Thursday, December 31, 2009

Houston Again.

I have received numerous emails and complaints about the lack of a New Year's Eve party this year. Most of you would struggle to make the trip here to Houston if we made it here in any case (airport security is a bitch I hear after some poor fool tried to set his underwear ablaze). But there will be a party one of these days, you have my word.

Last night we met our friends Jon ans Pam and their kids who grew up with our two when we lived here. We were treated to a wonderful dinner at one of those Japanese restaurants complete with a guy cooking, chopping and cutting in front of us on the grill. The show was fantastic and the cook was quite the juggler. We have been eating non stop and it will be serious diet time once we get back. I forgot the camera so we have no pictures unfortunately.

Our vacation here is running down and the sadness at leaving my family is growing, not to mention my terror at how we are going to fit everything bwo has bought into the suitcases. The fun is just beginning.

I wish all of you a wonderful 2010. I hope everything you wish for yourselves comes true and that there be joy in your hearts. I remember being a little kid and thinking that I would be forty years old in the year 2000. It seemed so old and far away then. Now it's ten years later and I will reach the big five-oh this year. Ten years back we spent New Year's Eve Y2K at home in Sunnyvale, knowing that in six months we would be moving to Israel. These last ten years have passed, packed with a new life, new friends, new work, new challenges and teenagers - yet all this seems to have flown by in the wink of an eye. I've been lucky, it's been good.

Happy New Year peeps, play safe.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


We visited the Houston Museum of Fine Arts today. I was very surprised at how excellent it is. The artwork is wonderful. They have an exhibition of Korean art that we all found fascinating.

But here check this out. Totally unrelated. The Weird Book Room. Some of these books need reading.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Another Fine Day in Texas

Today we had a busy Houston day. We started out at the Aquarium. Very nice actually. Nearly all the pictures have Dylan in them, she is most present.
Dylan was very impressed with the jellyfish.
The aquarium has white tigers. I have no idea what tigers have to do with aquariums but this is Texas. They were very cute.
This is the Houston downtown skyline as seen from the aquarium ferris wheel. We liked the reflections in the glass. It was freezing up there in the wind.
Then we stopped off at the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. The kids had never been there before and it was a necessary experience.
We sat next to the Steve Tyler booth. That's his pajama/concert suit in the background.
We then went to visit Rice University. The kids decided that that is where they want to go. Now all we need is for Rice to accept them.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Sorry no post today. It has been a busy Sunday here in Texas. We made brunch for some friends of the family, went to visit Grandpa Ben's grave and stopped in at Taco Bell. We are having big fun. The ladies have been trying to be careful with their buying. Personally, I went to Costco yesterday because blackwifeo was worried about spending too much if she went. I have to say that I have most everything I need and am not interested in shopping at all. There are some books I need but I am being careful. All I have bought so far are 10 pencils and a nice sharpener.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

More Family

We don't have a particularly large family, especially on my dad's side, so I was overjoyed to get an email yesterday from some lost cousins in Denmark. My dad's uncle's granddaughter (you work it out), googled my dad and found a video of the family on Youtube. Her father recognized my late dad and she sent a charming email in perfect English, introducing herself (Nathalie, 29 lives in Copenhagen). The internet has some definite pluses. I remember when I was barely 11 or so, my parents shlepped me to Arhus in Denmark, where my Uncle Jankle lived. We stayed a few days in Copenhagen which I totally loved, we even took a hovercraft to Malmo Sweden for the day. Uncle Jankle and his wife Rivka came to South Africa for my Bar Mitzva. He could not speak a word of English and the adults communicated in Yiddish as we traveled around (we went to Durban I seem to recall). We kind of lost touch with the Danish branch after most of that generation died.

Anyway, Natalie is a financial reporter and spells her last name in the traditional way, just as before the South African authorities shortened it (with a y instead of an i, and a ski on the end). My dad would have been so happy, he loved finding family. Hopefully we will get to meet Natalie one of these days, she is coming to Houston in the spring. Cool.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Three Morning Star Farms Veggie Bacon Strips, nuked for 30 secs. One Bagel Shop bagel toasted, smothered with some "Pardon Me, would you have any", Grey Poupon. Ahhh, the breakfast of champions.

Houston Early Morning Day Something Or Another

It's just after 5am here. I not really jet lagging any more, just getting into my usual sleeping pattern of getting up very early. There is a wonderful storm going on outside. The lightening is lighting up the sky as the rain pelts down as it can here in Houston. We are having a great time with the family. We have spent quality time with the nephews and their children and with my mom and siblings. All four of us have been feeling a little poorly, Jo and I have colds, D has a "little white spot on her throat today" and G is just G, and he never felt good in his life.

