Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Mouse in my House!

I arrived in Israel yesterday and settled into my apartment a few hours later. I think there used to be a smoker here, maybe a few tenants ago, and it still smells like it. So I had the windows open all afternoon yesterday until it got too cold. In general, I figured I shouldn't leave them open when I wasn't here (I'm on the 2nd floor and there are bars) because cats might get in.

I was out most of the day today and just got back. It's still warm out and I figured it was time to air the place out again. 10 minutes into my fresh air interaction and what do i see in the window but a mouse! There are SO many cats around I'm not sure how it's even alive. And it was cute. Definitely not a rat. So closed the windows. Five minutes later, he's back and watching me work. Unfortunately, there aren't bars small enough that can keep them out, so I'm back to closed windows.

Monday, December 24, 2007

From 30 to 48

I used to spend about 30 minutes packing for a trip. Maybe 45 if I wasn't paying attention. And it didn't matter how long the trip was going to be. A weekend or a month - it was all the same. I mean how many different clothes can a person wear?

For this trip, I've spent at least 48 hours figuring it all out. Which bags to take. What to put in which bag. To take extra socks or not? Do I really need a flashlight? I've never brought one and have survived just fine. Except that I always encounter some situation in which I wish I'd brought one. I decided not to bring an umbrella. Mainly because I'm not quite sure where a small one is. I'm fairly sure though that I will regret not looking.

And all of the sudden, I have way too much electronic "stuff". Two cell phones (one for the US, one for Israel), the charger that goes with them, an ipod and the charger that goes with that, and mini-speakers, and a car chargers for the cell phone, and a car adaptor for the ipod, and my laptop, and the cords that go with that, and.... I never thought this would be me.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Driving may have been faster...

Last Sunday I needed to fly to DC. No problem. I bought a ticket on United that connected through Chicago and left Milwaukee and arrived in DC at decent hours with a long lay over. The weather in Milwaukee had been terrible and the news on Saturday night made us think it might take longer to get to the airport. It usually takes 15 minutes. The roads on Sunday morning turned out to be fine and while we had left ourselves 45 minutes, it still only took 15.

The plane that was supposed to land in Milwaukee and take us on the 16 minute flight to Chicago was delayed because of bad weather. It was either Souix City or Souix Falls, I can't remember which, but either way, we were now due to arrive in Chicago at 11am, the exact time of my connecting flight.

So still in Milwaukee, they rebooked me on the 1pm flight.

When we arrived in Chicago, even though it was the wrong gate, I asked the agent if she would print the boarding pass for my second flight. There wasn't a line and she didn't seem to mind taking care of me. It printed, and before I walked away, I figured I should double check my originally scheduled 11am flight. If it was delayed, maybe I could still catch it. She checked, and of course it had departed on time. And in those 30 seconds, my 1pm flight got cancelled.


Thankfully she noticed, and immediately rebooked me on the 2pm flight - within seconds of it being cancelled. This was my luckiest break of the day for a few reasons. The first is that when I was walking to my next gate, there were dozens upon dozens of people waiting to rebook flights at the Customer Service desks. The second was that because of all of the delays, there were 60(!) people on the stand-by list for the 2pm flight. I was not one of them.

At this point, it was also clear I was not going to make my 3pm meeting and I'd probably be late for the 5pm meeting.

And I had no snacks. And there is nothing to eat in the airport unless you want to pay and arm and a leg for a fruit salad that looked like it had been made the week before. It turns out though, that McDonald's has a fruit and yogurt side salad for less than $2. I should have gotten 2. And their "gourmet" coffee isn't really so gourmet, in case you were wondering. And they only had Equal and Splenda and no Sweet and Low.

Flash forward. The boarding started for the 2pm flight. I was in group 4. The called the first three groups and then stopped. I heard the gate agent answer her phone and say "Damn". It turns out there were mechanical difficulties and they de-boarded the entire plane.

In the end, they found us another plane and we left by 3:30pm or so and arrived in DC around 6pm. It wouldn't have really been faster to drive, but almost. Maybe.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

1"-2" is not equal to 3"-6"

It is 6:30am. Our next door just began to snowblow her driveway. I used to think she was a nice lady.

We were told to expect 1-2 inches of snow, and when it began yesterday, it was that pretty Christmasy snow that the Eskimos would have nice name for. 6 hours later, when it was still snowing, it was no longer pretty and Christmasy. There are at least 3 inches on the ground here, on top of the other 16 that has already fallen. and some places got 6 more inches.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

God doesn't shovel snow in Wisconsin

My father generally lets Gd shovel for him. Meaning that whenever it finally gets warm enough to melt the snow away, is when the driveway gets cleared.

Today, it snowed for 8 hours straight today and finally stopped about 4pm. At which time we went out and started shoveling. Well, I shoveled and Ronnie wrestled with the snowblower. Neither of us has any experience with one and it's not the easiest thing to maneuver.

This being Wisconsin, I think Gd is busy doing other things until May.

Pretty much simultaneously, all of our neighbors also came out to start clearing the snow. In my mind, the sound of winter is now the roar of snowblowers and the smell is a horrible gas/oil mixture that you can just see eating away at the ozone layer.

We have a long driveway, a big space in front of the garage (behind the house) and a relatively moderate amount of sidewalk that needs to be cleared. At least we don't live on a corner anymore! Either way, it's a lot to clear.

Thankfully, in addition to a snowblower, we have a new shovel. We still have the old one, but the new one weighs maybe 8 pounds and the old one weighs about 20. There is a significant difference in how it feels to lift a pile of heavy wet snow with a 20 pound shovel vs an 8 pound shovel.

It took us each an hour to finish the whole job. At some point, our next door neighbor started up her snowblower. It's big, and fancy (it has a light on it) and throws snow pretty far. And it can handle probably a foot of snow. She redid the sidewalk for us, which was nice. And then I saw her helping the guy across the street. I guess once it's turned on.... Did I mention that her snowblower has a headlight?!

The biggest challenge - it's been snowing for a while already. The first snow of the season was easy - you just throw the snow on the lawn. At this point, the piles of snow are 3-4 feet high and throwing more snow on top or past them is hard!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Spaghetti Squash

It needs a new name. It does not adequately substitute for spaghetti. Every few years I buy one and try to figure out if it would work in place of pasta. It never lives up to its reputation. I don't like squash to begin with, but with a name like spaghetti squash, it seems like something to try every so often.

So last week I bought another one. It sat on the counter for a good week before I finally cooked it. The strands came out perfectly - I'm not sure that's ever happened to me before. The problem, there was WAY too much and this is something I'm fairly sure Ronnie will not eat.

I tossed some with marinara and some parmesan. It was tolerable, but only because there was a lot of sauce and a lot of parmesan. Last night I thought maybe pesto would make it better. I mean pesto makes everything better, right? Wrong. Three bites in I was done. Not even basil could help this squash.

There were still at least 4 cups of it left. The choice was throwing it away or figuring out what else to do with it.

Three eggs, a lot of cinnamon, a handful of raisins, three spoonfuls of flour and 40 minutes at 350 degrees later I had a kugel. And it tastes good. In our house, spaghetti squash will now be known as kugel squash!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Heart Attack Snow

Today was all about shoveling heart attack snow. I'm pretty sure that if the Eskimos shovel, then this is one of the words they have to describe thick, slushy, not-quite-icy-but-almost snow. It's heavy. It's sloppy. It's wet. If you don't have a heart attack shoveling it, your entire body hurts just to remind you know that full body soreness is better than a heart attack.

