Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tel Qastile

This morning bno and I set out in the rain to Tel Qasile which is in the Erez Israel Museum which is next to the Yarkon river near downtown Tel Aviv. Blacksono was not interested, he was still tired and shagged out after a 3 day high school field trip. It was pouring. The museum itself was actually way better than I expects. It's really quite big and spread out over a a large area. Tel Qasile is in the middle of the museum grounds. Excavations begun there in 1949, that made it the first archaeological dig in the newly formed state. The Tel covers the remains of a 12 century BCE Philistine port city. It was built on a sandstone ridge overlooking the Yarkon river. In the 11th century BCE it became a thriving city with three temples all built of mud brick. On the southern side of the tel living quarters built along a street were uncovered. At the center stood a four room house. The signs claim that the city was destroyed by King David in the 10th century BCE, but I think that recent research has shown that to be not exactly true.

In the background you can see the "four roomed house" looking quite sad and quite the worse for wear. As you can see its been raining.
I just love the skyline of Tel Aviv in the background. This is the main street of the town and dwellings.
More houses. These were built out of sandstone and not mud brick like the temples.
Got to love the skyline.
Around the temple area the walls are looking a little sad.
This is one of the temples. It is covered with a corrugated metal roof to protect the mud bricks from damage by the elements. There are actually signs that point out what is what. Not bad for a fifty year old site.
This is a basalt millstone in one of the reconstructed mills on the museum grounds. There is also a nicely reconstructed olive oil press as well as a host of other buildings covering copper, ceramics, glass and the post office (I swear).

All in all a nice place, even though the Tel itself is a little sad and run down. The best news of all is that I flashed my University of Leicester student card and I got a 10 NIS reduction. Man I was chuffed.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Here Comes The Rain Again

It's not like we live in the third world or anything (right!), but, like any true developing country as soon as the rain started this morning we had two power failures of at least an hour each. I called the bank in the midst of the darkness, they couldn't help me because, of course, they too were out of power. So it rained today, first real rain of the season, and like everything in Israel, we just were not prepared for it. Streets flooded, phone lines went down, power outages all over - big fun. Yet through all this, everyone was so happy to see real WATER falling from the sky that no one could complain. The water shortage here is real and threatening. They raised the price of water to households significantly and now the shortage is causing real pain for everywhere in the most sensitive spot - their pockets. One one hand we need a real wet winter, but on the other, if it rains enough, the government will go back to putting their heads in the (dry) sand and tell us all is well - what water crisis !!!

So bring on the rain - I love it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Z Music

Due to the current ball of stress that is my life, I did not post yesterday. So today I will make up for it. Alon posted this picture of Z Music. It's Alon (and Bowie), Jony and Me standing outside our record store, Z Music, Rehov HaGiben 1, Jerusalem. Must be around 1981 or 2. Something happened to the photo and smudged Alon's face - it's the only photo we have of the stores, so it will have to do. Were we ever that young?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Peter Murphy

I heard this song on the way into work this morning and realized that I am not listening to enough music. I promise to start listening again. All work and not play ..... Anyway here is Peter Murphy and the excellent Cuts You Up. This video must be from twenty years back at least.

Actually I would have like to post this video which I think is fantastic, but you need a facebook account to log in and see it. That sucks.

Monday, October 26, 2009


I really don't have time for this. This blog is slipping away. I have no time. I was up at 4:50am this morning, at work at 5:30, to the university at 7:30 back to work at 10, wrote an rfi and some performance reviews, rushed home to a sick bdo at 5:30pm, sat down to study at 6:15 and been at it ever since. I'm just too wasted to write anything that makes sense. I think I'll go to bed. Apologies for the lameness, I never promised more than 80%.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Love Greece

I arrived back home today. It's always nice to come home. I loved Greece. The most impressive thing of all is just how good the Greeks are at service. Everywhere we went, taxis, hotel workers, guides, store owners, waiters and bartenders were all friendly, smiling and incredibly helpful. I was really surprised by this. The Greek people seem to take pride in the country and its history and understand that tourism contributes at least 15% of their GDP. Almost everyone I met spoke passable English, including our taxi drivers (there are 14,000 taxi drivers in Athens alone - the traffic is horrendous). This joy for life and willingness to help is somewhat lacking here in Israel.

