[M.M.X.I.V. 109] In a Newton minute

I intentionally named this post after a similar-sounding song: “In A New York Minute.”

But, a New York minute is on the opposite end of the spectrum of a Newton minute.  From some basic research, I found that a “New York minute” is basically an instant (in other words, a Short One Minute).  I figured that I might as well compare it to the Long or Short 40 Minutes that was the standard Israel time quote.

But what about Newton?  I’m not talking about Isaac Newton.  Rather, I’m talking about Newton, Iowa…

A postcard-like image of the Maytag factory.

A drawing of the Maytag factory in Newton, Iowa. Image courtesy of http://www.americadeclines.com/IA2.html)

There are two things about a Newton minute that stick out to me.  One is all the way back in 2002: it was either Thursday, April 4.  Passover had just ended, and we had embarked on a long road trip from Lincoln to Milwaukee, for my cousin Jason’s בר מצוה (bar mitzvah).

We had driven past Des Moines, and were ready to find somewhere for dinner.  So, we alighted Interstate 80 at Newton, Iowa, and took a counterclockwise contour around the town, which included passing by the Maytag factory.  We first tried to go to a sports bar, but quickly left when the smoking section overwhelmed the whole place (yes, this was before widespread indoor smoking bans!  Am I showing my age? :p)

So, we went to Giovanni’s Pizza across the street.  Yes, pizza was an apt choice to break Passover, but for whatever reason, cheesy food did not appeal to me at all that night.  Furthermore, it was a little late in the evening, so I was suffering from hunger- or time-induced anorexia.  Therefore, I was probably somewhat intolerable during that dinner, which made the time drag on forever.  Thus, my first experience with a Newton minute.

In Evanston, though, I really have the risk of experiencing the Newton minute about once every two weeks… literally!  Why is this?  The washing machines in the basement of Engelhart are Maytag commercial machines, and when you run them, they display a time of 33 or 34 minutes in the cycle.  I almost invariably go upstairs until the time is supposed to run out.

5 MINUTES display

It’ll probably be closer to 15 minutes before your wash load is done…

So, for example, today I started the machines at 08:27, and knowing that the time estimates are based on Newton minutes, I returned to the laundry room at 09:06.  One of the machines had already finished its run, as “0 MINUTES” displayed.  The other one was still running, with “1 MINUTES” displayed.  As I transferred the “0 MINUTES” load from the washer to a dryer, it took me at least two or three real minutes.  But, by that time, the “1 MINUTES” had not budged.  It took another real-time minute before the Newton minute expired!

EDIT: After publishing this post, I realized it could fit into the Daily Post’s theme, as although I am doing my laundry in the morning today, I think I am more likely to have Saturday night be a laundry time than Saturday morning.  Not tonight, however, as I will be traveling to Milwaukee!

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Today is the one-hundred and ninth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes fifteen weeks and four days.

היום ארבעה ימים לעומר (today is four days of the omer).

[M.M.X.I.V. 108] Enroll me in the remedial class!

What?  Consider the following pictures and captions:

Soup out of a box

Exam #1 (Passover 2010): AUTOMATIC FAILURE. Using a mix is cheating!

Exam #2 (Passover 2011): DOUBLE FAIL.  Not only did I not get a picture of the soup (this was before I had a camera), but my first "real" attempt didn't taste very good.

Exam #2 (Passover 2011): DOUBLE FAIL. Not only did I not get a picture of the soup (this was before I had a camera), but my first “real” attempt didn’t taste very good.

Soup with floaters.

Exam #3 (Passover 2012): FAIL. The matzo balls ended up becoming “floaters.”

Exam #4 (Passover 2013): EXEMPT.  Since I went back to Lincoln for this Passover, I was exempted from the soup exam.

Exam #4 (Passover 2013): EXEMPT. Since I went back to Lincoln for this Passover, I was exempted from the soup exam.

