Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012

Happy New Year! May 2012 be all you want it to be.  We saw in the new year with the usual New Year's Eve bash.  It was a little smaller than usual, but no less fun. If we didn't do this party then all of us would just sit around or sleep through the New Year. We had a great time, Brian's music was hopping and there was the necessary too much food and drink  (we have a huge amount of soup left over, hopefully the squints will enjoy it and there is still Jem's beer left in the keg (where are you Stevie)).  I will post some photos when I get back home to the camera.  Now all that is left is the clean up.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Forgotten Pictures

Last Night I plugged my iphone in to charge from my windows laptop. it asked me if I wanted to look at the pictures I had on the phone. Now I don't remember ever having looked at the pictures, even though from time to very remote time I snap something with my phone when I have no camera (which usually lives in my bag). It's quite an interesting set of pictures from July 2010 onward. Here are a few (none of them are particularly good:


This is the view from the lobby of our accountant's office in Tel Aviv. I can't remember exactly why we were there, but it usually meant bad news.
Sometime in Aug 2010, bdo and I traveled up north to go visit some fool of a "not-boyfriend" of hers that was stuck at some army base for his birthday.  The good news was this humus. Oh and the fact that he is very muchan "ex not-boyfriend".
Every time I go to the airport I am always amazed at the amount of balloons (note these are mainly the expensive mylar kind). Surely people realize that the best thing about a balloon for a young kid are the few seconds of bliss and wonder watching it fly away, before the realization that it's now gone forever and the screaming starts.
My girl and the GraphTech monster that now works for a large chip company.
A few (really, these are just a few) of bwo's ebay iPhone accessory purchases. She assured me none cost more than 99c.
Holland. The girl loved her rented bicycle.  This little hut was in the woods near our chalet.  We found a Swastika graffitied inside the door.
Terrible picture, wonderful concert.  Arcade Fire at the Greek Theater Berkeley - thanks blackedwino.
Todd and Suzanne's spectacular house in Pennsylvania. It's perfect in every way.


A nice walk through the last two years.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sinterklaasje

Nephew blackedwino reminded me of last year's Christmas where we were all in Houston and we listened to David Sedaris' telling of a Dutch Christmas Story. Well, like all good things it is now available on YouTube.  You really should listen to this (Oh, and read all his books).


http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/dank-u-sinterklaasje.html


Merry Christmas one and all (even though I'm a day late).

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Another Year

This time of the year always gets me down.  For some reason I always miss the US and my family.  I miss the feeling of Christmas, even though I don't celebrate it.  I miss the lights on the houses, the kitschy Christmas decorations, even the horrible Christmas muzak that plays everywhere. I miss the Christmas specials on TV (that I never watch anyway, although I do like "It's a Wonderful Life").


It is also around this time that my dad passed away and I miss my family.  Tonight is the fifth candle of Hanukah, it's his yotsiet.  That may have something to do with this pensive mood. At least it's raining, that always makes me feel better.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Overeating

Yesterday was the first night of Hanukah.  It was also the day our new bosses sent us out for lunch at a "nice restaurant" to celebrate the year end.  So the squints went to Segev, one of the nicest restaurants in the country.  We had an excellent lunch.  Even my squints, bless them, had a hard time finding about what to complain.  They make this spicy sprout salad that is really one of the best things I have eaten in my life. There was delicious freshly baked bread, and even dessert. I ended up stuffed to the gills.


Then it was off to the in-laws for the first candle.  I managed to polish off a (large) number of latkes, my m-i-law's superior vegetable soup, as well as bwo's excellent sufganiot (doughnuts).


It is now 24 hours later and I still feel full.  I seem to be eating my own body weight each day.  This must stop!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Alrighty Then

We resisted. We said it would never happen. Objected and were determined. Not. Never. But.... eventually we folded and yes this year we will once again have a New Year's Eve Party.  True it will be a party-lite, partylet or dwarf-party (meaning no external DJ), but a party non the less.  How did it happen you may well ask. It was not due to public pressure, well not only.  I figured that seeing as we had a party last year when things were looking bleak indeed, it seemed fitting to celebrate this year.  And it's going to be 2012 nearly a great palindrome of a year (only one hundred years to go). Besides, one has to fight off the inertia that comes with age.  So guys, lets go for it!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

No Comment

I have to honestly say that I have never been less proud of what goes on in this country than what is currently happening with the settlers.  It's not enough that we have to put up with these "Price Tag" burning of mosques and cutting down of olive groves, but now the fanatics are attacking the army.  And, it seems, getting away with it.  It is despicable.  The soldiers, who are in the West bank to protect these settlers, should be honored, not called "Nazi's" and spat on. This is ridiculous behavior and certainly not based on any religion I grew up with. On the one hand, there is much good in the country.  There has been so much progress and hard work.  On the other there are the fanatics that will not stop until all the reasonable people pack up and leave.


In the last few days I have been thinking more and more seriously that I want no part of this. Maybe it really is time to move on.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shadow Art

Just check out these wonderful Sculptures of Shadow Art.  Some people are very talented.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Sick Day

I was sick yesterday.  I don't know what happened, but I never slept the night before, I tossed and turned aching all over.  You know the feeling, when your bones are sore and even the touch of the blanket is too much. I did not have a fever, I just felt crappy.  So I stayed home from work and slept in.  I then lazed around the house and listened to all those strange weekday sounds that a working fool rarely hears.  The sound of the lawn mowers and garbage men.  The kids walking back from school in the early afternoon.  The strange quiet that seems to covers the house when there is no one but me home (except for a sleeping son and daughter).


Then came Azziza.  She vacuumed and sponged and did dishes loudly.  She is still rather afraid of me and so very politely asked if I could move downstairs while she cleaned, all the while apologizing for having left the food she was going to bring at home. She is certainly not the most petite or gentle soul around the house - one can certainly tell when she is cleaning.


To take my mind off my illness, bwo gave me a huge pile of tangled wool to unravel. This is one of my favorite chores, and if I ever had a "blackpetero's holiday camp" (ala Tommy) I would give people huge rolls of tangled wool to unknot. I think there is something incredibly therapeutic in making order out of tangled, chaotic balls of wool. You start with an inconceivable mess of thread and slowly but surely you end up with neat piles of rolled up wool. Each a unique ball.  I am really lucky that my wife is so good at generating this raw material for me.  I immediately felt better.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rest

I had a wonderfully restful weekend.  No work, no archaeology, no stress. I actually read a book. I reread "The Player of Games" by Ian Banks.  A wonderful SF book that I have not read in maybe 20 years.  It was as good as I remember the first time.  I have not sat down and read a non work or studies related book in such a long time that just laying around reading felt like a privilege. I read this on my Kindle and I have to say it was a pleasant experience.


This morning it is back to work.  Not everyday is the weekend.   

