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2010 was an incredible, wonderful, joyful, sad, and humbling year.  First, let’s look at The Top 10 Life Moments of 2010 (in a vague order):

10) My song, “Salaam Achshav,” was selected for the Ruach 5771 album.  It drops in February at NFTY Convention/Youth Worker’s Conference.

9) I took four classes.  I got A’s in all four.

8) My new family had two babies!  None for us yet.  Sorry, everyone.

7) We had the biggest event in CBI Youth history.  260 people came out for the Dan Nichols concert in April.

6) I traveled to Israel staffing a Birthright trip.  And while I was there, I won a free trip on El Al through a Twitter contest.  Yeah.  It happened.

5) The Wife and I made our plans for Israel and booked the first outbound flight.  Sarah left at the end of November.  Whoever designed “Facetime” for the iPhone and iPod Touch is a genius.

4) For the first time since 2000, I lost a grandparent.  She was only officially my grandparent for a few months, but I will always carry her memory close to my heart.

3) The Wife and I started “Israbel Films.”  We have made over 30 films to date including weddings, b’nai mitzvah, corporate events, and youth group events.

2) In January, I received a “not at this time” response from HUC.  I’m reapplying.

1) In January, I got married!  I did it!


Last year, I made a “Top 10 Songs of 2009.”  I did it again.  Here’s the procedure: Go into iTunes. Create a new smart playlist. One rule: date added is in the last 12 months. Sort playlist by play count. Now, you will know your top songs of 2009!

And, here it is!

1) “We’re Here To Tell You” – Duncan Sheik – Whisper House – 24 plays

2) “It’s Better To Be Dead” – Duncan Sheik – Whisper House – 20 plays

3) “The Perpetual Self, or ‘What Would Saul Alinsky Do?'” – Sufjan Stevens – The Avalanche (and the movie “Babies”) – 19 plays

4) “The Tale Of Solomon Snell” – Duncan Sheik – Whisper House – 16 plays (are you noticing a pattern?  Trust me…it’s a great album, but a horrible show.)

5) “We Belong Together” – Randy Newman – Toy Story 3 – 16 plays

6) “Not While I’m Around” – Covered by Jamie Cullum – The Pursuit – 15 plays (one day, i’m going to sing this to my kids.  This version, though.  Not the original.  This one just sounds better.)

7) “Whatcha Say” – Jason Derulo – Whatcha Say Single – 15 plays

8) “King of Anything” – Sara Bareilles – Kaleidoscope Heart – 15 plays

9) “You Are My Everything (Sarah’s Song)” – Me 🙂 – Unreleased as of yet – 14 plays (but that number should be higher if you include the times I listened to it while recording it and putting the wedding video together with the song…)

10) “Dynamite” – Taio Cruz – 14 plays (i’m just as guilty as everyone else…)


And lastly, a reflection and comments about last year’s list:

10) “Let it Happen,” my second studio album of original Jewish music was released.  If you havn’t heard it yet, check it out on iTunes or at – If you don’t have it yet, and you’re reading this, please buy it.  It’s really good.  Promise.

9) In August, the Shul welcomed our new Asst. Rabbi.  That was big.  He has been a phenomenal mentor. – Still true.  Great guy, great boss, great mentor.

8) Saw DMB from the 6th row.  Also had epiphany moment during opening act. – Saw DMB at Hollywood bowl this year for my tenth show.  6th row was better.

7) Continued working with another exceptional group of youth leaders. – Still true!

6) Started “Suit Up Monday.”  Although I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who does this, Mondays have not been the same. – Yeah, haven’t kept that up.

5) My summer camp role changed from “Staff” to “faculty.”  A whole new perspective on Jewish summer camp, I think for the better. – I only went to Countdown this year.  My stress level appreciated that.

4) Submitted rabbinical school application.  Interview ahead. – Yeah…

3) Family is healthy and growing! – Still true!

2) In October, my sister got married! – Still married!

1) In February, I got engaged to my basheret! – Now married!



I just saw this article description:

A Canadian-based ecologist said Friday that he has located the world’s largest beaver dam in northwestern Canada using Google satellite technology.

