. So after much deliberation I have designed a bracelet and had it made to my specifications (you see it pictured in blue, above). The bracelet says "Am Yisrael Chai" which means "The People of Israel Live" (or if you prefer, "The Nation of Israel Lives"). I felt it was important to make my fundraising idea Israel-based, and this idea made me happy because it isn't really political (I don't pick left or right here, or disengagement, anti-disengagement) and it would be good for my non-Jewish supporters as well. Whosoever buys it will simply be showing their support for Israel (and me!).

So here's the deal.... each bracelet will cost $12USD. Shipping for 1-3 bracelets will be $2.00, 4-10 bracelets = $5.00, 11-20 bracelets = $8.00, 21-40 bracelets = $11.00 and 41-60 bracelets $13.00. If you buy more than that I will ship them for free and name my first born after you. *wink*

For a better look at the bracelet you can head over to my photoblog and see pics here, here and here. Otherwise, click the little Buy Now button and show me how much you love me and want to see me in Israel.

If donating and/or bracelets aren't your thing perhaps you could help by giving me a little press..... a mention on your blog would be much appreciated. Any and all help is gratefully accepted!

Monday, May 30, 2005
so much for moving to Israel one day...
I am nearly speechless at this report I just found outlining how "Haifa Police Chief Nir Mariash said Monday Israel should change existing immigration laws to prevent alcoholics and known criminals from making aliya (moving to Israel)".

I'm sorry.... what?? Criminals.... yes. I can understand. But alcoholics? EXCUSE ME? I don't care what reasoning you try and apply, last time I checked being an alcoholic wasn't a crime. Indeed, many classify it as a disease (since it is chronic, progressive and will often lead to death if left untreated). So let me ask then... would you turn someone away because they have cancer? It could be argued that someone with cancer would be a burden on the system if s/he moved to Israel and immediately went on government financial assistance while receiving treatment and not working. Or are you saying that most alcoholics are criminals (as implied in the article)? Frankly, neither answer is acceptable.

I know it's a stretch, but what can I say... as a recovering alcoholic I am a bit offended at being lumped in with criminals. And to think that it's even a possibility that I could be turned away from Israel because of my past and despite being 6 years sober.... well I have to admit I am very disappointed.

On a happier note.... I got in my items for my fundraising!!! WOO HOO!!!!! Now if my bank would just quit dragging it's feet and set up my new bank account I'd be set to sell; I want to have a separate bank account for my fundraising so I can keep track of the money and not let it get mixed up with my personal account. As soon as I am open for business I'll let you know!

Sunday, May 29, 2005
Plague City (aka: Toronto)
It's really too bad that most of my readers don't get to see the cheesy ad for the new made-for-tv-movie called "Plague City: SARS In Toronto". First of all, I'll be the first to admit that Canadian television just isn't that good. That's not to say that we haven't turned out some fine shows that I have myself enjoyed, but where there has been a successful show there have been hundreds of duds.

Anyway! I get a good chuckle when watching the ad for this particular movie because it's trying to give a feeling of drama and high suspense. Ooh! SARS!!! I guess it's strange to me that someone would actually play UP on the events that happened when we as a city tried so hard to play DOWN what was happening since the press was having a field day and making it sound like we were all dropping dead in the streets. I am reminded of how angry Israelis get by how the world sees them as a war zone thanks to how the media portrays them, just as travel advisories were issued telling people to stay away from Toronto and it's cooties or you could die. It has taken us years to recover from it and have tourists come back. And let me tell ya, I took my first trip to Israel during the SARS scare and I had a sinus infection at the time. It was a real picnic having to fill out SARS forms at every airport when they realize you are from Cootieville and look and sound sick as a dog. Realizing this would be a problem I had gone to my doctor in advance to get a note explicitly stating that I did not have SARS.

So no, I am not much interested in this movie, and yes, I am glad that likely no one outside of Canada will see it.

In other news, I have a sudden interest in the Indy 500 thanks to one Danica Patrick. I normally don't give a crap about idiots who decide to drive around in circles at high speeds, but I AM interested in the flap this girl is causing in a clearly male-dominated field. The big news of course is that a few of the other drivers in the race have their shorts in a bunch because they say she has an advantage because she is smaller and therefore lighter. This means that her light weight would gain her a fraction of speed over her heavier male counterparts. The rules of the race state that a vehicle must weight at least "x amount" but it says nothing about how much the driver should weigh, and thus the feud. I say more power to her! Do you see jockeys in horse races bitching because one jockey is lighter than another? The horse races are a very clear example in which weight makes all the difference, thus the tiny little men they pick as jockeys. Perhaps this will bring about an evolution in car racing.... I shall be watching to see how this turns out.

And with that I shall go back to yet another weekend of junk purging/clutter removal in my apartment. I am almost done and I am so very thrilled with my results. As I see it, I will be moving some time this year... either to Israel for 5 months or in with a new roommate, and by doing this major cleanup and getting rid of junk I will never use, I have my possessions nicely streamlined down to the bare essentials. That will save me some stress and grief down the road when I may feel the pressure of a deadline.

