Friday, September 28, 2007

Finding People in the Blogosphere: Blast from the Past

I'm absolutely amazed. Five or six years ago, when I was looking at colleges, I visited the University of Washington's daily paper. At the time, I was editor-in-chief of my high school paper (Cat Tracks) and I thought it was super important to establish a relationship with the staff at the paper before choosing a school--Really, it was a practice I should have been more diligent about keeping up, because I hardly set foot in the newsroom at BU in my four years there.

In any case, one of the people I met at the U-Dub newsroom googled my name and came up with my blog. And he left me a comment on the most current post he found--a post on new year's resolutions (one of which was to post more, which I don't seem to be doing that well at).

In such close proximity to the new year, it's really nice to be reminded of what I thought was really important six years ago. I loved writing, which is why I was applying to journalism programs. At the time, I remember feeling like journalists could expose important truths of history in the making by being the first eyes on the seen. I believed, as I still do to some extent, that the fourth estate was and is charged with the upkeep of the first amendment more so than the government that founded that right. That responsibility necessitates unbiased reporting.

It's funny how a blog can connect people who haven't spoken, or even thought about one another, in six years. I would expect such interactions to take place on Facebook or MySpace, but my blog has become an unexpected vehicle for reigniting past connections--and a way to remind me of the changes I've made in the past few years. What an unexpected way to start my day.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


What can I do better this year?

Post more frequently on this here blog... I've got to learn to play through the pain and rock the writers' block!

Lead a healthier life. I need to eat better. I need to exercise.
But doesn't everyone say that?
I feel like if there's a list of the most used, canned new year's resolutions, diet and exercise are number one and two on that list.

Study. I miss school. This year, I want to read more about random archaeological digs, traveling, and whatever sounds good. Basically, I want to read all the books I didn't have time to read while I was in school.

There are many more things I can improve on. I could be more spontaneous. I could more thoughtfully choose my words. I could do a lot of things.

I could hit sent on this post before I ramble on for too long... Right. Done.

Yom Kippur: A Year in Review

Yom Kippur. A day for introspection. A holiday dedicated to atoning for a year's worth of sins with the hope that you'll be reinstated in the book of life.

Praying and reflection are compulsory. Eating is prohibited. Drinking water is also disallowed (except for those with a medical reason). It's a day to be uncomfortable. And it's a day to wallow in self loathing.

Let's not kid ourselves. It sucks.

Sure, you can sugar coat it. Reflecting on the negative gives you time to think about being a better person and how you can go about achieving that ever-repositioning goal.

But let's face it. We have sinned.
We have lied. We have killed. We have gossiped. We have cheated.
Whether we did it intentionally or not, everyone has sinned (against g-d or against fellow man).

Atoning for it all communally reminds us that we're charged with keeping everyone in the right. "We" being the operative word.

Yet, all of those things will happen again next year--with or without a self regulating community.
We will kill. We will lie. We will cheat. We will gossip.

And it will all happen again year after year. So what's really the point?

Of the 613 commandments in the old testament, how many of them really bother you when you disobey? What of the old testament really strikes a cord of moral awareness?

It changes every year for me. This year I had a few thoughts that really stuck with me though, so I thought I'd share them...

First, a question by way of example. If two people are arguing and one is sticking to his moral principles and the other is hurt emotionally consequently, what's more important sticking to your moral guns or repairing the damaged feelings.

Second thought--reflecting on regret. Every year I struggle with this one. Does repenting imply regret? Is it false repenting or disingenuous to repent if you don't regret something?

Final thought here. People are allowed to break the fast for medical reasons, such as illness, pregnancy or being to small (children under nine aren't allowed to fast). But people who can't fast for medical reasons feel terrible about their inability to participate. Guilty. Really, not being able to keep the fast is a reminder that something isn't quite right. Aside from eating with them, how can we make people feel whole?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September the Eleventh: Reflecting in Parts

The Day Of
Shock. Dull shock. We watched the coverage in every class. By midday, we were numb with speculation and forced perspective. What does it mean? Are we at war? The pervasive question without an answer: why?

After One Year
My senior year of high school was the first year after September 11th. We had a memorial assembly on the football field, with flags and singing and all the usual patriotic fanfare. But the decor was less important than the reactions of the crowd. Nine hundred high school students sat quietly during a moment of silence that was actually universally observed.

Two Years Later

Freshman year (college). An uneventful day for memories; I remember little. Classes had just started. I was anxious to fit in.

Three Years Passed

Sophomore year. A moment of silence across campus. Flags at half staff. Uneventful, as far as I can remember. Except one question-- is it too early to be making a 9/11 movie?

Four Years
I was studying abroad in Israel my junior year. A whole new perspective on terrorism. At Hebrew University, you have to pass through airport style security to get to class. People don't mess around with safety. That summer, there were major terrorist threats and attacks across Europe. In London? How did I feel safer in Israel?

The Fifth Year Later

Five is one of those big memorial numbers. People like multiples of five. But college goes on regardless.

Year Six--This Year

I followed the tweets of people recounting the day of, concerned family and fear, speculation and interrupted interactions. How would modern technology have changed the response to 9/11? The report on the war in Iraq was announced on the 10th so it would appear in the papers the 11th. Everyone has a political agenda to campaign for...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Sweetness from the Ancients

A long, long time ago, in a country far away, I worked on an archaeological excavation at a site called Tel Rehov.

Toiling in the dirt is more than fun. And we found our fair share of buried treasure--Please note that in the context of an excavation, a broken pottery vessel is, in fact, buried treasure. It's a connection to the ways of the ancients, so regardless of how pretty (or dirty) an artifact is, it's bagged and tagged and studied.

Now, structures that are preserved in their original location, so they can be examined in the context of the space they filled or defined. Structures, AKA features in archaeological speak, can be anything from walls to hearths. Generally speaking, an experienced archaeologist can tell you what something is just by looking at it. (Identifying walls may seem like an easy job, but I would encourage you to try it sometime before making any snide remarks about needing experience.)

That being said, it was a bit odd to come across these cylindrical features during excavations. Initially, the lead archaeologists on the site had no idea. Who would have guessed they would have found beehives? Check out the AP story.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Moment of Cyberslacking

I'm dedicating this moment to Corinne Heller of Reuters who reported last week that employees spend one-fifth of company time engaging in cyberslacking.

It certainly brings a new life to that old AIM phrase, "wanna cyber?" Why yes, I'll cyber-slack with you. Let's meet at your favorite slack-off spot--Are you a facebook or Myspace kind of guy? Quick! I'll update my profile and you can comment on it on my new advanced wall. Then, someone will see it and send me a direct message on Twitter. We can guess who it'll be. Ready. Go!

Yeah, right.

All of these modes of cyberslacking can be used as a benefit to the company or firm, but perhaps that should be kept for the next edition of cyberslacking.

Coming soon to a portal near you: Cyberslacking--Friend or Foe, and Friend?