Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Israeli Pro-Wrestling

I stumbled upon a website today about an organization known as the IPWA, the Israeli Professional Wrestling Association, known in Hebrew as Makkat HaMedinah, the National Plague What a great wrestling gimmick: The Shaheed (Translated variously as Martyr or Homicide Bomber) faces off against the Tur-toting Rabbi. How about a Mossadnik beating the bejesus out of a Shabak agent, finally settling the debate on what is Israel's supreme intelligence agency. Click the thumbnail on the left to see the 14 pictures enlarged . It looks like a combination WWE and the characters in Shirat HaSticker ("The Sticker Song")by HaDag Nachash ("Snakefish"). I literally LOL'd. This is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. Apparently the Rabbi uses an etrog as a weapon. I don't want to know what the Hamas Suicide Bomber uses...

ARTICLE: Temple weeds out 'Tree of Life'

Sorry, couldn't resist the cover story from Tuesday's Los Angeles Daily News, something that so ties into the class I took at Columbia with Professor Jonathan Schorsch, Religious Halucinography. Additionally, this article is the subject of the top video of the day on the same website, I don't know how long the link will exist (it's streaming), but check it out for now here

Temple weeds out 'Tree of Life'
Congregation of Christians, Jews uses marijuana for religious 'sacrament'
LA Daily News

HOLLYWOOD - The Rev. Craig X Rubin read aloud a passage from 1 Kings as the sun set and his congregation prepared for the Sabbath.

Flicking a lighter to the lone candle atop the podium, Rubin burned a bud of marijuana on the flame. He puffed it out, walked to each of the eight members sitting in the pews and waved the smoldering cannabis around them.

This, Rubin proclaims, carries the prayers of Temple 420 to God.

That's the God of Isaac and of Jesus, because members are Christians and Jews. That makes the congregation Rubin founded last summer unique.

But what really sets it apart - and the reason Rubin will be in court Friday - is the temple's use of marijuana as a religious sacrament.

"I am willing to preach the Bible and go to jail if it means getting my message out there," the 41-year-old Panorama City man said. And he knows how strange that sounds.

"I'm a Jewish kid from Beverly Hills who went to UCLA. I could have been a lawyer making $250 an hour like the rest of my friends, or a TV producer. Instead, I'm teaching the Bible, selling weed on Hollywood Boulevard, facing seven years in jail - of course I'm crazy."

The temple's problems actually began as a poisoning investigation performed by homicide detectives. One day last fall, a delivery driver and a security guard were given baked goods from Temple 420, said police spokesman Kevin Maiberger. Both became violently ill and almost died.

No charges came of that, but a few weeks later, on Nov. 3, an undercover officer joined Temple 420. Five days later, at 4:20 p.m., police raided it.

The temple's assets were seized, as were Rubin's. He, his 18-year-old son and another man were charged with one count each of selling or transporting marijuana and one count of possessing marijuana for sale.

"They were trying to set it up under the guise of a religious right and then be able to sidestep marijuana laws," Maiberger said. "The deal was for a $100 initiation fee and $100 annual fee, you could buy all the pot you wanted for quote-unquote `religious purpose.' That's bull----."

Rubin, however, continues to distribute marijuana six days a week to the temple's members - there are more than 400 who have paid the initiation and annual dues - for a "requested donation" of $60 for an eighth of an ounce.

He continues to burn marijuana as a sacrament at Friday night services and preaches on the weekends - Old Testament on Saturdays, New Testament on Sundays, always at 4:20.

His defense relies on his insistence that God wants people to enjoy cannabis - for recreation, religion and industry - and his belief that federal and state laws protect his religious practices.

"It's not a laughable argument," said Eugene Volokh, a UCLA School of Law professor and religious freedom expert. "It's just an uphill argument."

Temple 420 would need to demonstrate that its beliefs are sincere and that marijuana use is not the foundation of the religion but part of a broader ethical system, Volokh said.

Also, the organization would need to prove that its practices don't come at the expense of a compelling government interest.

"But it's not open and shut," Volokh said.

In 1996, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Rastafarians, who believe marijuana is a sacrament, could use federal law to defend their use of the drug, but not to defend distribution or possession with the intent to distribute.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a small religious group in New Mexico could use a hallucinogenic drug in its services.

Groups often opposed to each other - from the American Civil Liberties Union to the National Association of Evangelicals - had supported O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal in its defense against the government.

