Saturday, September 25, 2010

What kind of bug is this?


I'm wondering which of my friends has the best shot of helping me here. Could it be Warren? Or Melissa? Or someone who perhaps has a hobby of bug-identification that I don't know about.

In any case, my Lantana Camara plant has been getting some brown spots recently. I live in the Washington, DC area, and purchased it at a local Home Depot. It has been doing very well for months now.

Until the visitor.

I don't know who he is. I've seen up to three of them at a time. They are a little bigger than my thumbnail, and can fly, although they usually crawl. Once I spied one nestled near some of the berries on top, perhaps sucking nectar from them.

I know just enough about gardening to know about good bugs and bad bugs. I've been flicking them away from my plant for a week now, assuming them to be of the devilish variety, but I wish to know more about my erstwhile foe. So, can you tell me what kind of bug this is?





Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Metro intervention


Dianna and I were taking a metro ride this weekend when we were privy to something pretty powerful. A large man entered the car and stood above a man who was seated. He then put his arms over the seas in front of him, effectively boxing the seated man in.

Then, he started shouting, bellowing at near top volume what seemed to be nonsensical words. First assumption: This man is schizophrenic.

Then, I started to notice that some of the words rhymed. Aha - it was a poem, albeit a very loud one. Second assumption: They are friends and he is just messing around.

As he continued his performance, I could start to put some of the words together, and realized, at last, that he was actually trying to stage an invention on the subway, possibly with a complete stranger, in verse. The poet had apparently recognized the symptoms of crack addiction in the seated man, and began to gave him the business. He sat down next to his audience and continued. His poem / rap was about desperation, loneliness, complete dependence and debauched selfishness. And the person he was singing to could only nod and sob. It was beautiful.

When he was done, he told the man that he wrote that poem just for him, and asked how long it had been since he had been clean. He asked how long it had been since he had prayed five times a day. He told him that he could do it, that he could break the cycle, that he could beat crack. I was seriously moved. We walked out of the station with the poet, who turned out to be a writer and distributor for Street Sense, DC's Homeless Newspaper. His name is David Harris, and he has a book. Wow.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Unfortunate logos


Look at the logo at right. Does it represent:

A. The Nazi-Japanese occult badge from WWII

B. The logo for a Nazi-Ninja video game due to be released in October 2010

C. Something to do with Nazis, obviously

D. The emblem for for Falun Gong, a grassroots, non-violent form of spiritually currently under brutal suppression from the Chinese.

Hmmm.... I wonder which it could be, and why we don't see this emblem more often in the news...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tricked into wearing pantyhose

I went shoe shopping with Dianna and my friend Debbie yesterday. I wasn't wearing socks, so I asked for some trial socks. The nice saleslady handed me a pair of "booties" called "peds," which looked exactly like pantyhose for your feet.

"Ok," I said. "I'll try it, but you can't laugh at me for wearing pantyhose."

Laughter. "Those aren't pantyhose," she replied. "This is the 21st century. These are unisex."

Relieved, I then spent 30 minutes trying on various shoes with my strange nylon booties.

Enter Dianna an Debbie, who asked what the hell happened to my sexuality and why the hell was I wearing pantyhose.

Tricked! Damn you, DSW shoe outlet!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pawtucket, RI grammar


It's bad enough that the Cumberland Farms convenience store / gas station where I used to work in high school is now basically a head shop, selling bongs and glass pipes AT THE FRONT DESK.

And apparently they also take food stamps now, too.

But at least won't they please think of the poor children in their signage? Grammar is always the first thing to go....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

You're not diverse enough


Today, I attended a roundtable discussion at the Center for American Progress on this topic: Socially Diverse: Engaging and Mobilizing Communities of Color with Social Media. It was great hearing about the unique challenges that other minority groups struggle with in marketing and community organizing. It took me back to my Jewish community days, and makes me wish I spent more time exchanging ideas with other minority groups.

One thing stuck in my craw, however. The speakers represented the Black, Hispanic, and Asian / Pacific Islander communities. An Africian-American blogger was talking about the excitement of interacting with new communities online, and looking through your Twitter followers to see if you can find out their ethnicities based on their profile pics or avatars. Apparently, some black Twitterers use a Black "Twitter bird" picture, which is pretty clever.

The blogger asked how many people had friends with this "Black Bird" as their Twitter pic. Only about four people raised their hands. "See," she said. "You're not diverse enough!"

I took offense at this, even if she was only using it to make a point. I love people, as my readers know. And I love learning about different types of people and ethnic traditions. But in the same breath, I also don't think there is automatic merit in having a diverse social group. Knowing different types of people will probably make you a more well-rounded person, and probably more interesting too.

But I don't think the lack of a diverse group will automatically make you boring or dull, either. Certainly morality and ethics aren't connected to diversity at all. And while I'm generally liberal, I think it's unfairly elitist to cast dispersions on people who don't have a "rainbow posse."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Photos of friendly Muslims can totally get you in big trouble


Journalists take note: If you run pictures of Muslims in your paper on 9/11 who are happy celebrating Ramadan, or playing water polo, or doing anything at all except lobbing dynamite, people will be pissing at you.

Take this story in Maine. The Portland Press Herald ran a photo of local Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan in the 9/11 edition of their paper.

Then, apparently, people complained because they showed NICE Muslims. So the paper ran an APOLOGY for not showing "both sides of the story."

Jigga whut?

Ramadan is news. Local activity is news. Local Muslims celebrating Ramadan locally is news. So you run a photo, and people get pissed off?

This sounds like bigotry. And a former staffer at the Press Herald and an editorial by their own columnist called bullshit on this embarrassing spectacle.

