October 12, 2006


PLEASE satisfy my curiousity.

This is a real easy survey, it requires the answer to only two questions:

Your favorite music genre
Your favorite book genre

That's it. I want to see if there is a connection.

Posted by Rachel Ann at 10:26 AM | Comments (618) | TrackBack

September 01, 2006

So Yesterday

Yesterday the words "I'm sorry" crept out of my mouth three times.
The first was via a long distance call to a woman I had never met in person but only online. Her husband had died suddenly in the night and her daughter posted about it on the e-mail group I was on. I felt so helpless; a strong desire to turn the world back for her but I can't and so how to proceede? How do you help when you know that in reality the one thing the person wants is unachievable?

Sorry too went to a friend who was attending a family wedding to which she didn't want to go. (long story, suffice it to say that other guests are making it as unpleseant as possible for this family to attend)I giggled as I said it, and realized the irony of the situation in view of my other conversation.

Another I'm sorry, this time in person, went to S, the Artists friend, who just came back from a trip to Canada. She loved Tiara, one of Chammomiles kittens, but said kitten has a new home now. The child actually broke down into tears and was miserable the rest of the day, asking couldn't we wait to place her, why did it have to be her etc. etc. I think she had built up this fantasy in her mind that the kitten would one day be hers if only she worked on her mom enough.

So there were the three sorrys, three attempts to show someone else I was with them, and I couldn't help but be struck by the irony of it all.

Posted by Rachel Ann at 07:38 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 10, 2006

So With His Batteries Dead

The last time I SMSed with my son, which seems years ago, but it was only 3 days ago, he warned me the batteries were almost depleted. I haven't heard from him since, but I know he is alright since the army is quite good about informing the family before the public knows anything. Still, my stomach is grieving me terribly, reminding me that while I may outwardly deny my fears inside, inside I worry. Could any mother do anything less? If there were something more I could do....but what?

I send messages that I know he isn't receiving so that when he finally turns on his phone there will be a sign from me that I've been talking to him all along. Okay, he knows that. He knows I love him and pray for him and all. But I want his skin to feel it, the bones in his head to feel it, every part of him to know how much I love him and how proud I am of him.

And how I can't wait to finally, safely, have him home.

Posted by Rachel Ann at 07:32 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 18, 2006

My MARRIED Daughter

Made me promise not to stop blogging. EVER. Well okay, as long as my mind and arms hold out I'll try, but I'm not promising to write from beyond the grave.

So what can I talk about? The war....told you where to go for that, and basically things are status quo here; my immediate family is safe, my people are not, there's not much I can do but pray. I'll let you know what is happening to my sons when I know. Right now one is in the Jordan Valley and the other near Tel Aviv.

I'm working as hard as I can to keep us moving backward, finacially, as slow as I can. I'm not sure it's working. There is laundry everywhere but where it should be; in drawers and closets. Dishes are having children. Toys are rioting.
As I said, status quo.

So what else is happening at our happy household?

Today we, meaning The Artist and The Monkey and I, met up with some homeschooling families. That should give you all a clue as to the educational direction we may take come Fall. We aren't positive yet...but the families were a wonderful mix of people, and The Monkey eventually warmed up and spoke and played with others. The Artist of course did not. It will take several such outings to get her to actual voice the words HELLO!!!!

I kept trying to get her lips and vocal chords and lungs to move in unison and the others moms told me, nicely, that maybe I should just step back, and to tell the truth if it were someone else's kids that's what I would have told them. Give her time, give her space and she'll start mingling...but it being my kid and all it is hard to step back and chill. Next time in I'll just have to pretend she isn't mine and take the advice. We shall bring a book for her to read and one of the moms is going to bring her a Nancy Drew book. That brought smiles. She, the she being The Artist spoke through me...at 5 this was cute, but it bothers me at 12....step back mom and breathe deep.

Can we ever really disconnect as parents and stop trying to mold and grow? Putting those two words together doesn't sound to hot...but you all know what I mean. Can't stop trying to make it better, trying to get them to appear to others as perfect as we know they are.

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Posted by Rachel Ann at 08:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 28, 2006

Interesting Quiz

Music and personality

Posted by Rachel Ann at 06:21 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 20, 2006

I'm RICH!!!!

I've invented fiterdenotoes and everyone is buying. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors and most people are ordering more than one. Why one customer ordered a hundred of them , just for herself. Her husband wanted 90!

So, I'm rich. And it looks like I'm going to be rich for a long, long time.

And I'm in such a good mood. I don't want to rake in the billions myself. I want my friends to have their own fortunes...

So, I'm investing in your dreams by helping you become independently wealthy as well.

What is it you would do with the money I'm going to give you? What would you build/make/create/learn? What would your company be called? Where would you locate your company? Tell me all about it....

'cause you know I'm investing my hard earned and I really want to know.

Posted by Rachel Ann at 06:14 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 14, 2006

What is a True Friend?

What is the criterion for being a true friend? What do you, dear reader, see as your obligation, and what is a friends obligation to you? What is forgiveable? What can you overlook and what is the one thing a friend could do that you would not tolerate, no matter what? What would you do for your friend and what would be too much to ask?

Just curious...respond as you like, or just think about it for yourself....

