Can the everyday life of a 43 year old, married, chubby, Jewish guy from south Jersey be THAT exciting?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Where's The Music?

If you landed here looking for Jawdy's Basement Radio, you are kind of in the right place....but not quite.  :-)

Click here to listen to the show live on Thursday nights from 9pm-12am.

Click here to listen or download the podcast of the show.

You can also head to iTunes and search for Jawdy's Basement to subscribe to the weekly podcast.

Thanks for listening!!!!


Thursday, October 06, 2011

Six Degrees of Steve Jobs

There are a small number of people that have died in my lifetime that I've never known, yet I remember their passing vividly.  I can think of four right away.

John Lennon
Ronald Reagan
Freddie Mercury
George Harrison

I believe I am adding a fifth name to that list today with the passing of Steve Jobs.

I really didn't think I would feel this way but since the announcement yesterday that he had died, I've found myself to be very sad about it.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that just about everything I do during the course of my day, can be directly traced to something that Steve Jobs had a hand in creating.

I wake up in the morning to the sound of my cell phone alarm.  It's smart enough to know that it's a weekday so I need to get awoken at 6.30am.  On the weekends it stays quiet.  Smartphones - Steve Jobs.

I come downstairs to make lunch for the kids and have some breakfast.  When I sit down for my cereal, I set up my iPad to read the morning news.  I can read hundreds of newspapers, magazines and websites; send out a bunch of e-mails and play four rounds of Angry Birds in ten minutes.  Tablet computing - Steve Jobs.

I drive the kids to school and on the way, Sadie and Hannah ask me if we can watch 'Toy Story 3' that night as a family movie night.  The family gets together and enjoys a movie that appeals to every person in the room, making us laugh and making us cry.  Computer animated movies - Pixar - Steve Jobs.

I get to my office, sit in my seat and wake up my computer from it's slumber.  How do I do it?  Move the mouse, of course.  I spend nine hours multitasking between seven or eight software applications and switching between them in seconds.  This is how I make a living for my family and how I am able to put food on the table and shelter over our heads.  Computer mouse - Steve Jobs.

I drive home after a long day at work and listen to the most incredible mixed tape EVER.  Unlike before, this one isn't a two sided cassette with twenty songs.  No...LOL.  This one is a tiny metal and plastic box with a hard drive in it.  It's on shuffle and playing a random assortment of 11,230 songs.  My entire music my pocket.  It's plugged into my car stereo system and cranked all the way up.  Who knows whats coming next?  The Beatles?  Queen?  Metallica??  Who knows?  It's heaven.  Digital music players - iPods - Steve Jobs.

I tried to think of something that I may have eaten for lunch that may have a connection to Steve Jobs but I don't think he had a hand in the creation of sushi or the 5-dollar footlong.  However, the Subway frequent buyer card I have CAN be stored in my smartphone for easy scanning at the store.  Again, Steve Jobs probably played some role with that technology as well.

My good friend Gary Vincoff said something very profound on the phone with me today.  He said that Steve Jobs passing away probably altered human history.  It's a big statement to make but think about that for a minute.  How many useful and cool technologies are we never going to see in our lifetime now?  How many ideas died along with Steve Jobs?  Surely, there will be another visionary.  Surely there will be another person, or two, or three, who will amaze us with their vision in the future.  But there will never be another Steve Jobs.  He was the John Lennon of technology.

Three poignant words strung together make up a great Steve Jobs quote that really sums this up:

"Click.  Boom.  Amazing!"

Rest in peace.  Heaven has just been rebooted.

Sunday, October 02, 2011


It's that time of the year again.  The Heeb Holidays.  Also known as Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the highest of Jewish holidays and ones in which more food is consumed than all the other Jewish holidays in the year combined.  Yom Kippur is supposed to be 24 hours of fasting but, when all is said and done, you consume more food after that first, fast-breaking morsel than you have in the previous week.

Anyway - it was Rosh Hashana this week and because we are the most sensible of people, we decided to invite South Jersey to our house to eat the New Year's meal.  OK, so it wasn't all of South Jersey but it was nearly more than the Jewish population of Utah and certainly more people than we have ever hosted for a single dinner.  42 people.  That's TWO, twenty-one person dinner parties....THREE, fourteen person dinner get the picture.  Its a ton of people.

Everyone was responsible for some aspect of the dinner.  The plan was set and everyone had their specific task.  We had the turkey.  I love eating turkey but I've never made it.  Deb was sick and I inherited the task of taking this thing from the store shelf to the oven.

