Tuesday, August 23, 2011

So, my weekly blog post is now overdue and the problem is that I do not have a lot to write about. I am sitting here at Aroma with a journalist friend and just now we were discussing the matter. Of course, being a professional journalist, she has suggested any number of sensible, thoughtful, mature topics to write about while I came up with a fab idea which was none of the above. I would elaborate on my idea but the problem is that I have embarked on a mission to go on one blind date a week until such fine day when I meet that Special Someone with whom I go on two or three dates or even MORE dates with, in which case I shall be able to replace said number of weeks of blind dates with non-blind dates and wouldn’t that be nice? But anyway, on these blind dates I sometimes mention that I am the proud owner of a neglected blog and, inevitably, the blind date wants to know the name of the blog and sometimes he even reads it. In which case it would be an extraordinarily bad idea to write about what I was thinking about writing about because it would make a bad impression and then he will definitely not call me again and I am hardly going to get up to Date Two that way, am I? So, if you are my most recent blind date or an upcoming blind date and you are reading this and you want to know what my topic was, please note that:

  1. This is simply not the type of matter I would ever even remotely consider discussing with a stranger on our first or second date (although it is, apparently, the type of matter I would seriously consider putting on my blog for everyone and his grandmother to see, assuming that his grandmother reads blogs)
  2. Once we have gone out for at least 20 years, I can share this information with you. Said deadline is as per consultation with my friend, the professional journalist.
  3. By said time, I will have no recollection of either the conversation or the blog post. If you are lucky, however, maybe the professional journalist will have taken notes. (Doubtful—she really disliked my idea—but you know, those journalist instincts are said to be powerful).

As a result of the above, I am left with nothing to write about apart from my “one-blind-date-a-week-mission”. The reason for the blind dates is so that I can meet Mr. Special Someone. The reason for having one blind date per week is so I can 1) keep up the momentum and 2) any more than one will render me insane. Which is also not likely to lead to Date Two.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sweet Returns and Violent Ceramic Cows

“Think of it as an investment”.

That is my response when people ask why I would throw a book swap to raise money for Alyn or a clothing swap to raise money for Alyn or do something else to raise money for Alyn. (Why Alyn? See here). Why do I not just take the money I would spend on supplies or cookie production raw materials or decorations or whatever, give that to Alyn, and call it a day? But if I do that, my contribution is limited to what I have available. If I invest wisely, my contribution can grow. My contribution can be equal to all of my contribution dollars, plus a bunch of yours. And you walk away with some books or cookies. Or both! Win win!

As a "what would ideally be a brief but will instead be a long-winded" digression, Israelis frequently ask that question and Anglos never do. This is not necessarily a point in favor of the one and against the other. Perhaps Anglos give more to charity than Israelis and have found creative ways to get people to give even more. Or perhaps Israelis are equally charitable, they just do not require incentives in order to give. Now, of course, as an Anglo, I secretly lean towards the former while giving public lip service to the latter. The lip service is necessary so that I do not come across as one of those horrid, judgmental Anglos who loves Israel but hates Israelis. (Did I not sound admirably reasonable and fair in the first section of this paragraph?) In general, one does not want to come across as judgmental because, unless one is judging: the Right, the Left, the Hilonim (seculars), the Haredim, Tel Avivim, Settlers, the people in favor of the demonstrations or the people against the demonstrations, judging is simply not okay. And it is particularly not okay on Tisha B’Av, and especially when it is Tisha B’Av and one is not fasting and/or doing anything else in honor of the day and so, in other words, one is at a point where topping it off with some bad-mouthing of my fellow Jews could well be the thing that just pushes G-d off that proverbial edge, so far as my fate is concerned. Which would be bad. In particular when I am trying to get back into the dating thing and thereby providing G-d with any number of excellent and entertaining opportunities to smite me with, I don’t know, another aging Sonny Bono gone to seed look-alike, like He did last year.

And now we are done digressing….

Anyway, one learns over time what works; which investments are profitable. Book swaps, for instance, if scheduled well, can do very well. The trick is to not go overboard on the refreshments and while you need to have a good supply of trading books, by no means should you allow your guests to go overboard on the book dumping. (Last year I was left with about six sacks and cases of old books to dispose of post-swap. This year, I am imposing a book cap). Clothing swaps on the other hand are nice on paper—everyone says “oh that sounds like fun” but in the end very few people show and it is not profitable.

And then there is the at-work cookie sale.

That goes well if you have a Yanay. Yanay is my co-worker. When I told him that my intent was to put out the cookies in the kitchen together with a piggy bank in the shape of a parti-colored cow and a note (Five NIS for Two Cookies! All Proceeds Go To Alyn!) he told me I was dead wrong, a horrible salesperson, and that was not the way to sell cookies. Instead, he grabbed the cow, had me fill some plates up with cookies and he proceeded to march from office to office with me in tow. I would start off with this wimpy spiel about how Alyn is a great cause (it is) and the cookies are really good (and they are; I do make some fine cookies) and please support this cause and blah blah blah and then Yanay would jump in and tell the person that no discussion was necessary, it's for charity, cough up the cash, he or she was going to buy cookies. Or else Yanay would brain them with the cow. Now, the cow would have only survived one braining (it only cost 25 sheks and I suspect that the ceramics may not be of the highest quality), so if Yanay had to make good on his threat, say, early on, when we were in R&D, we would have had nothing with which to intimidate QA, HR and the other departments. Fortunately, the fear factor was enough. In fact, we managed to achieve nearly 100% participation, including from those who 1) do not eat cookies and 2) are Haredi so they do not eat my cookies. In the end, I tripled my charity investment. Suffice it to say that I am way impressed with Yanay’s sale skills and am totally going to consult with him in respect to clothing swaps….

Here is Yanay, with his weapon of choice. I can safely say that, at least for today, Yanay is my absolute favorite Israeli in the whole, wide world.

(And a thanks to my office mates who bought nearly all the cookies! NIS 170 is now safely ensconced in Alyn’s coffers!)

Feeling jealous? You two would like to buy some virtual cookies? Sponsor me here!