Posted by Rachel Ann at 08:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 26, 2006

Talking to G-d

I was talking to a friend the other day, inviting her to a function on our Yishuv, and as happens when two friends get talking the subject moved from the event to other topics. Kids, work, life.
And G-d.
I don't know how we got there, but soon we were talking about G-d and how we relate to Him, and prayer.
"I have trouble praying" she admitted.
Well, so do I...ritual prayer. The sort of praying one must do everyday, at specific times etc. etc.
I'm terrible at that. I don't really enjoy the time...I...and I know this isn't good, try to get it over with. Most of the time.
But...the prayers of the heart..this I can do this quite easily, I do it all the time. I keep up a running conversation with G-d sometimes...What a lovely day, thank you! Do you mind not sending us...how about some money here Hashem, we could really use it....G-d feels to me like a friend, Someone who is truly there for me, though sometimes I don't understand how and begin to wonder if I'm right. But usually I just talk to G-d.

She doesn't feel that connection. She believes in G-d, believes in the Torah but has a fear sort of relationship with Him. I'm not critcizing her btw, doing something because it was commanded by G-d and not because one wants to is a good thing. This is what G-d wants of her, so she does it. I guess we all do that to some extent.

But I like these free conversations with G-d better, and I think life would be much harder on me emotionally without them....and the conversation made me wonder....

How do you realate to G-d? How do you feel about ritualized prayers vs heart prayers? Why do you follow whatever religious path you follow? What is your impetus? Your understanding of the laws and why they are there?

Posted by Rachel Ann at 06:35 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 27, 2006

The Cat House Down The Street

When I was about 11 or so my cat had kittens. Three I think, but I can't recall for certain. The time came as when kittens no longer needed mom and the parents (mine, not the kittens) needed a bit less expenses. So we did what every child is made to do in that situation; we put the kittens in a box and went door to door with the hopes (on the part of our parents at least) that a combination of pathos and winsomeness would induce some poor, sentimental fool, to take at least one of the kittens off our hands.

Door to door we went, without much luck, until we reached one house where, though refused, the lady of the house suggested "That house around the corner. I know she has a few cats; perhaps she'll be willing to take in another." Unfortunately there was no answer and we returned with three still unwanted kittens. Not to worry, I assured my mother "The lady that has a cat house down the street wasn't home, we'll try again and maybe she might take one."
Luckily the plate my mother was holding wasn't so important.
Then she explained the meaning of the phrase I just used and why it was inappropriate to our neighbors/

Flash forward about 37 years, to our home here in Israel, where we also have three kittens in need. We aren't having much luck and part of me is secretly glad. The Wit accuses me of being a Cat Lady to be and he is right; I could easily see myself takling in one cat after another, one lost sad pup in need of a home. I can see twenty litter pans and plates full of food and water scattered throughout my home, while bills pile up unpaid and the house slowly deteriorates into a horror.

Good intentions can so easily go wrong.
But I want to save the world. I wish I could do more than I do and sometimes I feel overwhelmed.
Who do I, with our limited funds, help? Who gets the support and who must seek elsewhere? How much to this person/group/cause and how much to that?

Sometimes it just seems so hard; I wish that it could be more like taxes. You get a list of needy and a given amount of time and or money owed for each that you file promptly, with possible penalties for failure, along with your taxes. Then I can dismiss the ills of the world and go on with life a whole lot easier; I already gave, it is here in black and white. See?

I don't have to think about Dafur; not on my list. I spent my quota on Katrina, or the blind or the starving. I am AOK in the charity department, in the caring for humanity department. No worries there!

Effort can be directed, by the governing body, at the most important issues of the year, and the world as a whole can eliminate one sorrow at a time from the global pain list.

Of course there are flaws. We aren't suppose to be able to dismiss someone else's pain so easily, even if they aren't on our list. We are one world and the pains are shared, or should be shared, somewhat, by us all. We should feel joy about ending or even minimizing the pain of another, even a little bit. So I guess it all has to stay a bit messy and disconcerting.

I guess there really is no other way.

Posted by Rachel Ann at 08:01 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 20, 2006


If you could take back one thing you said to one person, what would it be and to whom was it said, and what would you say instead?

I know what I would take back: I was waiting outside a Shul in New York city, a rather well known Shul, waiting for my husband to arrive so we could go in and listen to a Torah lesson. A strange (in many ways) woman came up to me, very angry, her face set and hard, and she began ranting about Mikveh, how she hated it, how she didn't really go but only told her husband she went and actually she just went for a walk around the block, on and on...and I sat there stunned, not at all certain what to say. I must have responded somehow, gave some answer to her anger, but I can't remember the exact words.

Then she stopped; her face took on a look of disdain: "You'll probably be one of those who has ten kids!" she spat at me.

"No. Six" I snapped back, because this was what my husband and I had talked about, and I, at that point, was anxious to show I wasn't the kind of woman who just had baby after baby. At that point in my life I wanted a career; children nursed for 6mns, then set to the care of a babysitter, me off doing some good for someone else. "Six" I said, making believe I really was the one in control of the situation.
And if I could II would take back, and would answer instead.
"I'll take ten or I'll take twenty, or half as many or three times agian. I will take whatever G-d gives me and be happy for the blessings I am given."

Now, older, wiser, I wonder how I could have thought that I could named a number of children as if each and everyone granted wasn't worth all the world, as if G-d wouldn't know the right number for me. I wish I had known to appreciate the blessing of carrying, bearing and raising even a single soul in the world.

I have been blessed by my five.

Sometimes I wish I did have this great career where people were amazed by my ablities and accomplisments; plaques and testimonials on the wall, a fat pay check.

