RochelLeah's RealLife

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Wallace & Gromit : In Theaters October 7

Wallace & Gromit : In Theaters October 7

Official Site features trailer.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - New International Trailer

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Coming Soon! Film Database

On the page, select your format for the new International Trailer. This trailer is much better than the teaser those of us in the States have seen. You get to see fragments of a lot of scenes, including the Triwizard tasks and the Yule Ball.

My little brother, sex, and a case of embarrassment

For those of you who happen to be acquainted with my brother (or are at least aware of his existence) should not worry that my 11-year-old brother (let's call him "D.") is actually having sex. Yet. However, my mother today had a rather intense conversation with him about sex. And she gave him permission to ask me about it.

Oh, my God.

Let us back up briefly. It's not so much mom-volunteering-me-to-talk-to-my-brother part that really bothers me (although it is a bit of a shocker, since I remember his birth when I was 19 and think of him still as a boy). My sweetie made a good point over the phone... As embarrassed as am talking about sex with my mother probably approximates how embarrassed he might one day be. In other words, I might be the less mortifying person to whom he might direct questions. What really bothered me was that my mother started telling me what she told D. Which meant that I was forced into a conversation with my mother--completely out of nowhere, as far as I was concerned--about sex.

You see, my mother is one of those parents who shamelessly discussed sex with my sister and I. I say "shameless" because she seems to be totally un-embarrassed. No blushing. No stammering. Just a sense that it's a perfectly natural thing for family members to discuss. And it is. Sort of.

Here's the thing: As someone who has participated as both participant and leader in a variety of sexual education settings, I am entirely aware of the importance of parents conveying to their children sexual values and expectations (i.e. "house rules"). In particular, children should hear from their parents from a very young age about such topics as basic health and hygiene, appropriate and inappropriate ways to touch, how babies are conceived (the basic mechanics of sex), and how sex is a healthy and natural way to express love. But then, there are the details: different types of sexual acts, for example. It's not that I want children to learn about the varieties of sexual experience from other children. On the contrary, I think that such information should come from a knowledgable, trusted adult. (I have even played the role of the "trusted adult" as part of my religious teaching.) It's just that I think that there's something a bit inappropriate for children (even as adults) to think too much about their parents sexuality. And talking about it implies some sort of first-hand experience of it when you talk to your parents.

I don't want to think about my mother having sex. Which, in point of fact, I was forced to do at a rather early age. My parents separated in 1979, when my mother was 27. And she definitely was not your typical single-parent with no time for a sex life. She dated like crazy. Then, she unexpectedly had my brother, out of wedlock, when I was finishing my second year of college. None of these things is shameful, per se. It's just that it makes me feel like my mother's sexuality isn't really private. And it's not shame I want her to feel, I guess, but rather shyness or discomfiture.

Maybe I'm just squeamish, but it didn't help that my mother's conversation with D. today was not so straight-forward. I'm not sure exactly how it started, but rather the topics of conversation they hit on. D. just started middle school today, and he spoke about how two girls in his class have already caught is eye and that our cousin S. (who is his age) warned him away from a girl who came over to him at lunch (apparently she tries to get little boys to buy her jewelry... go figure that one out). He's trying to decide which of these girls he's going to "love." Which is kinda sweet, even if I think it reflects a bit on his immaturity (or maybe I'm just jaded after teaching in LA and the Bay Area). Then, they got somehow into social pressures about PDA (kids in the hall making out, and such things). They also talked about how calling someone "gay" shouldn't be an insult, and the kid in one of his after-school activities who has two mommies.

And then comes the kicker--somehow D. asked my mother if it's rape if someone is tied up when having sex.


Basically, he'd never really understood what rape was--he vaguely knew it was an attack that involved something sexual. Apparently, he'd figured out that, if people (maybe on TV) would get tied up when they'd get kidnapped, maybe those tied-up people would sometimes be forced to have sex with their kidnappers.