Exam #5 (Passover 2014): DOUBLE FAIL.  In addition to floaters, there were not many matzo balls in the soup; it was overrun with the veggies!

Exam #5 (Passover 2014): DOUBLE FAIL. In addition to floaters, there were not many matzo balls in the soup; it was overrun with the veggies!

When I sent the results of Exam #5 via MMS to my family, I got the following grades:

MOM: “Oh Noah how could you?????”

DAD: “Outta the family…”

CASEY: “Unacceptable!”

All of the non-exempt years, I either used a mix or a recipe from the Chicago Tribune.  Each year, there were not many matzah balls in the soup, and they were also floaters.

Even though I consider mine to be mild successes, the criteria set by my family has left me failing each exam that I have been on my own!  This is because they are all in the sinker camp.  Somehow, I am in the ambivalent camp.

Therefore, for four out of the last five years, I have FAILED AN EXAM!  Evidently I must return to the remedial class on sinker-makers.  Because if I fail again next year, I probably will be disowned by my family!

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Today is the one-hundred and eighth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes fifteen weeks and three days.

היום שלושה ימים לעומר (today is three days of the omer).

[M.M.X.I.V. 107] Bill me to the Pharaoh!

“…Ruby throat takes sparrow: sing the song, don’t be long, bill me to the Pharaoh!”

Apologies to Crosby Stills Nash and Young, but when I first heard the song “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” that is the way I heard it.  Clearly, it must be wrong since it makes no sense, and indeed, “bill me to the Pharaoh” is actually “thrill me to the marrow.”  I figured that this Mondegreen is one that is aptly timed for today, since we are in the middle of Passover, and “Pharaoh” is a commonly-uttered word, at least during the first two days.

Interestingly, another completely unrelated song has another Noah-Mondegreen that makes it sound like a Passover song.  Apologies to the late King of Pop

“…Yes I believe in me, so you believe in you!  Help me say it: I’m gonna sing this song of matzah, yah, gonna sing this song of matzah…”

Now, how did I think that the seeming nonsense syllables “mamase mamasah mamakusah” became “song of matzah?”  Am I the only one who hears it that way, or did others too?

And I don’t think that the first time that I heard either of these songs was in the vicinity of Passover.  Sometimes, people’s own personal experiences can have a strong impact on the way that they may mishear certain songs, and twist the meanings thereof.

I suppose I’ll add one more, which is perhaps more tangentially related to Passover, but rather the epilogue of the Exodus story.  In Big Country’s almost-eponymous song, I heard part of the refrain as:

“I’m not expecting to go far into the desert, but I can live and breathe and see the sun in the wintertime…”

Nope, it’s “grow flowers in the desert!”  Well, perhaps I shared some of the ancient Israelites’ doubts about wandering in the desert, not expecting to go far when I heard this verse.  Clearly, it’s a twisted way to think about it, but I do have to have some story behind a misheard lyric, rather than just mishearing it.  (Interestingly enough, I never thought about growing flowers in the desert until I went on Birthright and saw the lush Negev.)

It is always interesting to see how others mishear songs.  One site that I used to frequent was www.kissthisguy.com, named after a common mishearing in “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix.  This post was partially encouraged by Passover, and also encouraged by a post from a week and a half ago on the excellent blog Pinstripes&Lipgloss.

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Today is the one-hundred and seventh day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes fifteen weeks and two days.

היום שני ימים לעומר (today is two days of the omer).

[M.M.X.I.V. 106] Nested counts

Yesterday included the second night of Passover, which means that שפירת העומר (counting of the omer) has begun: the counting of seven weeks until the next major Jewish holiday of שבועות (Shavuot), also called Pentecost in English.

The first time that I did a post-a-day challenge was in 2012, with M.A.P.L.E. as a different drummer versus the Blogspot challenge of “BEDA.”  That was right in the middle of the עמר period, so I decided to do simultaneous counting of the days of M.A.P.L.E. in each post, as well as that day’s count of the עמר.