But the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, cited in the Rasta and O Centro cases, doesn't apply at the state level, and that's where the charges against Rubin will be heard.

California has not passed a law similar to the federal one, and the state Supreme Court has not clearly defined whether the state constitution provides greater religious protection than the First Amendment.

And, of course, there are plenty of Temple 420 skeptics.

"I would inherently be suspect ... of someone attempting to use the Bible as a justification of their desire to smoke marijuana," said Brad Dacus, founder and president of the Pacific Justice Institute, a legal defender of Christian values. "It's not unusual for people to try to use religion as a pretext for purposes of carrying out their pleasures."

Temple 420's tenets stem from Rubin's Jewish childhood, conversion to Christianity and experience taking peyote in American-Indian sweat lodges.

A pro-pot Republican partial to dark suits and red ties, Rubin hangs the American flag behind his podium and gushes about Ronald Reagan. He has been a marijuana activist since his days at UCLA in the early '90s.

A "roper" - who believes hemp is a medicinal marvel and a panacea for fiber, food and fuel shortages - and a "doper," Rubin was dubbed "Hollywood's Wizard of Weed" by High Times magazine and was a consultant on Showtime's hit "Weeds" for two seasons.

While undergoing a family crisis three years ago, Rubin began studying the Bible and, he claims, God revealed to him cannabis' status as the tree of life.

Last year, after the Supreme Court ruled on O Centro, Rubin reasoned he could openly practice his new beliefs, which he describes as "Judeo-Christian" and "Bible based."

In August, Scott Linden, a Pasadena attorney who has helped open several medical-marijuana dispensaries in the San Fernando Valley, filed paperwork with the Secretary of State's Office that registered Temple 420 as a religious corporation.

The organization, however, did not file for tax-exempt status, said Franchise Tax Board spokesman Patrick Hill.

Religious services began Aug. 26, and Craig Roberts, who added the X to his name after studying Malcolm X and changed his last name back to that of his Jewish grandfather, started going by "reverend."

Rubin did not attended a seminary but was ordained in 1990 by the Universal Life Church, an interfaith organization that offers "Free Instant Online Ordination."

"Using sacrament as a way to elevate my spirituality blew me out," said temple member Evan Goding, 29, of Orange, who drives to Hollywood each week with his Jewish girlfriend. "I was like, no way. It just clicked. It made so much sense.

"I've always believed that the world as a whole would be better if most people would just try marijuana. It brings out the better in people. And I'm sorry it's not legal; I'm sorry I can't use it for my religious beliefs without being persecuted."

Temple 420 is located in a strip mall at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, next door to an H&R Block and across the street from a Christian Science Church. Fifteen to 30 people stop by most days to pick up pot, said the cashier, who wouldn't give his name.

Rubin gets his stash from the same guys who sell it to medical-marijuana dispensaries, but he charges about 20 percent less per eighth of an ounce. Income goes to pay salaries and support the temple, he said.

He insists he turns away about half the people who try to join; new members must sign an agreement professing, among other things, that "the God of the Bible created cannabis ... for the healing of all nations."

"There are six medical-marijuana clubs within walking distance of here," Rubin said. "If you're a liar, you don't need to come here. Pretend you are sick."

But it is clear some of Temple 420's members aren't interested in the religious services. The sanctuary seats about 40. Some members have never attended.

"For me, it was worth it," David Donahue, 37, of West Hollywood said of joining the temple. "If I didn't get it through him, I would get it through one of my friends' dealers - and I don't know anyone here.

"Two hundred bucks, to some people, it's a lot. It's a lot to me, don't get me wrong. But we pay for convenience."

(818) 713-3634

Monday, February 26, 2007

Naked golden men carrying swords

By now you've probably considered my use of inverted euphamisms and the fact that I am referring to the Oscar statuette. I am away from televisions and am not checking the internet for results (I am tivoing it) and now present my predictions (read: preferences) for Oscar wins, noting that I haven't seen most of the movies and have an agenda. These categories, for the most part, are written in the order of the PDF ballot on

Leading Actor: although I loved Forrest Whitaker on ER until he shot his brains out, I have to give this one to Leonardo DiCaprio--BLOOD DIAMOND who continues to impress FORREST has an oscar, now let's give him an Emmy for guest star on ER.

Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy -- DREAMGIRLS, you mean he can do semi-serious roles along with comedic? Really, he was amazing in this movie which was truly snubbed for best picture WRONG!

