Monday, August 30, 2010

Arcade Fire, Google Chrome and html5

Do me a favor and try this, you won't be sorry. Firstly, if you haven't yet, download google's chrome browser. It takes a second to install. You need this because the other browsers don't yet support html5. They will. Now, shut down some of the other junk you are running (like those five copies of farmville) and, in chrome, go to

The page will ask you to input the address of where you grew up. Unfortunately, it seems the google earth database for Israel does not have good enough 3D street views, so you Israelis will have to choose someplace else (say where you wish you grew up :-) You can always try "35 Mill park Road, Port Elizabeth, South Africa" (without quotes) if all else fails. Then crank up the volume and listen and watch. I think the trees at the end are just spectacular.

This is what will be coming soon to a browser near you.

p.s. Thanks Itai Vonshak for pointing this out - I'm hoping to see these guys in Oct in Berkeley.


I really like Balsamic Vinegar (or Blasmic Vinegar if you go by the Willi-food commercial above). Tonight when making my salad I got to thinking about how this was something we never had when we were growing up. We had that nice brown vinegar that was excellent on chips from Provincial Fisheries, but none of the slightly sweet Balsamic that I love just like that on salad. What can I say, sour has always been my favorite taste.

On further reading I was shocked and horrified to find that I have been settling for second rate "Balsamic Vinegar of Modena" and not the protected "Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena" (can't use the word "Traditional" unless it really is the real stuff). Now I need to try the original and see what I've been missing. I see on Ebay it costs anywhere from $28 to $168 a bottle. I'm a man with a mission. I'll do my research and report back.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ain't No Cure For The Summer Time Blues

You know what I miss? (besides my mind, my hair and my youth). I miss looking out the window and seeing dark clouds. I miss weather. Every single day the weather here is the same. It's just bloody hot. The White Goat got back from visiting France with her brood and commented on how everyone in Israel looks completely worn out. It's the heat I tell you. It's definitely the heat. But never fear, our religious brethren have the solution...

On September the 12th "Summer Time" will end in Israel. We will move our watches back one hour nearly two months before those in the US (they will move on Nov 7th). In Europe daylight savings ends on Oct 31st, why even in the Palestinian Authority's daylight savings only ends on Oct 15th. So starting on Sep 12th it will start getting light at 4:30am and getting dark at 5pm. The reason for this apparently has something to do with the Yom Kippur fast. I have never understood what, as the fast is 25 hours no matter when you start or end. Clearly, like all else in this country, it's political. Hopefully god is listening and summer will end and the weather will cool.

While reading about Israeli Summer Time on wikipedia, I came upon this lovely snippet of information:

Darwin Awards are given out to "commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives" by "eliminating themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species' chance of long-term survival." The 1999 winner was awarded to a group of Palestinian terrorists who neglected to note that Israel had already switched that year from daylight saving time to standard time because of the religious holiday. The bombs had been prepared in a Palestinian-controlled area, and set on Daylight Saving time. The drivers had already switched to standard time, and the cars were still en-route when the explosives detonated, killing them but no one else.

Well at least this change is good for something. But, It is still too bloody hot.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


O.K. I'm back. Let's talk about headphones and how they are a symbol of where my world is going.

Back in the old days (say the seventies), I owned a pair of Sennheisers that my big brother gave me. They had these big yellow foam ear muffs and he had extended the cord so you could sit 20 meters away from the "record player" and listen to Tubular Bells. I still have these, they're downstairs in the box marked "audio stuff".

In the eighties I had this spiffy pair of Koss. I used them every day in the days of Z-Music portable disco. They worked great and saved my hearing (more or less). Even though the left ear has a slight crackle, they still work. I still have these downstairs in the box marked "audio stuff". Both these pairs have that big (TRS) jack that now only fit the stereo receiver. NOTE: They both still work.

