Is it Shabbat yet? Good!

Five-day weeks should be stamped out — I’m not sure I got any more done this week than I did in last week’s three days, and I know I’m a lot more frazzled than I was at this time last week.

About the only truly constructive thing I am sure I managed this week was getting my oil changed before the “Maint Reqd” light went to solid yellow, and the only reason I did that was because my department had lunch at Pluto’s in Santana Row, and I didn’t want to drive all the way back to work afterwards — so I sat at the dealer’s and did email, much as might have happened in my office. I would have liked to have worked on “Think Fridays” programming project this afternoon, but the dealer’s waiting room wasn’t conducive to that much thinking.

I also started improving my vocabulary this week at Free Rice; I managed to donate 3000 grains during a conference call, and another 3000 grains while writing this sentence. I haven’t managed to get above level 49 yet, but I’m trying! Definitely a worthwhile endeavor, on at least two fronts.

I kept playing after originally writing this post and made it to level 50:

But other than that, it’s been a rather scattered week. I’m ready to call it a month, too.

Shabbat Shalom!

And the music goes round and round…

Last week’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me had an interesting item at the beginning of Panel Round Two — they were reporting that there was a new slang verb in Hebrew: “L’Condel”, in honor of Condelezza Rice, meaning to run around and have meetings which produce no results. I thought it was amusing, and I could certainly come up with contexts in which I could use it. But I didn’t know how to properly conjugate it…or even how to spell it, since Hebrew has two letters for the ‘k’ sound. But I did a little Googling and found what seemed to be the original reference, from a November 12th New York Times article.

Later, I was chatting online with a colleague from IBM Israel, and I asked her if she had heard the verb, or how it would be spelled. She hadn’t heard of it. So I decided to Google the two alternative spellings I could come up with, and discovered that there were no hits for לכנדל, while לקנדל had many. But what was odd was that many of the hits were several years old, which made no sense.

My friend, in the meantime, had done additional research; since she actually speaks Hebrew, she knew that “L’Condel” had to be spelled with an additional vav — לקונדל — to force the “oh” in “Condelezza”. What I’d found was the prepositional phrase “to Kendall” (as in, “I gave advice to Kendall”) — completely unrelated to my quest.

She could only find one citation in Hebrew on the web, which said that this was a new verb being used among the Israeli administration meaning going in and out of meetings with little said and done.

I clicked through and discovered that the page was the “Daily Alert” from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. I searched for לקונדל on the page — and interestingly, it was in a paragraph headed “New York Times”.

So I cut-and-pasted the first few sentences of the paragraph into the Hebrew-to-English translator from 1-800-TRANSLATE…and sure enough, it was the same article from the Times that I’d already found in English.

I hope that “L’Condel” is real — but I find myself wondering. And I still don’t know how to conjugate it.

Off duty for a year

I was called for jury duty in mid-October, but the timing was bad, so I chose to postpone it to this week, knowing it was a three-day week and hoping, like Susan, that there would be few, if any, trials beginning this week.

I was nearly wrong.

Even though my group’s status was always “check back after 5pm”, I did keep a close eye on the jury status page. They called in a few groups on Monday…but that was it.

I’ve served on trial juries twice before, and felt I was making a contribution to the community, but I’m thankful to have been able to stay out of the courtroom this year.

My interest, yes; my money, not yet

So, as nearly everyone in the blogosphere has already reported, Amazon announced the Kindle today — their attempt at reinventing reading.

I read Steven Levy’s Newsweek story over the weekend, and I must admit to being intrigued by the possibilities. And if I were doing a lot of flying, I’d be even more intrigued — the idea of having many books with me but only carrying one item is very appealing.

But I’m not flying much these days (with any luck at all, no more this year). And I’ve paid the early adopter’s price once this year already.

So I think I’ll wait for the next episode in this movie — but if you feel like giving it a shot, feel free to click the link above to order!

Using my voice to get things done

I’ve had Jott on my speed-dial list for a while, but I haven’t made extensive use of it. And I’ve been using Remember the Milk to manage a few of my tasks…but again, not seriously.

But that may change, now that the two services are integrated. I like the idea of being able to dictate a quick voice note to myself and have it show up in my task management system. And having more of my tasks in RTM will encourage me to use it for even more of my tasks — or at least that’s my theory.

And, as the previous entry in this blog shows, I can now even use Jott to blog — short blog entries, to be sure, but sometimes I only have a little bit to say.

Hmmm, if brevity is the soul of wit, does enforced brevity guarantee I’ll be wittier?

Another paper cut at the Merc

When I brought in this morning’s Merc, I noticed that the Sunday comics looked a little different. But I don’t read tomorrow’s paper until I’ve finished today’s, so I thought no more about it.

But there was a front-page box and a full-page announcement in today’s paper telling readers that, to conserve paper, the Sunday comics were being cut to four pages and many comics (including several of our favorites) were being relegated to online-only as of now.

I think it’s time for the Merc to consider changing its business model and reconstituting itself as “Public Merc”, supported by donations from readers, augmented by major sponsors like Fry’s, Macy’s, and Western Appliance. It can’t be much less effective than what’s happening now, can it?

Book in progress

Many of my friends are engaged in their annual write of passage this month, and will emerge with a novel in their hands. Or at least on their computers.

I’ve chosen, yet again, not to join them. Instead, I’m spending this month reading (OK, that’s not really all that unusual). And when I found myself at book’s end last night, I decided to borrow one of the books on Diane’s night table, The Modern Jewish Girl’s Guide to Guilt. Sure, the title was a little off-putting, but at least one of the adjectives applied to me…and the book had the all-important property of being at hand when I needed it.

I’m glad I picked it up — I’ve just finished the first section, Chai Anxiety. I was especially taken by Dara Horn’s essay, “The Last Jewish American Nerd”, particularly when she wrote about “teacher love”. I’ve been spending time at work in official and unofficial mentoring, which is the closest I’ve come to being a teacher, and Dara’s essay helps me understand why it’s a great thing to do — for myself and, I hope, for the people I mentor.

The other essays I’ve read so far have been worth the time, too. I’m happy that there have been a good number of grins mixed in, too, because a solid course of guilt would be unpleasant. And if I wanted unpleasant, I could be looking at the stock price. Oy!

Hark, the Herald Tribune Sings

I stopped, as usual, at the Starbucks in Almaden Plaza on my way into work yesterday and noticed two signs of the impending season:

  • Circuit City has installed their neon rooftop display (though I don’t think they’ve started using it yet)
  • Starbucks has Christmas Blend coffee and other winter goodies in stock again

I haven’t heard any holiday ads or music yet, but it can only be a matter of days.