Thursday, December 27, 2012

"Some people are more certain of everything than I am of anything". - Robert Rubin, In an Uncertain World.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's cold

-5 degrees C this morning.  That's all I'm going to say.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

View From My Window

This is the view from my office window in Squint Central UK.  It's hard to tell but it's like zero degrees out there (yes that's frost on the grass). For the first time in my life I had to use my hotel room key card to scrape the thick layer of ice off my windscreen. Still, I managed to get back to the office even though the GPS voice stopped working half way through the journey in protest of the cold.

I have a lovely office with windows on two sides looking out on the trees opposite. It has speakers and a heater and I get to watch the A380s make their final approach into Heathrow, so life could be worse.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A visit from the Army

The girl's (bdo) officer and mashakit tash (sort of military social worker) came to visit yesterday. They came to discuss the special privileges she will receive as a "hiyelet bodedah" (lone soldier: a soldier whose parents are out of the country). They were very nice, polite, soft spoken young women.  It always amazes me that they let kids run the army, but in truth they seem to do a very good job. They came well prepared with answers to all our questions and dealt with us in a most respectful and thoughtful way. She will get a few hundred shekels extra on her paycheck, but more importantly we will get a break on city taxes, electricity and water. This can be quite significant, because the "home on the range" is quite expensive to run and we intend to leave it in the care of Heckle and Jeckle (risk taking at its extreme). The whole interview was quite interesting, with the young ladies (who refused to eat or drink anything) politely asking questions about our plans and our household situation. All very professional and orderly, but they did arrive an hour late.

Believe it or not I am sitting, once again, in the Dan lounge here at BG airport on my way to Heathrow.  The more or less 48 hours spent at home was definitely worth the 10 hours of flight time to get here. All flights are completely full and the airport is buzzing. At least I got a bit of breakfast.

Friday, December 7, 2012


It seems like the only time I have to write anything recently is sitting at airports. It's -1 degree outside and sleeting, but it's boiling in here and I am sweating. I ate my Pret Lebanese Falafel sandwich which I must say was excellent, spoke to bwo and am going to buy the required candies to take home soon.

I left all my luggage in my new office here in London (well in Egham to be exact) and am travelling with only my backpack.  It's a unique experience and quite disconcerting seeing as I have no luggage, no one as yet has looked at the boarding pass I printed.  Hopefully they will do a better job at the gate. It has been a very busy week. I have been acting as a sort of wedding planner, arranging meals for visiting dignitaries, taxis, hotels, offices, projectors, sandwiches for the English squints and am looking forward to two days at home before I fly back to Heathrow. 

The Tel Aviv flight is the last one to leave Terminal 1 at night and so while this place was packed when I arrived it has steadily been emptying out and there are more and more tired looking Israeli business men wandering around talking into cell phones.  Next week I'm going to mix it up.  A different hotel and a rental car (it better have a gps), although driving in this area is a little crazy. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Dan Lounge

Here I am sitting in the Dan Lounge again.  A lot has happened since those blissful first days at St. Davids. Looks like we will be spending some time (at least a year) in the UK, London to be exact. All work stuff, not all bad.  I am sure you will hear a lot more about this over the months to come.  But until we can get the relocation organized, I will be on the move and spending more time here in my favorite place (not): The Dan Lounge at BG airport.  The food is not too bad, and I was hungry when I got here because...well because of Azizza.

A half hour or so before the taxi was due to arrive, Azizza, who had spent the morning cleaning and cursing the dog, started to pack up to leave. Bwo was off visiting some Goldsmiths and thus I was left alone to deal with Azizza. So she starts muttering to herself that it's definitely time to leave, and then comes to me more flustered than usual. "Oxy stole my dress" she announces (she calls the dog Oxy). "What" says I.  "Oxy took my red dress, I was wearing it when I arrived, now it's gone". What's one to do? So I start looking all over, no dress.  She swears she came in in her red dress, changed into her "cleaning clothes" as ever in the bathroom and then put the dress down by the door and now it's gone. I look high and low, and all the while, Azizza is muttering convinced the dog skit her dress and hid it.  It was no where to be seen. I have no idea what happened to it - gone.  Eventually she had to leave to catch her bus, sans red dress. By now my taxi was waiting and so no lunch for bpo.  Luckily the Dan Lounge has some decent whole wheat bread and humus, so can't complain.

Where is that dress?  Perhaps she came without it?

Of course, this did not post from BG airport, there was a problem with the internet (who said 80%). So I'm posting it from my lovely (feather-free) room at the Heathrow Marriott.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

St. Davids

While part of me is back home avoiding rockets with the rest of you, most of me is here in St. Davids Wales being swept up in the magnificence of the Welsh countryside. Here are some pictures from out walk around the village this morning before breakfast. We are, as usual, slow to get moving but soon we will head out to the sea which is about 5 miles down the lane.

This is a beautiful place.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Airport Lounges

Some once again I am sitting in the Dan Lounge waiting for a flight out. On one hand I am excited about the upcoming trip and vacation far away in remote Wales, on the other, I am leaving the kids and dog behind.  I have to admit that I am more worried about the dog than the kids. They can look after themselves and have done so in the past, but it's the first time we are leaving our Roxy.

We have settled into a routine, the dog and family. I wake at 5 (or earlier), take Roxy out for a little walk with the cats and she empties her bladder after the night inside on the floor of our room. Then I feed the cats and give Roxy some food as well. Then it's off to work with me. Around 6:30am either Ari or Dani, Kimi's boys from next door come take Roxy over to their house to play for a bit before taking both Roxy and Kimi (best friends, both pulling on their leads and jumping with joy) for a walk. She then naps between playing with the cats outside or sometimes being taken out by bwo or bso. I get home in the late afternoon and take her out once more for a little walk. Then around 7pm the WhatsApp group ("Dog's of the Prachim neighborhood") get busy and we meet by the open area down the road. There are often 10 or more dogs that run around and play. None have Roxy's energy besides Kimi and the two of them run circles around everyone. It is marvelous to watch.

I need to tell the story of William, but I am running out of time and need to start worrying about boarding (have to be first if possible, of course). I will continue this when I have more time.  I even have photos. There will be more from Wales, promise.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

19 years

It's blackdaughtero's birthday today. She's not home but rather messing with explosives somewhere in the Southern Desert. I miss her. I looked back over the last few years of birthday messages (20112010, 2009, 2008) and it's always the same basic advice. This year though I have something to add.

I'm proud of you girly bird. I'm proud of the way you march to your own drummer (and bass). I'm proud you seem like a good friend. I'm proud of your special connection with your brother, of your taste in music and your sense of humor. I'm proud of your ridiculous stubbornness and your determination and that you let nothing stand in the way of your goals. I'm proud you usually tell the truth even when it is hard. I'm proud you love humus and walking outside. I'm proud that you seem to like your parents. I'm proud you can hold your head high and laugh at yourself.

Even though taking advice is not one of your strengths, you seem to have to learn by experience, here is the same two messages I have given you year after year: One, All boys are fools. Two, watch carefully what they do and ignore what they say.

Have the very best year evvvvver.

