A few short takes

A friend of ours organized a private showing of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 for 60 or so of us this morning. (Apparently if you show up with enough people and don't take away a prime showing time, some theatres will actually do this. Our showing was at 10:30AM.) We haven't seen the first movie, but we wanted to go for the social aspect at least. Reading the plot synopsis of the first one on Wikipedia was sufficient to be able to follow this one. We probably missed some in-jokes, based on when people were laughing when we weren't, but that's ok. Groot (Groot II? Groot Jr?) was very entertaining, and they had some fun schtick with him in the credits. (Do watch the closing credits.)

Instead of tickets we were given buttons, each of which had one of the characters. I didn't know these characters in advance, so I traded my "blue guy" for a "cute raccoon". My comics-reading friends tolerate me anyway. :-)

In completely other news... one of those "Jewish things" you might occasionally hear about is pidyon haben, the redemption of the firstborn. The idea is that firstborn sons "should" serve in the temple, but God instead assigned that duty to the tribe of Levi. Nonetheless, if a woman's first-born child is a male, the father needs to "redeem" the child by paying a kohein (a priest, a subset of Levi) a few silver coins. There's a ritual for it, which I have never seen.

The torah commands this not just for sons but also for certain first-born livestock. I remember, back when I first learned about this, asking a friend who is a kohein, "so, in principle if I have livestock I can make you take my first-born goat instead of paying you for it?". Funny, but he was reluctant to give me his shipping address after that. But anyway, this is a real thing (pidyon peter chamor), but most of us don't have livestock and never see it. But it's a mitzvah. So I learned today that a local organization has purchased three pregnant donkeys with the specific goal of performing this mitzvah. Two have already given birth to female offspring (and this only applies to males), but there's still one more chance. This sounds neat. (I do not know if the baby donkey is required to be present for the transaction or if it stays on the farm.)

Readers who use source-control systems might be interested in this article about Git usability. The graph of the Git learning curve is spot-on. This is timely for me, as I am in charge of migrating our documentation group from SVN to Git and, in the process, establishing a sane branching model.