Thursday, July 27, 2006

Podcast Ireland

I got an email from the Ireland Tourism Board of a contest they are running where the lucky winner wins a one-week tour of a part of Ireland (Northern Ireland, Dublin/East/Southeast, West/Southwest) with air and ground transportation, accomodations, etc. and they get to podcast their trip for the Irish Tourism Board! I sent in my application faster than I could say slainte!

They ask for a 250-word or less entry telling them why you'd the a good choice, and here's my entry:
Ireland calls to me like a siren; it always has. I visited Ireland for my honeymoon in 2002 and have been yearning to return, to experience the beauty of the land and the warmth of the people once again, to relive those happy memories, and create new ones along the way. Though I loved the whole island, I particularly long to return to the West, to wander Dingle’s pubs and lose myself in witty craic, to smell the sweet scent of burning peat, to drink a real Guinness like only the Irish know how to pour. It was in Dingle that we spent the bulk of our honeymoon, and where I left a little piece of my heart. I wrote an online journal of our trip to Ireland, and four years later, I still get emails from people who have read it and tell me they have fallen in love with the land as well, and from those getting ready to go thanking me for increasing their enthusiasm for their trip. I will talk to anyone about the wonders of Ireland, in person, by phone, by email, and if chosen, then by podcast as well. I already produce a short podcast called “The Gamer Traveler” and Ireland is on my list of upcoming topics. An opportunity like this would be fantastic to generate new content and truly be a chance to tell the world how much I love Ireland and why I think everyone should visit, too.

It's a bit on the dramatic side, but it is all true.
Who knows, maybe something good will come my way!

Monday, July 24, 2006

It Hit The Fan And Landed All On Me

Boy, I am the cosmic shitbucket right now. I am at my mother-in-law's and someone broke the driver-side rear passenger window of my car and stole my laptop bag, which was inside the car, behind the driver's seat.

Not all is bad, though; my laptop computer was inside the house at the moment, so the most precious item that would normally have been inside the bag is safe and sound. I did lose, however, the power cord (which I had just bought about a month ago after my cat bit through the original one), a Dell network card, my Palmpilot, my two checkbooks (personal and Highmoon Media Productions account) and (and this hurts so much) my Holland/Belgium travel journal and my personal daily journal. Somewhere in Miami, some asshole has my personal thoughts of my recent trip and my most intimate thoughts ranging from the day of my wedding 'till just two days ago.

The cops came and took all the pertinent information, and CSI also came by, but as expected, there were no fingerprints, given they just smashed the glass, reached in and took the bag. And I heard it all happen, too.

I am so mad right it's not even funny.

I do thank G-d that the computer is safe and sound, but the loss of my journals feels like a dagger plunged straight into my heart.

My one hope is that they will have realized there is nothing of value inside the bag (they can take the Palmpilot and the network card for all I care) and threw the bag out the window somewhere, and that maybe, just maybe, I can recover what is truly important.


Friday, July 21, 2006

When You Chose A Domain...

People really need to pay attention when they choose a domain name. These are all real:

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Queen of Baking

There was a Bake Off today at my wife's work (Telemundo Network) and she decided to enter. Last night she prepared a scrumptious Maple Cake from a recipe she got in Nigella Lawson's Feast. She had done this cake twice before, once for my birthday, and I can attest to how delicious it is (it falls in the sinful category).

She just called me to tell me she won the Bake Off!!! :-)

The prize, unfortunately, is a gift certificate to a really expensive restaurant that we cannot eat at because it isn't kosher, so she'll see what she does with it. But bragging rights, those are all hers (and her department, too, since they were all cheering for her, given they know full well how good her baked goods are).

The U.N. Is A Joke

So finally the UN makes a statement about the situation in Israel, and (surprise, surprise) it condemns Israel!

From Yahoo! News: Annan criticizes both sides in conflict
UNITED NATIONS - Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Thursday for an immediate halt to the escalating conflict between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah
militia but said there were "serious obstacles to reaching a cease-fire."

