Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Our 15 Minutes

The article in the Israeli business papers:

the Marker (with picture)


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:


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.


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


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?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

God's Away On Business, Business!

I hope today's attack near Eilat is not a sign of things to come. I can do without revisiting the dark days around 2000 when you thought twice about going to restaurants or taking bus rides. But here it's finally the weekend and I plan to rest. Here is a little something to keep you on your toes, thanks Eddie, and thanks all of you for your insomnia suggestions. Tom Waits and Cookie Monster (has anyone ever seen them together? Hmmmm)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lack of Sleep.

Let's talk sleep.  I have not been having much luck at it lately.  I don't know if it's an age thing, a hereditary thing (my dad was not much of a sleeper) or just a stress thing, but lately if I get 4-5 hours a night I am lucky.  It is strange because I don't feel particularly tired during the day, just sort of listless and disinterested (could be that things are just not that interesting). I put it down to lack of exercise as I have been very slack of late, but I took some long walks over the last few days and all I get is a sore body and still no luck sleeping for more than 5 hours a night.

This morning I woke up at 3am. My body was actually sore from sleeping. I checked my watch before falling asleep and it was just after 11pm.  I had to get up and walk around as I cound not spend another minute lying down. I went downstairs, read my email, drank some water and read the newspapers. Then I managed to convince myself to lie on my bed and forced myself to rest for another hour before going off to work.

I think this lack of sleep is starting to affect my performance, so I'm asking for advice from all (both) of you that happen to read this.  Ideas?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The View

There are without doubt some spectacular scenes in this country.  Right click and watch this Imax movie in full screen mode.  It is worth it. (Sorry about the narration, but one always needs one's 80%).


Monday, August 15, 2011


Remind me to rant about the whole "Ghetto Mentality" issue, I can't do it now because I'm groveling at the feet of bwo ("It's not what I say, but how I say it").  So instead I think I'll just go off about Azizza.  She came to clean the house today.  How can I tell, you may well ask, well my computer is unplugged and the wireless router is not working.  The salad bowl was put in the cupboard with the glassware, while its lid was placed with the Tupperware. The Excedrin and Advil have disappeared (possibly to New Brighton as my dad would claim). There is a full bucket of dirty water just outside the front door. But most importantly....

There is stuffed cabbage on the stove.  Now I was quite skeptical of the whole cooked cabbage thing, just look at the picture above, it sort of looks like something out of Star Trek: TNG (I'm currently up to season 5), and yes those are whole garlics. My suspicion only grew once I heard from bwo that Azizza refused to make the spicy red sauce of stuffed pepper fame, and insisted that these needed to be eaten with salad. So I cut a quick salad and made a dressing and I have to tell you that she is right.  Once the stuffed (with rice) cabbage is heated and eaten along with salad it is rather tasty. I think we may need to keep her now that she has stopped throwing out the curry. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

We Rule

My in-laws sent me an email today. Now I have been insistent to the point of nastiness that I don't want any jokes, funny pictures or propaganda from them, but sometimes it is clear my father-in-law just can't resist. Today I was subjected to the tenth version of that email that points out why Israel is so fantastic.  We have the higher relative percentage of start up in the world, blah, blah, every processor that runs your computer was invented here.  We have the smartest people, the most profitable companies etc. etc. Israel invented voice mail and the cell phone (not exactly true at all).

No one ever mentions the fact that Israel has won in total one Olympic gold (for wind surfing  none the less) one silver and 5 bronzes. Kenya for example (while not a technology powerhouse) has won 75 medals (23 gold). Netherlands, which has roughly twice as many people as Israel has won 246 Olympic medals not counting the 86 winter Olympic medals. While Israel may have more lawyers per capita than anywhere else in the world (a dubious honor to be sure), the national soccer team has only qualified once for the World Cup (scoring a single goal in the competition and being eliminated in the first round). We not near 80% in sport, no matter how much we spend.

