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

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The 80% ultrasound

Hmmm (a new blogger interface - I'm not yet passing judgement). So today I went to get an ultrasound.  No, I'm not heavy with child.  The doc was not too happy with my last test results and wanted me to get my insides checked. I dutifully drank the 2 liters of water an hour before my test as instructed and not a morsel of food passed my mouth for 18 hours. Needless to say I was kept waiting a half hour beyond my appointment time, with no apology or acknowledgement from the ultrasound technician. By this time I was definitely crossing and uncrossing my legs to keep my bladder full. She handled the test quite competently, let me rush off to the toilet and told me that I will continue to live, but that she was not a doctor and I would have to go to him to get the results.

I had just barely got back to work when I got an urgent message to call her immediately.  Of course, I thought the worst and all sorts of horrid scenarios flashed through my over active brain chock full of hypochondria. So I call her up. She asked "It seems you are missing a gall bladder, is this something you know about?" My relief was audible as I explained that I had it out 12 years back (after just this kind of post test call at work from an ultrasound  technician in Sunnyvale).

Strange that she should have missed it during the test don't you think?  A little 80%

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Googling 80%

Bwo, who is leaving for Houston later today, says the reason my blog is so dammed boring is that I don't complain about the 80% of life here any more. It's true. So one gripe that keeps coming back to annoy me is google. Yes, that wonderful life enhancing company called google. It has got to do with this annoying invasive, all knowing, arrogant way of deciding where you are and what language you speak.  No matter how many time, and how deeply I set my defaults or language options on every machine or operating system, every now and then google decides I only speak Hebrew.  This happens at least once a week. It's particularly visible on logging into blogger.  Suddenly I get a screen in Hebrew where there is not one word of English and I need to log in to change the defaults. What happens to people who speak no Hebrew what so ever! How do they deal with this. I notice that once it has decided you are in Israel and therefore speak Hebrew, even changing the language is in Hebrew. So you have to scroll down on the language list and select "anglit" all written in Hebrew!

I remember a few years ago when we were on vacation in Hungary. I surfed over to to do a spot of blogging when suddenly my screen was in Hungarian.  Luckily I remembered where the login in button was. I am all for localization, but there is a limit. Just because you are geographically in one country there is no reason to assume that this is the only language needed. Even Microsoft allows you to set persistent language defaults not geographically based. I can just imaging some Google squint being completely proud of the way he has added "intelligence" to the internet (definitely a male).

This is very 80% of google. Stop making decisions for me.  If I have set my user interface to English on my machine, never assume I want a completely local language screen.  Is that so hard?  Not to mention the annoying habit of asking me if I want to translate every Hebrew page I go to. What's that all about?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


While driving back from Haifa today (the third day in a row I had to visit Haifa), I had one of those skin crawling moments when you just marvel at human excellence.  As I have stated before, I am listening to "Arguably", a collection of Christopher Hitchen's essays. It is a big collection (28.5 hours). Some of the literary criticism is quite heavy, but just listening to his perfect use of language is enough. Today I happened on a number of essays towards the end of the third of the four audible book parts which just kept getting better. The peak (in my opinion) was his essay on the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange used to defoliate Vietnam's jungle during the war. The effects of its Dioxin are still being felt now by the third generation. His descriptions are vivid, his outrage can be felt physically and I could not help becoming quite emotional and sharing his sympathy and remorse for the mutilated victims. At one point I swear the narrator himself almost choked up. It's very powerful stuff. This is some of the very best writing I have come across in years. I never appreciated what a great writer he was, and only now can appreciate the outpouring of emotion his death last December generated.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Treadmill of Life

My birthday came early this year. Yep.  I arrived home yesterday to find a brand spanking new treadmill in the lounge where the spare fridge used to be (it's now outside - the fridge that is). I love it.  It is simple but looks solid and of decent quality.  It folds up to the wall so it does not take up too much place and is simple to operate.  I have already used it for two days in a row, so it won't be put on the sidewalk never having been used. Let's see how long I can keep it up.  I can listen to my books while walk/slow jogging and staring at the wall.  What more could I need.  Thanks bwo, this is exactly what I wanted. What is more the bloody huge TV has also disappeared, I feel I don't deserve such pleasure.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Of Course.

