"Deadly song" (204.3)

At the end of this morning's Yom Kippur service, the rabbi asked the temple's choir director to speak. She's answering the question I hadn't gotten around to asking: How did we happen to have recordings of what sound like our own choir and our long-ago cantor that could be played during these services? I couldn't imagine they had gotten together in person to record the music.

Apparently she has been casually recording rehearsals for twenty years! One of the things that really made last night's service connect for me was the familiar voice of the old cantor, whose name I think was Abe. Can't recall the rest of his name. Robin, the current cantor, is great, and I'm sure she also has some appeal to a younger generation. But I'm sure she would agree that there was something about Abe's voice, deep and rich, that was just perfect.

Linda, the choir director, talked this morning about how they had had to abruptly stop getting together in person way back on March 13th. In Westchester, the pandemic grew very quickly, and it seemed clear that talking in person, but especially singing, with the potential for virus-laden droplets to fly around, could be hazardous. A church choir in Washington was an early superspreader, with a number of people dying after a choir got together for a rehearsal despite being told not to. She called it "deadly song." Zoom saved religious school sessions and religious services, but anyone who's tried singing "Happy Birthday" on a Zoom call has figured out that you just can't have multiple people singing that way. They also contemplated having the choir members record their singing individually and then have it all edited together, but that's hard to coordinate and time-consuming to edit.

The recordings of the choir, in between parts that Robin is singing, are really making the services work for me! Have to say I'm also happy that Rabbi Seltzer, our own Rabbi Schecter's teacher from decades ago, made a pre-recorded video appearance. He has always been a guest speaker at High Holy Day services, and has filled in occasionally, and it's great to see him. Considering Eddie has been our rabbi for about five decades, Rabbi Seltzer must be actually old. I'm not gonna ask how old.
  • Current Music

Yom Kippur services (206.1)

I hardly ever went to religious services in Ithaca, either as a college student or after I graduated from Cornell. I tried the downtown synagogue briefly, but never really felt like it grabbed me the way the temple I'd gone to as a kid always felt comfortable.

I think there's a lot to say for the unusual circumstance that the rabbi at our synagogue started right after we moved to the community when Jeff and I were little kids. He was a youngster, a brand new rabbi with his first congregation, and in a very real sense he "grew up" with us.

Decades later, he's still the rabbi, and I've been back for services, especially High Holy Day services, numerous times over the years. Rosh Hashanah is the New Year, and is the start of the ten Days of Awe that end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. They're the most important holidays in Judaism, and while I rarely want to spend Yom Kippur, a long day of fasting, with my immediate or extended family, I often make it to a Rosh Hashanah family dinner and, when I'm there, sometimes services as well.

This year being what it is, religious services are largely online, which means I have the opportunity to join my family and the rest of the congregation for streaming services. They're offering both a Zoom link where everyone is muted except the celebrants and a shared screen with perfectly readable prayers and translations, and a YouTube stream where you just see the active celebrants and the shared screen. The prayers and translations and such look like a well designed makeshift prayerbook assembled by someone for exactly this purpose -- a streaming service that every congregation could share without each having to roll their own. The live prayer reading and singing is being interspersed with some recorded choral singing of prayers, and it turns out that's the temple's own choir recorded in past years. How handy that they had those recordings!

I could be watching on my TV using the YouTube feed, but I decided to stick to Zoom so I can see my parents and random other members of the congregation, and so they can see me. As I wrote the last paragraph, my mom texted to say she could see me! So that was worthwhile.

The rabbi's hair is a lot greyer than when we first met. That's OK, so's mine. The cantor who joined the congregation after I moved away is there, and she no longer looks quite as young. Girl, same.

Some of my earliest childhood memories are of High Holy Day services, held back in the day in the auditorium of a nearby Catholic college campus (seriously!) because our old temple building didn't have enough room for everyone who came for these annual services. We kids often played outside for chunks of the day, trying not to get our nice clothes dirty or ripped.

I credit belmikey for my habit, which dates back quite a few years, of spending Yom Kippur quietly reflecting without bothering with services, outdoors if possible. I think the weather tomorrow will be perfect for sitting on my deck with the dogs, but this year I have the option to join my family without having to go anywhere.

The online services are strange. Novel. Utterly different from anything of the past. And yet completely familiar and comfortable thanks to my childhood rabbi and his familiar knack for telling stories. I'm glad I came.
  • Current Music
    Kol Nidre

Meandering (203.4)

Woke up early this morning from a dream where I was trying to navigate a hotel to find a room. I wasn't staying there, but I convinced someone I knew at the front desk to give me a room key for some reason.
Spent a while meandering through weird twisty hallways and actually in the dream decided the hotel was obviously related to the Hunt Valley Marriott but wasn't identical, so I couldn't find the room where it "should" be.
Meantime I was carrying armfuls of stuff and trying not to drop anything. 🤔
Thanks, subconscious!

