Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

Sage advice from Tom Lehrer

March 16, 2011

Some sage advice from Tom Lehrer:

I know some people feel that marriage as an institution is dying out, but I disagree and the point was driven home to me rather forcefully not long ago by a letter I received which said: “Darling, I love you and I cannot live without you. Marry me, or I will kill myself.” Well, I was a little disturbed at that until I took another look at the envelope and saw that it was addressed to occupant. Speaking of love, one problem that recurs more and more frequently these days in books,and plays,and movies on, is the inability of people to communicate with the people they love. Husbands and wives who can’t communicate; children who can’t communicate with their parents, and so on. And the characters in these books, and plays, and so on, and in real life, I might add, spend hours bemoaning the fact that they can’t communicate. I feel that if a person can’t communicate the very least he can do is to shut up. – Tom Lehrer (That Was the Year That Was)

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Milk teeth

March 3, 2011

I’ve been wondering recently, if someone’s permanent tooth fell out and you didn’t have milk to store it in while transporting the patient to a dentist, is it better to put the tooth in cheese or water?

I think the salt in cheese would probably harm the tooth.

What do you think?

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Orange pants

January 11, 2011

My sister is getting married in a few weeks. She is a huge Mets fan. Every year, that the Mets play at home on her birthday, she gets her name on the scoreboard. Her wedding colors are, obviously, blue and orange.
My siblings are dressing appropriately.
I toyed with getting a blue suit and an orange shirt, but I don’t think I’d wear a blue suit ordinarily. Therefore, it seems like a waste. The alternative is to get orange pants. I already have a blue shirt.

What do orange pants “say” about their wearer? Could I wear orange pants day-to-day or at bars?

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Subway Rules 000.001

September 27, 2010

There are many rules of the subway. The MTA wrote and maintains some of them. But many of them are unwritten and are maintained by customers of the MTA. Recently I’ve observed people disregarding and disobeying these rules with impunity. In an effort to assist the public, I’m recording and publishing the rules here.

(These rules are listed with numbers, but they aren’t in any specific order. Later these rules should be grouped logically and renumbered.)

1.0: Allow passengers off the train before attempting to board.

1.1: Because conductors have a nasty habit of closing the doors while you are waiting for everyone to disembark, it is okay to stand on the side of the open doors with one (1) foot on the train in order to hold the doors open.

2.0: If you aren’t sure if the train is going to your stop, try to find out before the train pulls into the station.

2.1: If you aren’t sure if the train is going to your stop and you cannot find out before the train pulls into the station, ask the conductor – not other passengers.

2.2: If you aren’t sure if the train is going to your stop and you cannot find out before the train pulls into the station and you cannot reach the conductor or the conductor isn’t able to assist you, ask someone who looks knowledgeable and awake.

2.3: If you aren’t sure if the train is going to your stop and you cannot find out before the train pulls into the station and you cannot reach the conductor or the conductor isn’t able to assist you and no one on the train or on the platform can assist, don’t get on the train. Try to figure it out while you wait for the next train.

3.0: When entering an uncrowded train, do not sit next to a stranger. Sit as far away from any current passengers as possible.

3.1: If you choosing your seat for strategic reasons (such as sitting closest to the door that you want to use in order to get to the staircase you need), it is okay to sit closer to a current passenger, however, you should not sit on the same bench unless there is a pole separating you from the other customer.

3.2: If there are seats available, you may lean against a pole, but people will judge you silently.

3.3: If there are no seats available, but no one is standing nearby, you may lean against a pole, but people will judge you silently.

3.4: If there are no seats available and other customers are standing nearby, you may not lean against a pole.

3.5: If there are no seats available and other customers are holding onto the pole and you ignore them and lean against said pole, you are a jerk and deserve to lose your subway riding privileges for the day.

3.6: Wearing a knapsack (backpack) on a train that is at least semi-crowded is forbidden.

3.7: Repeatedly bumping your knapsack into other customers on a crowded train is rude. Persons who don’t immediately remove their knapsack and apologize deserve to lose subway riding privileges for the day.