Leading Actress: Although I haven't seen it, everyone is raving about Helen Mirren who plays THE QUEEN in THE QUEEN. Long live THE QUEEN!

Supporting Access:And I am telling you: Jennifer Hudson -- DREAMGIRLS. Take that Simon Cowell! CORRECT! I told you. Some of the Idol winners may have record deals, but none have Oscar gold

Animated Feature: Tough one. Although Happy Feet impressed at the box office, I think a lot of it was because of the release of the Harry Potter Trailer, but still boffo. I really liked CARS WRONG, Should have bet on the other horse, um, penguin

Art Direction, Costume Design, Sound Mixing: DREAMGIRLS
ART: The Academy PANS my suggestion
COSTUME: Marie Antoinette won; let them eat their cake for now

Cinematography: Don't care, let's say... The Illusionists... Rats, I was thinking of PAN'S LABYRINTH... along with everything else because I really don't

Directing: LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA. I was at a screening of this at the WB Studios introduced by Stephen Spielberg. One of the finest movies I've ever seen and the directing must have been very difficult, and so this movie earns it. DEPARTED. Missed it again. Guess I should have ignored the THE.

Documentary Feature: President Gore (sic) will provide a very uncharismatic acceptance speech for AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH. Although many of these are popular with the Democrats (aka: voting Academy members), AIT is the one that has made the biggest cultural impact. CORRECT, and kudos to the Veep on his performance with Leo at the dais.

Documentary Short: The Blood of Yingzhou District? CORRECT, but was it really worth it?
Film Editing: Blood Diamond? Why didn't I even notice THE DEPARTED in many of these categories. I would have picked them as sweeps if I hadn't blown through the minor ones
Foreign Language Film: Since after "A Beautiful Life" I have taken stabs in the dark at this category: Water? Was wrong, don't care about this one either
Makeup: I can't stand the flagrant anti-semite, but he's gonna walk away with some Nazi gold... APOCALYPTO is going to get it or else Mel is going to ask the academy "You're Jewish, right?"... A blessing and a curse, Mel doesn't get it because the Jews in Hollywood have something against him...

Original Score: I'm assuming THE QUEEN had a good original score. What's with this BABEL?

Original Song. There is a 3/5 chance that something from Dreamgirls will win, so I am giving my vote to "Listen" from the DREAMGIRLS soundtrack INCONVENIENT TRUTH? You're kidding me!

BEST PICTURE: Borat and Dreamgirls got snubbed! Yet this makes my choice much easier. Letters from Iwo Jima was great, but I just noticed The Departed on my scorecard. What to choose... I just watched the Departed a few days ago for the first time. Iwo Jima and Departed are bloody brilliant and just plain bloody, but the star-studded cast of Departed puts it over the top. THE DEPARTED gets top honors this year. We DEPART with a win.

Short Film Animated: Don't care: Maestro? Was wrong, still don't care

Short Film Live Action:

West Bank Story is a musical comedy about David, an Israeli
soldier, and Fatima, a Palestinian fast food cashier - an unlikely couple who fall in love amidst the animosity of their families' dueling falafel stands in the West Bank.
Tensions mount when the Kosher King's new pastry machine juts onto
Hummus Hut property. The Palestinians ruin the machine and the Israelis
respond by building a wall between the two eating establishments.
The couple professes their love for each other, triggering a chain of events that
destroys both restaurants and forces all to find common ground in an effort to
rebuild, planting a seed of hope.

How could you NOT vote for that. WEST BANK STORY for the sheer Israeliness of the plot! CORRECT! Maybe there is hope for peace yet.

Sound Editing, Visual Effects: PIRATES II broke all the records. It needs Oscar gold from SOME category... ' SOUND: Well at least LETTERS won something VISUAL: CORRECT!

Sound Mixing: I'm giving this to DREAMGIRLS; More appropriate for this category for a musical CORRECTAMUNDO!

Screenplay--Adapted : I'm giving this to BORAT because how could you refuse him, he's so cute, let's expose our racist tendencies to this slav with the camera! Well, THE DEPARTED, I like. You like? How did I not notice this. I would have totally chosen it had I noticed

Screenplay Original: Close it up with another golden-boy for LETTERS. Little Miss Sunshine. My Mom TiVoed this on HBO for me and I am yet to go to their house to watch it

That's the show

Friday, February 23, 2007

DVAR TORAH S2: Terumah ("What if God were one of us?")

