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


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


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


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


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