Sunday, October 25, 2009

one good turn deserves another...

JAWS (Jewish Alliance for Women in Science) is an organization for the promotion of Jewish women in math and science degrees. founded in 2009, the organization is still in developing stages, but for anyone out there who's either in a science/math-related degree, or looking into one, keep this site bookmarked on your computer and check it often, because they'll be fully up and running soon. they offer an e-mentoring program, as well as an area for discussion in almost any topic pertaining to science and math.

the reason why I'm promoting this site, is because they've got me linked on their Media page, along with Seminary to Scientist, the blog of a frum MD-PhD student.

Friday, October 23, 2009

there are some things you just don't learn in a Bais Yakov high school.

like how to act in college classes.

or it could just be a personality thing. i know that some girls graduate and go out into the "real world" as they're so fond of calling it, and acclimate well, and know how to balance being a religious young woman, and a college student, or a working professional. i like to think i can put myself in that category.

but then there are girls who haven't shed that last layer of wide-eyed naivety. and they go out into the world thinking that everyone is nice and friendly. and that college is a place where everyone is ready to eagerly soak up everything, and gain much knowledge.

obviously, this is not the case. especially in community college, where you can sometimes find the dregs of society. so just because there are 25 students sitting in a classroom, doesn't mean there are 25 people who are interested in learning. in all my nursing classes so far, there are usually 2 or 3 people who are only becoming nurse because their moms or dads are nurses. there are usually another 2 people that have somehow managed to squeak by, but make me wonder how they're going to last all the way until graduation without failing out. and then there's always that one person that sleeps through every single class. but even those that are there and willing to learn, don't always want to sit through class.

which brings me to my point; stupid questions. every professor, every teacher will announce that there are no stupid questions-i strongly disagree. there is an immeasurably large amount of stupid questions that can be asked. i try to think twice before i ask a question, because if not, once the words come out of my mouth, i realize that i already know the answer. of course, i look kind of weird when I'm talking to myself, but i don't mind that.

there is a frum girl in one of my classes who comes to every class, determined to learn everything there is to know, which is very commendable, but she should really take some time to stop and think before asking every single question. everyone is entitled to learn, and if she learns by asking questions, I'm not faulting her for that. but perhaps if she thought about some of her questions before she asked them, she'd realize that maybe she should just keep quiet and look them up when she gets home, or ask someone a little more worldly than herself.

Monday, October 12, 2009

why will people believe anything hear, read, or see? i know someone who writes stuff on his blog and then quotes himself, claiming that he "read it online somewhere" And people will take it as truth! I've gotten every kind of stupid forward, about Microsoft giving away computers, Gap presenting free clothing, and Bill Gates wanting to share his fortune. I've been warned about everything, from free perfume samples, to cars driving without headlights, but nothing even comes close to the email i received last night from a girl who went to seminary with me. There's new law that mandates health care workers and students to get vaccinated with the H1N1 vaccine. There has been some controversy stirred as to the danger of getting vaccinated, since at the present the only form of the vaccine available is the live nasal spray. But this email claimed that Obama is comparable to Hitler. here is an expert of the email, as copied directly from my inbox.

"...On a more serious note: Starting THIS Thursday, they will be forcing health care professionals to get the swine flu vaccination. This is the first step of a major plan to vaccinate the entire nation. Keep away from the swine flu shot-swine flu is not worse than the regular flu and certainly does not compare to the vaccination which will cause an epidemic. The government wants to infect you, kill or sterilize you with their shots. This is mamesh pikuach nefesh and it is our obligation to warn as many people as possible. Please forward this message to everyone you know. Obama is worse than Hitler and he wants to reduce the world's population (ie.genocide) with these murderous vaccines. ..."

i was stunned when i read it. i know people will forward just about anything but this really takes the cake. the first part of the email may hold some validity, but the government wants to kill or sterilize the nation??? i mean, i tell people that the FBI tapes all my phone conversations, but i don't really believe that!

unless there really is some mass plot to get rid of the entire nation, starting with health care workers...
The second days of Succot and Pesach are always slightly more frenzied, as we try to get every enjoyment out of those 48 hours. for some people it's sleeping more, for some, it's cramming in more food. others try to read all the books they took out of the library, because their busy schedules don't allow for leisure time. for people who have demanding careers, it's all about family times.

i was in shul on Shminni Atzeret, listening to the reading of Kohelet, and wondering why it's read on Succot. my dad says it's a simple process of elimination. the only chag and megillah left after matching up the pairing ones are Succot and Kohelet. according to the Artscroll chumash, Succot is a holiday of joy. there is relief that the Yomim Noraim are over, and the harvest is complete, and with unrestrained joy comes inappropriate behavior, so we read the words of Shlomo, to remind us that all is futile. having said that, it is extremely difficult to keep up with the reading, because it is read so fast. it's not helped by the fact that every pasuk starts with the words "ki" and ends with the words "tachat hashemesh" one i lost the place it was hard to find it again.

