Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Device Evolution - By Philipp Lenssen of

I'm not really the type of person that takes other blog posts and posts them on my blog, but this post from Philipp Lenssen of is just to good not to share. I wish this was my own.


Device Evolution - By Philipp Lenssen

Watching evolution is fun, especially when it happens right around you, and happens so fast. A mutation we saw yesterday was a new animal scientists gave the name “Chrome OS Notebook”, but it’s surrounded by other smart animals of all kinds and shapes. What do they fight for? Their nature are our offices, living rooms, cafes and parks; their food are our individual interests.

Computing devices: the more we have, the less we notice them. Sneaky things, changing the color of their skin on different backgrounds... we don’t even know they’re computers anymore! The sneakier they fade in, the more likely they’ll hunt down our interest when it appears.

You’re in your room, and you just had the idea of going to a cafe to read a newspaper, and perhaps chat with some friends. You can now hear small leafs crack, the surrounding grass rustle, and there’s even some dramatic discovery channel music starting to play. You’re surrounded by smart devices, large and small, elegant and clunky. Some with big screens, some with speakers, some accepting cable of type one, some accepting cable of type two. Some will know when you throw and turn them. Some have a touch screen, others offer a special typing device to please your fingers. Some devices have been put to their desktop drawer grave already because they were starving and never found any of your interests. This is nature... diverse, sometimes cruel.

The device with the smallest screen makes its first move, jumping towards your pocket. It fits right in, is small to carry, can play some casual games! It went by many names in the past, from telephone to phone to mobile phone. But it mutated over the years, growing hair and legs and eyes suited to hunt down all kinds of our interests. “No,” you say, “You’re great for playing games and chatting with friends, but I really want to read a newspaper. Your screen is much too small to comfortably read.”

As you push away the last device – its group status in your room device hierarchy permanently lowered, with giggles all around – a new one comes forth. It’s of much larger size and can be conveniently opened and closed as you carry it. It has a hardware keyboard that allows for a lot of fast typing. It’s connected to the internet, like the rest of the devices, but it can also download programs that please you with super fast graphics. “Notebook PC, you’re great when I want to get work done, I know you the longest, you know I love you even though you transmit all kind of diseases, but you know, I don’t want to work in that cafe I’m going to, and reading newspapers is not really what you excel at.”

The desktop PC at this very moment ponders to also come forward, but then retreats to a darker corner of your desk with a nervous cough. The clunkiest of the beasts, this device realizes its days in evolution might be numbered. It blames it on the Notebook and quietly schemes to kick it off the table one of these nights.

There’s a semi-large-screen device animal jumping up and down begging for your attention, trying to grab that tasty use case of cafe-newspaper-reading-and-perhaps-some-chatting. “Don’t be so desperate my friend,” you’re saying, “I’ll hear you out.” The device introduces itself as “Android OS Tablet” and says its parents were a Tablet PC and a Smart Phone. It claims it has thousands of games, apps, lots of gadgety entertainment, and it can also surf the web. It even offers you books to read on it. Hearing that, the Kindle from up in the book shelf breaks out in laughter and starts to chant “E-Ink! E-Ink! E-Ink” in annoyingly loud voice. The Android device can’t take it anymore and is climbing upwards to shut the Kindle down for good.

“OK,” you say, “that was fun you guys, but let me just pick the iPad here, and fine, I’ll grab the phone for my pocket. The tablet can read newspaper subscriptions, surf the web, there’s some books already downloaded in case I get bored and the connection breaks down, and if I want to chat to someone, I’ll make a phone call.” As you pack your things, the door to your room opens. The light goes out, a spot gets turned on, and someone loops the “sci fi” sound on the synthesizer.

“You know who I am, don’t you.” the device says.

The room goes very quiet. The Kindle and Android device stop in mid-brawl. The Windows Mobile phone temporarily rolls in its grave. The PlayStation Portable jumps on top of the Kinect to get a better view. Even the coffee making device in the next room goes silent.


Silence. The Android OS is quietly pondering to use the time for a surprise punch in the Kindle face, but looking around figures it would be inappropriate. More silence.

“Care to explain?”, you say. In slow monotonous voice, the Chrome OS Notebook tells you its long story. How its grandfather, a browser, had to go through rough times in the war. How his father, a browser himself, met his mother, a traditional PC, and how granddad used to frown upon the relationship. We browsers should stick to our kind, granddad said, and how you two had to meet in dark corners... nothing could stop your love. How he eventually fell out with his cousin Android OS – same family and all, but brought up totally differently – and how the two didn’t call each other for years. Some of the devices are crying by now. The desktop PC even moved closer to the MacBook Air, despite their generation gap.

