Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Voted

It's the US elections on Tues. and I was happy to get my mail-in ballot a few weeks back. I was even happier to find out that California now allows you to email in your vote. The accompanying instructions told me to fill out my ballot, then scan it and attach it to an email message and email it to the registrar's email address.

So I took it all very seriously. I researched all the propositions and analyzed all the candidates, then carefully filled out my ballot. Then I tried to scan it. The dammed thing is huge and will fit no scanner I have ever seen. So I had to resort to folding it all sorts of ways, then scanning it into separate files and then I sent off the email with eight attachments. I also sent a nice message saying that it was rather 80% of them to allow us to scan in the ballot, but it is so huge that this is not an easy thing to do.

I got a sort of form letter back saying they had received my ballot, but not a word about the split files. I hope they have enough sense to be able to piece together all the bits. If those dammed Tea Partyers get in, I guess you'll know why.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Appolonia - once again

I got up early this morning to drive to Beer Sheva to pick up the boy and to go check out Tel Beer Sheva. I have been there before but I was interested in looking at the "Israelite Four Roomed House" up close. My project on Standing Buildings may have some connection to this, so I figured I would go look close up. By the time I got to Beer Sheva I had a splitting migraine and was feeling most nauseous, so the boy and I headed home. After I stopped at the service on Highway 6 and downed a coffee and croissant I felt a lot better, so after dropping the boy at home I decided to visit Appolonia. My Park Services card lets me get in for free, and I was interested in checking out their excavations over the summer.

I was surprised to find Nir, one of the chaps who dug with me at Meggido last week was sitting in the ticket booth. Seems he works for the Parks Services over the weekend. He told me they have been funded to dig in the Crusader castle starting next week. I gave him my email address seeing as I have some time on my hands and would love to help. We will see.

I had a really nice walk around Appolonia. I was surprised that there were quite a few people enjoying the wind, sea and spectacular views. I walked all around and took more pictures of the fortress and Roman villa. I am looking for a nice old Standing Building for my project. I doubt either of these count as they are not really standing. Still it was a very nice walk. Here are a few pictures. If you are more interested in the site, look here.
I am always so impressed with these huge and thick casement walls. They are build right on the cliffs. I wonder how much of the banks has been eroded and has fallen into the sea.
This is a Samaritan wine press. It is at the far northern edge of the site and is quite impressive. I am not sure when they dug this but I don't remember seeing it last time I was here.
Nice archaeology. I would like to get some experience at a "classical" site like this. It is very different to Megiddo.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Bad Back

So blackwifeo has a bad back. She has been complaining for a few weeks that it feels like it's going to go out. Well it did last night. She came crawling up the stairs into the bedroom and has spent the last 24 hours somewhere between agony, oblivion (good pills) and misery. My heart goes out to her, but I'm not under any circumstances going to give her the Voltarin shot she got from the doctor (she is in too much pain to go there, so he sent her the shot). I just totally suck at being a nurse. I have no patience at all - she never supposed to get sick, that's my job and then she looks after me.

Still, we are trying to help. The loving daughter even made us supper. Veggie hamburgers from scratch that were really very good. She is prancing around the house dressed in her Halloween best, which comprises of some very tight tights and a sort of corset thingy. It seems that it is proper to wear as little as is possible for Halloween, if you are 17.

Hope bwo gets better fast. We really need her around here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Time Flies

I don't know what happened to this week. I had such big plans when it started - I would do all the bills, clean out my closet, spend time on the unfinished and neglected guitars, finish all the reading for my studies, and begin writing a paper on dating domestic buildings. I did none of the above. I made some progress on a few things, but not nearly enough. I don't know where the time went. Now it's Thursday and nearly the weekend and I have still a huge amount to accomplish. I wasted no time watching TV (except last week's Time Team), but I did read some junky novels. Why, Oh why is the time flying by. This is not good.

Saying of the week, by none other than Yaron the Prophet, on my moving to an ajoining cube. "Better a close neighbour than a distant brother". Sounds better in Hebrew (it's from Proverbs 27:10)

טֹ֥וב שָׁכֵ֥ן קָ֝רֹ֗וב מֵאָ֥ח רָחֹֽוק

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One Love

I know this song is old and the video could be much better, but you know what, I don't care cause I like it:

just saying.