King Rat

A cool thing about kids is that they eventually turn around and teach you all sorts of new things. Bdo (who's birthday is tomorrow) pointed me to this video by Modest Mouse. Even though they (or he) are one of my favorite groups of all time, I had never heard of or seen this video. What is even more surprising to me (according to the Wikipedia page) is that the video was conceived by Heath Ledger and the script was completed before his death. It is exceptionally stark and quite disturbing, but the message of "stop the bloody whaling" is clear. Thanks bdo. Watch it in full screen mode.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cats Will Roam

I have been fascinated of late by the Roxster's walking companions. Some of the "outside" cats, mostly JayJay, Jeffery and Basil, but sometimes Shaking Stevens, Kitten, Juliet, Brittney, Basil2, and Nameless 1 and 2 like to accompany us on our walks. Since black(and white)roxyo was diagnosed with OCD (not that OCD, although she has a touch of that as well, but rather Osteochondritis Dissecans - a joint problem that will need surgery, there will be much more on this in the future I am sure) we have been keeping her walks short. Basically through the park and around the block. I am usually accompanied by at least one or two of the cats. This sparks all sorts of comments from various bystanders. From those that panic and move quickly out of the way lest an "unclean" animal touch them (usually religious) to the often repeated comment that if cats and dogs can get on perhaps peace with our cousins is possible.

So I got to thinking, how far do these cats wander on their own. They will not cross the road at the far end of the park, but will walk all around the circular area and follow us behind the house. It seems that someone at the University of Illinois did a two year study for their master thesis. He fitted 42 cats with radio collars and traced their movements. House cats roamed on average over a territory of 4.9 acres (about 20 dunams in Israel) while feral cats covered a whopping average of  388 acres (1570 dunams), with one covering an enormous 1359 acres. Now our cats are neither house nor completely feral, but they seem to feel comfortable following us for at least 500 meters in any direction.

Another interesting fact this study uncovered is that house cats only spend 3% of their time in "high-intensity" activities with 17% of their time spent in "low-intensity" - this means they sleep 80% of their lives away - not really news for any cat owner. Feral cats on the other hand spent 23% of their time in "low-intensity" and 14% of their time highly active. Not that much when you consider they need to track and catch food.

BRXo loves her cats. She is friends with all the outside cats. Inside, Nancy still regards her with a look of disdain as if she was something dragged on the bottom of a shoe, and Syd just has no time for such trivia - he has his quota of 80% sleeping to fill. Here is some youtube video for those who really have nothing to do: Roxy and Basil and Roxy and Jeffery. We are such proud parents.

On another note, the outside cats are just so not interested in the "Cat Motel" I built. So sad.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Brief bit of Archaeology

It's time for a short break in my daily life - three days digging with the Weizmann Institute at Megiddo. It is always great, as it's a good time spent with smart people. So it's up early in the morning tomorrow and off to the Tel, then two nights sleeping at the Kibbutz before I head back to civilization for a busy Wednesday and Thursday at the salt mines.

Yesterday, the boy and I headed off to Jerusalem. I was invited to give an presentation about archaeology to a group of fifth and sixth graders at JAIS (The Jerusalem branch of the American School).  It went off rather well. They all loved the stories about finding the burials this last season. Nothing like pictures of bones and skulls to get kids engaged. One kid even asked for my autograph (he obviously had me confused with someone important).

This brief bit of archaeology in my otherwise technology busy life is a good way to keep me focused on what matters in the big picture. I am fortunate to have a way to disconnect and pity those who don't. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Saki Kaki

People you have to bear with us. Our lives revolve around our Roxy at the moment. She was spayed on Sunday, and came home all quite and hurting. She is much better today, but we have a bit of a crisis in the neighborhood. We have been out of Saki Kakis for a while. These are the little doggie doo pickup bags that are posted all around the area. Someone must have come a while back and swiped a bunch (probably those miserable Kfar Saba dog owners) because one day there were plenty and then there were none.

Early this morning out walking the R girl (brxo, bro just sounds too familiar  we met a young kid sadly looking at a large steaming pile of shit left by his dog. "There are no saki kakis", he sighed. I was so impressed by his civic-mindedness that I immediately whipped out one of my spare bags and presented it to him ("be prepared" is my motto). I then promptly called 107 the Raanana Moked (emergency services) and asked why we have no Saki Kakis and could they arrange to replenish the dispensers. I am pleased to say that this evening, when out walking brxo I noticed all the Saki Kaki dispensers were once again full to bursting (see attached figure). Life is good again.

Monday, October 8, 2012


I received my overseas ballot for the US elections last week. I got rather pissed off with bso over the fact that even though he was following the US elections closely, he had no intention of voting ("They are both useless"). I gave him the whole spiel about people dying for the opportunity to vote, and how it is a privilege and an obligation and not something to take lightly. I explained that along with the presidential election, there are a host of other issues at stake, like the senate race in California (as well as the Santa Clara Board of Education Trustee Area 1).  Surprisingly he was convinced ad said he would look into registering (he has a few days left, and we will see whether it is all talk).

All that said, I began researching who I should vote for. The big ticket races are no problem, its all the smaller offices and measures that cause grief (like should I vote for insurance companies to base prices on driver's history, and other California state and county measures that are never clear and figuring out who is behind these is always tricky). So I did my civic duty, searched and researched and decided. I filled in my ballot and was happy to see I could fax it into the Registrar of Voters for the County of Santa Clara. This is where the real issues began.

There is no way the ballot pages (two huge double sided sheets) fit in any fax machine. Even scanning them takes three scans per page and I am sure the Registrar of Voters for Santa Clara County is busy enough without having to piece together 12 scanned pages to understand my ballot. It's all rather 80% of California. I seems I will have to go find a post office on this Kibbutz that now houses squint central and actually post the dammed thing. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Producers vs. Consumers

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. My brother says there are two types of people "Hunters and Gatherers", but I have come to believe the two categories are more like "Producers and Consumers". I have always strived for Production, and recently realized the reason I'm so down is that I have been languishing in far too much Consumption (excuse the use of Capitals, it seemed right). Once I used to make model airplanes, I made furniture, guitars, wrote code, wrote papers, cut salad even wrote a blog post from time to time. Lately I have just been watching the Dog Whisperer and reading any kind of crap I can find, and it's getting me down, I can tell you. We have had all this delicious vacation and all I have to show for it is 10000 steps a day with the dog and an ever growing "Read" folder on my Kindle.

Well it has got to change. I started building a "Cat Hotel" (what is it with the Caps and "Quotes" today) to house the tens of strays that live outside in the cold, which perhaps will arrive eventually.  It's basically a renovated sideboardy thing that I am weatherproofing, but it's a project none the less. I am already feeling better, I will keep you posted.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Where Do They Get The Flags?

The other day bwo asked me "where do they get the flags to burn?" It's a good question, where indeed. Is there some sort of flag factory in Saudi Arabia churning out American and Israeli flags to burn or are they imported directly from China, like before Independence Day here? Are there "Muslim Rage" franchise stores opening up all over the Arab world selling flags, lighter fluid and matches? 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

O.K. He Did It His Way

Wait till 1:15 mins into the video.A special for Music Tuesday.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Ceremony

You can live in a country for 12 years and still have a lot to learn. Last Thursday was our beloved girl's IDF "swearing in" ceremony, and no matter how much you hear talk of the army (and you certainly hear a lot of it here in Israel) nothing can prepare you for the reality of the thing. The girl has completed two or three basic trainings (the number varies depending on when you ask her), but now that she is in the Engineering Corp, this was one ceremony we were expected to attend. (I suspect that she really just wanted the ride home).

