songbird's crazy world

life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A fine family

Look who has taken up residence at my office:

Sad email

My synagogue sends all sorts of notices via email:  the schedule of services, meetings such as Men's Club and Sisterhood, fundraising requests....

And whenever one of our members has a death in their family, we all get notified.

Usually, if it's not a family I know, I read the notice and move on.

Not this time.

I didn't know the family, but the name sounded familiar.

The notice said that a young woman had died, that she was survived by her parents and two of her siblings, and was predeceased by another sibling.

Took me a few minutes, and a bit of Googling, but then I remembered.

Her brother had died in a car crash at age 27, on Mother's Day in 2004.  The story had been mentioned in a newspaper article profiling our synagogue.

I don't know what killed the young woman -- accident?  disease?  It doesn't matter.  Parents aren't supposed to bury their children.

They've been coming to morning services to say Kaddish for their daughter.

I can't begin to imagine the grief those parents must be feeling right now.

To lose one child is unimaginable.

To lose two ...

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Captain America: Civil War (possible spoilers)

So OK, we usually see these blockbusters the weekend the open.  But this time around, we wanted IMAX/3D/reserved seating, and weren't able to come up with a theater that met all those criteria at a time that we could go to the movies.  So we settled for 3D and reserved seating -- gotta love those comfy reclining chairs!

So this is billed as a "Captain America" movie, but it's really an "Avengers" movie, with all of the major characters except  Thor and the Hulk.  The focus, though, is on Steve Rogers/Captain America, his relationship with Bucky/the Winter Soldier, Agent Carter, etc.   Politics and other circumstances has put Captain America at odds with Tony Stark/Ironman, and the rest of the Avengers line up behind one or the other.  Stark recruits Spider Man (yes, another reboot) and Rogers recruits Antman -- interesting crossovers. 

The movie is short on plot and very long on action/battle scenes.  There is humor along the way -- I loved Stan Lee's cameo. 

One of the best scenes, from a technology standpoint, is when Tony Stark plays the holographic images of his younger self with his parents.  Downey filmed the scene, and the special effects geniuses found images of Downey's face  from his early movies to superimpose over the older man's face.

Definitely a fun movie.  And do stay for the credits, there's a bonus scenes mid credits and a second bonus scene after the credits end -- setting us up for a new Spiderman movie and a new Black Panther movie.

Can't wait.

Monday, May 23, 2016


Denny's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

So on Sunday morning we decided we wanted to go out to breakfast.  And we found ourselves at Denny's.

We'd been to this location about a year ago, and were totally unimpressed.  This being a chain restaurant, the food is exactly as you would expect.  The problem we had last year was the level of service.  And judging by the reviews, we were not the only ones to feel service was unacceptable.

Apparently the management has taken the criticisms to heart.  We sere seated promptly, greeted by our server, and received our order quickly.  Our server checked on us several times  to make sure we were satisfied.

What I like about Denny's is the interesting options for breakfast -- decadent skillets, pancakes, French toast, fit fare, whatever you want.   The option to "build your own slam" gives you flexibility to choose healthier options. 

I built my own slam -- scrambled eggs, a buttermilk biscuit, bacon and seasonal fruit.  I don't know what they do to the eggs to make them so stiff, I like my scrambled eggs light and fluffy, so next time I'll probably get my eggs over easy.  Bacon was crisp.  Biscuit was so light and flakey that it fell apart when I tried to butter it.  Seasonal fruit -- grapes, cantaloupe, and both sweet and tart apples -- was fresh and sweet. 

So yeah, I guess Denny's is back on our list.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Weight loss issues

So yesterday, I got on the scale, noted my weight, and logged it in my Fitbit app.

I've linked my Fitbit account to my account at My Fitness Pal, so the data syncs between the two.

So when I opened My Fitness Pal later that morning, I was greeted with  "songbird has lost 60 pounds so far".

60 pounds.  A milestone. 

I still have a lot to go.

But where am I going?

Well, let's start with the short term goal, that's a lot easier.

Drew and I are planning a Caribbean cruise in October.  It will be our first vacation that isn't tied to the school calendar, it's in celebration of his retirement.  (Or rather, semi retirement.  He plans to work as a substitute teacher, which means he works when he wants, and can take off time at his discretion.)

So the short term goal is to lose weight before the cruise.  I've set a goal of 15 pounds.  Very doable, I think. 

I haven't decided how I will handle food  -- will I track my calories or not -- but I am planning to be active on the cruise.  We like to go sightseeing, which involves a lot of walking.  I'm sure to visit the beach and/or use the pool.  And the ship has a modern, state of the arts fitness center.  I'm actually looking forward to checking out the fitness center.  Who would ever have believed it?

But long term goal?

Last year, when I joined Weight Watchers, I was given a chart -- you look up your height, and the chart shows a healthy weight range.  I'm 5 feet tall.  the range on that chart was ...well, Jen is an inch shorter than I am, she's healthy and at a good weight, and she weighs more than what the chart told me I should weigh. Becca is two inches taller than me, she's naturally very thin, and she weighs more than what the chart told me I should weigh.   Not going to happen.

So I guess I'll have to rely on my doctors to tell me what' a healthy weight for a person of my height and age. 

Only problem is, the doctors don't agree. 

Last year, when I consulted the bariatric surgeon, he told me he'd get me down to ...what I weighed when I was 13.  And yes, I'd reached my adult height at 13.  I looked cute at 13.

But one of my other doctors, who has been treating me for years, suggested I'd be happiest at what I weighed  when I got married in 1987.  I was 30 pounds heavier in 1987 than I was when I was 13.  I wasn't happy with my weight in 1987. 

I am a middle aged woman, not a teenager.  I  don't need to look like a fashion model.  I just want to be healthy and active. 

So I guess I'm aiming form something in the middle, something less than what weighed on my wedding day, but more than what I weighed in my teens. 

We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

an honor

So this morning at services, the Rabbi looked at me and said "[songbird] will carry the Torah." And then, as an aside, he said "Don't worry, it's the small one."

The Torah, the Five Books of Moses, the holiest writings in Judaism. 

Physically, the Torah is a scroll, a series of parchments sewn together, with a wooden shaft at either end of the scroll.  When not in use, the scroll is covered with a mantle and adorned with a silver crown.  Most Torah scrolls weigh about 20-25 pounds.  (You can find a full description of the Torah and its accessories on the Chabad website).

The Torah is read on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  There is an elaborate ritual for reading the Torah, which includes parading the scroll through the sanctuary.    Members of the congregation show reverence for the Torah by touching it with their prayer shawls or prayer books, then kissing the shawl or book.

It is an honor to be asked to carry the Torah. 

But the Torah is heavy!

Good thing I've been working out at Planet Fitness.  No worries that I might accidentally drop th Torah -- that would be unbelievably horrible. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Bernie Sanders needs to stop feeding his young supporters a line that he can still win the nomination.  Hillary won more states than he did, she won more open primaries than he did, she has 3 million more votes than he does, she has more pledged delegates, and the super delegates (who are mostly supporting her)  have no reason to reverse the will of the voters and choose Sanders.

She needs 92 delegates to clinch the nomination.  She'll get those delegates on June 7, even if she loses every primary that day.  And it's not likely that she'll lose in New Jersey and California,  the two biggest states voting that day.

He needs to take leadership here and quell any future violent outbursts like the one that rocked the Nevada convention, or this summer in Philly we could see a repeat of Chicago 1968.

The whole purpose of this run for the nomination was to gain political clout, to be able to influence the direction of the Democratic Party.

If he pushes too hard, if he damages Clinton, he's going to be a very lonely man when he returns to Capitol Hill.

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