Oh and I like this as well.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Tear Along the Perforation

Today I started going through the years of papers we have accumulated in the last year and a half since I last took on this mission. So far three boxes full. Bank papers, bills, report cards, bills, receipts, instruction manuals, cell phone accounts, insurance papers, bills and more bills. I have found a new hate. Why is it that the bank and credit card companies have now decided to save paper, but instead of going completely electronic, they now send you your statements in a mailing where the envelope is part of the bill. You know what I mean, you need to carefully tear along the perforations and then open the statement printed on the inside of the "envelope". Only here in this 80% country it is impossible to tear along the perforations because they are not deep enough. So unless you are really careful you end up with a horribly messy statement that looks bad when placed in the file.

Come on people this must be improved. Go completely electronic. If Bank of America can do it, so can you. Either that or perforate better.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Where Have All The Glasses Gone?

We used to have dozens and dozens of glasses. No more. I heaven forbid you should need to drink some water in this house, you will most likely need to wash out a used tea cup or use an old jam jar or just drink from the tap. I have a theory as to what is going on - it's Azziza. Maybe she has some Greek stock in her gene pool and when no one is around, she puts on the music to Zorba the Greek and dances across the kitchen, hands held high above her head all the while smashing glasses on the tiled floor.

We will have to go back to Ikea one of these days, I'm tired of having to use one of the cat's bowls to take my vitamins at night.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Megiddo Revisited

I was lucky enough to spend a day digging at Megiddo today. I am exhausted and can hardly move this evening, but I'm happy. I had a great time. The Weitzmann Institute was doing some investigations in Area Q, the area where I spent my summer. We were taking down some of the baulks (the built up portions between the squares) and found all sorts of pots and even some burnt grains which will be good for carbon dating. One thing this day (which started at 5am) made crystal clear is just how out of shape I am. Time to start up an exercise program. I will post some pictures in a little while once I manage to get them off the camera.

A nice jar.
Some interesting pots.
Birds as seen from the Tel.

Yummy, curry tonight for dinner. Blackwifeo has really outdone herself, and she cooked all on her own while I scurried over the tel playing in the dirt.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Down the Line

Things have been quiet here on the 80% blog for the last little while. In truth there are a lot of changes taking place in my life, but I'm not really ready to talk about them yet. The time will come, soon.

I don't know if you noticed but yesterday Beer Sheva was without water for the day (see Haaretz article here). I called the boy to see if he noticed. He had, but only vaguely. It appears that the main water line to the city was cut during repairs to the train line. The train has not been running since Saturday which caused him much more pain seeing as he had to return to school by bus after "band practice" on Saturday night. Showering and washing floors just are not core strengths of his.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Andrew Bird

One good thing that came out of the recent trip to the US is while sitting in his lounge in Albany after the Arcade Fire concert, nephew blackedwino introduced me to Andrew Bird. I had never heard of the chap, but it seems (at least by the number of YouTube videos) that I have missed out on a phenomenon. I bought his "Armchair Apocrypha" album and was suitably impressed. This is the official video for "Imitosis". Once I heard this song I could not get the central theme out of my head for days. The whole album is just very good indeed. I love having something new to explore.

It is worth taking a few minutes to watch some live videos of him. This video or this one of Scythian Empire, show his excellent use of loops and whistling.

Space, the final frontier.

Joch posted a link to this video on his FB page. It is completely awesome. This is the sort of stuff one is supposed to do with one's kids. Just watch it.

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Back To School

I started classes at TAU today. I was fortunate to be able to sign up for a seminar class with Dr. Finkelstein called "Text and Archaeology". There's about 20 people in the class and most are very versed in the ins and outs of biblical texts and archaeology. What I found incredible was the amount of arguing and opposition in the class. Granted this is a masters level class and the students all have some experience, but the vehemence that the subject matter generated was certainly unexpected. Some of the arguments were clearly an attempt to illustrate the depth of knowledge of the "questioner", and not for any desire to hear the ideas of the prof. At one point I got quite annoyed as I had come to hear Dr. Finkelstein's views and not a bunch of opinionated graduate students.

