Tuesday, November 30, 2010

16 shells from a Thirty-Ought Six

I didn't forget that it's music Tuesday today, but I've been busy. So here is some Tom Waits to keep you off the streets.

Pictures from the Old Country

By brother and sister-in-law are in Port Elizabeth, the "ancestral home" of all of us (according to John). He has been sending back pictures. Below you can see the house at number 35 where we grew up, the bench at the end of Mill Park Road (that's my sister-in-law) and the park at the end of Walton Road we played in where our nannies would walk us there. Talk about nostalgia.

Monday, November 29, 2010


Hey Babe, 118 EBay buys in the last 18 months. Don't you think that a little bit excessive?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Down-down Stairs

Since I started studying, the guitar building has been pretty much put on hold. I used to go down-down stairs into the shop for a few hours now and then to do a little work on the current project (a dreadnaught for eddie), but then the boy moved his drumset down there. The boy (bless him) is the single most untidy human being in the world. He doesn't even see mess, let alone understand order. Since his drumset, and therefore "the band" settled down there, it breaks my heart just to look at my shop. So I stated avoiding going down at all costs. Things just got worse and worse. Of course, any free space, or surfaces that are not piled high in this house become prime targets for junk dispersal, and what could be better than a place out of sight and out of mind. So my shop became another junk storage area. Clearly I haven't been shouting about this enough and the fear of putting things in my shop has apparently worn off. Well, today I had enough and I got stuck in. I have been sorting and chucking. I already have a huge hefty bag full of junk, and this is just the beginning.

This job will take weeks, but I'm not going to give up. Perhaps one of these days I can actually finish the guitars down there.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Another (not so) Boring Saturday

I am afraid of getting burned out on archaeology. I have been reading, researching, going to class, writing papers and visiting sites. So I've decided to cool it on the sites for a while. I got up this morning and instead of battling to wake the boy and motoring off into the distance, I went for a walk around the neighborhood. Nice and peaceful. The weather is awesome. Not to hot and not too cold. I'm listeing to an audiobook about everyday life in ancient Egypt (more archaeology), really quite interesting. Not much seems to be known about the everyman. Mostly they were peasant farmers, but it seems most of what was written was about nobles, the working classes didn't get a lot of press.

I have had a good day. I cleaned up more paperwork and learned more about mapinfo (a GIS program). I'm going upstairs to shower and then I think I'll read about standing buildings.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

My wife is amazing. No one can rustle up a delicious meal in less time. Tonight it took her 13 minutes to make the curried chickpeas and rice. It really tastes as good as it looks. It's another one of the things I'm thankful for.

I have so much to be thankful for. I like Thanksgiving, it's probably my favorite holiday of all, and even though we have our Thanksgiving meal tomorrow night, I still feel it's a special day. I'm thankful for so many things, I am so lucky. Enjoy the turkey (tofurky or otherwise) all of our US friends, we are are thinking of you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Camera Shuffled Off This Mortal Coil.

Our camera (Canon SX10) died yesterday. I hate it when that happens. It just stopped working. It took OK pictures but was always a battery hog (was 80% at best), but now it's completely dead. It won't turn on at all. I was in the middle of photographing hundreds of documents for my project, when it gave up the ghost. Now what? Luckily I have the small pocket Fuji, but I need something more serious for this project which requires me to fully document a standing building where pictures are a large part of the work. I checked up repair costs, and most places in the US want around $100 just to look at the thing. Never mind how much it would cost in Israel. Sigh... Bad timing. I wish I could afford the Nikon I've been lusting over for ages.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Terminal

I've been on a bit of a "Tom Hanks Movie Streak" of late. I'm not usually one who rushes out and buys soundtracks, but I found the soundtrack to "The Terminal" particularly striking. The main title theme in particular is particularly fitting. John Williams did a good job. Nice work.

Monday, November 22, 2010


We had a board meeting at the school tonight. After the meeting we were on our way out when we were greeted with this. It's a kitten, very cute (the picture really does not do it justice), that decided to sit in the Thanksgiving left overs box. Appropriate don't you think. And no I don't want any more cats, thank you very much.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


My wife is going through a "babe" phase. She has started calling everyone "babe". It's "babe" this and "babe" that all day long. I noticed it was getting out of hand when she called the plumber "babe". This must stop.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Listen Closely