I picked up this 18 pound bohemoth at Wegmans and settled down at around 10pm to brine the bird.  For those who don't know what brining is, its the process of salting the turkey, basically marinating it, overnight which makes the turkey more edible or something, I have no clue.  It's just something I knew I had to do and so I set out to do it.

I cut the turkey out of its package and placed it on a big cutting board - one with a shallow groove cut into the border for catching juices that may ooze from the turkey during the process.  I laid this bird on the cutting board and turned my back to it so I could pull a few videos up on the JordPad, which was set up on the counter queued with some brining how-to videos.

I watched about a minute or two of these completely unhelpful videos and tried to wonder how I was going to get mounds of kosher salt rubbed inside this turkey when I heard a dripping sound from within the kitchen.  It wasn't just a plain drip-drip-drip of a leaky faucet.  It was a steady dripping - and the first thought through my mind was that this turkey hopped up from the cutting board and just started taking a piss on my kitchen floor.

I spun around to see the Niagra Falls of turkey puss flowing freely from the island in my kitchen, down over the cabinet doors and splashing onto the floor in the pinkish-watery pool.  Just as I began to gag, my cat came running from the other room, obviously in the smell of the moment, and nearly planted his entire face in the salmonella party on the floor before I handed him a forearm shiver and sent him flying backwards and running up the stairs.  I turned back to the bird and watched it continue to hemorrhage and overflow the shallow groove of the board.  How could an 18 pound carcass spit this much guk?

Gotta say - I never knew that raw foul smelled quite like....raw foul.  I mopped the kitchen up and cleansed the place the best I could, trying not to hurl and keeping the cat away the entire time.  When I was satisfied that the kitchen was sanitized I finally got down to the business at hand.

I scooped up mounds of kosher salt and began massaging the bird.  I loaded the back and legs and I went at this bird with reckless abandon.  Next, I reached inside and pulled out the guts, neck and all.  This bird was becoming my bitch now.  I punched that thing so full of salt - it's blood pressure tripled, even in death.  Two cups or so of SALT - in this vulture!!!

Done and completely exhausted, I submerged the turkey in a huge put of salt water, covered the bitch up and shoved it in the fridge for 12 hours.

The next day it cooked for four hours or so and was enjoyed by 42 family members.  Delish.  I even gave the cat a small bite

L'Shana Tova!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Back at It

The inspiration for Jawdy's Basement from the beginning was the kids.  It was always meant to be somewhat of a diary of my life as a Dad and a backup for the forgetful computer that doubles as my brain.  Well the last few days have been filled with potential memories that I would otherwise forget so it's inspired me to take to the keyboard once again.

Yesterday, all three kids went back to school.  Let's go to the tape for the details....

Elijah started middle school.  That means 6th grade these days.  Beck Middle School does not know what's coming.  Elijah was as nervous as I've seen him in a long time.  The night before he came to our bed and cuddled with Deb for 20 minutes or so to calm down.  He never does that anymore.  It was quite adorable.  He slept fine the rest of the night so it must have worked.  When I dropped him off in the morning for his first day, he was freaking out a little as he left the car.  His last words to me were, "I don't know where I'm going."  It was painful to drive away but I know he would be OK.  Sure enough, he found his friends and had a great first day.  So much is different now in school.  Elijah does not have to bring his textbooks home - they are all online.  He's got a locker to keep all his stuff and he comes home with an almost empty book bag.  We have a login to a page where we can see his progress through virtually every part of his day - from his behavior to his homework.  It alerts us of missed assignments and tells us the scores of every quiz and test.  Not sure if all that is a good thing or not.  Guess I will assess this later on in the year.  For now, Elijah has to get used to his new school, taking the bus home every day (he left two binders on the bus today already), and learning to manage his snack eating time with his homework time (always an issue).  It's going to be a fun year.  I expect him to be a completely different kid come June.  Elijah is also starting fall baseball on Friday night so his schedule will be packed.

Hannah started 3rd grade.  Hannah starts school for the first time without her brother or sister.  The school is HERS.  She knows Bret Harte well so she will be comfortable but shes walking home every day alone to my parent's house after school.  Her homework load will increase significantly and she's going to have to learn how to focus better to finish every day....but I think she will be less of a struggle than Elijah where that's concerned.

Sadie started Kindergarten!  After changing our minds a dozen times, we finally decided to put Sadie in the JCC for Kindergarten.  She has Mrs. Schwartz and she loves it already.  Its the perfect place for Sadie because it has the Jewish element we feel is important to her and it's where Deb is working so she gets to ride back and forth with her Mom every day.  She's just adorable.  So many stories already, after just two days.  She started gymnastics yesterday as well and she's loving that also.  Sadie just loves everything she does.  She's a special kid.

