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Ask Shifra

Something Different... Answering questions and making curious observations (online) since 2005.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Real Men of Genius

I read somewhere recently that men are funnier than women, but that it is biologically necessary because humor is one of man's most essential tools when it comes to "getting the girl."
Well, here are two men who are definitely bringing their A-game to the blogs this week.

How do you know when a scandal is almost over? When it become satire of course!
Still Wonderin has deftly woven that sow's (or bear's) ear into a silk purse for us here.

But wait there's more!
Krum has just what you need - the Chanuka-izer! Not (yet) sold in any stores!
It "converts" standard Christmas themed television into haimish fun for the whole family.
Be sure to help him out with the programming in the comments section.

Good Things


Thanks for your patience.
I've been under the weather.
I can't believe I blogged about Christmas and not at all about Chanuka but these things happen.
As I've been starting to feel better I've been thinking about the good things in life.
You know those little things that make life just a little sweeter?
Here are a few of my picks:

The Microsoft Natural Keyboard

I LOVE this baby. Sure it takes a little getting used to but I find it helps me type faster - avoid the back and forth from the keyboard to the mouse (programable shortcut keys!) and it has completely eliminated that shooting pain I used to get from my wrist to my shoulder after about an hour at the computer.

Mega Headphones

Sure I look like a dork, but at least I can't hear it when you tell me about it.

Chai Tea with Milk

Smells wonderful, tastes like cookies, almost no calories.

The Oxford Dictionary

This is easily the best dictionary I've ever owned. Clever essays by famous wordsmiths and other worldplay treats sprinkled thoughout the book. At my house we just leave it out, it's always in use.

Gmail rocks - effortless chat, emails saved as conversations with copied text removed, unlimited space and filter searches make it a pleasure to use. Sure all that saved data makes me nervous but then again it should... shouldn't it?

What little things do you love?
Share them with me in the comments.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Your Own Personal (Inflatable) Jesus

I don't care if it rains or freezes
'Long as I got my plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
Through my trials and tribulations
And my travels through the nations
With my plastic Jesus I'll go far

-George Cromarty and Ed Rush

It's only December 14th and I am already quite sick of the Christmas season.
One think I do like, however, are Christmas decorations.
I love the light displays the trees the ornaments, ribbons, and pine bowes and all that. It's festive and keeps winter nights from seeming too bleak.

Of course, I've never been too keen on the nativity scene... um ... scene. I prefer a more secular theme for this winter holiday. I've also lost my taste for those giant inflatable yard decorations which seemed kind of clever a few years ago now seem down right lame since some people (and yes, I mean you family that lives on my corner) starting literally filling their yards with 6 foot snow globes, 8 foot Santas (popping in and out of the chimney) and 12 foot statues of Frosty the Snowman.

So, when I saw the inflatable nativity scene (mind you the one in the photo is pretty tame, the one I saw had the full cast and a twelve foot manger!) on a lawn in a friend's neighborhood. I was completely blown away!

Congratulations on winning the Tackiest Xmas Decoration of the Season Award Mr. and Mrs.
McChristmastine! You've earned it!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Work Worries

Dear Shifrah,

I am tired of my current job. But it's not just my job, I'm tired of my entire field (technology related). I feel like I want to do something else entirely, a mid life career change. I have a wife and children so I can't take too many risks though. Any advice?


Dear Anonymous -

I like how you spelled my name. That extra "h" at the end is kind of pretty but I still think Steg's "Xifra" is my alltime favorite.

OK OK fine- back to caring about other people and their problems...

Honestly, your problem is my problem as well.
I too work in a field that isn't meaningful to me but it is stable and allows me to do things I enjoy like eat, and put gas in my car. I think I read somewhere that Americans change careers many times over the course of their working lives- but you'll have to take my word on that, I don't have enough time research those statistics today.

To begin with, I think the question to ask yourself is "What am I passionate about?"
If you are already employed but unsatisfied with either the work, the environment, or the money you are making, you need to think about what kind of work you would find more satisfying.

If there is something you've always wanted to do maybe now if the right time to start thinking about it. If you've always wanted to own a sporting good store, or be a journalist start looking into it - what kind of training and/or capital will it take to get things rolling? Can you try your hand at it on a part time basis while you hold on to your old job? Talk to people in the field see what they think. Of course once you are in a position of responsibility it is hard to make big changes. If you are currently a high paid lawyer who wants to join the peace corps there may be some compromises in your future.