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The In-Law's Car

My poor in-law's car was stolen this morning. Blackfatherinlawo got up to take the grandchildren to school, went downstairs and lo and behold, no car! Strange that this particular car should be stolen.  It is 19 years old.  Perhaps they really wanted the lawn bowls association bumper sticker. Needless to say, we were all convinced that the car was gone, never to be seen again except in little pieces spread around the land.


So I was most surprised when blackwifeo called me to tell me they had found the car in Jaljulya.  The only information we have so far is that the tires are missing. I am sure we will find out soon what else is gone. As little Orinet said "It's not good and it's not nice".

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tired

I am tired, tired, tired. Since I got back home from Spain and Poland I have not had time to relax and to "take a load off" as they say.  I have found that I am starting to drift in and out mid sentence when people are talking to me and sometimes I have to burn a lot of brain rubber to remember what they said by the time they get to the end of a sentence.  Hopefully this is just tiredness and not Alzheimer's. Tonight I am going to have an early night.  I will have some dinner and a shower and be in bed by 9pm (that's the plan at least).


Ooops, my eyes just closed for a bit with my fingers on the keyboard and I ended up with about 100 l's. This is not good. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Nose

I finally got home.  What a relief.  The worst experience I had on the way home was on the plane from Gdansk to Frankfurt. It was one of those small commuter jets with two rows of sets or two.  The plane was full. Sitting next to me was a funny little man in a suit and tie. I noticed that he had pushed into the boarding line much to the annoyance of the Germans all around.  He looked a little off.  He had those little "Mengele" round glasses and twitched a lot. He left his bag on my seat and seemed irate that I had dared to share his space. He muttered to himself a bit, then started to pick his nose. This went on for most of the 1 and 3/4 hour flight. At one point I got so disgusted that I got up, when to the (tiny) bathroom and brought him some tissues.  He did not get the hint, refused the tissues with a shake of his greasy head and went on digging for diamonds in his nose.  I am surprised his head did not cave in.


Then things got really bad.  He took out his cellphone and started playing Angry Birds.  With the sound on. I looked at him in disbelief, but he was totally oblivious and continued playing with the tinny sound of the game irritating me to where I nearly crushed the metal arm rest in my boiling rage.  Eventually I looked at him and said "Turn Off The Sound!!!", he looked at me without comprehension so I pointed to my ear, his phone and ran a finger menacingly across my neck. He turned off the sound and went back to picking his nose. I noticed all the passengers around me relax.


When we got off the plane and onto the shuttle bus to the terminal (these little commuter planes don't park at a jetway), the people sitting around me motioned me over to their side of the bus they thanked me for stopping the sound of the game and we had a good laugh.  They were all Germans on their way home after working in Gdansk. The assured me one and all "he definitely was not German".  They shuddered at the whole nose-picking thing.      

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Weary Traveller

No I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.  I am currently in Gdansk, Poland.  I left Barcelona yesterday after an incredibly intense bit of leadership training (10 days, solid work - well mostly). The training was excellent, we were given a real project to work and my team did a good job (the best team without a doubt). All in all it was a memorable but exhausting experience.  I did not get to see much of Barcelona, but we went rappelling at Monserrat, and took a cable car ride over the city.  I ate way too much food (lots of oily stuff) and am suffering from an extended lack of sleep.


When I arrived in Gdansk last night, it was 1 degree C and so very different from Barcelona.  I met some work people and we walked through the cold to a nice place for dinner. I am staying in the old city and the area is very picturesque. But, early this morning it was another hotel breakfast before driving to the office.  One more day and I am home, it has been too long. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Barcelona

I arrived on time in Barcelona having for some reason having to stop in Zurich to change planes. I took a taxi to the hotel (Miramar). Wow.  What a nice place.  It is in the middle of a set of botanical gardens, up the side of a mountain overlooking the city.  Prime position.  I checked in and went to my room.  They told me that even though I have a view of the city, I do not have a balcony, but I do have a skylight.  It's raining anyway so I was not too upset.

The room is great. Here are some pictures.  I figured since I can't seem to find my team, it seems most of them are only getting in tonight and tomorrow morning, I would take the time to post some pictures to share.
Check out the bath in the middle of the room.  Behind the bath are frosted glass doors housing the toilet and shower.  The basins are on the left.

This is the view from the bath side.  A nice desk and a little window, there is a bigger window on the left. The skylight is above the sofa.
This is the view from one window.
This is the view from the other.  Not bad hey.
Seeing as I had a few hours, I decided to take a walk down into the city.  This is the view just outside the hotel looking at downtown.

This is what the hotel looks like from below.  It is one hell of a climb back up I can tell you.  Took me a half hour to catch my breath when I got back up.

The statue of Christopher Columbus at the beginning of the downtown main drag.
I was fascinated  by this tower standing in the middle of the harbor and could not understand what it was for.  Then I saw that right next to our hotel is the cable car station. 
The view from my room this evening.


All in all not a terrible place.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Once Again, this time with feeling.

It's a little after 5am and I am sitting in the Dan lounge at Ben Gurion Airport.  Sadly, it has become a sort of second home. I'm not alone. There are a quite a number of zombified fellow travelers enjoying the stale rolls and running white cheese. I'm off to Barcelona to learn to be a leader (obviously we are slow learners as this will take more than a week) and then I'm to visit Gdansk, Poland for a few days. The Poland trip is to help me appreciate the weather here in Israel.


It is a sad place this lounge.  The lighting is dim so as not to stress one's tired eyes, there is mindless commercial TV babbling in the background and, of course, the glutteral  staccato rhythm of Hebrew. It is a language for giving orders. It is great for yelling at kids. Which is what the tired mother is is now doing to her bored two year old.  As a language it is also wonderful for shouting into cellphones and calling the hevreh (band of friends) over. There always seem to be bands of hevreh traveling together. I wonder where they are going. I don't think I have ever traveled with a hevreh.  Perhaps it is time to give it a try.  At least there would be someone to watch my bag and keep my seat when I go to the restroom. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tobbaco Road

I'm a lucky man. Not only is it perfect weather outside, dark and stormy with rain, but my nephew blackedwino sent me a pointer to this wonderful video of Eric Burdon and War doing the long version of Tobacco Road. This version comes from German TV in 1970. I love this song, it is a true classic. There are so many memories associated with this I can't even begin, most of them are not for you pure young people anyway. I know I have not been keeping Music Tuesday these days, I really have not been keeping much of anything actually, except for work and study. So sorry.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Doc

When you change jobs one of the most joyful experiences (not) is dealing with the various insurances and benefits. It appears that that our new (improved) disability insurance requires that I undergo a physical, and be checked by a "registered" doctor.  Some time last week I got a call from the completely unintelligible Russian admin of our insurance agent who I originally thought was trying to sell me a goat, but turns out, was telling me that a doctor would call and set up an appointment.