The girls have been shopping, but I know the real buying bonanza will only come after this Christmas weekend. They have a strict budget, lets hope they can stick to it. I have to say I like it here, even the nauseating Christmas music played everywhere is not getting me down. I have eaten some excellent burritos and very good Indian food. Still haven't had any chips - maybe I can convince them to buy me some when they go off to the supermarket later. Christmas is the only day that most of the shops are closed, so we are laying in supplies for a big Friday night curry fest. While they know how to make excellent bagels (I'm munching on a toasted one now) the red peppers cost $1.50 each - no kidding.

Stay safe all you peeps - and a Merry Christmas for those who care.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Let's Eat

The whole family went to eat at Sweet Tomatoes tonight. The food was excellent. I have been missing my daily lunch salad, and here they had fresh salads you build yourself. The family was in good spirits and very noisy. Except for little Ben (sitting there all on his own), he had a touch of the miseries (it's genetic in the males of the family). It is excellent to be here with my family - they're the best.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Road Trip

This morning we set out early fot Austin, Texas. We went to visit the University of Texas, because there is some chance blacksono will end up being educated there.
Not road trip is complete with out a stop for a "grand slam" breakfast at Denny's. There were huge pancakes, eggs, hashbrowns and one of us needed sausage and bacon - I'll let you guess who.
This is the clock tower at UT. Blackdaughtero was facinated by the fact that some nutter shot up 19 people from the bell tower back in '66. Now she too would like to go there.
We let bdo lose with the camera, and so ended up with about 79 pictures of the big Texas sky. It is big, I tell you.
Then she became fascinated with some of the huge signs all over Texas. It's Christmas here.

I could not believe how many pickup trucks there were on the road. Not believable. I drove my brother's Prius. It made me most nostalgic for the black beauty, pre-Insight. All in all UT looks like a wonderful place. Everyone was most polite and well mannered. I think it would be a great place to go to college. Nice road trip.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Houston - day 2

It was Saturday and so time for an outing. We decided to go visit the Houston museum of natural sciences. It was very cool. We took my brother along, her wasn't trilled but took part none the less.
The whole family outside the museum. Aren't we a happy lot.
Here we are.
These are real bones. Pretty cool stuff they have. It's all donated by oil companies, because oil is sort of dinosaur juice.
No words needed.
Last night on the way home from supper we stop to take some photos of the Christmas Lights. These are just the beginning, we will take more exiting ones as our stay progresses.

Friday, December 18, 2009


We're in Houston, Texas. A long flight with much complaining and gnashing of teeth, but we are here. I have pictures to post as I gave bdo the camera to keep her quiet for a bit on the flight from Newark to Houston. I will the post pictures later when we get back from Friday night dinner. The shower here is still one of the best in the world.

It's now 2:50am, the boy and I are up jetlagging. He has polished off two frozen breakfast burritos and is looking to spend some early morning hours catching up on some Amurrican TV. I am posting some of bdo's pictures.

This is sunrise over Newark Liberty International Airport. This is the view from the Terminal C, gate 120.
Mother and son after a 12 hour flight and 357 movie choices. Both looking forward to another 4 plus hours on a plane to Houston. Someone actually lost a cat on the flight and as we were taxiing to take off, the flight attendant walked around trying to find who's cat it was. The owner was asleep, so it took 10 minutes of confusion to get it all sorted.
Daughter's interesting composition, entitled "sleeping father, planning daughter - on flight CO112".
"Is this heaven?" they asked. "No, it's Taco Bell". These two have been waiting four years for this. We stopped in the on way out of the airport for a quick snack. Of course, the first round had meat in all the burritos, so bwo had to go back in and get them to fix it.
The ex-Transco tower, now Marathon Oil tower, outside the grandmother's retirement community. This picture is taken from the valet parking area - which should explain a lot.

There will be more.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Airport

10 minutes to boarding and I realized I forgot to post a blog today. The wife and daughter are in the duty free, the son is sitting next to me here at gate C8 complaining about his sore back. We have a long flight to Newark and then a short flight to Houston. It's rainy and windy outside, perfect weather to be in an airplane. I already feel cramped and cranky. Why is everything to do with airplanes and airports always so sharp and metallic. These must be the least comfortable chairs in the world. We are sitting here watching the Continental aircrew have their iced-coffees, they are quite a rag-tag lot. They could do with some sprucing up. I hope the ladies make it back from the shopping in time to board. The boy and I are going into our seats as soon as we can, and then to sleep. See you on the other side of the world.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Travel Time

The final rush is on. We are off to the US of A tomorrow night and so there is a mad scramble to make sure we have packed everything. Blackwifeo, ever proactive when it comes to shopping has taken two huge extra suitcases - I am sure they will return full to bursting. I am struggling to get my stuff done. The clothes are no issue, it's all the electronics that gets me down. The cell phones and their chargers (local and US), the laptop and its charger. The cameras, ipods, headphones etc. etc. Not to mention the passports and other travel docs. Oh and the traveling pharmacy, that's a huge headache (I've actually had one for to days now). Maybe I should just stay home - Naaah never. I'm starting a pool for how many pounds we will return to Israel with. The maximum (allowable) is 8 suitcases of 50 pounds (23Kg) - 400 pounds. Place your bets, the winner will get a packet of Jalapeno flavored Texas style chips - they're worth winning.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On the 5th Night, with 7 burning candles

Heya all

When my father told me that its my turn to write the blog today I was'nt really sure what to think.
Ok...lets back up a bit so that I can explain the background of the situation.