It's a few minutes before my two day "Leadership" class is to begin.  I am sitting in the cafeteria here in Haifa drinking bad coffee.  Some have asked me "why another leadership class?". Besides the fact that this company seems to love training and especially the compulsory training of managers, I think these classes are worthwhile. Firstly, and most importantly, it gives us an opportunity to meet others with similar roles in this huge company.  These personal connections are what really matter.  We once, in the old GraphTech days, tried to do some deals using "intermediates" (I think they were more like arms traders, you know they type, selling obsolete tanks to both sides). They wanted us to leave the room when it came to negotiating prices with the customer. "Horses are sold by four eyes" was their saying (sounds infinitely better in Hebrew).  No matter how big the company or how important your role, it seems it's the personal connections that gets the job done.

So that's one reason.  The other is that even though I don't believe you can really teach leadership, you can help channel it in the right direction.  I have always been fascinated by how huge enterprises figure out how to get everyone on the same page.  It seems one way is to keep reinforcing the direction and values at every level.  This is done through mandatory courses taken by all and constantly reminding employees where we are headed and what is important through channeled communication.  Getting the "leadership" plugged in just helps.

Anyway, it's a beautiful spring day and the view of the dark blue Mediterranean is calming.  The drive here was peaceful listening to Christopher Hitchen's collection of essays "Arguably". Excellent stuff.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Blogging Mojo

I think I may be getting my blogging mojo back.  It has been a while since I felt like I had anything to say (particularly on the blog).  I have been heads down getting things done and what with family, work and archaeology (in that order), I have not had the desire to do any blogging.  But, this last extended weekend (we had half Thursday off, which came as a delicious surprise) was very productive and I realized I have been missing my daily musing (probably much more than both of you, my loyal readers). So, what's been up!

My mom's operation seems to have gone off OK.  The daily updates from my wonderful brother, sister and sister-in-law keep us informed.  She seems to be recovering well.  We spent a tense Friday evening waiting for news. Bwo is off to help her in a few days.  The house will be empty what with the girl in the army and bwo in H-town.

The girl seems to have the army down at the moment.  We had a few teary calls two weeks back, but that was mostly related to lack of sleep and allergy medication.  She was home this weekend, or at least she visited us in between galavanting around with friends.  She really seems to be doing great.  She claims her biggest advantage is that she can sleep anywhere and at any time, and is unafraid of strange toilets (hmm, I wonder where that comes from).

The boy seems to have spent the last few weeks while on vacation from college holed up in his room.  We hear the strains of online communication and warfare seeping under the door.  Who knows what goes on there, perhaps he is single handedly taking on the Iranian threat. He surfaces for food (he appears to be eating once a day - 4 eggs at a time) with a dazed look.  One of the little strays, an orange girl kitten has adopted him and decided he is it. So we are treated to the sound of Lola vs. Kitten having it off quite often.

Bwo is getting ready for her trip (at least judging by the paypal and amazon charges).  I am not sure how her jumpers will cope with her gone for two weeks, but like the rest of us they will just have to manage.  She is going through an intense cat hating stage and walks around the house spitting and hissing. It's not really helping though.  We have been overrun.

I have been on diet to put it mildly.  After my last blood test and visit to the doctor where I was told that if my triglycerides got any higher they would have to glue an extra piece of paper to test results, I decided to take myself in hand.  No carbs at all.  So no bread, rice, pasta, potatoes etc. Kind of hard for a vegetarian, but I am managing.  I eat more salad than your average rabbit.  I am feeling good though.

Lots of work and archaeology filling my time. As the summer season and the digs draw closer I am getting all my work together.  I have been writing code, which I have enjoyed immensely as well as learning to use a lot of different equipment and applications. My real work has been challenging, and I am due for another trip in May to Amsterdam and California. I am slowly finding my place in this huge corporation.

Enough rambling.  I will be better about blogging now I that I see my blogging mojo is visiting again.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Eddie Vedder and Jack Johnson

The best Suzanne in the world (or Shoshana to those in the know), sent us this video to calm our stressed nerves what with the girl in the army and everything.  Kawika Kahiapo on slack guitar, Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) and Jack Johnson at the Kokua Festival in Hawaii performing Constellations. It is so gentle and peaceful, that I nearly have to say "Ommmm".

Sunday, April 1, 2012


86 bottles of chrain on the wall, 86 bottles of chrain!