So I was not too surprised when the doctor called me on Sunday and asked me if he could come check me out as early as possible on Wednesday.  I asked if 5:30am was too early, he said yes, so we settled on 6:30. Dr. R. arrived promptly at 6:30 yesterday. He is an aging hipster wearing a ponytail and some workout clothes. He was quick to tell me does not usually do this but is helping out a friend. He unpacked his bag of tricks on the dining room table and produced the blood letting needle with which he was to take a sample of my precious life force. I explained to him that I have small veins and that usually the experienced nurse at the Kupah is the only one I let near my inner arm. He assured me he was experienced and has done this at least once before. Yulya, the nurse at the Kupah, who is the only one I trust to come near me with a needle once told me that doctors are by far the worst at taking blood.  They have no idea or finesse when it comes to finding the perfect vein. She is excellence. Dr. R. was not. He first grabbed my right arm, poked around with the needle for abut three minutes while I had to hold myself back from slapping him while clenching the edge of the table so tightly I left imprints of my fingers in the wood.  He could not find the vein.  "Strange", he muttered to himself, "I can see it, but I can't get any blood". I insisted that he change arms, and things went much smoother.  I still can't bend my right arm easily and have a huge purple bruise where he went exploring.


I started to really lose confidence when he took out the EKG machine and sat down to read the instructions. "It's a new kind of machine, and I have never used one before. You take the readings and then call the company and transmit the readings over the the phone. I think......" Hmmm. So he sticks the tape for the probes on me, presses the machine in the three relevant orientations, all the while checking the instructions and counting the beeps. This truly taxed his limited multitasking ability and the muttering increased. Finally this task was over and he called the control center to send my results. Not good enough they said.  So we did this again.  And again.


Now I am usually an extremely patient person (right!), but I had not eaten since noon the day before since I had to fast for 12 hours for the blood tests, and had got caught in a very serious techoarchaeological argument at the university the night before and so missed dinner. So I was a tad snappy. I did not bite his head off, but clenched my jaw so tightly that I nearly bit through all my fillings. Luckily all that was left were some forms, which did not take too long.


Of course, I was caught in traffic for 45mins on my way into work, as his promised 20mins took more than an hour, but that is a different complaint.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Our Reality

This new bill, limiting foreign funding of Israeli non-profits, passed by the Knesset's Committee on Legislation has got me worried. I wonder at what stage you have really stop calling yourself a democracy and face the fact that a certain portion (the majority) of this country is certain of what is right and what is more has god on its side, and really the rest of us are just here to pay taxes. The ever dwindling "left" will continue to protest the price of cottage cheese, the price of democracy is something none of us are prepared to pay.  We will watch as first the NGOs are eradicated and then the Supreme Court will be handcuffed, next settlers will take over the army, and Rabbis will decided how we spend our weekends, and housing will favor the religious, there will be segregation on buses and there will be no B'Tselem to interfere when Palestinians are "justifiably" beaten at roadblocks and we will be able to paint "Tag Mechir" graffiti where ever we want, especially on Peace Now activists.


And then Iran won't have to bomb us, as we will be them.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Icelandic language

On my walk down to the center today I was listening to a mediocre audiobook about the Geography of Happiness where the author visits Iceland, which apparently rates high on the happiness scale. He proposed a connection between Icelanders love for their language and their unusual level of contentedness in a cold, quite dark land. It seems Icelandic is the true language of the Vikings.


To make his point the author quoted this excellent poem below.  I thought you might enjoy it. I did.

The Icelandic Language

 In this language, no industrial revolution;
 no pasteurized milk; no oxygen, no telephone;
 only sheep, fish, horses, water falling.
 The middle class can hardly speak it.

 In this language, no flush toilet; you stumble
 through dark and rain with a handful of rags.
 The door groans; the old smell comes
 up from under the earth to meet you.

 But this language believes in ghosts;
 chairs rock by themselves under the lamp; horses
 neigh inside an empty gully, nothing
 at the bottom but moonlight and black rocks.

 The woman with marble hands whispers
 this language to you in your sleep; faces
 come to the window and sing rhymes; old ladies
 wind long hair, hum, tat, fold jam inside pancakes.

 In this language, you can't chit-chat
 holding a highball in your hand, can't
 even be polite. Once the sentence starts its course,
 all your grief and failure come clear at last.

 Old inflections move from case to case,
 gender to gender, softening consonants, darkening
 vowels, till they sound like the sea moving
 icebergs back and forth in its mouth.

-- Bill Holm

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Future

I met a futurist today. His job is finding systems and trends that have a predictable (in percentage) chance of happening. He claims the driving force behind technological development is our constant battle against the laws of nature that limit our "freedom". We strive to leave (or extend) our puny bodies and their baggage; this is why we invent internets, ipods and jumbo jets.


Funny, it made perfect sense when he said it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Story of a Shower Head


Let's talk shower heads, shall we.  The reason I left home last Saturday and braved the crowds at ACE in Shvayim was because we needed a new shower head. (It seems ACE in Shvayim is the place to bring your snotty, spotted, sticky children to climb on the merchandise, now that IKEA at Poleg burned down). Our old shower head was rubbish. The water here is so hard and the avnit (limescale) so virulent that no shower head lasts more than six months in this house. Bwo bought the last one and it was way to fancy, with three settings. I don't think it lasted three months. The wife and I pondered the various shower heads on display, they ranged from 29NIS (on sale) to over 200. I was all for getting the cheapest and simplest with no fancy features like Bahaman Massage or Thai Needles. No, I wanted a simple single function shower head. One that simply sprays water on the person below.


I was shocked awed when bwo agreed (after she had spent ten times longer than I could bear looking over and handling every single one of the shower heads). I was expecting a real battle to fight off the sixty-three function head that does everything and even makes pizza. But as I told you, we were getting on at the moment and she agreed that less is more. So we ended up with two of the very cheapest shower heads (29NIS on sale). 


As soon as we got home I installed one on the shower in our on-suite bathroom. Hmmmm, I thought, looks rather small and the beam of water coming out seems quite focused.  It turns out that this particular shower head (and the other we bought) was specifically made for a hand shower. You know the kind, they are attached to the taps in that thing called a bath that I have not used for 38 years.  So I was worried that in my frugality, I had shown a serious lack of judgement. There was no chance in hell that I was ever going back to ACE.  Not in this lifetime. So I decided to give it a try. Wowza!


The water fires out at a tremendous clip. The beam is so focused that it feels like it will penetrate right through your skin. It is more like shock treatment than showering. I love it. The head is similar to the picture above, except for the LED illuminated ring (I had to include this picture, how can one live without a green LED illuminated shower head? - it also comes in red). One interesting observation is the fact that the stream of water from our shower head does not increase in diameter once it has left the head. No, it barrels straight down and fires off your body, ricocheting with a very satisfying sound against the glass shower doors.
  
