Archive for the 'Holidays' Category

You and Elijah are now friends

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

In case the various existing modern-version Haggadahs out there are not modern enough for you, try this. Thanks to Carl Elkin for CC-licensing this, see his page for the rest of the story.

Facebook Haggadah

Lights, camera, fun

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Armed with my new Canon Digital Rebel XSi, I headed out the other night to check out the Lincoln Park Zoo Lights. (To Chicagoland readers, note that today, Sunday, January 4th is the last day to see them this season.)

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights Mosaic

For now I just have the lens that comes with the camera, the EFS 18-55. I had a lot of fun trying out some of the settings on the camera on this outing. Given that it was night time and I didn’t have a tripod, most of these shots would have been hard-to-impossible to achieve with my point-and-shoot.

Overall, I think this is my favorite:

Tree lights

The blur was not intentional, in fact, I managed several other shots later that were not blurry, but I like this one that group the most.

Regarding the various lights, this was one of my favorite pieces:

Blue reptile

Finally, the most fun unintended result:


Fun times ahead with my new camera!

Others’ resolutions

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

I never make New Year’s resolutions. If I want to do something then I’ll just start doing it. (This explains why I started recording my steps with a pedometer on April 4, 2007 and why I started photo Project 365 on October 24, 2006.) If I’m not really committed to doing something then it certainly won’t make a difference to start it on January 1.

But yesterday, I got some resolutions handed to me nonetheless. I was at a New Year’s Eve party and everyone was asked to write down their resolutions and put them in a hat. Then we went around and drew resolutions.

Here is what I got:

The resolutions I picked randomly on New Year's Eve

Eat More Green things (and by green, I don’t mean moldy)
Make more stuff

I get the first one and I’m happy to give it a go. I’ve already had some edamame today to comply.

But what does the second one mean? Does writing a book count as making stuff? Or should I be setting up shop at Etsy?

I’m curious, those of you who make New Year’s resolutions, what’s the longest you’ve managed to stay on track? Anyone go a whole year? Any interesting attempts this time around?

Halloween house

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Unfortunately, I’ll be out of the country on Halloween this year, but seeing this house and yard over the weekend in the northern suburbs of Chicago sort of made up for it. (Click for links to the individual photos.)


Things to do in the New Year

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Happy New Year! But in these important political times, I have to include this (NSFWish):

My costume for next year

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

I didn’t mention Halloween here this year as I was just wrapping up a two-week four-stop trip, but I’ve come across something that I’ll link to regardless of the date: an awesome costume that I may just have to replicate next year. For additional Halloween geeky goodness, check out this Death Star pumpkin.

The Atone Phone

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

I promise not to make this a blog that just reposts all Comedy Central videos, but this one is very timely and also funny so here you go, from Stephen Colbert:

From Firstborns to Chewbacca in between matzo ball soup and matzo munchies

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

Who says there are no benefits to blogging? If it wasn’t for my participation over at Crooked Timber then I would never have met Matt Gordon and would never have been invited to his wonderful Seder last night. Thanks, Matt!

We talked about lots of things, among them how most Haggadahs lack enough information for a newcomer to really get the Passover story while making the central role of He Who Has No Name unmistakable (even while the rest of the story might remain a bit blurry and I don’t just mean because of the amount of wine consumed).

But we also talked about other things, for example: how one comes to name machines in one’s lab. Perhaps not surprising given my previous post, the machines in my lab have Star Wars references. This idea dates back to the machines in the offices of one of my college mentors: Joe had a big black Next machine that was called Darth and the little white Mac I used was called Yoda. So when I started populating my lab with machines I named the white one Yoda and the two black ones Darth and Vader.

Thanks to recent expansions, I’ve been buying additional hardware so I’ve had to come up with new names. I finalized these yesterday: the iMac is R2-D2, the new Dell desktop is Chewbacca and the two ThinkPads are Han Solo and Falcon. (Jacob will be happy to note that these are all real Star Wars characters.)

I’m curious: what names do other people give machines in their labs? This is not about being silly, by the way. It becomes incredibly tedious to talk about “the computer that’s next to the back wall near the printer” so having names serves an important function.

Regarding the Passover meal, the food was wonderful all around. Thanks to Matt’s friend Love for bringing some great matzo munchies, a treat I’d never tried before. Matt’s (and CC’s) cooking was awesome, too, as was the flourless chocolate cake by another guest Lisa.

Project 365: #30

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Mixing up the pie filling

Taken: November 23, 2006 (What is Project 365?)

Pumpkin pie in progress. This was one of those days when it was hard to pick just one photo for the day. Contenders were the boiling cranberry sauce, the finished dishes, the red theme at the dinner table, and the holiday table itself.

Hot sauce Thanksgiving cooking Red theme Thanksgiving table

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Happy Halloween!

I was curious to see how – if at all – the top search engines decided to celebrate Halloween. The above collage collects the holiday logos. Don’t look too hard in the bottom right corner, there’s nothing there to see. To be sure, MSN did have Halloween content on its homepage, but no special logo design that I could notice. The others all had something fun to greet users.

