Saturday, February 28, 2009

Saturday In The Golan.

We went up North to visit Ravid and Shiri today. Bwo and I left early (around 7am) and it was raining here in Raanana, and continued to pour and storm the whole day. I loved it. We had a most excellent time indeed. I decided that I find it much easier to drive in the rain with less traffic than in the traffic with less rain. Ravid and Shiri live in Kanaf, a moshav that's almost in Syria, and which has a spectacular view of the Sea of Galilee. With bwo's permission I put together a bit of a photo essay. She took all the pictures.I love this picture. It pretty much captures what it looked like for most of the drive. It rained and thundered and lightninged, and reminded us of driving in Northumberland when we were there last year.

We missed the turn off to Kanaf and so stumbled upon the Ayet Waterfall (Eagle Falls) near Moshav Ani'am. The constant rains had cause quiet a flow. We actually drove past and decided to turn back to see the falls even if it meant bwo had to go out into the rain. No regrets, and there were none.

We arrived at Kanaf in time for brunch, which included excellent home made borekas, Ravid's Humus and a salad from vegetables grown in their greenhouse. Excellent. Then we all took a little nap (ahh, the pleasure of little kids) , I fell asleep while listening to the rain and thunder (don't tell Ravid I drooled a bit on the pillow). We awoke refreshed. Kesem and Nahal were in good form and we set out for Rosh Pinah. But, first we stopped off to look at the view.
The view from Kanaf is always spectacular, but today was unusual because of the clouds. Next, we stopped off to vist Efrayim, Ravid's horse. He came to chat to Ravid when he saw he brought food.

We then set off for Rosh Pinah. Ravid insisted we visit Woodsong. A store run by another South African Peter. He makes all sorts of wood instruments. His harps, marimbas, and digeridoos are beautiful. He kept the store open for us and gave us a private concert. This is him playing the digeridoo and guitar. They really blend surprisingly well together. Kesem was comletely transfixed by the music (as were we all). He was very friendly and it very open and frank. I admire his commitment and passion. Making musical instruments for a living is a hard life indeed.

From there we were to the Chololate resturant. Bwo had chocolate soup that was too chocolaty even for her. Kesem, obviously had the best time of all.We had a wonderful day. I loved the weather, and the company. Thanks Ravid, Shiri, Kesem and Nahal.

Bwo and I listened to a lame audiobook in the car. "The 5 Secrets You Must Discover Before Your Die" is as self-help as it sounds. It's always good to have the bleeding obvious explained in minute detail, but we will be better people because of it. I'm going to be nice to everyone from now on - only because its one of the secrets.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Chief Pot and Bottle Washer

Bwo catered last night. As they say, a picture's worth a thousand words.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Adam The Ressurected Slumdog From Mumbai

I'm sure I've complained about this before, but the people who translate the names of movies into Hebrew need to be poked at with sticks. Last Saturday night we met some friends for dinner and a movie (We're grown-ups and we go out - it's true). We planned all this in advance, and knew that "Slumdog Millionaire" would be busy, seeing as it was nominated for a million Oscars, so we set bwo to booking tickets over the phone. She tried the internet, but it seems the concept of booking online, is only for those with windoze. So she called the automated line. She wasn't all certain of the name, but there was one that had something to do with a dog (kelev) and so she booked the tickets and all was good.

We had a good time at dinner and the four of us arrived at Cinema City in time to pick up our seats. While bwo stood at the machine, I looked at the posters and was somewhat bothered when I saw that the Hebrew name for the movie had nothing to do with a dog (it's actually, "Quiz kid from Mumbai" in Hebrew). It quickly became dreadfully clear that we had tickets to a movie called Adam Resurrected ("Adam dog boy" or "Adam son of a dog" in Hebrew). So bwo got back in line. I was certain we were done for, but bwo turned on the charm. She smiled and laughed with the cashier (Oh! aren't we silly, we bought tickets to the wrong movie because of the Hebrew, Ha Ha Ha), and believe it or not they changed the tickets. True we got to sit in the second row, but we saw "Slumdog Millionaire". It's a nice movie, but certainly not worth eight Oscars. I wonder if Adam Resurrected is any better?