Today is the 5th night of Hannuka, which means that today it has been 5 years since my Grandpa Ben passed away.
Although I have had time to accept and understand what happened, it still hurts sometimes and I was not really sure if I was ready to confront it.
Well....Here it goes.
Today, 5 years ago, I went through one of the hardest days of my life. Why you ask? Well...Because I lost one of the most important people in the world to me. My Grandpa Ben was an incredible person, who loved me more then anything in the world...I was his baby girl. He was, and still is, my role model and I hope that I will be able to live a long and amazing life like he did. It is hard dealing with death, especially when you are only eleven and on the other end of the world from the person you know you should be with. I remember how hard it was for me back then, knowing that I will never see him or hear his voice again. His death really shocked me because just a few months earlier he had been healthy, and the idea of Leukemia had never crossed our minds. I am sure you all know how hard it is to say goodbye to a loved one...Well, I had to say goodbye to him 3 times. And each time hurt as much as the previous.
but enough with the weepy weepy emo stuff...
Grandpa, I love you and I miss you.
I hope you know how much you mean to me, and what a huge impact you had on my life.
I know that I might not see you for a while, but I know that you are looking down on me from where ever you are.
I hope I have made you proud, and that I accomplish everything you wanted me to.
You lived a long and amazing life, and I will always remember the lessons you taught me.
I will never forget the times that we had. I still remember how you used to sing to me, and play cards with me...I even remember how you spent half of your time while visiting Israel, teaching me maths. You meant more to me then anyone else in the world, and the impact you had on my life is eternal.
I just wish I could have had more time to spend with you.
I will never forget how you used to take me to macdonalds after school, or play casino with always let me win.
So today, five years ago, I lost someone who meant the world to me...But I will never lose the love, lessons and memories that you gave me.
I hope that you are not disappointed in me and that I never let you down..Sometime people lose their way, but eventually someone is always there to show them the way to go home.
I will cherish the time we had and the memories you left me as long I as I live...or at least until senility gets me.
I will always love and miss you.

Your ONLY Grandaughter Dylan that that sob fest is over, I would like to remind you all what day it is today! is not the day before final exams which I should be studying for (Ok....maybe it is)
But it is also Tunes for!

The first video I am gonna show you is a video to a song my Grandpa loved very very much. I don't know how crazy about this version he would be, but I love it.
This song has a lot of meaning to me and my family. I remember how hard it was for me to hear it the first few years after his death. But this song also bring back memories of me and my family driving along Loch Lomond listening to this very song...I never did see Nessie.
So Here it is

Loch Lomond by Runrig

The second video is a song which always reminds me of my Grandpa. He taught me to sing this song when I was about 10. I still have a video of us singing it together, but Im not really sure where it year I'll upload it.
This song seems to have accompanied me through the years and plays itself in my head when I think of my Grandpa, or in general when I feel kind of lost.
This is one of the songs which I will never forget, in fact, I could not really settle on which video to use because until 15 minutes ago I had never heard anyone sing it accept me and my Grandpa...When this song plays itself in my head, I do not hear some recorded version. I hear my Grandpa singing it to me. And that my friends, is the best version of them all.
Well, I guess I better show you all the video, because all that I am doing at the moment is making myself cry.

The video itself might be pretty lame, but I love the song.

Show Me The Way To Go Home

So there it is......

Happy Hannuka everyone!
And remember, that Death is not the end.


Monday, December 14, 2009


Jenya's latest creation is this "bird's nest atop lamp". Clearly she is not your usual cleaner, and there is a serious Russian artist struggling to get out. The "eggs" are painted ping-pong balls. Look closely, these are not just dotted with a white board marker, but there is a two tone shell-like coating. I think the feather is a particularly nice touch. She told Carmit, "we needz more natuural" around here. Excellence in any form, I say.

Talking about excellence I have to give credit where it is due. The boy got his call up for the IDF a while back. There is an enlistment web site that one can go to and check one's status. Anyway, a letter arrived inviting him for a pre-army driving course. The problem is this falls during the time we are away. Actually he does not really want to be a driver in the army, so I thought I would call and find out what's up. I got through with no problem. The person on the line was extremely polite and efficient. He understood my predicament and immediately transferred me to the correct extension, where another extremely polite and efficient young lady politely explained to me that he does not need to show up and that if he is not interested in becoming a driver she will cancel his invitation. I commented that I was most impressed by the professionalism of their website and call in service, and was told that this is all outsourced - it's clearly not your father's IDF.