Coming from the sciences (and a university in the US) I was amazed that students have so little respect for the professor that they have no trouble shouting over his statements, not allowing him time to state his position and just being plain argumentative (I have a child at home that would feel completely at home in this class). I am in two minds as to whether this is a good thing or not. On the one hand, students here feel completely empowered to voice their opinions with no filters. There certainly is a completely free exchange of ideas. On the other, I am not sure people were really listening to what was being said, rather they were waiting for an opportunity to voice their point of view.

The time passed quickly and I'm quite looking forward to the next class on Tuesday.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Lag

Man, Oh man, do I have jetlag. It always hits me the second day. Last night I was exhausted at 8pm. I was reading some articles from the stack of papers for my new course (Standing Buildings) and my eyelids were drooping. After stressing out that bdo was not home by 10pm (she was working at the ice cream shoppe), I lay down, but sleep eluded me. My mind was racing. I counted sheep, meditated, went down and ate some humus (good night food), still no way I could sleep. I heard bdo slink into her room at 12:15, the neighbours got home at 2:18, the cats held a campaign in their ongoing civil war around 3:30, I played sudoku for a few hours. At 4:30am I heard the paper boy drive by on his Vespa and finally sunk off to sleep. I hope tonight is easier - I have a long "school board planning session" in the morning, so no archaeology for me this Saturday.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Big Fun in the Air

Israelis don't listen. When the crew on the plane makes an announcement, no one stops talking. Messages that are repeated clearly in English and then in Hebrew are for other people, not them. My flight back home yesterday was everything a flight to Israel can be, crowded, annoying, mind-numbingly long which all serves to make the relief of arriving home sweeter.

The cultural worm-hole that connects mainland Israel to any gate that has a flight leaving for Israel was very visible at Newark last night. The fact that they repeated about 100 times that everyone needs to have their passports and boarding passes stamped at the counter before boarding the plane did nothing to deter at least half the passengers from holding up the line and looking blankly when told to go get their passes stamped. The flight was full, overbooked in fact. They offered $600 with a night in a hotel and 3 meal passes to anyone prepared to relinquish their place. No one took them up on their offer. It would be like taking points off the board.

I was sitting one row behind the bulkhead seats. The plane filled up with Israelis, all of whom had to argue with the gate agent, while claiming that their second huge carry-on was really just a computer case. The overhead bins we full before I boarded, but I managed to squeeze my little backpack into the corner of a bin. There was shouting and complaining about the lack of bin space as we all got settled. The bulkhead row was empty and just as it seemed the doors would close and we could make disguised moves to claim these gems, a religious family boarded. Our whole section's worse nightmare - A young mother, and rabbi'ish looking father claimed the row, along with their 5 screaming children, the oldest of whom was 4.5 (this is no exaggeration).

So there were 3 seats for 7 of them. The crew looked at them quizzically, OK, so each of you have one of the little ones on your lap, that means 5 seats - but there are only 3 seats in this row. After 10 minutes of furious discussion (they actually spoke English), eventually it turns out that they came late (from New York, not on a connection, so there is no one to blame) and their other two seats were spread out all over the plane. Now you understand the logistics of this all. They need at least these 3 seats together along with another 2 seats together. So they start bargaining. The plane had by now pulled back from the gate and started taxiing towards the runway. The family all this time is standing in the aisles, kids kicking and screaming (in Yiddish), looking around helplessly. Eventually the "Cabin Service Director" makes an announcement. If we can't get these people seated, we have to delay takeoff. Of course, no one on the plane even hears the message because Israelis don't listen to announcements. Eventually we seat the oldest girl next to us as the nice Chinese/American tourist in our row volunteers his aisle seat for a middle, and the father goes off carrying one of the screamers with him.

For the full 11.5 hours of the flight we had at least one of the children crying, often two or three screeching at the same time. It was to be seen to be believed. At the start of the flight it was announced that due to new Israeli regulations, everyone needs to be seated 40 minutes before landing at Ben Gurion. This was repeated numerous times in English and Hebrew during the flight. Of course, no one listened. 1.5 hours before landing they made the announcement once again urging everyone to use the bathroom NOW, because 40 minute before landing everyone needs to be seated. Of course, no one paid the least bit of attention and as the seat belt sign came on 40 mins before landing, there was a huge rush for the bathroom. The air crew threatened in Hebrew and English that they would have to circle outside Israeli airspace unless people sat down. No one budged. In fact more people got up to stand in the aisles. The religious family in front decided this was the time to swap seats, Oh, and one of their kids seemed to have disappeared. Needless to say, the plane landed on time and only required three warnings that people can only get up once the captain has turned off the seatbelt sign and we are parked at the gate.

