Sunday, January 30, 2011

8099 not 80

I suppose all internet service providers are lousy, but Bezeqint must rank among the worst. The reason I hate them so much is this song. I refuse to give this noise the honor being posted on my blog. I have had a lot of trouble with trying to get to the bottom of the issue with why port 80 (the http port) does not work coming into my network. I have spent hours listening to this song going round and round while waiting for service representatives that have no sign of clue. They have tried to explain to me that is port 80 on my router was not working, I would not be able to browse on the net. No amount of explaining that I'm talking about port 80 coming into my house - not my browser (which browses to port 80 on the site I'm browsing to). They have now given up with me and have passed me on the Bezek the phone company - I have been waiting 23 minutes. And I'm certain they will have no idea how to fix this either (It's probably the router itself).

So if you ever have the desire to browse to you'll need to go to


p.s. 45 minutes on the phone (this time) - at least they're changing out the router.

Friday, January 28, 2011


I got to Masada today. I can't remember the last time I was there. I had recently read Yigal Yadin's book on the excavations he headed there, and enjoyed the visit immensely. It was quite hot up on the summit and I was happy the guys I were with did not feel the need to stay there too long. We then took a trip up to Jerusalem, were prevented from going to the east side of the old city by the cops, but had a good time anyway.

The painted walls in Herod's palace are quite something. The color, while garish, were typical of high class Roman buildings of the period (If one can believe Time Team).
These birds were very friendly. I assume they are used to people feeding them. Jacky thought they looked like they were panhandling for money.
There seems to have been a whole lot more reconstruction since the last time I was here (more than 10 years back probably). The views are spectacular.
I remember the first time I went to Masada. I must have been 14 or 15 years old, on a trip with my folks. We went into this cistern and the guide told us the story of how they collected and stored water on the summit. The water management systems of the people of these times are quite extraordinary.

All in all a good day. I will sleep well tonight, then tomorrow it's off to the north.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mumford and Sons

Blackeddieo told me to look into Mumford and Sons and I love it. I rushed out and bought their album. Do it now. Here is The Cave.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Her Talk

I just got home. What a day. It started at 10am at the university, a meeting at 12 at the kid's school, then another at 1:30. The girl's senior project presentation at 3pm and then a vaad meeting at 5pm, and a school board meeting at 6pm. It is now 11pm and I just got home.

The girl, bdo, did an awesome job with her senior project today. Her subject (believe it or not, this is close to her heart) was - "Serial Killers, Nature or Nurture". Her presentation was delivered with a confidence that showed she nailed this subject every which way. She covered her slides and gave a surprisingly complete and rounded talk with a beginning, a middle and an end. There was a moment after she was asked what she learned in the course of her project where she turned to the panel, smiled and in a self-deprecating way chuckled at how she always leaves things to the last minute but this project interested her so much that she stayed engaged from the outset. That she's thinking of perusing criminology as a career choice. All this with conviction and a perfectly disarming honesty. Like she was showing you a little bit of the real Dylan inside, and it's charming. It was one of those wonderful parenting moments when you realize that they can go so much further than you ever imagined. I'm so proud - what a nachas machine.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunny Weather

Just another day at the ranch. The boy and I walked to his work this morning. Actually he walked to his work and I walked to the Beit Rishonim in Herzliya to give them a copy of my project (and a cake, the volunteers there were most helpful). It was very pretty outside and we had a good chat while we walked. I am happy to say that we never once had to talk about video-games, rather about evolution, mans inhumanity to man and other such deep subjects. It was all very pleasant. I took a bus home. Metopolitin, who now runs all the what was Egged lines in this area, have nice new buses and at that time of the morning it only took a few minutes to get home. I am so enjoying this last week of freedom.

The girl is feeling under the weather and whenever this happens everyone in the house suffers. She has a cold and being out all weekend and playing countless games of hockey clearly did not help. So she has been punishing us all day. I hope she gets well soon or else we will all go crazy.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hockey Marathon

Every year at the kid's school they have a hockey marathon. This starts Friday morning and goes on till Saturday night. They divide the High School into two teams (red and blue) and four (I think) different levels of boys and girls and they play floor hockey non-stop for 36 or so hours.