So bwo and I and a newly awakened bso (it was early in the morning for him at 11) drove to the "Hulda Memorial of the Engineering Corp".  We arrived a few minutes early (we are South African, in case you forgot) and joined the rest of the families waiting in the heat; a thing we did a lot of that day. I went for a quick explore and found my girl, dressed in full battle gear waiting alongside her peers. She was distressed because she could not join her girls on their "forced march" of 15 minutes as she had complained of shin splints a few days previously. She looked most imposing with her M16.
The girls marched off and returned hot and sweaty about 15 minutes later.  Bdo joined them as they did a quick bit of PE and polished their shoes and donned berets. Just hearing them shout "Ken HaMefakedet" (Yes, Sir) in unison already made it all worth while. After much milling around the ceremony finally began. The girls "marched" (looked more like a pack of preschoolers playing soccer) onto the parade ground to receive their guns and bibles (the girl has already received three of these bibles from the army). There were speeches from important looking military types and prayers from their army rabbi (an essential part of any military ceremony, we have god on our side). The parents were all swelling with pride as their girls officially became soldiers. Then a girl keeled over and fainted. The until-now just slightly disorganized ceremony collapsed into chaos. The fainted girl's mother ran screaming into the ranks of soldiers shouting "give her air" while smothering her with her ample bulk. The officers looked around helplessly as the parade dissolved and people shouted for a medic who finally came over dressed in a bedraggled Bob Marley Tshirt and army green pants. The father of the prostrate girl finally carried her off into the shade and the ceremony was resumed only to be continually interrupted while parents passed out water to their young, all the while giving the officers dirty looks at letting their babies stand so long in the heat. Our girl took all this in with a bemused look and a shrug of shoulder, she's seen it all, she has.
After what felt like many hours the ceremony was over and I was hoping we could leave.  No such luck.  We had to wait till we spoke with the officers. Another hour wait. No one explained to us we were supposed to bring lunch and as each family spread out their blankets and shared out their borekas and sandwiches in the shade we were forced to come to terms just how much we suck at this army stuff. Finally we were led into a sweltering class room and the parent's meeting began. The meeting was held with that semi organized chaos that Israel is so good at. People interrupting at will and constantly chattering among themselves. It appears that our girl is one of 19 that will go through the five month course to become either an explosives or a D9 (huge Caterpillar earth mover) instructor. It was made clear that this is a "prestigious" course and the "very best place in the whole IDF". I liked the fact that the girl's officers (young girls themselves) gave us their cell phone numbers and the course commander told us all about his family. I think the girl should learn to drive a D9 but she only wants to blow things up.

Finally (actually at 1:30pm as stated in the invitation) we were let go, along with our soldiers. I am very proud of my girl. I personally could do without this whole military experience, but she has shown strength of character throughout. She did not accept the fact that the army decided she should be a Mackit (Basic Training Instructor), and insisted that she get to do something in a "fighting unit". She stood her ground and did what many said was not possible. You rule, blackdaughtero.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Don't Shoot The Dog

I think Roxy is not at all into positive reinforcement (The book is/was called "Don't Shoot The Dog"). She prefers Cesar.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


It's been 10 days since my last post. I'm bad. I have decided that I quite like the whole bullet form of blogging and so have been collecting random ideas (over the last 10 minutes or so, the 10 day hiatus was just sheer laziness).

  • The Moshiach (sic) it seems is in Tel Aviv (where did he find parking? is what I want to know). His advert has been flashing on the Jerusalem Post front page for the last day or so. I hope he found a place to sit seeing as all the coffee shops are overflowing with French tourists.
  • It seems that Roxy comes from a long line of Border Collies that run away from home. Although 800 miles is a bit more than running across Raanana.
  • This summer heat has been never ending. Bwo wants us to move to a cooler place for the summer in the future. I'm open to offers.
  • Bso (otherwise known as "the boy") has been at summer school. It's like two hours a week. This tires him out so much that he needs the next six days to relax and to take it easy to recover his strength. Of course, cleaning the cat boxes and taking out the garbage is way hard work.
  • The cats of Rehov HaNevel have accepted Roxy. They complain that she is all bark and no bite. Jeffery does chase her half heartedly around the garden when she gets too loud. Syd and Nancy have given up and just ignore her completely. Her sheep herding instincts are being severely challenged and she is questioning her roots.
  • Bwo has spent more on doggy toys, bones and sprays than on food for the human occupants of the home.
  • The daughter tires of the army. She complains that the officers in her new course ("bomb disposal for dedicated shoppers") don't have enough of something called "distaance" (said with an almost French drawing out of the aa sound). This will not do. These new recruits in her course are just not taking it all seriously enough. I don't know how she has noticed any of this seeing as she is home more than when she was in high school.
  • Bwo has given up smoking and is convinced that the world is a sad, miserable, dark and depressing place that allows no pleasure whatsoever. And it's all my fault.
  • I have walked hundreds of miles all over Raanana with my dog. I am channeling Cesar Millan and have perfected my short, sharp, attention getting hiss. I am still working on my masterful finger point. "Calm assertive", though appears a distant wish.
  • Of course, as always, I have gone binary and have read and watched everything I can find on dogs and dog rearing. It seems the real expert secret to a happy dog is to get a dog that matches the family's "energy". So, of course, we had to get the most energetic and active dog out there. We needed the lazy couch-potato canine, a sloth-like dogs that likes to sleep and rest, instead we got a bouncy, jumpy, happy dog with a short attention span. Only her ADD finds the perfect matches in our family. At least she only barks at the cats (so far).
  • On an unrelated note, I have been struggling on my "no carbs whatsoever" diet. I have been cheating quite regularly. I have also been craving a falafel for at least a month. Yesterday, bwo, bso and I journeyed all the way to "Falafel Haim" in Herzliya, and yes, it's still as good as ever (Stevie). Probably the only reason to stay in Israel.
  • After all the reading about dogs, I realized, sadly, that it's probably too late for me to put in the seven years and become a vet (an archaeologist, high tech, vet is a little extreme). So I did the next best thing and started listening to James Herriot's books. I have read these at least five times each, but the audiobooks take it to another level. They are read by Christopher Timothy and he does all the Yorkshire accents. Absolutely one of the best quality listens I have ever had. Definitely recommended.
That's enough for now.  I will try be more consistent in my posting, it's just that life has been rather routine lately. Up early in the morning after a night peppered with threatening the dog and cats (or rather prodding bwo into doing it), then off to Yakum to the salt mines and then back home in the early evening to battle the heat. Then various phone calls and dog walking before once again tempting fate by trying to go to bed. Hmmm, I need to get some hobbies.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Party Money

Our girl (bdo or blackdaughtero) is certainly enterprising. She has managed to get paid for doing what she does best - partying. It seems that due to the fact that she is "someone to know"  she is paid a commission on the number of her "list" she brings to certain parties. One may ask how does all this fit in with her supposed enlistment in the army. Well, she seems have that quite well organized. She has been home more over the last few weeks since she moved to a base near Eilat, than when she was stationed down the road at Baad 12. The way this party thing works (I believe, no one over the age of 25 can fully understand the true workings and economy of Israeli youth) is that she has a list of Facebook friends that she "encourages" to party with her. She receives a commission her list peeps that attend said party. I assume there is some door fee involved that finances the operation, but I am not strictly sure. Getting clear and concise information from bdo before 5pm is very difficult and even after she arises things are not crystal clear.

It does look like the fun and games may be over for a while as she is starting her "explosives" course this coming Tuesday and she vehemently claims that this is the start of her "real army". So, it's been nearly a year that she has been in the "fake army". I clearly just don't understand how this world works any more.