What's with these names? Bwo rightly pointed out she had no idea the movie had anything to do with a quiz or Mumbai when she booked, and in what world does the word resurrected translate into "dog boy"? 80 percent? - not even close.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ugg The Internet Is Slow

I'm sick and tired of this useless internet we have in our house. It used to work fine, but something happened and now it's slow as mud. The bloody useless (they're nowhere near 60% let alone 80%) bezeq that are our ISP are hopeless, and they lie. I upgraded the line from 2.5 Mb to 4Mb, the "infrastructure" in Raanana cannot support more than 4Mb, and still its as slow as it was. It seems to me that there are just too many people using this particular wire to the world. I think it's time to change to 012. I have no idea how useless they are, so there is still hope. I suppose the problem could be that bno is torrenting down a movie. This is messing with my quality of life, people.

This molasses like response time has made blogging a chore, and I will rather post from work tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Falafel Recession

I was reminded by "anonymous" today that I have somewhat completely strayed from the original intent of the 80% blog. This is true. It's not that things have improved locally to say 82%, it's more that I'm such a naturally upbeat person that whining on about 80% is unnaturally tiring (if you believe this you probably believe Bibi). But, the criticism, while it smarts, is well deserved. I will resume my mission. I will seek out the 80% and revel in it.

One thing that is definitely a little above 80% is Haim's falafel. I have waxed poetic about this previously. Yesterday, I had enough of the squints and the whining. So I bunked out of work before lunch (it's good to be the king) and took a long walk home. The weather had improved and the little rain we received was over. I walked through the center of Herzliya and seeing at it had just gone noon, I stopped off at Haim's for a falafel. The line wasn't too terrible and I got my pita filled to bursting with soft, hot balls and fresh salad. The fried potato wedgie thingie on top was not cooked through (lost a few percentage points here), but besides that there was little to complain about on the eating front.

If you examine the picture above closely, ignore Menash and his assistant and look at the salads on the counter. There are two squeeze bottles of Tehina as there should be, the Harif (hot sauce) is plentiful, the amber (that strange yellow stuff in the bowl nearest the tehina) is easily avoided but where are the pickles? Yep friends, they had run out. This will not do. They had also run out of the usual smearers they pass off as napkins (so called because they merely smear the falafel juice in a thin layer on your face) and all they had were pieces of newsprint cut into squares. This is a bad sign, it seems the recession has hit full force - I can only hope the law of 80% is only temporarily visiting Haim's (perhaps it needed a falafel). This is serious, I will keep you posted.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Out Out Dammed Spot

A strange thing happened yesterday. A water bottle leaped across the room and poured itself onto bwo's Macbook screen. It's remarkable that this machine has survived this long in the festerbestertester household. This family is hard on its electronics. Bno googled the wet screen issue and decided that a combination of silica gel, dry heat and "extreme computing" would diminish the blotch. All this has somewhat helped. The stain at the bottom left of the screen now looks more like a blot in a Rorschach test than the map of Antarctica it resembled yesterday.

I was very well behaved and didn't throw a wobbler. Bwo, somehow omitted mentioning the issue during our many calls yesterday. When I got home, bno was instructed to meet me at the door and talk me down. It worked. I had time to get used to the idea before bwo came home from her meeting. It's testimony to Apple's engineering that this machine works at all. Its been eaten on, used as a tea tray, slept on by cats, spent many a night on the hard floor next to the bed and often rolled off the "lap" of a sleeping bwo. All this while being expected to dominate in hundreds of WordTwist games daily. So then, what's a small damp spot between friends?