But it also makes me think of another event, and wonder if this is related or not. Before I took my job at the Jewish Voice & Herald of Rhode Island, I heard a story about an editor at another Jewish paper who got in trouble for running a Muslim photo. This time, it was, in their September 11 special issue, where they ran a picture of a Palestinian girl lighting a candle in remembrance for the victims who died on the Sept. 11 attacks. This was controversial because, in trying to come to terms with what the attack meant and what the world reaction to it was more like this (at right).

So did the peaceful picture go against the narrative the paper was trying to portray? Or was it simply inaccurate - was the picture of the girl not representative of the population, and therefore misleading? What do you think? Remember where you were - and what you were thinking - on Sept. 11, 2001. Which picture would you have run?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hey Jon, you look fat!


I was so very happy to hear a wonderful comment about my weight this week. Seeing someone I hadn't seen in four years or so, their first words to me:

"Hi Jon. Well, you've certainly gained some weight, haven't you?"

I'm sure most people hate to hear this, but I was elated. Because this wonderfully tactless fellow Jew knew me only during my very, very, very stressful years at my former job as newspaper editor. During that time, I rarely slept or ate, and felt frail and weak. And apparently I looked it as well.

At left is a 2006 picture of me, during the end of my tenure. It's better than some of the others... It's very odd - I spent so much time at work during that period most of the pictures I have of myself are taken at work. That's normal, right?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What the egg thing in 'Machete' means


If you saw Machete (and you should have) you were treated to a strange scene: Machete, riddled with bullets and not feeling especially chipper, is resting in a Mexican girl's apartment. She takes an egg out of the fridge, rubs it against his face and then cracks it under his bed. When he wakes up, he quickly checks on the egg under the bed, then gets his gun and heads out.

I was clueless. Was this a Mexican healing superstition? A way of telling how much time has passed?

It turns out, neither. According to a few internet sources, it's a way of avoiding the "evil eye." Apparently, in Mexican / Central American culture, the evil eye can be put on you by nasty individuals and can drain the soul and impact health, especially in babies. It's also pretty damn bad luck, like a curse.

Then, we have the egg:

"An egg is rolled across the child's body or placed beneath the bed and then cracked open. If it is "hard" or "looks like an eye" then the evil eye has caused the child's illness."

Also, we have this one:

"The traditional cure for the Evil Eye often involves a "curandero"(Spanish) or "spiritual healer"(English), sweeping a raw chicken egg over the body of the victim while chanting or praying to absorb the power of the person with Evil Eye. The egg is then broken into a bowl or glass of water and examined by the curandero. The curandero looks for eyes on the surface of the water and counts how many there are. The number of eyes on the surface determines the number of people that passed Evil Eye."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sweet (Potato) Beginnings - The Nebbishy Jewish Gardener: Part 2


It all began, as it frequently does, with a potato.

People who (a) read this blog and (b) have Total Recall will recall two of my posts from last year about the Sweet Potato of Hope. Here is where my birth as a gardener can be traced.

There was or feat of skill or brilliance that yielded this sprouting spud - more like two months of neglect atop our fridge.

But the Force was strong in this one, and it branches out from its humble confines to seek nourishment from the sun.

As I've said before, I was very moved by this potatoed growth. Its lust for life was tangible. And so I thought - if I can grow something beautiful by accident, imagine what I could do on purpose!
I didn't need to be some old woman with a sunhat. Or a smelly hippie with a co-op. I didn't have to turn a parking lot into an organic garden, or create a green roof. I could start small. I could fail. And I could learn new things. And while this sweet potato did not live to see its progeny, and neither did its replacement, their hope lives on with me.

And, judgeing by my writing, so does their sap.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Nebbishy Jewish Gardener: Part 1


I feel that it is time to start a new series on Rubin on Wry: The Nebbishy Jewish Gardener. This will attempt to chronicle my most unlikely foray into the world of windowsill herb and flower gardening. It comes from the perspective of a bookish but curious man who was completely oblivious to the exciting world of "keeping something alive."

More often in my past, the results were less than spectacular - see leaning / dying Basil on right, and view him in his former glory here.

I was surrounded by experts gardeners growing up, but since they weren't two-dimensionally entrapped inside a book I didn't pay them any attention. My mother and aunt are accomplished gardeners - they regular grow foot-long cucumbers as thick as your arm, not to mention tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers and lots more.

But I didn't learn anything from them. Instead, I started off this journey alone, ignorant, and with the simplest possible device - a 99 cent basil planter I found in the discount aisle at Target, situated between bags of animal crackers and My Little Pony stickers. From seeds I grew them into, eventually, the lifeless thing above. But it soared majestically for many months, yielding pizza-ready basil on more than one occasion.

So if you like reading a buffoons journey into a somewhat non-masculine field, read on. If you enjoy gripping tales of triumph and bitter defeat, definitely read on. And if you enjoy learning a thing or two about gardening, well... you get the idea :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Looooowww bridge

Literally.





Here are a lot more. There is pleasure in watching this, right or wrong....

Thankfully, no one was hurt.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Your car is solar powered


Yes it is. That car that you're driving right now is 100% solar powered.

Check it: Most oil that we use comes from fossilizing organic matter. We usually say "dinosaurs" but most of it is plant and other vegetable matter from millions of years ago.

How did those plants grow? Bing - the sun.

And the dinosaurs that did become oil? They either ate plants or they ate other animals that ate plants. Two more points for the sun.

What about coal, you say? I drive a 100% electric car and don't use gas at all?

First of all - no you don't, because the Volt isn't on the market yet and you're not a dot-com millionaire.

And second of all, fuck you.