Monday, August 13, 2012


So who says the web killed innovation.  This is the third time I have posted a variation of this song on my blog. This is the original dude's (Gotye) youtube mashup.  I think it's brilliant. Watch it fullscreen.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Roxy checking out Jeffrey, waiting for the attack.
Our Girl, cute, Isn't she?
Seeing as life here in Rehov HaNevel was not crazy enough, we added Roxy to the mix. During the short time since she joined our family, I have learned a few things about dogs. In no particular order:

  • Dogs are near as expensive as wives. They need a lot of accessories like dog cages, chew toys (this Kong Wubba thingy costs nearly as much as an iphone), shots, replacement Crocs and leashes to chew, special food, etc.
  • They chew everything. Crocs, leashes, irreplaceable pictures, onions, potatoes, chairs, tables (particularly like antiques), bones, sticks, hats, papers, paper bags, plastic bags, plastic cups, cords and cables.
  • Dogs prefer cat food and cats prefer dog food.
  • Border Collies think herding cats is a worthy profession. Cats on the other hand find this tiresome and irritating.
  • Many dog owners are kind, caring and friendly people, and their dogs tend to be kind, caring and friendly too. Some dog owners are miserable, sad people who won't even look at your puppy  and acknowledge your existence, their dogs are the same.
  • Roxy likes nothing better than to stomp in her water bowl and splash water all over the house. She thinks this is hilarious. I don't.
  • She has eaten through two leashes. She ate through the long leash so many times, that it's now only a few meters long (it started out at 15). Bwo went out and bought this industrial strength super lead. So far so good (we have had it less than 24 hours though).
  • She knows how to sit and lay down already although she is still as ADD as the rest of the people in this house, so getting her attention can be tough.
  • She loves the bone bwo brought her from the expensive French restaurant we went to the other night.  She dug a huge hole in the garden to bury it this morning. Then dug it up again a few minutes later and now is laying under the table gazing at it lovingly.
  • The cats aren't sure what to do with her yet. Syd just pretends Roxy does not exist and continues to nap on the bed next to the love of his life (bwo). Nancy keeps watch. She never lets Roxy out of her sight when she is in the house. She is either taking notes to figure out the best time for a surprise attack, or evaluating Roxy as a potential recruit to her band of Ninja assassins. We shall see in due course. Jeffrey enjoys nothing more than chasing Roxy around the garden. Roxy is still not sure if this is a game or if she should run for her life.
  • Azziza hates the dog, which caused me to wonder why we never got one sooner.
  • There is more written on dogs, dog rearing, and/or Border Collies than about babies on the internet. There is no end of dog advice out there. Everyone who has ever owned a dog (or saw one in a movie or on TV) knows just what you need to do to make your dog perfect. None of these people have any problem telling you. That could just be Israel though.
  • The Saki-Kaki's (little black dog poop bags) dispensers that are strategically situated around Raanana really work and there is much less dog poop around than in Paris.
Clearly, this is just the beginning. Still, we love her completely. She just has to look at you with those sad eyes and you can do nothing but melt.  I am sure she will provide many blogs in the future.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Too Hot

It's just too hot to blog. That's it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I Know I've Been Slack

I have quite a lot to report, but no time today, so I'll just leave you with this. Talk about overplaying a song. And it is Tuesday after all. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Innovation Starts at Home.

"There is no force more powerful than a geek without internet", to quote bso. He was moved from his room due to some Canadian visitors and forced into the spare room where there is no room for a table (don't ask, it's bwo other, other store room). The need to game actually forced him to take action and this is the result. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lost Dog and Found

What a story. We lost Roxy this afternoon. Someone (no one here admits to it) left the gate open and when the girl came home from the army around 1pm, no dog. Panic. Panic and more panic. The whole family was enlisted they walked the streets, drove the area, called and whistled, but no Roxy . I had meetings till 3pm and came home straight after and treked the streets putting up lost dog fliers everywhere. Dozens of them. We were frantic. She had her pink collar but had bitten off the little thing that had our cell number, so there was no real way anyone could get hold of us if she was found. We called the city, bwo went to visit the pound. I walked for hours in the heat asking everyone I met if they had seen her. I got lots of advice - this is Israel after all, but no dog. "You have to walk around and ask people", I was told. "You need to call all the vets". "Go to where she was found". "Forget it, she must have been stolen". "You shouldn't have left the gate open" etc. etc.

At around 6pm bwo got a call. Someone had perhaps seen her at Makom Balev (a restaurant on the other side of Raanana). So bwo shot over and yes it was our Roxy. Joy, we have her back.

Now here is the story. While walking around looking for her, one of the nephews happened to ask a construction worker if he had seen a little black dog. He hadn't. But while he was walking through the park on the corner of Shai Agnon and Pardes Meshutaf (quite far), he saw a little lost black dog and remembered someone had mentioned losing her. So he picked her up and took her to Makom Balev. No one knew who she belonged to, but she is friendly and playful, so they fed her sausages. Now it just so happens that bwo's Tarot teacher's son works at Makom BaLev. He also lives in a building at the bottom of our street. On his way home from work after his shift he noticed one of the fliers we had put up outside the house. He called the number, recognized bwo's voice and the rest is history.

I don't know that we are cut out for this level of responsibility.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Roxi (Roxanne)

Roxi joined the family yesterday. She is very pretty and has her mother's (bwo's) eyes.  She has chewed through her leash, ate a hole in bso's jeans, peed on the floor a few times, but she is totally loved by all. She is relatively calm, except for when she has her berserks. Roxi is not yet used to walking on a leash, but is getting better and she does SIT when instructed (that's already better than the kids).

Being that she is supposed to be a Border Collie, used to herd sheep (just watch One Man and His Dog), she seems to want to round up the cats. They of course find this completely inappropriate and uncouth. I believe they are writing their congressman (it's probably Nancy) to voice their outrage at this intrusion. Roxi is still pretty scared of them, and mostly watches from a distance. The few times Nancy has decided to show who's the boss, Roxi retreats yelping and crying. She also has a total fear of metal gratings. There are a few on our walk and she refuses to cross them. Probably a trauma suffered early in life.

She is reputed to be three months old and was found in a dumpster in the industrial area by some friends of bwo's. They put up signs but no one claimed her and so were going to take her to the pound. This we could not let happen - the only dog I have ever wanted is a Border Collie, so it seems fated. Let's see how good she is at training us. We respond well to conditioning, just ask the cats (we don't even need treats).

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Interesting day today. We bought a new mizbeleh for bwo to drive around in and it seems we will have a dog. Neither have officially arrived, but the decisions have been made. The dog is a border collie (the only make of dog I have ever wanted) and the car is a Hyundai i30CW.

Stay tuned, this is looking like a whole new level of insanity.

p.s. When I arrived home from the conference in Jerusalem yesterday there was also a huge mixer (kitchen appliance like a Kenwood or KitchenAid) still in box sitting in the lounge.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ice in Winter

My dad really valued ice cubes. When I was growing up back in the old country, he was constantly on my case about not filling the ice trays. He had a whole stack of them in the freezer behind the swinging door to the kitchen. Now, I like ice in my drinks, so when we came to this overheated desert of a country we made the wise move of buying an American fridge with an icemaker. The fridge was hopelessly expensive and actually never worked well, but man, the ice it put out was splendid. A bottomless pit of the stuff, compact and perfectly sized.  The fridge was so useless that it never even earned itself a name, it was alway just the fridge (or as bwo called it, the "cheaper fridge that her husband minged out on and would not by the Rolls Royce of a fridge that she had set her heart on").