Sunday, February 22, 2009


I've been watching an art documentary called "The Private Life of a Masterpiece". So far they have covered the usual stuff, Degas, Michelangelo, Botticelli, Munch and Klimt. This evening I learned about Piero Della Francesca's Resurrection. The mural was completed around 1460 (550 years ago). It was painted on one of the inner walls of the town hall in Sansepolcro in Tuscany, which was Piero's home town. It's a picture of Jesus at his moment of resurrection, below him his guard lies sleeping.

I think this is a most wonderful painting. Take a look at his eyes and his expression. It's absolutely alive. According to the documentary (well recommended by the way), Piero's resurrection was one of the first paintings where perspective was used to give the illusion of depth. He definitely nailed it. I have spent an hour just looking at the detail, the composition and the expressions on the faces. Rumor has it that the soldier in brown on Jesus' right is a self portrait of Piero himself. I am drawn to the tranquil mood of the sleeping soldiers, while the ghostly Christ seems to stare right through you, as if forcing off last remnants of a long nap. Jesus is so shiny, he glows. The drops of blood on his side and that foot. Man, that foot is pure talent. Sometimes humans just blow me away.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Noise In My Head Is My Family

It's an unusually stormy Saturday here (but, as everyone must say, we need the rain). It's the kind of day where the best thing is a few hours spent relaxing in front of the Macbook watching art documentaries (The Private Life of a Masterpiece is recommended). But sitting here in my room any thought of peace and serenity has been destroyed. The racket coming from bso's room seems Rock Band based - Danny is over and they are banging away. This noise is no improvement over the soundtrack of The Prisoner, that bso has been watching in a non-stop marathon since yesterday. Bdo, arrived home a few hours back after sleeping over at a friend's. She cannot concentrate on shifting the rubble in her room unless there is some teenage angst music blaring deafeningly (now we're being subjected to Nick Cave with the volume turned up to 11). Bwo manages to sleep through all of this, and her gentle snoring is the most peaceful sound on Rehov Hanevel at this moment. There is no peace for the wicked.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Night at the Blackfamilyo's

It's our Friday night tonight. This means a lot of cooking and cleaning and organizing. We're pretty good at the cooking part (let's not talk about the cleaning or organizing). I started the day off pretty badly by nearly chopping off a few fingers. This really annoys me, because I am usually careful with sharp tools. The knives here are sharp, as are the guitar making tools, and I can normally keep my fingers out of their way. This morning, while chopping onions, being irritated with bwo because the thin blade to the magimix has "gone missing", I was careless and the knife slipped. This is the result, after the bloody cleanup.
It's going to be a quiche evening. There's a few onion centered creation, a smoked cheese base, topped with fresh tomatoes and basil and one with French caramelized onions. There's a ricotta and mushroom pie, a smoked red pepper quiche and a broccoli souffle. A huge pot of minestrone soup, 2 breads made by bno (country white, a family favorite, and an Italian herb, which appears rather dense). For desert, bwo put together one of her killer chocolate trifles along with fresh strawberries. Here are some pictures in the meanwhile. It all tastes as good a it looks.

The evening was a success. We all overate and enjoyed the wine and a 16 year Lagavulin (not at all peaty for an Islay). It was noisy and the political discussions were kept on safe grounds (blackyanno and I kept out of the way). The clean up has taken much of this lazy Saturday.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


It's not that one can forget for a moment that we live in a desert. It's bloody hot in summer, it never rains and there are the camels. But, today was something special. A few times a year we get these unbelievable sand storms that make turns the sunlight orange and fills the air with a fine dust that gets in everything. My keyboard is covered with sand. As one of the squints remarked, you may as well smoke, at least the filter will remove some of the sand. The picture above is from the window of my office. It really does not do justice to the weird light outside. It's gray and hazy as if you are looking at everything through a fine screen. It's scheduled to rain later and that turns the dust storm into thick mud that covers everything. And there, you thought we never suffer.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Shooting the Ducks

I piss myself off sometimes. I just let myself get to angry over rubbish. Tonight at a school board meeting it seemed to me someone was wrongly questioning my judgment. This on a subject I had invested a huge amount of unappreciated time and energy. The injustice of it all made me see red and I immediately and most certainly overreacted. I was ready to get up and resign my position and chuck this board crap to the four winds. Dave sitting next to me gave me a "Hey, you're supposed to be a professional" look, so I took a deep breathe and sat back till the furies passed.