Thanks to all of you for your support this week, it's been much appreciated. Some crazy events have had me on an emotional rollercoaster this past week or two, but I have been dealing with it. Purging junk out of my home and life has been *immensely* liberating, and I did 3 hours of meditation this morning with my group and I feel calmed and centered. I hope this week turns out better than the last two....

Have a good week, folks!

Friday, May 27, 2005
crunch time
Oy, my brain is going to melt. I have to make some huge life altering decisions in the next few weeks and I'm feeling the stress of it.

On one hand I am waiting for the decision as to whether or not I will get financial aid for my 5 month Livnot trip to Israel, and more importantly, how much aid. I am getting a sinking feeling it's going to be at least $3,500 away from what I will need and I'm not sure my fundraising plan is going to bring me even close to what I need. So I'm panicking a bit. A lot, actually. I have to wait until June 15th to find out about the financial aid, and that will give me about 2 months to find more money, pack up my life and put it in storage, and sort out everything I need to do in order to live in Israel for 5 months. I'm feeling the squeeze from lack of time.

Meanwhile, I have been making plans in case I don't go to Israel, and those plans involve getting a new apartment with a roommate to help ease my extremely high cost of living. I have found two apartments I like, but one needs an answer by June 1st and the other needs an answer by June 15th (how ironic). So my mother (who has no idea about my efforts to get to Israel for 5 months) is pressuring me to make a decision because these are indeed great opportunities and the longer I wait the greater the chance I will lose out on these opportunities. What I can't tell her is that I have to wait until June 15th in order to make a decision! Gaahhhhh!!! STRESS!!!

Anyway, I am trying to put off the decision as long as I can but it's getting tough. I need answers, and I need them soon... I wonder if I can put pressure on for an answer about financing...

I am also a bit torn about this getting a roommate thing. I need some input from those who have lived (or are living) with a roommate, and I don't count a significant other as a roommate. I'm talking someone you have a platonic relationship/friendship with. See, this friend that I am planning to get a place with had been staying with me for the better part of three weeks (until last Sunday) so I have had a glimpse into how things would work out as roomies. I have spotted a few potential trouble areas in the future and I need some advice from those who have had a roommate....

how do you split up money for things that aren't so cut and dry, like food and toilet paper and stuff? those things don't have bills with obvious amounts like phone bills do, ya know? and how do you sort out the cleaning duties? Given that I am on a recent de-cluttering and cleaning rampage I am not looking forward to having someone come along with his junk and undoing what I have strived so hard for. I'm not an anal-retentive neat freak or anything, but an apartment can get small pretty fast when there's too much crap laying around in every corner. And while I don't clean every other day or anything, I do like my place presentable... when my home is clean I am happy. When it starts to get unclean, I become unhappy. I don't know how to establish the rules/duties/boundaries without sounding like a nagging wife. How have you guys split up the duties? How did you ensure they got done without one or the other coming across as a nag? Did you establish a day in the week for cleaning?

And one more thing... although I have let my friend use my computer when staying at my place, when we move in together I don't really want him on it. It's going to sound personal when it's really not... but the fact of the matter is ... I have a *really* nice brand new computer and I am very protective of it. My friend has no computer and will want to check his email and play games. He's going to think I'm an asshole for letting him use it before and then suddenly revoking that offer when we share space permanently. In a way I guess it IS a trust issue and I'm sure I'd be a bit peeved if the situation was reversed... but I honestly don't trust that something won't accidentally happen. Or that maybe one day he gets curious and pokes around my computer where I keep some *very* personal stuff. And I'm willing to bet he'll want to start downloading music and stuff (and since I do, how could he not think it's ok to?) and that's when trouble could really come my way. You can tell me all you like that I should just tell him no but we all know that one day, when we're all good and comfortable in our space and I'm not around.... he'll go on there. And I will know that he did (because of course I will set up monitoring and passwords on as much as I can) and then I will get angry.. and...well.. it just wouldn't be pretty and could cause a rift.

Well. Let's hear from you guys.... as much advice as you can put out there. I'm gonna need it all. Let me learn from your experiences!!

Shabat Shalom!

when skeletons are dragged out of the closet and into the light of day
I don't know why, but I always figured my family didn't really have any secrets. Sure we had a tiny "scandal" or two and stuff that didn't get talked about, but no real secrets that I didn't know about. All that naivete came to an abrupt end last night when I learned of a dark secret that had been hidden from me and buried for 37 years. Due to a bizarre set of circumstances (including a family member in counseling) this tidbit of information was shared with me in a teary and emotional moment last night, and it's all I have been thinking about since. (I must apologize for not being able to get into specifics but I must protect the privacy of the family member involved)

I knew bits and pieces of the story... but this piece of the puzzle answers so many questions and fills in so many gaps. I thought I knew the whole story but I now realize I was only aware of the tip of the iceberg. And when this information was revealed to me I didn't quite know how to take it. My brain was swimming in a sea of emotions as flashbacks of the players in this story raced through my mind. As I sorted through the new information I felt a wave of emotion.... first of tears and hurt and sorrow.... and then all out rage. I am now still stuck in the rage and I fear it's growing. The problem is... many of the players involved in this are now dead. So how can I reconcile my feelings when I can't even have it out with those people? I can't give a piece of my mind for what was done to someone I care so deeply about. So I am stuck having the make-believe argument in my head of what I *would* say to those people if I could. This of course does not help with the stewing rage and has ensured I am exhausted at work this morning from lack of sleep.

