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Lethargic Man (anag.)

Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2014-07-30 21:44
Subject: Charity parachute jump in aid of alleviating the situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories
Security: Public
The news from Israel recently is depressing; so depressing I'm going to throw myself out of a 'plane.[1]

[photo]

Yes, I'm doing a parachute jump for charity, in aid of alleviating the human misery in Israel and the Palestinian Terrorities caused by the current war; please donate and help me reach my target. Half the proceeds will go to Magen David Adom, the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross. Because the Israelis are not the only ones suffering in the current conflict, I wanted to do something to help out the Palestinians as well. Since I was not able to find an equivalent Palestinian charity that is not engaging in anti-Israel politicising at best, or complicit in terrorism at worst[2], I have chosen as my second charity B'Tselem[3], an Israeli NGO which fights human rights abuses in the Occupied Terrorities (whether by the occupying power or the PA). Donations to B'Tselem will be funnelled via the New Israel Fund, since direct donations to B'Tselem, as a non-UK charity, is not supported by Virgin Money Giving.

Please note that this is a non-political fundraising event; I am trying here to help people on both sides of the conflict. If you disagree with my allocation of funds (and even I recognise that it's not ideal), I invite you to donate half the amount you would have liked to here, and give the other half to a further non-political, non-violence-promulgating charity of your selection.

By the time the jump happens, I hope the war will be long over; however the fundraising hole it has caused will take a long time to backfill, and donations will still be necessary.

The jump will be at the London Parachute School near Reading; you're invited to come along and watch. Indeed, anyone else as mishugge as me is invited to join in and keep me company.

Lastly, please note that Virgin Money Giving is a not for profit organisation and will claim gift aid on a charity's behalf where the donor is eligible for this. I appreciate your support, and thank you for any donations.

[1] This is actually an old resolution of mine. When I was an undergraduate, for a short while there was an society within J-Soc called DJS—Dangerous Jewish Society—with whom I signed up to do a charity parachute jump. Society founder Michael Jaeger and I got a lift down to London with a third meshuggine, who was to drive us all to the airfield early the following morning, but the car-owner got cold feet (he was concerned the insurance would not pay enough in the event of his death) and pulled out, leaving the other two of us with no way to get to the airfield on time. Now's the time to right that wrong.

[2] Not an exaggeration. See, for example, here.

[3] Homepage; see also their Wikipedia entry.

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2014-07-21 21:11
Subject: Moar JC mining: Wedding invitation
Security: Public
I was somewhat surprised to receive a wedding invitation a few years ago on Facebook and nowhere else (the groom assured me he had sent a print one, but it never arrived), but this takes the biscuit. In December 1905, my great-great-grandparents posted this in the Jewish Chronicle:
Mr. and Mrs. J. ANKER, 46, Holly-avenue, Jesmond, with Mr. and Mrs. E. GOLDSTON, "The Square", Stockton-on-Tees, will be pleased to see all relatives and friends at the Synagogue, Leazes Park-road, Newcastle-on-Tyne, on January 2nd, 1906, on the occasion of the marriage of their daughter Eva, to their son Joshua.  Ceremony at 2.30 p.m.  Reception at the "Minories" Assembly Rooms, Jesmond-road, 4 till 7 p.m.
Which is all well and good until you come to the last line, for which remember that they chose to publish this in a national newspaper—and indeed the births, marriages and deaths column was at that point on the front page:
Relatives and friends please accept this, the only invitation.


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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2014-07-17 18:14
Subject: Unity Mews
Security: Public

[photo]

She does? Better give her some milk, then.

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2014-07-16 20:47
Subject: Palestine Red Crescent Society
Security: Public
As those of you who follow me on Facebook may have seen recently, I'm gearing up to do something crazy in aid of charity, and have been trying to decide which. I'm leaning in favour of Magen David Adom, but feel it is important to alleviate the suffering of all those caught up in the tragedy, not just the Israelis'.

So, does anyone reading this know whether the Palestine Red Crescent Society is a trustworthy body to also donate to?

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2014-07-13 17:07
Subject: Sam Pogrund, KIA WW1
Security: Public
This is Sam Pogrund, my great-grandmother's second cousin, from Leeds.

[photo]

He's not the closest relative of mine to have fought, or died fighting in the Great War—that'd be my great-grandfather's brother Yossi Krantz—but he's the first named one that I've managed to get a picture of in uniform.

Googling the name brought up http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=14696369, which says he died on the last day of 1917 (previously I just knew the year), that he was a private, was in the Machine Gun Corps (Infantry), and is buried at Chatby Memorial in Alexandria in Egypt. I wonder if, having died then and there, he was involved in the liberation of Jerusalem.

His brother Simon also died (fighting?) in the war.

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2014-07-11 12:09
Subject: Central Arcade
Security: Public
Tags:newcastle
This is Central Arcade, in Newcastle.

Surprisingly beautiful, for a shopping arcadeCollapse )

On the right is Windows of the Arcade, a general music shop (they sell instruments, stereos, CDs and possibly sheet music too), where I bought my stereo in 1986. Somewhat to my surprise, I discovered it was still there earlier this year, when I cycled around Newcastle taking photos of places like this...