I'm annoyed with myself for taking this shit personally. I know everyone is really looking out for the good of the school, but I have no patience for "duck hunters". You know, the people who stand at the end of the field and shoot down any idea that comes over (that's not theirs). While sitting and steaming in the meeting, I realized that I had done exactly the same thing to someone's fledgling concept earlier in the day at work. And I could not understand why they got so offended when I was only stating the obvious. It was a sobering moment.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


It took me a while before I really got Cocorosie. But now I think this song (Beautiful Boyz) is wonderful. The above version is live, with Antony (of Antony and the Johnsons) singing backing. Here is a more lucid version, but it's less live and the interview is a little annoying. For an even more bizarre and interesting experience, check out this French TV performance or this brilliant mashup of CocoRosie's "Rainbowarriors" and OutKast's "Ms. Jackson". Oddly strange yet captivating.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Yo Paul

You know Paul, even though you have been dead probably close to 20 years now, I still think about you all the time. Even more recently. It must be all the Facebook induced nostalgia and the old pictures. I don't think I ever told you, but one moment, while we walked along Wares Road into Linkside to visit the girls at Michelle Miltz's stands out as probably of the best moments of my youth. Nothing unusual really. We walked along next to the golf course in the the dark, must have been a Saturday Night. We sang "While my guitar gently weeps" on the top of our voices. We were totally wired by the fact that we were going to visit the 4 "Collegiate" girls and possibly spend the night slow dancing. We had spent the day playing guitar in my room in Mill Park, me on my Harmony (I still have it), you on your Epiphone, practicing for a folk evening that was going to be held at the Betar Camp Site (we sucked). I remember your dancing walk and your complete optimism, it was going to be a great night (it was). Man, I still miss you. A piece of me is gone forever.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cuts and Bruises

A million years ago when I was in school we had some rather brutal teachers. I haven't really thought about them much for many years - then along comes Facebook. An old classmate directed me to a Facebook group put together by some of my school's alumni. A picture of us in standard three (fifth grade), sitting like angels in our school uniforms (ties, short gray pants and blue blazers), with our sadist teacher, sparked a heated debate. The stories poured out. So many kids had been traumatized by him and his high school equivalent. The stories took me back thirty plus years and I could taste the terror I felt sitting in that classroom. Constantly praying that he would not pick on me. My writing was never neat enough and I was one of the last to be allowed to move from pencil to fountain pen. But, I was lucky enough to escape being the perpetual focus of his abuse.

I always knew these guys were twisted. I saw how both the boys and girls were ridiculed and teased by them. Interestingly enough, both of these men were responsible for giving the canings we frequently endured. They seemed to revel in the power. To ensure complete humiliation, you had to exit the office with a "Thank You Sir!". In standard three I watched as this teacher put his hand up girls dresses to pinch them until they bruised. In high school, I watched the favorites get ahead, while those out of favor suffered terribly. Reading my contemporaries reports of their humiliation and abuse, I'm ashamed I did not stand up to this. I took it as being the way of the world.

It seems these narrow minded tyrant are still teaching. They must be old men by now, I wonder if they realize how many lives they scarred.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Embarrassing Moment's in Knesset History

I don't have much to say today. Its been a restful Saturday. I suggest you look at The Top 33 most embarrassing moments in Knesset history, it moakes most interesting reading. My favorite is "The Most Personal Imports", where in January this year, Tourism Minister Ruhama Avraham Balila was caught by customs officials trying to smuggle in four bottles of whiskey (she was fined 720NIS).

