Goofs and Gadflies

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

She wanted me to write a eulogy...

I spoke recently to observe the yahrzeit of my Mother. Many people expressed their appreciation and wanted to share with people who couldn't make it. I figure I would throw it up here so this place doesnt look as abandoned as who actually dusted off the cob webs to muse on Shavuot. So Gentle Reader, I may return, or it may be another two years before I return. -- One year ago today, my mother Elaine Griver , Chana Sarah bas Leible ve Shayna Aleha Hashalom went to her eternal repose and her beautiful neshama left this world. Four years ago this week, my father Dennis Griver Aleha Hashalom departed for shamayim Erev Shavuos. As with most jewish Levayas time simply does not allow for everyone to come who wants to be there. As such, I want to go back into the eulogy I gave for my mother and reflect on what I said and the impact of those words 12 months later Quoting from the speech I said the following - I am comforted by how much my mother loved to celebrate life. Through the years of bar/bat mitzvahs, graduations, weddings, and babies of our family and the extended family, i would look at my mothers face as a child is want to do, to learn what the appropriate emotions to feel would look like. I can safely say that my definition of “unbridled joy”, my understanding of that concept, stems from stealing glances of my Mother during these simchas. She taught me how to feel, how to love, and how to empathize. When I look at Idaliah, Avi Adam, and now Zev, when I watch them dancing, playing soccer, or Ice Skating, I get what it is to have that prideful look in my eye. My children give me so much nachas and joy. It's a reminder of how patient and loving my parents were and it motivates me when I try to raise my family For my mother, no one moment was bigger than another. She clearly knew how to appreciate each day and to live in the moment. As i stand here today, I am in complete awareness of the responsibility my mother has given to me. I now have to continue her legacy of kindness. I have to make the small efforts, to continue the delicate and sensitive way she gave to this world. I have to be grateful and expressive of gratitude. And this is where the real reflection occurs, I stand here speaking for the merit of my parents when I say that I appreciate more than ever how we as a community must be better, must pick up the slack that others carried unquestioningly. I think about Rose Lax and Melissa Axler Aleha Hashalom. I do this because they were family to EVERY jew. I think about how much better of a person I am because I was simply lucky enough to have met them and be inspired by their unstoppable dedication to helping others. Which gives me a great segway to introduce a thought given to me byLeslie Selevan (she who is herself an unstoppable force in her dedication to helping others) who said in the name of Yehoshua Stokar, Montreal Kollel, Many times, I have been asked, as a member of the Kollel, but also as a plain Jew living in the twenty-first century, ‘why should we be Jewish?’ What is wrong with Christianity, Buddhism or any other religion for that matter? The true unprejudiced answer to this question is not that we can find some sort of logical flaw or any obvious errors in any of the other religions. The truth is we chose to be Jewish because… we are Jewish. One can ignore all of this and go to a place he does not belong - Or he could choose to live up to these high expectations, to become a link in the great chain called Jewish history. This sums up my father perfectly. He didn’t know how to be Jewish, he just knew that he was a jew. He was content by the shabbes challah, his eyes were warmed in the reflection of the lit candles, his cheeks rosy as they filled with chicken soup. I am so grateful he placed me in the circles of jewish thought and supported the direction my life took. The system of shiva allows those people to comfort the mourner in the following week. In some Cosmic quirk, my sister and I observed a total of 22 hours of shiva combined for both parents. What we gained in the easing of the most restrictive mourning period, we lost in terms of quiet contemplation of our loss. I hope that with the conclusion of the year of mourning, as we exit avelus and return to normal life, that we can continue to teach the lessons our parents taught us. Stephanie, as a sister you have shown tremendous love for my family and our bond should only grow stronger as we celebrate only simchas. I want to take a moment to express my personal gratitude. First to Rabbi Daniel Green for his tireless dedication to the Community. To Rabbis Selevan, Schweitzer and Gans for their friendship and Chavrusa. To all my close friends thank you. When I thought about my wife and how to express my gratitude, I thought about the linkages between Pesach and Shavuos. On Pesach we say Dayenu. If I had my wife and nothing else, dayenu. If I had Chana and her children and nothing else, dayenu. Instead I have all this and a beautiful community and for that I truly mean dayenu. Chana, I am truly in awe of your passion and dedication. Like I said, at the levaya I spoke from the heart and to close I want to return to those words. Thank you mom, for being the inspiration and muse of my father. Thank you for being the type of woman who would inspire a man to say “I fall a little bit more in love with your mother every day” Thank you Mom, for giving Stephanie the opportunity to perfom kvod habaim to the fullest extent possible. Her total devotion to your health and life gave me the peace of mind to stay in Hamilton knowing she was so capable in advocating for you and keeping you comfortable. I would always leave the house by saying I love you Mom, to which she would reply, I love you more. So today I get to say to you mom, I love you more.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Post on Censorship