Tonight I look forward to greeting trick-or-treaters. I don’t usually get to do that, but my impression is that there are plenty of little kids in my current neighborhood so hopefully they will be stopping by.

Festive New York

Monday, December 26th, 2005

This is one of those times when pictures tell the story much better than words. Not that there is that much of a story to tell. I am enjoying a few days in New York. The city is looking very festive and it’s fun to explore the various decorations all over town. I have started a photoset on Flickr to gather up the related pictures. Today, I went on a window-display tour with a friend. We were originally going to do it yesterday, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. Instead, I ended up watching a special presentation on HGTV on holiday window displays. It prepared me well for today’s tour of Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale’s and who knows which other store we passed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24th, 2005

Thanksgiving meal

For the first time in a few years I will not be hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Although I love to play host, this worked out well since I was teaching all day yesterday up until 5pm, which does not leave much room for preparation.

That does not mean I will not be cooking. I will be contributing three dishes to today’s feast: rosemary mashed potatoes and yams, roasted squash with potatoes and garlic (you have to log on to to access that recipe), and a pecan pie. These are just a part of my usual Thanksgiving meal.

Here are the pictures from last year’s dinner that had worked out really well. (I’m afraid I can’t take credit for the absolutely amazing turkey though.)

Pumpkins galore

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

Wow, there is some serious pumpkin-carving talent out there.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 31st, 2005
Halloween costume

Halloween costume,
originally uploaded by eszter.

In true geek fashion I wore an Internet-related costume to class today. I put all sorts of signs on myself that said things like “Enter your password here”, “Click here to update your account”, PayPal, eBay, some login screens and emails. I also held a plastic fish in my hand. That was the main clue perhaps.

I had never dressed up as a verb before. It had its set of challenges.

In case you’re still wondering, my costume was “phishing“.

A few students also came dressed up to class. We had a mouse with ears and “right click”, “left click” buttons, which I thought was really funny. And we also had a superwoman, someone who put on an actual real costume. I supplied the candy and had posted a flash ghost animation game on the class blog a few days before so we were definitely in Halloween mode.

Ghosts and teddy bears

Friday, October 28th, 2005

In the spirit of Halloween here are two games for your weekend amusement. (Warning: both come with audio on.)

Time Sink!

  • Dark and Stormy Night starring ghost Jinx – very basic, but still cute and fun (and should be especially enjoyable for kids)
  • Transylmania – vampire with a teddy bear, very cute


Halloween prep

Monday, October 17th, 2005
Halloween prep

Halloween prep,
originally uploaded by eszter.

Before you carve your pumpkin, do a practice run here to see what the outcome will look like.

Happy Arrival Day!

Tuesday, September 7th, 2004

Today we celebrate Arrival Day, the 350th anniversary of the first Jewish immigrants’ arrival in New Amsterdam (today’s New York City) on September 7, 1654. The Head Heeb has been preparing for this event for over a year. He explains:

Arrival Day is a holiday of the American Jewish people rather than the Jewish religion – a celebration of the Jewish community and its contributions to the United States. As such, non-Jews as well as Jews are welcome to join in the celebration. In the wise words of Ikram Saeed, everyone is Jewish today, just as everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

A month ago I participated in a wonderful wedding that offers the perfect story for Arrival Day. I share with you the details of this wedding as a celebration of Jews from all over the world coming together in the United States.

In early August I returned to Princeton for the wedding of two friends. I had met both the bride and the groom even before they met each other. There is something extra special about friends coming together in that way. The bride had been an undergraduate Sociology major at Princeton (the department in which I got my graduate degree) and once started talking to me in the department’s mailroom after having heard me speaking in Hungarian with someone. Although she grew up in Manhattan, her parents are Hungarian from Transylvania (now Romania) and she, too, speaks the language. The groom and I started our graduate training at Princeton the same year and hung out in the same social circles from close to the beginning of our years there. He is from Australia. The two of them met as a klezmer band was forming at Princeton. They are both music lovers and amazing musicians. Music and their Jewish cultural heritage seemed to bring them together. And now they are a wonderful Jewish couple from different ends of the globe living a life together in the United States. The wedding was marvelous with friends and family of both the groom and the bride putting on amazing musical performances the night before the ceremonies.

There are several reasons why I live in the U.S. and although no one factor is fully responsible, one contributing reason is that no matter how people try to downplay it, anti-Semitism is alive and well in Europe. I prefer to live in a country where I do not have to be on my guard all the time about being Jewish. (I realize experiences must vary across the U.S., but this is my experience having lived in seven states in rural, suburban and urban areas and I appreciate it.) At my friends’ wedding, Jews and non-Jews of numerous backgrounds came together to celebrate in the joy of two wonderful people. In my mind, this story is the perfect tribute to Arrival Day.

The Head Heeb will be linking to posts that celebrate Arrival Day through the day to be sure to hop on over to his blog for pointers.

New pics

Tuesday, May 14th, 2002

I’ve put up some new pictures. These are of the Passover festivities this March in Cleveland at the Katz’s. I had a wonderful time, I think the mood comes through pretty nicely in the pictures.