Now if only the actual service was this organized - maybe they should outsource the whole dammed army.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I'm terrible. On days that I walk to work I just get so hungry that I eat all sorts of junk. I was pretty good until I got home this evening. I ate some leftovers for supper and then got stuck into three quarters of a tube of jalapeno Pringles, some Hannukah gelt and then chewy candies. The thing is that I can justify it to myself because I did some exercise today - of course, I burned nowhere near as much calories and I just consumed. Horrible. Now I am going to have to drink two liters of water just to cover the huge MSG thirst I have just worked up. What's more I just a referral for a blood test to check my high triglycerides. Agggg. (The chips were good though - and it's only days till I can eat real Texan chips - the good life).

Way to go Houston Texas. They elected their first openly gay mayor. Congratulations Annise Parker.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Megiddo II

We woke up to a rainy, windy Saturday morning. The boy and I set out to revisit Megiddo. I am thinking (seriously) of joining the dig there in the summer and wanted to check it out again. It is only about an hour drive, and the roads were deserted. We stopped outside Umm-el-Fachem to buy bagele and zataar. The fresh bagele went down well with the coffee.
The wind was pretty fierce and blacksono took the job of getting the gazia to stay alight very seriously. Here he is shielding the flame with his coat.
This is what a very wet Megiddo looks like. This is the area that the University of Chicago dug up years back. Lots of Bronze Age temples and stuff. I think it will be excellent to dig here in the summer.
The boy kept saying that the views from the top of the Tel do not look like Israel at all. With all that greenery it could almost be England (not quite).
We climbed down into the water system as the rain started. The amount of work that must have gone into these tunnels is staggering. Considering it was all done by hand. Slave labor accomplished some remarkable things.
This is the long flat part of the water tunnel that runs parallel to the ground for about 80 meters. Totally cool.
I think this same frog was there when I was there in the summer. He is quite cute.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Happy Hannukah Ya'll- It's first night of The Festival of Lights this evening and I, Blackwifeo aka Jo, have decided to bite the bullet and make my own Sufganiot (Jelly doughnuts).
It just pains me that Roladin Bakery charges 8 shekels per doughnut. That is about $2 each. Its a total huztpah. Ok, granted that Roladins sofganiot are to die for- but really, 2 bucks? What a ripoff.

So I went online and found a great recipe by Mirj,  my favorite Jewish cook on and seriously, it was not hard at all.  Just so you know,  I decided not to put jelly in them, but instead made some with chocolate ganache, white chocolate, plain powdered sugar and dulce de'leche.
I am pretty chuffed with the results. Give it a try guys.


(Hanukkah Jelly Doughnuts)

These plain or jelly-filled doughnuts are a favorite treat in Israel and a sweet alternative to the traditional latkes. Few people say no to doughnuts and this variety fits any appetite. I generally make a double batch of dough, refrigerate it and pinch off portions as I need for fresh treats or for taking along to a Chanukah party. by Mirj

50 min | 40 min prep
42 doughnuts
  1. Whisk together the yeast, water and sugar, salt, oil, egg yolks, egg, vanilla and lemon extract.
  2. Blend well and stir in most of the flour to form a soft dough.
  3. Knead by hand, machine or in bread machine (dough setting), adding flour as needed.
  4. The dough should have some body, not too slack, supple, smooth and elastic.
  5. Place in a greased plastic bag and refrigerate at least 2 to 4 hours or overnight.
  6. If you are in a hurry, allow dough to rest at least 20 minutes, then proceed.
  7. If dough has risen at all, punch or flatten down, then pinch off pieces and form into small balls, about the size of golf balls.
  8. Otherwise, roll dough out to about three-quarters of an inch.
  9. Using a two and half inch or three inch biscuit cutter, cut out rounds.
  10. Cover and let sit 15 minutes while heating oil.
  11. In a deep fryer, or heavy dutch oven, heat about four inches of oil or a combination of oil and melted shortening.
  12. Add the doughnuts to the hot oil (temperature should be about 375 F.) and fry until the undersides are deep brown.
  13. Turn over once and finish frying the other side.
  14. Lift doughnuts out using a slotted spoon and drain well on paper towels.
  15. To fill, make a small opening and spoon in jam or jelly, or just sprinkle lightly with regular or extra fine granulated sugar by shaking doughnuts in a paper bag.
  16. Test oil temperature: It's a good idea to try frying one doughnut to start with.
  17. Once the doughnut seems done, take it out and cut it open to see if the inside is cooked.

Go Settle Elsewhere.

I just can't let this by. I have been getting more and more pissed off at those "settlers" that seem to be taking up more and more of our news lately. Their outrage at the "freeze", their bible bashing hypocrisy and their down home beards and knitted kipot are pissing me off. Nothing makes me madder than to hear about their exploits cutting down Palestinian olive groves and harassing their neighbors. Netanyahu, groveling to these violent fanatics as usual, claimed last week we're all brothers. They are no brothers of mine. Let them start their own state and leave us be. They are a law unto themselves anyway and the police and army ignore their criminal exploits.