I did not have a heart attack.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Blizzard. Part Deux

At noon, right on the nose, it started snowing. We were leaving the bank and headed to the library. Just a few small flakes and nothing that ordinarily looks like it would be sticking. We got the library and the little flakes were gathering in corners, huddled lest we run over one of their family members.

The library was not nearly as crowded as Walmart. I figured that meant more movie choices for us. And bonus, no one was already reading the People magazine. Since I don't usually shop at the regular grocery stores, I don't see it standing in line anymore. So that was good. So we sat at the library for an hour or so.

At 12:45 I glanced out the window and saw a minor blizzard. Still small flakes - nothing fun like those big sloppy flakes though. But definitely the start of a good accumulation. Now was the time to call Walmart and see about the aforementioned prescription.

We were put on hold. First, three minutes of the requisite Christmas carols which I enjoy but Ronnie does not. And then, wait for it....Mi Y'malel (Who can retell). In Hebrew. Followed by another Hanuka song. I'm not generally a Walmart fan, save for their $4 prescriptions (and winter salt), but I may call their pharmacy again just to be put on hold.

Walmart. Before a blizzard. Part 1

We're expecting snow. A lot of it. Snow and freezing rain and accumulation. Lovely. But it wasn't supposed to start until noon. So at 10am we went out to run some errands, go to the library, deposit some checks, drop of a prescription at Walmart.... In an attempt to be efficient, we went to Walmart first to drop off the prescription.

By the crowds, you would think we were about to be at seige. There was not a cart to be found. And the carts we saw coming out of the building were all filled with various forms of salt, de-icer, and snow removal accessories. Hmm, maybe getting a cart for a big bag of salt wouldn't be a bad idea.

So we go in search of a cart. You could follow people out of the store, but no one was parked close and it felt a bit like stalking. So Ronnie went off, down row eight in search of a cart while I chatted with the elderly greeters.

10 minutes later, looking as if he'd just done battle, he returned with a cart. Now we HAD to buy salt. And no wussy 20oz bags for us. Now, we went for the 50 pound bag. Even though it's not the greatest stuff for concrete, which our driveway and sidewalk are. And even though we have a snowblower (which we've never used and hope works). At least we had a cart for it and not one of those small handbaskets.

And the lines... you would not believe what people think they need to buy before it snows. Toilet paper. Chips. Shovels. Bottled water. Big bottles of shampoo. I mean this is Wisconsin - it snows all the time here. I could see (and saw) this happening in DC, but here?!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Apple Seeds

Ronnie's been eating a lot of apples. I'm not sure whether he knows they're organic or not, but that doesn't really matter. Yesterday I was on a conference call and pacing around the room. At some point, I figured I should make myself useful so I began sweeping up the living room. I was annoyed because I saw appleseeds on the floor. I mean, really, how hard is it to either pick them up or not let them fall everywhere in the first place. So I sweep it all into a pile, put down the broom and keep walking around the room. A minute or two later I glance over at the pile I swept up (but did not yet pick up because that's Ronnie's job) and I see that the apple seeds are moving. Yes, they've got legs. I look more closely and see that they are ladybugs. I fess up to the people I'm on the phone with at which point one of them tells me that what I thought was first and apple seed and then just a brown ladybug is actually a Japanese beetle.

So disappointing. I mean, how interesting would it be to have walking apple seeds?!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Katrina Pie and Other Things Heard...

The Definition of a Katrina Pie - a pie in which the filling overflows and/or breaks through the crust/levee.

On two neices having matching underwear: "It's like having friendship bracelets, only less public."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I know why the beached whale groans...

It's because it ate too much pie. Or sweet potatoes. Or stuffing. Or green beans. Or cranberries. Or stew. Or some combination of it all. We learned tonight that some whales beach themselves for a reason. It should not always be for Green Peace to decide that they need to be sent back. Give them a few days to digest, and then they'll be ready and go on their own.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dissertating and other such words

I know someone working on their PhD. She insists that the process of writing her PhD is "dissertating". You can't just make up words like that. You write a dissertation. You don't dissertate!

This is the same person who uses the word "cohere". I will admit that it is a word, but I will not agree to use it.

This weekend, I heard a word show on NPR that discussed collective nouns. I learned that one would say:
  • a smack of jellyfish
  • a charm of finches
  • an exhaltation of larks, and
  • a blabber of radio hosts (not true).
What I don't know, is why you can't just say, "there's a smack in the ocean". Why do you have to say, "there's a smack of jellyfish in the ocean"? If 'smack' implies a group of jellyfish, isn't "a smack of jellyfish" redundant? This question was not answered.

I also learned that James Lipton, of Inside the Actor's Studio fame, wrote a book titled, "An Exhaltation of Larks" about collective nouns.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Gurgling Heat and other Random Things

Well, our heat is finally on. And of course it was in the 50s yesterday and we didn't really need it. And when it kicks in, the baseboard radiators gurgle. Like a really, really upset stomach. Or someone trying to plunge a toilet. Or a big pot of boiling water, which I guess the radiator actually is.... My contribution to the effort was "wholly irreverant".

Trader Joe's fresh pizza dough made with mushrooms and carmelized onions - excellent pizza.

Note to self - on a heat scale of 1-10, don't order a 7 for your paad thai unless you know how hot a 5 might already be or you have a few pitchers of water nearby.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Preaching to the Choir

So I just spoke on a panel at a session attended by 50 or so people already invested in the general "travel to Israel for 10-days" work. We had to sign podcast releases which I was against. Just on principle.

And because of the podcasting, we had to wear lavalier microphones. Here's the problem with them - you can't make snide comments to the person next to you when someone else is talking because everyone else in the room, not to mention anyone who will download the session, will hear you. In my case, the person next to me is not a fan of mine and so any comments I may have wanted to make probably would have been about her anyway.

My understanding, to anyone who is interested, is that there is still chili waiting to be eaten at home....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Too Much Chili

I started soaking beans on Wednesday. I mentioned this to a friend and they asked why I was soaking beans rather than buying them already ready at the store. Because beans are cheap and cans are heavy. And soaking them really isn't such a big deal. Plus, I figured I'd throw the ones I didn't use for chili, whenever I got around to making it, into the freezer for the next time.

Here's what I learned in the soaking and cooking process - when you include four different types of beans, and one type is a navy bean (which is actually white and not blue), and one type is a black bean (which, true it's name is actually black), the white navy beans turn gray. I suppose it won't actually taste gray, but it doesn't look as nice.

I didn't get around to making chili until tonight. And just by rote, I was opening cans of diced tomatoes and dumped them in and realized I had just overwhelmed my chili with too many tomatoes. So in went more beans, more water, more spices and more tvp. In the interest of full disclosure, the spices and tvp come together in a package conveniently put out by Fantastic Foods who also tell you how much water, beans and tomatoes to add.

And now, rather than having just a goodly amount of chili, we have a really huge pot of chili. Here's hoping it freezes well....

Goin' to Opryland

I'm headed to Nashville tomorrow, and specifically, Opryland. I'm not sure why UJC decided to have their General Assembly there, but it will at least be a more interesting location than the last few. You don't usually get to see much outside the hotel so it doesn't usually matter what city the GA is in. But at least the hotel and environs should be give us a little more local flavor. Plus, who knows, maybe Dolly Parton will stop by.

And after Nashville, there's no traveling for at least 8 days. It's like my sabbatical week (and a day).

Friday, November 02, 2007

Here and There Commuting

My regular commute is a 5 minute walk to Einstein's to sit for a while, drink a few cups of coffee and read the paper. If there's time, I can even finish the sudoku. There's a regular crowd that is there every morning and my walk back is only slightly longer because I have to be more careful carrying my coffee refill.