It is the little things in life that make it worth living.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rant

I have been pretty lax with the blog of late.  I know I should have told you about the new fridge and the fact that the old one still has pole position in the lounge. Or the girl leaving all her money in London and having to live on 50 Euros for four days in Amsterdam.  I should have told you about the new Prius and how shiny and black it is along with its plastic new car smell.  I could have told you about the upcoming trip to Barcelona for 10 days for "strategic planning and leadership training", followed by a few days in Poland, or about the (lack of) progress towards getting my MA thesis done.  I should have let you all know how much I love my new Kindle and my young wife.  Or why there are so many mosquitoes around or how Azziza has broken every single whiskey glass in the house (including the really nice crystal ones). Perhaps you would have been interested in the nightmarish trip, along with the rest of Israel, to ACE at Shevayim on Saturday, or how much I look forward to Tuesdays when I go to class at the university. I know know I should have explained all about how saying "banana" has saved our marriage and how good it is the the boy is actually doing his homework for college.  Maybe it would have been a good idea to tell you all about the 15 or so new cats we have hanging around and how Jeffery (she could be a girl) is the cutest of the lot. I should have subjected you to my views on the crisis with Iran or how the ridiculous it appears to me that the Histadrut is striking to raise the lot of the "temporary" work, a role they themselves created. Or the rain, the juicy oranges, the rice I had for dinner, or the Snickers the wife bought me and then ate herself, or the roads and sanitation, evolution, stress, driving into the same parking lot morning after morning after morning.

But you know what.  I won't.  So there.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Girl is Setting Off

Tomorrow our baby girls turns 18.  Today she flies out on her own to London, then Amsterdam, then back to London and off to Houston, then Toronto and then back to Houston and back home.  All this in a month.  I hope she has a great time.  Both bwo and I are very nervous, which is to be expected as the girl (bdo) is not really internationally renowned for her foresight and planning.  So off she goes with our blessing, credit card and Tylenol.  At some point you have to say bye to your kids and let them out. The hole they leave behind is enormous and dark.

Be safe. little girl, we will leave the lights on for you.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Another Good Weekend

I have had a wonderful weekend.  I managed to spend many hours studying and even did some work.  I read a book this afternoon, messed with the Megiddo pictures and database and spent some time reading to get some background for my thesis.


Tomorrow it is two days in courses in Haifa.  I hope I can stay awake.  Sorry these last blog posts have been rather meek and mild, but I have been busy and blogging has been far from my mind.


Spending those two days "digging" at Megiddo this last week has really motivated me. There are so many interesting things to do - I am happy to be able to focus again.  I really had trouble with this the last few months.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Home

I am back home. Sunburned, sore and tired, but happy.  I had a great time with the Megiddo archaeologists and Weitzmann scientists. I leaned a huge amount. After a lot of experimentation and false starts, we managed to get a technology process in place for next summer. I was treated very well, even to the point of special veggie food provided. I will sleep in my bed tonight, which is nice, and then it's back to work.  According to my calendar, I have a full day tomorrow.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Day of Archaeology

I had a fine time today playing with the archaeologists. Lots of technical work with total stations, databases and dig methodology.  I love it.  Now we are sitting here in the "lounge" of the guest houses (I use this lightly) connected to the wifi and chatting after dinner as archaeologists do.  It has been very good.  More tomorrow and then back home and back to work.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Macbook Love

I finally had enough of the crappy HP laptop of the boy's that I have been using upstairs in my easychair. It is a horrible machine, it doesn't charge unless you hold the power supply jack at the right angle, it's screen is small and crowded, and the keyboard is iffy. I decided to resurrect my old Macbook - the 17" monster laptop. I forgot just how much I love this machine.  It has been sitting downstairs next to my desktop, loyally serving music, audiobooks and TV series.  This is the clearest, biggest, and most beautiful screen there exists.  So it's a bit heavy and rather bulky. Oh, and it get nuclear hot when it's charging. But all it needed was the "lapdesk" I got as a "day one" gift from the new employers.  A plastic surface with a lap cushion filled with little styrofoam pellets. The perfect heat isolator.


So now I'm sitting here in my orange easychair (yes it is not black, but that is another story), typing away on my 4 year old Macbook pro - it's still the best machine I have ever owned.


I'm off tomorrow for two days (if I last two days that is) digging with the Weitzmann at Megiddo.  I am a little nervous as I have not really been able to prepare well for this.  I am not sure what they want from me, but I am sure I will find out soon enough. Time to change hats (and boots) and pretend I'm an archaeologist (or archaeotechnologist - my newly made up title).

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Holiday

What a nice day I had.  It's a holiday and I decided to take the day off.  No archaeology, no work, no nothing.  I slept late (7:30am), lazed around in the morning, went to friends for lunch and quality time with the "hevrah". Came home, had a nap, a quick wok call (OK so not completely work free) and now I'm sitting in my easy chair and blogging on my Macbook.


I have been reading an old but much loved Jack London book (The Star Rover) on my lovely new Kindle. It is an excellent piece of technology and well worth the $79. I downloaded a bunch of classics that I wanted to reread and the Kindle is the answer.  My only complaint is that it does not do a good job with pdfs (I have millions to read for my thesis), but I expected that to be the case.  


All in all a good day.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sowing the Seeds

I totally forgot to blog the last few days.  No specific reason, I just forgot.  I am glad that it is Tuesday and I can post a music video.  This song has been going around in my head since I saw a movie about a prison gardener on the plane from Toronto.  It is Tears for Fears and Sowing the Seeds of Love. See if you can stop singing this in your head after listening.



p.s. Welcome home Gilad Shalit.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

53 Minutes

53 minutes from the time the plane's wheels touch the ground at Ben Gurion to walking in the front door to be greeted by my beautiful wife. A record.  This includes getting my checked luggage. That was the best thing about the flight from Toronto to TA.  Let me just mention - 4 year old kid, tired parents, sleeping draped over poor bpo in the next seat.  My right arm is bruised from his head butts while sleeping. I definitely lost the continual battle to keep him in his own seat.

It is always wonderful to get home. The trip was productive and worthwhile, but travel sure takes it out of one.  I scored a direct hit with the Benefit potions and lotions I bought for my ladies.  (The Benefit sales lady was so good - she completely won me over when she asked if one gift is for my wife and one for a "young lady friend".  She claimed she was shocked to learn I had an 18 year old daughter. Excellence in salesmanship).