It was bdo's (Dylan) last hockey marathon yesterday and today and so I went to brave the horribly noisy gym and watched for two hours before the closing ceremony. I was surprised to see all the seniors (bdo is a senior) in tears at the end of the ceremony (they have a whole ceremony passing the "Hockey Marathon Flag" from the seniors to the juniors). Bdo told me it was all very sad. I was swept back to those millions of years ago (77) when we finished High School. All I can remember is being happy. Maybe I've blocked some of it out over time, but I couldn't wait to finish school and start out in the "Real World". I suppose even then I enjoyed starting over.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I borrowed the iPad from work for a few days and am writing this blog about it while using it. There is a lot to like about it. I know for some this is old hat, but while I've played around with it, this is the first time I've got a chance to really use it. It is very nice. I don't like the way the mail app works (or looks) I prefer the iPhone app a lot more. But still the screen is beautifully clear and it's a pleasure to read PDFs. The keyboard is of course a lot beret than the iPhone as it is so much bigger, but it is still not all that easy to type on. I am getting better even in the course of writing this blog. All in all I would like to get one of these, they are very nice toys.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One more to go.

My project is done. Or at least as done as it's going to be. I printed out two copies (51 pages each) and will mail it off to U of Leicester tomorrow. The TAU semester ended yesterday as well, so my classes are over for a few weeks. Not that I don't have anything to do. I have been putting off so much in my life, that there are an endless amount of little things that need clearing up before I return to work full(ish) time at the beginning of Feb. I need to get all the house papers in order, then the wood shop (it breaks my heart to go down there at the moment). Plus all the work I owe to various professors because of my 3D involvement.

Well at least this course is done, just one more module to go, then a thesis and I'm done for a while. Three down and one to go.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Feat

Well it is still Tuesday. iTunes has been randomly choosing albums for me the last few days while I finish up my project. A few minutes back it threw up, Little Feat's Waiting for Columbus, one of my all time favorite live albums. I decided to google and see if there were any worthwhile youtube videos, and I stumbled upon this gem. I mean, Emmylou Harris and Bonny Raitt on backing vocals (not that you can hear them). This just rocks. from 1977.

It just put me in a good mood (that and bwo's veggie meatballs).

Down with the Wire

We have been in this house for more than ten years. From day one we lived with the electrical wires that buzzed and crackled high overhead of the park outside. After a while we did not even notice them any more. The neighbors though, Hiki in particular, found them a huge issue and have been working for years to have them removed. But, the electric company moves at its own pace. A few weeks back (at the New Years Eve party actually) Hiki boasted that he had finally got them to do something about the high tension wires. Right, I thought. So I was surprised when last week some huge concrete blocks we deposited outside the house on the green space. The yellow "crime scene" tape casually draped around the blocks, claimed "Buried Cable - Electric Company".

Early Sunday morning I heard the sound of heavy machinery and was amazed to see workmen outside moving the huge blocks onto the back of a flatbed with a crane.

See the picture above shot from my home office window. Things were happening at last.

Later that day I went outside, and was amazed to see them climbing high and working on the wires. When I got home I was not surprised to see nothing had changed and the wires were still up there.

Then this morning, at 8am a orange jacketed, hard hatted worker knocked on the door and kindly asked me to move my car as they are taking the wires down. Wow! it is really happening. So far we have not even had any power failures (knock on wood and all that).

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Brian, who's birthday it is today, sent me this.

Happy bday Brian.

p.s. I promise I'll be less boring soon, I'm nearly done with my project.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


O.K. some technical stuff. I installed Ubuntu Linux 10.10 on a machine at work and here in my home office. I have some work to do and it makes sense to do the initial development on Linux and then move to the other platforms. I have installed many various flavours of Linux over the years, the last Ubuntu I used before this being version 9.3 - I has come a long way. I am impressed with how it keeps improving over the years. Now finding and installing those missing packages has become quite trivial. Most things just work and the interface is easy to use and quite pleasant to look at.

There are, of course, some things that make me a little nuts. Why are the desktop and application default fonts so big. Is everyone who uses Ubuntu blind? Of course, I changed them, now they are of normal size. I assume that like most people I'm trying to get as much data onto the screen at one time so I don't have to spend my life clicking around. In truth, Windows 7 does a good job at this. By default, the size of the fonts are just right. My screen looks professional - like I'm really working.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fists of Fury

I actually wrote this post a few days back, but it seems that it got stuck in the editing stage and did not post. I only found this out tonight.

They nearly came to blows in class today. The near fisticuffs was over whether the bible says there was a palace inside the city walls of Jerusalem or not. This class, "text and archaeology", is a wonderful experience. It's at the master's level and there are some "brains the size of planets" in the class (not to mention egos). Finkelstein, the prof, is a (perhaps "the") world expert on biblical archaeology, and he is no small personality. Yet even he struggles to control the class. It often breaks down into heavy argument. There's the people who, oh, so want the bible to be proven, and those that just want there to have been a major kingdom in the past. Then there are those that don't believe anything written in the bible and view it as a sort of Jewish version of the Brother's Grimm Tales. There are acknowledged experts in Shashak's Campaign (was it a campaign or was it an extended economic interaction) and experts in LaMelech jars. All this in just twelve students.