“To make a long story short, I’m Chrome OS Notebook. You can check your email with me, surf the web, read newspapers online, stream movies, grab casual web apps and simpler games. You can set me up in under a minute and I boot in seconds.” (The Windows Notebook puts on a terrified grimace and suddenly feels very, very sick.) “I can’t do a whole lot offline and can’t play your DVD but online, I’ll be damned if I’m not the very best thing there is.”

You want to take Chrome for a longer test ride one of these days, but you really need to go now, and you grab your newspaper device and your chat device and off you go. On your way to the cafe you ponder who will survive in the wild animal kingdom of your room. And you suspect an answer: whatever device will be versatile enough to grab the largest amount of your interests, whatever device will be the best to fit in to any environment, whatever device will be smartest to adjust to new living circumstances, whatever device can specialize if needed but takes a general approach, whatever device can beat the others by emulating and incorporating their strengths through learning, a device that can blow up its size when required and become really small when not, a device that is perfectly easy to use, a device that rules over the whole ecosystem due to its strength, yet is still lean enough to move quickly.

Yesterday’s mutation wasn’t the last we’ve seen. Watching evolution is fun, and it happens right around us, and right through us.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Chanukah 2010

Below are two videos that are done completely in A Capella for Chanukah.

The first one is done by Six13 in conjunction with NCSY. I've included the lyrics below the second video.

The next is done by The Macabeats


You know I love it, when you spin
But I love you better, when I win
My heart is twirling, like a top
I hope it’s never ever ever gonna stop

You’ve got four letters, that tell the story
Of how my people survived and fought for glory
You know I made you, out of clay
And when you’re dry and ready dreidel I will play

I’ll be like dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, oh (3x)
Twirlin’ around and around
Keep on spinnin’ dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, oh (3x)
Come on and show me that gimmel now


It was December, I was hangin’ with my meidel
Eating gelt and spinnin’ up some dreidel
Tryin’ to win but I was not so nimble
I got the nuns and she got all the gimmels
It was Ma’oz Tzur that I was hearin’
As my coins continued disappearin’
Suddenly my nose starts to twitchin’
From the aroma comin’ from the kitchen

So we’re playin’ this game, just like I told ya
By the light of the Chanukah menorah
We had to finish the round, I couldn’t wait though –
I knew my mom was fryin’ up potatoes
They were latkes, fresh and delicious
My girl got up and I got suspicious
She said “relax, now don’t be a hater,
I’m just gon’ help her put away the grater”

In the night, we lit the lights
Like maccabees of days of old
But I can’t believe my girl has gone and stole… all my Chanukah latkes
How could she eat those latkes
All my Chanukah latkes

I Light It

Maccabees, excuse me if I’m lighting this too fast
I get so excited thinking how you got that oil to last
The candles melting down, burning low, low, low
It’s a Chanukah tradition that is never getting old, no-oh-oh… oh-oh…
It’s not a fire hazard, just a healthy Jewish glow, oh-oh-oh… oh-oh…
Light the lights, left to right, eat sufganiyot

Baby, I light it -- the Chanukah menorah
Baby, I light it -- the candles in my Chanukiah
Oh yes, I light it -- new one on every night
Baby, I light it, I-I-I light it

I’m lighting… the shamash… it’s kislev, my chevra…

Go Rabbi, that’s my Rabbi
The man who gave the d'var torah at NCSY
I spun a dreidel like a thousand times and I
Got some gelt, so good… now I’m flyin’ high
With all my friends at the Shabbaton
Singin’ z’mirot so loud, everyone knows that it's on
Wish I could do this every day
And soon, summer, Kollel and TJJ
Sayin’ what’s your chapter? What’s your region?
While other people singin’ “tis the season”
We're feelin' warm while the weather gets colder
‘Cause we're gettin’ presents eight times over
Six13, getting lyrical
We're lightin’ candles and we celebratin’ miracles
So Chag Sameach, chaverim
From NCSY and Six13

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Need to Feel Judaism - UPDATED

I grew up in a Yeshiva setting. I went to an all boys elementary school, followed by an all boys Ultra-Orthodox High School. In High School, we got out at 6:30 on the early days and at 8:15 on late days when we had Mishmar. Upon finishing my stay in High School I went to Bais Medrash where the day started at 7:30 AM with Shacharis, and finished with the completion of Maariv at 10:45 PM. Needless to say, the days were packed with learning. On top of all that learning, there was a strong push to learn during breaks. The average boy (while in Bais Medrash) learned anywhere between 13 and 16 hours a day, with the top boys learning even more at times.