My mother (who I could tell was at least shocked by this) told him that sometimes this was true, but that sometimes people would asked to be tied up in a caring way, and that could be OK, particularly if they weren't getting hurt. (I now know that my mom sees rope-burn to be a sign of an inappropriate sexual encounter, even if it was consensual.) That's the point of the conversation where I started getting particularly mortified and glazing over... (and here it isn't even the idea that maybe my mother has asked to be tied up)... Finally, what it comes down to is that I really didn't want to contemplate a non-vanilla sex act in conversations with my mother because I don't want my mother to discover my views on any non-vanilla sex act and therefore draw any conclusions about my participation in any of those activities. Basically, I just don't want my mother to think about me and sex in the same sentence.

To sum up: I don't want to (1) think about my mother having sex, (2) view my mother as an expert on sex (particularly if her knowledge is first-hand), (3) be lured into a conversation of sexual content with my mother, without warning, (4) discuss with my mother any sexual act not required for natural conception, or (5) contemplate my sexual activities.

Is this too much to ask?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

New Scientist Breaking News - Erotic images can turn you blind

New Scientist Breaking News - Erotic images can turn you blind: "Erotic images can turn you blind"

"Researchers have finally found evidence for what good Catholic boys have known all along – erotic images make you go blind. The effect is temporary and lasts just a moment, but the research has added to road-safety campaigners’ calls to ban sexy billboard-advertising near busy roads, in the hope of preventing accidents.

The new study by US psychologists found that people shown erotic or gory images frequently fail to process images they see immediately afterwards. And the researchers say some personality types appear to be affected more than others by the phenomenon, known as 'emotion-induced blindness'."

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

How to post a comment on RochelLeah's RealLife

A number of blog visitors have told me that they can't figure out how to leave a comment... so here's a quick "how to":

As you look at a post, you'll see at the bottom of it a link that gives the number of comments and the word "comments" (if there are no comments yet, the link will read "0 comments"). Click this link. The comments, if there are any, will be on the left-hand side of the page. At the right will be an area where you can leave your own comment. You may leave posts anonymously, if you'd like. When you've written your comment, click the light blue "Login and Publish" button below the text area. If you have included HTML formatting, then you may "Preview" the post, but that is really the only reason for previewing.

So... now that you know how... please send your comments my way!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Hunger's Brides | Reading positions

Quick follow-up to previous post... Here's the link to the "safe reading positions." Be sure to place cursor over each image in order to see photo label.

Hunger's Brides | Reading positions

A Book to Read Carefully, With a Physical Therapist Near - New York Times

A 1360-page book that people are actually reading. I don't think that'll be a one-nighter. If I do attempt to read it, I'll buy a wrist brace.

A Book to Read Carefully, With a Physical Therapist Near - New York Times

The Miracle of Cinnamon?

As is known to at least a few of you out there, I am one of the many people who struggles with her weight. I had been at peace with my zaftig self--shapely and strong as I am--until a recent bit of weight gain that many have associated with my return to graduate school.

Due to a rather annoying (but thankfully not dangerous) health issue, losing weight is not something that is particularly easy for me. Fortunately, I do have a bit of an advantage; my twin sister once weighed as much as I do (although she was not nearly as physically active as I am) and managed to lose A LOT of weight. (I would tell you how much, but then I'd probably give away more information than I'd like to regarding how much I currently weigh.) It is safe to say that I would be well-advised to follow her noble example. The main difficulty with such a plan is that my lovely sister is, well, much more disciplined than I am about her eating habits. She basically went on a diabetic diet and ate a number of mini meals every day. I am not quite ready for that level of dedication. I've been trying to limit my food intake and make much better food choices, but apparently that's not quite enough: my weight has continued to waffle consistently by about six or seven pounds but has not stabilized at a lower number.

However, my sister did do a couple of things that are more manageable. One of these things was to add a significant amount of cinnamon to her diet. She simply dumped a ton of it into her
oatmeal at breakfast; I'm opting for a supplement (since I tend to prefer the ease of cold cereal). I started taking the cinnamon pills about ten days ago and have already dropped down three pounds below my the previous range of my waffling weight. And I actually had a couple stress-related ice cream binges last week.

