Monday, July 31, 2006


my sister n. has just made a page for our father (who art in heaven, we hope) on wikipedia. while searching for it, i also found the following on a website for jewish humour, and thought you may enjoy it:

Rabbi Albert H. Friedlander of England's Westminster synagogue, who is known for his soft, melodious voice, often tells this story when visiting a community and preaching a sermon.

"Before I begin my sermon (talk), I must make a confession. It is not really a confession, because you have already begun to realize that I have a soft, quiet voice. To be honest: IT PUTS PEOPLE TO SLEEP. And why not? A fifteen minute snooze might help a congregant far more than anything else I can do for him or her.

However, I really object when the president of my congregation always falls asleep within two minutes of my starting the sermon. Once, I challenged him: "Max, WHY do you always fall asleep as soon as I begin to preach?" "Rabbi," he said firmly, "I trust you."

he told this story to the congregation at my installation in virginia a few years ago. a couple of weeks later, as i stood up to begin my sermon, mrs clayman called out from her seat in the second row, "don't worry, rabbi - i trust you!"

what the ****?

yes i am biased since i am a jew but i am neither absolutist nor fundamentalist. how are these incidents going to help the growth of peace?

berlin holocaust memorial vandalised

sydney synagogue attacked

the passionate anti-semitism of mel gibson

attack on seattle jews - one death

Sunday, July 30, 2006

fear the oink

fear the oink
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
ok - i need to know - who are the ariel ballhogs? found nothing on google. we were driving around the florida mall, and i saw this slogan on the truck. upon closer inspection there was another van which said 'go ballhogs' and had a sticker for the ariel ballhogs. it's a great piglet pic. i just need to know more!

piglet meets his disney friends

piglet meets his disney friends
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
last but not least, classic piglet makes peace with his disney counterparts.

epcot piglet

piglet & space mickey/goofy
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
awwww look how sweet mickey & goofy are being - holding piglet's paws.

have to admit that i've always been more of a warner brothers sista.

guess where we've been all week!

piglet & cinderella's castle
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
what can i say? when you get a bargain on a week at a resort just by sea world, and you really need a holiday, and when you get there it is all marshes and gators and timeshares and themeparks, and you are on holiday so you can do whatever you want ... and piglet's never been there ... yes, we have just given many dollars to disney.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

reggae boy

06-07 damion stewart by nico
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
finally for today here is a pic of damion stewart. he played against england for jamaica in a world cup warm-up. i scanned the screen intently each time he appeared, and came to the conclusion that he has an oddly-shaped head. this has nothing to do with his official nickname, which appears to be "stew-peas".

the boy from oz

06-07 nick ward by nico
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
i've always felt that i only really know my team when i can recognise players from a distance by the way they hold themselves and move.

there are so many new faces at qpr this season, so i am posting a couple of shots by nico from the dot org to help me begin to learn.

this is nick ward who just signed from perth glory.

pre-season prep

06-07 qpr ballet by nico
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
yes the world cup is only just over and they are still debating how to punish the head-butter and the trash-talker but in less than a fortnight the championship season begins again and my beloved qpr start to play for real. with a new manager, and several new players, we have no sense of how the team might be this year. this photo is from an inter-squad game, and the guy on the left is our new striker from poland. i am hoping that the ball is out of picture on the right rather than the left. still, before a ball is kicked in anger, one may hope, eh?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

kudos to the freeway blogger

and thanks echidne of the snakes for the link:

check this out

there are still a few civil disobedients out there

peter hawkins r.i.p.

it is said that jesters have a place in the world to come. peter hawkins was not famous, but he entertained millions. my favourite characters that he voiced included the daleks, bill and ben the flowerpot men, and the laughing martian robots in the smash ads. thank you sir.

family matters

samuel hoschander
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
this is a photograph of my great-grandfather, samuel hoschander. he came from a religious family in poland, but emigrated to berlin at some point possibly after WW1. he was a sofer, and i have a small wooden yad that he carved.

yesterday i received a call from california in response to a letter i wrote to a kibbutz in israel a couple of months ago. more hoschanders! they also are descended from a samuel who went to berlin maybe around the same time. our excitement is palpable!

tables are turned :-)

d. took this picture with her mobile of me taking a picture of the pig at holy blossom temple in toronto. possibly looks a bit like i am paying homage ...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

octavia e. butler

d. lent me this book to read a couple of days ago, and i just sat down with it this afternoon. would not have stopped to write here, except i am trying to savour the last few chapters and not finish too greedily.