But I got my blessings, and I am the luckiest mom in the world.

And I take back everything I said to that woman.

Thank you G-d for blessing me as You have.

Posted by Rachel Ann at 06:37 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 28, 2006

Favorite Things

One of my favorite outfits that I wore when I was young (read in my early 20's) was a red shirt, black skirt and a black cap. Loved the outfit, the feel, the look. Put together, but relaxed. A splash of color, but controlled. The cap was a plain, baseball style cap. The skirt, well I don't remember anything special about it; just plain black, hanging just below the knees, button on the side. Where those two are is anyone's guess. Trash bin somewhere? Is someone else wearing them? I have no idea what happened to them.

But the shirt, the shirt still hangs in my closet. A bit threadbare in spots; one of the buttons needs to be sewn back on, but all the original buttons are still there. Age has softened it; once it was no doubt crisp and bright. Now it is soft, the color faded

It was so common to me, so much a part of my closet that I really didn't think much about it. A great anywhere shirt;perfect for when one didn't know where one would end up. Dressed up, it was nice and appropriate for a dinner in a nice restaurant. I could wear it over or under a sweater, toss on a blazer, put on a more colorful skirt. It held me. I could go from the beach to the museum. That's why I chose it for my suitcase when my parents visited here last year and we all toured Israel together.

A perfect little item.

And I hadn't given it much thought at all, nor did realize how much I enjoyed it till that trip when my cousin fingered it and said "What a lovely shirt!?|?

I thought Oh, this old thing?

And then realized how much this "old thing" did for me.

And realized how much I would miss the shirt when it did finally bite the dust.

Shirts are of course replaceable, and a red button down shirt shouldn't be too difficult to come across...

But it would take twenty years to get it nice and soft and perfect again.

Posted by Rachel Ann at 01:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 15, 2005

Liberty and Responsiblity

Well, call me strange, but maybe I just should stop responding over at Alas and put my thoughts down here.

I am going to leave aside the original conditions in the post I linked to here, and instead pose this question:

Which do you think is a better way to operate in the world? I see two basic ways people are expounding (I may be missing the point somewhere along the line):

1) Attempt to alter the world to a more perfect condition. Risks exist everywhere; accept them.

2)Alter one's behaviour in accordance with one's situation. Attempt to alter the world to a more perfect condition.

The first seems to think that risk-management shifts the blame to the victim of an event and it interferes with the enjoyment of life. I can see their point a bit; to many people think foolish behaviour deserves a "punishment" so to speak. So that if you leave your keys in the ignition "well what did you expect to happen" if you got the car stolen, can contain within it "that's what you deserve".

On the other hand if everyone normally left their keys in the ignition without fear, then if the car was stolen the blame would rest squarely and compeltely on the shouldrs of the thief.

However, I have a limited control on the behaviour of others. I can best control myself. Moreover, the idea that risk management has limited success seems rather defeatist to me, and rather limiting in and of itself. I think one can alter one's behaviour to make any given situation less risky without interfering with the pleasure. It just takes some constructive thinking.

Maybe I'm getting it all wrong.

What do you all think?

Posted by Rachel Ann at 08:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 25, 2005

PETA and Me

First I would like to thank everyone who took part of my survey. I enjoyed reading your answers and hearing your thoughts on the matter.

This survey was begun because of an e-mail debate on a list I belong to.

Like many people answering here and on their own blogs, my visceral reaction to PETA is negative. Too often their tactics have been so over the top and, in my eyes contemptible, that I haven't even bothered to listen to their messages even when the ads do not show what I feel is contempt for my fellow human being.

Animals are not equivalent to human beings. Neither is their suffering. That doesn't mean of course that their suffering should go unnoticed. But human beings must come first. The needs of a human outweigh those of an animal.

This would, in my eyes, allow almost anything to be done to an animal if the intent was to improve the human condition (of one or more individuals), under the following qualifications.

1)the use of the animal is necessary for the purpose; it can not be done sufficiently well any other way.
2)the animal is treated as humanely as possible.

Obviously one can haggle here: what do I mean by "improve the human condition", "necessary for the purpose" and what do I mean by "humanely as possible" ? These arguments can go on ad nauseum. In my mind that means eating meat, using animals for experimentation to find cures for illnesses and using animals as companions and aides.

Vegetarianism, especially vegean form of eating, is a higher level of morality in terms of eating, than a omniovorious style, just as someone who devotes most of their hours to charitable work, or who spends all their free time learning Torah, or who gives up their lunch hour to spend time with a friend in need are also acting on a higher level of morality. The ultimate Judge is G-d and how these actions play together is dependent upon many a thing.

PETA undercuts its own good intentions toward animals by not recognizing or not admitting to a difference in the treatment of animals versus treatment of people.
The essence of the Holocaust and the enslavement of Africans and others is that people are reduced to the level of animals. To once again reduce humans to that level, by equating an animal being slaughtered to the Holocaust or depicting a pig on the head of a lynched man, demonstrates to me that, at the very least, those in charge of PETA have no real concept of the depravity of the above two events in human history (and similar actions.)

PETA would do itself a favor if it reexamined itself; its goals and its ideals.
If they truly believe that the difference between animals and people in terms of value is equal then they can never represent me, even if I should come to agree with them in terms of the basic issues.

People are not animals. We were given this world to use; not abuse, but to use, for the betterment of ourselves as a whole.