The kids in front of us screamed the whole way down of course. The "Service Director" had come around from time to time and smiling had told all us in earshot of the screams, "don't worry there's only 10/8/6/4 hours left". Once we had landed, he came by and said, "Just think, I have to do this flight every Tuesday". Not for all the tea in china - not me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Coming Home

I leave for the airport in a few minutes to begin the long journey home. It has been wonderful to see my family here in Houston. People have been good to me all along the way, both in Cali and Texas. We have good friends here in the US and I miss them all when I'm at home. All in all it has been a good trip, although the business side could have been much better. I have had a lot of time to think. And as always I appreciate what I have at home way more after being away for two weeks. Hope the trip back is smooth. Next stop Raanana.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Today while driving around Houston I listened to KTRU. KTRU is the Rice University radio station that has been recently "acquired" by the University of Houston to become a 24hr classical music station while UofH's KTRH becomes a full time public radio station. I have received all kinds of mailed (snail and email) pleas and requests from KTRU to help stop the sale. I signed the online "protest" and even sent a condolences email to their web site. But, living outside of Houston I sort of did not take this all to seriously.

I used to listen to KTRU all the time when I was at college and working in Houston. I loved their totally eclectic brand of outrageous music and monotonic DJing. But, I had truly forgotten how completely unusual they really are. Today while stuck in traffic on the Southwest Freeway I heard 10 minutes of what sounded like someone banging on his bathtub, followed by Algerian rap in French, followed by some Cajun guitar and then 20 minutes of Ornette Coleman strangling his sax. This really is a one in a million radio station and it will be a great shame when it's forced off the air. While I don't love everything that's played, it's one of the truly unique things about this great sprawling mass of urbaness. I will miss it when it's gone.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Saturday at the Mall

Seeing as it's Saturday and I'm in Houston, I spent most of the day shopping. Not for me, of course, but for the extended family. I was mostly unsuccessful, only achieving a 50% hit rate at best. Target is still number one. I even found myself a pair of pants. I'll need to go back tomorrow because the latest request list came in just as I got home.

So there we are in Target, mother, sister and I. I wander off to inspect the mens room and buy some candy for the kids and promptly lose my entourage. I have no trouble finding them, the sound of their amplified voices carries all the way across the kiddies section. They could make good money as the PA system in the store.

I hate shopping. I wish bwo was here.

Friday, October 8, 2010


I have been busy. Mostly driving about the Bay Area, it's true. I put a huge amount of miles on the rental car. They gave me a Chevy Useless and I pushed it to its limits. I was up at 5am this morning, returned the "car" and flew off to Houston. We arrived 15 minutes early and then had to wait for 45 minutes till our gate was ready. Then I walked the 5km or so from the gate to the baggage claim - it really is unbelievable.

Blacksistererio picked me up from the airport and we immediately got stuck in a huge traffic jam so it took way longer than an hour to get to my Mom's place, where I am staying. We had a chance to get caught up on our lives while stuck on Bletway 8. The Hamptons, the "retirement community" where the mother lives is something else. Her apartment has a spare room with on suite bathroom. They have valet parking and a twenty four hour guard in case any of the residents try break out. There are a lot of people walking around with walkers, but this is America and they have these fancy walkers with big wheels, sort of "all terrain walkers", none of those clunky aluminum frames with tennis balls on the legs for these guys. It seems both my Mom and sister's hearing is not the best so there is a lot of shouting and repetitions. Still it's great to be here with my family. The only one who is not at all pleased to see me is my mother's very spoiled cat Beau (or B.O. after my dad). I am sleeping on his couch and he is very put out. He hisses and bats at my legs whenever I walk past, but he is a very inside cat and his claws are pretty much non existent. The cats of HaNevel street would have him for breakfast. He would be tasty too as he's a little on the chubby side.

Tomorrow is "shopping for bwo" day. I'll go visit the storage cupboard at my sister that has all the mail order stuff. She says it's completely full. Bwo of course denies having bought anything.

p.s. Happy 70th Mr. Lennon

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I'm Back

Here in the midst of Silicon Valley the internet has been out for the last few days - that's why there been no blogging. I'm staying in Los Altos Hills at J+D who are as ever the most wonderful hosts. Their new house has spectacular grounds complete with rabbits, squirrels and deer (at least that's what I've seen so far), but the internet was flaky. It looks like it's working now so I can catch up on what's going on in the world.

