Fear of Public Speaking, Re-Learned

Our learning group finished the "Moed Katan" Tractate of the Babylonian Talmud today. I was the only one who studied with the group from the beginning to the end, so they suggested that I would make the Siyum, a very short  speech and reading of the last lines of the tractate. The audience had about 50 people, and I was quite nervous. All my public speaking skills vanished, all the plans evaporated and I felt like in second grade. (That time I had to read a short poem in front of the entire school, and the size of the audience was so overwhelming that I forgot my lines. Everything.) This time I also forgot my lines, but very fast I regrouped and ended up saying something that had to be said. Right before the speech they let me know that instead of 5-7 minutes I planned for I will have 1-2 minutes. So there was just enough time for the very essence of what I know ( not much) , what I feel  ( overwhelming mixed feelings ), and what has to be said ( G-d knows what). I went int

Your Educational Goals

I've never let my school interfere with my education. Mark Twain Pressure's in the air. December 31st is such a high pressure holiday for many. New Year's . I'm glad I'm not a part of the New Year Resolution Club. And Jewish New Year was in September, so I should be done with goal setting by now... But pressure's in the air:  "was it a good year? am I a good person? do I have a good life? did I have a good day? do I have a good job? am I doing a good job? where do I go from now? where am I going? how do I measure up?" Are you setting goals today? Are you evaluating our progress? Then consider this simple tip: set educational goals for yourself. You see, there are two kids of goals you can set: Project-Based Goals and Educational Goals. Most New Years Resolutions focus on Project-Based Goals: lose weight, find a new job, finish a project. Measuring your success by looking at  Project-Based Goals could be very frustrating. After all, we all k


I threw my first independent, unsupervised , bombastic New Year party when I was 15. It was one hour before the winter break, I was secretly in love, and I did not want to let the girl go away from me for such a long time. I wanted to see her again, see her soon, but I did not have the guts to ask her out. So right there and then, I decided to improvise a party. But remember, we're talking about Soviet Russia here. I did not have a big house to invite the guests over. We lived in a 1 bedroom apartment I did not have funds to sponsor a bombastic event. I wasn't old enough to buy alcohol. And worst of all, It was the first year of high school, in a special physics and mathematics honors program, and I had no idea if I was cool enough to throw a party... Ladies and gentlemen, do you ever entertain an idea of trowing a party? Do you entertain guests? Do you want to be a more entertaining speaker? Today I'll show you three approaches to entertainment. I used the first appr


(A draft of the 30th speech for my speaking club.) At the time of the cold war, American spies got hold of the blueprints of the top secret Soviet Army Fighter Jet. The American Engineers made all the parts according to the blueprints. They assembled the parts according to the instructions, but instead of a fighter jet the result looked a lot like a big tractor. They fired all the Engineers, brought the blueprints to a different facility, built everything again - just to see another Tractor. Many years later, after the cold war was over, they asked the Soviet Engineers: what did we do wrong? And Soviet Engineers answered: You forgot to polish. you missed this little note on the bottom of the blueprint: Make sure you polish the parts with sandpaper prior to assembly. Ladies and Gentlemen, you are such a great audience! You listen, you cheer, you empathize, you even write notes after the speech is done. What is the most popular improvement you suggest for me? Preparation. Take time to

Take the pill

A guy comes to the doctor as says: " I have a head ache and a stomach ache." The doctor answers: "I have just the thing for you. Wait." He leaves and comes back with a giant pill the size of a car tire. He breaks it in half and says: "This half is for your head ache. This half is for your stomach ache. Just be careful not to mix them up..." When I was in my twenties I used to love this joke. I did not realize the joke was on me. My hero back than was Jim Morrison, the lead singer of The Doors. He died young. Back than I thought it was a good idea. The three other members of the band tell that when the Doors were doing a live concerts, the fans would bring and offer them pills. You know, the pills they used to take in the 60-s, some pills take you high , some pills take you low, some pills speed you up. Some pills slow you down. Well, some members of the band refused to take the pills from the fans, or took one sometimes. And they lived to tell the story.

How to eat when you have to : The taste of Gurnisht

What do you know about real Jewish cooking? You know Kugel? You know Chulent? You know Kishka? You know Gurnisht! Actually, you do know Gurnisht, because Gurnisht is "Nothing" in Yiddish. "Nada" in Spanish. When I was a kid, and I refused to eat what grandparents offered, they used to say "Well, you can always eat Gurnisht". This post is an intermission between a long introduction into how to eat when you have to and a more practical and applicable how-to guide. The real thing is coming right away. But before that I want to reiterate, what will be our approach to cooking and how will it be different from the usual cookbook , cooking show, cooking blog cookie-cutter approach. As we showed in the previous post, EVERYTHING is a problem. You can't buy EVERYTHING. You can't cook EVERYTHING, you can't make EVERYONE happy, you can't follow EVERY dietary guideline and you can't make EVERY meal exotic, memorable or even blog-worthy. You can&

How to eat when you have to: food shopping

Today we are going to talk about grocery shopping, and the best way to start it is with the condom commercial from the 90-s: The boy wants the sweets, the father wants to check items off his shopping list and get out of the supermarket, the son throws a tantrum, the father regrets not using a condom 7 years ago. Why do I bring this up? Because I hate food shopping. Every time I enter the supermarket I feel like the combination of the son and the father. The son wants to buy EVERYTHING, and the father wants to save money. The son wants sweets, and the father wants nutrition. The son is tempted by new products and exciting flavors, and the father realizes that whatever you buy you would have store, cook, eat, digest and pay for it again in the gym.  We will try to analyze what kinds of problems are faced with in the supermarket and will learn how to deal with some of them. The first and evident problem is the problem of EVERYTHING. I am surprised that Mark Bittman did not write a