I am also troubled because I am finding my rage is slowly turning towards someone who is alive and that I can blame for sitting on the sidelines ignoring this past tragedy. I know my rage wants someone to blame but I don't want it to get directed towards someone now that I care about very much and am extremely close to. But at the same time.... I already see this person differently now because of this. I already wonder... how could this have happened and why did you react the way you did?

I don't know what to do and I don't know how to get a grip on how I feel. All I know is that I suddenly understand why people do some crazy things when they find out someone they love has been hurt. And so help me god, the person who did this is lucky to be dead... because I don't know what I'd do...

/end rant.
thanks for listening, I know that was a bit cryptic and dark. I just needed to get it off my chest so it doesn't eat me alive.

Thursday, May 26, 2005
Revenge of the Blogger
I can't do it. I just can't bring myself to write any real kind of a post about the Star Wars movie. Not only has it been done to death but I just can't be bothered to waste the energy on trying to pull it apart to analyze it. Bottom line: in all likeliness the hardcore oldskool fans will probably not like it. And if it's one thing I have learned it's that George Lucas sucks ass at writing, especially dialogue. He may be a master at visuals and creating an epic adventure... but a writer he is not. I shall site you an example, no spoilers so don't worry...
An actual scene with actual dialogue because even I can't write shit this bad:

[scene: Padme (pregnant with Luke and Leia) standing out on a balcony overlooking the city. As she stares pensively into the distance, Anakin (now on the verge of turning the dark side coz he can't get a promotion), watches her from the doorway.... ]

Anakin: You are so beautiful..
(Padme beams and with a huge smile replies..)
Padme: That's because I am in love. (hold on... I'm starting to gag)
Anakin: No... it's because I love you. (yup... definitely gagging now. it smacks of "No I love YOU more!" "No no, I love you more!")

At this point I had to laugh and I wasn't the only one. This wasn't the first or last example of bad dialogue in that film I am sad to say. And that wasn't all I was disappointed with.. I could go on and on about how it was anti-climatic, had no real surprises and how it lacked depth when explaining what drove Anakin to the dark side. I guess I was foolish in building my hopes up that this would be the film that made up for the last two. I don't know why I thought it would be good, but it wasn't. I agree it was an improvement over the last two, but it still took away from the greatness of the original three.

I have been trying to find Star Wars happiness in other ways since the film did not fill me with the sci-fi joy I was dreaming of. Firstly, have a look at the pics of me in the Star Wars lineup where I waited for 8 hours, playing poker and having fun with the other geeks (go to my photoblog here, or for the sake of archiving go here, here, here, here and here). See the smile? Little did I know of the disappointment ahead of me...at least I cleaned up at the poker table.

As I have already mentioned I have have been lucky enough to partake in the goodness that is Star Wars cereal, thanks to my mom who brought it back for me from a recent trip to Las Vegas. I called and requested it, and then she called back and asked "Do you want the box that has Vader on it or the green guy?". Could this be more embarrassing to a geek who was standing in line for the biggest movie event of the year among her peers?? "Mom!!!! His name is Yoda. YODA!!"

Yesterday I went to 7-11 to get the "Darth Dew Slurpee" coz I sure love me a slushy frozen drink and if it's got something to do with Star Wars, I am SO there! I got myself a giant cup with Vader and the Green Guy on it, and the lid that covers the cup is Vader! I got to sip from Vader's brain!! Ok, ok... it's not so exciting to read about, I see that now. Anyway, if you have a 7-11 nearby I strongly urge you to get one.

Wanna see something better than that crappy new Star Wars movie? Behold Store Wars, as sent to me by one of my geek friends. It's *extremely* well done!! Let the fight for organic food begin! For optimal enjoyment go grab a Darth Dew Slurpee and park yourself in front of your monitor to watch this delightful little film.

And the best Star Wars link of the day is brought to you by Burger King; The Sith Sense. Here you will see Darth Vader guess in 20 questions, what you are thinking about. I was *stunned* when he guessed both squash and hedgehog. The dude is GOOD. Go check it out, it's *really* freaky. And it's better than the new movie (much more entertaining, truth be told).

Tuesday, May 24, 2005
1) I can't wait until the birds in my neighbourhood all find mates and start making nests and babies. Then they will finally shut the hell up (wouldn't want to give away the location of the nest!) and stop waking me up at 5am. As proficient as I have become at rolling over in my sleep and jamming earplugs into my ears, I'd really rather not. They're not the most comfortable things to sleep in.

2) do the tv gods hate me or something? First they cancelled my beloved "Third Watch" and now they have taken "Joan of Arcadia" from me??? Thanks for ruining Friday night tv for me and robbing me of two of my very favourite shows. Next season had better be good.

3) Speaking of tv seasons, does anyone else remember when it used to be September to June? None of this October to May with a month off in the middle crap. Are we not the customers? Why are WE told when we can see our shows instead of demanding when we want to see it??