Of course, this year, since I recently added the day-week counts to EVERY one of my M.M.X.I.V. posts, but want to take M.A.P.L.E. and O.C.T.O.B.E.R. this year as focused challenges, that means that in May, you will be seeing THREE different count-ups on the bottom of each post.

This is actually very interesting, however, as it implies that for each different type of count that you are doing, it represents a different part of your journey.  Any main goal will always have sub-goals and side quests which may or may not help you toward the main goal.  Each count gives a different part of the story–in some sense for me, the count of M.M.X.I.V. is the main story of my development as a person: personally, professionally, and the whole nine yards.  The count of the עומר represents a spiritual journey, and the count of M.A.P.L.E. will represent some sort of a sub-goal (who knows what it may be, though?) that may or may not take place during the entire month of May.

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Today is the one hundred and sixth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes fifteen weeks and one day.

היום יום אחד לעומר (Today makes one day of the omer)

[M.M.X.I.V. 105] Questions or observations?

This post is going to seem like a meta-meta-meta-analysis.

Why?  I’m going to ask a question that may seem more like an observation, related to observations that could be phrased as questions.  Maybe this post will take a very pedantic tone to it, though…

The big question: Why are there so many ways to translate language?

Let me explain:

מה נשתנה הלילה הזה מכל הלילות

שבכל הלילות אנו אוכלין חמץ ומצה… הלילה הזה כולו מצה

שבכל הלילות אנו אוכלין שאר ירקות… הלילה הזה מרור

שבכל הלילות אין אנו מטבילין אפילו פעם אחת… הלילה הזה שתי פעמים

שבכל הלילות אנו אוכלין בין יושבין ובין מסובין… הלילה הזה כולנו מסובין

These are the “Four Questions” that are recited at the Passover seder.  One common English translation is:

“Why is this night different from all other nights?

On all other nights, we eat leavened or unleavened breads.  Why on this night do we only eat unleavened breads?

On all other nights, we eat all sorts of vegetables.  Why on this night do we eat bitter herbs?

On all other nights, we don’t even dip once.  Why on this night do we dip twice?

On all other nights, we sit or recline.  Why on this night do we all recline?”

The translation makes it seem like they are questions.  But wait!  In the way that I see it, they appear to be more statement-like than question-like.

The introduction to the four statements/observations/questions really appears to be more of an exclamation, unless מה (what/how) is really an older way to say למה (why).  Based off my knowledge of Hebrew, I translate the first line as “How different is this night from all other nights!”

Each of the Four Questions begins with the construction שבכל הלילות (“that on all of the nights”) and continues with the observation.  There is no use of the word למה, מדוע, or any other word which directly suggests that it is a question!  The use of the ש at the beginning, however, ends up being an interesting construct, as it essentially turns the question into a sentence fragment!  Considering the context of my translation for the prelude statement, I will let the “ש” (that) be appended.  So, the first two lines read, according to my translation:

“How different is this night from all other nights!  (Consider) That on all (other) nights we eat leavened or unleavened bread.  On this night (however,) we only eat unleavened bread.”  In this sense, of course, the formulation of the observation naturally leads to a question.  But, the observation itself is NOT formulated in the form of a question!

Of course, this may partially be the fact that the Four Questions are written in an ancient Hebrew, which had different grammatical rules (notice that if this were written in Modern Hebrew, אנו אוכלין (we eat) would be written אנחנו אוכלים instead).  In fact, in the תורה (Torah), there are no punctuation marks at all, let alone vowel marks!  And in old Hebrew texts where the punctuation marks and/or vowels are printed, the only end-of-sentence punctuation mark is either a colon or a period: never an exclamation mark or a question mark!

Still, it shows that there are times when exclamations or observations can be deduced as questions and vice-versa!

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Today is the one-hundred and fifth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes fifteen weeks.