Annan said Hezbollah's actions in launching rockets into Israel and abducting Israeli soldiers "hold an entire nation hostage" and set back prospects for Middle East peace.
Wow, he came up with that conclusion all by himself?

But he also condemned Israel's "excessive use of force" and collective
punishment of the Lebanese people, saying it had triggered a humanitarian

"While Hezbollah's actions are deplorable, and Israel has a right to defend itself, the excessive use of force is to be condemned," he told the Security Council.

I love how everyone throws that word around, "excessive," like this is some sort of game with established rules that dictate how much firepower one can throw down based on an attack. It's very easy to be so high-and-mighty when you are safely tucked away in New York enjoying all the ammenities diplomats get in this country while the people in Israel are hiding for their lives. As far as the UN is concerned, Israel should just take the rocket attacks like a big boy and like it, not do anything about it. What is not excessive, is what I want to know. A ground assault of Southern Lebanon? No, that would be invading another country. Teams of Mosad agents infiltrating and doing targeted killings? No, that would be inhumane. What's left, throwing rocks with a sling? Seriously!
Annan said mission members reported that many of the people they spoke to in the region noted that "whatever damage Israel's operations may be doing to Hezbollah's military capabilities, they are doing little or nothing to decrease popular support for Hezbollah in Lebanon or the region, but are doing a great deal to weaken the government of Lebanon."

"In short, the very government which Israel wants to extend its control has itself become a hostage to the crisis and is less able than ever to deploy its forces" to southern Lebanon, which is controlled by Hezbollah, he said.

Boo-freakin-hoo, okay. The people want to rally behind a terrorist organization, hide them, protect them, support them, then they are part of that organization, period. And please, spare me the drama about the Lebanese government not being able to do anything; they weren't doing anything to begin with, letting Hezbollah run the southern part of the country and have a political voice in their government. So much for declaring themselves a democracy. Act now, show that you have the balls to take on the cancer in your own country, and Israel will back you up so that you can erradicate these fanatics. Lebanon is as much a hostage of Hezbollah (unless they are secretly aiding them) and they either fight or by innaction share the blame.
Israel's U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman told reporters immediately after Annan's speech that there would be no cease-fire.

"We will do whatever is necessary," he said. "We have no timeline."

Gillerman said he was "disturbed" that Annan's report never mentioned the word "terror" or referred to Syria and Iran, which Israel accuses of being Hezbollah's sponsors.

Funny, no, that the UN never seems to want to recognize terrorist acts from any of these militant groups; as far the UN is concerned, Hamas and Hezbollah are just troubled teens acting out their teenage-angst bullshit.

More and more it is evident that the UN is a joke and a completely useless political entity, especially its Security Council (as far as I'm concerned, UNESCO and UNICEF are the only two branches of the UN worth keeping around). I want to see once these Islamic terrorists start dropping rockets and bombs on each of the opposing member countries how long will they just take it before retaliating. Because, please understand, it will happen; these militant fanatics will eventually go to every single free country in this planet of ours and do what they do best there. Even moderate Islamic countries like Egypt and Jordan are not safe, not for long. The sooner everyone realizes this (Chiraq, I'm looking your way), the faster we'll be able to effectively excise this cancer that is now growing rampant and threatening to kill us all. This is a battle for civilization.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Something strage happened this morning. After prayers, the Rabbi asked me to please put up some little plaques that had arrived in the mail from being engraved. I opened the box and there was one yartzeit plaque (in memory of someone's anniversary of death) and two little leafs for the Tree of Life (a tree-like board with leaf-shaped plaques for any kind of event one may want to memorialize). One of the leafs said, "In honor of Daniel Perez for his commitment to our shul." Eh? I read it twice; yep, that was the message. Someone paid to have one of those little leafs engraved in my honor.

I felt weird. Yes, honored that someone would think like that of me, but weird. I'm just a regular guy that does what he supposed to do, nothing more. I go to prayers, I help out in the synagogue, I help out the Rabbi, but that's what we're all supposed to do, why we're a community. I don't think I'm doing anything beyond the ordinary. What's more, I sometimes complain in my head about having to do X or Y, just as I am marching off to do it; I'm only human, after all.