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2014-07-08 21:53
Subject: Blood-red rainbow
Security: Public
Of a Shabbos afternoon in Edinburgh in 1998, I was walking home towards sunset when I saw an arc of rainbow, thrust almost vertically into the air, faint and almost entirely red: a small amount of yellow permeated its inner edge and a faint hint of green, but no blue or violet whatsoever.

As I watched, and the setting sun reddened further, so did the rainbow, turning completely blood-red before fading away as the sun set. ([personal profile] liv and rysmiel may recall I worked this into a novel I was working on at the time.)

It was an amazing sight, but unfortunately, it was Shabbos and I couldn't photograph it (and even if it hadn't been, most people didn't walk around with camera all the time back then).

It's taken sixteen years for me to see that happen again. My first sight this time of a reddening rainbow was quite a while before sunset, and I foolishly went away and got on with other things, as a result of which when I came back to find this rainbow too entirely red, it was so faint my camera could barely capture it, and I've had to turn the contrast up in the resulting picture so you can see it.

[photo]       [photo]



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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2014-07-08 20:32
Subject: Parachute jump
Security: Public
I feel my life is a bit boring, so I'm considering throwing myself out of a 'plane.

Let me unpack that a bit. Well, not the boredom bit; I think that's self-evident. I was thinking more along the lines of how people like Stephen Sutton who die young sometimes pack an incredible amount into the little time they have remaining, yet many of us who have (please God) normal lifespans never achieve a fraction of the things they did.

I was also inspired by my friend Abigail Kay recently bungee-jumping for charity.

And I remembered how when I was an undergraduate, for a short while there was an organisation called DJS—Dangerous Jewish Society—and I signed up to do a parachute jump with them for charity, but, when me and society founder Michael Jaeger had got a lift down to London with a third meshuggine, who was to drive us all to the airfield early the following morning, the car-owner got cold feet (he was concerned the insurance would not pay enough in the event of his death) and pulled out, leaving the other two of us with no way to get to the airfield on time, so we never did it.

I've always felt a mixture of relief and regret that I wasn't able to go through with it, and when better to do something about it* than now.

* Now that the person who was the most opposed to it (my mother) is no longer around, but I do not (yet) have any dependents.

I will, of course, be doing this for charity, though not the same charities as my bike ride of last year: I want the other ones I regularly donate to to get a look-in as well! But first, according to the British Parachute Association webpage I had a look at this morning, I will need to get a doctor's certificate, as they assume anyone above the age of forty is at risk of decrepitude; and it's possible that my slightly dodgy knee may put paid to this whole enterprise.

Whilst I'm waiting, advice from anyone who's done this before would be welcome.

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2014-06-29 20:29
Subject: Judaism and the Mystery of Pedal Cycle Maintenance
Security: Public
Tags:bike
I am so hopeless with my hands. I spent ten minutes the other day trying to figure out how to close the special link on a chain I was putting on my bike; eventually I had to give up and call my father in.

The reason I was doing so was I'd been told at the end of last year that switching back and forth between two chains every six months prolongs the life of the gear cassette and range wheel, so you don't have to replace them (an expensive business!) every time you replace the chain. So I was told then; the other day a mechanic at the bike shop said that was only if you cleaned and oiled the moving parts every day. (I do so only from time to time.) I remember the narrator of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" arguing in favour of knowing how to service your bike, and knew that this was the right thing to do, but can I be bothered to clean and oil the thing every since day I take it out? Not bloody likely.

I intend to switch the chain back after six months and see if it improves the lifespan of the gear cassette regardless... but I've a sneaky suspicion I'm going to have difficulty getting the special link on the chain back open again.

Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance? Hah! For me, it's more like:

View piccyCollapse )



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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2014-06-24 18:46
Subject: Has reciting mourner's kaddish daily had an effect on me?
Security: Public
I'm over halfway through my period of reciting kaddish now, and have still only missed thirteen services in total, so far. So, you may be wondering, has all this davening with a minyan three times a day changed me?

That's what I wondered when I went to study for three weeks at the Conservative Yeshiva (and davening there twice a day) seven years ago. One hears of all these young people going off to Israel to study in yeshiva and coming back "Aished"; was I in danger of that happening to me too?

As it turned out, the answer was no. When I was young, I was much more credulous and uncritically respecting of authority than I am now. And so perhaps I would have been in danger of being brainwashed had I gone to an Orthodox yeshiva when I was eighteen, but that was not the case going to a Masorti/Conservative yeshiva in my mid thirties. Eventually I realised it wasn't that I might change due to studying at the yeshiva; rather I went to study at the yeshiva because I had already changed myself. (The idea of studying at a yeshiva would have been quite inimical to me just a few years beforehand.)

And so, davening with a minyan three times a day hasn't changed me at all. I didn't change before I started doing it, and I haven't changed since (aside from a mild exasperation at the length of services); and when my period of reciting kaddish ends, I will happily go back to pretty much never attending shul midweek, but doing a little davening daily בְּיִחוּד, as I had been doing beforehand, and indeed still do now on the odd occasion when I'm not able to daven at shul in the morning (mostly when I've got a 'plane to catch back from Berlin on a Monday morning).

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