4) Speaking of tv did anyone see the season finale of CSI that was directed by Quentin Tarantino? I really liked it and it definitely smacked of Quentin (and of Kill Bill).

5) I can't stop playing poker. I got the poker bug, BAD. I play online far too much but I just can't help myself!!!

6) the massive house cleaning/junk purging continues with liberatingly awesome results. I am feeling great having rid myself of junk I will never use. Deciding to put it all in a garage sale really eases any guilt about letting stuff go; if I can sell it and get myself that much closer to the money I need for my 5 month Livnot trip to Israel I'm all the happier.

7) I really wish the stuff I ordered for my fundraising efforts for the trip would hurry up and get here so I can show you guys. I'm so excited!! (anyone wanna help me design some kind of ad/graphic/banner/button that I can use and maybe ask other bloggers to put on their blog to help me out?

8) I'm totally getting all teary eyed watching Rob and Amber get married on tv right now. Could those two be ANY SWEETER?? ucch. I'd hate them if only they weren't so adorable together.

9) I have a new favourite cereal and it is the Kellogg's Star Wars cereal.

Monday, May 23, 2005
a ha!
I'm riding a nervous excitement at the moment... I have decided how I am going to raise some money for this 5 month Livnot trip to Israel I am going on. An idea came to me and I am far more excited about it than the calendar idea (though I liked that idea a lot and had picked out pictures I wanted to use and everything). The nervousness comes from the fact that I just invested a fair chunk of change online to order the items I wish to sell to raise the funds.... but I think it will be met favourably and will likely do better than the calendar (lower price, snazzier item). I feel like I'm on an episode of The Apprentice! Will my idea pay off? Will I be able to market it? Will I be stuck with the product? Gahhhhhh!!!

Anyway, I know I am being cryptic about what it is, but all will be revealed soon enough. Hopefully I will receive the items next week and in the meantime I need to hurry about and set up a bank account specifically set aside for fundraising; I don't want the money going into the pit known as my personal account. I want to be able to track things, ya know? *glee!* I hope you guys like this idea as much as I do.

As for my weekend, it has been good and in fact, is still going on. We Canadians get our first long weekend of the summer season thanks to Victoria Day (known in these parts as the "May Two-Four"). This has given me a chance to see some friends, recover from the disappointment of the Star Wars movie (post about that still coming, I swear), and to do some *major* cleaning of my apartment. I figure I should do the hardcore cleaning and purging of junk that has built up over the last few years, and I mean REALLY throw out junk I'll never use. Always easier said than done, but in the next few months I will either be moving to Israel for a while or I will be moving to a new apartment and taking on a roommate. Either way I need to get a handle on what I actually need and what I can let go of.

Thanks to everyone who offered kinds words for Princess Blondie during her recent loss. You are all very sweet and it's appreciated. I spent Friday night with her talking and hanging out and just generally being there however I could. She and her fiance are doing remarkably well and we are now turning the focus to their wedding on June 18th. I can't wait!

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, May 20, 2005
I'm sorry if I had you all worried yesterday.... I was just extremely upset and needed to take a day to collect myself before writing again. I got a call first thing yesterday morning from my best friend Princess Blondie (you all know her as my Survivor buddy) to tell me she had lost her baby (she was only in her first trimester of pregnancy). We sat and cried together on the phone and I struggled to find words to console her at such a tough time. The fact that I had only 4 hours sleep the night before (thanks to that late night viewing of the new Star Wars movie) made everything that much more dramatic in my world and I spent the rest of the day crying off and on. When my friends hurt *I* hurt and I was absolutely crushed for her and her great loss. After a day at the hospital yesterday she is at home today and I am hoping to sneak out of work early to go spend some time with her.

I am going to leave my posting at that... I still can't muster a fun post about Star Wars at such a time. I just want those of you who are reading and have kids to go home and give your kids a big hug and a kiss.... be grateful for your little miracles, because not everyone is so lucky.

have a great weekend. Shabat Shalom.

Thursday, May 19, 2005
Star Wars review pre-empted
I just got some really horrible news so my Star Wars review will have to wait until tomorrow. Tune back in later and thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005
let the geekfest begin!!
The countdown to the new Star Wars movie is ON! My friend has already called me and played the Star Wars theme music over the phone and annoyed me with his high level of giddiness. Yes, I am excited but we have a whole work day ahead of us... I haven't quite reached the fever pitch of excitement that he has. I'm also trying not to think about the fact that I will be dog-tired tomorrow at work, likely functioning on 4 hours of sleep; it's a midnight show.... the movie, including trailers and such will be around 2.5 hours... all going well I will be in bed by 3am... and up again at 7am. Oh what we geeks won't do for our obsessions.

In preparation for the new film tonight my friends and I got together last night to watch the prior movie, Star Wars; Attack of the Clones, just as a refresher since I only saw it once three years ago in the theatre (I hated it so I didn't bother to watch it again). I am really hoping that George Lucas redeems himself in this film for his 2 prior pieces of crap that have stomped all over my beloved childhood memories of the Star Wars trilogy. He can start winning me back by killing off Jar Jar Binks and bringing back Darth Maul. Seriously, what moron in his right mind kills off the coolest character since Boba Fett and KEEPS the most annoying character since the Ewoks?? Oy, don't even get me started.