From 5:01 AM – 11 AM talking and eye-contact should be kept to a minimum. If you are riding with friends, you should maintain silence or keep your conversations to a whisper.
From 11:01 AM – 4 PM talking and eye-contact is permitted. Of course, shouting and ruckus should be avoided at all times.
From 4:01 PM – 7 PM talking and eye-contact is permitted, but the conversations shouldn’t be too animated.
From 7:01 PM – 2 AM partying is permitted.
From 2:01 AM – 5 AM sleeping is permitted. Try not to speak or think above a whisper.

4.1: Do not play games on your phone so that I have to hear it. Especially games like bejeweled when every row makes an annoying noise.

5s: See Mark’s comments below

6.0: If the only seat available is large enough for half of you, don’t sit down.

6.1: Even if you think you can do the Curly shuffle to get your whole body in the seat, don’t try it. Stand.

7.0: Clipping (finger or toe) nails are forbidden on the platform or on a train.

7.1: Applying lipstick is a gray area. There’s room to permit it, but a scrupulous person won’t apply lipstick on a train.

7.2: Any pencil to the face on a moving train is forbidden on the grounds of being unsafe.

7.3: Wearing clothing is optional, but appreciated.

8.0: When reading a newspaper, it’s your responsibility to make sure the page doesn’t touch other customers. You might have to fold the page many times, but that’s the trade-off for reading on a crowded train.

8.1.0: If you have to lean move that 40 degrees to read the paper off a fellow traveler, don’t!

8.1.1: You are allowed to read over someone’s shoulder as long as
a. They don’t notice and
b. You look away at least every 45 seconds and
c. You don’t tell them “Hold on! I wasn’t finished with that page yet.” and

8.2: If you plan on reading a very large and heavy book, secure a seat first.

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Planning Winter Vacation

September 21, 2010

Dear virtual friends in Israel,

I’ve officially scrapped my Winter road trip and I am, instead, going to Israel from January 23rd until February 5th.
Would you be interested in meeting up with me, hanging out, singing karaoke, and/or showing me around your neighborhood?

If you have a specific date/time that works best for you, please let me know so I can schedule it.

I appreciate your feedback.

Thank you,
Alar Bean

Physical Abuse: It’s Not Just For Women

February 28, 2010

The following advice column letter appeared in the “Five Towns Jewish Times” on pages 33 and 34.

Dear Esther,

I’ve been meaning to write for a long time. I hesitated because I felt that no one would believe my story. It will sound strange. But things have become more unmanageable than ever, so I’m writing in to you for some advice.
I’ve been married for seven years now, and I feel as though I am being emotionally and physically abused. I know that people are used to hearing about women who are abused physically by their husbands.
I rarely hear about the opposite situation, which is what I find myself in.
I once tried talking to my close friend about my problem, and he started to laugh. I quickly changed the subject, because I realized that I wouldn’t be taken seriously.
My wife has many great qualities. She’s very smart and gets things done. But she’s also very aggressive, both with her mouth and her hands. I guess I would have to admit that I knew about the mouth part before we were married. She was always good at letting me feel small when she disapproved of what I did or said. The physical stuff started after we were married.
I’m sure people reading this column are wondering why I would marry someone who spoke to me in such a way. I’ve asked myself the same question many times. Freud, I’m not, but what has become clear to me is that I was used to being bullied by my father. He isn’t the sweetest guy, and he has no problem putting his wife and children down with insults. So I guess when I met “Caren,” her words weren’t all that bad compared to what I lived with growing up.
I am over 6 feet tall. Caren is about 5’2″.
The first time she raised her hand to me I was so stunned, I couldn’t even react. It was insanity. At least my father wasn’t a hitter. But Caren is. She’s a hitter, a scratcher, and a thrower. After the first time, I thought it was a fluke and it would never happen again. But it did and it does.
It doesn’t take all that much to get her going. She can feel provoked by the stupidest things, like if I leave my dirty clothing on the floor. And I stand there, trying to shield myself like a fool. I know, however, that I would never raise a hand to her or anyone else. I’m big and I’m strong, and I could really do some damage. The entire scene is so pathetic, but I don’t know what to do about it.
I’ve suggested and even begged Caren to go with me for marriage therapy, or even to go by herself to a therapist. But she refuses to go. She claims she’s not crazy and doesn’t need therapy, but that I
should go—that I need it.
I try very hard to keep Caren happy, so that we don’t get into these matches. But somehow, inevitably, despite how hard I try, things fall apart and I get the brunt of it.
What are your suggestions?