Learning how to appreciate Simchat Torah was hard. once i reached the stage where i was too old to sit on my dad's shoulders and collect candy from the men dancing, it became easy to sit on the other side of the mechitza and complain about the boring unfairness of it all. but then one year i sat next to a neighbor of mine who was crying softly as the torah reading was completed. as i looked at her face, i realized that she was crying tears of happiness and then i realized that underneath all the merriment and dancing, there is an aspect to the chag that could make you want to cry tears of joy. all you have to do is sit think for a minute about how lucky we are to be the Chosen Ones.

we daven at two different shuls on Simchat Torah. at night we go to a shul where there is a lot of great dancing. during the day we go to a shul where this a lot of great candy. of course the candy-collecting is restricted to boys and little girls, and sister2 lamented the fact that she has no younger siblings/nieces/nephews/cousins to collect candy for her, but my aunt always brings great chocolate for the women upstairs. but far surpassing the great candy, is the davening and the tunes. once the dancing has cleared away, and the screaming babies have been brought back to the babysitters, the real simchat torah is displayed. with regal coverings and silver crowns, the sifrei torah are the center of the shul as the chazzan and the gabbaim dance and bow with the scrolls as the whole congregation as the entire congregation sings the joyous tune of Agil V'esmach, and proclaims the exhilaration and sanctity of the day.

they say that Rosh Hashana, is the longest day of the year. but in my mind, Simchat Torah takes the prize. it's the only day when shul doesn't end till two, the only day when we don't eat lunch till 4. of course, it's the only day (besides Purim) when kids are allowed to eat unlimited amounts of candy. when i was little, i used to collect enough candy to last me until right before Purim.

the hardest part of the chag is taking down the decorations and dismantling the succah. last night we managed to take down all the decorations and chains in record time. I'd like to think it was that we were infused with energy. but it was probably the fact that it was very cold outside, and much warmer inside.

but long after the glitter and tinsel has been packed away, and the leftovers have been eaten, the little glow infused from the week of y't will linger and keep through the start of the winter.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Succot. One of the most beautiful holidays of the year, in my opinion. Once we've survived the Succah Building and I’ve successfully managed to dodge cooking duty (Just kidding mom, I really DID have to study) I can look forward to spending y't with family and friends.

This year, the new recipes all went over pretty well. We laughed about the ill-fated Touchdown Chicken Fajitas, and fondly recalled the Fizzy Chicken. Succot is the anniversary of many different things, among them, what my dad likes to call the Succot Massacre. About five years ago, his friend's elderly father was the unfortunate victim when a table full of taleisim, lulavim, and esrogim collapsed on his leg. Thankfully he wasn't hurt, but he was so fed up (my shul takes a REALLY long time on y't, one of the many reasons why I daven at the earlier minyan) that he got up and left.

Chol hamoed, as I’ve said before, strikes terror in the heart of parents, as the kids start the famous What-are-we-doing-today-whine, as the dads slip out the door to work, grinning and whistling cheerfully. For those of us who are lucky enough to be retaining an education, and maybe taking exams the week of Succot, the joys of freedom are marred by the threat of an exam hanging over our heads. So I compromised. I met a friend and hung out with her in the city all morning, and the lugged my books over to Bryant Park where I sat in the shade of Chabad of Midtown's succah and studied Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and Erikson's psychosocial stages of development against the background noises of the pigeons, and the shlichim asking passersby if they wanted to come sit in the succah. When I got tired of studying, I wandered over to Times Square where I spent two minutes sitting in each chair on Broadway.

Tuesday was such a disaster that I won't even mention it here, except to say that the redeeming factor was that I spent time with my family, and I was so tired when I got home, that I was in bed by 10:30, which left me well rested for my exam on Wednesday, which hopefully, I did well on, but I’m sitting on pins and needles waiting for my results.

Second days are coming up pretty soon, with the Annual Hoshana Raba breakfast being held on Friday morning to look forward to as well. I’m not such a big fan of Simchat Torah, but I’m not going to complain about it, so instead I will focus on attempting to channel the joy of being the People of the Book.