Anyway, my friends and I have planned our lineup time for 8pm... 4 hours in advance of the start time of the movie. Will it be enough? Will we get our favourite seats at the very back? (you laugh, but I had a dream about getting seats, I'm so worried about it! lol) I guess we'll see... we have one of the gang going a little early to scout the place to make sure there isn't a big lineup forming. Around Toronto there are several theatres where people have been lining up DAYS in advance (yes, there are bigger geeks out there than me, and they all shop at Star Wars Shop.com) but we'll be going to a theatre in the very north end of the area so I am hoping that means the lineup will be considerably smaller... though I know our theatre is sold out. Only time will tell! I'll give you the full review tomorrow. (ah and by the way... note that two of the lead roles, are being played by a Canadian and an Israeli. what could be better??)

In other news I found out something that has me mildly disturbed. My parents are going to be moving into my apartment building. And not only are they moving into my apartment building... they will be getting the apartment RIGHT above my head. See... they put their house up for sale and it sold within 24 hours and has a closing date of June 30th. However, their new home, currently under construction, won't be ready until December. Thus them needing to find a temporary home, and just as luck would have it, there is a two bedroom available in my building on June 1st. *groan*

Now then.... do I really need to outline the pros and cons of this situation?
Pro: I can go upstairs for dinner!

Con: if I should happen to get a boyfriend sometime this year... well, they will now know when he stays over. Not exactly private.

Pro: I will get to see my cat more often (I left him with our other cat at my parents when I moved out.. couldn't split them up, I felt too bad). Now my boy can come down and visit with me.

Con: Our bedrooms are right on top of each other. Let's just say.... I don't want to hear my parents (*shudder*) and I don't ever want them to hear me.

Pro: Um....... Um...... er....

Con: Now I'll have to actually use the laundry facilities in my building, which I haven't for the last 3 years I've lived there. They're crappy and I had been taking my laundry over to my parents place where they have the sexiest washer and dryer ever. Now I have to use crappy machines that cost money. This is perhaps one of the most annoying parts of all.

Pro: We ..um.... can borrow milk and sugar from each other?

Con: Now they are going to know when I come and go and what kind of hours I keep. This is starting to feel a lot like living at home with them. GAHHHHHHH!!!

I've said it before and I'll say it again.... this is definitely going to be a very interesting year.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Today is my birthday..... I am celebrating 6 years. If you have no idea what this means I suggest you go back to my post last year when I turned 5 (I got that medallion you see pictured here for my 5th birthday).

Those who once swore they would stand by me have long since given up on me and faded away, promises forgotten..... but I have been blessed enough to have them replaced by people who have done what the others promised they would. You know who you are and I thank you for being there for me and reminding me that I am not alone.

I gotta say..... 6 feels pretty good. :-)

Monday, May 16, 2005
This morning I was coming into work with a smile on my face, a spring in my step and song in my heart. I had a fabulous weekend of coffee with friends on Friday night, poker playing all day and night on Saturday, and meditation and movies yesterday. Three hours of meditating with my group and EIGHT hours of movie viewing in the theatre made for a jam packed day on Sunday.

But this morning I felt like I had the world by the ass. I taped the 3 hour Survivor FINALE last night because my usual Survivor viewing buddy, Princess Blondie, was in Ohio this weekend so we couldn't watch it together. This morning I was chipper as I put myself into a media blackout so as to not ruin the ending of the show (I believe Princess Blondie and I did this last time too). I watched no news and listened to no radio this morning. I just had to get through the next 8 hours (not hard to do at work) and get to Blondie's house to watch it. I'm experienced I know I can do it. Yes sir, this is going to be a good week... kicking it off with Survivor and following it up with a midnight viewing of the new Star Wars movie on Wednesday night.

As I stood in the office kitchen this morning a co-worker came in and said excitedly: "Yay Tom!". I looked at her and thought.. hunh? Tom who? Cruise?? What did he do? I replied with "what the hell are you talking about??" to which she said: "Don't you watch Survivor??". It was at this point that a little dark thunder cloud rolled over my head and began to rain on my otherwise sunny day. "Did you just ruin the show for me?" I asked her. Her face fell as she realized the error of her ways. I couldn't even get angry at her because she didn't mean to... but it totally squashed my good mood. I told her that she should always, ALWAYS, start a conversation about a tv show with "Did you watch (blank) last night?". You just never know when someone is taping something. *sigh* I called Princess Blondie up, told her what happened but that I still wanted to get together and watch it (she doesn't know who won yet, so at least one of us can still be surprised). Oh, and if I just ruined it for someone else, I apologize... but you should be putting yourself in a blackout!! lol

But as I said.... I had a good weekend, so I can't really complain. Yesterday my friends and I saw three films back-to-back in the theatre for a marathon movie day. We saw The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (liked it a lot), Be Cool (liked it, it was amusing) and House of Wax (pretty cheesy, but if you have low expectations like I did it's not so bad. you get to see Paris Hilton play.... Paris Hilton! I hardly call that acting, but who am I to judge?).