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Light Bulb

A month or so back, I came home to find two large boxes filled with "green" light bulbs on the dining room table. It seems bwo's brother (blackbrother-in-lawo is a bit of a mouthful), went to some outlet somewhere and found these at an excellent price. We ended up with two boxes of twenty four (and they only sat on the dining room table for about a month, we're getting better). We never do things in half measures. This morning one of the regular light bulbs down-downstairs in my office/shop blew. I remembered these energy efficient, green bulbs and decided it was time. It took me about twenty minutes to open the dammed plastic container the stupid light bulb came in. Get with the program Hyundai (don't they make cars? this is diversification at its extreme), these things are supposed to be environmentally friendly, why do you need all that impenetrable plastic. These fluorescent blubs should be no more fragile than the regular incandescent bulbs that are packed in simple (recyclable) cardboard. Eventually, I freed the poor sod from its hard plastic prison and screwed it in. I don't think I'll ever get used to that second delay between the flipping of the switch and the illumination. At least I'm doing my bit for the environment. We better act fast and change all the lights in the house, Australia is going up in smoke even as we speak, and I haven't visited there yet.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Sunset

While driving home from a visit to the family shrink this evening, I happened to stop and smell the sunset. The beach looked wonderful and the light was perfect. I went for a little walk on the sand while contemplating the wise words I had just heard. The family shrink rocks, she helped me get my head around the skirmishes with bdo. She helped me get it all into proportion.

This cheap little Fujipix camera does a reasonable job. But the colors were spectacular. This sunset helped put my work week to bed. I've been in a zone at work, and the time has flown by. Time to breathe deep - it's the weekend.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bah Humbug!

Well the results are in. Looks like the right wing really won in these elections. Oh Joy. Democracy has spoken and as usual, people are idiots. My one hope is that there is no "unity" government. It looks to me like the people of Israel want the right, and they should get the right - then lets speak again in a few years. What's amazing is that Kadima, which was an offshoot of the Likud is now viewed as being "left", man they not even in the center. Unbelievable. The people of Israel are obsessed with not being "freiers" (suckers). The proud right wing will stand up to our "enemies" as our country crumbles under special interests and religious bribes. As usual the religious parties will be the winners in the end. Cool, more of our tax dollars to strengthening Yeshivas and settlements. I've had it, I'm officially checking out. I'll leave politics to my betters.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Election Day

I have always said that if I were by some very unlikely miracle to ever become very wealthy (this would need to be enough money that bwo couldn't spend it faster than it accrues) there are just two things I would like. Firstly we need a full time, live-in maid. Someone who could spend the day ordering and organizing the agents of entropy that make up blackfamilyo. The second reason to be very wealthy is that I need to be able to travel business class with no qualms. Look, I'm being reasonable, I don't think first class is necessary, but cattle class is so, so dismal. Today I decided to begin organizing the "papers". We collect so much paperwork. From banks, credit card companies, bills, receipts, report cards, medical stats, paychecks, travel docs, tax forms, and so on ad nauseum. We are getting drowned in an mountain of unopened mail. I spent three hours just opening the six months of accumulation, and I will have to spend at least two weeks filing and Quickening. So I decided this maid we'll get when we're well off, will need to be an accountant or maybe a personal assistant as well. I wouldn't hurt if she is also cute.

It's been an eventful day. Election day is a vacation here in the Holy Land and I used my time well. We voted around noon. Here is a picture of bwo and bno at the voting station, in the Aviv High School down the road. It was bno's first time and he did a good job, not even needing help picking out the correct slip from the fifty or so in the booth. Bwo was worried he would end up voting for some Rabbi with a messianic complex or something, but never fear, the lad has clue.

Voting has just closed and all the newspaper polls put Kadima ahead of Likud. Hmmm, I didn't expect that. Maybe when people actually got into the booth the thought of four years of Bibi was just too much for them to stomach.