I have now watched every B movie out there, including a host of Canadian and German second rate films. I am sick of airplane food.  I need salad.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Folsom Points

Some stand out points regarding Folsom California:

  • The conference rooms are freezing. I am sitting here in three layers (T shirt, shirt, sweater) and I am still cold.  I never get cold.
  • It is dark until around 7am. I walked from the hotel to work at 6:30am and it was pitch dark all the way.
  • They could use a few more colors in this building and why did they block off half the windows.
  • It rained yesterday and I am so far from the outside (in any direction) that I only found out at lunchtime.
  • The shower, while nice, is no where as good at the one in Poland.
  • Chipotles still rules.
  • There are lots and lots and lots of cubes (they all look the same).
  • If you don't come to work before 8am you may as well park at the hotel.
  • Bagels are still the best breakfast food in the world.
  • The coffee in America needs a lot of work before it comes even close to 80%
  • Almost every meal has rice.
  • It was freezing in the conference rooms.  Really freezing.
More to come soon.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day One in California


I realize that the picture above is not the best, but it's the best I can do with my iPhone.  This is the view from my hotel window here in Folsom.  My kids will be jealous (eat your hearts out Heckle and Jeckle). We are here.  It took a long while, there were some good points and some less good, but we are here.

The flight from TA to Frankfurt was full to exploding.  I was crammed in and cramped.  The guy in the seat next to me, walked on the plane and immediately dropped off into what I can only believe was a drugged sleep.  He then started to settle on my half of the arm rest.  I know it sounds petty but when you only have a few centimeters to move around in, an armrest is crucial.

We arrived in Frankfurt while the airport was still sleeping.  The business lounge luckily opens at 5:15am and we were their first customers. Very nice indeed (one good point).  There was food, free wifi, and a nice view of the runway and planes with the fog rolling in. The fog rolled off in time for an on-time departure (another good thing).  The plane was this enormous new Airbus A380 which looks like it really shouldn't fly (kind of like a whale or dolphin or aquatic creature of some kind). Well fly it did.  I scored the very best seat in economy (76K) which is an emergency exit row with no seat in front of my window seat. Score (the very best good thing). Everyone was so jealous that they struck up conversations with me just to find out how I magically got this seat (I just asked the ticketing agent in TA).

I did get cornered by this American woman who chatted me half to death while I was stretching my legs in the open space in front of my seat.  She really  talked up a storm.  So much so the German guy sitting next to me, saved me (with mention of food cart trapment, iff she did not go back to her seat). He looked at me and shook his head and said "Those Americans, they love to talk, I bet you know her whole history". It's true I know everything from the painful divorce through the child rearing, religion, terrorism, the roads, the Governor. And that was just in the first five minutes when she still thought I would give up my seat if she talked nicely to me.

We arrive in San Fran on time.  We motored up to Folsom, checked in and immediately went shopping. Yochai was the most decisive I have ever seen him, buying clothes for himslef and his family.  Dinner at Chipotles, now my head is swimming and it's only 8pm.  I'm going to crash. O.K. I have.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Away Again

I had a restful day after my fast yesterday. My stomach is feeling none too good, but that could also have a lot to do with the upcoming trip to the West Coast in the next few hours.  I don't like traveling. I don't mind being there, in fact, I really like it. It's the getting there that I find so unpleasant. All that touching of other people and the being cramped in a metal tube.  It seems one of our legs (Frankfurt to San Fran) we will be flying in a new Airbus 380.  I saw one of these giants when we stopped in Frankfurt on our way back from Gdansk. Absolutely huge. My seat is in row 78 or something.  And it has two stories. All it probably means is more people squashed together into smaller seats placed so close together that their seat backs are in your teeth.


I will update you all from Northern California.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fasting

Some say I'm a little strange for fasting today. I think it makes perfect sense. I am flying out to the US tomorrow night (Sat night, post Yom Kippur). Usually once I break my fast, I don't feel all that good and my stomach and head seem to revolt. It's not the fast itself that is so bad, it's how I feel afterwards. So I decided to fast a day early. Fasting for me is not about the religion or atonement (not that I don't have sins to atone for), but rather about spending one day a year being grateful that I typically have a full stomach and no end of liquids to drink. So moving the fast one day forward is no big deal. I started my fast last night, with a wonderful pre-fast dinner (veggie meat loaf, broccoli pie, rice and cold cold water). I will break my fast this evening when most Jews are starting theirs. I will enjoy the car free day tomorrow, instead for spending it indoors as I usually do.

So far it's going well, thanks for asking.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lane Hogs

Where is DLM when you need him.  I have been noticing an increasingly annoying phenomenon lately. The whole driving with two of your wheels in the next lane thing.  So most of your car is in one lane, but you leave the option of switching lanes open by driving with just your two (usually left) wheels in the next lane. OK people, the rule is simple. One car, one lane.  If you want to change lanes, indicate, and then move into the other lane (when it is clear, of course). You may not reserve the right to change lanes should the traffic in your lane slow down by staking a claim to some of the real estate in the adjacent lane. What do you think this is? The West Bank?


I thought we had stamped out this problematic behavior a number of years back. But like bad disco music (Won't you take me to, Funky Town) it seems to be back. DLM please help.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Radio Days

It has been a while since I listened to the radio.  My temporary car, Dieter the white Jetta, has no aux input so I cannot listen to my usual fare of lectures, podcasts and audiobooks.  I had to do a bit of driving today (actually I was mostly stuck in traffic) and spent the time listening to the radio.

How depressing.  The BBC went off the air just as I set out, so I had to listen to Reshet Bet, the Israeli answer to talk radio.  The medical residents are planning to walk out in 48 hrs.  They are being paid (I think I heard this correctly) somewhere around 28NIS an hour. They work horrible hours (36 hour shifts) and are expected to look after the sick and dying.  There apparently are between 700-800 residents who are planning to resign, and everyone is hysterical about the imminent demise of healthcare here. The interviewer asked why the "whole medical system will collapse" if 700-800 members of what are more than 22000 medical professionals in Israel resign.  Everyone on the panel (doctors and residents) agreed, that these residents do all the work. All they actually wanted was to talk to Bibi, who it seems is the Minister of Health, along with his day job of pretending to be PM. It seems based on tonight's news that they got their wish. Oh, and on top of that the residents were complaining that Bibi does even use the public health system - he goes private all the way.

The other depressing news I listened to was the whole story of the pigs that burned the mosque in Tuba-Zangariyya. I have no words for this. "Price Tag" indeed. I wonder who will pay the price in the end.

Yes and Assad claims "Syria will shower Tel Aviv with rockets if attacked by foreign powers". And you dare wonder why I prefer listening to lectures.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Love

I love our new fridge. So silver and clean. A freezer below.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Moan, moan, moan

The New Year is over. The big meal with the usual suspects has happened and all that is left are a lot of plates and pots to put back in the cupboard.  I must admit that I enjoy these big festive meals less and less as the years go on.  I miss my family, who are mostly all together in Houston.  I am tired of these huge meat based meals, with enough food to feed an army and the family friends who "only drink single-malt". I don't know what the solution is and I would probably miss the whole spiel if we were to cancel in future. But I find it tiring. This long weekend has put me in a bad mood, because no one seems to care when the kitchen is a mess and the dishwasher full and the fridge empty. Oh and we have all or friends coming over tomorrow, but its a pot luck and hopefully they will bring food (I am sure it will be meat). They are usually great about helping to clean up after, though.