Now their latest headline catching act is just plain disgusting. Who does this kind of thing? Write "we will burn you all" on the walls of a mosque. Vandalize it, set it alight and burn holy books. This is exactly what we Jews suffered for centuries. These are no brothers of mine. And we are outraged that there is talk in the UK of labeling goods from the west bank. Honestly if goods from the west bank were labeled here, I would think twice of buying them myself.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Today's weather was perfect. It was chilly this morning, a bright sunshiny day and crisp and cool this evening. I walked home and listened to the discovery of ancient civilizations. I learned all about Austen Henry Layard's uncovering of Nineveh. Excellent stuff. Not a bad way to end a tiring week. I'm off to sleep.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Car Problems

(NOTE: In this post I will use the traditional words I used when growing up, none of this American horn and honking - I will use hooter and hooting - screw the restaurant chain).

I have two serious issues with my new Honda Insight. In general it's not a bad car. As I have said before the mp3 is nice. It does a good job of going from here to there. Firstly, I have no idea how to keep the window demisted without turning on the air conditioner. Back in the old days, before a/c in cars, somehow we were able to drive in winter without the window fogging up immediately. It used to be that blowing warmish air through the demisters onto the windshield would clear the fog. This just does not work any more. If I don't put on the a/c then the windshield just gets foggier and foggier until I need to stick my head out the side window to see. I need help here people.

The bigger issue is the hooter. The Prius had a great hooter. The sound was twice the size of the car. When you hooted at some fool that was blocking the straight lane because they wanted to turn left and were not interested in waiting in line, they really knew it. This Insight has an 80% hooter. It's really for a car that is only around 50% of the size of this car. It is completely namby pamby. A quiet and polite Japanese paarp paaarp. When you hoot people look down for the toy car in the road. Not good at all. I hear that the best hooter is to be found on a Fiat Uno. It's sounds like a semi trailer and more importantly rings DLM directly. If only I had DLM's cell phone number perhaps this pathetic hooter would not bother me so much.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush

Shirley pointed me to the following song. It's getting harder for me to find things that I want to put up on a Tuesday, so I got some outside help. I have always liked this song. Peter Gabriel is one of my very best and I have always had a soft spot for Kate Bush. Even though the video is a little kitsch, the words are so very powerful. I think it's one of the better expressions of the teetering at the edge of despair, and the voices that hold us back.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pictures of the Day

I was looking forward to the leftover curry for dinner. There is nothing better than some two day old curry when you get home from a long, hard day at the salt mines. It was not to be. Aziza, the maid, turfed out the perfectly good curry, while cleaning the fridge today. Apparently, she told the wife that "it smelled funny". I am sure it did, it smelled like curry. It is hard to too angry as she made us these delicious stuffed peppers to make up. They are nice and peppery, still they would have gone well with some curry on the side.
Now for something completely different. I could'nt resist taking a picture of Jenya's, the cleaning lady at squint central, latest creation. These are the flower pots outside the elevators - she painted the lovely flowers on the bases. Words cannot describe. It's quite scary how her art is spreading. One of these days we will have frescoes of pastoral scenes on all our office walls.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fried Kreplach

My cousin Phillip still lives in the old country. He is one of the owners of Moyo, an African style restaurant chain which it seems is one of the reasons we need to go back and visit. Anyway, he demanded that I delve into the family archives and find the recipe for my mother's fried kreplach. As I explained in a previous post (complete with picture) these are a family tradition and cousin Phillip has been pining for about 30 years.

So I put in a call to the holder of the recipe, blacksistero. She sent me the current (actually 2007) version. I then called mother to ask permission to post this recipe for the world. She laughed, "anyone who is foolish enough to want to make these, let them go ahead - it's a huge job". So here goes. To preserve for future generations, my mother's (non-vegetarian) fried kreplach recipe, that she got from her mother in Lithuania and as noted down by blacksistero.

5 lbs. ground beef.
11/2 very large onions.
In Bowl: Mix together, meat, chopped onions, 4 Tablespoons ketchup, 4 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 cup of water, 2 Tablespoons soup powder, salt and pepper. Divide the meat into two and pack each half into a flat pie dish.
In Microwave: Cook for 5 mins. Turn over and season. Cook for another 5 mins. Do NOT drain off the juice. Repeat for second dish.
In Food Processor: Grind up meat in 4 separate sections adding about 3 Tablespoons juice to each one. Return to bowl, stir and season with salt and pepper if necessary.
In Fridge: Store overnight.

1 dozen XL eggs.
approx. 8 cups flour.
Makes 2 batches, so follow this method with each batch.