We have had a stormy day here. It's actually been raining. I went for a long walk in the rain this afternoon and stopped off in Herzliya center to have an absolutely excellent falafel handmade by Haim. When told him that I had eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world and nothing came close to the piping hot falafel with salad, tehina and hot sauce in a soft pita, topped with these freshly fried batter dipped potatoes, he just looked at me and smiled and said "obviously" (Baroor). I walked home in the pouring rain and hail. It was well worth it.

This is what our back garden looks like in the hail. Yeah, I know, the umbrella has fallen over again.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Hypothetical soliloquy directed at bdo, who is currently OUT:

I have been called a lot of things in my life, but tonight, my darling, was a first. It all began with you screaming at me on my cell driving home from work, for 10 minutes without a break to even breathe, about how you have no freedom, no liberty. You feel like you are in jail. How unjust, tomorrow is a school holiday (elections). Really, why all the fuss when all you did was sneak out of the house, when you knew you were in trouble for coming home way late last night. And then you decided that you would ignore all calls from me until I sent you a threatening SMS. All I wanted was for you to pay some attention. You are not alone in this family - you have responsibilities to us as well as your friends. Man, it's depressing to be a parent sometimes.

Then to top it all off, on one of your dozen calls home to vent and scream at the unbelievable injustice of insisting you come home to discuss this, you went off about how I was worse than Stalin!!! At least he just killed his enemies, he didn't torture them like your horrible, unfair and inflexible dad. It's difficult to equate missing an evening with your posse with being killed by a Russian dictator, but hey I suppose I should be glad that you learned something in International Relations. I will not be so vindictive as to mention your grade.

And so, you came home. Spent at most half an hour and did the minimum homework allowed by law, and now all is well? Was that so damned hard?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I Don't Like Sundays

Sometimes (often) I wonder about myself. While I was away, all I really wanted was to be at home. Now that I'm back, I'm really miserable and would like to be elsewhere. It seems that I cannot find a perfect place, no matter where I am. I know this does not really make sense, but think I would like to be at home, somewhere else.

Coming back to Israel is a mixed bag. It's wonderful to get home to the bfo and while I'm away I miss them like a amputee misses his legs. But, then the daughter goes out on a Sunday night even though she knows she is supposed to be home by 6p.m. as she has school tomorrow. And there is this miserable election coming up Tuesday. We have the most uninspiring group of convicts to choose from. Bibi and Barak have each had their turn and screwed us royally. Livni's only claim to fame is that she has no experience. Lieberman, (to misquote Molly Ivins his speeches sound much better in the original German), seems to be growing in popularity daily. He is really all we deserve. Where is the leadership? We need a Mandela, but there are never enough to go round unfortunately.

I'm tired of computers. Even though I managed to get up and running again last night. Everything to do with technology has been a battle in the house of late. The name server still gets stuck and it can take forever to get responses. Agghhhh. The support guy at Bezeq (Our ISP) has no idea what I am talking about and told me to clear the cache on my Explorer. When I told him I don't use Explorer ,I could image him shrugging his shoulders as he said, we don't support any other browser nor macs nor Linux nor home networks.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Cops Came And Shut The Party Down.

The police shut down bdo's party at 2am last night. I am surprised the neighbors waited so long. I can't understand why her people feel its necessary to scream rather than talk to each other. They must be practicing for when they can drive in a year or so. The noise was unbelievable. It wasn't just the music, even though the sounds of Marilyn Manson and Metallica, intermingled with the group singing in Spanish (I have no idea what all that was about) was rather grating. They shouted and screamed and sang all night. Bwo and I were confined to our upstairs bedroom doing all we could to not suffocate on the waves of cigarette smoke (at least that was the only smoke we could smell). Bdo spoke to the cops when they arrived. She said she was in the very process of throwing the rabble out. She was proud that she managed to get away without a fine (I wonder who would have paid it, in the end). Funny, that that was always my job (talking to the cops) when we were young (and dinosaurs roamed the earth). Some things do get passed from father to daughter it seems. Her posse slept over, there were bodies all over the lounge and in her room, but they did clean up very nicely this morning. Are we not just the coolest parents to allow this kind of thing? (It's bwo not me).