I'm in DC now, and the train from Silver Spring to the office this morning took 50 minutes. It usually takes 17. And it was crowded, which means it's too hard to do the sudoku with people bumping into you all the time. And there was no coffee. I don't know how people do this everyday.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Heeb at a Rugby Match

Last weekend I went with a friend to watch the World Cup of Rugby at the only bar in Milwaukee showing the match on pay-per-view. We got to the bar 20 minutes before the match between England and South America. It was already clear as we drove by looking for parking that the bar was packed. Upon trying to get in the front door, we realized that sardines have more space than we were about to enjoy.

First, there were lots of people sporting South African jerseys and flags painted on their face. Way, way back in the far corner, we saw about 10 Brits, wearing their jerseys and a few brave ones sporting full head and body paint. It was very clear that they had been drinking for a few hours already.

We found a scant amount of space squished up against the front window. And then it was time for the national anthems. First, Gd Save the Queen. I've never heard a more drunken, spirited rendition. I'm not quite sure that's what the folks at Buckingham Palace had in mind. And then came time for the South Africans. Their anthem was too long, and they needed sheets with the words (because it was too long?).

I don't get rugby at all. I now get even less of it. At some point, a woman in front of me said, "I like your hand of Gd", referring to my hamsa. I thanked her, and then she said, "Are you a Heeb?" Naturally, my answer was yes.

She then announced this fact to her friends, and then turned back to me letting me know that she had been their only Heeb friend for the last 20 years.

It turns out that this was only her second rugby match and she was only slightly less clueless than I was. I suggested a viewing section for American girls who don't really get rugby....

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Wrong Flakes

I bought the wrong cereal yesterday. The tragedy is that I didn't notice until I'd already opened the box and the plastic bag (my rant on overpackaging will be saved for a future date!). At first, I thought there was really something wrong. Like bugs or something. There were colored pieces in the bag. Upon closer inspection, and noticing that some looked suspiciously like raspberries, I realized I'd bought the fruity cereal and not just the plain, boring kind that I'd hoped for.

And so, into the bowl it went, flakes and fruits. I'm pretty sure that the rabbis would not approve of mixing in this way. My assessment: it looked prettier than my normal bowl of plain flakes, turned my soymilk a little bluish, and every third spoonful or so tasted a little tangy in an otherwise sort of fruity if you know what you're actually tasting sort of way.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

More buses...

We've taken the bus a lot lately. Today, we took it to our other house in Riverwest. But before we did that, we just missed the bus, so we had to wait 25 minutes. In the sun. With little shade. But we had cold water (with lemon, even).

We got to the house and found our miracle man, Steve, already there. The place is looking great. I can't believe we couldn't move back in. That's what kills me.... We met the woman who owns the house across the street. She's looking out for us. And so is the guy next door, who hasn't liked out previous two tenants, but then again, neither have we.

We had an appointment for someone to see the house, but they spent about 2 minutes inside and then let us konw that they really wanted something more modern. Okay. We've got someone else set up for tomorrow that sounds promising, and the woman across the street has a friend who is interested, but can't afford the rent we want.

The good news, we got to use our transfers to take the bus back - we just made it under the time wire. It's the little things that are important, right?

Car Shopping

Looking for a car wihtout a car is challenging. Yesterday, we took the bus, two buses actually, and then walked a mile to the Honda dealer. On the way, we passed all the other dealerships and thought maybe we shouldn't even bother ith a Honda if we had to walk so far (and it was 94 degrees out).

We got to the Honda dealer. They introduced us to Brett, a former financial planner, now car salesman. I thought there was an obvious answer to the most obvious question, but Ronnie was the one who asked it. "So why did you leave financial planning?" Brett replied that he's in a band and needed to be able to travel. I'm pretty sure he just wasn't good at it.

We asked to drive a Civic and a Fit. Reality check on the fit - he said no one test drives them and that there's a 6 month wait and that they are selling for $750 over the MSRP. I asked why their website said they had two in inventory, and he said they were sold. That's annoying.

So we were left with a Civic. He couldn't find the keys to the red one we wanted to drive, but found the keys to a beige one. It had no gas in it, so the three of us got in and drove next door to the gas station. He then said, "Why don't you guys drive around and bring it back when you're ready?"

Ok. We had introduced ourselves but not given him any real information. No driver's license, no phone number, no nothing. But here were were driving this car around. I thought that given our walk, one of us should should drop the other off at the Toyota dealership and then just head back when we returned the car. Or at least we should pick up lunch or something.

Test drive over, we walked down to Toyota. There, the salesman sat in the back seat when we drove the Corolla and the Yaris. He didn't seem particularly rattled by either of our driving. I think we just didn't try hard enough....

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Back on the Bus

I had to go to both the library and the bank today. The catch - they're in opposite directions and I don't have a bike lock. Well, I have a bike lock, but I don't have the key to bike lock, so I may as well not have a lock. But I digress.

It's a hot day out and I was willing to ride to one location (and back) but not both. The library is a much shorter trip, but there's no where to leave my bike while I was in the library. I would be able to bring my bike into the bank (to the lobby, not all the way to the counter), but I still had to get to the library.

My choices:
  • walk to the library and back. Get my bike and go to the bank.
  • bike to the library and back. Walk to the bank (~2.5 miles one way, and it's really hot out)
  • bike to the libary and then to the bank (again, it's really hot out)
  • walk everywhere -doable, but I needed to make sure that I had time to actually walk to the bank before they closed.

And then I hit on solution number five.
  • walk to the library and take the bus to the bank.

This proved to be the winner, and, because I got a transfer and was efficient in the bank, I got a bus back about 15 minutes after I got dropped off. It was the same bus driver and he looked at me a little funny, but he was pretty funny-looking to start with.

The buses here have what I like to call Bus TV. They might call it that too, I have no idea. It's a screen that has local news, weather, and a map of the bus route and where you are at any given moment. The map is only helpful if you know where along the route you have to go, but it's a nice feature.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Shorewood is going to the dogs

There are a lot of dogs here. Thankfully, unless you see the actual dogs, there is little evidence of their existence outside of a big dog bowl of water outside of most of the stores. I was out for an early bike ride today and on my way back, the dogs (and their owners) were coming out for their morning walks. At dusk tonight, I went for a walk, and there they all were again, going for their evening walks.

In some cases, it was not clear who was walking whom.

Monday, July 02, 2007

other good things about Milwaukee

Phone numbers are generally only seven digits. It's unusual to hear someone first give a different area code.

The grocery stores sell whitefish.

People who have been here for generations have serious accents.

The temperature in the summer (at least so far) is usually in the 70's.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


We're living here right now sans automobile. I think we could mainly get by without one, but it would be more convenient if we had one. For a while now, I've been interested in buying a hybrid for our next car. It's less about saving money on gas and more about using less fuel in general. But they are SO expensive! And I wonder if the same energy costs go into manufacturing them as go into other gas guzzlers.

Right now, we're using the hybrid model of walk/bike/bus. I somehow convinced Ronnie to go out for a walk tonight. It's actually kind of cold out, but 2 miles later, you don't notice it so much. And yesterday I took my bike out for the first time. It's generally flat around here, but the small hills that there are, are long! I should have gone back out today, but I can still feel yesterday's ride in my rear end. I also tried the bus. It was pretty easy to use, clean and my only complaint was that the driver didn't wait until I sat down (with my groceries) to start moving again. It's a good thing I hadn't bought eggs.

