Monday, October 27, 2008

The Jumping Elephant Returns

In a few days, Daf Yomi reaches Kiddushin 26b, and the famous Case of the Jumping Elephant. Those who missed my essay on this topic from two years ago can download it by clicking here (2.5 meg PDF file). This is a slightly updated edition. I'm always amazed at how many questions I still receive on this topic, and at how many of them would be answered if people who claim to have read my essay would actually read it carefully!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Great Escapes #2

Question: What's worse than having your pet snake escape?

Answer: Having your wife find it before you do.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Great Escapes

A few weeks ago, as I was going to bed, I heard a strange noise from downstairs: flollop-flollop-flollop. Going downstairs, I traced the noise to the bathroom. I entered to find a chinchilla paddling around in the toilet. This was not entirely unexpected; I had just captured one of my young chinchillas from my outside aviary, in order to sell it. I had placed it in my study in a cage which was old and somewhat broken, so its escape did not come as a complete surprise. I pulled the chinchilla out of the toilet, placed it back in the cage, patched up the cage, and all was well.

After selling this chinchilla, I captured two more from my aviary and placed them in a new cage in my study. Last night, in the middle of the night, my wife woke me to say that there was another strange sound from downstairs. This time, listening carefully, I realized that it wasn't the chinchillas; it was a child's voice saying "Hello Saba!" But my kids were sleeping in their beds. I went downstairs to my study to find my computer playing a video of my kids saying "Hello Saba!" The culprit was sitting on the keyboard, pressing the keys with his feet: an escaped chinchilla.

The fact that it pressed a combination of keys which resulted in playing a video is not only extraordinary; it was also extremely fortuitous. Had it not done so, I would not have been woken to recapture it, and it would have done a lot more damage (as it was, it chewed part-way through one of my books!). Thank God for a technologically advanced rodent! (Strangely, though, this rodent only used the keyboard, not the mouse.)

The story doesn't end there. This morning, I received an e-mail from the menahel of the yeshivah where I teach. He asked me why I had sent him an email full of gibberish. Yep... the chinchilla had sent him an email. It looked like gibberish to me too, but perhaps it was chinchillaspeak for "Help, get me out of this house!"

Anyway, I still have two chinchilla kits left for sale, so if you want to buy some of the adorable little Houdinis, be in touch!

Giant Spider - not for the squeamish

When I was in Kenya many years ago, I saw a huge orb-web spider, of the Nephila genus. It was the size of my hand, and its web was about eight feet across, with silk so strong that I could pluck it like a guitar string. Now one has been photographed catching a bird in its web! Click here for the full story. Several zoos, such as the National Zoo in Washington DC, have these spiders on webs that are not in cages - they are really incredible.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Travel to Africa in 2009!

I am putting together a luxury kosher safari in the first two weeks of July 2009. It's very expensive, but very worthwhile if you can afford it! We'll be going to South Africa, Zambia, and Botswana, and it will be the experience of a lifetime! Click here for more details.