1/ We went on a family trip last week. It was the first vacation we could carve out in a while (see also, Tishrei holidays on Tues/Wed this year) plus the need to relieve the cabin-fever of COVID. Foresight also suggested we should grab time now before the next wave.
2/ In the past we've been able to travel far, but staying close to home seemed prudent this year pandemic-wise. So we went to the Hudson River Valley. Just 2 hours away but it felt like a different world. Which was perfect. Important history there plus great natural beauty. One of us on the Walkway Over the Hudson which was described
3/ The above pic is from the Walkway Over the Hudson, the 2nd longest pedestrian bridge in the world. And I believe it, because while traversing it in the climate-changed heat, I was firing spoons off like an overheated Gatling gun.
4/ There was a statue of Sojourner Truth at the bridge that was dedicated last year in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the 20th Amendment. She had was held in bondage in that area and famously walked to freedom.
poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/loc… My daughter reaching up to hold the hand of the Sojourner Tr
5/ Many places we wanted to visit were partially closed b/c of the pandemic, including much of the FDR & Eleanor Roosevelt homes in Hyde Park. We also took a substandard boat tour of the Hudson, a good tour of West Point and a great time at Bear Mountain. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Hu…
6/ Later, I may write more but some quick points and two larger topics. First, on the way up, we encountered a shock: there's a Trump (ym'sh) state park! I'll let Krusty desribe my mood

See here:
7/ Fortunately, the park was set up when he was a simple money-laundering civilian and not in honor of his criminal acts as POTUS. Thankfully, there have been increasing attempts to rename it.
For more:
8/ For reasons of humorous serendipity, near that immoral eyesore on the Taconic was a sign for LaGrange (NY). This prompted the ZZ Top enthusiasts in my vehicle to warble an acapella homage to the recently departed Dusty Hill.
9/ Like all experienced travelers, we played the License Plate game. We didn't expect much success but with special help from the West Point parking lot we did very well. I'd like to think the TX/FL etc plates were grateful political refugees.
10/ Counting DC & "US Gov." we had 40 of 52! Odd places out: the rare & elusive Hawaii, the Dakotas, and the distant, redhatted insular dukedoms of AR, IA, KY, MS, MO, NE, UT, WY. No Nevada, either, which was a bit unexpected.
11/ Alaska and Idaho were great prizes - again, from West Point, which had recently completed Beast Barracks. Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Kansas as well. Such a bounty.

The brain-mode of the game is hard to switch off, though. I still do it.
12/ Another game: we stayed in Fishkill, NY - which means Fish Creek in Dutch, but in English it means a fishy crime spree. We tried to find the funniest business name that innocently used the town name to make a sinister news headline like "Fish Kill 10"
13/ We also play a version of Ghost called Goats (b/c it's funnier). It's like the regular game except that if you realize you're trapped you can invent a word to get out of trouble and if challenged you must craft a credible (albeit fictional) definition.
14/ This yielded, for example, BLEEVO which means "a walkway over a river" (see #3 above) and the highly functional word DRASTISH (dras-teesh) which means "a banana dish which is artfully arranged into a smiley face"
[Pictured: not Drastish, but what the heck]
15/ First larger topic: one of my Cypess' Razor life-rules: it's preferable to choose a maximized trade-off over a compromise.

Compromise means neither party is satisfied but not fully dissatisfied. Trade-off means each party gets a chance for their full preference.
16/ Trade-offs could entail taking turns as long as the activity isn't harmful, noxious, or loathsome to the other party. If so, then split up and do 2+ activities simultaneously.

For me, it's better to maximize happiness of some than insist nobody actually enjoy themselves.
17/ This rule only works if participants are able to handle a maximized shared activity and/or there's a way to have two maximized activities done simultaneously.

This is a rule I've tried to put into practice for years and I feel it's backed by solid ethics and practicality.
18/ Compromise is needed in some occasions, especially among contending quasi-adversaries. But if we care about the other people, then each party deserves to enjoy their special interests so a trade-off, each getting their favorite in turns, is the way to go.
19/ This rule is a corollary of one I invented decades ago based on how to meet up with someone. I felt one of the two people deserves to wait in a maximized location rather than both people meet in a third, compromised, location.
20/ E.g., on the first (blind) date I had with my (now) wife, I said I'd pick her up outside her apartment rather than meet at a restaurant. Why? Because (a) logistics of a third location are always messy & (b) if I was late, she'd have the safety/comfort of her home to wait in.
21/ That was a "maximizing trade-off" rather than a compromise.

So on a family trip, rather than find activities that we'd all kinda enjoy, do things that fulfil one or the others' full interests. As long as the uninterested can actually endure it.
22/ If it would be unendurable, then - if possible - split up & have simultaneous maximized activities. Which we did, for example, on our last day. One group wanted to clamber up a trail to climb Bear Mountain. Alas, this would've drained every spoon I had
23/ So I researched and found that nearby was a Library Book Store! So while the mountaineers spent hours in the sun amongst the wood and rocks, I led an expedition to a used book store and public library. Maximized fun for two separate groups.