Beavers these days are so advanced!  They’re using Google satellite technology!  Remember the days when beavers just used their teeth, hands, and some knowhow?

Remember: it’s all about the little things.

No, the Wife and I are not preggers.

Last night, the Outlaws invited the Wife and I to see a preview showing of Babies.

My thoughts:

It was an hour and a half overdose of cute.  My friend Rachel would have loved it.  When I told her I was going to propose, she punched me and shouted, “MAKE BABIES!”  She would have loved this movie.  The trailer gives you a great insight into the movie.  The only difference is that the film is about 80 minutes long.  The babies grow up, they do baby things, they’re cute.  Unfortunately, that’s the whole film.

The cinematography was unmatched. I would be surprised if this wasn’t up for an award of some kind.  There was little movement and the babies remained the focus.  But the images were astounding.  There were times when you would hear something else going on in the background, but you would only see the baby.  Really cool technique.  It’s also obvious that the cinematographers have spent enough time filming babies to know that the best way to get a great shot is to set it up and let it roll because you never know what you’ll get.


“Babies” is an incredibly well filmed, ridiculously cute 30 minute TV special.  Unfortunately, it was 80 minutes.  The babies are cute.  Of course they are!  They’re babies!  I could have done without the overdose of boobage, though.  I get it.  You’re French film makers.  I still don’t need to see that much boob on a big screen.

The one take away lesson from this film is simple: when you are video taping your kids, keep the camera rolling, and know how to edit.  Keep filming, because you never know when they’ll do something cute.  Also, remember to edit.  We want to see and remember when they’re doing something.  A baby waking up is cute, but not when it’s a baby taking ten minutes to wake up.

In eight words: Babies is ridiculously cute, but way too long.

Remember: It’s all about the little things.

Starting in May, American will start flying from JFK to Madrid, Spain.  Let’s take a look.

Context – There are currently many ways to get to Madrid from the US from 7 different airlines.  Five of those airlines fly from New York: Air Europa, Delta, Iberia, Continental (although they fly from Newark), and now American.

AIR EUROPA, AIRBUS A330, EC-JPF, at JFK, New York, USA. July, 2009Air Europa – One daily flight to MAD leaving JFK 9:30 PM arriving in Madrid at 11:00 AM the next day.  The return flight leaves MAD at 5:20 PM and arrives in New York at 7:30 PM.  $812 round trip, flying an A330 wide-body, part of the SkyTeam Alliance.

Continental 757-325 N56859Continental – Two semi-daily flights to MAD leaving EWR 8:40 PM and 10:10 PM arriving in Madrid at 10:05 AM and 11:35 AM the next day, respectively.  The return flights leave MAD at 11:35 AM and 1:05 PM and arrive in Newark at 2:15 PM and 3:50 PM, respectively.  $1074 round trip, flying 757 narrow-bodies, part of the Star Alliance.

Delta Air Lines 767-332(ER) N194DNDelta – One daily flight to MAD leaving JFK 5:20 PM arriving in Madrid at 7:25 AM the next day.  The return flight leaves MAD at 10:10 AM and arrives in New York at 12:25 PM.  $1004 round trip, flying a 767 wide-body, part of the SkyTeam Alliance.

IBERIA AIRBUS A340 (A340-600), EC-IOB at JFK, New York, USA. 2009Iberia – Two daily flights to MAD leaving JFK 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM arriving in Madrid 7:10 AM and 10:10 AM the next day, respectively.  The return flights leave MAD at 1:55 PM and 5:00 PM and arrive in New York at 4:05 PM and 7:10 PM, respectively.  From $1006 round trip, flying A340 wide-bodies, part of the OneWorld Alliance.

American Airlines (AA) - Boeing 757-200 - N627AA - John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) - November 3, 2009 429 RT CRPAmerican – One daily flight to MAD leaving JFK 5:40 PM arriving in Madrid at 7:20 AM the next day.  The return flight leaves MAD at 10:00 AM and arrives in New York at 12:25 PM.  $1004 round trip, flying a 757 narrow-body, part of the OneWorld Alliance.