Anyway, a while ago the ice maker stopped working. First it would put out great clumps of siamese twin-like co-joined cubes, then it moved on to making icebergs not unlike the one that sank the Titanic. The fridge doctor (who by now had our phones on speed dial) told us that the ice machine was not worth repairing. This was just the excuse bwo needed and off she went looking for a new fridge. I wisely stayed out of the selection process, one learns a few survival skills after 25 years. The new silver fridge moved in a few months back, and has become part of the family. The old fridge is now out on the back porch looking forlorn and alone - serves it right.

The new fridge is one of those faceless Asian models. It's quite big, but as all fridges in our lives, it's always packed full to the gills. But.... bwo settled on a model with no ice maker. Instead it has these build in ice trays. So life has gone a full circle. I'm constantly pissed off at being the only one to ever fill the ice trays. At least it brings me a little closer to my dad.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

End of an Era

Today was the final day at squint central, Hamenofim 1. I thought I would be much more unhappy at leaving the building we worked for the last 12 years, but the upkeep has gone to hell and the place is looking old and tired (like me). So moving to new facilities should be a change for the better. Perhaps. I was particularly pissed off today when I found out that some assclown had decided to make off with my excellent Henckels Pro 8" chef knife. This knife was used nearly daily to cut our salad. It was so good I refused to use it, preferring to not spoil myself and let the squints enjoy a "real" knife. Even though I am trying to not get so attached to things, this incident left a particularly bad taste in my mouth.

So on Sunday it's off to Yakum for the squints and I. A whole new page, a cafeteria and gym but no supermarket or health food shop downstairs. New traffic patterns to get used to and a multistory car park (with those stupid car elevators). Miles of cubes all shiny and beige smelling of fresh paint and carpet glue. I hope we find a good home there, as I hope the Henckels has.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Good One

Yesterday I got up early. I was due at the Tel at 5am for my weekly visit, but found I could not sleep a moment longer and so hit the road from Raanana around 3:30am. I made good time in the quiet Israeli pre dawn, and arrived at Megiddo about 40 minutes before the team buses were due. I have the code to open the gates, so in I drove, parked and silently made my way up to the top of the Tel.

It was completely quiet, the only sounds were the faint banging of the construction crews working on Kvish HaSargel a few kilometers in the distance.  I pulled up a rock and sat looking out to the east over the Area K dump, with Afula in the distance. I watched the sky slowly turn pink and saw Venus, with Jupiter above silently sink (I looked up the sky map on my phone - I think this whole technology thing may just catch on). I breathed deeply and just sat and listened to the stones sigh. A small band of foxes ran by on their way to raid the nearby kibbutz's garbage. I heard the birds start chattering in the palm trees. No words can do this justice.

Beliebe it or not. the day actually got better. The Area K folks had set aside the pithos in O9 for me to excavate. It was such a treat and I was so completely absorbed that I skipped breakfast. Then back to Ramat HaShofet for lunch and some minor fixes of the TS_formatter code. A shower, pottery reading, picture database, then dinner and a beer to welcome the second session team, finally the drive back home to hop into my bed at around10pm.  An excellent day, one of the best ever, made all the more special by the total escape from everyday life for a day. Am I not the luckiest person alive?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Back Home, and life goes on.

I'm back home. I am sad. The three weeks of archaeology went by in a flash. I had the most wonderful time and need to thank so may people, from Israel Finkelstein, to Mario and Melissa and many many others. I got to dig in the best square on the Tel and learned more than I believed possible.  My computers and programs seem to be working and things are running pretty smoothly technologically.  I will go back now once a week to help out and to make sure there are no problems with the tech stuff.  They promised me that come Monday I could dig out the big pithos jar I found in my square.

I have had a restful weekend but have a very black Saturday evening feeling. I am not really looking forward to dealing with the more than 500 emails I need to sort out tomorrow.  Our move to Yakum has been postponed by a week so at least I have a week to say goodbye to the old office. It will be hard to explain to the squints just how different my life has been the last few weeks.

Life goes on.  I have had a tough time adjusting to being home, but it is nice to sleep in my own bed and shower in our shower.  I am seriously hooked.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Last Week

It's the evening of the first day of my last week at the dig.  It has been awesome so far. Way beyond any on my expectations. It's bittersweet to have only four more days of digging left.  The time has flown by.  I have had the good fortune to be working in an interesting square in a wonderful area with all sorts of finds. Learning more each and every day.  I have also seen my software provide value to the people here.  It feels good to be able to contribute to this effort.

I went home over the weekend and packed up my office as next Sunday I go back to work in the new offices in Yakum. It was quite sad for me.  We have been in the same place for 12 years. From the day I arrived in Israel I have worked on or near the first floor of the building at HaMenofim 1.  Change must come, I suppose.  I will miss Herzliya and it's excellent restaurants and easily accessible supermarkets and drugstores. It took no more than a few hours to get all my office into boxes and then home for an early night as I was up at 3:15am to get to the Tel by 5.

Bwo came out to dig with me last Thursday. She worked in a different area and had a good time. I am glad she got to see what I love about all this.  It is like summer camp for grown ups (well some of us are grown ups).  She also saw how hard it is physically.  I am amazed I am more or less holding up. I ache all over to be honest and this 52 year old body is being taxed to its limit.  I arrived this morning all fresh and full of energy but by 1pm was completely wiped out and could hardly drag myself to lunch. But a shower and two good meal does wonders.

Tonight is the final of the Euro, and most everyone will go over to the Kibbutz pub to watch. I'm going straight to bed. I'll find out the result in the morning. I'll keep it short today, but believe me, I have enough experiences to fill a month of blogs

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day Three

I am having a great time. Very busy and very tired. Today I came back to the kibbutz and was so exhausted I could not do anything but collapse on my bed. I slept for less than an hour and was able to function well the rest of the day.  Here is a picture of me with a professor (Finkelstein) on my back.

It is a wonderful experience, something that is hard to explain. Harder work than you can imagine, lots of young people around, but all intelligent and willing to learn.  It is very nice to feel wanted and to be able to do something that makes a difference, the software I wrote is in daily use.  It's 9:30pm and I'm sitting here in my kibbutz room. It's rather sparse, but functional. I share with two guys and it has been quite easy. They are friendly, considerate and easy to get on with. You should try it one day.

Monday, June 18, 2012

25 years

Today it has been 25 years since I married the beautiful bwo. You know, I have been enormously lucky in my life.  I lucked out with my family, with friends, with a job, pastimes, studies, on and on and on, but the single biggest luck was 25 years back. We had know each other for many years, and even though the future seemed set in stone, until that evening at Gan Oranim nothing was clear. Over the years we have had our ups and downs, we are very different people, but even through the hardest times we have laughed with each other and never stopped liking each other.

It was strange to wake up this morning at 4:05am in my room with two other guys and not next to my lovely wife of 25 years. We texted our wishes, and then she drove up all the way to the kibbutz to be with (dirty and dusty) me for a few hours. I truly lucked out. I love you bwo, forever and for always.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


My vacation has officially started. I would be lying if I said I was not filled with trepidation regarding the next three weeks digging at Tel Megiddo. I am worried about the physical strain, the heat, sharing a room with two others, the food, and all those sorts of things. I also have quite a lot of my own IP (intellectual property) invested in this dig. It will be the first time my applications will actually get a thorough workout. Hopefully everything will go smoothly. Still, I wrote them so I should be able to fix them.