Trader Joe's

There is a Trader Joe's in Milwaukee. And it is good. It's not within walking distance, but the bus goes there pretty quickly. And three blocks away is Schwartz's. One of the last independent bookstores around. We walked over last night and hung out for a while. I can see that happening often.

The apartment is sort of starting to come together. Slowly. If living among too much stuff constitutes starting to come together. We haven't hung any pictures yet. I'm waiting to finish moving furniture to do that. And it turns out there's a reason (actually two) I have crappy phone reception in my office - solid, old construction on the house in general, and probably too many layers of old lead paint in between the main phone and the office.

But again, the good news is that Milwaukee has a Trader Joe's....

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Day 3 in Milwaukee

We live in a nice neighborhood. All the houses have a different architecture. The last neighborhood was nice, but all the houses looked the same. Here, they're brick, or lannon stone, or sided, and they all have different colored roofs. I walked over to the lake today - it's only four blocks away.

They've been doing some sort of digging in all of our yards. Now there's a hole in our front yard about 8 inches by 3 inches by 6 feet. Much to Ronnie's chagrin I did not go out and ask what it was all for. I figured if they're doing it to everyone, we're in it together, whatever it is.

Did I mention that it got cold out? We went from oppressive heat to needing a long sleeve shirt. At least it's easier to get stuff unpacked. Slowly but surely things are at least getting consolidated, if not actually put away.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

In case you were wondering...

Laverne and Shirley have yet to stop by and say hello.

Also, it is definitely still very hot in Milwaukee. Theoretically, it's going to get cooler tomorrow. but they were also wrong about the storms we were supposed to get last night and all day today. We had about 15 minutes of rain. No thunder, no lightening (I suppose one does follow the other), just a little rain.

The heat is exhausting. We've made good progress on getting things together, but it's been slow because we can only really work in spurts. The kitchen is sort of usable and would be more so if I were 6 inches taller. The dining room is slowly getting emptied, but figuring out where it all goes is a challenge. And the office is just too crowded. I love our red couch, but really, there's no good place for it now.

I walked down to the library today. They've built a new one since we were here before. It's nice, and well air-conditioned. And tonight we walked to a restaurant we like. It's really not so far away, maybe a mile, but given how tired we are, it felt like a really long walk.

Milwaukee Cable Television

When you think there's nothing on at 4:30am, ou'd be wrong. Now, there are episodes of the original Star Trek. That is definitely something I didn't see in Israel! Of course, in order to find it I had to scroll through more Christian stations than I knew couldexist. And, in case you're wondering, the Star Trek episode was the one with the Scalasians (invisible, needed humans to help continue their people....)

It's 5am now, there's another Star Trek on, (Star Date: 51.25.9), the sun is coming up, and it didn't storm last night like they expected it to. 'm hoping they were wrong about it also being really, really hot again today. To find out for sure, I'd have to switch from Star Trek to a local station and this episode is looking pretty good... (there are Klingons).

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I'm disappointed. In my first 18 hours I have yet to see Laverne, Shirley, Lenny or Squiggy. I could have sworn I told them when my plane arrived....

I finally made it back last night and was welcomed by Ronnie, and lots and lots of boxes. The place in general looks great, if you can imagine it without boxes. It's not that Ronnie didn't do any unpacking - he did - it's just that we still have too much stuff.

And of course, today is one of the 20 or so days during the summer where air conditioning would be really nice. It's just so hot here. If I'm going to sweat this much, I'd just as soon be back in Israel. Thank gd for box fans.

We're in a nice, quiet neighborhood that's close enough to walk to the post office (did that this morning), the grocery store (did that this afternoon), and hopefully, if we're not too tired, to a restaurant we really like (tonight).

My goal for the day is to get the kitchen all unpacked. There's no actual pantry in the house, so I have to figure out which cabinets will get the food. There is plenty of cabinet space, so that's not so much an issue as the fact that I can't comfortably reach the second shelf and even with a step ladder can't really reach the fourth ones. Plus, I have to find the dishes. There's a dishpak in the dining room that I'm hoping has them. If not, it's a big mystery.

The paint colors look pretty good everywhere. The colors work well together and with the architecture. It was a little bit of a guess to make the choices, but they work.

I found two great things at the grocery store that I haven't seen in a few years: bread from Manitowoc and cheese curds. We went up to Manitowoc years ago and got a tour of the bread factory, complete with a pyramid shaped roof on the office of the president (it evidently promotes creative thinking).

Who Needs Paris?

It's the end of June. It shouldn't be freezing in Paris.

And yet, it was. That was my first indication that Paris is not all it's cracked up to be.

Charles de Gaulle (CDG) is undergoing a lot of construction. This is the place where one of the glass "tubes" collapsed last year and killed a few people. In the mean time, they take you from gate to concourse to gate on buses through the back of the airport. It could be really interesting, even in French, but it's not, and especially not on a cold, dark morning at the end of June. Really, it felt like being one of those post-apocalyptic movies, except they don't usually ride around on airport buses - they get cool motorcycles or old cars that miraculously run and there are cool explosions every so often.

Signage at CDG is non-existant. You get off the plane and have no idea where to go. The most obvious place, it seemed, was passport control, except that since I wasn't leaving the airport, that seemed not to be the place to go. On the otherside of the crush of people there was a small staircase that seemed to lead to the street. I had to ask three people where I was supposed to be going. There was not an immediate concensus (hence the third person).

I finally got to my gate. It was about 6:30am. I wanted to change my seat on the plane and waited 45 minutes to be told there was really nothing farther up (because I hate sitting in the back). But then, as the only ray of sunshine on a dark and cloudy morning, the clerk said the seven magic words that I had not expected to hear. "There's no one sittign next to you". That alone was worth 45 minutes and Row 42.

While I was waiting for my flight (delayed!), I noticed a lot of davening (praying) taking place. In addition to the two Jews putting on t'filin, there were also seven African men in robes and fancy hats who put down a prayer mat and started to pray. It was all pretty interesting.

When you are ready to board the flight, you take yet another long bus ride to get to the plane. A long ride, on a crowded bus with people who have already been flying for a few hours and haven't showered or brushed their teeth. You're dropped off on the tarmac facing a huge ramp leading up to the front door of the jumbo jet. Up close, those planes are huge. And the ramps are not escalators, but they should be.

Lastly, you know you're in trouble when get on the plane and it already smells. And in case you're wondering, it did NOT smell like fresh croissant.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


That's the number of kilometers I drove this trip. how do I know? I started out with a new car that only had 4 kilometers on it, and when I got the airport tonight, it ready 3205. That's a lot of mileage (or kilometrage, I suppose) for four weeks. Other than a lot of dust on the outside, and a lot of pretzel crumbs on the inside, I think it looked ok. There were no discernable scratches or dents and I think I took out all the garbage. And this time I remembered to take all my cds and the parking receipts that were in the arm rest.

Last Day

Well, it's my last day in Israel. Really, my last evening. Shabbat was fine. This week I was at the Knesset Towers. The food was terrible. I don't like that they give our participants food that is bad, but if I were a regular "guest" in the hotel and got food like that, I would not pay the bill.

Today has been full of meetings and packing. Avraham Infeld started at 8am, so I got a reminder of the five legs of the table. Not like I could really forget. (Memory, Family, Sinai, Israel (land and state), and Hebrew Language)

It's also been really, really hot here in Jerusalem, and they say it will be even worse tomorrow. I had a friend who was climbing Masada with his family today - I think his mother took the cable car. I think he's CRAZY to climb the snake path, but he did!

It's been a good trip, although a bit long. I still have to decide if I'm coming back in August. At this point, my guess is no....