"A lot of people seem to believe in a big-daddy-God or a big-cop-God or a big-king-God. They believe in a kind of super-person. A few believe God is another word for nature. And nature turns out to mean just about anything they happen not to understand or feel in control of.

Some say God is a spirit, a force, an ultimate reality. Ask seven people what all of that means and you'll get seven different answers. So what is God? Just another name for whatever makes you feel special and protected?" Parable of the Sower pp 13-14

and if it helps, and does not hurt anyone else, what is the problem with that?

she also writes a few pages later:

"God is Power -
And yet, God is Pliable -
God exists to be shaped.
God is Change.

This is the literal truth.

God can't be resisted or stopped, but can be shaped and focused. This means God is not to be prayed to. Prayers only help the person doing the praying, and then, only if they strengthen and focus that person's resolve. If they're used that way, they can help us in our only real relationship with God. They help us to shape God and to accept and work with the shapes that God imposes on us. God is power, and in the end, God prevails.

But we can rig the game in our own favor if we understand that God exists to be shaped, and will be shaped, with or without our forethought, with or without our intent." ibid p 24

kind of alongside the buddhist idea that all our suffering derives from attachment to material things ... as if having stuff makes us real, because we own it, have power over it ... what i hear her saying this evening is we should shed the illusion that god is a deity that may indulge our whims upon supplication. god has god's own plan. our choice is to accept that and deal with the hands we are given, or not. if we do not, shit still happens. if we do, things may be different. or not. but at least we take part in our own destiny.

off to play ping-pong. small objects that may be struck with great force and yet suffer no damage nor cause it to other persons and objects. excellent.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


oink on eglinton
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
way way back many centuries ago not long after the internet began, i lived in toronto for a bit. one of the things they used to say was that it was the most multicultural city in the world. this does not, of course, mean that everyone mingles and shares and learns. rather it seems that there many neighbourhoods abutting each other. here, piglet visits the hamlet of swinetown :-)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

the power of thought!

n's friend mark really does write about some interesting subjects in the science pages of the times. today it is about a chip in the brain of a paralysed man that helps him to operate machinery. here are some extracts:

The man who can open his e-mails by power of thought
By Mark Henderson
Paralysed knife victim says implant has changed his life

A MAN paralysed from the neck down has learnt to move a computer cursor and an artificial arm by the power of thought alone. The brain implant that has allowed him to do so could be used eventually to control wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs.
The first detailed scientific report on the case of Matthew Nagle, 25, whose spinal cord was severed in a knife attack, shows how sensors that measure brainwaves could allow paralysed patients to improve their quality of life greatly.

Mr Nagle, from Massachusetts, has been fitted with a 4mm-square chip that reads signals in the primary motor cortex of his brain, the region that would control movement if he had the use of his limbs.

When he imagines moving his paralysed body, the implant’s 100 sensors record the activity in his brain and transmit these signals to a computer that controls various devices. In nine months, he has learnt to move a cursor on a computer screen, open e-mails, play simple computer games and adjust the volume of his television. He has also learnt to operate a simple robotic arm.

A paper published today in the journal Nature describes his progress. He can move a cursor to a target on a computer screen with 75 to 85 per cent accuracy. He can also perform many of these actions while conducting a conversation. This suggests that total concentration will not be necessary to operate mind-controlled prosthetic limbs, a critical factor if they are to become part of everyday life.

A second patient, a 55-year-old man with a spinal injury, has also been implanted with the device, called BrainGate, though he has yet to achieve similar results.

Mr Nagle had been paralysed for four years before the study. The results indicate that brain activity involved in motion persists long after spinal injury and can be channelled to control computerised devices. This is important, as many scientists had predicted that the necessary nerve cells might wither with lack of use, making it difficult to harness their signals.