Make the dough from 6 eggs, 2 1/2 egg shells of water and approx. 4 cups of flour. One you have this in a dough, divide it into 4 sections.
Roll out on the floured area and salt over (O.K. so this is the hard part. The dough has to be very thin but still pliable. The salt thing is an old Rose Lang trick where you salt the top of the dough and then run it over with the rolling pin, this helps the sides stick together. The rolling pin used is the one made by my grandfather - he was a cabinetmaker, I'm proud of him). Only my mother really knows how to do this part properly, and this is why she has no problem giving out the recipe.
Cut the dough into squares (first into strips vertically then horizontally). Put a dollop of meat on each square and pinch closed (the salt apparently helps keep it closed).

Boil the kreplach in a large pot of boiling water for 8 minutes - they rise to the top when done. Strain and rinse and let cool.
Repeat the whole process with the second batch.

They can now be put into the fridge or freezer for a while. Before serving, defrost and fry in oil until golden brown. Eat immediately while hot. They are excellent.

One batch makes about 100 or so.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

We Bunked

I opened my eyes at 5:30am this morning and took inventory of my body and life and went back to sleep. I had it all planned. The boy and I were going to Tel Kabri, just east of Nahariah, about 2 hours drive each way. The prospect of all that driving was just too much for me this morning, so I rolled over and went back to sleep. I figure it's OK to take a Saturday off once in a while - especially since yesterday was a working day at squint central due to a deadline. I know how much these archaeology Saturdays mean to all of you :-) so I apologize. Next week.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Just another Friday at the homestead.

I thought you would like a few pictures to see you through the weekend. Jenya the cleaner at squint central left us another one of her "art works". This is strategically placed on the wall outside the door to the smokers patio. It's worth looking at her hand written message (I quote) "without comentaries but the least is batter".

We decided at around 10am this morning we would invite both our extended families for a curry dinner tonight. We got home at 1:30pm and started cooking. It's now nearly five and the house is still upside down, but the food looks great. This is the dining room table.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I struggled to find something to write about today. My cousins warned me that I had better not lose a day or they will taunt me forever. So I have been sitting here for a while looking at the news thinking what I would write about. I think the whole Tiger Woods having an affair hysteria is boring. Chelsea Clinton is going to marry a Jewish bloke - we make good husbands. Another of our religious brethren in the Knesset put his foot in his mouth and claimed he would rather employ men over women as he would "prefer his month in reserves to her six month maternity leave." So the Israel Women's Network filed a complaint Thursday with the attorney general and the Knesset Ethics Committee. Let's see how far this gets them.

But the thing I have been most fascinated about over the last week or so is the minaret referendum in Switzerland. The Swiss held a vote Sunday to decide whether to allow the building of minarets on mosques or not. They nixed the minarets with 57% of the Swiss voting against what their fear of the "Islamization of Switzerland". This seems a little intolerant don't you think? Check out the campaign posters, the minarets actually look like missiles. Church steeples are just as sharp.

Could you just image what would happen if Israel had to hold this kind of a vote.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

20 Baht

We get quite a few visitors to squint central these days. Last week two Chinese engineers arrived to work with us on one of our projects. They are staying at a hotel near the beach and take a taxi into work each morning. The trip is a few minutes and costs around 25 NIS ($6.50). Yesterday they took their taxi as usual and gave the driver a 50 shek note. He gave them a few coins and a 20 Baht note change. They only noticed this a few hours later when they went to pay for something and no one would take their money. The 20 Baht note is worth about 2.30 NIS ($0.60). Our admin (what we used to call secretaries in the old days) was pissed. The receipt they got from the taxi had his licence number, and with a bit of detective work she tracked him down.

She called him. He was rather put out by the fact that we thought he had tried to rip them off. Clearly it was a simple mistake. No, not for a moment did he think they were simple, helpless Chinese foreign workers come to work in construction. And no he was not interested in coming to return the money. Now, no one messes with our Admin. She is like a terrier when she gets her teeth into something. She hounded him with repeated calls and finally called his station manager. Still he was too busy. He promised to return the money today first thing. He called her this morning and stated tongue in cheek that he never slept a wink last night worrying over the 20 sheks. It appears he went to find the Chinese guys at their hotel and gave them back their money. They said after he begrudgingly handed over the twenty, he dismissed them with a double backhand flip - the kind you use to brush crumbs off your shirt. Nice guy.

At one point when he was asked why he gave them the 20 Baht instead of 20 shekels, he claimed it was the only change he had. This really pisses me off and we will follow this up (apparently there is somewhere you can officially complain about taxi drivers) and make sure something happens to this idiot. Avoid Moniot Pituach (Pituach Taxis). This is so 80%. If you are going to rip people off, why do it for 20 Shekels and then give them a receipt with your licence number?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I begged and pleaded with my dearest family to post a music video today, but to no avail. Blackwifeo said she "may do it" - her way of saying no. The boy claimed he can't think of anything and the girl is out on the town. So I have spent way more time than I should have looking for something decent. Then I found this:

I always liked the Police. Stewart Copeland is an extraordinary drummer and Andy Summers rules. Sting is OK. I was really looking for my favorite Police song, Synchronicity II, but the only decent clip I could find was this live version of Synchronicity I. I am not sure when it's from, but it's not at all bad actually. There is a "not available for embedding" version of Synchronicity II, just click over to see the 80s at their best.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Jenya II

I have written before of Jenya the cleaning lady at squint central. She is seriously Russian and quite odd. She has been working to improve the interior decoration in the office slowly and surely. This is what our coffee table looks like this week. Takes one back to the wilds of Africa, it does.