Friday, June 22, 2007

Finding 59 Derech Beit Lechem

One of the things I do every other day or so is collect the mail from the apartment mailbox. Usually it's junk mail. Two days ago I got a notice about a package for the owners. I gave it to their daughter. Yesterday I saw a paper in the entry hall that indicated there was also a package for me.

Packages need to be picked up at the post office. In this case, the one located at 59 Derech Beit Lechem. That's just two streets away, so this morning, I walked down there. Like the US, even numbers and odd numbers are on opposite sides of the street. The first number I saw was 25, so I at least knew which side of the street I needed to be on. It took me nearly another block to find out that the numbers were going down and not up.

But then I glanced across the street and saw that the house address there was 50. Yes, 50 on one side of the street, 17 on the other. Either way, I knew I had to walk the other direction.

So I walked up a few more blocks. The street was getting increasingly residential and I was wondering if I'd somehow missed a quick even/odd block switch. But the numbers on the even side of the street were in the 80s, so I figured I had to be close.

When I reached 57, I was thinking that maybe packages needed to be picked up at the mailman's house because all I saw were big apartment buildings. Hey, this is Israel, anything is possible. And then there was 59. The entrance to an apartment building. Maybe I wasn't so far off?

Then I noticed a guard standing at the entrance of the driveway and thought I should look just a little farther. Aha! Signs for the post office. Basically, it was a little hole in the wall in the back of the apartment bulding. I am still convinced that the mailman lives there though.

There was a long line, and three counters open. No one was wearing a uniform, unless the national Israeli Mail Service uniforms are also layered tanktops. There was a man yelling at them to find out where he was supposed to pay some sort of bill. He had clearly been given the run around and he was finally told he had to go out to the mall to some office there. He did not look happy when he left.

And then it was my turn. I gave them the little slip of paper and after much confusion, I finally got my package. I think they couldn't figure out why there were two packages to the same address, one for the apartment owners, one for me, in care of the apartment owners, but I was only there to pick up one. Since they ultimately didn't ask me for any identification, I probably should have just picked up both of them....

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Gay Pride Parade

Today was the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem. They started closing city streets first thing in the morning to prepare and getting around town was not easy given the closures. The ultra-Orthodox have been protesting for days and there were some fears of violence at the Parade.

We got to the area about 5pm, and could tell that there were thousands of people up and across the street for what looked like blocks. From where we parked, about six blocks away, up until where we finally were at the end of the parade route, we saw hundreds of police. And when we finally got to the end of the parade route, we were held back by barricades and more police. There were all sorts of different law enforcement types - regular police, military police, and some guys dressed in all black on black motorcycles. I would have thought 'ninja' if I didn't know better. Really, there was a tremendous amount of weaponry there. I had no concern for my safety, but I was wondering what would happen if there was a crime committed in any other part of the city!

As I mentioned, the streets were all blocked off. We were behind some simple barricades, but up the block, there were two city buses being used to block the streets. We think there were some Haredim behind them protesting. Right next to us - literally 2 feet away - about 8 religious men started chanting horrible things and of course, all the of the television cameras came running. I mean really, it was 8 people, max. And then the religious women started blowing plastic whistles. They were SO annoying, but at least they weren't shouting hateful things.

Other than these folks, it was a really nice crowd. Lots of rainbow balloons, flags, and stickers. And there was a great banner over the entrance to one of the parks announcing the parade that had a skyline of Jerusalem cut out of a rainbow, and a pink lion (the lion is the symbol of Jerusalem). I saw a few people I knew and figured out that I wasn't going to get close to some of the other people I knew were there.

There was supposed to be a big "after-party" in the park, but it was moved to a site a mile or so down the road. We never made it there. By the time we made our way back to the car, drove home and walked back down toward town, it was already getting late....

Same old, same old

Well, another day in Jerusalem. No major crises yesterday and we haven't penciled in any of them in for today. That said, the day is young...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Anyone who knows me knows that I like watching Survivor. On in the background as I work now is the first episode of season five. I remember maybe three of the faces - including one of the best players ever (Stephanie) and the guy who won, who was one of the most boring winners ever. Actually, if memory serves, the whole season was pretty boring. Earlier today they had the season finale of Season 2, which was a pretty good one (and introduced us to Amber, of Rob and Amber fame.

I still say that there's nothing on television during the day worth watching, but at least there's something sort of interesting in the background....

Driver's Education

I think there should be a Potemkin Village built that will allow those learning to drive to take the time they need, allow them to make the mistakes they invariably will, and most importantly, stay off the roads and out of the way of the rest of us. At least here in Israel, those learning to drive are in cars that have a big "lamed" on top of the car, so you know who to stay away from. It doesn't really help that the rest of the drivers on the road are a little crazy....

Monday, June 18, 2007

Life Cycle of the Airport

One of our groups was departing earlier today and I needed to see some of the staff and one of the students before they left. I'd been at a meeting at Yad Vashem (it's sort of weird to go there and really just be interested in the coffee shop) and left a little later than I should have and then encountered construction traffic.

I did make it to the airport by 1pm and I believe I broke a land-speed record or two in my efforts. Needless to say, I made it without a scratch and I think even the cab drivers were impressed.

It was pretty crowded - I guess there are a lot of 4pm departures. It felt like it does before the midnight departures except people aren't already tired from a long day. Mainly, there's no where to sit and lots of luggage carts to get around. And now, at 6:30pm, it's so quiet you wonder if the airport may be closed for some unknown reason. I guess the rush starts again in a few hours.

One sad thing about the airport is that the hummos place no longer has mushrooms. You can get hummos with ful (brown beans), which I had last week, or with chickpeas, which I had today. Neither one is as good as the mushrooms used to be. The man behind the counter said they weren't as popular as the other two. I thought the ful wasn't so good at this place, and the chickpeas on top of hummus is just sort of redundant.

But there's free wireless, and there's something to be said for that....

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Bik'a, again

Well, once again, I drove down the Bik'a road back to Jerusalem. Only this time I began the drive at 9:30pm, so it was not nearly the beautiful drive that it usually is. There were a million stars out, but it was hard to appreciate them going 100 kilometers an hour. Because it was Saturday night, there was also a fair amount of traffic.

I did have company in the car, which was nice, since we didn't get back until about midnight. Jerusalem is really, really busy on a Saturday night. The most noticeable thing, it smells like pastry everywhere. The bakeries are all starting to bake for the week, and in the three neighborhoods I stopped in (dropping people off and then parking at my apartment), it always smelled like pastry. Which is not bad....

Shabbat was quiet. We were at the King Solomon, which is way on top of the hill in Tiberius. It's also the hotel our students were in last summer when the rockets started raining on Tiberius, so we all (staff) were subconciously relieved to have a quiet Shabbat.

On Friday afternoon, I brought one of our staff people and a sick student down to town for lunch. They ate green olive pizza (ick) and I had my first falafel of the season. I have to say, it was really, really good. It was also my first opportunity to have my favorite sauce - amba. I still don't know exactly what it is, but in my opinion, it tastes like a curried mustard. Someone told me it has mango in it, but I dont' see how that's possible.

And on the down side, I'm out of Pepsi Max again. A Big Gulp would be good right about now. I'm fairly certain that the first person to open up a proper 7-11 would do really, really well here....

Friday, June 15, 2007

Back at Hof Gai

Well, I'm back at Hof Gai, trying (successfully) to be back on line and get some work done. I'm in Tiberius through Shabbat and still have to brave the pre-Shabbat shopping insanity to get some things for our staff oneg. There will be 17 people, plus any random tour educators that decide to come. That's a lot of stuff to get and I think it means stopping at at least two stores, maybe three. Or I could brave the shuk, but that would require a level of stamina I just don't want to exert today.