“What is also encouraging is the immediate response from the brain,” Dr Donoghue said. “When asked to ‘think right’ or ‘think left’, patients were able to change their neural activity immediately. And their use of the device is seemingly easy. Patients can control the computer cursor and carry on a conversation at the same time, just as we can simultaneously talk and use our computers.”

i guess it's a toss-up between being excited at the amazing things we humans can learn to do, and going all 1984 on it.

i just finished reading 'never let me go' by kazuo ishiguro which is a tale told by and about a clone developed for organ donation. for me the part that really got to me was the shrinking horror of the 'normal' people when coming into contact with the clones ... not willing to give up the longer lives and greater health they receive from this scheme, they have to demonise these other living beings.

today, however, i am excited that mr nagle, while rooted physically to the spot by his injuries, may now surf the world through his computer.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

for eddy

1946 groningen palms
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
this is a photograph from 60 years ago. one of the recent successes of my family tree project was to find the young man in this picture. i tried to e-mail the photo to him but it didn't work out so i am putting it here instead. greetings eddy, and i hope the rest of you enjoy this lovely photo for itself!

where have all my cousins gone?

i have a little time on my hands for the next few days, and so i have decided to declare officially that my dabbling in researching my family tree is now my hobby. i haven't had a hobby for a long time. this is something from which not only do i derive great pleasure, but also it has no calories whatsoever.

a couple of years ago i did quite well with the hoschander family from my father's mother's side (except for one guy in london who probably thinks i am stalking him but all i want is to see if we have any shared past).

now i am looking at my mother's father's family. it takes time, but i find it so exciting when i get a lead.

i was wondering why i am so drawn to this?

first of all, i think the detective work is appealing ... and the idea that with a methodical approach one may build the picture. there is no fantasy here, except perhaps that coming from such a small family i am somehow building it up if only on paper.

o, that was the second thing! the relatives that were cut down by nazi evil, and those that therefore never got to exist ... i want to know who they were, or at least where they were born and lived.

i know that birth families are not necessarily the most nurturing kind, and that we may create our own. there is a lot that i know, and of course much more that i do not. this has more, however, to do with feelings, i think :-)

since i am unlikely ever to become a parent, (i know i know but time marches on etc.) and am currently denied access to my niece, i wonder who will remember me in the following generations. egotistical perhaps, but i feel sad about it. nu - maybe part of the finding family members is so i can remember them and thus also have a little hope that i may one day be remembered also even if only for being a girl with a boy's name.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

wimbledon women's final

Originally uploaded by ravaj.
i remember sitting down with my little sister to watch evonne goolagong that was (although being smartarses we liked to call her evonne dinnergong ... and then of course there was jelly bean king my other favourite) and saying we had to support her because she was a mother and a mother hadn't won wimbledon before. she was also a bloody good tennis player. i wonder whatever happened to her? hang on a sec ...

well, correction number one (thank you google) is that she was the first mother to win in 66 years.

i also found:

"When Evonne's mother, Linda, died in 1991, Evonne realised she didn't know much about her Aboriginal history. Since then, she's discovered a great deal about her past and has written a book about her life.

"I didn't have a history before when I did my first book and found out about my family. I want something else to pass down to my kids so that they have a history there to pass down to theirs. To me, it's probably the best thing that's ever happened to me.""


"She returned to Australia to live in 1991 at Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and has travelled around Australia, coming to understand the importance of her Aboriginal heritage and introducing her American born children to their indigenous culture. She was a member of the Board of the Australian Sports Commission from 1995-1997. Since 1997, she has held the position of Sports Ambassador to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Communities."

o, and i'd really like mauresmo to win, because, well a lot because she's queer and a lot because i like seeing people getting over their insecurities and becoming mentally and emotionally tougher. i suspect, however, that since henin-hardenne already is that much tougher, she will probably make her career grand slam. now, though, i should go to bed to have any chance of waking up in time to listen to some of it live!

Friday, July 07, 2006

rabbi dr albert h friedlander z"l

2005 ahf stone 2
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
we love you and miss you

african violence

a tip o' the nib to m. who gave me this title while standing in a phonebooth in paris :-)

i was just standing by my windowsill, looking out at the street, and i noticed the two african violet plants that the temple sent me when i was last in hospital. despite the fact that i had pulled out all the flowers (hey, when they were dead!), they are flowering again. blooming resilient, eh?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

a time to grin

1997 cheeky fuzzy ahf
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
my mother observes the gregorian date so we do also. i observe the british date, although it was the previous day here. whenever we observe, however, it is still two years since we lost my father. he should be watching the world cup, and telling us gently not to be so hard on cristiano ronaldo. this picture reminds me of his mischievous side. a time to mourn, but also a time to grin.

on the shoulders of giants

i just heard that rabbi dr. louis jacobs died this past week. in honour of the 350th anniversary of the return of the jews to england, he was voted the top british jew of all time in the jewish chronicle newspaper, ahead of such luminaries as benjamin disraeli and moses montefiore. his official career, however did not run smoothly. he was banned by the chief rabbi ...

the times notes that:

"The cause of this intervention lay in a little book that Jacobs had published in l956 called We Have Reason to Believe. In that he set out the accepted views of the biblical scholarship of the late 19th and 20th centuries, that the first five books of the Bible, known in Judaism as Torah, were the product of several authors and editors.