We arrived back at Ben Gurion Airport, got through passport control and picked up our luggage in record time (the airport is batting close to the maximum 80% achievable, not bad at all). We walked out to the taxi rank and were sulked and glared at by the young girl in charge of shepherding people into their rides. Like we were disturbing her day by actually expecting her to work. Our taxi driver was sullen and aggressive, a total contrast to the rides to and from Athens' airport. Welcome back, I suppose.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Athens. Day three (The Acropolis)

Today after classes we went on a tour of the Acropolis museum and then we walked up the Acropolis to look at the Parthenon. It was very impressive indeed. We had an excellent guide who was very knowledgeable and just spicy enough to make things interesting. I don't have a whole lot of time, so I will briefly comment on the pictures.
This is one of the statues in the museum. As I took this one of the guards shouted at me for taking pictures. There are no signs, and not a lot of explanations. But they have an excellent collection of Greek art.
The museum is built over parts of the ancient city.
This is one of the only views of the Parthenon where yopu dont see the scaffolding all around. They are not really doing restoration, mostly the scaffolding is to keep the columns up.
This is part of the Roman buildings in front of the Parthenon itself.
This is the temple of Athena. I think this is the nicest building I have seen (almost forever).
Same Temple. I came here with my parents when I was 11 and I remember this building from that time. It impressed me then. We were even able to go inside in those days.
The Parthenon itself. It is a beautiful building and well worth the trek up the hill. It was a nice day. Good company and interesting archaeology - what more could you want (I would have liked my bwo to be with me).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Athens Day two (The conference)

My conference started for real today. I'm back for a short break between sessions and dinner. As many of you know, education is one of my "hot button" issues. I think the biggest issue in the world today (and certainly in Israel) is the quality of education (O.K. poverty is very important, but I think its related). Today's opening session was run by two serious innovators in education (Grant Wiggins and Martin Skelton). I know from last year these guys like to talk about education as learning. They claim there is too much focus on teaching and not enough on learning. All learning is a delta, basically the change from what you knew to what you know. This change is what needs to be measured in school. They went on to share what they thing learning isn't.
  • Learning isn't ... caused by teachers it's what the learner does. (The learner is the key and teachers must adapt to the individual).
  • Learning isn't ... being busy. (Ask why are you teaching this and what does it help).
  • Learning isn't ... about what the teacher says it is, it's they require students to do. (Teach students HOW to learn).
  • Learning isn't ... about current performance. (It's about the change caused in your performance).
  • Learning isn't ... about successful acquisition of content. (The goal of school should not be to be good at school).
I know this is all motherhood and apple pie, but it sounded good when they presented it. I like the fact that they constantly see an issue with the lack of teaching kids to learn. This is such an issue when you finally get to college. Anyway, I am learning.

p.s. Love to all the Goldsmiths out there. Granny is not doing well at all, and my thoughts are will you. She has been gifted with having such an amazingly caring family.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Athens. Day one.

I arrived in Athens this morning after the taxi to the airport at an ungodly (even for me) 3:30am. Of course, our hotel roo was not really ready so we took a walk around. We are near the Acropolis, and the weather is perfect. So far, there is not a whole lot to complain about, except the hotel room is quite small, I'm sharing with Neville and the internet costs an arm a leg and a liver. We went over to the conference hotel and I see why it is double the cost for a room. They have free internet. I think I may like Athens (so far).
This is the sanctuary of Olympian Zeus. Began in 515 BCE it was never really finished. There were were originally 104 columns (in the doric style), only 16 survive and one of these blew down in a storm in 1852.
You can see the Acropolis on top of its hill. We are going there on a tour on Friday, and there will be more photos then. I am sure you will all be sick of columns by then.
A closer view of the columns of the temple and the Acropolis in the distance.
A nice frieze, in someone's garden. There are quite a lot of excavations going on all around.
This is where Neville and I had lunch. My Greek salad was great. Big pieces of vegetables and an excellent feta. By the time we left it was completely packed. The food was very good actually.

O.K. More tomorrow.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Miracle of 22 years

Jo guest posting for Torturous Tunes for Tuesday.
There is no way I can live up to Blackdaughtero's awesome video post last week, so I will make it short and sweet. I think Annie Lennox is a Goddess. There, I have said it. Firstly, she has the best voice in the business. Not only that, second only to BDO, she has the best eyes. The Miracle of Love was our wedding song. Petero thought it was a bit emo, but I loved it. Even though the official music video shows sort of bizarre images of atomic bombs and nazis, I am posting the slightly irreverent later live version, cause I love Annies glasses. I also think the juxtaposition between their army fatigues and silver spandex shirts is pretty cool.
On another note, my shrink told me that last week (while visiting her kids in LA) she had dinner with Hugh Laurie. I am not sure if Hugh sings, but he does play instruments and has an uncanny gift with accents. Uhm, ok, that was a tad random, but deal with it.
So without further ado, Live in concert....we have.... The Eurythmics.