I woke up at 6am as planned. I looked out of the window, saw the mist and decided I'm just not going out. I had planned to drag the boy to Tel Qashish (near Yokneam), but stayed at home and watched "The Terminal" as part of my current November quest to see every Tom Hanks movie ever made (I'm not doing too badly). I did some autocad, mapinfo, "Standing Buildings" and "Text and Archaeology" work, but not nearly enough. All I've eaten is cheesecake, chocolate biscuits and peanut butter sandwiches. Tonight is the dreaded school Thanksgiving Party. O.K. now listen closely, I will say this only once, from tomorrow... Yes from tomorrow, I'm going to eat right, and start getting back in shape. Enough of this laying around, I suppose you need to scrape the bottom before you can start climbing out. The thing is, I've never been happier.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Wedding

The Beautiful Tal got married last night. Now, we get invited to a lot of weddings, but this one was certainly one of the most mooshkaat (hard to find an English equivalent - it basically means "invested in" or perhaps lavish). The food was great, there was lots of sushi. There was Glenfiddich as well as The Macallen. The place was one of the nicest, if not the nicest I have seen in Israel. And there was a lot of beautiful people, so the people watch was second to none. Blackwifeo and I did not know a single soul, besides The Beautiful Tal herself - which only added to the people watch. When you look at her family, you can see where her looks and personality come from. If judging what one's wife will look like in the future by looking at her mother, the groom has certainly lucked out. Most importantly the music was just plain excellent. So what can I say, either it was a very good wedding or I am getting less judgmental in my old age.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I have had a bit of time lately :-) So I have read a lot of rubbish and watched a lot of junk. One movie that was way better than I would have thought, was "How To Train Your Dragon" an animated Dreamworks thingy. The movie is very well done - it's funny and the CG is excellent. The dragon's movements are just so catlike, I couldn't help really liking him. I also liked the song at the closing credits. It appears it's Jonsi from Iceland, yes the non-English parts are Icelandic. This is the song overlaid on the official trailer for the movie. Unfortunately it ends rather abruptly, so go find a full version, there are plenty available on YouTube.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Deep Sigh

I have really tried to keep away from politics on the blog lately. It just makes me upset when I need to think of all the wasted opportunity and greed. But every now and again a story works me up and I need to say something. You know, I really can't stand Limor Livnat (the picture above says it all). She's now the "Culture and Sports Minister" after ruining education. There are these actors who refuse to perform in the theater in Ariel, over the Green Line in the West Bank. I can see where these actors are coming from, and I can see how rightists would claim that the government should not give these people any funding. It's what you would expect from uncultured fascists. Livnat has now jumped on the bandwagon and decided that she would force all state-funded cultural institutions to sign a commitment to perform all over Israel as a condition for continued funding. More irritating than this even is her plan to grant a special annual award aimed at encouraging "Zionist art". Is there no end to the narrow-minded, popularist measures these people will take to stay in power. Sigh.

What is really annoying is that all these measures are forcing me to accept the fact that we don't really live in a democracy. Man, I've tried to ignore the signs for years, but they just won't let me.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Khribat Za'aq

Today we went down to Beer Sheva (again) to collect some of the boy's stuff from dorms. On the way after stopping at the services on Hwy 6 for coffee and borekas we stopped at Hurvat Za'aq (Or Khirbet Za'aq) so I could say we did some archaeology.

I could not find a whole lot about Khirbet Za'aq except that it seems it was an extension of the large settlement at Tel Halif which we visited a while back. It turned out to be a most interesting place. According to the little bit I could find, it seems it Za'aq was occupied between the 2nd and 5th CE (Late Roman and Byzantine period). The are tons of caves and cisterns dug into the ground. The signs around say these had something to do with the Bar Kochba rebellion, but some of the other, more official looking data, seems to claim they are Iron/Bronze age burial tombs.

It's a wonderful place to go visit and if you are interested in exploring caves and crawling around ruins, this place is perfect. It's not that easy to get to - its at New Israeli Grid Coordinates 187468/591488. Basically exit Highway 40 at the Dvira turnoff (road 3255) and follow the signs for the Za,aq Ruin once you have gone a few kilometers. It really is well worth a visit.

Yip there are all sorts of caves, and ruins and stuff.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Tale of Three Backpacks.

These three bags seem to reflect my life at the moment. I use all three (no, not at the same time). I call them bags but they are all three backpacks. I believe in the backpack and abhor the briefcase or roller thingymabob.

The one in the middle is my "work bag". It's a Swiss Army backpack that I bought years back and have used to travel all over the world. It fits my 17" macbook comfortably and I have all the pockets and compartments organized so I can find things quickly. It has been my primary bag for years, it's comfortable to carry on my bag even when heavy, and it's often very heavy.