Just ignore me.  I am miserable because I had a migraine today and it won't go away. It's my blog and I will be a misery if I want!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Solid Air

Yesterday was Tuesday and I forgot about the music.  So here you go.  "Solid Air" by John Martyn is one of those albums from my youth that never gets old.  It was released in 1973 when I was 13 and I still listen to it with great joy. I saddened by John Martyn's death in 2009, his excellent guitar work was one of the main reasons I spent much of my youth playing till my fingers bled. Selwyn posted a pointer to this clip on YouTube. Filmed in 1978 this excellent live version of Solid Air has 3 minutes of an unscheduled guitar string replacement at the beginning. What a power!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cars

I'm on my third temporary car, since I handed in my squintified Honda Insight (black), and while waiting for my squintelified Toyota Prius (black).  The first temporary car was a stinky (cigarettes) Hyundai i30 that had no working aux input and was loose (like a sad overused prostitute), then came the dreadful Chevy Cruze that smelled like a brothel, moaned when stationary, and had a wind-up rubber band instead of an engine. Now I get to drive a Volkswagen Jetta (Don't mention the war!!!) that has no Aux input or bluetooth (pronounced "bluetooosss" locally). Those Germans make nice cars.  It is tight. It feels like every nut and bolt has been tightened to perfection.  Only things that are supposed to move do.  It marches instead of drives and has no sense of humor. It's a understated serious white color.


It wants to listen to the BBC, no music or even lighthearted podcasts for Dieter the Jetta.


We flew to (and from) Poland on Lufthansa and their safety video had a picture of the consummate German woman in a flight attendants uniform with shiney white teeth and very Aryan features.  I looked for a picture of her on YouTube, but all I could find was the video below, which is entertaining in its own right.  This is what should play when one is seated in Dieter the Jetta.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Home

I am happily back home.  The trip to Gdansk was actually very good. Nice people, good (and inexpensive) food, excellent shower and a bit of rain.  I got back home at 5am this morning. The best thing about traveling is two flights in a row with empty seats next to one.  It even makes flying bearable. I am still a little woozy from lack of sleep.  I think I will go lay down.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Noticeable things about Poland

Some things that are noticeable about Poland:

  • The shower in the hotel is a 10.
  • They really do sit in the dark.
  • You have to bring your own coffee cup to work (there are no paper cups).
  • In meetings they talk softly and slowly.
  • The are no women on our floor or in our meetings (except Shirley).
  • We have seen no police or soldiers (uniforms) anywhere on the streets.
  • Stuff is quite inexpensive (compared to Israel).
  • They don't serve tap water in restaurants.
  • Wifi costs money, but internet with a cable is free in the hotel.
  • The trees look sad.
  • Polish sounds a lot like Russian (maybe it is).
  • If the airline loses your luggage you must ask for an overnight bag of goodies (if you don't ask you won't get one).
  • There is construction everywhere (especially on the roads).
  • Poles are polite.
  • There are lots and lots of churches.
  • There is always (in Europe) an Ikea on the way from the airport.
  • There is a deep love for multiple exclamation marks !!!!!!
  • Did I mention, the shower in the hotel is a 10?
More to follow.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Saga (in Polish)

And who said that the Germans were more than 80%? Our plane into Munich arrived exactly on time, which required a stressed and very hurried rush through immigration and then through security in order not to miss our connection to Gdansk. After storming the whole length of the Munich terminal we arrived at our gate (G02), only to find our flight had been delayed 20 mins.


We boarded the buses for the drive out to the small commuter plane for the hop to Gdansk (1hr15m), only to be kept waiting for a further 20mins in the sweaty bus (it was raining outside) while they fueled the plane.  We boarded the plane and waited.  The flight crew looked quite harassed and once we were all strapped in the captain gave a very long explanation in German and a much shorter one in English.  Seems there was one passenger too much on the flight. Big problem.  No one volunteered to leave the flight. So they checked boarding passes (20 mins). Everyone's boarding pass was good (10 minute explanation in German, 3 minutes in English).  They now needed to check each person's name against the passenger manifest. They started got half way and then for some reason started again (45 minutes). The captain (very tall chap for such a small plane) handed out glasses of water to calm frayed nerves. Lucky there were only about 100 passengers or else we would still be counting and recounting. They eventually found the problem - two people with the exact same name (there were many Asians on the flight). After another long explanation in German, and an apology for Lufthansa's ineptitude in this day and age of computers, we were finally off. What? No flight can have two people with the same name?


We arrive in Gdansk (Lech Walensa Airport). A airport that looks like it has not changed much since the days of communism. It is now quite late (11pm) and the place is asleep.  We wait for all the luggage to come out (20mins) when lo and behold, my case arrives but Shirley's and Jacky's are no where to be seen.  Off to the lost and found we go.  Another 30mins and out comes rather miffed Jacky and Shirley with forms and little overnight courtesy bags (toothpaste etc). They promise to deliver the bags to the hotel by noon the next day. Lovely!


We get to our hotel after driving through much road work.  Spend a further 30mins checking in with the rather slow night watchman. My room does have the very best shower though.  I think I'll go have another. I'm too old for all of this.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Off to Poland

Like many in the country I have been following the story of the hit-and-run killing of Lee Zeitouni in Tel Aviv on Friday morning. I followed the news the whole weekend - from the search for the black BMW X6, to finding it in a building's parking lot in TA. Then the realization that the owner/driver had skipped the country on Friday afternoon, taking his whole family back to Paris where he came from. This does not do much for the disastrous image of the French in Tel Aviv. I hope they find a way to bring the rubbish back to trial here in Israel.  The owner of the vehicle "promised to return to Israel".  Right!


I am off to Poland for the week.  I am not sure if I will be able to blog. I'll let you know.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Moan

Took me one hour 27 minutes to get to work this morning.  Walking takes one and a quarter hours.  I had to first go to the post office to pick up my new passport (the old one had expired and I am off to Poland for work on Sunday) so I could only leave Raanana around 8:05am. My five minutes in the Post Office was an experience in its own right, but I will save the whole post office numbering issue before the doors open for another time. Needless to say I have further proof my fellow Raananians are not the sharpest when it comes to paper numbers.

It appears there was a "suspicious object" at Glilot Junction and this cause a monster back up. This sort of thing brings out the worst in my brother and sister citizens.  There was not an intersection that was not jammed full of cars causing deadlock.  Every single street between Raanana and Herzliya was packed full of cars in every direction and no one was moving. I had to spend the time listening to the depressing talk radio news shows as my mp3 ran out of batteries (and the rubbish Chevy Cruise's cigarette lighter socket does charge - horrible car). The worst thing is that this (champagne colored) car is possessed. It moans when you stop and start. It's as if there is a sad spirit (perhaps of a decent car) trapped in the boot crying to get out.  I am not sure where the sound comes from, but every time you start moving forward or brake to a stop, the car moans.  It is all most distressing. Especially for an hour and a half in non-moving traffic.