This week still promises to be good. I have lots to do at work which makes me happy; I hate not having anything to do. I still have Survivor to watch which means a good time with my bestest friend Princess Blondie. And my friends and I, The Geek Squad, have that midnight show for Star Wars to see, for which we get to line up hours in advance like uber-geeks. We'll take pictures, play cards, and chat up the other geeks. It's all good fun. AND I have that calendar I want to put together to start some fundraising for my trip to Israel. I figure that even if I don't get enough to do the 5 month trip I can at least go for a couple of weeks, which is better than not going at all. But I'm gonna push hard to try and raise enough for the trip.... I'm feeling the drive to do this again.

Hope everyone had a good weekend... do feel free to share with the rest of us what you did.

Saturday, May 14, 2005
kitten vs poker (poker wins)

Cute kitten hunh? I'm babysitting her today, she's actually a gift for Princess Blondie's mom (she doesn't know yet.. it a surprise. *gulp!*). Princess Blondie's fiance, Bruno, needed me to keep the kitten somewhere for the day and I happily agreed. She's so cute. In fact! She is the sister to this kitten that I got for my friend last August! Pretty cool, no? There are two more kittens in the litter.... anyone want one?

Anyway, as you can see I was learning to play poker today (and whipped my teacher's ASS, I might add!). It's fun. I am now going to force my friend to play poker all night. Just as I suspected... I'm loving the game lots. LOTS! Bwah ha ha!!

Friday, May 13, 2005
Friday the 13th
I hadn't realized it was a 'Friday the 13th' today until I heard them discussing it on the television this morning. Since I was born on a Friday the 13th, such days tend to be lucky for me so I think I'll buy a few extra lottery tickets tonight and hope luck is on my side. The jackpot is up to $25 million which would be pretty damn sweet. Israel, here I come!

Tonight my buddy (who has been crashing at my place for the last 2 weeks) is going to teach me how to play poker. I have been nagging him to teach me for quite some time now and he finally got himself a lovely set of chips in a fancy metal case so he's wanting to try it out. The moons have aligned just right and all going well, I shall be playing poker by the end of the evening. I am slightly concerned that I'm going to go crazy for poker since I have been known to get extremely obsessive over cards games (euchre) in the past. Playing online, playing with anyone who is willing and sometimes those who weren't so willing. I love cards! I guess we'll see how I take to poker.... it might not be my game since I am possibly one of the worst liars ever. (btw, I'll ask again, does anybody here play euchre?? I'm *still* trying to find a good partner to play online with)

Well, I have been mulling over suggestions you, my fine readers, have offered for ways to raise funds for my 5 month trip to Israel. Though initially not sold on the idea I am now leaning in the direction of maybe creating a calendar. I like the idea because then you guys will get something in return for your money donated which makes me feel a bit better about it (since I'm not so keen on handouts). However, I have two concerns about it: (1) can I keep the cost of making them low enough that people will be willing to buy them? (2) how many should I make, keeping in mind that I have to put the money up front and if there are any left over calendars I will have to eat the cost.

With that in mind, let me ask you guys.... how much would be too much for a calendar? I think it's going to have to be at least $20-25 (CAN) in order to cover my costs and still make enough to collect money for the trip. And that's only a guess right now.. I may find that it's more like $30, and to me that seems steep. What do you guys think? It would be a nice calendar with photos I have taken (just of Israel? or some of my other photos too? let me know what you think! my photoblogs are here and here and here) and I would probably make it for Sept 2005 - Sept 2006 (it's only May afterall.... a 2006 calendar seems silly since 2006 is a good 6 months away, and the Jewish calendar runs from Sept - Sept).

Anyway, I'm going to start shopping around for prices this weekend, because I would have to put this together pretty quick, and I have no idea what I'm doing. If you have any other suggestions for fund raising PLEASE SPEAK UP!!! I need all the help I can get.

And speaking of Israel I have added a new blog "If you will it...". A young man from England and his adventures as a new immigrant in Israel. Check it out and show him some lovin', he's a great guy.

As a parting gift, I leave you with this video for the song Apache. It. Is. HILARIOUS. (hat tip: Geoff) Shabat Shalom!

Thursday, May 12, 2005
Yom Ha'atzmaut
Happy 57th Birthday, Israel! Yes, in true Israeli style, the country went from it's most somber and saddest of days (Yom Hazikaron, their memorial day marking the remembrance of all the fallen soldiers who died so that Israel may exist) to the very happiest of days....Yom Ha'atzmaut. Independence Day!

I wrote and absolutely glowing and gushing post about this event last year if you care to read it. As for this year.. I just feel like quietly celebrating all that Israel has managed to overcome and achieve. This year saw Israel's first gold Olympic medal, for example. Think Israel is all about war and religion? Check out this website, Israel21c, where you will learn about how Israel is growing red algae in the desert to fight diseases, harnessing the power of tea tree oil for healthier agriculture growing, or how Israel is quickly becoming the top exporter of top-of-line bath towels to Las Vegas. Or maybe try reading the group blog Israelity where Israeli bloggers share posts about everyday life in Israel, with no talk of politics or war, to get an idea of what life there is really like.