This is the official music video:

A Day

I actually had some things to blog about today. I went to my first real archaeology class at TA university and I loved it. Bwo's car is full (and I mean full) of pumpkins (something to do with Halloween and the school). But, I am not going to mention either of those and instead I will show you a commercial. I saw this for the first time today, which probably says more about our TV watching than anything else.

This was not computer generated. It apparently took 606 takes, 3 months and 6 million dollars to make. I think I'm going to get that Honda hybrid.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


The pictures above are a little hard to make out, I know. It's the table in the engineering lounge at squint central. We have a cleaning lady who comes in each day to clean and tidy after the squints. Her name is Jenya and she speaks no Hebrew. She speaks a little English and a lot of Russian. In her own way she has tried to leave her mark. Showing us her artistic eye she decorated our coffee table. I have no idea where she got the cut outs from, but the one of the lady on the divan is a classic. Adds a little style to the converted bomb shelter, don't you think?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Antipatris (Tel Afek)

Tel Afek is close by. A mere 15 mins drive from the house on HaNevel. So even bwo was into the morning trip. The ancient city has been around since the Chalcolithic (between the Neolithic and Bronze age where copper tools were used alongside stone, around 4th millennium BCE). The city sat strategically on the Via Maris, the trade route between Egypt and the north. It fell into ruins and was rebuilt by Herod, and named Antipatris after his father (Antipater II of Judea). The city served as a fort for many years until destroyed by an earthquake in 363 CE.

It was later used as a fortress by the Crusaders, Arabs and Ottomans and the remaining citadel is of Turkish origin (it has been extensively restored).

The morning coffee. Bwo likes it very very strong - so we used up all the coffee we had. Ned to get more.
The three musketeers.
This is some of the citadel. There is a big open space in the middle.
The citadel guarded the strategic pass below. There are a lot of these cracks from which to fire arrows at the passing hoards.
A nice picture by bwo. Lots of nicely reconstructed stone.
This is the most complete of the six late Bronze age palaces at the site (Canaanite period 1550-1200 BCE). The are stairways going up, that indicate there was a second floor. The palace was destroyed in a battle around 1230 BCE. There are layers of burnt bricks and arrow heads were found in the walls.

The outer walls are nice and thick.

A view from around the side.
Tel Afek is close to the source of the Yarkon river and there are lots of lakes and pools. It's all very picturesque.
Before we left I went to check out the current excavations. This is a Audion, or a small theater built during the last stages of Antipatris' habitation. Building was stopped after the 363 CE earthquake destroyed much of the city.

It was a nice short trip and we were home by 9:30am. Good to have a site close by for a change.

Edison part III

The vet decided that there was nothing that could be done to save Edison's matted coat. So the poor chap was completely shaved. He is a mere shadow of his former glory. So I have a question, how does cat's hair know when to stop growing?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

We Won

So they came to film us tonight. Yes, blackfamilyo won 10,000 sheks. The questions were quite easy, we were stumped on how many socks were hanging in the bathroom. We guessed right that Trumpledor lost his left arm. Apparently the show will be on some time in November, and we only get the money when they put on the show. We were at our best, I ranted about the whole 80% thing, blackdaughtero was splendid in the goth outfit. Blacksono did not say much, and what he did he said in English. The wifeo was sweet, she went off about Segev and the English mistakes on the menu. We sang (how horrid). Hopefully they will cut all the useless parts. The "quizmaster" was Dror from the 103 morning show "Shai and Dror" and is apparently quite a celeb. He was very nice. There was quite a big crew, with cameras and sound booms and lights. Still we rocked. They told us that quite of lot of people don't win, but hey the blackfamilyo rules. They liked my cupboard with the all black clothing. O.K. family comment away!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Cat Came Back

Edison came back this morning. He seems to have left us soon after blacknephewo left for Tel Aviv. We figured he had either been squashed or went off to find a better family. And we missed him. He was especially good at looking after the various kittens that seemed to show up from time to time, and the current batch of little ones are still afraid of us as Edison wasn't around to explain that we are good folk. He showed up this morning looking very thin, sad and bedraggled. His once soft and plush coat is matted and gnarly. So bwo shot him off to the vet. They gave him shots and rehydrated him. Seems he is surprisingly OK, just very hungry. He is going tomorrow to have his fur dealt with and his teeth looked at. I'm happy he is back, he is a very mellow soul and was missed around here. I wonder where he was.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Utterly Striped!!! A post by BDO!

