“Everybody Have a Nagila!”

IT’S THE WORLD’S SINGLE MOST recognizable Jewish song — covered by such luminaries as Harry Belafonte and Dick Dale — yet its genesis may surprise you. Another fine contribution from myjewishlearning dot com…

Cook’s Toolbox

ONE OF THE FIRST QUESTIONS a new home-cook asks is, “Besides food, what do I need in order to cook?” Fortunately, someone has supplied the answer.

Despite the odd spelling, thekitchn.com is probably my favorite foodie website. Its authors send out a daily email filled with recipes and kitchen/household management tips, many of which I dutifully print off in anticipation of future and present use. They recently published a guide to equipping a home kitchen called “All The Kitchen Essentials You Need — For Just $310,” with the advice that you can cut that relatively low, low price for 20 items by browsing thrift shops, garage sales, etc.

365 Names of God: Not-Two

NOT-TWO One of our living-room Torah participants laid this Name on me a while ago. As a fierce non-dualist myself (meaning that I see the Universe as one whole Being rather than an assembly of parts), I instantly took to it. She explained that it differs somewhat from the idea of “attaining” Oneness in that it encourages such unification from the position of apparent duality; “not-two” starts from where the perceiver begins — the “universe of ‘the,'” or apparent separation — rather than where he or she wants to wind up (and in fact actually “is” all along). Our correspondent added that she got it from one or more Buddhist teachers, although at this remove I don’t remember who said it or what sect they were from. Use it in good health.

First Graf: Fringes of Reason

REMEMBER THE WHOLE EARTH CATALOGS? Mostly subtitled “Access to Tools,” they were popular mainstays of the late 1960s-1970s’ DIY culture, spanning a variety of subjects from computers to home gardens. One of them, 1989’s Fringes of Reason: A Field Guide to New Age Frontiers, Unusual Beliefs and Eccentric Sciences, deserves a place on the bookshelf of any student of the more outre reaches of the human condition, right along with Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds or The Books of Charles Fort (both of which are covered in detail — as is The Book of the SubGenius).

Fringes of Reason‘s 224 pages take a mostly skeptical look at its subject matter, but it’s a skepticism tinged with enthusiasm.

Leadership is not about the next election, it’s about the next generation.”
— Anon.


Dear Ms. Garchik,

I just overheard the following remark while sitting in my backyard adjacent to Broadway, Sonoma’s main drag: Quoth woman to dog-walking man, “I hope in my next life I can be owned by you.”

I hope in this life you can use this quote for your daily column.

Be well,


UPDATE: Ms. G. replied, “I am going to save that one for annual romantic Valentine’s Day column!” Be on the lookout.

You Too Can Be a Citizen Scientist!

IT’S CALLED ZOONIVERSE — AND IT’S revolutionizing science as we know it.

Modern scientists (like the rest of us) live in an age of Big Data: zillions and zillions of units of information, too many for one person to effectively process. Enter Zooniverse, which for the past several years has been dragooning legions of interested volunteers to sift through hundreds of data-dumps in order to match patterns that a computer can’t — classifying galaxies, say, or rain-forest flowers, or a British census, or Beluga whales, or African wildlife, or other projects in such fields as climate science, history, biology, medicine, the arts, language and many more.

One Person’s Pastry is Another Person’s Ladder

CUPCAKES RULE. THE SOFT, FITS-IN-THE-HAND-SIZED treat, sometimes filled with flavored cream (and always with cream on top), is my favorite dessert. Shabbat dinner wouldn’t be Shabbat dinner without one (or maybe two). But cupcakes as societal re-entry mechanism? Better still.

The baked goods from Richmond, California-based Rubicon Bakery are the exemplar of the form — not too sweet, not too small, delicious either refrigerated or at room temperature. They are an affordable $4.67 for a container of four at my local Whole Foods. And there’s an added incentive to buy them: Rubicon Bakery’s employees are reinventing themselves after brushes with prison, addiction, and other un-bakerly challenges.