I do believe a good goal of the human race would be to eliminate the use of animals as much as possible. But with that attempt must come the understanding that people are first, and the needs of the human outweigh the needs of animals.

Posted by Rachel Ann at 07:47 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 19, 2005


And your reaction is?

I really want to know. This is a kind of survey: could you all just copy the survey, fill it out and post it in the comments.

1.PETA--what is the first image that comes to your mind hearing the name?
2.How do you react emotionally?
3.Do you agree or disagree with PETA's overall message?
4.Do you agree or disagree with how PETA presents that message?
5.Are (or were) you a vegetarian?
6.Do you own any pets?
7.What rights over animals do you think humans should have?
8.Is experimentation on animals always wrong? Sometimes wrong? And if permissable when, what types of experiments, and how should they be conducted?
9. To what uses can we put animals? (Pets only, aide animals etc.)
10. Including PETA, what animal rights groups (if any) do you support?

thank you

Posted by Rachel Ann at 07:34 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

September 13, 2005

Words Words Words

I posted an e-mail about Katrina to a particular e-mail list that I belong to, which is filled, predominantely with liberal minded people. I got some flack, mild, about my use of the word "refugee".

Well, I didn't know what else to call them. Evacuee, the word someone suggested would have been better, would have been fine if I had thought of it, and I've no real objection except it doesn't have the same sort of emotional pull that the word "refugee" has to me.

Refugee conjures up an image of someone who has had to flee with little or no possessions. It stirs up compassion and concern in me.

Someone posted a definition of the word from some dictionary, in which the implication was someone fleeing to another country.

So I did a dictionary search for the word, and found that its basic meaning was someone who flees. Then I googled it in case I was missing something that was going on in the USA and apparently I was. Because I found
this article, which discussed the reactions of many people to the world.

Apparently both Bush and Jesse Jackson are up in arms about it; Bush because he felt the word meant the victims of Katrina weren't as deserving of help, and Jesse Jackson because he saw it as a racist slur.

Other bloggers are talking about this (hey I had to find out).One blogger, Jen of Princesstoots , posted this letter, written by a woman named Miss Gordy, and I urge people to read it. It is an eyeopener.

It is, imho, the final word on the subject.

So, whatever word you use, as long as you are using it with love, what is most important is that these souls receive our prayers, and our support.

As Miss Gordy says:

On behalf of everyone affected by this storm, to the rest of our wonderful country, please stop laying blame and making issues where there are none just to have something to talk about. If you want to help, pray for us. Donate something. Smile at someone who is causing you more traffic than you are used to on your way to work tomorrow, because they don't know their way around your city.

Good advice in general, don't you think?

Posted by Rachel Ann at 08:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 08, 2005

What's Wrong With You

Do you ever feel as if you are not quite in step with the rest of the world? As if you are just a few momments different in time or place? Almost like a film with poor dubbing.

What moves and inspires me doesn't seem to interest others. Often what other's find intriguing leaves me cold. For a long time I thought it was a fault in me; like poor eyesight or hearing, it required some sort of amelioration to fix, but I could never figure out what that aide would be. How do you come to love what bores you? Care about other's feel driven about? I don't mean that I lack sympathy or empathy for another's feelings, nor am I cold-hearted and disdainful of what someone else hopes to achieve. I am supportive of other's goals and needs. But I often seem to be on the outside of most lives, looking in. I cannot connect to the world the way most people seem to....

Or is this just a percception on my part? When we peer deep within our lives are we all aware of the divide that exists between us? Are we all just a bit confused about life?

As I get older I become more comfortable with who I am, and less concerned with how other's perceiving me. I ignore the false goals that come from without me, trying to be what one is suppose to be instead of the best of who I really am. It takes to damn much energy to pursue someone else's dream and the payoff is nothing more than ash in the end.

I suppose if there were one lesson I would give my children before I die that would be it. You, the essence of you, is unique, and that uniqueness has a reason for being in this world. Seek perfection in that, and you will find happiness. Even if no one else seems to understand.

Posted by Rachel Ann at 06:07 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 25, 2005

The Open Hand

What are our obligations to other people? How far must we extend ourselves on another's behalf? At what point have we given enough of ourselves to the world at large to say; my giving quota is filled for the day/week/month/year?

Financially, according to Jewish law, charity stops at about 10% of one's income, if one is not wealthy, 20% if one is wealthy. This is the money owed to charity. There isn't, to the best of my knowledge, any set criterion as to where that charity goes to; but 10 or 20% minimum is it. (One is also not to impoverish oneself to help another.)

But there are many other ways are giving and, again, to the best of my knowledge, there is no minimun, or maximum for that matter. Reading a letter to an elderly grandmother, helping a friend solve a problem, directing a visitor to the museum they want to see. The only limit to this kind of giving that I can see is the wear an tear on the person emotionally, and the need to balance the giving
away from home with the giving within.

I don't know that I have ever struck the right balance. I never feel as if I'm doing it right anywhere. I go from wanting to do more to wanting to crawl into a deep dark tunnel where no one but the wind can find me.

The world is such an overwhelming place sometimes I can't seem to find a breathing place. There is so much wrong with the world, so many needs that must be atteneded too, that I always feel guilty for not having done more, and at
the same time feel bereft of me time.

What has one given enough? How can one ever decide? The world is like a hungry bird, always needing to be fed by someone. How does a person decide his/her turn is up?