Over the years I noticed a common theme. The amount of boys in this environment that read from the Torah (lain) or volunteer and enjoy davening from the amud are few and far in between.

On an average out-shabbos in Bais Medrash, coming on time to Kabllas Shabbos (Friday night davening) at a random Shul in the community was a dreaded activity. That’s because we knew that the gabbia would see black hats and say “OK, which one of you yeshiva boys want to daven?” Heads start turning, and if you are lucky you have some sucker there who will actually go up. Other times, after no one volunteers, the gabbai will say, “OK, we have 2 minutes before we start anyways, so you guys figure it out in the meantime.”

I never understood that. Why is it our job to appoint someone to daven? That’s the gabbai’s job. Just because we are wearing black hats doesn’t mean that we want or frankly have the ability to daven from the amud. But the out-shabbos moment that boggles my mind the most is when Mincha comes around and the baal koreah is late. The gabbai comes up to the group of black hatters and says “which one of you wants to lain?” Which one of us? How about none of us? Did it even occur to him that we don’t know how to lain because most of us haven’t even thought about laining since our Bar-Mitzvah? And even if we did, do we just know every parsha off the cuff without practicing? There is a reason people charge for laining. When the gabbai finally figures out that he’s not getting anywhere, you’ll hear him mumble under his breath, “If these guys can’t lain and can’t daven, what are they doing in Yeshiva?” Or the age old classic, “What does the Yeshiva teach you already if not for laining?” I remember one guy telling me how he feels that a person shouldn’t be able to be admitted into Yeshiva unless he can lain fluently. Comments like that make me wonder what they think actually goes on in Yeshiva. Does he also think baseball players shouldn’t be allowed to play ball unless they can hit the high-note in the star spangled banner?
Not so long ago, I was in the Young Israel of North Miami Beach. It was time for Kabbalas Shabbos. Friday night was an out-meal at the Yeshiva here, and there were a bunch of Bais Medrash guys davening at shul. The gabbai walked up to the group to try to find a baal-tefila. After completely striking out  (no pun intended) with all the guys, he then walked over to a local high school kid who goes to the Hebrew Academy (the local co-ed day school) and asks him if he would like to daven. He immediately takes the tallis and walks up to the Amud. I was standing and talking to a Rebbe, and we both watched this take place. He turned to me and said, “It’s such a shame. We have ten or fifteen Yeshiva guys here and the only person that will daven is the Hebrew Academy kid?”

This got me thinking. Why was it that the Hebrew Academy kid was so eager to daven and the Yeshiva guys weren’t? It then hit me that this isn’t an uncommon theme, and thinking about it, I see this happen time and time again. Many times in Yeshiva, it’s the kids with the more modern backgrounds who are much more eager to daven for the Amud. Not only that, how many times have you seen a Yeshiva teen Minyan actually work out with the teens laining? I don’t really know of any, but I can tell you I know of a few that failed. The yeshiva that I work for has a teen Minyan (a.k.a the High School Minyan) where they even resorted to paying the students to lain. Yet, regardless, it’s still impossible to find someone to lain Yeshiva. However, the teen Minyan that I sometimes frequent in Hollywood (which is a much more modern community) has no problem finding guys to lain. All they do is get up after laining and ask who is available for an aliyah for the following week. Within minutes the entire parsha is taken. At the (now nonexistent) teen Minyan in Miami Beach, which was a mix of Yeshiva kids and more modern kids, it was a little harder. But it was always the non-Yeshiva kids who took the majority of the parsha. Why is that the case?

