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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.