In the nineties we moved to California. In keeping with my "world leading, cutting edge" job at SGI I spent a ton of money and bought myself a pair of Sennheiser HD580s along with a HeadRoom headphone amp. Fifteen years later, I still have these and use them at work. I repaired the headphone amp when Gabi plugged it into 220V and blew the input transformer (he still denies this). NOTE: They both still work.

Then came the iPod. This required headphones that could travel. I read that Koss PortaPro was the way to go. I bought a pair. I still have them and use them daily to listen to Time Team reruns when I sit in chair in the bedroom and don't want to disturb bwo watching TrueBlood. True, one speaker stopped working, but I sent them $5 (a new set cost $21 today) and they sent me a replacement. They sound as good as ever. NOTE: They still work.

For walking and listening to audiobooks I found a cheap pair of buds that came with one of the original mp3s players we bought around 10 years back. I have used this pair for probably 5 years. It lives in my bag wrapped around my iPod. They have walked hundreds of kilometers with me and we have listened to all sorts of books from the complete Hornblower series to lectures on biological anthropology. NOTE: They still work.

What's the point you may ask? This morning before school, blackdaughtero marched up to me and demanded a new set of headphones. "Where are the at least dozen pairs we have bought in the last 12 months" I inquired innocently. With a stamp of the morning foot and a father-is-exasperating-and-understands-nothing "OOOF!", she informed me that none of them worked. Now I know that my loving wife's iPhone related ebay fetish has led to at least fifty pairs of headphones arriving at PO Box 980 Raanana. It appears none of these are in working order (or can be found). You can open many a drawer in this house and find a crippled set of earbuds, its one speaker sadly dangling there like a one legged man. There are clumps of headphone tangled wires in baskets, most with raw bits of copper exposed where they were mercilessly ripped apart by careless users. They get no respect.

So what is one to do? I sadly looked one last time at my black earbugs that have walked Israel with me, and bade them farewell. I suppose I will never see them alive again. They have served me well. I just hope their death is quick and painless, a simple ripping apart while the band plays on and not the slow death of being drowned in the washing machine or being left deserted all alone on a bus seat.

p.s. Bwo just reminded me that I left off the story of the "Bose". Some years back a friend of bwo's gave her a set of those remarkable Bose Noise Canceling Headphones. They are a requirement for plane flight. She liked hers so much she bought me a pair - they cost multiple hundreds of dollars. Mine are in their case, nice and flat, in the box marked "Audio Stuff". They, of course, still work and are waiting patiently for my next flight. Just ask bwo what happened to hers (and where they are).

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I think it's time for a break. I'm just not doing a good job at this any more so I'm going on hiatus. Blackpetero's 80% blog has been way less than 80% recently, I apologize. I'm not sure how long this break will be, maybe a few days, maybe a bit longer. I like blogging, but I don't like not doing a good job. I just need some time to rearrange my head. I'll be back.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Just To Dammed Hot To Blog

It's just too hot. I'm not sure if it is always this hot or I just conveniently forget from year to year, but this year seems ridiculous. It was so hot yesterday that I could only convince bwo to come with me if we went to caves, where it's cool. So off we went to Beit She'arim, even though I had been there before with the boy, last year. I like the necropolis at Beit She'arim and it's so cool inside that it feels like they have real air conditioning (that work Houston style). We did not stay long as it was very hot when not in the caves. Bwo took pictures which I will post when I dare come out of my air conditioned room and venture down to hot office downstairs. It's just too dammed hot. We have a BBQ to go to later and then a crowded school affair that will take place in the sweltering humid evening. I just can't wait. One must suffer for ones color choices it seems.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Look at Me.

John posted this on his FB page. Totally excellent. This is the original:

This is the Aussie political message:


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I hope DLM can speak French

Now I don't usually like to complain :-) But, these French tourists on the road are starting to bother me. It seems that all of France decided to up an leave and visit us here in Israel - you see it's August (that should explain everything). Everywhere you go you hear French. Typically I could care less, but all these foreigners believe they have a right to drive here and behave worse than the locals. It's bad enough that we all struggle to get in and out of the parking lot at squint central because we have both Hertz and Sixt in our building, but now I have to deal with these fools on the way home.