This must be short as I am about to drive up to Palm Springs for Shabbos to celebrate my Sabbah's second Bar Mitzvah. However the topic I am going to start requires much more than the little time I am able to provide right now, so I will merely lay the groundwork for something I plan on, bli neder, continuing when I get back to LA on Sunday.

It is hard to glean expoundable gems from the torah portions for, say, three more months, until we get to Bamidbar (with some exceptions). But there is one line that is a red flag: Build me a Mikdash so that I may dwell in it". Whoa! We try to deanthropomorphize our transcendent God, but it is hard to remedy with a bombshell like this. Does God need a place to dwell (see book of Kings where God asks the very same question)? Or is it for us that God decides to have a centralized place for worship? So this is something you can discuss this Shabbos and I will get back to it when I get back.

Shabbat Shalom,

Monday, February 19, 2007

Mishenichnas Adar Marbin B'Simcha

מש מש מש מש מש מש מש מש משנכנס אדר

מש מש מש מש מש מש מש מש משנכנס אדר

משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה

משנכנס אדר מרבין בשמחה

MiShe MiShe MiShe MiShe, MiShe MiShe MiShe MiShe, Mishe Nichnas Adar
MiShe MiShe MiShe MiShe, MiShe MiShe MiShe MiShe, Mishe Nichnas Adar
Mishe Nichnas Adar Marbin B'Simcha!
Mishe Nichnas Adar Marbin B'Simcha!

When the When the When the When the, When the When the When the When the, When the is entered,
When the When the When the When the, When the When the When the When the, When the is entered,
When the month of Adar is entered, we increase in joy
When the month of Adar is entered, we increase in joy

Cuando Cuando Cuando Cuando Cuando Cuando Cuando Cuando entramos Adar
Cuando Cuando Cuando Cuando Cuando Cuando Cuando Cuando Cuando entramos Adar
Cuando entramos al mesa Adar, tenemos mas felicidad
Cuando entramos al mesa Adar, tenemos mas felicidad

Ven iz
Ven iz Ven iz Ven iz, Ven iz Ven iz Ven iz Ven iz, Ven is gekumen
Ven iz Ven iz Ven iz Ven iz, Ven iz Ven iz Ven iz Ven iz, Ven is gekumen
Ven is gekumen di choydesh Adar, mer is di freylech
Ven is gekumen di choydesh Adar, mer is di freylech

All this completely ignoring grammatical constructs, just the way I like it...

Oh yeah, and 新年快乐!

Friday, February 16, 2007

DVAR TORAH S2: Mishpatim ("let's talk about sex, baby")

Okay kids, this one's PG-13. That's the disclaimer. If you're not ready for this, get your Torah-fix here for just this week.

This week's Torah Portion is Mishpatim, which literally means "judgements" or "laws". How appropriate for a portion chock full of them. What I love this Torah portion because, although it is full of mitzvot (sefer chinuch counts 53 of them, 8.6% of the 613 mitzvot can be found in this portion) there are so many fascinating things to talk about. Assuming I write one Dvar Torah on each of the mitzvot annually, I will be still writing these things at age 75. But by then the internet will have been replaced by telepathy. Anywho, Last year I talked about biomedical ethics and the obligation in our religion to have doctors that heal, that the Hippocratic Oath is inherent in Judaism. There are so many ways to incur the death penalty here. If you hit a man and he dies, you will surely die. If you hit your parents, you die. If you curse your parents, you die. If you put an empty container of OJ back into the damn fridge, you die. Understand?

Anyway, this relatively short dvar will focus on Exodus 21:10:

אִם־אַחֶרֶת יִֽקַּֽח־לוֹ שְׁאֵרָהּ כְּסוּתָהּ וְעֹֽנָתָהּ לֹא יִגְרָֽע

We don't need to deal with the content of the first half of the verse, rather the end "her food, her clothing, and her 'season' shall not be diminished". This verse, originally talking about a man who takes another wife owes these things to his wife. He must provide adequate food, clothing, and sex (which is the Rabbinic interpretation of the euphemism "season") to keep her satisfied. Without the ability and/or the motivation to provide these things, there is no possibility for the marriage to continue.