Conclusions – If we’re looking just at cost, Air Europa is the way to go.  They are almost $200 cheaper than any other carrier.  If we’re looking just as scheduling, your only option to Spain is a red-eye, however, you can fly pretty much any time of day on the return leg.  It is interesting that American based airlines leave Spain in the late-morning/noon-ish times, and the European airlines leave in the mid-late afternoon.  I can’t decide which of these is best for you.  The good news is that because there are so many options flown by three different alliances, you can use Delta or American miles to give yourself some flexibility (or, alternatively, earn American or Delta miles flying their European based counterpart).  Once again, loyalty will help you decide which flights are best for you.  Unless you only care about the cost of the flight.  Then, you should fly Air Europa.

Remember: It’s all about the little things.

It’s been a while (I just checked…Aug. 31, 2009…ouch…), but it’s back.  And as The Wife says, “it looks gooooooood.”

Suit –  The super soft 3-button black jacket.

Shirt – Express 1MX fitted, white.  The Wife introduced me to finding a shirt size that actually fits.  Boy, she is smart.  A shirt that fits well makes such a difference in how you feel in it.  I guess those crazy cats over at “What Not To Wear” (yes, sometimes I watch with The Wife) are right.  I got this shirt on sale for about $24.  Don’t get anything at Express that’s not on sale.  You’re just paying more for no reason.

Pants – Perry Ellis – Marshalls – $25

Tie – L’art D’espace – No clue.  Probably Marshalls – $10 or less, I’m sure.

Remember: It’s all about the little things.

Spirit Airlines A319-132 N504NKI wish I was kidding.

Spirit Airlines, the Ryanair of the U.S., is pushing the airline fee frenzy to new levels with the introduction of fees for carry-on bags –- as much as a whopping $45 each way to put something in an overhead bin on a flight.

If you are a member of the $9 Fare Club, which offers access to some exclusive fare offerings, a carry-on item for the overhead bin costs $20. If you aren’t a member of the club, you can reserve your overhead bin spot for $30 as long as you buy it before you get to the gate (even the ticket-counter counts). And if you don’t pay before boarding and show up at the gate with two items, you’ll be charged $45 for the carry-on.

The fees for checked baggage on Spirit will follow a similar scale to the carry-on fees. For domestic flights, club members pay $15 each for the first and second bag, each way. Paying in advance for nonclub members is $25 per bag, and checking a bag at the airport without paying in advance is $45. Some prices are slightly higher on international flights.

Wow.  This just makes me sad on so many levels.

Remember: It’s all about the little things.

Starting June 16, Air Canada will bring back non-stop service from San Diego, CA (SAN) to Toronto-Pearson, Ontario, CA (YYZ).  Hooray!  This is exciting because it is a sign of San Diego’s expansion as more than a spoke destination from hubs for major airlines and an ad hoc Southwest hub.  Further, Air Canada offers personal in-flight TVs.  What other full-service airline offers that from San Diego?  None right now.  Here’s the run-down:

Context – Many other airlines (namely American, Continental, Delta, United, US Airways) already offer connecting service through their hubs.  Air Canada’s non-stop service will save travelers a lot of time.  It currently takes around 7 hours to get to YYZ from SAN and 7.5 to get back with connections.  Any non-stop will cut this time down.

Air Canada’s Offering – One daily non-stop on A319s, and did we mention the personal tvs?  The flight leaves SAN at 7:25 AM and arrives back in the Land of the North at 3:07 PM.  Early, but understandable.  The return trip leaves Toronto at 5:25 PM and arrives in San Diego at 7:25 PM.  These are great times.  I cannot state that enough.  Great departure time, and perfect arrival time.  Just enough time to get settled and get ready for your next day.  Travel times are also great: 4 hours 45 minutes to get to YYZ and 5 hours flat to get back to SAN.