We have had our ups and downs with Jenya. She got more miserable than usual a few weeks back when we had our (more or less) monthly BBQ. The boys left quite a mess and she grumbled and muttered all afternoon under her breath - "Izz nott a restauranttt, iz ooffice". Remember she only speaks Russian and a sort of Brezhnev era, Soviet spy English. Then she decided that the garbage room downstairs is too smelly and taking the bags out there makes her feel seeeek (imagine mimed finger down throat upchuck). She went on strike for a few days, but after some groveling on our behalf she is back. We have gotten used to her brand of chaos and couldn't figure out where her replacement hid the bowls.

As soon as she got back to work she got stuck into our engineering lounge. And this is the result (this is only one of the walls).

Please take careful note of the bits of plant artistically protruding from the top of the picture (signifies man's inhumanity to man). Also pay attention to the wonderful self portrait around the round metal air intake cover. I asked her if I could take a picture of her alongside her portrait, but she refused - I think she did not want anything to detract from her art. Nothing 80% about Jenya.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Let's Go Walkies.

So now that I have finished my "Identifying Archaeological Evidence" course, it is time to get back in shape. I've been hopeless, eating my body weight each day, and sitting like a squint in front of my screen from day to night. So now I'm officially on diet. And I started walking again this morning. I was up before the birds for some reason, and left home at around 4:45am. It was pitch dark and a little chilly. The walk was fantastic. Along the way I passed no less than four old ladies, all in their gowns and slippers and all with little yappie dogs. One old biddy near the house in Raanana, three spread across the residential area of Herzliya. They each one scowled at me and gripped their little dogs a bit tighter - I obviously looked menacing pacing along in my all black. Finally I'm being taken seriously. It's good to know I'm not the only one who is up at that hour. The old ladies and me.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tel Beit Yerach (or Not).

This morning early we set out to find Tel Beit Yerach. We failed! Now I know the Tel is there. There was an excavation there during the summer and there are numerous web pages associated with the Tel. Beit Yerach is home to one of the most important Early Bronze Age cities in the area (3150-2200BCE). It was a big city and heavily fortified. The city prospered from trade and commerce and even has a ceramic named for it (Khirbet Kerak Ware). Still we could not find it.

We drove to the edge of the Kinneret, and followed the map and GPS until we hit this locked gate at a parking lot near the beach.
So like all good adventurers, we stopped and made coffee.
We walked around the locked fence, ignoring the "do not enters" and "private property" signs and went looking for the Tel. The closest we could get was a sandstone cliff wall that looked like this. I think those are brick makes in the side of the cliff.
We walked around trying to find a way in but all we could find were tall fences, barbed wire and a deserted Kinneret beach. Oh, and a lot of junk. This is Israel after all.

After walking around and round, we could find no real trace of anything Tel like, although it could have been on the hill overlooking the deserted beach and parking lot. So we walked back to the car and drove home, listening to Malcolm Gladwell's "What The Dog Saw". Not every outing is successful, it seems.

p.s. Go and read blackwifeo's blog immediately. She gets very insecure after each posting. She has the humor in the family.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Hedgehog

Last night while taking the cats for a walk along the path outside the house, I came upon this cute little hedgehog. The cats, while briefly interested, didn't give it a second glance. They probably have had some experience with those sharp spikes. Mind you, Nancy the killer was not with us, she was curled up on my chair in front of the computer. Hmmm, the wilds of Raanana - who would have thought.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Rhapsody

I love the muppets. Happy Thanksgiving Y'all.


My cousins complained that on the days I don't post it messes with their routine. I got home last night and went straight into helping the boy with his college application. Then I collapsed in bed, only to spend the night fighting (and losing) with a pesky mosquito. The deadline for the UC schools is next Monday, and of course, the boy left his application to the last minute. Getting irritated with him for not being sure what he wanted to study - a serious conflict, the answer lying somewhere between computers and film, I had a flashback of sorts. I remember when I first came to Israel and studied at the Technion. Like yesterday, I sat looking at those application forms (on paper, not online) trying to decide what to study. I picked aeronautical engineering, because not only did it sound cool but I liked building model airplanes. Bad mistake. After two years of material science and differential equations (something I grew to love in my second go around at college) I bailed and joined the other lay abouts in Jerusalem. Then came the record shop, and work in basement of the computer industry before I dared go back to school. So I understand how tough it is to make a decision on a college major when you have no idea what you want to be when you are big.