While some of the achievements of this small but noisy country are indeed outstanding. I think it behooves us to be modest. We could always boast about the quality of our drivers. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I spent the day in a school strategic planning session (yes some would think I should be done with the school board now that both kids have graduated, well they are wrong) and all I can say is:

None of us is as dumb as all of us.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Aboot, Eh.

Bwo got a facebook message from our Canadian family thanking us for having their kids stay. Wally and Tammy were really our neighbours here on HaNevel street back in the old days, but left here us to look after Israel while they went back to repair Canada. We still think of them as family, and always look forward to having Jordina (Jordy and Adina) come visit. Believe it or not, there are not a lot of people I can deal with for long. This is especially true of house guests but Jordy and Adina fit in with the family so well that it is a pleasure having them around. They suit our culture. They are not too nice or too horrible, they speak their mind and even make the occasional quiche. They went back home a little more than a week back and we miss them.

What with bdo in Rhodes and bso sleeping all day, the house is way too quiet.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Good Morning

I dropped bdo off at her travel companion's place this morning at 6am.  She is excited to be off on her own but also rather apprehensive. She does not like flying. We will definitely miss her for the three days while she is enjoying herself on the beaches of Rhodes.  She really is a force.

I hereby swear I will try not to get quite as pissed off with the squints and sundry that are involved in our life at this busy time.  I felt like biting heads off yesterday.  Obviously the stress is getting to me, I am not sleeping and am very short of temper (and of patience, but that is nothing new).  The days are long and busy and there are so many micro decisions to make that I find looking back on a day's work I cannot remember anything I have done, but am still exhausted. Even bwo's infinite patience, kindness and nurturing nature is clearly tiring of all this. Not much longer now, hopefully all will be over soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Road to Rhodes.

Blackdaughtero is off to the Island of Rhodes on Thursday (it's part of Greece).  She is traveling with a friend whose father scored the tickets from his work at a major bank here in Israel.  It's quite a deal. They spend three nights on the Island complete with breakfast and dinner at a nice hotel, all included. Last night we went to meet the parents of bdo's traveling companion. Of course, I was not thrilled to have to go out of an evening (after sitting patiently through a nephew's 7th birthday party), but I must say it was very informative and more than a little disheartening.

The father of the friend had done his homework and then some.  He proceeded to follow a well thought out and documented process to explain what needs to happen between now and Thursday morning when they board the flight.  Then what to do on the flight and where to sit and then where to go and who to follow to get to their hotel and what to do at the check-in (insist on rooms in the 2000 or 3000 range and on the first floor).  He then went into depth as to what attractions they should visit, how long the bus rides should take, where they should stop and bathe and where to shop.  All this information he collected from people that had been to Rhodes (he also had a map) - he himself has yet to visit. Now, let's face it.  I would have shoved bdo onto a plane and expected her to make her own way and find out what and where to go all on her own.  But then it seems I'm just a lazy, unfocused and unmotivated father. 

As we were leaving after this most edifying visit, the father said: "you think this was preparation, you should see how organized I am when I travel". Yikes!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Curry Bunnies

One thing I have missed all these 27 years since I visited the old country are curry bunnies. Curry bunnies were these amazing bread things stuffed with curry.  The best I ever had was from a small Indian grocer in North End near Golden Mile.  I have been trying to figure out how these were made and have yet to come close.  Nevertheless, my version is still pretty good. The original had a much darker and spongier dough and they were rectangular. 

Bwo made curry a few days back and Azziza has yet to throw it out, so it made the perfect filling. I whipped up some bread roll dough in the bread machine. I divided the dough into 16, rolled it flat, spooned some curry into them, then closed them and laid them out on the tray to bake. 25 minutes at 180 degrees C and whalla.  I must say that they are quite delicious.  Bso has eaten four already.  

