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Ask Shifra

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

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Relaxing and Religion

I just heard about some research which took a look at European vacation.

No no, not National Lampoon's European Vacation! I mean the benefit of having the extended vacation time that is mandated in Europe. Did you know that Europeans get about TWICE the vacation time Americans do?! Well yeah, I knew that too, but every time I hear it, it annoys me.

My summer has consisted of driving kids all over the place, getting poison ivy while mowing my lawn, battling a computer virus, 32 conference calls and a couple trips to the beach. Fun, fun, fun. I also rented High Fidelity, one of my favorite books and movies of all time. If that's the highlight of my summer I think I'm in bad shape.

ANYWAY, this new research shows that more vacation time results in a better attitude, lower blood pressure, weight loss, overall health and fitness, increased religiosity and spirituality, and an over all better quality of life. You don't need to be a scientific researcher to work most of that out! The majority of people I know work 50 weeks a year just for those two weeks vacation.

Time off is great! Work is stressful!

So what's this about religion and vacation? You always hear about people finding religion in times of stress but not usually while resting in a hammock sipping a pina colada. I've never heard anyone say "There are no atheists in a tropical paradise."

Can being more relaxed help you find God? Or is religion more of a luxury item affordable to those with peace of mind?

Please post your thought below, I have to get back to work!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Corporate Culture

As you may recall I was laid off from my old job in January of 2008 and I started a new job in March. This job is a lot different than my last. More stressful and high profile for sure, but with more interesting projects (which are mine to manage.) The corporate structure and culture is different too. Political correctness, environmental friendliness and the encouragement of diversity all get a lot of lip service, and even some actualization!

It seems like I'm constantly being bombarded with not only work, but company policies which seem to be manufactured and modified continuously from somewhere deep within the corporate machine.

One of my favorite things in the office is when opposing ideas are put out right next to each other. For example, recently there was a big push toward improving building security recently. Employees were directed to display their work IDs prominently at all times and not to hold the door for people to prevent unauthorized persons from gaining entry. The new policy is prominently posted everywhere, on doors, in the break rooms, and on posters in the copy rooms.

Another highly publicized campaign around the office at the same time was one which talked about assisting people with disabilities in the office. There was a webcast, handouts with tips about how to treat the disabled and of course more posters.

So we were left with two posters side by side plastered throughout the office.
The poster on the right shows a polite employee holding the door for a coworker using crutches (but still able to hold his briefcase!) with the caption "Who needs help getting in the door? Everyone!" and a blurb about how we all need help at times, so be nice to the disabled.
The poster on the left warns us never to hold the door for anyone, and that security is everyone's responsibility!

Oddly it doesn't seem to bother anyone but me.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Hebrew Tattoos

I've been determined not to waste my summer this year, and when it comes to spending a summer right, time at the beach is high on my list.
I love the ocean, it's just magical to me and I never get tired of it.
I love looking out at the waves, playing in the sand of course people watching.

One thing I've noticed plenty of are tattoos, I never want to look, but really the whole concept just fascinates me, like some kind of super slow train wreck. Here are people who decide that there is an image they like so much they want it on their skin.... FOREVER! I have trouble picking a pair of sandles!

So what do they choose as their ever lasting image?
A skull on fire of course! Now that's an image for the ages apparently!
I have lots more to say about skulls in pop culture, but that's another post.

Aside from flaming skulls, something I've noticed plenty of that strikes me so odd is the prevalence of Hebrew tattoos.
What's up with that?

Whenever I see Hebrew permanently marked on to a persons skin my first thought is "Oh they must be Israeli... or Jewish..." but no. A second look will over reveal the presence of crosses or other marks ruling out that as a strong likelihood.

So why a Hebrew tattoo? Here's a whole website dedicated to them, and that's just one of MANY! It boggles my mind.

So the last time I was at the beach I saw a Hebrew tattoo that puzzled me, especially since my Hebrew is pretty rusty.
I don't trust my memory 100% but it was something like "Betach Baal."
The guy who was wearing it, had dozens of others from the Celtic Cross to what looked like the Golden Gate Bridge! He also looked like he could have turned me into hamburger meat in a matter of moments so I didn't ask him or look for very long, but it's been bothering me.

I looked up the word "Baal" and "tattoos" and apparently the God "Baal" was worshipped by the application of tattoos which may be part of the reason they are forbidden in Judaism today... but maybe I'm totally barking up the wrong tree here.

If any of my readers can help me solve this riddle I'd be grateful.