Elijah said to me after his first day, "Dad, one of the girls in my class is a cheerleader."

"Yeah?  So that's cool, I guess.  Why is that important?" I responded.

"Well, let's just say....I have my eyes open."

That's a long way from "DAD - guess what?  I wrote my name today!!!"

He's growing up, my boy.

So right now we are dong our usual....watching the Phils game together.  Elijah knows all the players on every team and all their lifetime stats, what they did yesterday, what their longest homer was, who they were traded for, etc.  He's a baseball encyclopedia.

So what else is going on?

  • I am still the sole employee of Admiral Financial, a subsidiary of my long-time employer, Marlin Business Services.  Work is getting better as the economy improves.
  • Deb is working at Jewish Family Services at the JCC
  • Dad turned 70 this month and we threw a huge party for him here.  Candice hits the big 4-0 later this month but we won't talk much about that.
  • Ben and Aliyah turned one a few months ago and are awesome.  See more of them here.
  • Spencer, Lynne, Sydney and Sophia are moving to Vermont this month to start a new life with Spencer's new job.  We will miss them terribly but its the best thing to happen to their family in a very long time.
  • I still miss Utah
That last one is a topic for another post...which I hope to be inspired to write soon.  It'll need some explaining as I am sure my Mother will want to pick that one apart when I write it.  :-)

There's the short and sweet update for now.  Happy September!!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jawdy From Joisey

Greetings everyone!!!

In approximately three weeks, it will be one year since I returned from Utah.  I think it's about time I made the move permanent.

Two weeks ago, I removed the gorgeous red, white and blue Utah license plates from my car and replaced them with the spectacularly designed puke-yellow and black New Jersey plates.  The woman at the DMV, despite being astonished that I was prepared with ALL of my required documents to make the switch, had to be reminded of what exactly Utah was.  I told her it was a state slightly west of here and she snickered, took another bite of her Ding Dong and asked me if I wanted an updated picture on my license.  Yes, I told her, since I've gained 40 pounds since the last one.  I want the picture to be accurate, after all.

I left the DMV in a record two hours and 20 minutes with new plates and my portly license picture.

I furthered down the rabbit hole that is New Jersey by taking a drive to Cuthbert Blvd.  There's only two places I've EVER been on Cuthbert Blvd.  One is Wok and Roll, the old bar that I celebrated my 21st birthday at before Allen Frankel peed off the top of the Hyatt House.  The other is the DMV Inspection Station.  Fond memories of both.  

I drove my car down the long path at the inspection station and came to a stop with TWO cars in front of me.  It was 12.30pm.  I woke up at 1.17 with the light tapping on my window.  It was time.  

It took the nice DMV man exactly 9 minutes to flunk my car and slap a red REJECTION sticker on the windshield.  "Your engine light is on," he told me.  "It wasn't when I got here an hour ago!" I said.  "Welcome to NJ, sir.  You have until June 30 to get the car fixed and back here for a follow up inspection.  And here's the good news - next time you come you don't have to wait in that long line.  Just pull into THAT LINE over there."  THAT LINE was a re-inspection line with about 20 cars in it and ONE person in a booth at the end wearing headphones.  I can't wait.

So now that I had my car all pimped out in Jersey bling, I decided to make the biggest leap of all.  My cell phone.

For months I've been teased about my beloved 801 cell number.  I figured, who cares?  These days it does not matter what your area code is, right?  Why change?  But as time passed, repeating 801 hundreds and hundreds of times became painful.  Usually, the facial expression of the person hearing 801 was something between smelling rotting garbage and a swift kick in the crotch.  I marinated with the idea for weeks and, motivated by the brutally awful cell service around here for both AT&T (my iPhone) and Sprint (Deb and Elijah) and having made the decision to switch the entire family to Verizon, I decided to make the leap.  

This would be it, the last remaining strand of my Utahn identity would be deleted.  I would now be a full-on Jersey boy once again.  If you don't count the expired, old Zions Bank debit card with a beautiful landscape of the Wasatch Mountains on it that's buried in my wallet still, all the Utah is gone.

So, my dearest friends and family, I am back with both feet now.  Back with the humidity (I was sweating in February), the amazing Jersey drivers (you're number one, too!), Route 73 at rush hour, and incredibly "competitive" car insurance rates.  

The purpose of this prose?  To announce my NEW and IMPROVED contact information!  From this point forward, you shall refer to me as Jawdy from Joisey.