Once you figure out what you really want, and if it seems realistic in terms of the lifestyle you want to maintain, be sure to include your spouse in the planning- if you plan to get your MBA at night or pour your savings into opening a Burger Nosh in Omaha you will need her support.

To sum up:
Big changes don't happen overnight and they don't happen by accident.
Find your path, make a plan, include your spouse, and good luck!!

Keep me posted.


Look Down!

Due to my lack of posting it seems that my friend Air Time has taken it upon himself to start up a story in the comments section of the post below.
Although it's quite random and unexpected (much like the man himself) I like it.

Go ahead and join in - there is nothing happening up here right now anyway :-)


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Promises Promises

It's Wednesday and I've promised to post something.

To begin with, I'd like to let everyone know that I'm just fine. I've been traveling quite a bit with very limited internet access. None of this travel is what I'd really call leisure time but it was all for good reasons (family, special events, etc...)

I had an email conversation with another blogger yesterday and she said that the longer you put off blogging the harder it is to come back and it's true. After a break you really want to have something to say and nothing seems quite good enough.

So I think I'll do a bit of a mix n' match post just to get back into the swing of things.

A Busman's Holiday - My mother used this expression recently and I really liked it. I don't know how I've missed it all these years. It basically sums up my last couple of weeks - lots of driving, housekeeping, paperwork, Bureaucracy, and childcare.

The Anti-Shifra - This weekend I got to spend a lot of time with my four year old nephew. He's a sweetie and always calls me Anti-Shifra (his way of saying Auntie Shifra I suppose) It's very cute. Makes me think about my identity a bit especially in relation to blogging. Who is the real Shifra (the online version or the 3D one) and who is the Anti-Shifra?

Other Shifras - OK it's true I've been known to google myself. I've been tracking myself as Ask Shifra (I don't have much of a profile online as my real self) and I'm please to report that I'm google's #1 Shifra and have been for a long time now. Google's number #2 Shifa intrigues me -
we seem to have a number of things in common (although I'm not allergic to so many things) and I've been thinking of emailing her "Hey #2, let's be friends!" but it just seemed too random. Maybe she checks her sitemeter though (if she has one) and will find ME through this post.

In Search Of - What would an Ask Shifra post be without a short anecdote?
I recently attended a dinner with my family where my brother spoke (about his medical history and his miraculous recovery (still in progress) among other things. There was also a semi-famous Rabbi who spoke quite well. After the dinner my grandmother (who was also in attendance) mysteriously disappeared. One moment she was with us the next she was gone. After waiting about ten minutes we all split up and started searching the place. My brother and I ran up the stairs together to look for her and when we got to the top floor we were told that my grandmother was now safely in the car with my father. As we quickly walked down the stairs to find my brothers wife (who we had instructed to keep watch from the mezzanine) we ran into the semi-famous Rabbi. Recognizing my brother from his speech the Rabbi asked me "Are you his wife?" I replied "No, I'm his sister" and my brother replied "I'm still looking for my wife." to which the Rabbi replied "ah beseras Hashem..." (with God's help...)
My brother looked confused for a second and then I said "No, he's married he's REALLY looking for his WIFE." Too funny.

New Blood - someday, when I update my blogroll I'm going to add Rabbi Horowitz.
DovBear has been singing his praises for a while now but I'd just like to say that that it's a pleasure to read something written by a frum Rabbi who is more interested in solving problems in the frum world than pretending they don't exist! You can even comment on his site because he actually encourages discussion! Amazing.

New Labels - Speaking of normal Rabbis I'd like to offer a couple of new acroynms I've been knocking around:

OO: Oldschool Orthodox - Remember when Rabbis read the newspaper and had college degrees? Remember when kids were encouraged to have carreers and be "well rounded" as well as devoted to the torah? Remember when there wasn't SEPERATE SEATING AT SHUL DINNERS?! Yes, me too.

AO: Angry Orthodox: While still retaining the basic principles and belief systems of traditional Jewish faith these Jews feel that Orthodoxy has turned on them. Between being bankrupted by the yeshiva system, forced to conform by social pressure, and embarressed by rioting Charedim these Jews have become cynical and bitter. See Related: Kalte Litvaks, Orthoprax

Please make yourself comfortable in the comments section - a flight attendant will be bringing the beverage cart around shortly.