Wednesday, August 29, 2012

How to compute the KQ

A couple of days into the new school year, and parents across the country are STILL walking around with deliriously happy grins on their faces as they greet each other with joyful cries of “mazal tov!”

Their beloved offspring, in contrast, don’t appear to be QUITE as thrilled that the powers that be over at the Education Ministry saw fit to shorten summer vacation (i.e. chofesh hagadol, for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you).

But, dear readers, there is an upside.

Because one person’s misery is another person’s blog fodder, and in this case, the younger generation’s less-than-celebratory mood inspired me to shake the dust off the old blog and discuss… the kvetching quotient (i.e. the KQ, in Our-Shiputzim-Speak).

Parents the world over are very familiar with the KQ – although many prefer to call it:

“A quantitative measure of the incessant complaining that features prominently in every family outing and that seems to increase exponentially as the kids reach adolescence.”

Yet, I wondered, does it really? (Increase exponentially, that is.)

And so, in order to get to the bottom of this pressing issue, I turned to the Our Shiputzim Mathematical, Statistical, and Actuarial Department - you probably didn’t even know that we HAD such a department, did you? – who came up with the following helpful formula:

KQ(E) = c / (3y + t)


  • KQ = the kvetching quotient
  • E = a given event or trip
  • c = the average number of complaints, snide remarks, sarcastic comments, overly-dramatic sighs, and (if you’re talking about Israeli kids) loud “oooofs” per hour
  • y = the number of younger kids
  • t = the number of teenagers

In other words, according to our experts, adolescent grumbling does, indeed, have a much greater impact on the KQ than the milder, less-grating type of whining which precedes it.

Do you agree with our experts’ findings? Why or why not? Don’t forget to show your work…

Open-mouthed smile


P.S. The latest Haveil Havalim is available here. Special thanks to Batya for including our visit to the Nesher Cement Factory.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

On eagle’s wings

Warning: The following post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for other people’s vacation photos. Proceed at your own risk.

If my overstuffed Drafts Folder is any indication, I owe you at least three national park posts and an equal or even greater amount of Heblish posts.

But first, with your indulgence, here’s an idea that has been designated an “Ideal Late Summer Outing.”

(Previous recipients of this prestigious designation include the Bank of Israel’s visitor center and Better Place’s visitor center.)

As I’m sure you know, in order for a tourist site to be eligible, it has to meet two basic criteria:

  1. Free.
  2. Air-conditioned.

If the attraction is interesting to boot, well, that’s just a nice side benefit, but it’s certainly not a deal breaker or anything...

Laughing out loud

Which brings me to our trip last week to the Nesher Cement Factory in Ramle – aka “City in Growing Process.” (Many years ago, a large sign at the city’s entrance read, “Ramle: City in Growing Process.” Apparently the Heblish-infused title didn’t require a leading article, definite or otherwise…)

Nesher manufactures most of the Portland cement (i.e. melet for the Hebraically-oriented amongst you) used to produce the concrete (i.e. biton) that is the backbone of Israeli construction, and the company offers free tours. [Note: Advance reservations are required.]

The tour includes two movies in the air-conditioned visitor’s center and an air-conditioned bus ride around the plant and adjacent quarry.(Did I mention that the site is air-conditioned? ;-))

And now, without further ado, the long-awaited threatened pictures: (As always, feel free to click on the pictures for a closer view.)

IMG_7880The cement is mixed in this building which is covered by a free-standing dome. According to the guide, it is the largest such structure in the entire Middle East.

IMG_7889The conveyor belt leading out of the quarry.

IMG_7906The “preheater” which leads directly into the furnace.

IMG_7911A view of two cement silos.

IMG_7923A cement truck is weighed on an automatic scale as it enters the plant.

IMG_7924A display case demonstrates that “clinker” (which is turned into Portland cement) is composed of 80% limestone and 20% clay.

IMG_7926A model of the furnace. There is no cement between the bricks, which are simply wedged into place.

All in all, we enjoyed the visit.

The price was right; the tour was extremely interesting and informative; each visitor received a free, cold Tropit (a bag of sugary grape drink) on the way out; and even the KQ (=kvetching quotient) was relatively low – in spite of the fact that one or two of the Shiputzim teens had been to the factory as part of a school trip back in elementary school…

Laughing out loud

Have you ever been to the Nesher factory? What other free, air-conditioned attractions can you recommend?


P.S. The latest Kosher Cooking Carnival is available here. Special thanks to Batya for including my cinnamon buns post.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fine Arts Friday: Home from the Army Edition

Warning: The following post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for pictures of other people’s kids’ drawings. Proceed at your own risk.