Jordan's cell:  (see Facebook posting for the actual numbers)
Debora's cell:
Elijah's cell:
Borenstein Residence Home Phone:

In addition, please add this new e-mail as I am moving from Comcast as well.  My new e-mail address is: jawdyb at gmail dot com

Please mark your smartphones, e-mail clients, Facebook accounts, Outlook Address Books, MySpace profiles and any other appropriate contact-info storage portals that may be in your employ.

It's good to be back.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ten Years

In roughly twelve hours from now, I will have been a father for ten years.

I remember the day vividly. We had been sent home from the hospital several times for false alarms and that sucked because the hospital was in Camden (Lady of Lourdes) and we lived in Cherry Hill.

Labor was awful and Deb didn't hold back her displeasure with the discomfort she was feeling. The nurses looked at me and told me that they were not allowed to hit her but since I was her husband, I could do whatever it took to calm her down. We were going to be bringing my parents their first grandchild and it would be the first boy on Deb's side of the family in around 25 years. It would be a historic moment and I knew that I would never forget any of it.

Of course, in the end, Deb delivered the most precious gift to us and to the world.

These ten years have not been slow to pass. No, they've been lightning fast - just like everyone told me they would be. Of course, we have had two more gifts since then with the arrival of Hannah and Sadie, but those are memories for another post.

Becoming a parent not only changed my life, it's practically made my previous life disappear. I don't have many memories of life before fatherhood. Most everything in my memory banks now involves the kids in some way. I am perfectly OK with that because, as I've said many times before, I believe the reason that I am on this earth is to be a Daddy. Now that I've been a Daddy for almost 25% of my lifespan, I feel like I am finally getting a grip on how to do this right. It's both the most wonderful and most challenging thing one could ever do and I would not trade it for anything in the world.

So thank you to my parents for teaching and preparing me for December 11, 1999. Thank you Deb for so perfectly marinating our son for nine months and for keeping it together on the table that morning. You did great. And Happy Birthday to life's most wonderful gift and the most remarkable and beautiful boy on the earth...

Elijah Jonathan Borenstein.

I love you!!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Coming Home

I've been slowly phasing out the blog at Jawdy's Basement in recent months.  This has been a work in progress now for six years and this is post number 210.  I've gone through phases with the blog throughout the years and have experienced times of incredible inspiration and times of incredible non-inspiration.  Over the last year or so, I have felt more uninspired than anything else and have therefore written far less posts.

It's funny because sometimes people will say to me, "just write something!"  They don't understand that I don't write for the sake of getting another tick on the number of posts chart.  I write because I am called to the computer to do so - no other reason.  I just have not been called to the computer to write much over the last 12-18 months or so.  Not your fault!  :-)

In addition to the inspiration factor, there's been Elijah's incredible journey into the best game in the land - Baseball.  He's become obsessed over the last 8-10 months and now knows more about most of the players than I do.  He's really gotten into Baseball Cards and I have jumped in with both feet with him.  As a result, I spend most of my creative computer time making videos on YouTube with Elijah as we open boxes of baseball cards and report the contents.  We have become quite popular over there and the number of YouTubers who have subscribed to Jawdy's Basement videos is now over 320.  Along with that venture, I have partnered up with another YouTuber named JoshSamBob as co-authors of the Baseball Card blog, Cardaholics Anonymous.  I've been posting there for the last month about the hobby.  Finally, there is the mighty Facebook.  I've been regularly updating the comings and goings there for the past year or so.

Anyway, I have no intention of closing Jawdy's Basement down here.  I am just waiting for the inspiration to return....which just may happen now that Jawdy's Basement is moving back to NJ.

It's a long story that I won't go into much here but I will give you some bullet points:
  • In Tuesday March 3, I got word from my corporate headquarters that the company was closing our Utah and Chicago branch locations
  • I was offered a job in NJ at the headquarters in a similar role
  • The job in NJ begins on April 6th, which gave me under four weeks to move my family of five to NJ
  • I laid off my entire staff on March 5th, an excruciating day that I hope to forget very quickly
  • I 've been spending some time in the office here in Utah wrapping up operations and boxing up items for shipment
  • My full-time job this month is preparing the house for sale, as it goes up on the market on April 1st
  • The five of us are flying to NJ on April 1st.  Four of us have one-way tickets.  Deb will return to Utah on the 11th and live in the house while it, hopefully, sells.
  • Elijah and Hannah are enrolled at Bret Harte school and Sadie will be at the JCC in Cherry Hill full time beginning on April 13th.
  • We will be living at my parent's house for the foreseeable least until the house in Utah sells.
Part of the "deal" that was cut with me from my employer is that, although they are giving me a job, there is NO relocation involved.  Zero.  Sooooo, doing some quick cost them just under $25,000 to move us here in 2006, and it will cost them NOTHING to move me back.  Yeah...that means selling all my stuff and going on the cheap.  So far, I have sold a leather couch, table and chairs, refrigerator, commercial freezer, BBQ, lawn mower, backyard furniture and the piano that has been in my family for over 45 years.  That last one was the biggest bummer but the buyers are close friends of mine here so I feel good that they will take care of it.