In all my years at college (till now) I never heard anyone shout "I know five classical languages and have read Josephus in Greek and the German school in German" only to be put in his place by a proto-doctor quipping "that may be true but you don't know the bible". We had to hold them back to stop a blood bath in Gilman 260.

Computer science is so boring in comparison. There's never any blood. As the National Geographic article I pointed to a while back wisely stated "only in Israel is archaeology a contact sport". It is such fun.

Trevor Exter - Bill Withers cover

Shawn sent me this yesterday. It is excellent.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Work Life

I was sitting in class today, early as usual, just reading over the papers we were to review for this lesson when the Av HaBayit (Father of the House - the building caretaker) came in pushing the portable projector setup. As usual he asked if this was Finkelstein's class, then he seemed to recognized me - he has been asking me the same question every Sunday and Tuesday for the whole semester so far. He started to chat. We spoke about what it's like to work at the university - he said he's new here, only 10 years. He worked for Elite making chocolate for 35 years before that. He decided not to move with the factory when it moved from the center of Tel Aviv to Nazareth. He is looking forward to retirement in 14 months time. He is overall happy with his life at the university, I guess he also likes watching the young studentiot walking around in their minis and tights.

His conversation got me thinking. It's the boy's first day of work today. He has 48 years to go till retirement. I hope he too will be happy with his lot. I wish him luck and and can only hope he is as lucky as I was with the people I have worked around. There have been times when I enjoyed my work so much I would have worked for nothing and times when no money in the world was enough. I wish him luck, the marathon has begun.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Phish and New Year

Blacknephewo is back in the US. This is where he was on New Years Eve. Lucky Bastard. If you don't have any patience, just jump to about 4:30 minutes in. How extremely cool. Phish!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Excuses, Excuses

Dear Diary, I am sorry I have been ignoring you recently. It's not for lack of will, but more for lack of time. Things are hectic in my life between my project, classes, school board, and various and sundry distractions and I have had little time, since I need to sleep as well. This appears not to be any different in the near future - it's not that I'm not committed but rather that perhaps I will be in the future (in more ways than one).

It's raining outside, which I usually love, but lately I've had to drive all over the country and the walk from my car to classes at the university (which I will have visited each day this week, including Friday) is sure to get me drenched. I have taken to carrying a brolly around, but it only rains when I leave it in the car, something I have done way too often.

I am done listening to Josephus Flavius' "The Jewish War" and believe me the Jewish people have suffered enough. It's perfect listening for these rainy days. If you ever thought you wanted to live in Roman times, make sure you're not going to be reincarnated as a Jew (especially not a Jew in Jerusalem). If you weren't killed in the siege, and didn't die of starvation, you were either fed to the lions or sold into slavery - there were so many slaves on the market that they were doing a buy one get one free sale.

Anyway Diary, I promise to try be better in the future about keeping you up to date. I'm not slacking off, just chasing my tail.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Last night we went to a friend's 50th birthday party. All in all it was a nice affair and I got to see a lot of people I had not seen for a long time. At some point in the party they herded us all into a largish room and prepared us for the "entertainment". They had engaged an improv. group to act out various parts of the birthday girl's life. The actors polled the audience and then acted out their interpretation of the stories and anecdotes put forward. I couldn't watch and had to escape at some point. This disturbed me so much that it took some thought to figure out why.

Firstly the invasion of privacy that came along with this really bothered me. Each one of the stories are clear in the teller's mind and when these actors try portray them they lose so much of their meaning, just like a bad movie based on a good book. Secondly, they just weren't that good and so it sort of turned into an 80% copy of something that really happened. Like a grainy xerox of an unclear document. I was embarrassed for the actors. Ugggh, I still shudder at the thought. I told bwo if she ever did something like that for me, it's over between us.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Party Aftermath

We are certainly dragging today. The party went off OK. I don't think it can be counted in one of our top 10, but it was still good. The rain held off and things dried out enough that it was even possible to sit on the cushions in the "Shanti Corner". Amazingly enough after the last guests left at 3am, and an initial clean up, we still could not sleep (dammed jetlag). The girl came home around 4am and we three lay on the bed chatting till after 5 when we finally fell asleep. We then got up after noon to begin clean up. Seeing as we have to go through much of this again next week for the wife's father's 70th we left a lot of the "installations" standing and did not bring everything out of the basement.

The music and therefore the DJ has a lot to do with the success of a party. Last night's guy was certainly the lowest bid out of all the DJs we polled. His equipment was fine, but his taste in music and ours certainly had little overlap. We knew this going in and should have spent more time selecting and preparing music for him. What can you do, we only just came back home on Tuesday. I thank those who attended and hope you had a good time.