I don't think it's directly about this, but I know I've been upset that I couldn't return to Hunt Valley for this year's Shore Leave convention, which would've been my first since 2011! I was also looking forward to getting to this year's STARFLEET International Conference, which was going to be at a San Francisco Airport hotel in conjunction with BayCon 2020. Not my first International Conference since 2011... but my second, I guess. I think the only one I made it to since I was laid off was in Niagara Falls, and I could barely afford that.
  • Current Music
    14850 Dining Podcast

Restless? Dunno. (205.1)

I'm feeling both restless and lazy tonight. Don't really want to do anything. Didn't want to cook, so had some leftovers instead of whipping up one of the two remaining EveryPlate dinners. I blew through several episodes of "Lucifer" season 2 yesterday and today. I'm pretty sure I watched most if not all of that, and I'm pretty sure I didn't see much if any of season 3. Now I'll be able to watch season 3 (which was on Fox) and then move ahead to the episodes that were on Netflix.

Chocolate helped a little, but I'm still not feeling like doing much. There are certainly a few things I should be getting done. Then tomorrow I need to work. Vaguely tempted to have some whisky. Vaguely tempted to skip the unneeded alcohol.

This morning I ended up going on a sort of scavenger hunt with a friend... actually a clitoris hunt! Someone made a bunch of 3D-printed clitorises and hid them around town, then posted photos and geocoordinates so people could go find them. The coordinates didn't grab me, but a couple of the photo clues led us off in the right directions.

And this afternoon I got a visit from a friend who needed an ear and some pup cuddles. And cheesy poofs.

Penny is grumping at me, and clearly would like to go out or at least get some attention, but it's a little early for our bedtime walk! Some scritches should help!

Don't wanna do much else besides sit here. I guess I should make a fresh batch of yogurt overnight for the food pantry fridge.

I guess part of the sluggishness could be waking up a few times overnight! I felt really logey this morning when the Sleep Cycle alarm app on my phone decided it was time to wake up, and I kept hitting snooze and dozing off a little bit longer, until the snooze got down to a one-minute delay. I slept a LOT of hours the other night. Should balance out, right?

First houseguests since February (203.8)

My basement is tidier than it's been since I cleaned it up for the AuggieDay Party hardly anyone came to at the end of February, since I wanted to make it as presentable as possible for visiting houseguests from NYC.

A friend and his partner were planning a long holiday weekend in Ithaca, and as they were asking for advice of what to do and see in the area, I offered to let them use the basement guestroom. They've been working from home and have been very careful, I've been working from home and have been very careful, and I figured if we were all careful while they're here, this was reasonably safe. Certainly as safe for them as staying at a hotel or B&B with random other people.

They arrived last night around 10, and they brought me NYC bagels! They actually asked if there was anything they could bring from Manhattan, and I suggested as long as it wasn't out of their way, I'd love a real bagel. Don't get me wrong, I like CTB for lots of reasons, and their bagels aren't bad, but there's just nothing else like a New York bagel.

We had a good chat for a while after they got in, and Tony's partner Jack, who I'd never met, is an aviation engineer! He builds jet engines. Almost but not quite a rocket scientist, I guess. We got to have several minutes of fun AV geek conversation. Tony was probably rolling his eyes.

February saw a couple of overnights from a friend between late-night and morning shifts at an Ithaca College Dining facility, and another friend stayed here overnight while taking care of the dogs when I popped out of town for my mom's birthday. Can't recall who the last "proper" houseguest was. Probably Laura when she came to town for a hockey game.

Watching the conventions (206.4)

Just as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that my entries had skipped a jump in weight, I'll mention today that I had a recent low of 203.9 a few days ago before climbing a bit again. That's the lowest I've weighed since the spring of 2015. Heading the right direction again for the moment.

I watched most of the Democratic National Convention last week, and I'm watching most of the Republican National Convention this week. Both are full of inspiring speeches and special moments. I have to say, though, the RNC coverage hasn't moved me to tears yet.

I missed a little of tonight's C-SPAN broadcast since I was sitting out on the deck with dinner and the dogs first! Beautiful crisp evening, cooling off after a couple of muggy days. Penny happily curled up on one of the deck chairs as always, but Carter was acting restless, maybe because it was on the chilly side for him to be sitting still.

Maybe I'll have a piece of pie. I bought a clearance-rack fresh peach pie from the supermarket the other day, and since it was already approaching its sell-by date, I shouldn't let it sit around too much longer!

Did the sunshine tire me out? (204.1)

A friend's post on Facebook yesterday that he needed some seafood this weekend led me to suggest a jaunt out to find the Shuck Yeah food truck, which started out a few years ago with a plan to offer raw oysters but gave up on that pretty quickly. They mostly have great lobster rolls and whole-belly fried clams, as well as excellent burgers.

They've always come through Ithaca here and there in the past, usually once if not twice a week through the season, but this summer they're spending most of their time at a winery a lake over that I'm pretty sure I'd never been to before. At least, if I had, Swarm didn't know about it. Hector Wine Company isn't bad, but probably won't become a favorite.

