Saturday, January 25, 2014

Home Is Getting Closer

So finally I'm at San Francisco airport on my way home. I feel like I have been in California so long that I don't remember what rain looks like. Hopefully, some time tomorrow morning I will be home with my lovely wife, son and and dog. I am tired and shagged out. It has been too long a trip and I am more than ready to get home. I am sick of restaurant food, I'm even looking forward to the boring sandwiches we have daily at squint central UK. 

All I have between me and home are long lines, a wait for the flight, 10 hour flight, UK passport control, baggage claim, and so on.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

It's Raining Men

Even More Trees by Jo

Check out this Article on BuzzFeed. A UKIP councillor (sort of UK's version of the Tea Party) blames the bad weather on gay marriage. Not that this sort of sentiment is unusual. In Israel we have had rabbis blaming all sorts of issues on various groups that don't follow their specific world view. What is interesting in this article is the responses. I particularly love Nicholas Pegg's UKIP shipping forecast. I occasionally get to hear the shipping forecast on BBC radio 4 on my way into work in the morning. It is wonderful, and it seems, quite a BBC institution. I love that "UKIP then suspended him after he defied a request not to do further interviews".

Being here in the US just further reinforces just how different the UK really is.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Day in Northern California

After a long and tiring week here in Folsom, I decided to stay put on the weekend. I woke up early yesterday (Sat) and headed out to the North Fork of the American River near Auburn. I went for a long walk along the nicely marked trail. I passed lots of runners and dog walkers,but man, it was sure chilly until I got into the sun (then it was hot). I hiked past the "Black Hole of Calcutta Falls", which was down to a mere trickle, what with the newly acknowledged drought. It was great to hike into nature, lots of bird song and gurgling river, but I missed my Roxy girl. They could sure do with some English rain here.

After getting back to the hotel, I did some washing, ate pizza and read. Later in the afternoon I decided to take in a movie. There is a movie theatre in the parking lot of the hotel, so I got to see the new Hobbit movie in "Real3D" (Gravity, the movie I really wanted to see was only showing later at night). It's a bit long, but very nice effects. All in all a very nice restful day. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Dusty by Jo
BWO started tangling "loved pets". Above is Dusty, sisteraria's cat in Houston. I think the result is excellent. So send her a good picture of your pet cat/dog/hamster/ostrich and she will tangle it for you (she may kill me for this). These could be worth a mint on Ebay one day.

While I understand its necessity, I usually don't pay a lot of attention to sleep. As I typically don't sleep a whole huge amount, and for me, it's usually just a matter of head hitting the pillow, and waking up refreshed. I'm not a great tosser and turner. Except with jet-lag, and as I have grown older, I have been having an increasingly difficult time of it. One thing that has helped is the bed in this hotel. I love the bed. It is so much better than the marshmallow bed we have at home. It's perfectly hard, but comfortably soft. At 2:30am when I jerk awake thinking I am ready to face the day, I can lay back and just melt into the comfort. I can dream about being home and mull over the events of days past and future. So when the squints want to know why I always choose this hotel and not one of the others that are closer to food and other comforts, I tell them that for me, it's all about the bed. Oh, and the shower. Which is not too bad either. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dry, dry, dry,

O My by Jo

My word, it's dry here in California. I have never seen it so brown and sad looking. Even Folsom lake is nearly all gone. It's the opposite of our home in the UK, where according to bwo it has started raining again. The car park at squint central UK flooded a few days back because the creek at one end overflowed its banks. Over here everything looks completely parched - I miss the green, green grass.

The big news in the far away London Borough of Richmond Upon Thames is that someone stole "a rare and expensive plant" from Kew Gardens. I love it that this makes headlines in our little town. No talk of nuclear weapons, or corrupt politicians, or the price of cottage cheese. No the big news is plant theft.

It is always good to visit the mother ship here in northern California. Even with the dryness. The sun is shining, the sky is blue and the air is oh so fresh. I think I'll take myself to Chipotle for dinner and then off to early bed to fight jet-lag and get ready for a full day tomorrow.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A New Toy

Yet Another Hamsa by Jo

O.K. I'll admit it, I love my iPad Air. I finally took my hand off my heart and ordered and iPad. It was waiting for me when I arrived here in Houston. What a lovely toy. I got an Otterbox cover so it's durable and hardy.

I'm having a great time here in the bosom of my family. Unfortunately, it's nearly over as tomorrow morning I'm off to California and to work. My mom is doing great. 90 years old and still walking around without any help. The weather is great. All that is missing is bwo. I always miss her so much when I travel, and really, while it's nice, an iPad is no substitute.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

First Class Lounge

A Purse by Jo

After all my travelling in the last year British Airways decided to upgrade me from the silver tier to the gold tier. Much of this is due to our excellent travel agent at work. Anyway, today I am off to Houston for the weekend then to California for two weeks of work. 