Could cinnamon be my little magic pill toward weight loss?
I started checking out the research. A USDA-sponsored study released last year shows that some components of cinnamon are effective not only in stabilizing blood sugar but also cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. The amount needed: one-half teaspoon or less of plain cinnamon, or a comparable amount of cinnamon tea or a supplement
. (I've been using one from New Chapter.) Please note, though, that cinnamon oil does not contain the active compound. For supporting research see here. Cinnamon is being considered helpful to those with mild insulin resistance (including that caused by PCOS) to full-blown Type 2 Diabetes.

Cinnamon has also been noted as an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent. Chewing gum containing cinnamon oil not only masks the smell of bad breath but also kills halitosis-causing bacteria. Other research is testing the extent of cinnamon's anti-bacterial ability, and there are some signs that it can kill E. coli, S. typhimurium, E. faecium, and E. faecalis, pathogens commonly present in poultry feed and communicable to humans.
For a study of anti-bacterial efficacy of oils added to infected apple juice, see here. For those interested, a number of other spices are also generating interest among conventional physicians and researchers. Chief among these seems to be turmeric and its component curcumin, which has been linked with a slowing of Alzheimer's disease by UCLA researchers. (Ironically, a UCLA on-line exhibit of spices from 2002 was very conservative in its assessment of the medical benefits of spices.) It is also being researched as a possible anti-cancer agent (on a leukemia study, see here).

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Live From Gaza: A New View of Israel - New York Times

A fascinating Op-Ed piece from a Palestinian, on the Gaza pullout. I don't necessarily agree with everything that he says, but I found the compassion alongside his criticism to be refreshing.

Live From Gaza: A New View of Israel - New York Times

Something to hate about California

I love California. I have lived here for a long time. However, there are a few things I hate about it here. I can't remember most of them. But there is one that is currently driving me out of my mind: THE FRUIT-FLIES.

I have cleared produce items from my counters and am keeping the kitchen garbage outside, on the balcony. But they are not going away. Before I cook anything in the kitchen, I go on a killing spree among the cloud of tiny fly bodies. It's very frustrating.

Anyone know any brilliant ways of getting rid of them? I have done a bit of research on the subject... and Maybe I should start supplying genetics labs. (Don't worry, that was a joke.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Five Questions from a Friend and Does Anyone Want to Be Interviewed?

Seltsame wrote in her LiveJournal (Wed, Aug. 10th, 2005, 10:52 pm)...

The Rules
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview Me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your LJ with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the post.
5. When others asking to be interviewed comment, you will ask them 5 questions.

In response to my volunteering, Seltsame asked:

When (and how if you don't mind answering) did you decide to be a rabbi?
Oy. (This is always a question.) The first time I thought I might become a rabbi, I was 15. It was just a feeling I had during a conversation with my friend Chad. We were standing in the lobby of my old synagogue, Beth Sholom in Las Vegas. I then put that totally out of my mind... I decided instead that I would become the first female, Jewish Secretary of State, and that I would solve all the world's problems and help create an environment of lasting peace in the Middle East. That lasted about two weeks into college. Then I wanted to be a professor of film. Then I wanted to be a professor of Talmud (an important Jewish text that was composed in the fourth through sixth centuries), because God is more important than movies. As a film professor, I'd spend much time watching movies in the dark and writing articles almost no one would read. And I thought that teaching aspects of Judaism would effect people's lives more deeply. And I decided that I didn't want to be a "secular" academic. Plus, people tend to come to me with their woes and seek out counseling. So, I thought, being a rabbi was a logical choice... particularly since I knew a lot of rabbis without pulpits.
In rabbinical school, I got burned out from academia and fell in love with children. So I worked with children for several years, including the first three years after I was ordained. But Jewish educational settings have many of the same drawbacks as being a pulpit rabbi, and I ended up feeling totally consumed by my work and was eaten alive by my congregational board. (OK, not literally.) Plus, I really am a slacker when it comes to many aspects of Jewish law. and practice. (I will skip incriminating details.) And I was really bored working with children. Not enough use of brain (although much use of heart and other important aspects of personality). So, I have hung up my rabbinic hat and reverted to what I really wanted to do: be a professor.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

I believe that ice cream should be chosen to reflect the moment in which it is consumed. In other words: it just depends. If I had to choose one: Ben and Jerry's Brownie Batter.