24/ While I can claim expertise in many subjects, I may actually have world class knowledge in evaluating book stores. I have almost terminator like vision for the words "Used" "Thrift" and "Book" in store titles. And library book stores are the best.
25/ The selection depends on the host library (e.g. the NYPL book sales had great variety) but the prices are usually insanely low. The store we spelunked offered 50 cents for any softcover, 10 cents for kids books, etc. The selection was so-so but it was hard to not go nuts.
26/ This was where I encountered the second of my larger observations. The store was staffed by volunteers and they were overjoyed to see such young people interested in books (the other, sparse, patrons were retirement age). Moreover, I was in 'vacation spending mode.'
27/ Evidently, as told to me later in the afternoon, one of the volunteers asked my daughter if the man who brought her in (me) was her grandfather. This was a first for me. I actually look young for my calendar age (under 50) so I wondered what made me appear like a grandfather.
28/ My favorite hypothesis was that it had nothing to do with my appearance, but rather my attitude/demeanor towards my kids. I told them more than once that they could get any book they wanted (within reason of taste and limited by how much we could carry).
29/ It was a family vacation, one of the last we could take before I expect my kids to start leaving home on their own. I want these trips to be special, memorable, and reflect the openness and generosity of a harmonious home of people who enjoy each other's happiness.
30/ And I think that's was the basis of the woman's confusion about my identity. Basically, I was acting like a grandfather: I was indulging the grandkids, letting them get whatever they wanted. And that makes me happy. It validated my philosophy.
31/ OK, sure, it could also be that I look as ancient as I feel every day - I won't deny that I may be affected by denial or vanity - and/or a reflection of my worldly wisdom - which actually would indulge my vanity. But I think it's my original hypothesis.
32/ There are other interesting tidbits - we went to a drive-in movie, we dodged an army of geese and their accompanying goose doots (to paraphrase Dave Barry) - but maybe that will wait for another time.

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More from @JoshuaCypess

17 Sep
1/ Since the beginning of the #TrumpCrisis, I've had ever increasingly difficult #YomKippur davening because of the burden I feel to act as a 'sanegor' (defender) for my community and for the Jewish world at large.

(This is in addition to the vast ways I need to improve myself)
2/ I'm not a gadol, a posek, or anything close to a tzadik. But after seeing so many rebbeim & gedolim openly support Trump (ym'sh), erase women from Jewish life, and encourage anti-vax shtuyot, I considered the tenuous possibility that I would need to act as a communal sanegor.
3/ With the established leadership descending into avoda-zara (DJT), shefichat-damim (COVID denial) & arayot (dehumanizing women), I needed to step up - out of safek-nefashot - and use all of my halakhic, rhetorical & philosophical ability to devise kappara for the Am Kadosh.
Read 17 tweets
15 Sep
1/ One more #NFL thing before the Day of Atonement. Last night's #MNF was very satisfying as a #Steelers fan. The ending of the game was nuts and I want to reproduce the nutty live-texts I sent to my sleeping son, not expecting it to become a saga of silliness.
2/ [11:31 PM] 55 yard FG to send it into overtime!

{Little did I know that this would be the least surprising thing of overtime. I should also add that many people expected BAL to go to the Superbowl and the Raiders to get a top 5 pick in the 2022 draft} Screencap from the ESPN app, score 27-27.
3/ [11:40 PM]: RAIDERS WIN
[11:41 PM]: wait hold up
[11:42 PM]: CORRECTION. will be at the half yard-line

{It was so exciting to think LV would get the ball and then just drive down the field and score. Of course, it couldn't be that simple. TD taken back.} ESPN screencap. 7:22 in OT, score still 27-27, LV in red zon
Read 8 tweets
14 Sep
1/ MacDonald died? Oh man.

First of all, I wish there was a website to find out if I'm allowed to publicly like a dead guy. Like a list of crimes so I know how to calibrate the right mix of sad, or happy, that he's dead.

[Please do that in Norm's voice]
2/ Certain people who're called "an [artist]'s artist" usually are extremists in that craft, and often unrecognized by all but a niche audience. In comedy, one of my areas of expertise, that doesn't always yield someone I personally enjoy.
3/ E.g. I detest Andy Kaufman's comedy because, for me, the barely disguised intend was cruelty. Other comedians work for "their time" like Lenny Bruce who I wish I found funnier than I do.

MacDonald was in that category.

(and this comment is great)
Read 8 tweets
14 Sep
1/ My son, new freshman at his high school, got the cover article in the weekly Torah journal, which was an awesome piece of nachas over #RoshHashanah

A few comments I feel I should make (and download available at this BE"H static link):
2/ I did not help him directly in any way. Despite my eager offer to discuss and/or proofread, he successfully shielded himself from my relentless, avid desire to help him with a D'var Torah.

I say this because (1) it's a really good piece & (2) all the language is his.
3/ However, as a gift to me, he did say that he learned "tautological" from our many conversations (yes!) and from my meta-perspective, I see he followed the advice I give to all my homiletics students based on my decades of speeches, articles, classes & other media.
Read 9 tweets
13 Sep
1/ A thread to catalog my stray comments about the NFL yesterday (as part of my academic 'obsessive archiving' heritage).

Overall, the #Steelers had an amazing road win over Buffalo mainly because of a stifling defense, which is fun in retrospect but during the game is stressful
2/ The comment below is actually from my sports-watching partner, my sportsman son, who is wise & savvy beyond his years.

Melvin "Boy Named Sue?" Ingram draws a holding penalty instead of getting a de jure sack but de facto it is one.
3/ BAL & NE are experts in bad-faith rulebook exploitation. Examples abound (see CBS link). 2 most common: the "Flacco Ball" (badly thrown deep pass designed purely to draw DPI) & having the OL hold on every play to DDOS the refs.
Read 11 tweets
12 Sep
61.01/ Week sixty-one, Sept. 11-17, 2021, thread begins here.

Week 60 below
61.02/ I am a fan of the professional sport of American Football and, as a child of Pittsburgh, a particular avid supporter of the #Steelers. I apologize ahead of time for some intemperate comments that may be made during the season which could be non-sequitur for non-NFLers.
61.03/ From last night at the #Mets-Yankees game, a scandal that Fox's cameras lingered on that hateful flag. Ironically it symbolizes the way 9-11 was perverted by corrupt bad-actors from day one.

Read 28 tweets

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