Once the house sells, I will take a long vacation and fly out here with Dad and a friend or two.  We will rent a truck and pack it with the stuff I have left.  Then drive it across the country and put the stuff in storage.

I am shipping one car on a carrier this Thursday so I have something to drive in NJ.

Crazy, huh?

The kids are happy.  Elijah's first words were, "I'M GOING HOME!!"  Says a lot, doesn't it?  Utah was never home for him.  The girls are excited too.  The adventure is over.  

So there's the update.  I am sneezing my way through the dust each day and donating literally thousands of pounds of stuff to Deseret Industries.  They are coming with a truck to haul away our goodies and there will be lots of underprivileged kids in Utah having great Christmases this year!

It will be starting from scratch back in NJ, that's for sure.  The good FAR outweighs the bad.  I've been doing a lot of thinking about that lately and made a little chart so I could really gauge the return fairly....

The Good
  1. Family.  I get to finally be a real uncle to Mick, who is two years old and slowly becoming a Mets fan.  That has to stop.  
  2. Friends.  Never connected with anyone out here that could compare.  I've missed my boys immensely.  Breakfast Club will return at the Country Club Diner and all will be well in the world.
  3. Jews.  Yes, yes, yes....I know.  Those who know me well are aware that I am not a big fan of the "yenta" neighborhoods.  However, I smiled when I realized that the week we return, the kids will have DAYS OFF for Passover.  Here, when you say Passover, they think you are referring to a highway.
  4. Food.  Mexican food is great here.  Best in the world....and I've eaten the food in Mexico.  However, the rest of it sucks.  They don't have good Chinese or Italian here.  The bagels suck.  The cream cheese is all whipped.  Whatever.  I need lox.  You ask for lox here and they send you to the hardware store.
  5. Education.  Overcrowding is a huge issue here in the youngest state in the country.  30 students in a classroom is too much.  Education is not Utah's strong point.  I am happy the kids get to return to an academic area where 10 year olds get their trust funds garnished if they get a 'B'.
  6. Philly, New York, The Shore.  Spencer and Lynne already have dates picked out for us to stay at the shorehouse with Spencer's parents.  Awesome.  I miss the cities and can't wait to return to Philly cheesesteaks and Tastycake.  Fugetaboutit.
  7. THE PHILS!  Elijah has a schedule and is circling the 82 games he wants to go to this season.  Next year I will have to re-up my season tickets so he can go yell at the players.  "WHAT THE CRAP, VICTORINO!!!!"
The Bad
  1. Climate.  There nothing like standing outside on a 70 degree day with 15% humidity and blue skies.  Nothing.  OK - better description - I didn't sweat here.  Yes, read that again.  It's true.  No sweat.  When I go to Philly, my head gets shiny and does not dull down...ever.  I am going to miss the climate here immensely.
  2. Nice People.  Go through the Drive-Thru at McDonalds here:  "Good afternoon Mister Sir.  What can I interest you in on this fine 70 degree day with 15% humidity?"  Smiles all the way.  In Cherry Hill?  "DUDE - you're up.  Waddaya want for lunch?"
  3. Money.  It goes way farther here.  WAY FARTHER.  Our home here is 2,300 square feet and we pay $2,000 per year in property taxes.  That's about a quarter's worth in NJ.  Car insurance - same thing.  It will cost the same amount for Sadie in daycare in NJ as it did for BOTH Sadie and Hannah here.
  4. Mountains.  Just amazing creatures, they are.  To experience a 30 degree temperature drop in a five mile drive from my house is amazing.  So much so that I would choose to vacation here in a second and probably will return in that capacity at some point in the future.
There are other things I will miss about Utah as well, like running my own office and working three miles from home.  However, NJ wins out on the important stuff.  Maybe the jerks at McDonald's will keep me from eating Big Macs.  Nah.  Let's not go that far....

So...there's the story.  Life starts a new chapter on April Fools Day, 2009.  I've always been a guy that has trouble thinking past his next fifteen minutes.  Honestly, I have no idea what the future brings.  In a way, it's another adventure just as the move to Utah was to be.  This time, though, one thing is for certain - the chapter won't end in another move.

Thanks for back to your regularly scheduled humidity.