Conclusions – Let’s look at the factors: Timing – Air Canada wins.  Yes, there is only one option, but the times are pretty darn good.  And who doesn’t want to save more than 2 hours?  Cost – Air Canada wins.  Yes, with one stop on Delta or Continental, I was able to find a $538 flight, which is cheaper than the date equivalent of Air Canada’s flight, which costs $557.  But with Air Canada, you get a free checked bag.  Can’t get that with Delta or Continental.  Add one bag each way on those airlines, and their flights are now $588.  And did you notice I said “Cost” and not “Price” for this section?  Yeah, I went there.  How much is your time worth?  How much is 4 hours of your time worth?  Let’s assume that you don’t check a bag and go for the Delta/Continental offering.  Is 4 hours of your life worth $4.75 an hour?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  It’s more.  So, in this case, Air Canada is the clear winner.

PS: Yesterday, I was really excited to hear the ATC radio for El Al flight 6, the non-stop from LAX-Tel Aviv.  It’s a REALLY long journey (14 hours to Israel, 15.5 on the way back), covering over 7,500 miles.  So long, in fact, that the return journey is the 25th longest current non-stop flight.  The longest is from Newark to Singapore taking nearly 19 hours.  Ouch.  Anyway, here are some pictures of the takeoff captured by a webcam.

(that’s it on the top)

It’ s a question a lot of people ask.  Namely, The Wife.

The reality is, I don’t know.  I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read this blog via the site or your favorite RSS reader.

These are things that interest me, but they may not interest you.  And that’s okay.

If you want me to write about something specific (i.e.: commentary on news, pop culture, travel stuff, flights between cities you’re looking into, etc.), I’m happy to do that too.  Just leave a post in the comments.

When life gets hard, it’s important to remember that, in the end, it’s all about the little things.

PS: If you listen to LAX’s Tower feed on LiveATC in the next few minutes, El Al’s flight 6 is scheduled to depart at around 2:11 PM PST.  Who doesn’t like listening to Israelis?!

Here’s a great article about why flight prices fluctuate to such a high degree.  I have experienced this myself, as my Dad, my Uncle, and my new Dad-in-Law are going to Detroit for the Woodward Cruise in August.

When Flying to Omaha Costs More Than a Flight to Paris.

Remember: It’s all about the little things.

Yes, you can fly to Frankfurt from almost all major markets in America.  And yes, if you need to, you can fly to Berlin on Delta.  But what about Munich?  No love from any American based airlines.  Until now.  Continental has started flying non-stop from their hub in Newark, NJ (also serves NYC) to Munich, Germany.  So, let’s compare the two.  Like always, I use similar dates through
Continental – Flying a 767-200, Continental’s flight leaves Newark at 5:30 PM and arrives in Munich at 7:40 AM.  Good times.  The return flight leaves Germany at 9:20 AM and arrives back in Newark at 12:35 PM.  Again, good times.  For a coach ticket, you will be shelling out $1429.  Business class, $1907. (less than $500 difference!)
Lufthansa – Flying A340s (Lufthansa’s standard long-haul jet), Lufthansa offers service from both Newark and New York-JFK.  The JFK flights are similar times as Continental’s offering, but the flights to and from EWR show some difference.  Leaving Newark at 8:10 PM (not a problem), you arrive in Munich at 10:10 AM.  A little bit later that could affect getting to a morning business meeting.  Coming back, though, there is the advantage of leaving Germany at 3:20 PM and arriving back in Newark at 6:20 PM.  From a business meeting standpoint, this is great.  You get half a day in Munich.  From a sleeping and jet-lag perspective, arriving back in New York later in the day will help you adjust.  Prices are the same for coach ($1429), and the business class service is the same price from Newark ($1907).  The price for business jumps to $3813 flying from JFK.
Conclusions – Price: same.  This means that if you have miles or a loyalty to one airline or alliance, go with it.  If you can afford the extra $500, business class can really make a more pleasurable experience, considering you will be spending 17 hours in flight, round trip.  The differences come in the schedules.  The Continental offering is not bad.  In fact, it’s quite good.  Lufthansa’s EWR offering is good and bad.  It’s good because of the return trip, but it’s not great on the way to Munich.  At the end of the day, though, the times are not that different.  The Continental service is not a game-changer.  Instead, it is a supplement.
Remember: It’s all about the little things.

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