So yeah, I'm honored, but more than anything I am humbled by the small honor. I put it up and didn't say anything about it. Someone saw it and I just smiled and kept going. I just told the Rabbi that, I don't know who paid for that (nor do I want to know), and that though I don't think I deserve it, to please extend my thanks.

I still feel strange about it.

Monday, July 17, 2006 A Question For The World Community

From the Boston Globe via A Question For The World Community by Meir Shlomo

FOR THE PAST few decades, the international community has been misled to believe that the root of the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors stems from the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This week, with the assistance of Hamas and Hezbollah, this canard finally has been laid to rest.
Hamas and Hezbollah mirror the virulent hatred of Israel that runs through Syria, Iran, and other parts of the Middle East. These groups represent a refusal to recognize the state of Israel, regardless of its borders. To make matters worse, rogue states such as Syria and Iran openly support these terrorist groups, aiding them financially, militarily, and politically.
The international community must decide to support either a repressive, despotic Middle East modeled after Iran and Syria, or a democratic, pluralistic Middle East modeled after Israel. This is the core of the conflict erupting in the region.
However, in the midst of this crisis, the international community and enlightened society must rally around Israel and the moderate factions in the Arab world, because the alternative is a Middle East modeled after Syria and Iran, governed by repression, terror, and violence.

This is a good editorial that brings the points in question to the forefront without fuss. It's about time the world realizes, once and for all, that the beef with Israel has absolutely nothing to do with anything dealing with the so-called Palestinians but with the inherent fact of their existance in the area. Nothing short of the complete and total anihilation of the state of Israel and of every Israeli (and every Jew in the world, if you follow the rethoric, including me, just so you can understand how personal this can get) will suffice for these people (and I use the term loosely). Giving Gaza up to the Palestinians only gave us an empowered Hamas, and now Hezbollah has joined the party.

In a way Israel has a measure of fault in this whole situation. We, Israel, were weak in the face of our enemy; we gave up Gaza as a reward for years of suicide bombers spilling our blood on the streets, showing that Israeli/Jewish blood was cheap. I understand the state was trying to do the right thing, to show there was commitment on our part to a peaceful solution, even if innocents had to pay the price. In a way I am glad they did all this, because it now shows quite clearly that nothing we did was of any value to them, because it never was about having part of the land, but about complete destruction.

I still want to see this conflict solved quickly to avoid the loss of more innocent lives on both sides. Israel has already given its terms for a cease-fire; for Hezbollah to retreat out of Israel and out of the buffer zone to be replaced by the Lebanese army and for the two kidnapped soldiers to be returned, greatly downscaling them from their original terms of total dismantling of Hezbollah. To some this may seem like we are again showing weakness, but I applaud the more realistic approach of the new terms. Now it's up to Lebanon to put some pressure. I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, July 13, 2006 There Is No Zionism Without Judaism

From There is no Zionism Without Judaism by Natan Sharansky.

But [A.B.]Yehoshua's remarks [...] disturb me less than the way he described his own identity: My identity is Israeli, he said. The Jewish religion does not play a role in my life; it is the territory and the language that build my identity.

There is no Zionism without Judaism and there never has been. Just as the Israeli people has never had a right to the Land of Israel. Only the Jewish people. It was the Jewish people that received the Balfour Declaration, and it was they who were granted by the United Nations the legal right to establish a state. It was the Jewish people that returned to its ancient homeland, for which it had prayed and longed for, for 2,000 years. For if we are talking about the Israeli "people" -- how is the right of a "people" that has existed for about 100 years greater than or equal to that of the Palestinians, who have been living on their land for about 300 years?

What a fantastic and poignant article! Every single Jew in the world should read it and make a stand, reclaim their heritage and be counted, especially those in Israel, especially at a critical time such as the current one.