I tried to talk my way into an upgrade from peasant class when I checked in this morning, but, although they were very polite, they would have none of it. So I'm still stuck in cattle class, but I do have access to the first class lounge here in Terminal 5 in Heathrow. And what a lounge it is. Full on breakfast, including the ability to order "Cured kippers with poached egg" or "Great British breakfast sandwich with grilled back bacon and fried egg on a toasted wholemeal bloomer" (what's a bloomer anyway). Still, there's nothing really vegetarian on the menu besides hash browns (and eggs, which hold no interest to me). It's a very nice place with huge single access toilets and showers and lots of very comfy chairs. As the famous old ditty goes:
"It's the same the whole world over,
It's the poor what gets the blame,
It's the rich what gets the pleasure,
Isn't it a blooming shame?"

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Poor Girly

Dream Tree by Jo

Poor Girly
Poor Roxy. Her claw (nail) that she managed to pull out, got infected and she needed to be anesthetized and have some of the remaining bits removed, then have her whole foot bandaged up - this for at least a week. She needs the collar so she does not chew her bandages off. She is still so out of it she can hardly walk. She just flops around the place looking miserable. This is going to be a tough week. But it's necessary as her toe was full of puss and seemed very sore.  (300 GBP later).

Monday, January 6, 2014

SAD lamps

Another Hamsa by Jo

After another bleak and rainy day I now understand why 80% of all the adverts on TV here are about exotic vacations in the sun. The all too brief periods of sunshine flit pass in moments and we are left with dreary days with gray skies. Now usually I don't mind the rain or stormy weather, but it has been going on for week after week here. The rivers are full, our lane is waterlogged, fields are flooded and still it goes on. I think I am going to have to buy bwo a "day lamp". One of those SAD averting daylight therapy lights may help her feel happier. It's freezing in the US, wet here, seems the only place the weather is any good is in Israel.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

UK Haircut

Another Lady by Jo

I had a haircut today. That in itself is not remarkable, I know. The thing is, that going to a new hairdresser is one of the significant indications that one has definitely moved country. Until now, I have been back to Israel enough that I have been able to keep going to Avi. He has been cutting my hair for more than 10 years now (for 60 NIS). We talk a little football (I am now much more up on the game than I was when living in the Holy Land), complain about politics, and importantly he knows when I just don't feel like talking at all.

Anyway my hair was starting to get out of control (like a "bushtiger" my dad would have said). I am off to the US for two weeks this coming Friday, so the time had come. Bwo suggested that I go to her New Zealand lady on the Richmond High Street. What the hell, I'm open to new things, so I gave it a shot. It was quite an interesting and enlightening experience. She washed my hair (twice) and massaged my scalp. And then cut my hair without too much chatter. I really liked that there was some interesting music playing (some sort of English hip-hop) and there was plenty to look at (lots of nice young ladies in tight pants). Most importantly, the one thing I don't like about Avi's place - the TV, was missing. I usually go to Avi's early in the morning and so am subjected to the stupid morning shows on Israeli TV. Inane and irritating, but whenever there's a TV on anywhere in my field of view, I have to watch. So all in all, this UK haircut was a good experience. Was it worth twice the price? That remains to be seen.

Saturday, January 4, 2014


3 More Trees by Jo

While I like the rain in general, it is getting a little too much. Two weeks pretty much non-stop. Seeing as the girly is still hobbling on three legs (Roxy not bwo) I have not been walking nearly enough. It's altogether unpleasant out. I have been watching all sorts of foreign movies and reading about trees. Nothing remarkable but it passes then time.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Licensed UK Driver

A Lady by Jo

I passed my UK driving test today! Yipee! I was very, very nervous. It's funny how I have sat through many tests in my life, but this one had me more nervous than any I can remember. My driving instructor, Jon, put the fear of god in me. He was a typical Englishman, very slow to praise, quick to point out all the errors in my driving. After each lesson I was convinced that I should not be on the roads at all. I tossed and turned in bed last night, going over and over all the various combinations of actions needed to drive through multi-lane roundabouts, reversing around corners and emergency stopping. The actual examiner this morning was a kindly chap and I got the impression that he was not trying to fail me. I had 6 minor faults out of a possible 15. Basically all related to not looking in the mirrors enough (especially when I slowed down to park, one needs to check one's mirrors before any action). Still I passed and that is all that matters.

It has been 35 years since I last took a driving test. I have a South African, American and Israeli driving license, and now I am licensed to drive in the UK. I have to say (in hindsight) that it's a good thing to go through after all this time. I was not a very good driver at all. Hopefully I have improved, but I still don't like driving at all. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Soldier Who Shattered Barriers

A Rimon (pomegranate) by Jo

Blackdaughtero is in the news once again. Check out the IDF's 8 Female Israeli Soldiers Who Shattered Barriers in 2013. It's the same article as before, but she is pictured along with some excellent company.We know the truth though. Our soldier was grounded for a week for not having her hair up on kitchen duty (so she claims). Well, bdo, we are all very proud of you. Not long to go and you will be done with the army, for good.