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Ok, so it's been awhile since I've posted - my fault. So, let's see, I had Israel Q&A and Shabbat classes. Israel Q&A had Rabbi Schwartzman from one of the west metro shuls, and Shabbat had my rabbi, Rabbi Lutman. Israel Q&A was mostly Israeli history and government/military from the 50s to the 90s or so - he's very much a hawk, but was clear and upfront with his bias, and he carried such a strong feeling for Israel - it was almost like you could taste being there.

Shabbat covered some of the things we do on Shabbat, and how to do them - most of them I knew already and had started to do. I ended up going to shul that weekend at Bnei Havurah, since I've skipped the last few weeks of shul due not feeling up to getting/going out.

Separately, I've seen a cool (for me) movie - Walk on Water. It's got Hebrew _and_ German, shows parts of Israel and Germany - I understand more of the German than the Hebrew, of course, but it's cool that I can still follow the german sometimes..

Last Class

Ok, so we didn't have class over פסח (Passover/Pesach), so I skipped that week. Last week's class was over Lifecycles 1: Birth through Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Was taught by Rabbi TelRav. Good class, we discussed all sorts of things. Found out that one can do Upsherin on Lab B'omer in their second year, although Chabad.org seems to disagree (wow... Rabbis don't all agree? *mock surprise*).

Dunno if I'll be able to attend next class (and break my perfect attendance record!!!) because I'm attending my eldest's Kindergarten orientation that night. We'll see - if the orientation ends early enough I might go to class, but I might not.

Class on Israel

So, just got done with the class on Israel, taught by Rabbi Foster. We went over the history, the wars and some of the current relations with neighboring countries. I gave my presentation (Jewish jokes). The Rabbi poked fun at my "jokes", and gave some of his own. I knew both of them, haha. It was good fun, and the class itself was fun, and I learned that the missles from the Gaza strip can now almost reach Tel Aviv-Yavo. Wow.

Also met up with Rabbi TelRav earlier. We discussed some stuff, and we will continue to chat via email or phone. I'm going to try to get to a morning minyan someweekend over at Sinai. He's happy with my progress, and we'll meet up occasionally I'm sure as I progress down my path.

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Class - Holocaust

This last class was over the Holocaust. We covered the expanded timeline (as compared to what we were taught in high school), and how it was not just death camps, there was a very strong financial component, as well. Some of how Germany was in just the right condition when it started to happen was also covered.

Separately, I went to Temple Sinai this Shabbat. I went to Friday night services, and then a "Mincha" service on Saturday afternoon. It was pretty interesting - most of the core group of people from Sinai were traveling in Israel, so it was just a few of us. We discussed the first sentence of the first chapter of Pirkei Avot. Observant readers will recall that this is what Rabbi Lutman had me studying - so I was able to lend a little insight of my own to the discussion. :)

I'm liking Temple Sinai, but I want to see how well my family takes to the place, and also how I get along with the core group of people. I like some of the people over at Bnei Havurah, but Temple Sinai probably has more to offer a family. I'm not sure I see much of a difference between Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism, but I'm sure to a Rabbi there's more difference than what I see.

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Two weeks worth of posting

Ok, so I forgot to make my weekly posting last week, which means I have to do both now. So, last week the class had Rabbi Jay TelRav. AWESOME RABBI. Energetic, organized but his method of organizing the class is to include plenty of time for questions, he didn't keep us late (bonus points!), and we learned a lot about the different parts of prayer, why, etc.. He wanted everyone to know they could always ask him a question, and to "collect rabbis, like trading cards, and I'm willing to be one of your rabbis you collect." Very approachable, and open-minded. Apparently I need to re-evaluate Temple Sinai, and being that it's closer to home than any other shul it would be cool if I could fit in there (although I recently discovered that Shauna from my Micah days is Membership chair at Bnai Havurah, yay!).