I think I may have the answer. I’m not sure if it’s true and it may offend some, but I’m going to throw it out there anyways. When a person is in a “sub-par” Judaism environment, or at least feels deep down that he is in a sub-par Judaism environment, he naturally will want to do more outwardly and publicly for Judaism. We know the concept of a Pintele Yid- that little spark inside every Jew that will pull him or her back to the source through a yearning for spirituality only fulfilled by Judaism, even when he or she is the furthest away. I believe the concept can be true even when a person is religious and not in a “sub-par” Judaism environment. If the person feels deep down that although he is religious he could be doing more, he has that pintele yid that’s driving him to practice more Judaism. The mere fact that he is an Orthodox Jew doesn’t fill that need, as he feels deep down he should be doing more. This leads to participating in public Jewish activities like davening and laining. It fills the void. By going up and davening from the amud or laining from the Torah, he feeds that inherent hunger for Judaism and it makes him feel that he is more spiritual due to this public form of practicing Judaism.

The concept of proving one’s Judaism through public display to justify the lack of internal feeling might explain why non-religious Jews occasionally throw lavish Bar or Bat Mitzvah parties, or their need to tell Orthodox Jews about the traditions they actually follow. That is the extent of their Judaism and they need to show (mostly to themselves) that they really are Jewish. This might also explain why the Hebrew Academy kid was so quick to say yes in front of a large group of Yeshiva guys.

On the other hand, someone who is in Yeshiva all day doesn’t feel any need to increase his level of spirituality by going down those paths and participating in public forms of Judiasm. He is swimming in Judaism and constantly growing through learning all day. That’s more than enough to make him satisfied with his Judiasm. He doesn’t need to look for outward manifestations of his religiosity to make himself feel better about what he does not have. When the opportunity to daven for the amud or to lain arises, he shuns it because he doesn’t feel the pull towards it.

It’s the same reason that Young Israels can get away with 3 hour davening on Shabbos but if Yeshivos go over two hours, the daveners rebel. Yeshiva guys don’t feel the importance of a long davening and don’t get the satisfaction out of it that a non-yeshiva person would. He would rather have a faster shabbos davening and sit down to learn afterwards.

I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing; it’s just something I noticed.

A number of people pointed out that there are many yeshiva guys who like davening and laining and asked if I was implying that they were doing it because they also needed to fill a gap in their Judiasm. Obviously there are many Yeshiva guys who lain and daven. I in no sense of the matter mean to say that this is the only reason why someone would in his right mind want to daven or lain. It just seemed odd too me that the numbers were disproportionate when it came to Yeshiva guys vs. non-yeshiva guys. I think my reason can help us understand why some of the daveners and lainers want to lain; and why it's more common for a Hebrew Academy student to want to lain and daven than for a Yeshiva guy.

One of my family members was insulted for my father's sake. For those that don't know my father, he is a big lainer and davener. On the side he is a posek (should be fairly obvious by the title of this blog). I told them that my father is actually a poster child for this post. He didn't grow up a posek. He was in a coed school through eight grade (past his bar mitzvah). He grew up in a small, not at all yeshivish, modern community. He was looking for something more so he started laining right after his bar mitzvah (he ended up a posek). While not necessarily true, it's very possible that this post details the exact reason my father picked up laining and davening. The fact that he still does it isn't a question, because it's become a part of his life. Just because he doesn't NEED it anymore doesn't mean he will just drop it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Help me lose weight! Join me in my Pound-A-Thon and help raise money for poor people who need food!

I am (once again) going on a Pound-A-Thon. (To lose pounds – not gain them.)

My goal is to lose 40 lbs. over the next 6 months.

However this cannot be done without YOU!

I am asking you to sponsor me per pound that I lose. The money will be given to (a non-profit that give money to) poor individuals who need money to buy food (as well as other basic necessities).

Some of you may remember my Pound-A-Thon from May-Sept of 2008. In those 5 months, I lost 30 pounds and in the process raised about $4,500 for this charity. My thinking was that if I can’t eat at least let someone else eat!

My goal is to raise $4,000. That would require getting $100 total per pound, and losing 40 pounds.

Suggested donation is $1 per pound.

Start Date: Midnight on the night of October 9th 2010 (This Saturday night)
End Date: Midnight on the night of April 7th 2011

I plan on losing around 40 lbs.

****Please Note: **** This is not a minimum or maximum; just a rough estimate.

I am starting off at around 225 lbs


Please respond with the amount you can sponsor or fill out the online form here. 

Once the Pound-A-Thon gets started I will update with current weight totals and sponsorship totals.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Summer Away From Home

(This post is what I wrote for the 2010 Mogen Av Yearbook.
Please ignore the sappy camp stuff.)