Posted by Rachel Ann at 04:27 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 13, 2005

Right Hand Man

Do you know why there was a tsunami? Why London was bombed (besides, it was terrorist dummy.) Why a volcano will erupt somewhere in the next ten years on this planet?

I do. It was because...

It happened.

Me, I believe it was ultimately because G-d willed it; that there is a reason for everything, and that reason is beyond my ken.

There are however numerous people in this world who know exactly why G-d willed something to happen. A flood hits because of a recent ruling in favor of abortion. A tornado? Blame those who allowed Terri Schiavo to die. A bombing? Gay rights parade.

I do talk to G-d, and I believe I can get answers, just not the way these people are getting answers. I guess these folks must sit next to G-d and hear all His plans. Maybe they even give advice. At least to hear them talk one would think that is what is happening.

And you know what I think? I think they have a hell of a lot of nerve (excuse the language Agent) which is why I'm not linking to them. Why give them more coveage?

But, there is something I want to tell them:
Pardon me folks but you aren't in heaven yet, so you don't know the whys and the wherefores other than what science and sense can show.

The tsunami? Ask a meteorologist what happened. A volcanic eruption? Volcanologist. Terrorism? That isn't so hard to figure; hate is the fuel and the realization that scaring people can sometimes work to procure one whatever it is one desires. Why do people rob? Generally it is not because they are have nots but because they are greedy gimmmes who think everyone should have a diamond ring or new car.

Is G-d behind it all? Yes, I believe G-d is but I don't pretend to even half understand G-d's mind. I deeply feel that there is a message and the message is to improve oneself but the emphasis is ONESELF. I want to make the world better, I have to improve me.

That doesn't mean I have to silently accept what I think are moral wrongs, nor never act to stop those wrongs. Nor does it mean that I don't have an opinion as to why certain events enfold, or how X event releates and is the eventual causal factor of Y.
But to releate a particular moral wrong to a particular catastrophere where the cause/effect isn't direct and uncontestable (one person murders another) is nothing short of hubris.

Which to me, is also a moral wrong.

Personally I think it best to just ignore those who presume to speak for G-d. Answering them back is part of their enjoyment; they love a debate and the attention it brings. Why bother?

Posted by Rachel Ann at 06:02 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 19, 2005

F in Failure redux

First I want to thank everyone who wrote me in regards to my prior post. I really do appreciate the support.

Secondly I feel I should explain my distress in my teaching a bit better.
Several have told me that my expectations for myself have been unreasonably high, and maybe that is true and maybe not. I know that one of the mothers has said that her daughter is reading better, and for this I am very happy. But I also must acknowlege my limitations, understand where I failed, and try and move on bettering myself with the knowledge. I know my previous post was a bit depressive, and I apologize for that. I was feeling quite down. However, even though my mood has lifted, I must come to the same conclusion as before; I am not teacher material. What I am, well, I don't know. Sounds pathetic in an almost 50 year old woman, but for so many years my priority has been my own children. (I wish I could say the house, but you should see the state of my house). I have had few jobs, and most of them really weren't "me" jobs, but necessary to pay the bills work. What am I good at? That's the direction of my ponderings. Where can I do the most good for the world?

I don't need anything named after me, I don't need tributes to mark my passing or such. That isn't what I mean. I need to know that one person benefited from my existence, and that I left the world just a bit better, just a bit sweeter, just for one human being.

Posted by Rachel Ann at 07:16 AM | Comments (1)

June 02, 2005


You've done someone a big favor. Perhaps you have given someone a gift of money, or helped them find a job, or whatever, the important thing for this discussion is that you did them a favor. How important is it that they feel grateful to you? Is their happiness alone of value? Presuming they have said a nice "thank you", is that all that is necessary? Do you feel the right to put some strings on the gift? Or feel that if the gift isn't used in such and such a way that it is a slap in the face to you?

I really want your opinion.

Posted by Rachel Ann at 04:40 PM | Comments (4)

April 08, 2005

Moral Question

Under what cirucmstances is it okay to break the law? I don't mean jaywalking, or grand theft auto either, I mean something in between. No, I'm not thinking about committing some criminal act, but on another list I'm engaged in a debate about a specific act that some people regularly engage in, probably equivalent to stealing a pack of gum from the store. Which leads me to the question above because I'm curious as to what everyone else thinks.

Many laws are routinely violated because the consequences are not severe enough to warrant vigilance on the part of the authorities, so the crimes continue, sometimes right under a cops nose. (like jaywalking in most places) If they are enforced it is bound to be because either there is a major clean up in the area, or because the person arrested is suspected of another crime and this is the only way to hold them.

Other's are difficult to monitor; certainly something would be done if the authorities could, but the expense in catching the criminals outweighs the cost of the crime itself.

The quesiton really resolves around what makes us act in accordance with laws we may not fully embrace and what would cause us to act against them.

So again, under what circumstances would you violate a law?

Posted by Rachel Ann at 07:19 AM | Comments (4)

March 16, 2005

Juries on Trial

I read an interesting article in the NY times today on the death penalty in Califorinia, Jews and black women. The gisst of the article is that Jews (and black women, but the focus was mainly on Jews) were excluded from death penalty cases because of the belief on the part of at least one judge (but indications that other judges concurred, and acted similarly) that Jews would never be able to send a human to his or her death. The judge, who died a few years ago, was himself Jewish. The main accusations of prejudice come from a former prosecutor, who actually prosecuted the case which is the basis of the argument, in a writ of habeaus corpus. The contention is the trial was thus not fair and the man should have his sentence overturned and I suppose proceede to another trial. Other death penalty cases are of course affected.