Today is the day you should make an effort to shift your view about what really goes on in Israel. It's is not a place where people live in terror and walk around in flak jackets. This is a living, thriving, breathing country with amazing people, an amazing culture and some of the best food and beaches in the world.

Today I celebrate Israel. AM YISRAEL CHAI!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Yom Hazikaron
Today is Yom Hazikaron in Israel. Sirens sound and people once again stop and take a moment to remember Israel's fallen soldiers. This particular Remembrance Day has personal significance since the loss of Mulder's brother is still fresh; he was killed during his army service just 2 weeks ago (if you haven't yet, go to the blog Mulder made for his brother. see what has been lost and what is being remembered today). Now I have a greater understanding for what it is to lose someone to protect a country. The cost is high, but if it's not paid, the country does not continue to exist. There are few countries that must be vigilant against its enemy each and every day, each and every hour, like Israel needs to be.

For more information about Yom Hazikaron click here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005
you want me to go to Israel, don't you??
Ok, I'm back to obsessing over finding a way to finance the 5 month trip to Israel I want to go on with Livnot (being accepted into their program has been one of the most frustrating experiences to date, I'll tell ya). I don't know what it was about this particular morning but I woke up with that familiar feeling in my gut like I gotta find my way back to Israel again. The feeling is always there, but the strength of the drive ebbs and tides. Maybe it's the warmer weather here that has me dreaming of Israel again? *shrug* I dunno. Maybe because I have friends over there that I am dying to see again? Probably.

So I need some help here. I need some really good suggestions on how I can raise some money. Yes, when the time comes up I will put up a begging bowl and grovel for donations, but I am looking for other ideas on how I can really raise some money... something like carwashes, but better. Be creative, maybe it can be something I do on my blog (a blogathon where people sponsor me and I blog for 24 hours straight? answer questions from readers about myself for $5 a pop? would any of you actually go for that or would it be a flop?) or something I can do in my life. I am fresh out of ideas but open to suggestions so let's have 'em. I'm hoping for a good brainstorming session here, so for those readers who never ever bother comment, now is the time to come out of hiding and speak up. If ya like me enough to come back time and time again to read than hopefully you like me enough to stop lurking and share some ideas.

I need some help here folks... help me, help me! :-)

Monday, May 09, 2005
to liv or livnot
So I haven't whined about my possible 5 month trip to Israel in a while.... maybe I'm due? Well, I guess I haven't written anything about it because there's nothing to really report. I have submitted my application for financial aid and all I can really do now is sit and pray until I find out how much, if any, I will receive (I won't find out until June 15th). Unless it's extremely generous I won't be able to go, so if anyone knows any rich Jews who'd like to sponsor lil' ole me on an adventure to Israel do let me know. Despite my best efforts I did *not* win the 22.5 million dollar jackpot this weekend. I'll try again this weekend.

What else....?

Um. I'm reading a book called "The Case for Israel" by Alan Dershowitz. An excellent book that outlines and dispels arguments and myths surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I am learning SO much and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the situation and understand the accusations against Israel.

I have put up a whole whack of pictures up on my photoblog "Dreaming In Blue" if you care to take a peek. You may find some amusing...

Boy... I sure am shootin' blanks today. I got nuthin'! Maybe something will come to me later in the day...

Saturday, May 07, 2005
I love you sweet, sweet weekend
So I was going to write a post yesterday but I was so miserable and grumpy and angry that it would have sounded much like this: $%#*work@? $#!crisis*&% +stress#$%!
See how that wouldn't have made for a very good post? I had possibly the most craptacular week at work that I can remember and it was punctuated with the worst and slowest moving Friday ever. It was the day that simply would NOT end. And since this week would only leave kicking and screaming I was rewarded with a cherry on top of the crap sundae..... a huge traffic jam on the way home because of an overturned dump truck. Took me twice as long to get home.

But hey... it was ok. It was all ok because I knew I had the weekend to look forward to and the weather promised to be good. So my friend (who is staying with me this week and next) and I ordered a pizza, chilled out, watched the series finale of my beloved show Third Watch (I can't talk about it yet... I'm so sad it's ended) and then went and grabbed a late night coffee with another friend. The three of us sat and discussed our plans for the upcoming Star Wars movie and how early we will have to stand in line to get the seat we want. We already have tickets to the midnight show on May 18th (making it technically the 19th, the legal release date) and we are pumped, excitable little geeks. We're hoping George Lucas amends his ways and redeems himself for the two previous shitty films. *fingers crossed*

For today I am doing whatever the hell strikes my fancy and helps me deflate and recover from my bad week. My friend has gone off on his own for the day so I went and grabbed some groceries and picked up a little present for my mom for Mother's Day tomorrow. My parents and I will be heading up north to see my grandmother for Mother's Day which will make her very happy. We'll eat and play cards which constitutes a great time by our standards. :-)

Hope everyone else is having a great weekend and that the weather is as nice wherever you are as it is here.