Today while driving home I came across three rental cars at various points behaving not only stupidly moves, but dangerously as well. In the last case, just outside the house in Raanana, some fool had stopped his car in the middle of the traffic circle near Ahuza. I waited patiently noticing the blue Eldan Rental Car sign on the side of his car, trying to think pleasant thoughts of how they are helping the economy. After a minute or two of deep breathing, I rolled down my window and asked him kindly to move (in polite Hebrew, yes it's not an oxymoron). He stares at me blankly and informs me in an outrageous French accent, "where it is Ahhhuuuzza street?". I point 10 meters ahead of him. He then proceeds to nearly back into my car, throw his car into first gear with a horrible grinding noise, stall, restart, jerk forward a few times, stall again, restart and proceed to drive through a red traffic light. Oh, Driver License Man (DLM) where Oh where are you. We need you desperately.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Boubacar Traore

I just love Boubacar Traore's story. In the 60's he was the voice of Mali. He was on national radio, and everyone knew 'Kar Kar' and his voice (this is from It didn't pay the bills so he became a tailor, shopkeeper, farmer, schoolteacher and agricultural agent. After his wife died in 1987 he moved to France and started playing music once again. His name started to grow on the World Music scene (I first heard his music on a"colors of the world" compilation). Now he is big. He began dividing his time between his home town of Bamako in Mali, where he slowly built a house with his own hands, and frequent tours around the world.

I think this guy is one of the best acoustic guitar players I have heard. The clip below is the song "Santa Maria" off his "Kar Kar" album. The pictures of Mali are nice. If you want to see his skill watch this 2001 live show, the video quality is not great but his guitar work - wow.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Parking for free

It's time for the Raanana Weekly Photo. This week I want to show you just how special Raanana is. Recently the City has gone crazy and marked all sidewalks blue and white (meaning you need to pay for parking or need a "Raanana Resident" sticker). There is nowhere to park, especially if, like me, you are not prepared to go wait in line at city hall to get a resident's parking sticker. But now it seems that our city is taking its green status seriously. See that green writing on the bottom of the parking sign, it says "Hybrid vehicles park for free". Finally, someone is taking notice. Now if only the City of Tel Aviv would follow suit.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Bench

Every day I religiously look at Firefly's Port Elizabeth Daily Photo blog. I love the pictures of PE and often while sitting here at my desk looking at the pictures I can smell that sea breeze and feel the wind. It's been 26 years since I've seen the town where I was born and where I grew up and unfortunately it looks like it will be a few more years before I can get there. Yesterday Firefly posted this picture, and the memories came rushing back.
I grew up at 35 Mill Park Road and this bench was where I sat contemplating, year after year, overlooking the valley and the houses. In matric, blackavrilo and I would walk down here every evening for a quiet smoke (hope my mother isn't reading this). The night before I left for Israel for good, I sat on this bench with Paul as we struggled through a bottle of Southern Comfort (which I can't stomach to this day). I am so glad this bench is still there, it's amazing but the view does not seem to have changed much.

Thanks Firefly, you do excellent work.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tel Yokneam

I have driven past Tel Yokneam (or Jokneam or Yoqne'am) hundreds of times in the past. It rears up on your right hand side as you approach the Yokneam Junction from the south and overlooks the ever growing town of Yokneam and all its high tech buildings. The Tel was inhabited for a long time from the Early Bronze Age to the Mameluke period (nearly four thousand years). During the Crusader period Yokneam was the most important center in the region, and the remains of the Crusader church are the most prominent remains on the Tel. There are impressive walls from the Iron Age, in fact Yokneam seems to have had a double casement wall in IAII-III. The IAA (I think) are restoring parts of the church so there is a lot of debris around. There is a lot to see on this one Tel.

Blackwifeo came with this morning. It is always nice to have some company. We made coffee and ate granola bars sitting in the ruins of the church. The view from the Tel is spectacular. The city of Yokneam is growing very quickly. There are many high-tech buildings and more on the way. I understand that the real-estate in the area has jumped in value.

