Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Military March to Ordination

It was like a military operation.

The planning had already been done. We sent out evites. We had three events to plan: (1) The Supper/Havdalah, held on Pam's house on Saturday night, May 17th. The menu, strictly vegetarian, was catered. And the small service where we give Ruth our blessings had to be Ruth's head. (2) The ordination itself. Not so much planning here for the ordination, but how to get 30+ people to it, and then to the next event. The result was the minibus. (3) The ordination celebration, right after the ordination meet-and-greet, to take place at Temple Israel in Hollywood. As it turned out, Ruth's classmate Ann would take charge and plan everything, which we really appreciated.

So, we all flew in or caravanned into Westchester. There were about 15 of us staying at the Custom Hotel, and I wanted to get down there on Friday afternoon so that I could grab all the room keys (before somebody else did), and check to see if there were any problems. Those who booked on their own registered at the front desk on their own, but we had 6 rooms because we had all those single boys arriving, and I wanted control over how I paired them. We're talking about: James, Aaron, Ehren, Josh, Zach, Chris, Josh, Andrew, Rick (and maybe Joel), Evan (and girlfriend).

In the meantime, we had some logistical "issues" as to how some of them arrived. One was flying into Ontario, an airport on the other side of Palm Springs. One was flying into Long Beach airport, a good hour away from our hotel near LAX. One was taking the Amtrak train to downtown L.A. We got a car service for Ontario, and paid up front; we talked Long Beach into taking a shuttle directly to the hotel; and Mr. Amtrak figured out how to take the bus to LAX, then the hotel shuttle to the hotel. Needless to say, I had a spreadhsheet with all of this data on it, along with the arrival times for those flying into LAX. I had given the latter info to the Custom Hotel so that they could have the shuttle ready.

I must say that the Custom Hotel did a splendid job on the day of arrival as well as the day of departure. We had had some problems with them before in setting up the reservations, problems I ascribe to (1) it being a new hotel, and (2) the agent we dealt with disappeared early due to a family emergency. Still, even though some of the events were irritating (e.g., those wishing a reservation couldn't call the 1-800 number, but had to make a long-distance call and speak directly with one of the sales reps), they were surmountable.

I spent a lot of time on Friday afternoon giving them info about the group, sitting down in the lobby and writing out who was in which room for the single guys, and this paid off when Ehren arrived late Saturday night. Ehren was Mr. Ontario, and was flying in from London, all jet-lagged and bleary-eyed. When he couldn't find us (no cell phone), he went to the front desk, and they gave him a key to his room. In addition, when Ehren had to stay an extra night, they didn't screw that up as other hotels have (ask Rick about that).

I had called Joe, the USA Bus Charter guy, four days prior, making sure we had a bus ready. Joe was the guy who, when I said I already had a bus chartered, called me back to tell me that that other company was quite unreliable, and told me some horror stories. Since I hadn't actually booked with them, I went with Joe's company, because the one thing I was worried about was reliability. If the bus doesn't show up at the Custom Hotel at 8:30 on Sunday morning, we're screwed. There is no other way to transport over 30 people to the Wilshire synagogue. He assured me my bus was reserved, and even gave me the phone number of the dispatcher.

I had too much to do on Sunday morning. Go out to breakfast (early: 6:30) at the bowling alley, get dressed in my suit, take all the luggage down to the car, check out of 6 rooms after I made sure everyone was out of them, and make sure the bus was coming.

I called the dispatcher, named Abraham, at 8 am, in time, I thought, to make sure the bus was there by 8:30. He sleepily answered the phone and said that, yes, he was Abraham, but he didn't have anything to do with me. Call Jimmy. Jimmy was our driver, he said, and gave me Jimmy's phone number.

This is when I thought, like Indiana Jones, I have a bad feeling about this. I called Jimmy, woke him up, and Jimmy told me he wasn't working today.

Panic started to set in. I took all the luggage downstairs with Rick's help, checked out of the rooms, dialing the USA Bus general phone number as I went. Finally, I got a choice that said, "in case of emergency.."

This was my emergency.

I got someone in the flesh, who told me, "Hold on, please..." and put me on hold for 5 minutes. Then she came back on, announced that she was the answering service, but took my name, phone number, and contact (Joe) info and told me someone would call me back. Five minutes later Joe called. It was 8:15.

He listened to all my information in my increasingly urgent voice, and said quickly that he'd call me back. He called me back 5 minutes later to tell me he was working on it and would again call me back. At 8:40 he called me back to say, "Ken is there at the hotel."

Well, if he was, he wasn't in the lobby or the valet parking driveway, or even out front near the Ralph's store. But finally we found him and he pulled his minivan around into the alleyway so that everyone could get on it. It was Ken's day off, or at least it was.

At that point I found out that about seven of our people had decided not to take the minibus after all, preferring to drive in either their own car or someone else's.

So the minibus was half-full. That was okay. However, when Ken asked me, "Do you know where we're going?", I began to have that sinking stomach feeling again.

