Friday, August 18, 2017

TGIF

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"What Is Your Genius?"

Esther Wein explained it: chochma + bina = daas. 

One could erroneously think that all three are the same. But they are not. 

"I don't understand," Ta cannot comprehend. "She is so smart! How could she say something like that?" 

"She's smart, sure," I reply. "But Ta, you are the one who always talks about E.Q.! That's not the same as I.Q." 

There are even more facets to the mind, like rationality and intelligence. Again, do they sound the same? Kinda. But they aren't. David Hambrick and Alexander Burgoyne explain how in "The Difference Between Rationality and Intelligence."  

The work of Kahneman and Tversky showed how humans are, for the most part, irrational (is there any concrete reason why I should be scared of the dark?). Then Stanovich showed there is no correlation between high I.Q. and R.Q.—the Rationality Quotient. 
Based on this evidence, Professor Stanovich and colleagues have introduced the concept of the rationality quotient, or R.Q. If an I.Q. test measures something like raw intellectual horsepower (abstract reasoning and verbal ability), a test of R.Q. would measure the propensity for reflective thought — stepping back from your own thinking and correcting its faulty tendencies.
To my mind, this shows how certain admirable qualities are overlooked while others are overhyped—like so-called "brilliance." 

I saw this quote the other day: 
Albert Einstein wrote, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” The question I have for you at this point of our journey together is, “What is your genius?”
We all have something to contribute. The problem is when we don't realize that our "something" won't be the same as another's. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Respect the Eye Pencil

"Do you mind stopping in the police department?" she asked. "I have to file a report for that fender bender." 

She took a spot by the counter, while I sat down to the side with her daughter. I was entertaining the child with my cell, looking down, when I realized an officer had come out behind the partition and was standing in front of me. 

"Do you need any help?" he asked tenderly, concern in his eyes. 

"Um, no, not me, she does," I said, motioning to my befuddled friend, ignored at the front desk. 

"Oh," he said sheepishly, and scurried back from whence he came. 

When we left, she said it: "It was the makeup." It's not about looks—she herself is quite pretty. But somehow, taking a few minutes in the morning to swipe on mascara and lipstick makes the world respect you, and eager to help you.
http://stylesweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Neutral-Makeup-Look-for-Summer.jpg
So if you ever in need of a favor . . . begin by buffing on some blush.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Your Husband, No One Else's

In a long-ago interview with Bill Moyers, Maya Angelou revealed her theory that most women marry other people’s husbands. She didn’t elaborate, but I immediately understood. Out of hopefulness, impatience, insecurity or for a thousand other reasons, we too often rush into relationships that are poor fits for us, robbing our partners and ourselves of more promising connections. . .
“I have finally married my own husband,” Ms. Angelou went on to say.
Many years after my first marriage, so did I.
I read in a frum magazine that the rising rate of divorce amongst our newly wedded youth is not necessarily due to the inability of these couples to make it work; it is because they should not have married in the first place. Incompatibility cannot always be overcome.

The opening paragraph is from an article by a disabled woman, Ona Gritz ("Love, Eventually"), who realized that she was in a relationship with an able-bodied man simply because he wanted her. After years of rejection from men, this was an offer she could not pass up. 

But she did not feel with him that deep connection that she had with her best friend, and she could not help but contrast the two relationships. Shouldn't marriage have that? 

She eventually divorced, then later met and married her soulmate—who happens to be blind, while she has cerebral palsy. 
It’s true that Dan and I are very similar. We’re both romantics yet also fiercely independent. We’re introspective to the point of obsession. Though he’s a decade older, we share a love for the music from his teenage years. And long before we met, many of the same novels and poetry books lined our shelves.
Dating, to put it bluntly, sucks. I have read letters of women who have had enough, that decided to "settle" and simply marry. Perhaps, to some, the settling was worth it; but I have heard too many tales of the bleakness that can follow such a decision. 

Breathe. Be patient. Find happiness in the meantime. And come to know yourself, so you can know what you need.    

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

"Be That Person"

I like to think I have reached a point where I no longer absorb snippy comments. Often, if on the receiving end, I look intently at the other and wonder, "Golly, she must be really hurting about something." 

Anonymous trolls, the most cowardly of the cowardly, offset their own misery by depositing nasty little statements here and there. This cooking blogger posted a video taking such a one to task, by sharing her own burdens and appealing to the world to just be freakin' nice.  
Dr. Perri Klass, M.D. ("What Knitting Can Teach Us About Parenting"), is a pediatrician; to unwind, she browses through a knitting website, where she noted that despite the, er, straight-up ugliness of the various posted projects, the vast majority of comments are nice. Yet she doesn't see that empathy outside, as parents are usually subject to sniffing disdain if their toddler has a public meltdown (an occupational hazard, and to be expected). 
I would like to suggest that everyone who has posted more than one comment in the last two years passing judgment on other parents learn to knit as soon as possible. Winter is coming, and we all need scarves. There are some really nice, easy patterns on Ravelry, and you can download many of them free — and then you can choose your yarn and put your heart into it and make something beautiful.
With luck, the people who see it in real life and the ones who admire it in the photos you post online will respect the effort you put into it, and offer praise and encouragement. And if they don’t have anything nice to say, they won’t say anything at all.
Whenever I now get that judgy voice in my head, I'm disappointed in myself. Then I choose to see a quality about the other that I am forced to admire. And I can.

Friday, August 4, 2017

TGIF

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How to Cook an Egg

Perhaps one of the techniques that has stubbornly eluded me is how to cook civilized hard-boiled eggs. Either they come out raw, or they come out overcooked, and are usually a pain to peel, half sticking to the shell. 