Now you know why I get up at 5am normally and drive to work in peace and quiet.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mr. Blue Sky

I can't help it this song just makes me smile. What can I do, I know it's not cool but I like ELO. It is so bloody eighties. So you'll have to have Music Tuesday two days in a row.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rodrigo y Gabriella

Someone posted a FB link to these guys a while back (I can't remember who) but this is guitar virtuosity at its finest.  I like the thrashing she gives her guitar. Rodrigo y Gabriella.



Check out their other videos on YouTube. I particularly like this Metallica cover.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Love

I have to say I'm impressed with my family.  We work well together. We went (all of us) to the shrink yesterday and I think we did nicely. We are not as messed up as one would think - at least she seems to think so. I love my kids (and wife). I'm a lucky chap.

To show how well adjusted we are, we are actually having supper together (at the same time) tonight as a sort of celebration.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Tickets Please

I was invited for a blood test yesterday by our Kupat Holim (Medical Coverage Provider). A nice lady called me during the week and told me that it was time for me to have my cholesterol, blood pressure and BMI checked as part of their regular maintenance program.  I was told to come to the lab (on the second floor) on Friday any time between 9 and 10:30am. Oh, and I needed to fast for 10-12 hours before the test.

I arrived at the lab at exactly 8:58am only to find 5 or 6 people already sitting and waiting.  I went over to the number giving machine and swiped my card to be told that I could only get a number for an ultrasound.  So I went back to the lab waiting area and noticed a roll of paper numbers on a chair near the entrance.  So I took a number and sat down on the chair next to the roll.  Soon more people showed up.  Each person came into the lab waiting area, looked around, saw the growing crowd, walked out and tried to get a number from the usual automatic number giving machine. They would then come back in, look confused, and stand by the door. Clearly dazed after the 12 hour fast and lack of coffee. So I took the initiative and started handing out numbers.  Out of the blue Kate showed up, she had come to get a new card, but sadly the offices are closed on a Friday, so she sat down next to me and we started to take the whole issue of handing out numbers seriously.

People did not trust us. They would go back and forth between the automatic number giving machine in the lobby and the lab waiting room and ask again "are you sure these are the numbers for the lab?".  It was almost as if they thought I was giving out fake numbers, all the while selling the real numbers on the black market.  A lively conversation started up about the whole number issue and my unappreciated good Samaritan role and the general lack opf trust in today's society. Then my number came up and into the lab I went.

I dutifully informed the nice lady taking blood that the fact that there is no explanation associated with the roll of numbers laying on the chair by the door makes the natives very nervous.  She explained that on Fridays the central number assigning computer is not operational (obviously preparing for the Shabbat meal) and therefore there are no computerized numbers allocated.  She was quite proud of her ad-hoc solution of the paper number roll.  I suggested the addition of a simple sign explaining the situation would go far to improving moral and general dis-ease with the situation.

This story illustrates how far we in Israel have come.  Just a few years back there would be general mayhem, pushing and jostling for the place at the front of the queue which would be wedged shaped like rock music fans squeezing through tiny exits after a crowded show. Today we expect technology to provide answers.  We want automated numbers, unencumbered by preference or protectckia.  The people are not even happy with paper numbers - at least in Raanana they aren't.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Russians Are Coming

Yesterday squint central was rewired.  Our old network was ripped from the walls and roofs and replaced with brand spanking new high performance wiring. The work started at 3pm with the arrival of the "wiring team". 15 Russians.  Nikita Khrushchev would have been proud.  They marched in and started working.  Climbing ladders, swinging cables, all the time talking loudly in Russian.  There were big ones, small ones, but not one word of any language except Russian was spoken between the crew.  The crew boss, a fast walking, Russian-Israeli packing the obligatory cell phone, on which he constantly shouted in Russian, and carrying a nice brown man-bag, controlled the crew like the conductor of the Moscow Symphony.  Just watching them work was entertaining.

No question, the best Aliya this country has ever seen.  I could not help posting this most Russian of clips.  I just love the waving girls. I swear the guy singing was the one sticking labels on the cat5 cables yesterday. Makes me want to go out and eat herring washed down with vodka.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

You Can Call Me Steve

It happened again yesterday.  I was introduced to someone - he was clearly told my name. In the next sentence he called me "Steve". If this was an isolated incident I would understand, but it happens all the time here in Israel. Someone is told my name and they immediately turn around and call me "Steve". For a while I thought this was just something that happened to all Anglos. Perhaps they call all of us Steve, sort of a collective name. But on further research it has been established that I alone suffer from the occasional "Steveing". Perhaps I look like a Steve and it is never any other name, always Steve. Then I realized, my last name, it is similar to "Austin". So perhaps they make the connection with Steve Austin - that's it, I'm actually the Six Million Dollar Man (or in Hebrew - "Steve Austin, The Man Who Was Worth Millions.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Casimir Pulaski Day

A most excellent song, sad and beautiful.  I like this live version.  Sufjan Stevens, Casimir Pulashi Day.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Couldn't resist posting this

Perfectly normal day with nothing to post, so check out these signs, you won't be sorry.

Also go to www.google.com today (Monday) and press play (or go to this in the Washington Post). Freddie Rules.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Nostalgia

While cleaning up the down-down stairs yesterday I came upon this photo of Stephanie, my first car (named after my big brother's first car). She was a 1978 Ford Escort 1100cc. That car went forever. She did over 200,000 hard kilometers.  Went down to Sharm three times, Nuweba and Dahab at least half a dozen times. She was the sole transportation of the record store and did the Tel Aviv, Jerusalem run at least once a week.  You really needed to know how to drive to get up those hills - If you were really skilled you could do it all without going below 3rd, but it was tough.  Her engine was rebuilt twice, the steering wheel once came off in my hands as I was motoring down Herzog in Jerusalem.  She had three different stereo systems stolen out of her in her lifetime, and shlepped a mobile disco sound system around Jerusalem for at least 3 years. There were countless nights where we sat in her, listening to music and speaking till morning. No a/c (unheard of in those days) and no power steering, she had a heart of gold.

That's Rehov Shwartz she's parked on in the picture.  Just outside the Fed flats.  Check out how there are no buildings on that side of the road except for the nursery school.  That was 30 years ago - unbelievable.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I was right

I was right 13 times yesterday.  This is unheard of. And from my many years of Blackwifeo  experience, it will never happen again.  More incredibly, these "rights" had to do with her family, a subject I have never ever been close to right in the past. So even while basking in the glow,  I was a little worried, so I checked to make sure she had not been replaced by aliens. The test was simple, I boxed up some books from the hundreds of thousands we have down-down stairs and put them outside to be donated to Ezra.  My fears of spousal alien replacement were quickly alleviated as she quickly set aside a pile of books to keep. No alien technology could replicate that finely honed "put aside for a rainy day, just in case" gene.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Dentist Chair

I was sitting in my dentist's chair today and thinking.  We have come a long way.  I remember the absolute terror, fear that could turn my blood to icy water, when as a youngster I would have to go to the dentist for my half year check up.  He always hurt me. There was always "work" that needed to be done. The shooting pain of the drill hitting a nerve (injections of dental anesthetics were unheard of, at least by our dentist back in Africa), the smell of his Dentyne chewing gum, the waiting room at his offices on that steep road going down to town are all etched in my memory. I get shivers just thinking of them.  What is amazing is that I'm not scarred for life with debilitating dentophobia (it's real just look on Wikipedia).