Sigh. It’s been a long hot summer. I always wondered why the locals complained so much about summer in Miami. I’ve been through hot weather before, but nothing like this. Every day, in and out, it’s hot. If it’s not hot, it’s dark. Oh, or it’s raining. It does that too here. But don’t think that rain breaks the heat. No siree. It just brings humidity. Yay! So much fun!*

But who am I kidding. I shouldn’t be complaining about this. I have much bigger things to complain about- camp for example. I know what you’re saying; there goes Friedman again complaining about camp. You complained before you came to camp. You complained in camp. And now you’re complaining out of camp? My answer to that, my friends, is yes. For summer this year is a Summer Away From Home.

Ok, ok, it’s not so bad. I am sitting in a nice cool air conditioned room typing on my laptop on Friday afternoon. (Almost sounds like the dog house.) Not to mention the big (now empty) plate of nachos that my wife made for me sitting on my side. [Wife interjection: Just for your information: I do NOT pamper him like this all the time. It’s just the times he gets all sad about camp that I feel semi-bad for him, just enough to make him nachos.] I have no bunk that’s waiting for me to scream at them that they aren’t showered, no line up to be on time to and no hill to get my suit dirty while walking down to the meal tonight.

Truth is, it hurts. It really does. Spending so many years in Mogen Av (save for one said year) really took a toll on me. In a good way. Really. I have a hard time getting up every morning only to go outside and see that everybody is at camp and I’m on my way to work. L I wish it didn’t have to be this way.
I did have an opportunity, however, to come to camp at once this summer. Ahh, the good times came rushing back; the feeling is indescribable. It’s like when the music comes on after the 3 weeks. Or when you won field day, but more importantly that it’s over. It’s like when you just finished cleaning your bunk and now you can go outside to play with your friends who were waiting for you. It’s that feeling of relief that you know just won’t last and you don’t want it to ever end.

I never really appreciated camp so much. That is until this summer. When the school year was out, I kept on thinking that the fun part of the year was here. It was time to go home to camp. But it didn’t happen. Coming to camp for one day just isn’t enough. I need at least one month.

OK campers – this is where you come in. You need to call, email and write to Chini to have him give me a bungalow next summer. I don’t mean you should bug him or annoy him. Don’t call him more than once a day, but let it be clear that this is what you want. Because next year, I don’t want to spend my Summer Away From Home.

*I actually love the hot weather. I thought the summer heat would be much worse and honestly I have no problem having this weather all year round. But for purposes of making this article interesting, I used my artistic license to stretch the lie, errrrr, truth.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

BP Spills Coffee

I know almost everybody saw this already, but I thought it was cute so I decided to post it.

I also thought the following new logo was cute for BP. Stolen from

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Tochachah (May Offend Some)

A number of years ago (September 2005) when I was still in Bais Medrash in Miami, there was a hurricane warning over Shabbos. It turned out to be nothing, but we weren't allowed to go outside from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning. On motzei Shabbos we were getting a little antsy, so a friend of mine and I decided to write a song about the Parsha. That week we lained the tochachah. In honor of laining the tochachah this past Shabbos, I decided to actually make the song public. (While this song may offend some, we felt it was more productive then prank calling the radio stations to hear your voice on the radio.)

TTTO: The Middos Song from The Marvelous Middos Machine by Abie Rotenburg.
(The original song can be listened to or downloaded here.)

You'll get boils on your knees
The worms will eat your trees
You'll bar-b-que your children; you'll use their flesh as meat
The rain it will not come
You'll chew your only son
A Jew that messes with Hashem simply will be beat

The tochachah warns you what you get when you are bad
Hashem tells us just what he will do
So if you want to do what's wrong and really have some fun
You'll have to take the consequences too

Your eyes they will go blind
You'll lose your peace of mind
Your carcass will be food for every bird beneath the sky
Your flesh will wear away
You'll be frightened night and day
A Jew that messes with Hashem simply will be fried

The tochachah warns you what you get when you are bad
Hashem tells us just what he will do
So if you want to do what's wrong and really have some fun
You'll have to take the consequences too

UPDATE: Apparently I'm embarrassing my wife. Sorry dear!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Everything a Teenager Should Know about Purim Drinking

Being that Purim is around the corner, I decided to write about what bothers me every year around this time. That is: the way anti-drinking campaigns are run.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not one for free open drinking on Purim. I’m not into kids (or adults) getting carried away on stretchers or lifted and carried off of people’s couches and front lawns. And I’m definitely not into people destroying their Purim by drinking too much and not remembering anything (besides for the side effects). However, I am against the way the yeshiva world tries to stop it.