Whether there is truth in this contention; that Jews and black-women were deliberately excluded from death-penalty cases, is not the crux of the matter, at least to me. From my readings it appears that the truth is Jews were deliberately excluded, but as I said, that is neither here nor there.

IF they were, and arguing from that basis, what should hte result be? I'm interested in the second step. Shold the verdicts be overturned? For the most part I'm against the death penalty as I find how it is applied in the USA goes against Torah principles---so a huge part of me is shouting OVERTURN!!! OVERTURN!!! simply because even if the person is guilty, in the majority of the cases I'd rather see life behind bars (and life, unto death) then the death penalty.

However, should this mean a wholesale overturning of all verdicts presided over by this particular judge? I don't know. Would it make a difference in the end? What is being judged is NOT the evidence, but the abilty to afix the sentence the guidelines require if one is a Jew or a black-woman. The implication on the part of the defense must be the verdict would be different, because either the remainder of the people are either more likely to afix a judgement of death or that Jews and black-women are less likely to do so, in either case, it would seem the defense is arguing, at least subtly, that the bias is correct. Overturn, retry with Jews and black-women on the jury and in at least some of the cases the judgement will be for a lesser sentence.

So then comes the age old question; what is a jury of one's peers? How does someone decide that a particular group of 12 is really fit to judge a particular person in a particular case? If you exclude from the jury those that would not put a person to death, should one also exclude those who feel one SHOULD under certain cirucumstances, put a person to death? How is any jury really fair? Should the job of juror become a professional one, where one's skills, intelligence, ablity to remain awake are assessed, and where there is a modicum of understanding of law? Rather than a jury of peers should we have a professional jury, trained, licensed and paid a living wage? What would be on the tests? Science and law, I would think, but what else? And how often, if at all, would they need to update their licenses?

I don't know about you all but this stuff fascinates me.

Posted by Rachel Ann at 10:26 AM | Comments (1)

December 21, 2004

Who Are You?

How much of you could be taken away and still leave you, you? What changes could be made without altering your basic persona?

We were in Jerusalem today, having a family get together for lunch, and while there my dh stopped at a kiosk and bought me a newspaper for my 7th/8th grade English class. One article dealt with a newly emerging culture...the emerging Autistic/Aspergers culture.

Now I've heard of deaf culture, I can get my head around blind culture (though I haven't heard of such a thing) but this kind of threw me. Is being autistic not something to cure or treat but simply to learn to deal with? Should autistic children be taught to look people in the eye or to allow normal contact with others? Should they be brought out of their shell, or as

...some advocates contend that autism is an integral part of their identities, much more like a skin than a shell, and not one they care to shed.

and as those who run the ANI site state:

Autistic people have characteristically autistic styles of relating to others, which should be respected and appreciated rather than modified to make them "fit in."

This really isn't about autism, or taking sides on the issue. I'm just now becoming familiar with the "other side".

We are all a little funky. whether we are autistic or neurotypical, hearing or deaf, no matter what we are, we are all a bit different from the person next to us in some way, some form.

We are, none of us, typical. We are, all of us, connected to many various groups who can be identified by a, or a group of, characteristics.

So at what point does the loss of a particular characteristic change a person into another being?

If I woke up tomorrow and I had grown three feet, would I still be me? Much would change (besides no longer fitting into my clothes) How would that change
the inner me? What if, before I was born, my parents could have "corrected" me for shortness. How much of who I am would be gone?

We can never know. and yet does that mean we should not try and eliminate what are known as disorders and diseases?

It is all a guessing game; who knows? Perhaps, without aspergers/autisim, we would eliminate future Einsteins from our midst. Or maybe we would make it easier for the Einsteins in the world to relate to the rest of the world.

Posted by Rachel Ann at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2004

What Do You Need?

I know my prior post on this subject must have received so many responses the counter reset itself to zero. Couldn't be that I wrote a dull post! Nevertheless, in what may amount to the blogging equivalent and hitting myself on the thumb with a hammer, I ask once more:

What is your drive? What is your motivation in life? What do you think motivates most people? Is it only survival? If you knew your basic needs were fully met, if you knew you would receive decent food, health care, education, shelter (including clothing) regardless of how long and how hard and at what you worked, would you continue in your present job? Would you work at all? Would you take more business risks? Retire early? What are basic needs? I have listed food, health care, education, shelter (including clothing) is this your idea of basic needs as well, or have I left out something, or should I have left off something?
How would society fare in a culture where all basic needs were met without question? Would every household have to dump their own garbage? Would service personnel be able to command a high salary? Would a society based on such conditions encourage creativity or laziness or both? Would we have more or less crime or would crime be unaffected?

That is a whole string of questions; I really want to know your answer. Yeah, I think about this stuff. I guess I'm a bit of a kook. Imagine having to live with me!

Posted by Rachel Ann at 02:29 PM | Comments (1)

December 17, 2004

Motivating Factors

I think many people would agree that poverty is a major concern; a social ill that needs to be, if possible, eliminated. The cause of the disease, and the cure, are in dispute, but that it is a disease that impacts on society as a whole. Is there anyone who disagrees with this basic premise?