An Abused Male

Dear Abused Male,
I think it’s important for you to know that you are not alone. There are far more men than you might realize who find themselves in your position: men of integrity, who would never dream of raising a hand to a woman, even in the face of being physically abused. Like yourself, such men find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place, with no clear exit from the absurd situation they find themselves in.
Nevertheless, Caren is a bully, plain and simple. She’s probably always been a bully, and perhaps she saw bullying in her home growing up. She continues being a bully because she can. No one is stopping her—most of all, you aren’t stopping her.
Caren, however, is right about one thing. You should be in therapy. Yes, couples therapy would be great, but I think you need to figure out how you got into this mess in the first place and what your options are in terms of reactions and ultimate strategic moves. You are correct in connecting the dots to the verbal abuse
you grew up with by your father. We often continue unhealthy patterns when we haven’t worked through their impact on our psyches. Without doing the work, it remains a comfortable (though painful) place to be.
Your present reaction of just standing there, like a gentle giant, is not good for you; it’s not good for Caren; and, if you have any children, it’s certainly not good for them to witness. I agree that hitting back is certainly not the answer. You don’t want the violence to escalate. You want it to cease. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have any options. There have to be consequences for Caren’s behavior. The question is, what should they be? Aside from hitting back, what reaction is available to you that would enable Caren to understand that no bad deed should go unpunished?
For instance, do you generally bring flowers home for Shabbos? Help Caren with her personal errands? Buy her
gifts? Help with the dishes? I know I’m grasping at straws here, but my guess is that there are a number of things you do to show Caren that you appreciate her. The idea is to hold back on these actions in order to give her a clear message that you don’t appreciate her behavior and will not reward it. Caren has to be made to understand that you will not tolerate aggressive behavior as if nothing was wrong. Until you receive an appropriate apology and her word that she will no longer attack you in any way, you must stay strong and hold your ground.
Equally important, you should be working on your own self-esteem issues. It sounds as though you may not
be respecting yourself as much as you should. If you don’t respect yourself, it sounds like Caren is the type of person to pick up on that cue and follow your lead. Paradoxically, I would think that the tougher you manage to become in terms of your own healthy expectations, the more Caren will ultimately respect you. You have to believe that you are worthy and that Caren is lucky to be married to you.
Also, I have to believe that, at her core, Caren is a very unhappy person. The yelling and hitting usually come from a place of frustration and sadness. Do you have a clue what could be making Caren so miserable? Is it possible that she does have some legitimate bones to pick with you? What are her screams and fists really trying to say? She, too, has a lot of work to do in order to answer these questions for herself.
So, as they say, it’s time for you to “man up,” communicate healthy messages and boundaries regarding what you will no longer tolerate, and get to work on yourself— and, hopefully, when Caren comes around, as a couple.


I find the advice given by this “therapist” to reprehensible.
If you turn it around, make it a woman being physically abused by her husband, I’m sure the therapist wouldn’t tell her to “woman up”. The advice would be to, “get the hell out of there”.

Would a therapist suggest that the women is doing things wrong to encourage her husband to hit her?

Men shouldn’t hit men. Men shouldn’t hit women. Women shouldn’t hit women. Women shouldn’t hit men.

It doesn’t matter who is taller or who is stronger. Physical violence is wrong. If you the victim of physical abuse, don’t put up with it. Regardless of the relationship to the hitter, it is WRONG to stay. Leave!


February 26, 2010

What’s the protocol?

After we successfully divorce, do I need to edit every post that I referred to (err) my wife as “wife” and change it to “ex-wife”?

Also, what about the time between when I give the Get (religious divorce) and when the Court processes our civil divorce? How should I refer to her? “My legal wife”?

Any thoughts?