Tractate Ketubot, which some of you had studied in Advanced Talmud with me a few years ago, talks about these things guaranteed to women, particularly focusing on the last one. What is the frequency that one must give sex to one's wife? I don't have the tractate in front of me, but I remember that it depends on the profession. Someone who is a member of the "leisure class" must perform the deed DAILY (outside of the obvious week or so of Niddah and Levana) where such deeds are forbidden). Day laborers who tend to be tired have to do it twice a week. Us scholars are required to provide for our wives weekly, as do people with steady local jobs. This is where the legend of "Sex is a Double Mitzvah on Shabbat" came from, the fact that the one day off was Shabbat after the 6 day work-week and therefore this is when the scholars would come home and the workers weren't completely exhausted from work. Camel drivers have a month to get back home and sailors on the open sea, six months.

One cannot vow an open-ended vow to withhold sex from one's wife or else the Rabbis can attempt to nullify the marriage (not even requiring a get) and one must have permission from one's wife (non-coerced) to extend the deadlines.

I should note that it is not for procreation that we are commanded to do this but for our wives' enjoyment. Judaism is by no means a repressed religion. Remember: "Oneg karah leShabbat." Shabbat was made for enjoyment. So enjoy.

Shabbat Shalom.

Next season for Mishpatim divrei torah: shor she-naga, the ox that gores. (bli neder)

Friday, February 09, 2007

DVAR TORAH S2: Yitro ("Birth of Bureaucracy")

This is my first Dvar Torah in Season 2. A year ago, on this very parasha, I started writing what I at the time thought was going to be a one shot deal. Yet people really liked it and I found it therapeutic so I continued. Now I have to make the decision whether to continue, I am leaning toward "yes". And now a year later I have the added challenge of being original. Bli neder, I will try to be somewhat original, though I will not always read over my previous Divrei Torah. So hear launches Season 2, version 2.0, the sophomore year.

So let me start by focusing on the other section of the Torah portion. This portion has two major sections: that of Jethro (aka: Yitro/Yeter/Hobab/Reuel/Chever/Keni/Putiel) and his arrival, contributions, and departure, and that of the account of the Revelation, namely the Aseret HaDibrot. Last year I tackled the latter, this year I will tackle the former.

Jethro, the quintesential ger hatzedek and shaliach of the Jewish people, as well as Moses' father-in-law came at some point (disputed whether before or after the Ten Commandments) to deliver his daughter and grandsons as well as to have a heart-to-heart with his son-in-law. He has tried all religions and deities and, rejoicing in what God did for His people Israel, he found Judaism to be the only one that made sense and the God of Israel as the only God. He then sacrificed to God and shared his thanksgiving offerings with the people, a national celebration of his conversion. He then went home, midrashically he did it to be a missionary to the rest of the world, to proliferate the Name of God.

But before he left, Yitro, as all parents-in-law so often do, saw fit to leave some parting words of advice. He noticed that Moses was judging the people all day and all night, poskining law for the entire community and individuals. "This is not good the thing that you are doing", you can't concentrate power into only one person, even if you are Moses and if you're doing this for too long you're going to get tired and you will be lax in judgment. The latter resulted in the mitzvah that Jewish courts can only convene during daylight hours (one of the reasons that the Sanhedrin could have never convened to condemn Jesus). The former resulted in the creation of a court bureaucracy and hierarchy. There would be courts representing various populations to adjudicate regular law. The really big cases would go to the "Supreme Court", that being Moses and ultimately God, the smaller ones would consist of judges over 1000 people, 100 people, 10 people and other numbers.

God likes this idea and tells Moses to go ahead and find people to ordain as judges. What does it mean to be a leader? According to the criteria, a judicial candidate must be "valorous men who fear God (must have experience and a good track record), men of truth who hate bribes (must be trustworthy). Are there other qualities we look for in a leader. Though these criteria can obviously be applied to the modern judicial system, let's take leading a service as a modern example. A Shaliach Tzibur, as literally the representative of the community, has to know how to lead the service and read hebrew (preferably with a nice voice), they must be known as honest and upright people to be allowed to appeal to God on behalf of the community, and around High Holiday times having a little extra money doesn't hurt. Indeed wealth is considered a good quality for an ancient judge not because they're better than everyone else, and not only because they are less likely to take bribes, but that they know how to properly manage money. Is this an important quality for a leader?

These are not rhetorical questions I am asking. What qualities should we look for in a leader? Please comment.

Shabbat Shalom!

Friday, February 02, 2007

DVAR TORAH: Beshalach/Shabbat Shira/Tu Bishvat/Groundhogs Day/Tu Many Superlatives. (Three Heroines)

It's the first time since 1999 since the groundhogs, most notably Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early end to winter. Sorry New York, no snow. The Rabbis of the Talmud would likely refer to Groundhog's Day as a Minhag Shtoot. I will leave it to you to figure out what I mean.