In my post about our newly-minted IDF soldier, I noted that the army traditionally allows its new recruits to spend their first Shabbat of basic training at home.

And sure enough, B”H, OS (=Our Soldier) came home this morning.

When he arrived in TRLEOOB*, the following sign - produced by one of the talented Shiputzim daughters - was waiting for him on the front door: (As always, feel free to click on the picture for a closer view.)


Translation: “Welcome home, Our Soldier!”

שבת שלום ומבורך!


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog

Monday, August 13, 2012

Becoming a “real” Israeli

As many of you know, here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog), we’ve B”H reached a very significant milestone:

The first of the Shiputzim kids started his army service this week.

If I wasn’t busy shamelessly neglecting my blog, maybe I’d try to describe some of the different things I’m feeling right now. Thankfully, however, I don’t have to, because Guest Blogger Malke did just that in a beautiful guest post a couple of years ago.

Yet, nevertheless, there’s one thing I WOULD like to discuss.

You see, until now, I considered the first time I gave birth in Israel to be the moment that I had become a “real” Israeli.

But having a son in the IDF takes one’s, well, Israeliness (if that’s a word…) to a whole new level.

Because, IMHO, there’s something so poignantly, sweetly, intensely, and wonderfully Israeli about the whole thing.

It’s that on the Shabbat before OS (=Our Soldier) was inducted, he was called up to the Torah in shul and received a warm brachah (blessing) in the announcements after davening.

It’s that the army tries very hard to allow the new recruits to spend their first Shabbat as soldiers at home.

It’s that OS has been together with a number of the guys in his unit since first grade.

It’s that when we took OS to his giyus (induction), we met several friends and acquaintances, who were there dropping their own sons off. (In other words, we got some points)

It’s that one of the well-respected rabbis from OS’s hesder yeshiva came to the giyus to see his talmidim (students) off.

It’s that over the past few weeks, everyone – and by “everyone,” I mean family, friends, neighbors, the owner of the local makolet (supermarket), coworkers, the mailman, and anyone else you could possibly think of – gave OS (and us!) lots of helpful advice and heartfelt good wishes.

It’s that one of the things on OS’s list was extra army socks, but I had no idea where to purchase them. So we tried a nearby dry goods store, and sure enough, they had exactly what we were looking for.

It’s that the induction point boasts a food concession stand and a covered picnic area for all the families who come to drop off their children.

It’s that the army makes sure that the religious soldiers have enough time to daven three times a day, and that all the larger bases have fully-outfitted shuls – complete with a Sefer Torah, plenty of siddurim, and even a collection of seforim for learning.

It’s that OS made a point of taking a pocket Mishnah with him to the army.

It’s that the recruits’ commanders make home visits to check out where their soldiers live.

It’s that at the giyus, YZG was far from the only father lovingly giving his son a brachah.

It’s that before the giyus, OS’s yeshiva arranged a very special two-week-long pre-army program – to prepare the guys religiously, spiritually, halachically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically for their upcoming military service.

It’s that OS and his fellow Torah scholars/soldiers are deeply aware that it is both an honor and a responsibility to be serving and defending Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael, and Torat Yisrael.

מִי שֶׁבֵּרַךְ אֲבוֹתֵינוּ אַבְרָהָם יִצְחָק וְיַעֲקֹב הוּא יְבָרֵךְ אֶת חַיָּלֵי צְבָא הֲגַנָּה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, הָעוֹמְדִים עַל מִשְׁמַר אַרְצֵנוּ וְעָרֵי אֱלקינוּ מִגְּבוּל הַלְּבָנוֹן וְעַד מִדְבַּר מִצְרַיִם וּמִן הַיָּם הַגָּדוֹל עַד לְבוֹא הָעֲרָבָה בַּיַּבָּשָׁה בָּאֲוִיר וּבַיָּם. יִתֵּן ה' אֶת אוֹיְבֵינוּ הַקָּמִים עָלֵינוּ נִגָּפִים לִפְנֵיהֶם. הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא יִשְׁמֹר וְיַצִּיל אֶת חַיָלֵינוּ מִכָּל צָרָה וְצוּקָה וּמִכָּל נֶגַע וּמַחְלָה וְיִשְׁלַח בְּרָכָה וְהַצְלָחָה בְּכָל מַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵיהֶם. יַדְבֵּר שׂוֹנְאֵינוּ תַּחְתֵּיהֶם וִיעַטְרֵם בְּכֶתֶר יְשׁוּעָה וּבְעֲטֶרֶת נִצָּחוֹן. וִיקֻיַּם בָּהֶם הַכָּתוּב: כִּי ה' אֱלֹקיכֶם הַהֹלֵךְ עִמָּכֶם לְהִלָּחֵם לָכֶם עִם איבֵיכֶם לְהוֹשִׁיעַ אֶתְכֶם, וְנאמַר אָמֵן.