I was so excited that bwo opted to come with me this morning that I forgot my cameras at home. So all I had was my iPhone camera. It didn't do too bad a job. I guess it's the quality of the photographer and not the camera that is in question.
Here is a picture of my lovely co-explorer. She is eating watermelon and making my car sticky.
This is where the IAA (Israel Antiquities Authority) are restoring some of the structures behind the Crusader church. They aren't the cleanest of workers. Bwo wanted to know why their shade was so messed up - she should have seen our shade at Megiddo - looked like a refugee camp in Kandahar we were told.
This is some of their restoration work. Looks nice.
This is the view from the top of the Tel looking north towards the Tishbi Junction. You see how much building is going on in Yokneam.
What I believe to be part of the casement wall. Quite a serious piece of architecture.
The walls behind the wall. Nice building blocks.
These are on the side of the church. I like the patterning of the ashlars.
This is what the church looks like when you walk up the Tel. It is very nice indeed.

So all in all a successful Saturday morning trip and we were home by 9am, after the required stop at the services on Kvish 6. I did not want to push my luck with bwo so I left Tel Qashish which is a stone's throw from Tel Yokneam for another Saturday.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hmmm II

So my two favorite movies at the moment (which I watched for a second time this week) are "Lost in Translation" and "Up in the Air" both about middle aged men feeling disorientated and uncomfortable in their lives. I wonder if there is a message in there somewhere. Hmmmm.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Food, food, food

This has been a ridiculous week as far as eating has been concerned. We went to friends for dinner on Monday night for risotto, then on Tuesday for pizza. I went out for lunch on Tuesday (Joya). We had a BBQ at squint central yesterday and then went out for dinner with a customer last night (Sebastian). I seem to be walking around full to exploding almost all the time. I swear I'm going on diet as soon as I finish these six pieces of toast for breakfast (three with peanut butter, three with pepper Bousin cheese) - yum.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

No Women Allowed

I have managed to keep away from the dreadful politics and the religion that run this country for quite a while. It has really helped my state of mind to turn off the news on the radio and turn to lectures on things like the Roman Empire, biological anthropology and ancient Egypt. But today I read an article on ynet about how religious women are getting screwed that got me thinking.

Ester Herzog wrote an article pointing to an incident a few days back where a Rabbi in Emmanuel got so upset at the sight of girls driving go-karts he stormed the course and overturned karts causing damage to the facility, as a further example how Jewish women's rights are being eroded by the religious powers that be. I did not realize before reading the article that the religious parties will not let women hold office. It is one thing to have segregated buses and schools but how does the Knesset allow parties to disqualify women from holding office, surely that is discrimination? We shake our heads at how our neighbors don't let women drive or force them to wear veils, but this happens right here, in our "modern" and "western" "democracy" - Just who are we trying to fool.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Arcade Fire, "Ready To Start"

A few weeks back we got access to the new Arcade Fire album "The Suburbs". Since then they seem to be popping up all over the place (like on cnn). I really like the album. Two nights ago they appeared live at Madison Square Garden and it was carried live on Vevo. The show was produced by Terry Gillam (of Monty Python) - watch the video. My favorite song, "Suburban War" is not available yet but "Ready To Start" is - this is great (sorry the link yesterday was broken):

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Slight Chance of Rock

Sorry but this is in Hebrew. Sagi posted this link on his FB page a few days back and I thought the movie was very well done, and very true. This was someone's final project in design and communications at Wizo Haifa.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Happy Camper

The entire weekend blackwifeo and kept glancing at each other and shrugging. Who replaced our boy while he was away in Beer Sheva last week with this happy, non complaining child. He looks just like the one we sent away, but he sure acts different.