Those of you who know me are most probably aware of the fact that I do not cope well with stress.
When my father informed me about an hour ago (the second I got back from a 12 hour school day) that it was my turn to do the Torturous Tuesday Tunes, the first overwhelming feeling I got was definitely stress. I later procrastinated a bit and thought of ways of getting out of this. You see, I love posting in my daddy blog, and I love how happy it makes him, however I do not love having a big rock on my heart (sounds better in Hebrew) and feeling stressed. But it is worth it. I am proud to be a percentage of this blog!

As I sat outside on the front porch, pondering the very darkest depths of my mind thinking of what video is worthy enough for this cause, I witnessed a very disturbing sight. My very favorite cat Lola (note the sarcasm), who is not loud, crazy, traumatized and schizophrenic decided that she is obviously too good for the cat-box I slave over to keep clean, and instead took a piss on the windowsill. I had the utter privilege of watching a smelly yellowish liquid drip off of the second floor and right in front on our front door (where most normal families have doormats).

Well...that was kind of irrelevant, but as my father has taught me, sometimes the most irrelevant things are what define the utter essence of life! (Well....his words were a bit different)

Word of the day: Utter

I am sure that by now you are all wondering what video I have chosen to put up, because as you know, today is Tuesdays video post and not a post about peeing cats and fathers words of wisdom. This time I chose to show you the video of one of my favorite songs, and one of my favorite videos. I really do love the White Stripes, and I highly recommend that you all listen to their song Effect and Cause (a truly great and witty song, plus it can basically summarize a big chunk of my life )

So without any further ado;

Blue Orchid by The White Stripes

Peace out

Monday, October 12, 2009


You know I really don't like cars. Worse yet I hate choosing a new one. My lovely Prius' lease is up in a month or so and I need a new car. Now I would not think twice about getting another Prius, but they have moved up a tax bracket (the amount you pay the government for leasing a car) and the amount of money per tax bracket is also going up on Jan 1. Today I drove the Honda Insight. It's also a hybrid, a little smaller than the Prius, with a bit of a smaller engine. It drives nicely, although it's noisier and the quiet was one of the best things about the Prius. It plays mp3's which is nice. More importantly it comes in black. Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tel Hazor

This morning we set out as usual. Blacknephewo joined bso and myself for the trip to Tel Hazor. It's quite a way, up north, past Rosh Pinah. Hazor has an interesting history. It was originally a Canaanite city, founded somewhere around the third millenim BCE (the Bronze Age). It grew in size and was one of the more important Canaanite cities in the north, trading with its neighbors, it is mentioned in many documents and engravings. The city grew to about 15000 strong and spread down from the heights of the tel into the valley below. At some point around the eleventh century BCE (the Iron Age), the city became an Israelite center. The bible mentions that it was one of the cities conquered by Joshua on his whirlwind campaign to occupy Canaan after 40 years sweltering in the desert. The validity of this is hotly debated.

Hazor was one of the more important cities in the united monarchy and was possibly fortified by King Solomon (another hotly debated topic). Hazor was enlarged and further fortified by Ahab of the Kingdom of Israel (post Judah-Israel split). It fell to the Assyrians in 732 BCE (the excellently named Tiglath-pileser III) and its inhabitants exiled.
The coffee on the side of the road, waiting for the park to open at 8am.
This is part of the "Solomonic Gate", those black basalt rocks are parts of an earlier Canaanite temple.
Yigal Yadin did much of the excavation here (he also did Masada). The walls were made of mud bricks and so they are protected from the rain and elements by this nice structure.
I love basalt rock. It's hard stuff. I am not sure what this is, but I'm going to have to write an essay on a rock type of my choice and I figure it may as well be basalt. So this picture is for my paper.
There is an excellent water system that they dug 45 meters into the rock. We climbed down and up all those stairs.
This is the sheer face of the cistern. It must have been a huge job.
The views from the top of the tell were excellent. It was still a little hazy but the mountains around were very picturesque.
This is the "pillared house". I guess you see why its called that.
The lower city is cut into the side of the tell. I think it goes on into the fields beyond as it was quite big.