But in my notebook were mapquest pages of where we were to go each step of the way. I tore the first one out and handed it to him after saying, "No. That's why we hired a driver."

He got us there in plenty of time, and parked around the corner from Wilshire temple in the "3-minute Parking" zone. Don't you know he was there when we got back. Thank God.

At the end of the rather lengthy ordination ceremony, a couple of us stepped over the throng to get into the side garden to greet the new rabbi. Most of our people stayed out in the Wilshire synagogue parking lot, where there were shade trees. Some of the men were losing some of their clothing.

After a little while, the happy new rabbi and our bus people climbed back onboard and went to the next synagogue for the party. Ken found the way through surface streets, parked, and we went inside. We were so early we had to wait for it to open at 2 pm, but in the meantime, took lots of photos of everyone, including Rabbi Chester and Dr. Adler, both of whom stopped by.

By the time we returned to the Custom Hotel, I could breathe a sigh of relief. I thanked Ken for his service, and then changed clothes. We made sure Ehren got his extra night in the hotel, said goodbye to those who were flying or driving out that night, and the remaining 11 of us got together to discuss the plan for Sunday night.

After all, this wasn't the end. There was one more piece to this operation: the trip to Disneyland! We all climbed into three cars (belonging to me, Jamie, and Andrew), threw our luggage in Andrew's truck (thank you, Andrew!), and caravanned to Anaheim, the place where I could relax after this monumental day. Let the fun begin!

(Thanks to those who took photos: Cynthia Asprodites, Rick Burnett)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Becoming Jewish

Dawn and I are putting together a new website for the curious and/or those who want to convert. Resources cited are mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area. And, in truth, Dawn has done 90% of the work. I would hate to be responsible for the veracity of such a site!

This is probably a temporary site until we can get a dot com. But it's already very cool.

I'm responsible for adding content as people submit it (e.g., a paragraph on their rabbi), and for checking the email address for the site: We got our first legitimate email today.

Faith Fancher Breast Cancer 5K Walk/Run

Faith Fancher was a San Francisco newswoman who was taken early by breast cancer, about 5 years ago. Before she left, she made all her friends promise to do all they could to help breast cancer victims and eradicate the disease. Hence the birth of the Faith Fancher 5K.

I am putting together a team called The Lake Merritt Walkers to raise money for the event, which occurs on August 16, 2008. Of course, I will be participating.

Rick Ellison and I participated in the walk some years ago when it first began. It wasn't very well organized then. It is now.

Please donate if you can:

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Word Play?

Gerard Nolst Trenité
The Chaos®

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.
I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you'll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it! 10
Just compare heart, hear and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word.
Sword and sward, retain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it's written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Say-said, pay-paid, laid but plaid.
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak,
Previous, precious, fuchsia, via, 21
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
Woven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, shoe, poem, toe.
Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughter, laughter and Terpsichore,
Branch, ranch, measles, topsails, aisles,
Missiles, similes, reviles.
Wholly, holly, signal, signing,
Same, examining, but mining, 30
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far.
From "desire": desirable-admirable from "admire",
Lumber, plumber, bier, but brier,
Topsham, brougham, renown, but known,
Knowledge, done, lone, gone, none, tone,
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel.
Gertrude, German, wind and wind,
Beau, kind, kindred, queue, mankind, 40
Tortoise, turquoise, chamois-leather,
Reading, Reading, heathen, heather.
This phonetic labyrinth
Gives moss, gross, brook, brooch, ninth,
Have you ever yet endeavoured
To pronounce revered and severed,
Demon, lemon, ghoul, foul, soul,
Peter, petrol and patrol?
Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet. 50
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which exactly rhymes with khaki.
Discount, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward,
Ricocheted and crocheting, croquet?
Right! Your pronunciation's OK.
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live. 60
Is your R correct in higher?
Keats asserts it rhymes Thalia.
Hugh, but hug, and hood, but hoot,
Buoyant, minute, but minute.
Say abscission with precision,
Now: position and transition;
Would it tally with my rhyme
If I mentioned paradigm?
Twopence, threepence, tease are easy,
But cease, crease, grease and greasy? 70
Cornice, nice, valise, revise,
Rabies, but lullabies.
Of such puzzling words as nauseous,
Rhyming well with cautious, tortious,
You'll envelop lists, I hope,
In a linen envelope.
Would you like some more? You'll have it!
Affidavit, David, davit.
To abjure, to perjure. Sheik
Does not sound like Czech but ache. 80
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, loch, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed but vowed.
Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover.
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice,
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label. 90
Petal, penal, and canal,
Wait, surmise, plait, promise, pal,
Suit, suite, ruin. Circuit, conduit
Rhyme with "shirk it" and "beyond it",
But it is not hard to tell
Why it's pall, mall, but Pall Mall.
Muscle, muscular, gaol, iron,
Timber, climber, bullion, lion,
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor, 100
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
Has the A of drachm and hammer.
Pussy, hussy and possess,
Desert, but desert, address.
Golf, wolf, countenance, lieutenants
Hoist in lieu of flags left pennants.
Courier, courtier, tomb, bomb, comb,
Cow, but Cowper, some and home.
"Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker",
Quoth he, "than liqueur or liquor", 110
Making, it is sad but true,
In bravado, much ado.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Pilot, pivot, gaunt, but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand and grant.
Arsenic, specific, scenic,
Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.
Gooseberry, goose, and close, but close,
Paradise, rise, rose, and dose. 120
Say inveigh, neigh, but inveigle,
Make the latter rhyme with eagle.
Mind! Meandering but mean,
Valentine and magazine.
And I bet you, dear, a penny,
You say mani-(fold) like many,
Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,
Tier (one who ties), but tier.
Arch, archangel; pray, does erring
Rhyme with herring or with stirring? 130
Prison, bison, treasure trove,
Treason, hover, cover, cove,
Perseverance, severance. Ribald
Rhymes (but piebald doesn't) with nibbled.
Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,
Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.
Don't be down, my own, but rough it,
And distinguish buffet, buffet;

Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,
Worcester, Boleyn, to impugn. 140
Say in sounds correct and sterling
Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.
Evil, devil, mezzotint,
Mind the Z! (A gentle hint.)
Now you need not pay attention
To such sounds as I don't mention,
Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,
Rhyming with the pronoun yours;
Nor are proper names included,
Though I often heard, as you did, 150
Funny rhymes to unicorn,
Yes, you know them, Vaughan and Strachan.
No, my maiden, coy and comely,
I don't want to speak of Cholmondeley.
No. Yet Froude compared with proud
Is no better than McLeod.
But mind trivial and vial,
Tripod, menial, denial,
Troll and trolley, realm and ream,
Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme. 160
Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. Surely
May be made to rhyme with Raleigh,
But you're not supposed to say
Piquet rhymes with sobriquet.
Had this invalid invalid
Worthless documents? How pallid,
How uncouth he, couchant, looked,
When for Portsmouth I had booked!
Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
Paramour, enamoured, flighty, 170
Episodes, antipodes,
Acquiesce, and obsequies.
Please don't monkey with the geyser,
Don't peel 'taters with my razor,
Rather say in accents pure:
Nature, stature and mature.
Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,
Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,
Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,
Wan, sedan and artisan. 180
The TH will surely trouble you
More than R, CH or W.
Say then these phonetic gems:
Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames.
Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
There are more but I forget 'em-
Wait! I've got it: Anthony,
Lighten your anxiety.
The archaic word albeit
Does not rhyme with eight-you see it; 190
With and forthwith, one has voice,
One has not, you make your choice.
Shoes, goes, does*. Now first say: finger;
Then say: singer, ginger, linger.
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, age,
Hero, heron, query, very,
Parry, tarry fury, bury,
Dost, lost, post, and doth, cloth, loth,
Job, Job, blossom, bosom, oath. 200
Faugh, oppugnant, keen oppugners,
Bowing, bowing, banjo-tuners
Holm you know, but noes, canoes,
Puisne, truism, use, to use?
Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual,
Seat, sweat, chaste, caste, Leigh, eight, height,
Put, nut, granite, and unite.
Reefer does not rhyme with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyr, heifer. 210
Dull, bull, Geoffrey, George, ate, late,
Hint, pint, senate, but sedate.
Gaelic, Arabic, pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific;
Tour, but our, dour, succour, four,
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Say manoeuvre, yacht and vomit,
Next omit, which differs from it
Bona fide, alibi
Gyrate, dowry and awry. 220
Sea, idea, guinea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean,
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,
Rally with ally; yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, key, quay!
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, receiver. 230
Never guess-it is not safe,
We say calves, valves, half, but Ralf.
Starry, granary, canary,
Crevice, but device, and eyrie,
Face, but preface, then grimace,
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Bass, large, target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, oust, joust, and scour, but scourging;
Ear, but earn; and ere and tear
Do not rhyme with here but heir. 240
Mind the O of off and often
Which may be pronounced as orphan,
With the sound of saw and sauce;
Also soft, lost, cloth and cross.
Pudding, puddle, putting. Putting?
Yes: at golf it rhymes with shutting.
Respite, spite, consent, resent.
Liable, but Parliament.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew, Stephen, 250
Monkey, donkey, clerk and jerk,
Asp, grasp, wasp, demesne, cork, work.
A of valour, vapid vapour,
S of news (compare newspaper),
G of gibbet, gibbon, gist,
I of antichrist and grist,
Differ like diverse and divers,
Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers.
Once, but nonce, toll, doll, but roll,
Polish, Polish, poll and poll. 260
Pronunciation-think of Psyche!-
Is a paling, stout and spiky.
Won't it make you lose your wits
Writing groats and saying 'grits'?
It's a dark abyss or tunnel
Strewn with stones like rowlock, gunwale,
Islington, and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Don't you think so, reader, rather,
Saying lather, bather, father? 270
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, bough, cough, hough,
sough, tough??
Hiccough has the sound of sup.
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!