The boy is happy. We are not used to this. He likes the people he's with, he likes his dorm room, he likes having time on his own, he likes cooking for himself, even Hebrew class is not too bad. He was quite chipper this morning when I got him up at 5am to catch the 5:55am train back to the university. He bounced out of the car at the station with a smile and a nod - who is this chap? He was especially happy that he does not suffer from allergies in BS - as soon as he walked through the door here in Raanana he started his serial sneezing (and no one can sneeze more times in a row than he). Must be the cats.

Talking about cats, Lola was so happy to see him she followed him all over the house and cried continuously at his door at night. Now that he has gone she is sulking on his bed, she misses him the more than anyone.

What can I say, I just hope the joy continues.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


I swear I deserve the "Father of the Year" award. Blackdaughtero decided she needed to go visit her "not-boyfriend" who is celebrating his birthday in the army this week while confined to base (for fighting, I believe - and not with the enemy). She asked if I could please, please take my usual Saturday morning expedition near him. I stupidly agreed before finding out that he is stationed somewhere near Qatzrin (spitting distance from both Syria and Lebanon). I thought I would scare her off with a 5:30am waking, but young love is a powerful thing and she was up and ready to go and only five minutes late.

So off we drove and drove and drove. I should have known this was not going to be easy when she told me that he was not sure where his camp is and we would call when we got close. Of course as we approached the far north his cell phone was off. He needs to save batteries she told me. So we arrived in Qatzrin at 8am and drove around looking for a cash machine (not at all easy to find) and waited patiently for the fool him to call. It was already starting to get hot. As I was about to leave, we got the call. We then drove up and down for 45 minutes trying to find the so called camp. By this stage my humor was getting a little thin. After realizing we were sent in the completely wrong direction, we turned around and found the camp. Basically a bunch of tanks, nagmashim and pumot on the side of the road. I dropped the girl off with her bag of goodies for the hungry soldiers and went off to Bethsaida. Let the archaeology begin.

Bethsaida was, according to the New Testament, the birthplace of three of Jesus' Apostles Peter, Andrew and Phillip. There was a lot of dispute in the old days about its actual placement, but recent (since 87) excavations have pointed to Et-Tel as being the real Bethsaida. One problem was that according to sources Bethsaida was supposed to be a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee, but the tel is 1.5km north of the shore. It seems that the tel was once on the water but a combination of tectonic rising (it's on the Great African-Syrian Rift), sedimentation of the Jordan River (a few hundred meters to the west) and a thirsty Israel (the disastrous water level in the Kinneret is a national catastrophe) has led to a lack of success as a fishing village. Still the site was occupied for a long time.

Originally it was settled during the 10th century BCE and could possibly have been the capital city of the Kingdom of Geshur (mentioned in Samuel II as birthplace of David's wife Maacha, mother of Absalom). There are impressive structures and fortifications from this period and a very cool city gate with a four roomed inner gate house (see the pictures below). The city was conquered by TPIII on his way south (Tiglath Pileser III, the Assyrian King who conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 732BCE).

In the Hellenistic-Roman period Josephus Flavius mentioned it in connection with the King Herod Philip who changed the name of the city to Julias (in the 1st century CE) after Julia Livia the wife of Roman Emperor Augustus. Josephus also states that Philip died and was buried in the city.

There have been excavation seasons each year since 87 which means next year will be their 25 year - not bad.
This is what most of the lower part (northern) of the tel looks like. This was apparently a house with a courtyard. It is hard the see just how hot it was, those black basalt stones sure do warm up.
I don't know what this is. It may be something built recently (experimental archaeology?) to show just how strong mud bricks can be when they dry out. I have another picture of this type of thing later.
This looks like one of the places where they may have dug this season. We used the "proper" sacking sandbags at Megiddo, those white nylon ones don't seem to last as well or maybe they're from last season and last too well.
I'm pretty sure this is where they dug this season. In their 2010 dig web site, they mention using a back hoe to dig out the area east of the gate and finding the base of a tower - this could be it (I am still very reluctant to make grand archaeological statements).
All around the site there are New Testament references along with dedications to the many religious groups that have donated to the digging and restoration of the site. Makes a change from the Hebrew Bible references all over the Ella Valley sites.
This is the view from the southern edge of the site towards the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret). You can see that it has moved quite a bit. The land between the site and the sea is basically flat and you could imagine it being covered with water 2000 years back.
This is the very impressive eastern gate. I love those steles standing guard on each side. There are a matching pair on the other side as well. The restoration is at least clearly marked and you can see the original height wherever there is restoration.
This is a cultic installation on the outside of the east gate. You can see the two steps leading up to it and the basalt basin on top. According to my encyclopedia (which I took with and read in the shade donated by Notre Dame) there was a very nice carved stele found broken on top. I am not sure where it is now, but it's not here.
More of what I believe to be experimental archaeology. I could be wrong. This is just inside the gate must have been made quite recently. The mud drys so hard and strong that those rocks are not going anywhere.