Ok, now to Rabbi Black. I feel like having him here, and with Rabbi Foster now semi-retired, it's like new blood can come in. Rabbi Foster is a great rabbi, don't get me wrong, but sometimes you have to shake things up, and breaking the switch to the ark (so it can't close) is a great way to start. :) Just kidding, but he did do that. I really look forward to seeing how he changes things at Emanuel. This class was about finishing up prayer, some of the when and where. We did a synagogue tour, but I've been at this long enough there wasn't too much I didn't know, EXCEPT that Emanuel uses a CANDLE for their Ner Tamid! I was astonished when I saw that. Apparently it's a 7-day candle. Awesome.
Okay, had a class on Talmud Thursday. The Rabbi who was teaching it was EXCELLENT. He managed the class well, even when disruptive people tried to interject (which is just human nature once a group gets big enough). He used analogies that any modern person could understand. One such good one was speeding 39 on a 35 MPH street. American "oral law" says it's ok to speed a little over the speed limit, but it's not written down. He expounded on many "oral laws" that we have in American society, and also handled one person's objections to the analogies really well.

He's a Conservative Rabbi who isn't running a shul - he runs a camp that moved to Denver awhile back. Pretty cool.

We also discussed the assignment a little bit - to write ourselves into Jewish history somewhere. Since it's a little light on requirements, I chose to write a version of myself into 1948 in Israel. Looked up all sorts of info: cars available in Israel at the time, immigration patterns, google maps of Tel Aviv area, etc. I just finished the first draft of it, actually. Now I'll let it stew a little.

We didn't do much of a Shabbat this weekend, maybe next weekend.

Pirkei Avot

Wow, ok, so catch up time. My Rabbi told me I really should keep a journal at least for as long as I'm in the conversion class. It should help me with my final paper - I'm thinking it's something to the effect of "compare how you were at the beginning and end", or "how have you changed as a result of the class"? Anyways, so I'm now Director of Technology at The mGive Foundation - an exciting change for me. I get to create a new, clean system from scratch - not something I get to do at most jobs (most jobs meaning I come in and have to maintain something already in existence). My diet never got too far. We've replaced most of our kitchen applicances now - the oven and the fridge both within the last month. About the only thing I haven't replaced in there is our washer *knock on wood*.

So, as far as the conversion class, I've attended an intro class, Jewish History 1 and 2, ADL and a class on the 4 major branches of Judaism. Jewish History 1 and 2 were fun - sadly we only got to about 200 CE (AD for you Christian types) and so my Rabbi has assigned me some light reading to get me caught up on Jewish history until around 1800 or so (when the reform movement and the orthodox movement started to split from each other in a more formal way). I also have an assignment to write myself into Jewish history, somewhere, as a Jew. I'm excited about it, but it's hard to decide when and where. I think I might try 1950's Israel, or perhaps New York. I'm unsure. Gotta decide soon, I only have 3 weeks left.

I was meeting with the Rabbi today and I happened to mention Pirkei Avot - silly me! Now I'm reading about a chapter a week, which along with commentaries is bound to make anyone's head get a little muddled. Just the first chapter (along with all the commentary I can find online) is a huge amount of reading for me. Well at least tomorrow night's class is on Talmud - should be interesting!

HyperV vs VMWare ESXi

Let me start off by saying, I haven't had time for working on HornetQ - sadly work has been, um, a wee bit crazy recently, but I hope to get back to it. I've tweaked a few things with my ApacheMQ instance at home and now it's running happier.

Now that that's taken care of, I'll also start off by saying I want to like HyperV 2008 R2. I really did - the idea of Live Migration in a free product that I can use at home (or wherever) is pretty cool. Sadly, there are three critical problems with HyperV for me: 1) the linux support sucks, 2) no memory overcommit, and 3) when not in a cluster and not using the Guest Integration pieces, moving a VM causes it (Windows OR Linux guest) to see a different network card, thereby removing the static IP. All together, these things make me scream that I'm going back to ESXi - it may not have live migration, but I can overcommit memory, it's linux support is just as good as windows guests, and if I move a VM it still sees the same network 'card' so I don't end up with "eth3" where there's no "eth0"-"eth2" (yeah, that one puzzled me for awhile). Oh, and ESXi can run off a flash drive, so if I want to take a box that doesn't have a drive in it I can still use it for virtualization, which is pretty useful at home and would be pretty useful at work too.