It is always nice to be here. I have visited a lot of old friends and eaten many meals at many different restaurants. I drove past our old house on Olive Street in Sunnyvale and it looks just the same as ever. People have been complaining about the economy and the lack of interesting work, but it none the less seems that good people don't have trouble finding employment.

I arrived back at J+D a few minutes ago after another large dinner and am ready for bed. The jet lag has not been too crippling, although I find it hard to talk coherently by this time of night. So I'm going to bed.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Edison - A Good Cat

Bwo called me with the sad news that Edison died today. He was special, gentle, kind, patient and forgiving. He never got angry or lashed out at anyone, no matter how much he was provoked. He loved any attention, but was not pushy. He was at peace with every living creature and would spend hours patiently allowing the young kittens to climb all over and gnaw on his soft coat. We had no idea how old he was, but he was always an old soul. He will be missed by all who knew him. We are richer for having had the honor of being his friends.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Over the Bay

I drove over the bay from Albany to Los Altos Hills this afternoon. I had forgotten that distances here are very different to what I'm used to back home. The trip from my E+L's place to Jonathan and Dewi took over an hour, even though they are not so far apart conceptually. It is beautiful up here in the hills. Their new house is on a huge piece of land that includes trees, gardens and deer. The view is spectacular and you can see all the way to San Fransisco and the bay. I was spoiled by some of Dewi's excellent home made bread and good cheese for tea and then Indian food for dinner with some old friends. We laughed a lot and seeing as we are all getting older we spent a lot of time talking about our various ailments and pains.

I got back to J+D's a little while back. It is always quite hairy to drive in the hills at night. There are no streetlights and it is very, very dark, but the GPS knew the way, and all is well. It is quite chilly out and the heated floors here are very pleasing to bare feet. I miss this fresh air and its smell when I'm in Israel. I forgot just how pretty it is here. There is good reason why this is some of the most expensive real estate around.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Concert

I saw the Arcade Fire tonight. Wow. It was amazing. The crowd was mellow and kind, the opposite of what it's like at home. We found great places to stand, near enough and even though there were a lot of touches by other people, they do understand the required distance necessary for good manners. Thanks eddie, firstly for introducing me to the Arcade Fire all those years ago and for the concert tonight. If I'm going to one concert a decade, this was the correct one to pick. I'll see if I have any pictures worth posting tomorrow.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Getting Old

It definitely sucks to get old. I have to go down on a knee and bless bwo. Last night I got showered and dressed, I was already packed, and after a brief stop at Barry's to wish Kate a happy, bwo dropped me off at the airport. I stood in the security line and when the nice security man came to check my passports, I opened my pouch only to find two US passports (bwo and mine) and NO Israeli passport. I am sure I checked, but hey this old age thing and all that. In a panic I called bwo who was on her way back to the party and begged her to bring me my passport. Without the least bit of reproach or bad attitude, she drove home, picked up the forgotten passport and returned to the airport. I just made the flight. I miss her already. That's not all.

The plane was delayed for a few hours, due to a suspected "incident" with another (Croatian) plane, and the long flight was really bumpy. We arrived at Newark late and I barely made the San Fransisco flight because of all the customs and baggage hassle at Newark. Once seated on the 6 hour flight from Newark to SFO (after the 14 hour flight from TA to Newark) I tried my credit card in the entertainment system (costs $6 for DirectTV on domestic flights). It didn't work. A half hour later I realized something was missing - my wallet. Severe panic ensued. My life (credit cards, drivers license etc.) is in that wallet. The flight attendants got everyone on my side of the plane to stand and look under their seats - nada. Finally one of the attendants got on her hands and knees and crawled under a seat in front and found the dammed thing. It must have dropped on the floor and then been kicked forward. What a fool I felt. I stood up and thanked everyone and proceeded to grovel a bit. Thank god the wallet showed up.

That was the last indecent of the day. I and my luggage arrived safely in the Bay Area. My nephew's place is lovely as is seeing the family. Its been a good day so far although now it's a struggle to keep my eyes open. More tomorrow. Bwo is just such a star.