Every year we all see the posters from Hatzaloh – Don’t get carried away this Purim. Every year we see the Kol Korai in the Yated, and every year we see the letter to the editor in the Hamodia from some innocent 17 year old who wanted to have an awesome time the previous year and instead ended up in the hospital who writes, “it’s mamesh a nes nigleh that I am alive to write this letter today.” We see letter after letter, sign after sign and fact after fact of the dangers of drinking on Purim. The facts are enough to scare anyone, and they do, except for one group of people – teenagers.

You see, the Just Say No style campaigns that (just about) every yeshiva, shul, community and school use have very little effect on what and how much teenagers want to drink on Purim. It may affect how easy it is to get the alcohol, as adults are more cautious about dispensing alcohol to minors, but it has a much smaller affect on the group that needs it the most. The reason this approach does not work on teenagers is that most people who get drunk on Purim don’t end up in the hospital or have their stomachs pumped, and their friends certainly know it. To quote the authors of Buzzed – The Straight Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy, “when horror stories are used as the principal tools in drug education, people soon recognize that such stories do not represent the whole truth. The educator then loses credibility.” Basically, when teenagers see their friends and a lot of other people get drunk on Purim without crazy horror stories, they start ignoring all the people telling them not to drink because they might end up in the hospital. (Ironically, while typing this post, I got an email from a Shul near me telling everyone that Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky reportedly said that getting drunk on Purim is an Aveira. While it may be true, that won’t stop most people.)

Unfortunately, the ones who ignore the message are the key audience that we need to reach to help prevent the true dangers of drinking on Purim. To do this, we must switch Just Say No to Just Say Know. When a person knows the facts regarding how alcohol will affect his (or her) body, that knowledge can lead to safer drinking and help avoid excess. Will it get teenagers to stop drinking on Purim? Absolutely not. But it may help reduce the incidents of hospital visits.

So, with that I present – Everything a Teenager Should Know about Purim Drinking.

First off, you should know that every person’s body will react differently to alcohol. Body size, history of drinking and gender all play a major role in how the alcohol will affect your body. One thing that is important to know is that even if having a higher tolerance means you may not feel the same effects of alcohol on your body as other people who drank the same amount, you still have the same amount of alcohol in your blood and therefore the effects are still there whether you feel them or not.

Next, let’s talk about BAC – Blood Alcohol Content (or Concentration). BAC is the amount of alcohol present in the blood after consuming alcohol. Below you will see how your body reacts to different level BAC’s. After we will discuss how alcohol affects your BAC. Remember: The effects of alcohol intoxication are greatly influenced by individual variations among users. Some users may become intoxicated at a much lower Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level than is shown.

0.02-0.03 BAC: No loss of coordination, slight euphoria and loss of shyness. Depressant effects are not apparent. You might feel mildly relaxed and maybe a little lightheaded.

0.04-0.06 BAC: There is a feeling of well-being, relaxation, lower inhibitions, and a sensation of warmth along with euphoria. There will be some minor impairment of reasoning and memory, and lowering of caution. Your behavior may become exaggerated and emotions intensified (Good emotions are better, bad emotions are worse)

0.07-0.09 BAC: Slight impairment of balance, speech, vision, reaction time, and hearing. Euphoria. Judgment and self-control are reduced, and caution, reason and memory are impaired, .08 is legally impaired and it is illegal to drive at this level. You will probably believe that you are functioning better than you really are.

0.10-0.125 BAC: Significant impairment of motor coordination and loss of good judgment. Speech may be slurred; balance, vision, reaction time and hearing will be impaired. Euphoria.

0.13-0.15 BAC: Gross motor impairment and lack of physical control. Blurred vision and major loss of balance. Euphoria is reduced and dysphoria (anxiety, restlessness) is beginning to appear. Judgment and perception are severely impaired.

0.16-0.19 BAC: Dysphoria predominates, nausea may appear. The drinker has the appearance of a "sloppy drunk."

0.20 BAC: Felling dazed, confused or otherwise disoriented. May need help to stand or walk. If you injure yourself you may not feel the pain. Some people experience nausea and vomiting at this level. The gag reflex is impaired and you can choke if you do vomit. Blackouts are likely at this level so you may not remember what has happened.

0.25 BAC: All mental, physical and sensory functions are severely impaired. Increased risk of asphyxiation from choking on vomit and of seriously injuring yourself by falls or other accidents.