Most people think I'm crazy to burn nearly a year's worth of vacation on hard physical work in the sun. But I love this. I am taking enough computer stuff with me to power a small third world nation. I just hope there is a decent place to set all this up. I promise I will keep you all up to date, and even provide pictures. Wish me luck.

You can check the dig out here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Meet Murphy

I always feel it's necessary to introduce our new appliances on the blog. This is Murphy Morphy Richards (try saying that three times fast), our new toaster oven. It replaces the old one that lost the Azziza battle.  Let's see how long Murphy lasts. Let's hope neither of them have heard of Murphy's Law.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Opening The Gates

My cell phone opens the gate at Megiddo. I jokingly told everyone that this was the biggest prize in Israeli Archaeology. You know you are necessary when you can open the gate to the Tel any time of the night or day. We were there at 5am yesterday morning to do some work, and all it took was a call to the secret number and woosh the gate parted (I felt like Moses parting the waters).

I had a good day, visiting the teams at Tel Jezreel as well. Their survey is progressing very well. And lunch at the Kibbutz was fantastic. Now I understand why they are such competitors in local rugby - they are well fed, these kibbutzniks.

One more week of work and then I'm off. After how tired I was yesterday when I finally got home after a busy week at work and on site, I am looking forward to the dig with not a little trepidation. 

Monday, June 4, 2012


You better believe it. Bwo actually bought one of these. As you innocently walk past, it whines and opens scaring you right out of your wits. Only bwo could think this is something one cannot live without. Not only is it smaller than the old bin, I bet the mechanism will not make it to the end of the month. On top of it all, it does not always open when you want, so you often have to stand around like a fool waving your trash at the machine commanding it to "open!". It does make a nice whirring sound though. Next we will have to have the voice activated shower.

I would much rather have a toaster oven, now that the Gretz was killed by Aziza the Destroyer.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Towfer Sunday

While spending time on planes, I watch movies. Lots of them. This way I keep up. But, lately there has been little for me to watch (especially after that incredible tear jerker about the Japanese dog waiting at the station in the snow for 9 years for Richard Gere his dead owner to show up). Recently I have taken to watch TV shows while in flight. I have never watched much 30 Rock, so I make it a habit on planes these days. Here is something cool from the show:
And here is another interesting bit of music. Alon (who has finally reached the age of consent) posted this clip of how English sounds to Italians (sort of like mock Swedish from the Muppet chef).

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Useful Day

I popped down today to visit some of the digs I have been working with. I was hoping that bwo would come with me, but she opted to stay at home and clean up after last night's Asian Fest. A pity (not the cleaning up part), because the visits made me feel useful.

First I visited JVRP (Jezreel Valley Regional Project) run by one of the area directors at Megiddo. They are trying out some of the code I wrote for the main dig at Megiddo in 2 weeks.  It is quite gratifying as the code seems to be working, which is always nice.

Then I visited Norma and her team at Kibbutz Jezreel. They are starting a survey on Tel Jezreel tomorrow and so were just getting settled in.  I helped a little with some of the tech issues they have. A Garmin eTrex hand held GPS is a cool toy for around $100. I will definitely pick one up next time I'm in the US. All in all it is very nice to feel needed. The stuff I have been doing is rather trivial and would probably make any of my squints wince (hmm, squints wince - a rhyme), but the archaeologists seem most grateful and it makes me feel good.

I am looking forward to the 17th when my vacation and the big dig starts. I can then pretend I'm an archaeologist (as they say: To my mother I'm an archaeologist, to my wife I'm an archaeologist, to my kids I may even be an archaeologist, but to an archaeologist, I'm no archaeologist - should be quoted with a nice thick Yiddish accent).

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Night

Here's Friday night dinner. Hot and sour soup, fresh spring rolls (rolled with carrot, fresh cucumber, sprouts, mint and basil) along with three dipping sauces, black pepper tofu stir-fried with broccoli (one of bwo's current signature dishes) and rice. Fresh fruit for dessert. You're invited if you are in the area. Yum, it's good to be home.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


I'm back home and now I'm pissed off. Not enough that the Ultra-Orthodox cost us tax dollars that I would rather see go to the poor refugees that are struggling to make a living here in Israel, now they have taken to destroying mosaics. Check it out here and here. I just hope that the police can actually find these fools and jail them. Sickening.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Air Travel With Delta

I've made it to Houston. Home of the "best shower in the world". The water comes out so hard, it turns you into someone else.  Things went pretty well today considering. I did spend quite a bit of time on Viber with bwo, trying to understand what is going on with the boy. He has not been well and hopefully the doctors can get to the bottom of this soon. I feel so helpless being so far away unable to be of any use.

I started out from Folsom early. It took 3.5 hours instead of the 2 promised by the GPS. The traffic through the East Bay and over the Bay Bridge was as bad as any in Israel, but I still got to the airport quite early. I was then able to change my flights to get into Houston at 6pm instead of 9 (first bit of luck).  The flight went through Salt Lake City and the first hour hop from San Fran was painless.  I was worried because I did not have a specified seat for the Salt Lake - Houston, just the ominous "See the Gate Agent For Seat Assignment" on the boarding card. But once I boarded, lo and behold I found myself in an exit row, with tons of space (second bit of luck). The seat next to me was empty while the plane boarded and I was expecting some huge overweight chap would plonk himself down, but was pleasantly surprised when a very pretty woman sat down next to me (third bit of luck). More importantly we found much to talk about and the three hour plane ride flew by in a jiffy.  I gained insight into life in Utah and learned one should never take one's spouse for granted. So I promise bwo I will be more attentive. My big brother was waiting for me at the baggage claim. We went straight to visit our mom.

She is amazing (our mom), you could never tell she underwent major surgery recently. She is a strong woman and seems to have her life back to normal. All in all it is good to be with my family. Now if my boy could just get well.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fish Food

I well and truly have not had time to blog. As usual travelling is intense, draining and difficult for a introvert like me. Finally, I have an evening to myself before driving down to San Francisco tomorrow morning to fly to Houston.  It is so good to have some time alone, I think I will dine at the Thai place and have some spring rolls in a while, but in the mean time here is a California story.

I checked into the hotel on Sunday after spending the weekend with the nephew and his family in the East Bay (and Maker's fair).  Dusty checked me in.  I have stayed in this hotel a number of times and sort of know my way around.  I asked for a corner room (I have been trained by bwo) and luckily they had one available. It's large and spacious and has the most comfortable bed.  Dusty is a bubbly California type. A little too enthusiastic. He gave me my complimentary waters and some Crystal Light flavoring to sweeten my life.  Then he asked me if I wanted a fish. A fish? Yip he pointed to the four goldfish bowls, each with a name plate (Willy, Julio are the two names I remember). He explained that a goldfish provides company for the lonely traveler. It comes complete with fish food and a tinted bowl.

I graciously refused, clearly I'm a loner. Gotta love California!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


I am struggling to find time to blog. I thought it would be much easier once I was in the US, but alas, it's not to be.  I have been busy. Yesterday I went to the Maker's Fair with my Albany family (blackedwino and brood).  It was most interesting. The crowd is sort of a cross between those at a Linux open source kernel conference, the teaming masses at a water park and visitors to a renaissance fair. Lots to look at. It was completely packed, lines everywhere and no way to move without being touched by hundreds of your closest friends. It's definitely an event for those with younger children, although, as only in America, there are many people who have spent fortunes on making all sorts of strange and useless contraptions. From space-age bondage contraptions, to real life R2D2s, full size electric giraffes, massive fire blowing structures including every conceivable type of controller, motor and servo.