By the time I left my car's thermometer read 41 degrees C (104 degrees F) while driving. I picked up the girl and we drove home, stopping for an expensive and not particularly memorable humus at Nimer. Well done if you got this far.

Friday, August 6, 2010

In other news

Last night after my "procedure" we celebrated by watching Sherlock, the new BBC production (started two weeks back) that casts Sherlock Holmes into the present. I know it sounds a bit cheezy, but it is actually quite good. It's produced by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss and has a very Dr. Who feel to it. So far only two episodes have aired in the UK (and in the US, I believe), I found them most entertaining, but it could have been the anesthetic. I have always been a Sherlock Holmes fan myself and have read the "Complete Works" a number of times. Having a traditionalist bent I was surprised to find I liked it. I still think Jeremy Brett was the consummate TV SH, but this new chap is OK actually.

In other news, blacksono is home for the weekend. He took the train from Beer Sheva and we picked him up at the Herzliya station after lunch today. It seems to me that he is having a really good time. He has not complained once - it looks like he has made friends and is quite happy out there on his own. He says it's fun going to the pub nearly every night and he is even enjoying Hebrew class. He was due to go on a tiyul (outing) with the group to the Rimon crater this weekend but he said most of his friends pulled out because it was so hot. Which it sure was. I think today was the hottest day we have had this year, it was boiling.

It is nice having the boy home. The cats missed him more than anyone and they have all been following him around all day, which has done wonders for his allergies.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Test

Well, it was all rather underwhelming - sorry! About an hour and a half after I took the "horrid white stuff", which really did not taste to bad at all (sort of like lemon flavored Gatorade), the bottom fell out of my world and continued to fall all night long. I drank the recommended 10 cups of water before bed and believe me a lot of water gushed forth. Then this morning I drank the second helping with much more water and soon the monsoon continued complete with thunder and lightning. No solid food passed my lips since yesterday lunch and I was getting quite hungry by the time 3pm came around and bwo took me off to the Kupat Hulim for the actual colonoscopy itself.

The doctor was running 40 minutes late (of course), so by the time I was called in and given one of those useless hospital gowns that don't close at the back, I was a little irritated. No one seems to think that they need to apologize or even mention that they are running late, it's like 40 minutes late is on time for doctors - it's your fault for expecting them to be on time, they're doing gods work you know. Anyway, they lay me down next to a scary machine full of black pipes and screens (reminded me of the Borg in Star Trek), pricked my arm and gave me the sedative (it does not knock you out, just makes you a little out of it - now I can't remember what went on during the test, even though I know I watched the whole thing unroll on the screen facing me). After what I'm told was 15 minutes I came round and bwo came to chat, I sat up, walked around a bit and went home. They told me my colon is fine and to come back in 10 years.

The worst part actually was that they must have filled me up with air because I had a quite a bit of pain until it all escaped (luckily no one was at home when that happened, what with all the windows rattling they would have thought a plane just flew overhead and broke the sound barrier or we just had an earthquake). Well it's all over, and honestly it was not at all bad. I even enjoyed my day at home waiting for the test.