I thought I would leave you with a picture of bso's lunch. This is his usual Saturday meal, and what he enjoys cooking the most. Beans mixed with other stuff, on a tortilla. They love burritos, my kids. It' pretty scary looking, but at least it's vegetarian.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Another Day at Home

I had a frustrating computer day today. Since our server went down before I left, things have not been working well on the computer side of the house. The network (name resolution to be exact) is horribly slow, nearly unusable. Today I rebuilt the server probably ten times. Each time there was some problem or another (I'm using Suse 11.1 because Ubuntu is just horrible at dns it seems). It's still not done. I have had 2 DVD's with write errors, a hard disk that will not boot, a faulty network card, you name it. I hate to leave this in the air, but I am getting tired. One good thing is that I have been so focused that I have been on my feet since seven this morning.

bdo is having a "party" outside tonight. We made her promise there would be no alcohol. She claims that her posse will stay outside and not come in the house (yeah right). She cleared it with the neighbors, so hopefully they will not call the police too early. When she sets her mind to something, nothing will stand in her way.

The in-laws had a rather rowdy Friday night dinner and I (actually bwo) brought some candies from "America" for the kids, so I was not completely in disgrace. They made enough noise to wake the dead, we escaped early, but now we have this party downstairs ensuring us all a peaceful night.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Home Again

I'm back on the comfy chair in the corner of my bedroom. The journey home was long and tedious. My cases decided they prefered to stay in snowy London. The flight from Heathrow to TA was the usual culture shock. A packed plane, half full or religious jews and half full of screaming children. Being home makes it all worthwhile. I'm going to bed now to snuggle up with a warm wife. More to come.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

When the cats away, the mouse can sit on the chair

-An unauthorized bwo post

This is blackpetero’s chair. I gave it to him for his birthday. Even though it’s not black -believe me, I tried- he loves it more than anything. Hmmm.
He sits on it at ALL the time, I swear, working away (watching boring documentaries) and bitching at the kids.
So now that BPO is away in TX and CA, dibs, I can rock, recline and swivel away. Sweet.

Unlike him, I love these trips of his. I really get to chill out. Firstly, I don’t have him on my jugular vein about small things. You know: eating in bed, junk on the bedside tables, "lotions and potions" all over the bathroom. I don’t have to worry about drinking his water (a major offense) and the toothpaste is mine to destroy. There are no rants about the mess or the “missing” phone. The toilet paper lasts more than a day and I don’t have to wash anything black. Oh and I get to sleep in. (Just because the madman usually walks 200 miles to work everyday, does that mean I have to wake up at 5 am too goddammit?) Did I mention that I got to chuck all kinds of crap on the bloody chair for 10 whole days. He would go ballistic if he only knew.

Yes life is so much quieter around here at the moment.
Now don’t get me wrong- Blackpetero is a great guy, the best, but can I help it if he sweats the small stuff? Luckily he hates traveling so much that when he finally gets home, he’s off my back for at least a couple of days.
I miss you babe. See you on the morrow.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


So, of course, there were horrible snow storms in London, Heathrow was closed for a day and my flight back home today was canceled. So British Airways booked me to fly tomorrow. That gave me an extra day here in Houston. I am completely shopped out, and what with having little to no disposable income at the moment, shopping is very dangerous. So I went to visit my old school. Rice University is at the center of Houston, close to the medical center, the zoo, museums and big park. I parked in a visitor's lot and walked around. It was a beautiful day, and the campus is still a haven of peace and quiet in this huge city. I wandered around all the old buildings I used to frequent, the computer labs, the grad student pub, the student center and the library. It's a very peaceful place. I was amazed at how young the students are. They look no older than bso and bdo. In truth, they are no older than my kids. But my, they are a serious looking bunch. They actually look no different to what the kids looked like when I was a student. There wasn't a lot of tattoos and piercings, just serious looking youngsters in jeans and T-shirts, walking with purpose from class to class. I really lucked out when I was accepted there, it is a great school. I hope my two are lucky enough to experience that sort of quality higher education in their futures. Here's a picture of the entrance to the quad.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Superbowl Musings