What other hobbies do you have besides knitting?
I have taken up (and neglected) many hobbies. I have made jewelry. I can paint pretty decently (enough so that some of my friends have wanted to hang my work). I also like collage. But mostly I write. I tend toward poetry and prose poems. I also like to walk, hike, and do yoga. And I read a lot.

Where did you grow up?
Baltimore, outside Philadelphia, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Columbia (Maryland), Las Vegas. Have lived in California longer than any one of those places... 13 years this month.

And just or chocolate?
Damn that's doozy! (Did I spell that right?) I'm going to assume that we're talking fantastic sex vs. fantastic chocolate.... and I'm going to say: sex.


Friday, August 12, 2005

My New Knitting Books

Shadow Knitting, by Vivian Høxbro

Last Minute Knitted Gifts, by Joelle Hoverson

The book I wanted, but didn't have sizes big enough... Vintage Knits, by Sarah Dallas

Where I'm going to buy my yarn: Knit Picks.

Super-size Art, not M&Ms

Painting for a Gallery of Busy City Streets Below

Perfectly Fat

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Few Things to Mention of My Busy Day

Once again, I am house-sitting. Instead of an agoraphobic kitty (see earlier post), I am now charged with the care of one with diabetes. I give insulin shots and the least stinky cat food ever twice daily to Mr. Kiki. (Yes, that's right. I give the cat shots. For those of you aware of my needle-phobia, please pick your jaws off the floor.) Kiki is rather beautiful, but can sometimes be rather annoying at the time of the shots, despite the fact that no shot means no food (well, at least not immediately). I knew I had to chill out a bit when I hissed back at Kiki. Luckily, Kiki does not bear grudges and was happy to receive my petting later that evening.

Today was a momentous occasion: I finally reclaimed possession of several items that had been held by friends for various reasons (largely because of my lack of car). Number one, my gorgeously framed ordination certificates. Number two, my white High Holy Day robe (custom made for me for over $500). Numbers three and four, my ordination tallit and a pair of very comfy black shoes, both of which had been held captive for months by my beloved friend Seri. Number five (which is more than one item), a bunch of books for the liturgy class I'm teaching.

Even more momentous than the reunions with my much-missed possessions, I downsized my storage locker from a 10x5 to a 5x5. I had just barely not fit in a 5x5 before, but now (with the removal of some items to be given away and donated, and other for which I now have room in my apartment) have squeezed in. This could not have been managed without the assistance of the aforementioned Seri, who is known for her superior spatial skills (note to Julie, should she read this--I'm sure you could have done it, too...). I will now save myself $65 a month. Not a huge amount, but one that certainly adds up quickly over time.

Final exceptional item of the day: I finally experienced one of the few roads that goes between Alameda county and Contra Costa without a freeway. This road is Pinehurst, which runs between Moraga and Montclair. I believe that this may well be one of the scarier roads I have ever driven. And I learned to drive on Sunset and Mulholland Blvds. in LA. It is totally pitch-black. It is very narrow most of the time. It is very windy (that's wind-y, not windy). It has those types of woods where, if you're someone like me with an active imagination, you can easily imagine bad things happening. In its defense, there are no sheer drops. But that's about all that can be said for it. It felt like it lasted forever. It was only four miles. In that time, I saw two cars and a really random middle-of-nowhere post office.

Well, that's about it for now. Time to rest up.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Daylight Savings Time in November???

Interesting NY Times editorial. I had no idea about this bit of congressional craziness.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005 contests... don't miss out