Neither the cause nor the cure is simplistic. Different people are impoverished for different reasons. A hard working soul could be hampered by great illness in the family, which eats into any earnings. Bad luck, poor choices, lack of intelligence, few talents, or working skills, laziness, severe disabilities, severe disfigurement, etc. etc. all make a difference in the one's potential to earn, save and increase one's income.

The poor, most likely, will always be with us.

But what if poverty did not mean destitution. What if all people, regardless of the reason they were impecunious; that is they simply lacked money and the means of accessing luxuries (I recognize what would constitute a luxury is open to debate.) What if, the basic necessities of humans were a given: the best health care, regardless of income, decent housing and food (again related to optimal health), the best education in accordance with the abilities of the individual (which would include access to up to date books and other tools needed to learn a sellable skill or talent)?

What would you put your talents towards if you knew you couldn't starve or that you wouldn't be homeless? What would motivate you, in such circumstances, to, (in the absence of forced labor), to take on a task that wasn't of great interest to you? Would such tasks start claiming a higher salary? Would the majority work only when a new book or pair of earrings was wanted? How would that affect those who wanted more and worked for more? Would their gains be less appreciated (by themselves)?

I am not asking how we could achieve such a world, I am asking if such a world would work? Would humans still develop and advance?

Posted by Rachel Ann at 08:37 AM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2004

The Weight of Emotions

Are small difficulties just as valid as large ones? Is the loss of an item to one person just as devastating as the loss of a loved one? Is a minor joy as an important as a great one? Does winning a prize in a local talent contest as worthy as winning the gold? Is there a way to measure these things? Can grief and joy ever really be measured on anything except a personal scale and how do we do it?

The loss of a loved one after a horrific illness may bring a shade of relief; the person is no longer in pain, physical, mental, or emotional. After a long and healthy life, it may be a sense of satisfaction; a life well lived. A small item, such as a pen, which may seem insignificant to most of the world may represent something of gravity to another-- a gift from a loved one, a prize won after a great deal of work. A award for singing might validate, even if just a local recognition, someone whose life has been full of failures, and may mean more than the gold for another who has won many prizes in his or her lifetime?

How do we know? How do we honor another's emotions when their feelings seem disproportionate to the event?

I am morose, in a funk, subject to a creeping malaise; personal stuff, minor events going on in my life that have me down a bit. But do I have a right to feel this way? When those I know and love are going through extreme changes in their lives, dealing with illnesses the loss of loved ones;do I have a right to feel sad?

Do I have the right to cry for the pain, metaphorically speaking, of a cut finger, when someone else is feeling the pain of surgery?

How do we weight emotions?

Posted by Rachel Ann at 07:38 AM | Comments (6)

November 20, 2004

Dewy-eyed optimist

A couple of nights ago I had a whopper of a nightmare. I believe the dream followed this post of mine, and came after I read several of the comments, but I am not certain.

In the nightmare alligators or crocodiles, whom had, apparently, been living downstairs in some sort of zoo, came upstairs to our family living quarters and surrounded our bedroom...blocking the way to the bathroom of all places. I don't remember all the details but at one point a bear-man came upstairs and started to explain that we; my husband, one of my children, and myself, were on trial for our lives for something we had done to the animal kingdom, but the what was rather vague and I had the feeling it was general human action and that all humans were on trial. Like in all dreams there was lots of jumping and blurring of the fanciful and could be true; at one point we were suddenly outside and somewhat free; though what was keeping us from running away I don't know. At another point, the point in which I woke up, my child was screaming from the other room, a horrific cry, but I was sitting trying to concentrate on something about my defense. At that point I woke up, all shaky and frightened and realized that it was the sound of my husband snoring-- the snore sounded like the beginning if a whooping cry of a child who was very upset. (a few days later I tied the emotions I felt to the emotions I felt when I left the Monkey, as a baby, with her father, screaming because she wanted me, but unable to take her as I had driving lessons-- I had to push away my emotional reaction to concentrate on the job at hand...yes I learned to drive very late in life. Yes I hate driving.)

The above was all an aside.

I have a lot of nightmares. During the day I am pretty confident, even optimistic about the world. It isn't that I don't recognize the problems this world is facing, but I also believe, quite strongly, that we have advanced in many ways from where we use to be. Do we make wrong steps? But of course! How could we not? But I think we make a lot of right steps too; we have advanced in many ways. And I firmly believe things will, overall, get better.

I was surprised to find most don't seem to agree with me. Is it that I save all my worries for nights and refuse to see the truth in the light of day? I don't know. I just know that I think for all the troubles and problems we create we also find solutions to the problems that came with the world as well as the ones that past generations have created. All in all we live a longer, healthier life than the past generations.

Recent scientific development has led to such things as sky-cars, which could aide in rescuing lives of those trapped in skyscrapers, and a car run on sunflower oil could lead to cleaner air. An implant for the brain to end the scourge of Alzheimer's, and I just heard on the news (can't find a good link) that a vaccine for AIDS may be just around the corner.

Literacy is on the rise. Certainly that is something to cheer about.

And I think we, as a world should cheer. That doesn't mean ignoring the problems that do exist; but it does mean, at least every once and awhile, taking a look backward to see how far we have come; what we have conquered.

A lot remains to be done; we need to reduce pollution, work against extinction of existent species in both the flora and fauna worlds, we need to end hunger and poverty, abuse and terrorism. But these are all things we can do.