By pure chance, my visit to the US coincided with that totally American event, the Superbowl. I won't bore you will details of the game, except to say it was exciting to the finish. I'm happy for Steve that the Steelers won. Here are my Superbowl musings in bullet form.
  • The game started at 5:30pm here in Houston, but NBC started coverage in the morning. They certainly milked the event to the extreme, having characters from its various lame sitcoms introduce segments throughout the day. They all looked very uncomfortable. This really reinforced what I hate about TV.
  • I attended a "Superbowl party" held by one of my brother's friends. I was hoping to get out of it, but they called early in the day to say they had bought "veggie meatballs" especially for me. So I was trapped. Actually, it was very nice. The crowd watched the game and the commercials and there was very little cross talk. I usually find these TV watching events difficult because I like to focus on the screen and get very annoyed by those that do not. They did have excellent snacks. America definitely dominates the world in snack foods. They even had my favorite Costco Party Mix (it's like mainlining MSG).
  • President Obama was interviewed earlier in the afternoon. I thought he did an excellent job. The dude is completely natural and friendly. I could see him fitting in easily at one of our Friday night dinners. He would have no trouble shooing Sid and Nancy off the couch so he could have a place to sit. I sincerely hope he can deliver, because the US certainly needs some direction.
  • The amount of Pomp and Circumstance in the the Pre-Game Show was unbelievable. Such patriotism. It's very hard not to be completely cynical. They had "heroes" (the flight crew of the US Air plane that landed in the Hudson), they had "warriors (General Patreas, was head of coaliition forces in Iraq, he is short), they had "queens" (Faith Hill, Blond C+W star who sang America The Beautiful, she's not a dog), they had the "overcoming of tragedy" (Jennifer Hudson, American Idol star who's mother, brother and nephew were murdered in October) and then at half-time they had "the boss" (Springsteen really can rock for a geriatric). This was a most American display.
  • The Superbowl heralds the unveiling of new commercials. This year's seemed less innovative than what I have seen in the past. I was surprised I only noticed two "green" commercials, both by GE. Bridgestone tires had some clever ads. The dismal economy was mentioned a few times, mostly by job placement firms ( and There seems an overall obsession with the transition from how things were (in the good old days) to the present (Pepsi's Bob Dylan and commercial and the incomprehensible Coke Zero remake of Franco Harris' classic).
  • Denny' is treating America to a free breakfast Tuesday morning. That should be interesting.

In all I lucked out at being able to spectate at this great American tradition. It's been years since I have seen a Superbowl. Nothing much has changed except the TV's have become flatter. The veggie meatballs were O.K. I guess, a little salty but edible.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Holy Shower of Potomac

The image above may seem to be of an ordinary, everyday shower cubical. But, this shower is one of the seven wonders of the modern world. It's the upstairs shower in my brother's house in Houston. This aint no wimpy California shower. No this is Texas at its best. The water barrels out at a vicious pace. If you turn it on full, it will draw blood. A wall of water crashes over all your body. The shower is perfect in every way. It has that three faucet control with one for hot, one for cold, and one to control the volume of water output. It's big enough that you can hang your towel over the door and it will not get wet. allowing you to dry without leaving the protective warmth of the cubicle. There is a wire shelf over the (probably non-legal) shower head, that holds soap and shampoo at the perfect height for easy access.

This gem, like many religious sites, is unappreciated by the current occupiers of this future historical landmark. The lack of insight these current inhabitants place in "the shower's" future historical potential is nothing new, a few thousand years back people thought Jerusalem was only a place to get a good humus.