0.30 BAC: STUPOR. You have little comprehension of where you are. You may pass out suddenly and be difficult to awaken.

0.35 BAC: Coma is possible. This is the level of surgical anesthesia.

0.40 BAC and up: Onset of coma, and possible death due to respiratory arrest.

One thing that you may have noticed - BAC's in excess of 0.125% will NOT increase the pleasure, only the discomfort. At 0.125% you reach the level of euphoria. Once you pass that level, euphoria is reduced. So if you are drinking and you want to have a good time, you probably want to be close to 0.125% and not higher.

The real question is: how much alcohol do I need to drink to get to that level? First, let’s first define a “drink”. One drink is 1.25 oz. of 40% liquor, 12 oz. of beer, or 5 oz. of table wine. The chart below shows you how many drinks affect your BAC by body weight. Time plays a factor as well so subtract .01% for each 40 minutes of drinking.

Approximate Blood Alcohol Percentage
Body Weight in Pounds


Only Safe
Driving Limit
Only Safe Driving Limit


Death Possible

So, for your average teenager weighing 160 lbs., after about 6 drinks over a 2 hour period, you will reach the highest level of enjoyment you can attain by drinking alcohol. After that amount, your enjoyment will start to go downhill. 10 drinks over that same period of time can cause you to blackout.

Some other points to keep in mind:
Plan ahead – if you just have a bottle of scotch and keep pouring from it repeatedly, there is no way you will know how much you’re drinking. What I used to do was pour off the amount I wanted to drink into a small ginger ale bottle before Purim. That way, I didn’t drink more then I wanted to.

Not drinking too much is for your own enjoyment. You don’t want to be the guy in the corner crying who is probably in the 0.16%-0.19% range.

Little known fact - If you are under 21, it is illegal to drive after drinking even if you are under 0.08%. It is only after 21 that the 0.08 rule comes into effect. (See what court ordered driving school teaches you?)

Keep active. Don't just sit down and watch everyone dance. If you keep active, you will drink less and will be more aware of your level of intoxication.

Keep track of how much you are drinking. Know how much alcohol is poured into every glass.

Pace your drinking, allow time between drinks.

If you are going out with friends and you are afraid you will be pressured to drink more then you want to, dilute your alcohol before you leave. That way you can keep up with the drinkers while enjoying yourself more.

Have other suggestions? Write them in the comments and I will add them.

I hope that with this knowledge, people who will be drinking this Purim will know and understand how they are affecting their body. With that knowledge they will better be able to decide how much to drink and hopefully drink responsibly.

Have a safe enjoyable Purim.

Disclaimer: I am not condoning drinking. I just feel that people should be aware of what they are doing to themselves.

A lot of the information in this post is from B.R.A.D. (Be Responsible About Drinking, Inc).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Shana Rishobia

After being married for an entire month I can now officially say I am over the hill. Gone are the days of staying up late with the guys partying. No more is the late Purim Video filming. (And by late I don’t mean until 11:30 when I say that I have to go before my wife will come to get me.) No more are the antisocial meals where I hold the fork in one hand and the blackberry in the other (well sorta).  Now I actually have to care about someone. Be concerned about someone’s feelings other then myself. Go out of my way to do things I never would have done before. (Dear, we’ve only been on the road for 5 minutes, do we really have to stop? I know there is an outlet mall, but still. I don’t mind the price difference. OK FINE!) I now even start preparing for Shabbos more than 10 minutes before Mincha! (Although I didn’t vacuum this week because I pushed it off for too long. Vacuum?? Did I say vacuum? Oy, how low have the mighty fallen! Vacuuming is for janitors.)

But don’t worry. I’m not complaining. I knew about this before. I’ve seen what happened to my friends that got married before me. How they go from glory to obscurity with one little ring. OK, that’s not true. It’s a sad and slow decay from the day he pops the question. It starts with the giddiness of being unable to stand still or think straight. Then comes the all night pacing back and forth on the phone. The “date” to go pick out jewelry, silver, an apartment and who knows what else. He never returns your calls or texts, let alone answers the phone. You’ll be lucky if he listens to your voicemail, so on the odd chance you bump into him taking a shower at 3 o’clock in the morning he can mutter a response to you before he collapses on the couch. Then the wedding comes and now it’s really over. His appearances are few and far in between, and all he can talk about is his wedding, his wife and his sad old pathetic hen-pecked life. NO ONE CARES! REALLY!!