Nice place. A little less spectacular than I thought it would be. We have visited a lot of the sites close by us and so now the drives have become longer. So we ended up driving four hours to spend an hour or so at the site. All in a good cause I say.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


You would think I was used to it after 22 blissful years of marriage. The kitchen has been changed around again. The cups have moved and the paper goods are nowhere to be found. Luckily the glasses and the stove are still in the same place, and it's very hard to move the sink. Now you must understand that for the first 18 years of my life, I lived in a house where nothing changed. The plates were always in the same place, the Pesach stuff lived in the cupboards by the door near the extra freezer with the bars of Cadbury's chocolate, the scissors were always in the second drawer of the dentist cabinet. Things were in the same place probably for 20 years before I was born. It's not a big thing, but it got me thinking.

Maybe the ADD that runs rife in this family is really just a striving for perfection. Things constantly get reordered in the hope that the perfect configuration is out there, and should you find it - "bingo" (much like finding the seven letter word to score a perfect bingo in scrabble). I realized, us NNADD people (not-necessarily ADD), live with the sub-optimal, and find comfort in the fact that things don't change. So even though the knives and forks are not as near the plates as they could be, at least they are always in the same place.

O.K. so this constant moving of the cheese is really just a push for perfection. It's sort of like infinitely shuffling the cards in a deck, at some point they will all be in order. I just hope we'll recognize perfection when we see it. But, then maybe the shuffling's the thing.

Oh yeah, and go read bwo's blog.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


It's hard not to love Hol Hamoed (the week between the start and end of the sukkot holiday). There is almost no traffic on the road into work in the morning, and it's beautifully quiet on the way home. The stores close for the evening, banks too, the post office is never open anyway, the kids (not ours though) are off school. We have had to go to a number of Sukkah meals and it's not over yet. My friend Larry, who gets closer to god every day, told me today that the reason eating in a sukkah is so special is that it's the place your body and soul can be together on earth. O.K.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to congratulate Ada Yonath for winning the Nobel prize in chemistry. israel may suck at all forms of sport but we do great at the Nobels. I also feel I need to express my condolences to the "Saudi braggart" who bragged about his sex life on TV and was sentenced today to 5 years and 1000 lashes. Wow. That's gotta smart!! (On my back I want Wilson's back).

I'm sorry, I have no time for more, I'm off to dinner in a sukkah.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dream Theater

BSO here. Going to post one of my favorite songs. Enjoy.

Dream Theater - Pull Me Under

Monday, October 5, 2009

Avdat II

We visited Avdat on Saturday Morning. Sunday night vandals got in and beat the place up. According to the paper this morning, two Bedouins are accused of causing the damage, in revenge for the destruction of a relative's home. It seems so pointless. Avdat was built by the Nabateans, who were probably Bedouins out of the deserts of Arabia. It has never had any part in the state of Israel, no Jewish occupation. Why destroy your own heritage. It's just sad.

Shofar Hero

I never posted yesterday. I apologize. I will post later, but in the mean time here is a little something to keep you off the streets. Shofar Hero.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


We visited Avdat today. It's the furthest we have been on our Saturday morning jaunts and we took three unsuspecting visitors from the US with us. It's far, more than two hours drive down south, between Sde Boker and Mitzpeh Rimon. Like Mamshit and Shivta, Avdat is a Nabatean city, built along the Incense Route, a camel trail from the Arabian peninsular to Gaza. It was first build by the Nabateans around the first century BCE, and then taken by the Roman and the Byzantines (fourth to seventh centuries CE). The city was abandoned after an earthquake in 630 CE.

We all took pictures (except Justin), currently the ones below are mine, but I will post the good ones that the others took when I get them. The boy was lugging around an old film camera as he was taking black and white pictures for a photography class he is doing at school.
This is breakfast. We left the TA around 6am and so were quite hungry when we arrived. The boy is making coffee. We ate home made bread, cheese, banana cake and the boy loved Thom's pop tarts. From left to right, that's Janet, Justin, bso and Thom.
Avdat is a large site. There is a lot of rubble and so a lot that could still be excavated.
There are excellent arches.
And doorways.
At some point the Nabateans took up Christianity and Greek script. These are tombs laid into the floor of the Southern Church.
An arch waiting to be uncovered.
It's a compact city with a lot of building. I was amazed by the amount of rebuilding that has been done on the site. As usual we were the only people there at all, and it's a holiday weekend. A huge investment in time and money must have gone into reconstruction. In 2005 Avdat was awarded World Heritage status. It's well done.
This is a very of the site from the upper parking lot.
The hills and valleys of the Negev can be seen in the distance. You can see for miles from the top of the site. There are a number of lookout spots and the views of the hills and valleys are impressive. I like the desert.

I think we all had a good time. It was a long way to travel for a few hours walking around, but the visitors seemed to have fun. We're certainly not in Kansas anymore.