By the time we got back after the long drive to San Mateo, the wait for the bus from the parking lot, the wait for the bus back to the parking lot and the long drive back home I was exhausted. Running after the 4 kids is not for the faint at heart either. Still it was a worthwhile experience, so thanks for the ticket edo.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sitting in an airport (again)

It has been a very intense few days. We started at 7am and went on till midnight. While it was all rather exhausting, it was mostly incredibly interesting. I am sitting here in Amsterdam airport listening to the recorded message go "mind your step" every few seconds. I need to board in a little while and it's off to San Francisco, then the drive to Folsom.  I have not slept much this week and hope to try catch up on the plane.  I hope to have more time in the US than I had in Holland and hopefully I can be a little more interesting with the blogging.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


I meant to post as I usually do, while sitting waiting at the gate for the flight. In truth, I was just so tired this morning after getting up at 1am for the taxi ride to the airport. So now I'm here in Amsterdam, sitting in my hotel room overlooking a green industrial park, waiting for my posse to get here. It should not be long now.

You know how some flights are just crap. No particular reason. It wasn't that long (4.5hrs), it was full, but then all flights are, there was no screaming babies or vomiting children. I did have an obnoxious religious guy behind me who was only worried that a "female" would sit next to him. The South Korean girl who sat next to me was sweet - she was very worried because she was due to meet someone on the plane and he did not show up. Her English was only slightly better than my Korean, so there was a lot of hand gestures and smiles. Still the fight seemed never ending. The seats on KLM are just plain uncomfortable. I don't fly KLM very often, and I'm happy about that. For some reason the angle of their seats just does not work for my back. I suffered the whole flight and could not find a comfortable position. All I (and everyone else on the plane) wanted to do was to get a few hours sleep, but I just drifted in and out of oblivion awakened each time I got so uncomfortable I needed to move (or the obnoxious guy behind me kicked the back of my seat).

But I'm here now and looking at an intense few days of "leadership". Let the games begin.

Friday, May 11, 2012

3 Things

I know you will think I have gone crazy and soon will be worshiping crystals and believing in tarot cards (I won't go there). Partially as a result of listening to some self-helpish audiobooks and partially as a result of all the "leadership" work I have had to do at work, I have started a new strategy.  Each night before bed I write 3 positive things that happened during the day on my little pad. Note, I said positive, not good.  A blackpetero does not dive into 3 good things without a lot of practice.

It actually has been harder than I could have predicted. Once you count things like the positive salad at lunch and bwo coming home from her trip, I struggle. But, like blogging, what this practice has taught me is to keep an eye open for the positive.  Writing the blog I need to be mentally aware all day long and think about what I will write (and you thought these trivial rantings just came to me with no effort, shame on you). Now in addition I need to keep a look out for positive things during the day. Theoretically this helps one adapt a more positive attitude. Apparently as you take note of the positive things that happen, you are supposed to notice that many more than three really positive things happen to you in a day. Well, it seems I have a lot of practice to put it. I sometimes struggle to find more than one.

p.s. Actually I have been in quite a good state of mind recently, so maybe it's actually working.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I hate Lag BaOmer

Each year my hatred for Lag BaOmer, the festival where Israel burns everything it can, grows more intense. What a stupid holiday. As if we don't have enough problems with kids stabbing each other, we now encourage pyromania. This poor desert country, rich in rocks and stones is poor in trees and wood, so once a year we just burn the little we have. All this is bad but I have realized what really bothers me about this holiday. It's the noise. Why is it that Israeli kids cant talk to each other, they can only scream.

The empty field next to the house is filled with various bonfires. Not only are these kids screaming, but I can hear kids that must be three blocks away. I thought of going down and politely asking them to cut the noise down a spot, but the last guy who did that got stabbed, so the cats, bwo and I will just hide in our room and try get used to the smell of Israel burning.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Last week I started listening to Carol Dweck's book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. I have heard about it for quite a few years now.  It is a favorite amongst International School Conference Speakers and its ideas pop up all over the place. Basically, her research has shown that we are often defined by our mindset and that really there are actually only two types. A fixed mindset and a growth mindset. You really want to be of growth mindset. Learning for learning's sake, unafraid of effort and challenges. With a fixed mindset you are confined by your inherent belief that this is all the potential and talent you have and thus resist challenges that could undermine these. Fixed mindsets resist doing things they are not good at, and where growth mindset people view failure as just another challenge in life, a set towards a goal, fixed mindsets see this as a reflection of their self worth and therefore failure taints their self image. Michael Jordan embodies growth while John McEnroe is of fixed.

Before actually reading the book, I was convinced I was the poster child for a growth mindset. Why, I enjoy studying, I thought. I'm open to new challenges and reinventing myself.  Well, I was in for a mighty surprise. It seems according to the book I'm as fixed mindset as they come. A poster child for the inflexible and growth averse. There I was thinking I was pefectly in tune with growth and enrichment, when in fact the exact opposite is true.

When I spoke of this to my ever-loving wife, "Duh", she said, "I could have told you that without the help of any book". Seems as always I'm the last to know these things.

Monday, May 7, 2012

It's 10:50pm and I finally have some time to breathe. My days have moved from busy to frantic. I'm still having fun though. I have been eating correctly and am now down to my goal weight. I have been avoiding carbs almost completely and I think that may have something to do with this renewed energy I seem to be able to harness of late. I remember just a few months back I was feeling miserable at my lack of passion for anything, but since then something changed. Could it be something as simple as diet being the key to mental state. You are what you eat, after all.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Shiney Happy Birthday

I am having a good birthday. There is still a few hours to go, but so far it's been a quality day. My daughter shook herself out of bed at 5:20am this morning to wish me a good birthday, and then made her way to her base. My boy sent me a text with wishes from the supermarket where he had biked over to pick up the fixings for supper (he then texted to ask me what's ginger in Hebrew). Bwo made superior black pepper tofu - total restaurant quality.  I got many, many wishes on all sorts of communication mediums. From a paper card from my mom (she still includes some cash, even though I'm 52 years old), to Facebook messages, and phone calls, Viber, text messages, even the cats seemed friendlier today.

Bwo's cases showed up and boy did I make out like a bandit. I got at least two of everything I asked for (clipboards, shorts, sweatshirts, etc). She even scored me a really nice archaeological hat which makes me look not unlike Father Guido Sarducci. It was a quiet day at work and I could prepare for my conference in Amsterdam next week. Then this evening I managed to get my "archaeological sections" program to do the correct revolutions and transformations (with considerable help from my brother-in-law Yann, I think we're going to keep him even though he is French). I really have nothing to complain about, sorry. All in all a fine day. Thanks for all the good wishes, I really appreciate them.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


The wife came home this evening, without her two suitcases that seem to have decided to spend a little longer in the US. (Note: suitcases, plural, while most mortals fly with one suitcase, bwo needs two, both full to exploding). She did bring these excellent ginger chew candies in her hand luggage so we are not complaining. It is good to have her home.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Digging Holes

I am really feeling my age today. I spent the morning at the Tel (Megiddo) helping out with the "cementing" in of points. This entailed using a pickax and torea (after much Morfix searching it seems this is a hoe in English, torea is the word in colloquial Arabic) to dig holes big enough to fit an upside down bucket filled with cement. Well my back is breaking and my hands blistered and I only did about half a dozen holes. How am I going to last a whole season? This aging body is complaining bitterly.