So I knew it was going to happen to me. I wasn’t dumb enough to be one of those people who says, I’m not going to be like that. I was one of those people who said “when I get engaged, watch out, because I’m going to be a jerk.” I can’t tell you whether I was or wasn’t – that’s for my friends to decide. I’m sure they’ll all have different answers. No, that’s not what I learned from 1 month of marriage.

The thing that took me by surprise which I wasn’t prepared for is something I coined Shana Rishobia. Write that down- it’s gonna be a common phrase one day. (I know, I know. I was kidding.) In short, Shana Rishobia is the fear that you will say or do something that your spouse of less than a year will misinterpret due to the fact that they don’t know you so well and think you meant something bad, so you feel the need to go out of your way to explain yourself excessively and end up digging yourself in a hole when you were never in one to begin with. (Shew – yes that was in short.) It goes from the understandable to the extreme.

“Dear, the chicken you made tonight is delicious…. Not that the kugel was bad, that was good also…. No, really, the reason why I specified chicken is because that was the last thing I ate and I still had the taste in my mouth…. I should’ve mentioned that the kugel was good as well, but I was so enthralled by the aroma of the chicken I guess I got caught up in it… Not that I wasn’t enthralled by the aroma of the Kugel- I was, but I didn’t mention it. I’m sorry for being uncaring.” “I see. So you don’t like the Challah.”

[Interjection from wife person and pro-bono editor of said blogpost: in regard to the above example, I would like to spill a secret that many women would wish I keep to myself. Women only do this to their husbands out of their own insecurity that their first foray into true cooking has been unsuccessful. I, on the other hand, never had to resort to such underhanded tactics to get compliments on MY cooking. (Hey, and I’m modest too!)

Women are shana rishobia offenders too, just less obviously, and when they do fall into the trap, it’s usually because they comment on something negative that has a marginal reference to their husbands and they must defend their husbands’ honor. It’s about feeling good regarding themselves and who they chose to marry, not the dignity of the husband himself. So, husbands of the world, don’t feel too good about yourselves. She’s not trying to massage your ego; she’s trying to convince herself she didn’t marry a complete neb.]

To better illustrate my point, look at the following comic from Baby Blues.

The reason why this comic is funny, is because that is clearly not what husband meant, yet his wife decided to take it absolutely the wrong way. The Baby Blues experts out there, will confirm to you that said husband and wife are not in their Shana Rishona, and therefore he didn’t have Shana Rishobia to protect him from this awful mess. Had it been within the Shana Rishona the conversation would have went something like this. “I’m going to start working out.” “Good idea, sweetie….. Not that you need to. It’s just that it’s always good to stay healthy…. And I just think this idea of yours is a good one…. Not that your other ideas are bad…. They are also good…. Like the idea to get me these red with black polka dots boxers for our anniversary. Brilliant.”

It’s reasonable when you think about it, but how far will you let it take you?

“Hey honey, you need help bringing in the groceries?” “No it’s only a few bags.” “I could help you anyways.” “No, really, it’s OK, I could handle it.” “Well yeah I know you could handle it, I just thought I would offer…. Not because I didn’t think you can do it… I’m sure you can I was trying to be nice….. It’s not that you look weak or anything I just thought it would be polite if….. Why are you throwing tomatoes at me?”

OK, so that’s a little more far-fetched. But then you have your classic example.

“Oh wow, you look gorgeous tonight…” “Thank you.” (Awkward pause as she soaks in and revels in the fact that she was just complimented by her husband. He takes the silence as a scolding for not saying the words – “like always”.) “…..Uh, not that you didn’t look beautiful yesterday, you did. Really….. In fact even earlier today you looked great. I’m sorry, it was inconsiderate of me. Please don’t slap me?”

[I would never! Plus, he always compliments me, so it’s no shocker there. Yes, I know, I married a good one (don’t let it go to your head, dear), at least it seems to be after one month, so in a year we might have to have an update on this one.]

All in all, it’s not a big deal. And especially with me. I have made the whole thing into a big joke. Starting a few days after the sheva brachos were over I made it my business that every time I said something suspicious, I would go out of my way to enumerate all the possibilities of things that I didn’t mean to imply. My wife hates it, but hey, I can’t say anything wrong!

[Oh boy, oh  boy, does he have a lot to learn….]