Last night, one of the staff members took me out for my anniversary. He felt bad for me last year when I was here and Ronnie was in the US and said he'd take me out, but it didn't work out. This year, when I knew he'd be staffing, and that it would be this week, I called him and told him he had a chance to make up for last year. It was a long day yesterday and really, all I wanted was a big fountain soda. Knowing that doesn't exist here, I got a bottle of diet coke and a chocolate milk shake. Not the same, but it hit the spot.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


The McDonalds here in Israel have free wireless access. And there is no place with wireless access (other than McDonalds) in Tiberius. And there is no wireless access in Tsfat. So today, on the way from Tzfat back to Tiberius, I stopped at the McDonalds in Rosh Pina. I ordered a salad and diet coke, paid, sat down and turned on my computer. Supposedly, the salads are made to order there. Given the time it took to get my salad, I believe that it means that they go pick them up somewhere else.

And I actually got connected to their wireless network with a very strong signal. So far, so good. Until I actually tried to open a browser and nothing would come up. I ran the diagnostic test - I'm not sure why. It's never given me information that was either helpful or understood. This time was no different.

The salad wasn't bad, although it wasn't exactly what I ordered. The Diet Coke was too small for the hot day - haven't they heard of large?! And so I left and am now at Hof Gai, a hotel on the shores of the Kinneret, just south of Tiberius, pretending I am a guest here. So far no one seems to have noticed that there is an American sitting among a lobby full of Israelis attending the "Star Home" conference.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Life Cycle of a Shuk

In truth, I wasn't there so early in the morning but my friend Dennis was, and he's a fairly reliable source. He goes running every morning and mentioned to me that he was at Mahane Yehuda (in Jerusalem) while all the booths were being set up, vegetables were delivered, and rugelach were baked.

Mid-day, I spent a few hours in downtown Tel Aviv and walked through Shuk Ha-Carmel. It's a little crazier than Mahane Yehuda, I think. For one, I think there are more cats. And they sell a wider variety of goods, and it's much bigger. There are a lot of tourists in both, but in Tel Aviv, there are also many more foriegn workers who are there. So the shuk also caters to a wider variety of clientele. One big difference - you can't buy pork products at the shuk in Jerusalem.

About 7:30pm, I was walking back through Shuk Ha-Carmel. At this point, the shop owners were literally dumping whatever was left on their tables, straight to the middle of the road. It was like a food fight gone terribly wrong. Tomatoes, lettuce, and melons, were probably the most common, but there were also tons of cardboard boxes, apples, and plums. To make matters only a bit more complicated - there was water running down the middle. My guess is that someone was starting to wash down the street - but it only served to make things really slippery. And, some of the store owners continued to toss fruit (and boxes) into the middle of the street without noticing that there were people walking through....

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Mega-Event

What do you get when you cram 4000 trip participants, a lot of VIPs, tons of balloons, and fireworks into the Sultan's Pool? The first mega-event of the season. It was actually a good one, especially once they resolved the technical glitches. The fact that all of these people were in a venue that only had two discernable exits, both of which were long staircases up was of some concern to me, but we got out early and avoided the insanity.

There was a fire near my apartment today. When I drove by later a small field was all blackened. I'm not sure if it was an accidental fire or an intentional burn. All I know was that sometime in the middle of the afternoon I smelled some smoke, looked out the window, saw a lot of smoke and what looked like paper flying around and then shut the windows tight. That posed a different problem because it's pretty hot today and it soon became rather stifling. Needless to say, I survived....

Friday, June 08, 2007

cloudy day

It's been pretty unusual weather for June, I think. It's been cloudy for the last few days and last night it actually rained just a little bit. It almost never rains here after the spring. and it's been kind of cool, and maybe even a little cold.

Once again, I am NOT spending Shabbat at the Shalom Hotel. This week, it's the Olive Tree for me. The good news is that I have chocolate and cinnamon rugelach from the shuk for the staff oneg. The cinnamon ones are particularly important because they prove that the chocolate ones are overrated. I went to the shuk pretty early this morning to beat the crowds. I was there with all of the old Russians (and a few Israelis) and their wheeled carts walking through the narrow alleys. There's pretty much no way to not get assaulted by them. There are little wheeled (plaid) carts everywhere. At least I didn't have to buy vegetables.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

so many things...

I drove to Tzfat yesterday morning and went directly to the hospital to meet our staff and student who had been there all night. It's just such a different culture. There are four people to a room, and no where for visitors to really sit. Dennis (our staff person who spent the night there with the student) slept on a balcony. On the balcony. Which had a tile floor. He only had a thin sheet, and it gets a little cold out.

The hospitals are also interesting places because you really get to see all slices of life in Israel - rich and poor, Israeli and Arab and Druze. There was a cell phone that kept ringing with an Arabic melody. It was actually pretty cool and we were talking about how unique that would be if we could get it on our phones either here or in the States.

At some point I went looking for a bathroom. I found one and was surprised to see a larger garbage can there with what looked like garbage from the patient rooms. You know that stiff, molded cardboard that apples come in when they're packed in boxes? Well, that same kind of cardboard was also molded into bed pans and urinals. I'm not sure what kind of time you have between using them and disposing of them.... I shouldn't be so fascinated by garbage in bathrooms, but really, this was nothing I could have imagined.

On my drive back from Tiberius this morning, I saw more animals then ever. More goats than usual (and therefore more shepherds), some sheep (also with a shepherd), horses, donkeys, camels and then, a snake crossing the highway. It turns out that snakes cross the road for the same reasons that chickens do.

Bording the road to Jerusalem is a large field of sunflowers. I thought it was interesting that thousands of them were all approximately the same height. And then I noticed that every few feet or so there seemed to be some overacheivers who were several inches taller than the others. It's probably a safe bet to assume there are also some runts in the field, but I will have to look for them the next time I drive up.

Last night I stayed in the hotel just next door to where our groups were. The story was that there were no rooms. Who knows. I do know that there was no one else in my hotel other than me. That was pretty strange. When I checked in, they asked what time I wanted breakfast. Usually, breakfast runs for a few hours in the morning, so I just asked what time breakfast was. She said since I was the only one eating, it would be whatever time I wanted. I told her I would just go next door and eat with our participants.... The room was nice, and there was a balcony overlooking the Kinneret complete with patio chairs and a jacuzzi. I went out on the balcony only to see the planes that were flying down from the North. They weren't quite fast enough to crfeate a sonic boom that sometimes accompanies the war planes, but they were plenty loud. Rumor has it they were on practice manuevers, but I'm pretty sure they don't do those at 10:30 at night.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

updates +

1. The box that was packed with something that began ticking every morning at 6:30am every morning, has not yet been upacked and it continues to tick. Only now that the box resides in the Central Standard Time, it begins it's call at 5:30am.

2. The proper quote and citation is: "We will know we have become a normal country when Jewish thieves and Jewish prostitutes conduct their business in Hebrew" The author: David Ben Gurion.

3. I cannot use a hospital as home base as our participants get taken to too many different ones! Tonight, for example, we are using Ziv hospital in Tzfat for one of our students. We have not yet had a hospital chosen for us in Jerusalem, but the night is still young.

It's another clear, cool night in Jerusalem. You would never know it was blazing here during the day. The participants are all exhausted having come from an early morning at Masada, a hike at Ein Gedi and a dip in the Dead Sea. Hopefully it will be a quiet night.