Java SUX

Have I mentioned recently how much I hate Java? I hate how either everyone assumes you're running Tomcat or some other similar J2EE container/app server, or they assume you are a Java expert and know what the heck a jndi.properties file is. I hate how StompConnect has, like, NO documentation on how to actually run it with various specific examples. It's not like it would be hard for them to have a table, and say, "Ok, if you want to work with JBoss 1.x, put *this* in your jndi.properties file, use *this* command line, and make sure you have jars A, B, and C in the same folder as our jar D when you run" and then, "If you want to connect to HornetQ, do *this* and *that* and some more of *this*." Instead they just talk a little about how it's great to use STOMP to connect to JMS, and that you should use your JMS jars, but then they leave their own jars in the lib folder, even though none of the documentation tells you you have to put everything in one folder or do even more work specifying where all of the jars are! And then trying to figure out why the "main" class isn't getting called when you type EXACTLY what someone else did and it just doesn't work is just wonderful, the 60+ lines of stacktrace really doesn't help one bit.

I just want to run HornetQ, as a standalone app/server/daemon, and then, since I use C#, apparently I have to use STOMP, and therefore I have to use "StompConnect" to connect with HornetQ, but I'm completely unable to get StompConnect to see my HornetQ JMS jars, or connect to HornetQ, and therefore the whole thing (StompConnect + HornetQ) is worthless to me. I will *NOT* reimplement STOMP, or make my own protocol, just to use JMS.

I want to use HornetQ, since RabbitMQ has issues with blowing up if it runs out of memory (it doesn't page queued messages to disk - all of them must remain in memory at all times), ZeroMQ doesn't even mention C# (or Java), MSMQ seems to have issues with having multiple clients on the same queue without having them pull the same message (oh, it works if you just use BeginReceive/EndReceive, but then if the function that processes the message blows up I want to be able to rollback the transaction, which the async calls don't support, and I stopped doing blocking message queues (i.e. Receive function with a MessageQueueTransaction object) years ago as it sucks CPU like thin air), and ApacheMQ has issues once queues get large enough (like, say, 60K in a queue causing KahaDB to corrupt itself, or issues with producers disconnecting causing stacktraces and eventually memory leaks). I really want a good, easy to use (simple send/receiveWithRollback semantics, I serialize stuff for myself kthx) and scalable message queue system *that I can use from C#*. I don't want to move over to Java. See title of this post regarding my love of the language. Do I *have* to write my own MQ system, really? I'd rather put my time into other things, like learning to fly hot air balloons by using televangelists to generate the hot air.

HyperV 2008 R2

HyperV Server 2008 R2 **rocks**. I just setup a couple of R610s from Dell and used an old PowerEdge 2850 box as a file server/witness - even over a crappy 100MB switch it wasn't bad performance (not great, but not as bad as I expected). Yes, before it goes into production I'm going to setup a dedicated storage box, with a gigabit network just for storage access, another just for migrations and then a 100 MB connection for management and another for the VMs to access themselves (as this is just a test infrastructure so we don't need super-speed for the internal testing team). The Live Migration is also killer (and NOT a feature of ESXi, it's direct VMWare equivalent). It took me awhile to figure out that I need to not use the HyperV management tool and just use the Cluster Admin tool instead, but now Live Migration works even with legacy guests like Ubuntu. Too bad Windows doesn't support NFS shares as a client - I'd just map our OpenSolaris storage box I've already got for VMWare as a drive and go that route :(. This also explains why the R610s come with 4 builtin NICs...