To me it is a dance; we take two steps forward and one step back. But we have moved forward, and we can keep going that way. We will in fact someday make it to that end goal of a beautiful world filled with healthy people.

I guess that does make me a dewy-eyed optimist.

But how do you feel?
Overall, do you think things in this world are getting better, worse, or staying about the same compared to the past?

Posted by Rachel Ann at 10:41 PM | Comments (2)

November 17, 2004

Weakest Link

This is the post that has been swimming lazily about my brain, refusing to come out. I've decided to try and force it to the page; this is a bit experimentational here...I'm just going to write in the hopes the thoughts won't realize they've taken a trip down through my fingers on onto the keyboard.

Several weeks ago I finally finished two great books, zoological, anthropoligical texts on parenting, motherhood and women. One book, titled NATURAL PARENTING examined the different styles of parenting in the natural world, and related it to humans. The other, THE WOMAN WHO NEVER EVOLVED dealt with the issue of dominance and submission in the animal world, hierarchy and how it applies to feminism.

But that isn't my post.

The books awakened an idea in my mind about what the real difference is between the human world and the animal world. What, excepting a belief in a superior soul, sets us apart from the other creatures that inhabit this planet.

Animals use tools, animals employ languages, animals plot, and plan and can make some predictions about the future. Animals use deception and animals fight wars. Animals also seem to express love, loyalty, memory for those who they have lost, rape, kill, offer support and aide. In some many ways we are the same. But...

Animals don't alter the natural state of their worlds. They may manipulate their environment; gather sticks and cement them together for a nest, but they don't change the sticks into another product. And they don't manipulate their environment just for the hell of it; if their environment changes and they no longer need to make a nest, nest building comes to an end---their energies are invested in survival. The fittest, not necessarily the best, make it to bring forth a new generation.

Not us; we alter nature. We subdue it. We can make our nests out of items procurred from distances impossible to reach by natures endowments. Fires, while a threat can be fought, and dominated. We needn't wait for the proper times to bring forth the fruit of the earth--we force her to produce.

And the weakest can survive, grow prosper. The blind and the deaf do not have to become fodder for the wolves for the survival of us all, the awkward and the slow can join with us at the table.

We do not wait for nature to improve us, we imrpove ourselves and nature.

At our best we empower those who are weak, and bring them as close to our own level as possible, and by doing so, we improve the world as a whole. We add Stephen Hawkins and his knowledge to our lives, and Chris Burke to entertain us.

That to me is our job in the world; to subdue the earth---to improve her. To make the world more fit for humans, and humans more fit for the earth.

I don't know. Maybe this post should have stayed up there in my brain. I really am not comfortable with how she is acting. But I wanted to get her out there, to see what you all thought.

Posted by Rachel Ann at 09:05 AM | Comments (4)

November 09, 2004

When Being Right is Wrong

There was a mix-up last week and I ended up in the library to do some volunteer work, but they didn't really need me. So after a furtively returned the books I've had out way to long (one advantage of having a non-computerized system) I went searching for good reads.

Partial success; the fiction book was about as exciting as unbuttered, stale toast.
The non-fiction book---I couldn't put it down. I read every chance I could between cooking and cleaning chores, as I prepared for Shabbat (the Sabbath).

The book called "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down" Anne Fadiman, and centered on a young Hmong child who suffered from a severe case of epilipsey and how the treatment plan the doctors devised conflicted with both the abilities of the family to comply, owing to the language difficulties and the cultural mindsset of the parents, who saw the disease not as a set of symptoms with a bio-physical origin, but as caused by evil spirits who stole the child's soul away.

Every other chapter details the culture and history of the Hmong, and the two types of chaptes compliment each other in understanding the parents decisions and in understanding the cultural growth of the people themselves. It was an very effective treatment of the family and their actions, and the Hmong people.

The author of the book neither idealizes nor denigrates any of the main players, though she does have a bias she still managed to give a honest apprasial of both the people of Hmong and this particular case.

Neither the doctors, who only wanted the best for the child, nor the parents, who were loving to the extreme and wanted nothing best for the child, could understand each other's cultural stance, and thus they could not act in concert with each other to effectively treat the child; as a result the child suffered severe brain damage, and is but of a shell of a human being; reduced to a persistent near vegetative state; she eats and excretes, sleeps and cries, and lives staring blankly at the walls.

The center question of the book was; "Could this have been prevented and what steps would have been necessary to take." and the conclusion was the idealized best treatment was, perhaps in this case, actually second best; a less aggressive treatment, one which respected the cultural understanding of the disease on the part of the Hmong, could have saved the child's health.

What is true on a grand scale is also true on a personal scale. How often is the problem not in what we say as to what we say to whom? I remember reading long ago in the book "Helter Skelter" that one of the reasons Manson may have targeted Sharon Tate was because while her directive to use the back door or go by the alley way(I forget the exact comment) had a neutral value to her, it had negative connotations to him. Obviously that does not excuse his behavior and the behavior of his followers, but it may help understand "why her?"

How often do such misunderstandings affect us in various ways. How often have we left a conversation feeling confused or misunderstood, hurt or angered because of something that was said, when in fact the intentions of the other party was different from what we concluded? Or from the opposite end, left the conversation certain we were not understood and feeling frustrated because we haven't the slightest idea "how else we could have put it." ?

How do we assure ourselves we have correctly understood and that we have comprehended what the other is saying?

Posted by Rachel Ann at 07:26 AM | Comments (2)