P.S. Ilana over at Sugar 'N Spicy used one of the photos I took in Israel (Haifa) for her banner on her blog, check it out here!

Thursday, May 05, 2005
Holocaust Remembrance Day
It's days like this that make me wish I was in Israel. I can only imagine the power of watching an entire country come to a standstill as sirens wail and people stand in a moment of silence for those lost in the Holocaust. People stop their cars on the highways and get out to stand silently out of respect for the MILLIONS of lives lost at the hands of ignorance and hate. I wish I could be there to be part of that moment. All I can do is read about the experience from other bloggers and close my eyes and imagine..

For more information on the Holocaust please check out the Holocaust Chronicle. It is a big beautiful hardcover book that I bought for a mere $20 and is also *fully* available to read online for free. It was published and printed at a low cost in order to make sure it was available at a reasonable price to anyone who wanted to learn more (and for those who can't afford it's FREE online! what more can you ask for?). Please support the organization by stopping by and maybe you'll even learn a little something.

Many say that Jews bring up the Holocaust too much, that it is used as an excuse or a crutch. But tell me... if you lost 6 million of your people would you ever let yourself forget? To stop talking about it would be the beginning of forgetting. We must not forget what happened and that it can happen again. We must remember those that were lost and continue to share the stories of their lives so they may live on.

In 2004 anti-semitism reached a 15 year high....and unless we remind people that it is unacceptable it's entirely possible that another Holocaust could take place. So today I ask you to remember. And when you hear someone make an anti-semitic remark... have the strength to stand up and say that's not right. And remember why.
Remember the Jews, the Blacks, the physically and mentally handicapped, the gays and all the other minorities lost. This doesn't just effect the Jews.. It affects us all. I'll tell ya what... if you stand up for me, I will stand up for you. Deal?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Freeze Frame
I know, where the hell have I been right? What can I say, work has been kicking my ass this week. Work rarely kicks my ass and its even more rare that it stresses me out so when it does it causes me to have to drop everything else to focus on it to sort it out, otherwise I get a little addle-brained and that's no damn good.

That being said I am going to be keeping this brief; I have a friend crashing at my place all week because I am making him go into work with me to help out so as to calm my stress level. He's an angel for helping me with my work crisis... remember to always surround yourself with good friends.
And I am trying to write up a business proposal for a friend of mine who struggles with his English. This is the guy who runs the meditation group I sit with every Sunday, so I am happy to help him draw up a plan to open a meditation centre. I think it's a great idea and hope he can get the financing.... I can only pray that I write up a great proposal for him and he gets the government grant (no pressure there at all!). *fingers crossed*

Most of you know by now I was spending a lot of time at the "Hot Docs" festival last week here in Toronto, watching Israeli documentaries. Well, I am happy to announce that a documentary called "Sentenced to Marriage" won as best Israeli documentary. Here's a synopsis:

"Personal rights of freedom and independence clash with centuries of orthodox Jewish law when two young Israeli women struggle to obtain legal divorces in a country that has no separation of church and state. Through audio recordings and hidden camera footage, Anat Zuria takes us behind the closed doors of the Israeli rabbinical courts to track the Kafkaesque web of religious and governmental bureaucracy. Although separated husbands are permitted to couple with new women and even withhold child support, under Jewish law, wives are prohibited from contact with other men and are fated to be chaste until an official divorce is issued. The barren and gloomy rooms of the courthouse provide a bleak backdrop for the tireless efforts of, on one side, the aggravated wives and their solicitors and, on the other, the rabbinical judges who regularly side with the husbands and their lawyers. Sentenced to Marriage is a powerful indictment of a legal system that, Zuria suggests, is at best an anachronism and at worst a demoralizing labyrinth of misogynistic inequity."

Amazing! I wish I had been able to see it.... it sounds like a great topic and will hopefully open up people to discussion on the matter.

Anyway, that will be the last I go on about the documentary film festival, I promise. It's over now. What I *will* mention though is a story about 6 students who created a Nazi website and were expelled from their school for it (bravo!).

"Six students at an exclusive Toronto private school have been disciplined in connection with an anti-Semitic website. Royal St. George College has expelled three students and suspended three others following an investigation into the site, which contained Nazi images.

The boys' alleged involvement came to light after a female student at another private school sent a note to the site's chat room. When the Branksome Hall student urged the site's creators to remove some of its offensive content, she received a graphic reply that prompted the investigation. The website has been taken offline."

Yes, anti-semitism is alive and well here in Canada too, I hate to say..... and in kids so young! I'm glad the students got expelled though I am not entirely sure it was to discipline them so much as get rid of them so their actions do not reflect upon this "upper class" school. Either way, I am glad some kind of action was taken and not just a slap on the wrist.

Alright alright.... enough of the serious stuff. Go play some Pacman. (why oh WHY have I always and forever sucked at this very simple game??)

Monday, May 02, 2005
You may recall last week when I mentioned that my friend and fellow blogger Mulder had lost his brother who died while serving in the Israeli army. Well, Mulder has created a blog in his brother's memory.... a place for photographs and stories to be shared so that his brother's memory may live on. If you like, stop by and see Tsiki's Blog.