We're watching the new Sherlock Homes (BBC production by Steven Moffat of Dr. Who fame) I think it is really quite good. More on that tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pre Test

Tomorrow 3:30pm I have a colonoscopy. It's one of the joys of turning 50 it seems. I told the gastro guy that I typically go to the toilet six or seven times a day, but he gave me all the usual laxatives and told me he had heard those kind of stories before. So two days back I started with two laxatives before bed. Well, all hell broke loose and by morning I had probably caused a backup in Raanana's sewerage flow. I was then put on a white bread and milk products diet. I have no idea why, and most of the web seems to think milk products are not the best before a colonoscopy, but I have the gastro dude's instruction sheet to follow. Last night, two more laxatives and more of the same flow. Since lunch I have had to be on a liquid diet. Oh, I can have jelly (jello) but it scares me with those wobbles.

Now tonight 6pm the real joy started. I had to drink the "horrid white stuff". At least that's what the chemist called it when he told me my prescription was out of date, which meant multiple trips to the doctor's to get a new one (they were closed for one, next they gave me the wrong prescription and finally got it right the third attempt). This I have just done and am waiting for the rumbling and volcanic explosions to start. It's been an hour and all I feel is a little bloated.

The gastro guy told me not to worry, only one in about four thousand colonscopies runs into complications. He seemed to think that was an OK statistic - I don't. Much more on this tomorrow.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

I really just like this song. The "Yeah Yeah Yeahs" and "Map".

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Israel Museum

I went to the official opening of the archaeological section of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem last night. I went all the way to visit the museum a few months back and was completely surprised to find that it was closed for renovations (and had been for years, it seems) - no wonder there was so much parking. Anyway after a rather difficult day, I motored up to Jerusalem and found the museum. Now I had no ticket to the event. Ian had scored a ticket while at Megiddo and had it on good authority that if there was a problem we could call Eran who works at the museum.

So I set off on my own (Ian left early in the morning for Jerusalem to do some shopping and to wonder around the old city) in the late afternoon and battled the traffic up the hill. I arrived at the museum with some time to spare and decided to see if I could get in anyway. So I strolled up to the entrance and looking neither left or right told the people at the door I was here for the "archaeology". While looking at each other quizzically the metal detector went off and they quickly latched onto my ever present Swiss Army knife. Overjoyed at having found a reason to be there, the security people took charge, took me over to the guards desk, wrote out a receipt for the knife, deposited it in the safe and set me on my way - all questions about tickets and if I needed to be there or not, lost in the flurry of activity. So I had a half hour to wonder around the new wings before the opening officially began.

They have done a great job with the museum. I walked quickly through the art galleries as they were already asking people to leave, but I was impressed with what I saw. I then found the archaeological section, went in and waited with the other early birds while sipping some champagne and nibbling sushi. All very nice. The place filled up around six and I had a great time chatting with the Megiddo people while the speeches droned on and on (They actually had a vocal group who sang Enya songs - why not Israeli music I ask?). We were finally let into the exhibits around seven p.m. or so. I was most impressed.

They have a wonderful collection. The new modern layout is definitely "less is more" and I think it is nicely done. I was lucky to be able to walk around with a bunch of very experienced archaeologists who know what to look at and what was special. Jules was a little put out by the fact that their lithics displays were obviously not put together by a lithics expert and some of the tagging were not exactly correct. It is interesting that in some areas they had avoided using BCE or CE and went with the more politically correct x0000 years before present. All in all it is very nicely done.

By the time we got to the more recent times (Greek and Roman and anything after) we were all pretty tired and many of the group slowly made their way out. It was also very hot in certain places, and we heard that half the A/C engine room burned out and so only half was working (I am not sure if it's correct to put an 80% label on an act of god in Jerusalem). We left around 9pm and I dropped Ian off at the airport on the way back home. He has been a good friend and I am glad we got to spend time together before he headed back to the UK.

All in all the new Israel Museum is definitely worth a visit and I recommend it to anyone. They clearly have spent a lot of money and it looks good and makes sense (they could use more signposting directing you from area to area). I will have to go back as I get sensory overload after a few hours and there is a lot to see.