This Torah Portion, Beshalach, marks the last parasha in the Dvar Torah cycle which I began last year with Yitro. One year and a Jewey Award (Okay, a Jewish & Israeli Blogs
People's Choice Award)
later and I'm still going strong, I think.

Beshalach marks the Exodus from Egypt and the traversing of the Sea of Reeds by the Israelites and their collapse upon the chariots of Egypt. Within this portion is a devise of ultimate love and devotion: Shira, spontaneous song to God. Usually recited by ageless angels, today it was recited by the Children of Israel as this people who had known nothing but centuries of bondage, oppression, sorrow, and abandonment sang a new song unto God.

The angels wanted to sing the praises of God, but were forced silent as the Children of Israel crossed, and further silenced when the Egyptians were drowned ("You want to sing Hallel when my children, the Egyptians, are drowning?!) It is a time for Israel of leadership and initiative. Nachshon ben Aminadav is the first into the raging sea, only when the water reaches his nose does it split; when his soul almost leaves him (Paraphrasing Psalm 69, as the Tisha B'Av durge says, "Don't cast me off, don't leave me, because the waters have come to envelop my soul"). All of the Israelites then trudged in and marched through the sea, "the sea became walls to their right and their left", and when the sea came crashing together upon their oppressors, they sang unto God. However the men were upstaged by Miriam and the women with their song. Miriam the Prophetess, sister of Moses and Aaron, and the women, unlike the men, had actually believed in the salvation of God and had prepared their song in advance, preparing tambourines and timbrels. Whereas the guys sang a capela, the ladies had accompaniment. This is why the Talmud says that the women of Israel were the reason for the Exodus.

The Haftarah from the book of Judges tells of the heroics and song of other women. It is the story of the leader of the Jewish people Judge Deborah, her General Barak, and a righteous gentile named Yael of the Kenite people. Deborah, who holds the highest post of any woman in the Bible (and there are people who say women can't be rabbis or witnesses? She's a judge!) is engaged in war against Eglon the king of Moab (ED: Correction: Yavin, king of Canaan; damn you Wikipedia!!!) and his general Sisera. Sitting under her palm tree flanked by her general Barak, she organizes a strategic plan which routs the Moabite army. Meanwhile the actual salvation comes through the God-fearing wife of a Kenite friend of Eglon. When general Sisera realizes he has been defeated he hides in the tent of an ally's wife, giving her the instructions to guard the entrance and not to tell anyone he is there. Once he is asleep, Yael takes a tent peg and hammers it into the skull of Sisera, killing him. The war is over, 40 years of peace in the land is nigh. While 40 years might not seem that much in the grand scheme of things, modern Israel today hasn't gone 40 weeks without some sort of conflict. So Deborah sang a song of praise, to God and to Yael. This week we have two triumphant songs and three heroic women. Both the songs and the women will go down in history as harbingers of Israel's glory.

Also, scribal oddities: both songs are written in scrolls like sea waves/bricklayer patterns, both of which were previous realities for the Israelites (they had to lay bricks and they saw the crashing together of the waves)

Shabbat Shira Shalom, especially to anyone named Shira!

Chased by ducks

Nope, the title is not creative in any sense. Today I was chased by a flush of ducks ("flush" being a collective noun for the species). I don't know which species, but they were all black, with white bills, red eyes, yellow and black legs, and huge webbed blue-green feet. They look sort of similar to Black Scoters, but I'm not quite sure. Anyway on my 11.3 mile jog/powerwalk today (map shown below), I went around a number of ponds and lakes. At Lake Encino, as I was making a sharp turn on the pedestrian path. Suddenly a duck leaves the water and jumps up the 8 inches of concrete to right behind me. This reverse-Nachshon was followed by a couple hundred ducks. These things chased me maybe 1,000 feet. Then they found something more interesting to stalk. That's when I reached the largest goose (I'm not sure it was a goose, it may have been a roc) I have ever seen. Now this gi-normous white bird this started sizing me up, walking around me. It started quacking and soon I started walking away (I wanted to keep at least some pace to my jog) and sure enough the huge bird followed me into the parking lot.

It was a great jog today, as you can see on my mapmyrun jog. I am not so sure about the calories burned stuff, but I had one hell of a workout.