The Looming Spectre

I have been following the events in Israel for the last 2 weeks with interest and trepidation, knowing full well the dates we are approaching. Hezbollah's entry into the fray and Israel's decisive reply in Beirut, only serve to heighten my fear of the future in the Middle East. Today is the 17th of Tammuz in the Jewish calendar, a day that signals the start of a 3-week period of introspection which ends in the saddest day of our year, the 9th of Av. It was on the 17 of Tammuz that the people of Israel worshipped the Golden Calf and Moses broke the first set of Tablets of the Law; it was on this day that the First Temple ceased its daily worship services, signaling the beginning of its end; and it was on this day that, in Roman times, the walls of Jerusalem were breached by Titus' forces, concluding with the destruction of the Second Temple on the 9th of Av. Now, on this 17th of Tammuz, 5766, the spectre of war looms menacingly over Israel, and I fear what the next three weeks can bring, especially what may happen on the 9th of Av. Last year the 9th of Av marked the last day of Jewish settlers in Gaza; the expulsions began early on the 10th. I truly am afraid of what may happen this year.

I have faith in G-d and know that all events are unfolding according to His will, but I am only human, and I fear even as I trust. I feel for the lives that have been lost so far, on both sides equally, though especially for my kinsmen and kinswomen in Israel. I hope that all leaders involved will have the presence of mind to act with restraint and intelligently to avoid a major conflict, that G-d will give them the wisdom to seek the welfare of the world and not selfish agendas.

I hope this is not the beginning of something we will all regret in the future. Though it already is.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Back In The Saddle

Well, I'm finally back home and almost caught up with the dreariness of day-to-day life. Work is just as tedious as I remember it when I left, which I guess is not bad, as I thought it would feel even worse. Nevertheless, I wish I could be jumping into another plane right now and taking off on a new adventure, rather than making about a thousand copies.

I always get this post-trip funk, and I now recognize it for what it is, so I don't pay much attention to it. I do want to make a number of changes in my life, though, so I'm hoping to channel some of this funk into the impetus needed for evolution.

I desperately need a new job, first and foremost; I just cannot work for my father-in-law anymore. It hasn't been good for my finances and it definitely hasn't been good for my emotional well-being.

I want to lose some weight and get in a little better shape. I felt good walking everywhere in Europe, and while distances here in Miami make that (or biking everywhere) a highly inadecuate option, I still want to maintain some of that momentum and see if I can get below 300 (yes, I am that heavy, to my own shame). I'd like to get a new bike and ride it whenever possible. We rode bikes in Brugge (Belgium) and it was a lot of fun, and Miami is almost as flat as the Netherlands and West Flanders (except for the really tall bridges).

I want to get back into the swing of things with Highmoon Media. I haven't neglected it, but I haven't kept up with it as I should. I understand and accept that with the amount of projects I have going I can't have the output that other publishers have, but I need to have an output, period. Targum Magazine is paramount, with other projects following it. Above all, however, is finishing the layout for Lonnie Ezell's novel, which has already gone on pre-sale.

Lastly, I want to get writing again. As I always do (or at least try to), I kept a journal during the trip, and this is the first travel journal that I actually finish, at least with the factual events of the trip. I still want to go back and write some more about a few particular subjects, but at least the trip itself has been recorded. I've decided to continue the journaling momentum and start keeping a journal once more. We'll see how that goes. More than that, I want to get writing again; story ideas have been flying around my head, in the distance yet distinctly perceivable, and I want to try to least them onto the paper (or computer screen, as the case may be).

Will all these resolutions yield results? I've no idea, but I'd like to try my best to have them all blossom.

Now I've got to go, cause my family is visiting down from Orlando, so I get to see my Mom, sister and two nephews!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Back Home

Just got home after a 9 hour flight from Amsterdam via Paris, and I am incredibly tired, sad that my vacation is over, and happy to be home.

I tried posting a couple of times from the road but the email posts didn't go through. Later on I'll post a few pics, as we need to sort through the roughly 800 pics we took combined.