We had another shehechiyanu ceremony today with four buses. For the first time, there was an awning set up at the site we use. Given the heat and the sun, it was great. I think it's only up for the Hebrew U Board of Governers meetings, but it doesn't matter to me. The good news, is that I didn't get another parking ticket while there. I got one last week, but at least Aryeh also got one and took care of both of them. They're 100 shekels - that's like $25! I've never gotten a ticket at a shehechiyanu before. Today I found the parking ticket machine and put in my three shekels and paid for plenty of parking. I did not buy a ticket for Aryeh - he was on his own!

Monday, June 04, 2007


Well, there is something to be said for sunset in Jerusalem. There's a great breeze, it's a clear night, and it's a great night. Jupiter could be seen pretty clearly for a few nights, but if it's still visible, it's not from here. Of course, that could be because there's an apartment building in the way.

I stopped by the grocery store on my way home today. They had a lot of American products but I couldn't believe how expensive they were. Who in the world is going to pay more than $4 for cheese curls? I mean, you really have to be pretty desperate to do that, don't you?

I didn't exactly get lost on my way to my meeting, but I did get a little turned around. And pretty much, I never would have found it on my own. It takes a little pressure off not to get lost anymore though.

Daytime Television

It's offical. Israel is a normal country just like any other. There is nothing on tv during the day. I did find a Law and Order rerun, but it's one I've seen before. Or I could watch Odetta. Like I said - nothing on television.

What is not usual, is that at Hadassah Ein Kerem, there is an attached mall and even a hotel. It was a pretty busy hospital. Given what else it looked like was going on, we weren't surprised to wait a while for the various tests and exams.

Bonus, I'm going on day 8 without getting lost yet. I had good directions to the hospital last night, so that turned out not to be an issue. But today is another getting lost is still a possibility.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Getting Lost, or not

As luck would have it, I did not have to drive to my meeting alone. Had I driven alone, I would have been hopelessly lost. Crisis averted. And I didn't get lost leaving there. That doesn't mean I knew where I was going, but I was headed in the right general direction and figured out how to get where I needed to go. Now I have to get to the hospital to meet a student. If it's one of the two I know how to get to, I'm good to go. If it's the third, I'm not so good....

I have done a lot of driving already today. I drove to Jerusalem from up north this morning. I had all morning to do a two hour drive and I figured I'd take my time and not push too hard to get to town too early. But then there were cars going way too slow. So it became the typical drive. I also had to decide when I was leaving Tiberius whether I wanted to stop for gas before I hit the desert or not. I figured I used half a tank from Beit She'an to Jerusalem and back up to Tiberius, and that the other half-tank should get me back to Jerusalem. Right?

Well, to make a long story short, I did make it. I even had more than a quarter-tank left by the time I got to the gas station right outside Jerusalem.

Getting Lost

So far I've been here a week and haven't gotten lost once. That's pretty much a record for me. But I think it's about to happen. I just have that feeling. I have to drive over to the other side of town to a place I can never find. I guess it's part of the adventure, sort of. What's the worst that can happen? I have a full tank of gas, a big water bottle, and a bag of almonds. I can survive for at least a day....

Thursday, May 31, 2007

back in J-lem

I'm back in Jerusalem for one more night before heading back up north for two more nights in Tiberius. I think this trip I'm hitting most of the Roman cities. I waas in Caesaria a few days ago, and then in Beit Shean today (formerly Skitopolous). They all look pretty similar - a theater, a cardo, baths....

It's really, really windy here and actually pretty cool at night. Up north, things were very hazy the whole time. Rumor has it that it's dust and sand from Africa. I believe it given how close we are. Either way, it makes the desert less beautiful to drive through.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


You have never seen a car so packed to the gills as when Ronnie dropped me off at Dulles on Sunday morning. Needless to say that got a little better when I got out of the car with my two bags, but still. I specifically wanted to get to the airport early because Dulles always has horrible lines to both check in and for security. We pulled up to the airport and there weren't so many cars in front, which was already pretty strange. Even more strange - almost no one in the airport and only one person in line to check in at the Delta counter. Even the staff thought it was weird.

I then had a solid 7 hours at JFK. The thing about Terminal 4 at JFK is that if you're not at one of the few tables crowded into the food court, there's almost nowhere else to sit. Unless you want to sit on the concrete benches that they have thoughtfully put in everywhere else they can think of. And, there are virtually no outlets anywhere, so if you want to work on a laptop, it better be charged. Needless to say, mine was not. I wound up sitting on the floor outside a store and using their electricity. I figured if I was going to be sitting on concrete, it didn't really matter if it was on the floor or on a bench. I was right.

When I checked in for the flight to Israel, they gave me a seat in the aisle in the 53rd row. Neither part excited me. They told me it was a full flight, seats all already assigned and that there were no seats available further up in the plane of any kind. The man checking in next to me was upset that he didn't have an aisle. He was pretty tall so I figured he really needed one. I asked where he was sitting. As luck would have it, he had a window in the 33rd row. So we switched. When I saw him at the gate as we were waiting to board I remembered to ask if he'd ordered a special meal. I was relieved to find out that he had not.

I'm here. I've got a new phone that even has a camera, not that I need it. I lost all my old numbers, which is unfortunate, but I've got most of them written somewhere. I moved into the apartment, got caught in the worst traffic I've ever been in today, drove to Netanya and ate dinner with the students in a restaurant where they think that fish is vegetarian. That said, I have a balcony that overlooks the beach (all the rooms here do) and that's good enough for me.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

inflatable beds and Ready, Set, Cook!

Late last night we were ready to try out the new inflatable bed. So I take it out of the box, find the pump and actually look at the instructions before just assuming I know what to do, which, if you know me, you know that's already a little unusual.

The first half of the book is in Spanish, which I do not read or understand. I find the English and see that before the bed is inflated for the first time using the enclosed pump, the pump must be charged for 24 hours.

What?! Why wasn't this on the box? Ronnie thinks it is a disincentive to buy something that you purchase knowing you cannot use right away. I believe that I will never recommend this brand to anyone else because they should have told me in advance to charge the pump!

It's a good thing we had sleeping bags.

This morning, I had to figure out what to make for breakfast. I'd kept out a frying pan, a plastic bowl and a wooden spoon so that Ronnie would have the bare basics when he got to Milwaukee before our stuff. I looked in the fridge. We've been making good progress, but there's still too much there. We had egg beaters. But I'm not the biggest fan unless they can be seriously doctored up. What to doctor them with....

I found sun dried tomatoes, frozen basil in olive oil from our farm share two years ago, and some grated parmesan cheese. Not bad, and in fact pretty good. So I made the same thing for Ronnie along with many fake saugages. Remember, we had to eat in shifts because we only have one bowl....

Friday, May 25, 2007

the ticking box

Did I mention that when I went to set my alarm to wake up early this morning, that the clock radio had been packed? (see the previous post - it hadn't been nailed down) So I had to go with plan B, which was to set my cell phone alarm. It went off at 6:15am and I tried to wake up. I hit snooze, which I actually didn't know was a possibility on the cell phone. Sidenote: since I already seemed to have learned something new so early in the morning, it really seemed pointless to actually wake up. but I did anyway.

At 6:30am, I heard a beeping. From a box. Across the room. At somepoint during the packing, the alarm button on one of our travel alarm clocks must have been pushed or pulled or whatever needs to happen to be set. And since I'm pretty sure I know which one sounds like that, it's going to go off every 12 hours until the batteries die....


I got home with working brake lights to find the house in boxes. That is except for one drawer of kitchen stuff, all the paint brushes and rollers in the utility room, and all the lightbulbs in the basement.