May Hashem watch over and protect OS, his friends, and all our soldiers and keep them all safe and sound.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cinnamon Buns

As I’ve noted many times (e.g. in this post), the dessert situation here in TRLEOOB (=the real life equivalent of our blog) tends to improve dramatically  during the summer months, when bored teenagers the talented Shiputzim bakers are willing to try their hands at complicated yet mouthwatering projects.

For instance, look what a certain newly-minted young driver of my acquaintance produced a couple of weeks ago:





Cinnamon Buns

Adapted from “Spice and Spirit” (aka “The Purple Cookbook”)


  • ½ cup sugar
  • 5 tsp dry yeast
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 7-8 cups flour
  • 1¼ cups apple juice
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs


  • Canola oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Cinnamon



Mix sugar, yeast, salt, and 2 cups of flour. Set aside.

Pour apple juice and oil into a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 40 seconds.

Slowly add warm liquid to dry ingredients. Beat at slow speed, and then increase to medium speed for about two minutes. Add eggs, vanilla, and 3 cups of flour, and then beat for an additional two minutes. Add enough flour (about 2½-3 cups) to make a stiff dough, and knead in the mixer for about 8-10 minutes.

Cover dough and let rise. When it doubles, punch down (and take challah).

Place dough on a floured surface. Roll half the dough into a rectangle. Using a pastry brush, lightly spread oil over the dough, and then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Roll up like a jelly roll, and then cut into about 2½-cm-thick slices. Place the slices in a baking-paper-lined pan.

Repeat the process with the second half of the dough.

Let the rolls rise, and when they’re ready, bake them at 375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until done.

While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. As soon as the rolls are out of the oven, pour the glaze over the hot rolls in the pan.



P.S. For more recipes, check out the most recent Kosher Cooking Carnival here. Special thanks to Cooking Outside the Box for including my zucchini soup recipe.

Friday, August 3, 2012

If only I had time to blog…

If I wasn’t busy shamelessly neglecting my blog, here are a couple of things I’d probably be writing about:

1) With good reason, the Israeli Olympic swimmers’ extremely impressive achievements have been the talk of the country

But as far as the Shiputzim family is concerned, the best part of the Olympic swimming competitions is Moshe Gartel, Israel Television’s colorful and entertaining commentator, whose amusing sayings never fail to crack us up.

For instance, two nights ago, during the semi-finals, Gartel memorably begged an Israeli swimmer’s international competitors to slow down.

What do you care?” he asked the swimmers (who obviously couldn’t hear him and wouldn’t have understood the Hebrew anyway). “Won’t you let a Jewish boy advance to the next level?

And earlier in the week, when a different Israeli swimmer entered the arena, he burst into song (yes, on air!) and greeted her with the words, “Ta’aleh v’tavo, ta’aleh v’tavo…

Many more of Gartel’s gems can be found here.

2) A few weeks ago, we lost power here in TRLEOOB*.

Ever mindful of my civic duty ever reluctant to spend more than a few minutes sans air conditioning, I called the electric company to report the blackout and to check how long it would last.

As expected, I was immediately put on hold.

And that’s when I made a surprising discovery: Apparently, someone over there at the electric company reads Our Shiputzim!

I mean, why else would s/he graciously provide me with a bit of much-needed blog fodder?

You see, as I was waiting on the phone, a recorded voice came on the line and informed me that all the operators were busy.

Then, after apologizing for the delay and thanking me for my patience, the voice suggested that I could save time by heading over to the electric company’s website. (DAAA-bell-yoo, DAAA-bell-yoo, DAAA-bell-yoo. Nekudah. Aye, Eee, See. Nekudah. See, Oh. Nekudah. Aye, Ell.)

Normally, this would’ve been very good advice, but under the circumstances (see: the dictionary definition of “electricity blackout”), I could access neither my computer nor our wireless network…

But I certainly appreciated the gesture, and it’s always nice to meet an Our Shiputzim fan – even if that fan is only an automatic voice recording.

Laughing out loud 

And so, dear readers, there you have it: the blog post I would’ve written – if only I’d had the time…


*TRLEOOB=the real life equivalent of our blog