This is a joint statement by many bloggers about the recent ban on VIN and the actions taken against VIN and the companies that advertise on the site. Kudos to R. Gil Student for drafting this statement and to the other bloggers who were primarily responsible for pushing the effort forward.


A little over a month ago, a number of rabbis signed onto a ban that forbade advertising on or otherwise working with the website VosIzNeias. This ban singled out one website without addressing other websites or public forums like newspapers or magazines. The singling out of a solitary website raises many questions, particularly when newspapers in the same community regularly publish arguably libelous stories and online discussion forums for the community are essentially unbounded by civility. Additionally, VosIzNeias has publicly stated that it has already raised its standards and is willing to do even more with rabbinic guidance, provided the same guidelines are applied to its competitors.

Bans of this nature are generally brought into fruition by activists and this one is attributed to a specific activist who seems to have business and political interests in this ban. He ignored VosIzNeias’ request to meet with the rabbis in order to explore ways to satisfy their concerns. With this ban, the activist is threatening the commercial viability of the VosIzNeias business.

We have now received reports of continued harassment by this activist, who is threatening to publicly denounce people, companies and charitable organizations who continue to cooperate with the website. He has also reportedly threatened to remove the kosher certification of companies that fail to adhere to the ban. However, on being contacted, the activist behind the ban denied all knowledge of this harassment and attributed it to someone acting without authorization. We are, therefore, making no formal accusation as to who is conducting this campaign of harassment.

To the best of our understanding, this activity is illegal. One individual told us he reported that harassment to the police.

Harassing good people with threats is illegal and inexcusable. We call on rabbis and people of good faith to denounce this behavior, and we encourage victims to respond to this activist as follows:

If he calls or e-mails you or your organization, thank him for bringing the ban to your attention and say that you will decide how to proceed after consulting with your rabbi or other advisor. And because of rumors that there is harassment involved in this matter, you regret having to tell him that if he contacts you or anyone else in your organization again, you will have to report him to the police.

We have a copy of an e-mail forwarded to us by people involved, which includes a pseudonym and phone number, and we have been told of intimidating phone calls. Note that at this time we are withholding this activist's identity. If he continues harassing people, we will have to be less discrete.

Signed,

His Mightiness, Garnel Ironheart (along with many other Jewish bloggers)

If you agree, please feel free to sign in the comment section and post this on your blog as well.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A Happy Medium is the Message

'The Last Line Always Remains" was the title of the first book I was going to write. I was 21 at the time. Poetry and prose flowed through an angst quill. The Internet, having not quite reached adolescence, was a 56k buzz in the air as pixels slowly churned in linear formation. The direct access to the Carleton Library Computer was handy for looking up books I would never read. However, in 1994 we had not progressed to the point of personal blogs or Myspace. We rendered our poetry to the pages of notebooks. I set out to write thematic prose musing the salience of youth. The work while lofty in its task, was never metered for public consumption. The pages sit unmolested, in a bin stuffed with memories and memorandum of my youth.

Contrast that with the first few years of this blog. Which when printed and submitted to a few friends with an eye for editing, was told there was a potential book here. What changed? It's the same metaphysical claptrap. There is nothing new under the sun. What is different is that we are now more comfortable with the idea of personal publishing. The notion of credibility not necessarily being tied to the publicity machine of mass media. We are now a society of consultants, of social media mavens, of mompreneurs and camp attendees.