My dentist today is wonderful.  He is sort of a family member (my sister-in-law's brother), a mench and a really good dentist.  No pain.  He is gentle and kind.  Patient and skilled.  I sat back while waiting for the numbing injection to take hold, amazed that the stuff he rubbed on my gums meant I could feel not a pin prick, and thought of that chair I so hated all those years ago.  The office today was quite busy and he kept up a conversation with a number of people, including the nurse, his daughter the receptionist, two patients in the waiting room and me (although I could just umm and arrrh with his fingers in my mouth).  The whole office had the relaxed efficiency that seems a hallmark of Israel when it works. This was all so different from the formal, starched and stiff dentist of my youth wearing his light blue safari suit.

So I ended up with one more filling. He says I have only a single untouched tooth left. After he was done we chatted about growing up in PE while he waited for his next patient, and soon I was on my way. I had spent a few hours in the early morning covering some online course requirements for my new job.  At one point I was instructed to spend a few minutes and come up with my own set of core values.  I have thought about these a lot over the last few years so the task was not a burden. Excellence has always been on the list. I try appreciate it in any form. My dentist is excellent.  What more can you ask?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Our 15 Minutes

The article in the Israeli business papers:

the Marker (with picture)

Calcalist

They are both in Hebrew. Sorry.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sorry - Music Tuesday Reprise

Bno, rightfully spanked me for not respecting Music Tuesday.  He is right, even though he lives in Cleveland.  Here are two clips to make up.


Most unbelievable 12 string guitar virtuosity. John Butler, as pointed out by bso.



Bno was always a dedicated follower of the Muppets. Here is OK Go's version of their theme song:


Agggg

I had to give back the Insight. I wasn't too upset, as I never really bonded with it. I've never been one that cares too much about cars. I like them to go from here to there, and to be clean, and quiet. I've chosen a black Prius for my next vehicles, but while it's being ordered, I am stuck with temporary replacements.

On Sunday I was presented with a Huyundai i30.  Quite a horrid little thing.  The indicators did not click back after you turn, the window cleaning fluid did not squirt. It smelled like a brothel and worst yet, the aux. input was faulty. I could not listen to my lectures on Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean. This just would not do so Carmit got on the phone and they changed the car out today.

Believe it or not, the piece of crap Chevrolet I was presented with today is even worse. I have never driven a more underpowered car. Even the mizbeleh would leave it standing at a traffic light. And it makes a noise like a D200 earth mover. If you leave the A/C on while driving you need to get out and push. It keeps jerking from gear to gear, maybe it's broken. I'm just too embarrassed to say anything. I think I'll just wait for my Prius (maybe start walking to work).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Be Safe Out There

To all our friends and family on the East Coast be well and be dry.  Nature rules!

Here is a little encouragement from us in the Holy Land.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Squints => Squintels


After many months of late night meetings with lawyers, grovelling to customers, parking in various visitors lots in Haifa and Petach Tikva, the squints are now squintels.  While it is sad to close the doors on 5+ years at squint central, the future looks to be quite interesting. We are not moving, so the fun will continue at HaMenofim 1.  I have a great team and I'm happy we will remain together going forward to bigger and better things.


This is why I have been so busy and stressed. Hopefully now I will be able to sleep.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Movies in My Mind

I been living with the strangest sensation for the last few weeks. It's like I know almost everyone that I see. As if there are no more strangers in the world and I've met everyone I pass. I know them all: the guy in the car next to me at the traffic light, the girls with the nice legs that walked past the restaurant last night, the cashiers at the supermarket and all the squints walking around the streets outside the office window. Clearly, on one level I know I have never met these people before, but my mind seems to be constantly spinning trying to pattern match each person to the situation where I met them. The identification routines are working overtime, flipping through index cards, pouring over old photos and reconstructing situations and scenarios. This causes a lot of wasted horsepower and I hate waste.

I'm thinking this is all tied to the lack of sleep. I seem to remember a Star Trek episode where Riker is abducted by some scaly aliens during sleep who are messing with his mind. Maybe these same aliens are screening movies in my brain. Hmmmm. Could happen. It's quite unsettling, it's not like I like people enough to want to know all of them.

Tents

Our girl has been spending quite a bit of time at the tent city (well more like a hamlet) that sprung up at Yad LeBanim in Raanana.  These tents are part of the greater social protests going on around the country.  She sleeps over there when she can and has been baby sitting the children of the tent people during the days when she is free (she has been working at a coffee shop in the center of town).  I asked her what she is protesting as she seemed generally to believe that the money tree in the garden is always in full bloom.  She told me it is unfair that people can't get affordable housing in Raanana and that anyway there are cute boys hanging out around the tents.  She has a well developed social conscience (and social program - the other social). She is lovely and a joy to have around. Funny and quick, with the perfect amount of the grumpy misery gene. She has really grown up the last few months. Pity the fool....

Friday, August 19, 2011

Advice

A friend's son come by this morning for some advice (he must be pretty deperate if he is coming to me for advice, I feel so old). He is just about finishing the army where he works in a computer related field.  He seems good at what he does.  He told me he sort of feels like a fish out of water here in Israel.  He was born here and has lived here all his life, but feels he does not belong.  He thinks he belongs in the States.

I sort of identified with him.  I never really felt I belonged in SA and left as soon as I was able.  I never really had anything special against the country (well I didn't like apartheid). In fact, growing up in PE was very pleasant.  I just knew that I could not live there, my future was elsewhere.  Israel seemed the right choice at the time and, you know, it probably was.  So I understand his problem.  He has it tough though. There is no easy way for an Israeli without good connections to find work (and a visa) in the US and studying as a foreign student is very expensive. 

So I told him to make a plan.  Understand the goal and then plan what you need to do to get there. I truly believe one needs to go to college, there is just no alternative in this world. So see how much colleges cost, and figure out how much it would cost to live.  Look into various financial aid plans, look at scholarships, understand the visa and medical coverage issues. Do some research and when you know everything about what it takes to go to the US, work out how long you need to work here or sign on with the army to cover the money part. It clearly will not be easy, but if you want it, make it happen. The remarkable thing is he seemed to listen to me. He took it all quite seriously. He seems realistic and I think he might actually get a plan together and achieve his goal.

Now why can't my kids listen like that?