Mind and Body Control

February 25, 2010

Until I was three, my hair was not cut. Shortly after my third birthday my grandmother came over and gave me a haircut. From age three until after I was thirty years old, a relative cut my hair at a minimum of once every 55 days. Occasionally, I’d request a haircut, but, more often or not I’d be against a haircut.
I didn’t have a choice. I had no control over how often they cut my hair or how much of my hair they cut.
My parents, my yeshiva, and, later, my wife wanted my hair cut. Any attempts to refuse a haircut were for naught.
If I specified one area not be cut or not be cut “so low”, my specifications were promptly ignored.
Now, does that make my grandparents, parents, siblings, and wife bad people? Not necessarily. You see, they weren’t cutting my hair against my will to torture me. They were cutting my hair because their god demanded it.
Their teachers taught them, that the horrible god of the Jews required men’s hair be short.

“god” requires short hair for men because:

  • Long hair is considered “women’s garb”. Men are forbidden to wear women’s garb according to the Bible.
  • Long hair can get in the way of donning tefillin. (While this is patently untrue, it is the main reason Rabbis advocate short hair for men.)

Simultaneous to being forced to have short “manly” hair, I was prevented from shaving, trimming, or cutting my beard. Once again god was keenly interested in making me appear in “his” image.

I thought the beard made me look disgusting. (When I look back at my old pictures, I often feel revulsion and anger.) I thought it was good for me to appear disgusting, as it would help me in my devotion to god.

When I used a scissor to cut my beard for the first time (at age thirty!) in the Summer of 2008, my father-in-law spent at least ten minutes in every subsequent face-to-face meeting making fun of my beard.

From the June 2008 until November 2008, I slowly lowered the beard. People at work noticed. They asked, “What is different about Alar Bean?”, and they answered, “I don’t know, I think he’s smiling more.”

As I lowered the beard, I felt better and better.

In November 2008, after my sister begged to be allowed to cut my hair for two days straight, I got my last haircut. After that haircut, I decided I’d had enough of the degradation of no choice and of being forced to look the way someone else’s god wanted me to look.

Since November 2008 I have not gotten a haircut. In March 2009, a couple of times, I used a scissor to even out my bangs.

I think the real reason “god” requires men to cut their hair short and grow their beards long is the same reason “god” requires women to wear a hair covering once they marry. “god” wants to control people’s minds by controlling their bodies. If you can force people to appear a certain way, especially if it’s making them look ugly, you have control over them. If you can make someone feel ugly, you will mess with their self-confidence. You then control who they speak with, what they do for recreation, where they go, etc.

Recently, an internet friend suggested I get my hair evened out at a barber or a salon. I am definitely not interested in getting my hair shortened. Not yet. I could be open to a styling or getting my hair evened out. However, I would need it to be done by a professional. (Though, I’ve never before had a professional cut my hair.) There’s no way I could trust a religious Jewish person to cut my hair. god might tell them to give me a crew cut!

Below is a picture of the back of my head. What do you think I should do?

A year hair, a year thair

A year hair, a year thair

Dear John

February 10, 2010

I went to see “Dear John” Tuesday, February 9, 2010.
I was expecting it to be similar to “Brothers“.

(Quick note. I did not read the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks. I’m only reviewing this film as is. I’m not judging this movie against the book from which it was adapted.)

The movie appears on the surface to be a classic tale of military guy meets a girl, they fall in love, military guy goes abroad, girl cheats on his with him with a close friend/relative. However, I found the film to be a lot more complex than that.

A note to women who go to movies and make “aww” and “how cute” noises during the airing. Shut up! Thank you.
I didn’t come to listen to your patronizing sounds and I don’t need your commentary. When I go to a movie, I try to stay silent. I don’t talk about the plot and I don’t gasp or coo. I try not to laugh. I just sit, watch, and try to soak it all in.

There were a number of “cute” moments in this film that made the (predominantly) female audience lose their minds. There is one time in particular, when many of the females around me started saying “how cute” about an elderly gentleman, that I felt my anger rising.

The ending of the film is interesting. The audience around me smacked their hands and laps in frustration. A lady next to me asked loudly, “Is that it? Is there going to be a sequel?” The ending did seem a bit rushed, but it didn’t shock me. I was expecting it to end the way it did, but perhaps with a longer explanation.

Overall, I would recommend this film to people who like dramas. I give is a 6 out of 10.

Children, why?

February 6, 2010

Aside from religious reasons, why would anyone want to have a child?