If the medium is still the message, that message seems to be "I'm okay, you're okay". I get increasing levels of validation in reading blogs about new parents. I look at my child and don't feel the need to be superdad or picture perfect. I get this because I read about real people going through life as parents, watching them live it online via social networks. I also read Canadian Today's Parent, but that's different. That's a magazine looking to sell copies and ad space. They need a hook. They spoonfeed how I should feel while reading the articles, by using pictures and colors to denote the anticipated mood. Today's Parent represents a consensus of experience and depth of understanding inaccessible to most people (who aren't friends with doctors, lawyers, chefs, or gym teachers). I need that knowledge, I need to know how to cook new soups and how to arrange my kid's room to help them study. What I don't need is the pressure to live up to magazines haughty goals for personal happiness.

The beauty of social networks is twofold. They provide a quick glimpse into the foibles and cresting achievements of people we have only a tertiary(3 Kevin Bacons or more) connection with. They also allow people to share and learn from these experiences. It's a double benefit. We gain in the actual manufacture of social media content, and we gain in the sharing and learning of that creation. When you post pictures of taking your kids apple picking, you give people the idea that they too can take their kids apple picking. You might even inspire someone to write a blog about the "5 ways Apple Picking can spice up your marriage (The InCider View)"

That is the difference between 1994 and 2010. Then it was Green Day's Dookie and Metallica's Black Album blazing through a stereo rented at Granada. Now it's blogging about apples. Now its raking leaves while the kids do their homework. It's about celebrating moment after moment of growth as a family. It's about pride through preservation.

Welcome to my Carlsberg Years.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Art of Eating

I have been asked to write about my BBQ Beer Butt Chicken. Cooking is the vibrant combination of temperature, taste, texture, and time. The 4T's as it were. Here are the short tips:

Temperature- I cook with indirect heat on the BBQ, Med-Off-Med are the burner settings and I like to keep the grill around 400F for consistent results. The trick is to keep the Q shut for as much of the cooking time as possible to recirculate the heat. A quick turn every 20 minutes is enough to ensure even crisping of the bird.

Taste- I have tried two distinct flavours and both were successful. Bone Suckin' BBQ and Shwarma flavour. BBQ has notes of brown sugar, paprika, garlic and spices where shwarma spice has primarily a cumin and tumeric base. I find the BBQ version to be juicier, yet the shwarma style accepts the smoke of the grill with a more graceful match than the BBQ.

Texture- Chicken made in this style has flesh that can be described as thus. Supple and buttery (yet not greasy) for the dark meat; Breast meat that is firm with a gentle yielding to the knife. The wings get delightfuly carmelized and neck is best described as decadent.

Time- 60 minutes for Shwarma, and 50 minutes for BBQ. The sugars in the BBQ spice speed up the cooking slightly. I still use a meat thermometer in the thigh to hit 180C. I don't mind going over a bit, as the steam allows for flexibility depending on the crispiness desired for the skin. Going over 60 Min? At your own risk, I say.



I start on Wednesday with a trip to Hamilton Kosher Pick up a Chai Poultry bird of approx 1.5 KG. Thursday AM I wash the bird, take 2 Tblsp of olive oil and apply to the skin to help the rub stick. I then rub the bird good with a generous amount of either spice. Set in the fridge for 36 hours.

Friday night I open a can of beer, pour half into glass. Add more spice to remaining beer in the can. Spray can with PAM, and place inside Butt of Chicken. Place chicken onto the cooking rack and place on pre-heated 400F Grill. (some people cook with out it, but I like the rack for its stabilizing properties later when I cut the bird into 8 pieces) Cook 50-60 minutes. If BBQ style add sauce during last 5 min of cooking. Allow one hour to cool (minimum 30 min). Cut and keep warm until serving.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Continuing Importance of Me.

I believe that Social Networking has benefits, thus I also believe Online Social Networking has benefits. Early adopters of Internet believed the CRT monitor would become a window to the world; removing the barrier of geography to enhance understanding and foster a new enlightenment. Unforturnately it seems the LCD monitor is not a window but a mirror. The Personal Computer has become a source of personal validation. The belief that everyone wants to hear what you have to say and understand exactly what you mean even if you speak in vagaries. That is why people believe their *tweets* about what they had for lunch are actual ironic commentary on the supersonic pace of their unbelievably busy life. Sadly though, the ironic well has flooded, sending ironic waste seeping into the fabric of the public streets.