My Frenchman did not fail me. Jacques Pépin's method for perfect eggs, every time, has been reliable.

1) Bring a pot of water to boil. 

2) Take a thumb tack (or the like) and stab through the shell on the round (as opposed to pointy) side of the eggs. 

3) Once boiling, lower flame to simmer. Drop in the eggs and cover the pot. 

4) After ten minutes (a timer is very very much your friend), remove pot from flame and drain off the boiling water. 

5) Shake the pot to crack the shells. 

6) Now, here Jacques recommends dunking the eggs into ice water; I have found that putting them under cold tap water is sufficient. Cover the eggs with cold water. 

7) After allowing them to cool, remove and peel. The water now under the shells should make it easy. 
https://cdn-jpg1.thedailymeal.com/sites/default/files/story/2017/hardboiledeggs.JPG
Via thedailymeal
NO SULFUR RING. How cool is that?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Helping Those Who Help Themselves

I like being helpful, to be "a useful engine indeed," to quote from Thomas the Tank Engine. But there are times when my help isn't wanted. And there are times when I don't want the help being offered. In those situations, the question is what is the motivation of the pushy helper. 

Jean Thompson reflects on her motivations in attempting to assist a homeless man in "His Sign Said 'Please Help.' So I Tried." Yes, he asked for help, but he didn't mean the help that she was eager to provide. 
So I called county clerks, and Social Security offices, and put things in the mail, and in general acted like the softheaded, interfering boob I was, getting high off my own compassion. The more involved I got, the more I doubted my motives, the more I lost the certainty I was doing any real good. I told myself you help whom you can when you can, and that Jesus never said to love the poor as long as they didn’t make bad lifestyle choices. I nagged and coaxed.
Help can only succeed if it is accepted. I have come to a point where I realize that my help only has value if it is valued by the receiver; otherwise, there is no point. What am I hoping to achieve? Truly assisting another? Or "getting high off my own compassion"? 

https://cdn.empowernetwork.com/user_images/post/2013/12/17/2/43/c81c/540x293_20131217_243c81c8cfd08ec1d5ab272f71c3a8e1_jpg.jpg

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Laws of Creativity

I know all the lyrics to the extended theme song of "Pinky and the Brain." 

. . . This twilight campaign, 
Is easy to explain: 
To prove their mousey worth, 
They'll overthrow the Earth, 
The Pinky, 
The Pinky and the Brain Brain Brain Brain Brain Brain Brain Brain BRAIN!
NARF! 

And I didn't even google them beforehand.

For us elderly people, "Animaniacs" was our childhood, chock-full of fabulous segments: "Katie Ka-Boom," "Buttons and Mindy," "Slappy Squirrel," and, of course, "Pinky and the Brain." Then P&B got a show in their own right. 
https://bfmbrainfall.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/are_you_pinky_or_the_the_brain_featured_large.jpg
Consider my delight that it got a "Letter of Recommendation," by Jonah Weiner. Brilliantly, he connects the show's predictable format to a concept I found inherently Jewish. 

To explain: P&B, for those who know, has the same setup, episode after episode: 

1) "Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?" 
2) Elaborate, insane scheme goes awry; 
3) "What we do every night, Pinky: Try to take over the world!" 

And yet, as Weiner elaborates, there is genius insanity in-between, despite abiding to a limited frame. Pinky's befuddled responses to pondering were so hysterical I would be in stitches ("I think so, Brain, but me and Pippi Longstocking—I mean, what would the children look like?") Brain's elaborate plots were so complex and calculated to exploit mundane human weaknesses that you wondered if the writers were high. 

Weiner is saying that constraint allows for wacky creativity. And is that not the Jews? 

We have waaaaay more rules and regulations, yet a multitude of sects flourish with individuality, never mind the individuals within the individuality. Then there are those who do their own Judaic thang without an identifying sect. If anything, a life free of restriction results in the boringly repetitive. Hedonism is same-old, same-old. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Comfy Beauties

In my teenage youth, I loathed makeup. I found it false, and worse, an effort

Yet here I stand before the bathroom mirror, 90 minutes before a date or wedding, applying and dabbing and penciling with gleeful care. I feel fabulous. I love it. I no longer think of paint as "false," nor do I consider it work.

I also love my cleansers, creams, serums, oils, shampoos, conditioners, Dead Sea face masks . . . the list goes on.
http://az616578.vo.msecnd.net/files/2017/03/09/636246289707877047-1218627533_2013-sofa-rash-115.jpg
Via theodysseyonline
Ta always claimed there was a Gemara or something that said fathers must provide their eligible daughters with cosmetics and skincare, so halachically, a little chein and yofi (also known as sheker and hevel in Eishes Chayil) is fine. 

Now there is a "No Makeup Movement." Alicia Keyes no longer wears any. True, but she has plenty of product to treat her skin and style her hair. Where is the line when it comes to "natural" beauty? 
 http://beyondclassicallybeautiful.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Alicia-Keys-No-Makeup-Movement.jpg
Haley Mlotek considers this in "To Wear Makeup or Not to Wear Makeup?"  She claims, "The question is surprisingly fraught, but the answer is simple": 
. . . comfort is the root of confidence, and not the other way around. This is true whether a person is wearing makeup or not.
And (don't be surprised to hear this) I believe that to be true. If a gal walks into a room without "enhancement," she'll bowl everyone over with her ear-to-ear grin. She could be followed by an exquisitely crafted Face who refuses to make eye contact or smile, and people will nervously edge away from her. 

I'm comfortable in my Face. Other women aren't, so it won't give them that boost of attractive confidence that I experience. Thankfully, we are not all the same. 

Although, would you be willing to try a touch of mascara? It's a miracle-worker.