I suppose this is another right of passage we go through with our kids, like watching them learn to ride a bike and perform in public for the first time. Good luck boy, I hope you get what you want - I don't care what you choose, just try be excellent at it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Frank - My Way

Apparently Uncle Gus used to ask cousinAvril to read this "blog-thing" to him from time to time. So here is one for him. I looked all over for a decent clip of Mr. Sinatra doing "My Way" and this one was the best I could find - you would think there would be more. This was also my Uncle Solly's favorite song. So in tribute to all those who are not with us any longer, sit back and enjoy a classic.

I cannot resist adding some wikipediafacts. The English version was written by Paul Anka based on a 1967 French pop song (Comme d'habitude) performed by Claude Francis, music by Jacques Revaux and lyrics by Giles Thibault. He got the publishing rights at no cost. He changed the words specifically for Sinatra and even though Paul Anka was a singer in his own right, he claims "It was for Frank, no one else." My Way has been found to be the song most frequently played at British Funerals. It is also one of the most frequently recorded covers.

FesterBesterTester and Daughter strike again

For the last several months my lovely blackwifeo has been downloading like there is no tomorrow. Each night I got to sleep thinking I will be awakened in the dead of night by an FBI SWAT team (going hut, hut) swinging in through the windows and confiscating all the computers. This weekend she finally filled the 1 terabyte of storage on the file server. Then she downloaded something that trashed her computer. Dead. I have never seen a more virulent virus. It ate her system folder.

Not to be outdone blackdaughtero called yesterday to tell me her computer was showing the Blue Screen Of Death. Most probably also related to rabid downloading. So I spent some of Saturday rebuilding bwo's machine (called A.D.D.) and now I am sitting here trying to fix bdo's laptop (called tumor). I love them dearly but I swear this is the last time I'm doing this.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Demonstrations

I have been more disgusted with the "ultra-orthodox" than usual this week. First we has the issue of the woman who was arrested at the Western Wall for wearing a talit. I love this quote "Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz said the act was a provocation meant to turn the wall into a fighting ground. "We must distance politics and disagreement from this sacred place," Rabinowitz said". Really, no politics and disagreements - As long as you tow the ultra-orthodox religious line.

Now it appears that even though there were plans to build a church and a mosque at Terminal Three in BG airport, it's not going to happen. I thought we prided ourselves on the freedom to worship whomever and whatever you liked - As long as you tow the ultra-orthodox religious line.

What pisses me off the most though are those fanatics demonstrating outside the new Intel plant in Jerusalem. It appears it bothers the ultra-orthodox that Intel's production lines run on a Saturday. Now the fools shouting and protesting outside the Intel building don't work or pay taxes. They collect social security, mind you. I completely agree with one of the commentators on ynet that points out that this protest changes the rules on the ground. Till now, the black coats protested things like public parking lots. Things that were visible and out there in plain site. The Intel protest is about what goes on behind closed doors. So it starts with Intel and then moves on to not being allowed to watch TV in your own home on a Saturday. Something has to be done about these people.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tel Yarmuth

We left this morning quite early, the boy, the nephew and I. We set out to find Tel Yarmuth. I have been studying the Early Bronze age in my archaeology class and Tel Yarmuth is a key site for the EB in the Levant. The Tel is a classic example of an EB city. It has huge walls and fortifications as well as palaces and temples. The Early Bronze age is around 3000 BCE so we are talking 5K years back. This is actually before there was any serious bronze (or metal) production or real writing in this area. So it is quite remarkable that the Canaanites managed to build a city of this size. There are those that claim that this city was conquered by Joshua (Kirbet el-Yarmut), but there have been few Iron Age or even Late Bronze Age pottery or artifacts found to substantiate this. My prof thinks the whole Joshua conquest is bunk anyway.

The directions I found on the web said there is a slight climb to get to the Tel. Well it was more like the side of a mountain. I was completely out of breath by the time we got to the top. It was worth it though and you should all go.

This is a cool little bridge over a stream. It's not the way to the site, and we had to backtrack over it. Still it is cute.
This is the easy part of the climb. If you look closely you can see the cyclists pushing their bikes up. There are millions of bikers in the Beit Shemesh area on a Saturday morning.
The boy and nephew preparing coffee at the site.
Some of the buildings. There are a lot of these. I wish I had a map of the place as I could not figure out where the entrance or gate house was. The walls are huge.
More (boring) buildings. I always get in trouble from my family about posting these pictures of walls and stuff. But, it never ceases to amaze me that this was built 5000 years ago.
Serious walls. The outer fortifications were said to be 4 meters high. Thats a lot of stone.
This is a picture along the top (at ground level) of one of the walls (I think). Very impressive.

We had fun. This is the kind of site I really like. I will do more research on this and one day go back when I can make more sense of what is going on. There has been a lot of digging here in the past, some of the pits are very deep.