On the left is my "school bag". It's the bag I take to the university. It has way to many straps and niknacks, but my brother gave it to me so the price was right. It fits all my school books, files, bible, pencil case etc. It is not that well made and the zippers are already giving problems, but then it doesn't need to be.

On the right is my "archaeology bag". This is the bag I take with me on Saturday mornings and the bag that I used during digs at Megiddo. It holds my trowel, gloves, compass, tape measure, notebook, flashlight etc. It is rather beaten-up from laying around in the dirt and being shlepped up mountains. I'm fond if it.

All three backpacks have headache pills in the front compartment. I know what's important.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An Uncle

As usual I'm a little late. Thanks to my cousin Avril's FB post I suddenly realized than Monday was one year since my Uncle Gus passed away. It's hard to believe the time has gone so quickly. I think about Uncle Gus often. He was a larger than life kind of guy, always smiling and always with a twinkle in his blue blue eyes. I always see him sitting, years ago, on the couch in the flat in Schwartz street balancing a huge tower of ash on his Broadway 100 (he gave up years back). His vocabulary, a mix of Afrikaans and Yiddish, is an integral part of this family.

I found the picture above in my mom's picture cupboard in Houston. My dad is on the left and Uncle Gus on the right. I suppose that's my grandparents in between. The picture hangs here in my home office and I look at it every day. I believe this must be my parent's wedding. The picture is spotted and faded, but it perfectly captures a moment in time. The brothers were young and had the world before them, I wonder if they thought about the mark they would leave. I hope they realize the impact they had on all of us.

Friday will be his first great-grandchild's Brita, I'm sure Uncle Gus will be smiling happily.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Unthanks

It should be well known by now that I have always been partial to English folk music. It comes from many happy evenings spent with Paul at the Four Winds Folk Club while I was growing up. So I'm always excited to find new folk music (for me). I don't remember where I first heard Rachel Unthank and the Winterset, but I bought their album "cruel sister" a while back and have been listening to it off and on. I see that they have changed their names to "The Unthanks", I can highly recommend "The Bairns" - my personal favorite album of theirs.

Here they perform "The Testimony of Patience Kershaw".

The song was written by Frank Higgins and tells the story of Patience Kershaw who was a hurrier, or coal thruster. Someone who worked in the mines (usually children) pushing coal carts - basically one of the worst jobs in the world. In the 1840s the Ashley Mines commission heard testimony about just how terrible conditions were in the mines. Patience Kershaw was no. 26 you can read her horrifying testimony here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Buddha Burger

We celebrated the girl's birthday by going out to dinner tonight. True, it's a few days late, but she didn't mind. We decided to shrug off the usual birthday meal at zozobra and to try the new "Buddha Burger" restaurant in Raanana. It seems Buddha Burger is a Tel Aviv institution - a vegan restaurant that's been around awhile. Well, they just opened a branch in Raanana - it's called Shibolet, and appears to be a franchise of Buddha Burger.

We were pretty much the only people there so I'm not sure just how long they will stay alive. The food wasn't bad. The "classic" burger tasted like the veggie burger they used to make at Burger King in the UK many years back. A little beany for my liking. But the sides were good and the kids liked their food. The boy was very happy with his vegan shwarma. No fries though - too unhealthy it seems.

One must support the vegetarian alternatives where possible.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

No Archaeology Today

No archaeology today. I woke up with a bit of a cold and a pounding head, so decided to spend the day catching up on the reading for my course. I have never had to read so much for any of my studies so far, and I hardly made a dent. I have two weeks or so to write a paper and while I have an outline I am short on content and thus need to read. As short as I am on content I'm way shorter on words. This is not good - with all this free time I'm having trouble buckling down and getting my work done. Enough moaning, it's time to hit the books again.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Happy Birthday (and Guy Fawkes Day)

It's our beautiful blackdaughtero's 17th birthday today. Life with you gets better every day, my girl. You bring us joy and happiness. You are smart, funny and caring. There are no words that cover the love I feel for you. As ever, there are just two pieces of advice I will give you. The same advice since the day you were born. One, all boys are fools. Two, watch what they do and ignore what they say.

Happy Birthday blackdaughtero, you bring light into our lives.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hot and Dry

The days just fly by. I have been studying, going to class, reading and tonight I took some time out and caught up on my TV watching. I watched two new Time Teams, still my favorite and then I caught up on a few of this seasons new House. Seems funnier than last season, so I'm happy.

Now can someone please explain to me what is with this weather. It was hot today and unhumid. My hands are so dry that they don't even get wet when I do the dishes. Come on, let's have some rain already.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A tough day

It was a tough day at squint central. Such good people.