In his later and greater work, Principles of the Jewish Faith, Jacobs insisted that he accepted Halakha, Jewish religious law, in all its scope and severity, and as such he remained “orthodox” or “neo-orthodox”.

Although those statements would not raise an eyebrow among the bulk of Anglo-Jewry, they were anathema to Brodie and those around him. Their “orthodoxy” continued to demand that the Five Books of Moses be regarded as having been dictated, word for word, by God to Moses on Mount Sinai around the year 1250BC. For daring to challenge that view with scholarship, Jacobs was deemed by Brodie and the rabbis around him as unfit either to run Jews’ College or to return to his Bayswater pulpit, as he was invited to do. The ban meant that, from the moment in l962 that Brodie pronounced it until Jacobs died, he was barred from preaching or otherwise officiating in any of the 63 congregations of the United Synagogue, and in dozens more that accepted the authority of the Chief Rabbinate."

through my father, i met r. jacobs a few times, the last of which must have been nearly 20 years ago when he and his wife came to albert's 60th birthday party (as did john rayner, z"l; hyam maccoby z"l o dear many now dead friends). i know him more, however, through his books. for teaching at a beginner's level, i ofter refer to the book of jewish belief as well as 'the book of jewish practice'. organised, clear, traditional but in a 20th-century way, i trust what he has to say, whether or not i agree with it. i inherited many of r. jacobs' books from my father and brought some home from the office to look at in the coming week.

the times concludes with:

"His place in history is forever secure as the man who sought heroically to bring Anglo-Jewish orthodoxy into the 20th century, and was rewarded with martyrdom. And the pellucid clarity and profound scholarship of his writings on all aspects of Judaism secure his place as a lasting teacher."

(nb from "Admitting the passage of light; transparent or translucent. Transparently clear in style or meaning: pellucid prose.")

another of the gedolei ha-dor bites the dust.

again i ask - is it easier to have integrity when there is someone at home who cooks for you and cleans for you and does your laundry and sleeps with you and cares for your children and holds you and says there there darling they are all horrid and you are the best?

meanwhile, the second yahrzeit of my darling father is this shabbat. there are so many giants on whose shoulders i stand, but his most of all.

nu - i found some quotes re the origin of the phrase ... enjoy (or not):

"i say with didacus stella, a dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant may see farther than a giant himself."
'democritus to the reader'
by robert burton (1576/7-1640)

i also had quotes by george herbert & by samuel taylor coleridge, but the wikipedia article has them all and more so i'll just end with a bit of latin to show off :-)

"pigmaei gigantum humeris impositi plusquam ipsi gigantes vident"
(pigmies placed on the shoulders of giants see more than the giants themselves)
by didacus stella

healthy listening

from margaret cho's blog today:

"Kind of like when I used to diet, but now instead of limiting calories, I will not allow negative self talk. I cut out insults like I cut out carbs and it is hard as hell because I crave self abuse like hot, fresh sourdough bread, but you know you have to be nice to you if you are going to live together. "

what a novel idea!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

bye bye beckham

of all the reports, articles and posts i have read regarding the resignation of england football captain david beckham in the wake of england's elimination from the world cup, this is the one i appreciated the most:

"For a footballer to wear a sarong and pink nail varnish took courage
Notebook by Matthew Parris (The Times Online)

IT IS TOO early for the obituaries, but here’s a modest three cheers from a columnist with no interest in football. I have never met David Beckham and don’t expect to, but I admire him. Beyond his footballing, I think he has shown real moral courage as a role model. Anyone who had suggested ten years ago that there would be a natural place in our sporting pantheon for a fellow who wore a sarong, experimented with pink nail varnish and funny hairstyles, sported male jewellery and agreed to an interview with the gay lifestyle magazine, Attitude, would have been laughed to scorn. That Beckham is plainly completely heterosexual made it seem all the more eccentric to risk the inevitable sneers about being a wuss. He went on to bring his family and babies into the picture, and to be portrayed as a loving father, a New Man and a gentle man. Yet here is someone whose primary audience is football supporters; whose primary stage is that most brutally laddish of institutions, the English football match; and whose intermediaries with the wider world are a hard-bitten and unsentimental cadre: Fleet Street sports reporters.