I'd been planning on fried clams, but saw they had a linguica roll on the chalkboard today. (Linguica is a Portuguese style of sausage that's a lot like chorizo but with less red pepper.) Between that rare opportunity and the $22 (I think) price of the fried clams and fries option, I decided to go with the linguica roll! Delicious. And Randy let me have a couple of his fried cliams. I love them, but it's pricey.

Glad I put on some sunscreen on the way out the door. We were sitting in the sun after the clouds cleared. We picked nice weathered Adirondack chairs under a shady tree at our next destination, Finger Lakes Distilling, where I got to try a couple of things I hadn't before, and it was clouding up a bit for the visit to Seneca Lake Brewing, where I joined Dana and Randy, as well as Rich and Kathy, who were already there, for just one before heading back to town.

Also hit GreenStar for some milk to make more yogurt, and a couple of other random things, took some outdoor pictures of the food distribution tents at Cornell, and ended up back home feeling pretty wiped out. I didn't have enough alcohol fast enough to ever feel drunk, though I do think my tolerance is down this year because of the lack of going out. Maybe the cumulative effect of multiple drinks over multiple hours and the sunshine did me in. Didn't feel like bothering cooking one of the EveryPlate meal kit dishes that arrived yesterday, so I'll probably do that tomorrow. Ate some blueberries about an hour ago after realizing I was at least a little hungry.

The light food day means I'll probably be down at least a little more weight tomorrow. I know 204.1 is already my lowest weight in about five and a half years. I've been spelunking through old LiveJournal entries to enter old weights in my Apple Health app so I have that historic info recorded somewhere easier than LJ to keep track of, and I'm back to mid 2007. I'm hoping when I find the first entry where I added my weight to the subject line, I find an explanation of why I started doing it!

Just finished watching "First Man," a decent but not that exciting movie about Neil Armstrong and family and the Apollo 11 mission. I think I'll take the dogs for a bedtime walk and go to bed early.
  • Current Music
    "First Man"

That'll teach people to talk about how it's feeling like fall! (208.2)

It must've been late last week when people were talking about the crisp evening air making it clear that summer was drawing to a close and autumn was almost here.

*FWOMP*   Here's a few days in the 90s for ya!

Once again I'm really glad I have air conditioning thanks to the heat pump I bought to replace my dying furnace. And this week especially, I'm really glad to have the extra ceiling fan I bought for the main room in the basement, after seeing how cool the one the insurance company bought for the guestroom looked.

The basement is actually noticeably cooler than the upstairs no matter what, but having that little bit of air flow downstairs makes the basement feel cooler still, and makes me need to do less cooling of the whole house to stay comfortable during the day. Working downstairs nearly all day means it matters much less how warm the upstairs is, as long as it doesn't get so hot that I have to spend money knocking the temperature down anyway.

I've done a lot of opening windows and even the back door when it's nice and cool in the evening, but I have to be careful about leaving the back door open, especially with repeated reports of break-ins -- yeah, even when people are home.

Speaking of podcasts... (207.8)

My friend Jackie decided there were so many movies all her friends thought she should have seen, but she hadn't, that she should watch them all for the sake of a new podcast.

Jackie Watches Stuff has been a lot of fun to listen to! She and a cohost talk about her impressions of what she knows about a movie she hasn't seen, or what she figures it must be about. Then she watches it, and they come back and talk about the movie.

The episode about Top Gun was a hoot, and it definitely made me rethink what I remembered about the movie -- and go back and watch it after finishing the podcast episode! The Ferris Bueller's Day Off episode was also fun to listen to, but it didn't make me want to watch the movie.

As I started listening to the Titanic episode this morning, I realized it would be more fun to watch the movie before coming back to hear what Jackie had to say. So I did.

What a masterpiece! I knew I loved the movie, but there are some really gripping parts, especially relating to Rose telling her story to her granddaughter and the research crew on site above the wreck. But I've always been intrigued by the Titanic story. I was still a kid when the book and then movie of Raise the Titanic came out, before the ship herself was actually found, disproving some of the artistic license Clive Cussler took with his story, not least the idea that the ship might be intact enough to raise in one piece. (It was actually pretty well established by survivor stories way back in 1912 that the ship had broken in half, but when you have no reason to believe the ship will ever actually be visited, you can pretend otherwise.)

One of the things I've always loved about the James Cameron movie is the spectacular recreation of the ship, and its jarring destruction. I didn't get around to watching any of the special features that accompany the movie today, but I loved some of the explanations of how they accomplished everything. Jackie and her guest spend some time talking about that, and feel that Cal's abusiveness was unnecessary for the story. Would we believe Rose just being bored enough with a rich fiancé to wander off with a random poor kid? Or do we need her to feel genuinely stifled? Good question.
  • Current Music
    Harry Chapin -- Dance Band on the Titanic

Do you do podcasts? Are you interested in Ithaca? (209.9)

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