I will post some pictures when I receive them. On Wednesday I am meeting the surveyor at the Tel to get exact positioning of these points. We are becoming accurate at Megiddo.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

It stinks!

God's chosen country, Oh Yeah! So it's not enough that we had mud rain down on us for two days (like the frogs on Passover) - My car looks like it took part in the Dakar-Cairo rally. But, today Israel stinks. Literally. There is a "non dangerous" chemical smell in the air (according to that most trustworthy source, the Environment Ministry) . I thought it was just the neighbors using fire starters on their BBQ, but it appears to be a real phenomenon. Not even the papers know the cause. I hope it's not the Iranians.

Twelve years ago I had my nose fixed and so began to smell things again. I remain unconvinced that there are more good than bad smells. Especially in this house.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Clueless and Keyless

I have a problem with the Prius.  In general it's a nice car. Quiet and comfortable. The problem lies in the newfangled keyless ignition. You see, I keep on losing the keys now that they don't have to go into a keyhole. This morning I had to rush over to the university for a meeting.  I got there, hit the kill button on the car and got out.  I felt in my pocket for the keys and hmm, they were no where to be found.  I searched my pockets, looked in my bag, still no key. I tried the power switch and the car powered on, this meant that the key was close. I was going crazy. When I walked away from the car, it beeped angrily as if to tell me the keys are somewhere in the car, stupid. So I searched and search. Finally I found them, they had slipped under the seat, under the metal struts and almost impossible to reach or see. I was late for my meeting (but no one noticed, they all arrived after me).

This is not good. We (bwo and I) have even left the car running a few times. It's so quiet that it is not hard to just get out and leave the guy running. It beeps but not loudly enough. Sometimes modern technology is just too progressive.

Monday, April 30, 2012


I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I have become a "herbal infusion" drinker. Seriously, one can't just be drinking espresso all day. So a while back I started sipping some chamomile tea we had in the tea drawer at squint central. Then I progressed to a chamomile and honey blend mid morning. Now the night is not over without a nice lemon and ginger infusion after dinner. This must be something that happens after fifty. So it's eggplant at thirty, marzipan at forty and herbal teas at fifty. I wonder what I will be into at 60, probably adult diapers.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

In Cheek

You what I really hate? I really hate taking a bite out of my cheek.  I was just sitting and munching away on some salad (for a change) when I just took a whopping great chunk out of my cheek. Blood everywhere and the balsamic vinegar dressing did little to sooth the pain. I hope it's OK for vegetarians to eat bits of themselves. Last thing I need is for the veggie police to harass me while I'm suffering. Why does this happen?  Surely evolution would have taken care of our nipping off bits of ourselves.

Friday, April 27, 2012

De Dum De Dum Dedudum

I'm missing my bwo! I have spent a lot of time with friends the last few days, what with the Yom Haatzmaut open house, and the Omsky traditional afternoon yesterday. I was at Megiddo with some of the area supervisors preparing for the season this morning, then we are off the goldsmitho's for a birthday dinner tonight, another lunch afternoon with the hevreh tomorrow and then to a farewell party for Dave tomorrow night. Not bad for a antisocial being. 

Still it's not the same without my love. I give her a hard time when she is around, but I miss her terribly when she is gone.  It is like a piece of me has been ripped off. Just knowing she is upstairs is usually enough to quiet my heart.

It has been good to have the few days off and have both kids around.  We have actually spent some time talking the last few days.  The girl and I had a two hour chat last night. She is something else. Oh to be 18 again and to know it all.  Our boy has been happily helping around the house, he even went shopping, and actually went out to spend some time with friends last night.  Life is good, the sun is out, just my love is away.

Bwo just emailed to say she is off to Costco - this is probably bad news for the joint bank account.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Elastic Bands

I'm not really a big advice giver, but here is something that can make your life more pleasant. Go out and buy a huge bag of elastic bands (rubber bands if you live in the US). The biggest bag you can find with assorted sizes and colors. It's the most useful thing you can have around a house. My current bag has lasted a few years and cost 12.90 NIS ($3.50) at Big Deal here in Raanana. I use them everywhere. Listen to me, I don't give advice often.


It's Independence Day tonight (actually tonight and tomorrow) and even though bwo is living it up with my mom in H-Town, I have been encouraged to continue the tradition and open the house to all and sundry. So I was at the supermarket this morning (third time in three days, Come home already woman!) buying potatoes because Azizza used up the whole bag I bought two days back in a soup (or possibly took them home to new Brighton). I got to the cashier just as she opened: Quite cute and with a nice smile.  She asked me if I was a "member of the club". Every supermarket in Israel has a "club" and you need to join each to get their special discounts. "No", I said, "I am not a joiner of clubs". "I can see that", she answered and smiled ("ro-im" in Hebrew).

All the way back to the office I puzzled. How can she see that?  What makes it so obvious that I'm not a joiner? And what do joiners look like? When I asked the squints no one had a good answer. Supermarket cashiers clearly have superior vision.

Monday, April 23, 2012

On The Move

In the last few weeks I have realized something. Strange that it has taken me more than 50 years to understand this (Man, 50 years, this is an age). I just need to be busy! The end of last year and the beginning of this was a down time for me.  I am not exactly sure why. It could have been the new job, or the gray winter light or possibly just the age of man. Then I had a blood test and found out I need to get myself in gear. I radically changed my diet, pulled up my socks, rolled up my sleeves and went to work. There are some days now that just fly by. There are actually nights when I lay in bed and say to myself "not bad blackpetero, you got a lot done today". And I feel so much better.

Work has been challenging but I am getting more comfortable with the role. I have been privileged to be involved in quite a bit of leadership training recently and it has got me thinking about values and vision (more on that some other time). I have been reminded many times in the last few months that it's the journey that counts - an essential lesson that needs constant reinforcing in a goal oriented person. It's always fascinated me how my squints and I seem to go through these emotional transitions together. It's just past the 6 month mark since the acquisition and many have been struggling to come to terms with what the new job means for each of us. Like good engineers most of us don't even understand what is making us unhappy, yet alone have any idea how to address it. I keep forgetting and have to re-remind myself what works for me - work! As soon my daily mental check list has more checks than open boxes, my attitude improves. Having two big archaeological projects coming up in the next few months has just added to the list. So at the end of the day, my todo list is quite long and diversified.

Yesterday was a good day. Up at 5am, to work, I multitasked, helping out doing some menial tasks for one of the understaffed teams between multiple phone calls and meetings, I also spent time trying to internalize the future roadmap for a later chat with one of the key players in the US. I struggled to put together a "forum" for some others working on similar projects all over Israel (it's almost impossible to schedule meetings with everyone's overseas travel). Then a rush off to the school for a difficult and stressful board meeting that went on till after 11pm. Even though bwo is away and her absence leaves a hole in my life, when I fell into bed after midnight and mentally reviewed the day (something I have been trying to do of late), I felt content. While, of course, there is much I could have improved, especially on my interactions with other and especially my impatience, I can give myself a break and say I got a lot done.

Lately, a few lines from a poem we read in Ms. Bosman's class in high school keep coming to mind. They're from Thom Gunn's On the Move 'Man, You Gotta Go'. It ends as follows
At worse, one is in motion; and at best, 
Reaching no absolute, in which to rest, 
One is always nearer by not keeping still