I’m not suggesting that Beckham sees himself as a one-man mission to civilise sporting culture: he and his wife had self-interested reasons to establish a distinctive brand. But the brand he chose says something to the world — to his world in particular — about his own tolerant instincts and his openness to difference, to experiment, to beauty and to style. It took guts to present this version of himself to his natural supporters. Plenty were ready to say: “We told you so.”

But it succeeded. This tells us something about the changing face of British popular culture which Beckham has done more than reflect: he has helped to symbolise and lead."

mr. parris does not refer to the 'footballer's wives'-like scenes from beckham's personal life, when holding becks up as a role model. but then i happen to think that even famous people deserve to have their private life stay private. ok ok i do read 'people' magazine sometimes, and have a link to entertainment news on my yahoo. i am, however, naive enough to assume that most of those stories are published with the assent of those who feature in them.

meanwhile, a lot of lads have had beckham's positive example before them, and i'd love to think it will make a difference!

what has it got in its pocketses?

well, if you actually want to know that, the answer right now is since i am wearing girly shorts i have no back pockets and small ones in front so not very much. i vaguely remember but cannot swear to reading in a charlotte perkins gilman book that women will only truly be emancipated when they have pockets in their clothing. and that was written less than 100 years ago.

i was, however, planning to write down a list of what i have in the boot of my car. or at least some of the things ... some may be too embarrassing ...

how about this: 10 things i have in the boot of my car by ravaj

1. toilet paper

2. portable plastic fold-up captain's chair that cost $7 and has a pocket to put your cup in

3. emergency work shoes with heels and pointy toes

4. shiva bag with prayerbooks and kippot

5. ugly horrible mug that i cannot throw out because it was a gift from a congregant but i just cannot bear for it to touch my lips

6. snow brush that i bought in canada and did not get to use until i got to virginia 2 years later

7. random coat hangers (metal)

8. nottinghamshire county cricket club seat cushion (needs new duct tape)

9. batting gloves (from my 3-game career in women's softball)

10. something dark and gooey-looking in the far corner just beyond my reach

utter trivia - just right for my mood. we are not mentioning the world cup (nor the fact that each team i root for seems to go out immediately: england, brazil, germany. nevertheless arse/france must beat portugal and then i don't care any more.). poor gilad shalit is in my heart but what is going on over there is too distressing to think about tonight; as are spanish trains crashing, north korean weapons tests, space shuttles, dubya telling the troops they will continue to fight so that over 2500 deaths will not have been in vain (?????) ... too much to get my head round.

so, nu ... what's your favourite list?

Monday, July 03, 2006


Originally uploaded by ravaj.
this is just my favourite picture that i took that day.

do not like digicams ... no good for action (well, not the cheaper ones). if anyone moved then the focus went.

but i do like this picture.

a public private moment

a&a getting married
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
after the ceremony, there was a chocolate reception. everything was made out of, or included chocolate. a wonderful idea, just right for the two of them. and my idea of hell :-(

remember - i am diabetic :-(

everybody else had an amazing time though.

a&a 2 wedding rings

a&a 2 wedding rings
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
d&i went to toronto for the wedding of my liebling a & his darling a. it was extremely exciting because it was the first legal gay wedding we had ever attended. the civil service was in the registry office, and then there was a chuppah in the sienna's back garden.


Originally uploaded by ravaj.
the wait to get to the pod at the top of the tower was 90 minutes, and we didn't really feel up to it, so we went to the shop instead. d. wanted a souvenir long-sleeved (for the cold cold plane ride) canada shirt, and i got a lovely soft royal canadian air force sweatshirt (for the cold cold future). meanwhile, piglet hung out at the top of the tower ...

just back from toronto

piglet @ the cn tower on canada day
Originally uploaded by ravaj.
here are a few pictures for you to enjoy. first of all, the tourist ones that piglet shot as he returned to his old stomping ground. we begin with a visit to the cn tower on canada day.