Saturday, August 6, 2011


On Monday the 30th of September 1991 Star Trek "The Next generation" aired the episode called Darmok (thanks wikipedia). We lived in the little house on Jackson street in those days and the boy was just over 6 months old.  That episode stuck in my mind for these 20 years.  A few weeks back I decided to catch up on my ST-TNG watching, thinking that in time I would get to Darmok and see how it has survived over the years. I started at season 1 and have been slowly going through most of the episodes until last night I got to the second episode of the fifth season.  Bwo and I watched it and it was as enthralling as ever. I love the premise of a race of people that speak our language but are unintelligible and that communicate using allegorical fables. And come on, the story of Gilgamesh, one of my favorites of all time. "Darmok and Jillad on Tinegra" and "Gilgamesh and Enkidu at Uruk".

I have modeled my whole leadership style on the two greatest leaders of our era Doctor Gregory House and Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Excellent men sailing "on the ocean, sails unfurled".

Friday, August 5, 2011

It's Hot

I can't seem to find a cool place to put myself.  Even lying in the dark on my bed with the a/c full blast is not helping.  I went to visit Yavne Yam this morning. We were asked to come later in the morning, after their breakfast. It was hot and humid. I have not stopped sweating since then.  There is no point in complaining too much as this humid weather will not ease until at least the end of August. My heart goes out to all those protesting all over the country in their tents.  It must be very tough without a/c.  But one must suffer for their causes. I've just finished doing the dishes and the sweat is dripping off me.  I'm in the wrong country weather-wise, that's for sure.

Read Sayed Kashua's column about his view of the protests. He is excellent.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Grey Randolph Ostrin had his brit today.  We are proud to have another Ostrin male joining the clan.  Mazel Tov to Paul and Carrie and Arnie and Olive. His Hebrew name is Gershon. I hope he is lucky enough to get his great uncle and his namesake's temperament else it would be a shunda on the neighbors.  The mother-figure looks well.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Quick Trip to Jerusalem

I motored off to Jerusalem at 5:30am this morning to go visit the dig at Khirbet er-Ras near the biblical zoo in Malcha (we lived near there many moons back).  I have to say the Jerusalem in the early morning is very nice indeed, cool and fresh as opposed to the glasses fogging humidity we have near the coast.  We (Norma and I) never even got lost on the way out, which is a first for me in recent years.  We drove back on the 443 (apartheid road) which was quiet and picturesque.  I got to work at 9:30am after spending the longest time stuck outside the underground parking while the assmunchers trying to use our parking lot illegitimately argued with the attendant.  All in al,l a pleasant morning, which included some archaeological research for my thesis (that's what I call this running around all over the country visiting digs in the early morning). This is the 15th or so dig I have visited since the beginning of the summer.  It is great to go along with Norma as she is a real archaeologist and everyone is happy to give her the time of day.  I just walk around trying to look knowledgeable, nodding a lot and going "ummmm".

I have been collecting lots of information about various recording methods, digital and otherwise.  It has been great fun actually.  There are not many more digs left to see. Yavne Yam on Friday morning (after 9am as they don't want to share their breakfast).

Check out these awesome pictures of clouds, it's well worth the click.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Asaf Avidan & the Mojos

This is one of bdo's favorites.  He is pretty good and I am a sucker for a cello.  Thanks Alon for the pointer. Quite the performance Mr. Avidan.

New Beginnings

Two good things happened to the boy (blacksono) today.  He started work and got accepted to university.  He started working at a company in Kfar Sava that "automates release deployment of multi-tier, distributed applications". Yes it's completely intuitive, isn't it.  If I understand correctly he is going to be following up with people who have tried the software to see if they have technical problems (and if they want to buy, I suppose).  He works US hours, so it means he starts at 3pm and finishes at 11.  I guess he will spend much of his hard earned cash on taxis.

He applied to the business school at the IDC (Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya). The course is completely in English and looks interesting.  They have all sorts of special programs for outstanding students, including an entrepreneurship course.  I wish I was young again. He got his acceptance email last night and he starts studying in October. He will be able to bicycle to school.

Good luck boy.  We wish you the very best.