You don't really think about the fact that with the exception of things they just forget (mentioned above), that they're really going to be packing everything that isn't nailed down. Like the backpack that I always take with me to Israel that has a padded section for a laptop and also usually the permanent storage place for my passport. Or anti-frizz spray for my hair. They live in DC, they know what the weather is like now - why on earth would they think I don't need that for the next few days?! They also left things like televisions and a cable box, but packed the remote controls. And they packed the base for one of our phones, but not the actual phone. And all of this stuff - books, dishes, pots and pans, clothes, towels, etc, not including furniture filled 119 boxes. I knew we had a lot of stuff, but criminy!

And for some reason, I was under the mis-impression that they would be leaving clothes in the dresser drawers. They do not. Nor do they leave stuff in the drawer of the nightstand. I chose correctly when I had to open a box this morning to find the caps for the air mattress components of our bed.

What they intentionally don't pack are things like liquids (cleaners, as opposed to spray conditioners, evidently!) and batteries (totally annoying that we have so many right now). They also don't pack all the opened but definitely still good things in the door of the fridge. If anyone reading needs pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, ketchup, parmesan cheese, curry paste call me as soon as possible.

The loaders are theoretically at the house now so when I get home from work, there should be very, very little left in the house other than the stuff in the refrigerator, the stuff that one of my co-workers was supposed to pick up yesterday but didn't, the stuff that I need for Israel, the stuff that Ronnie is going to stuff into our little car, and the stuff we leave for Misha that we'll just have to pick up on our next visit.

Lest you think there is no good news, I was able to watch the season finale of Lost this season. Thank gd - because it was a really, really good one. During the two hours, there were definitely times where I did not breathe for minutes at a time. Needless to say I seemed to have recovered from whatever hypoxia I suffered.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Packers

The door rang at 8:30am this morning. Outside there were three men. It was unclear whether they were wise. The house was a veritable hurricane zone and in little more than 6 hours, the place is in boxes.

I, of course, was conveniently out of the house all day at the mechanic's. Given that Ronnie is driving to Milwaukee on Sunday morning, I thought it best if the car didn't shake everytime it hit 50 miles and hour. And it's probably best if the brake lights work, too.

There's still a lot of stuff that's not boxed. Cords, phones, and other random things that I thought would have been stuffed into something by now. The technology part is probably the most complicated - between the cable boxes and wireless router and phones and remote controls, I have really no clue how it's all going to be put back together.

And of course, I will be conveniently out of the country for all of this, spending another month in Israel....

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Friday, March 30, 2007

Walmart and kosher Broccoli

I only made one trip to Walmart today. I usually make two runs during the day and yesterday I actually made three, so I guess it evens out more or less. The thing is, I have no cell phone reception here at camp so my daily trips to Walmart are the only times I really have communication with the outside world.

So today it's been just me and the students cooking for Shabbat. They spent all day in the kitchen. But really, it's not so much cooking as it is assembling. Pasta salad, veggie stir fry, honey/cinnamon carrots, tuna and egg salad, instant mashed potatoes with fried onions (really good), and broccoli.

Our mashgiach has never supervised a kitchen that's made frozen broccoli before (he's a student). After many calls to the great rabbis (no clue who, but I assume that's who they were). It turns out that he needed to boil the green stuff for two minutes, then put it in cold water and agitate each individual spear to check for bugs. We had a case of broccoli and this took a good hour. By the end of the hour we were all agitated and the broccoli lookes pathetic. Oh well.

Most of our menu has been dictated by the over buying from he last two weeks. There are still 15 pounds of baby carrots that we'll never use and cases and cases of bagels and the accompanying cream cheese packets. Plus, there are more industrial size cans of tuna than I knew what to do with. At least they ordred hard boiled eggs already peeled....

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Chili for 100

How many pounds of dried beans do you need to make chili for 100 people? If the answer is about 12 pounds of assorted beans, then we're on the right track. Plus we added about 10 bags of Morningstar Farms crumbled "meat". Some diced tomatoes, onions and spices and hopefully it will be done in the next 30 minutes.

I say (and mean) hopefully because despite soaking the beans overnight and even changing the water once, they are still a bit "crunchy", and that's after simmering with everything else for almost 2.5 hours.

I hope the cornbread is ok...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Katrina, 18 months later and counting

This week I'm staying at a very rustic (emphasis on the "very rustic" part) camp in Kiln, Mississippi, just north of Bay St. Louis and Waveland. The house that was the main office of campu was flooded to about the 5 foot mark. I have no cell phone reception there and rare email access.

The devastation is so much more than one might imagine so long after the hurricane. Not only are the houses boarded up or undergoing gutting or rehab, but so many of the businesses are closed and it doesn't appear that they're going to reopen anytime soon. Everything seems to be for sale.

Our students are working on houses in Chalmette, Louisiana in St. Bernard Parish right outside of New Orleans. They're gutting houses, sorting out the valuables to save for the homeowners and pulling out appliances, drywall, floor tiles, carpeting, and whatever else is between them and the frame of the house. If the homeowners decide to rebuild, it's there for them, if not, the houses are leveled to the ground. I haven't seen it, but they say that takes about 30 minutes to go from a standing house to the bare concrete foundation.

Today they heard from Colonel David Dysart, the person in charge of recovery efforts for St. Bernard Parish. According to him, FEMA has basically abandoned the parish and its people. The houses aren't even close to being ready, but FEMA is already asking for their trailers back. Because the hospital there was private and FEMA won't fund private enterprise, they have been unable to rebuild the hospital. The process to get a Right of Entry to start gutting a house is a long and complicated one and that's compounded by the fact that the parish doesn't have the information they need to communicate with the property owners. FEMA has it but won't share it because of privacy concerns. He also told us that the budget for the parish comes from two primary sources, sales tax and real estate tax. There is very, very little real estate tax income coming in, and since so many business are still closed and unlikely to reopne, not so much sales tax either.

I've been out at the work sites with the students yesterday and today. They're really working hard. I've been running the kitchen, which means telling the students what to do to set up breakfast, supervise the students making dinner, and get the lunch-making students set up at night so I can finally go to sleep.

I've seen some really, really big bugs here. I think that they might be considered a new species if anyone bothered to come study them. And I've spent a lot of time at Wal-Mart stocking up on supplied. The kitchen people from last week ordered way, way too much food, but unless we're going to eat bagels all week, I've got to do some shopping. The kitchen we're using to cook for 90 people is small, by the best comparisons. there's one small oven, 4 burners, but only 2 of which can be used at any time, and a scant amount of counter space. And there's no where to really put the pots and metal pans we've been using.

Did I mention the really big bugs?

We were supposed to be staying in Slidell, Louisiana. We went by there on Monday to pick up some of the things left behind when we moved to the Mississippi camp. The place there was formerly a furniture warehouse and the activity and food tents are in the parking lot. The dorms are in the warehouse and the lights are never turned off. And the security guard was wearing a holstered gun. We're not sure why. Rustic beats industrial any day.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Laverne & Shirley, Lenny & Squiggy

I think we saw one of their apartments this weekend while we were looking at duplexes in Milwaukee. It's a common Milwaukee thing, but evidently not so much in the rest of the country. What we saw ranged from "frat boy chic" (and I used the term "chic"extremely liberally) to uber-modern.

We learned several things:
  • Living closer to campus might be nice for students, but isn't so nice if you want to be a landlords.
  • Polka dots all over the walls leading up to the second floor entrance may only be a nice idea if it's not the owner's apartment.
  • There are many versions of the alcohol periodic table that also tells you how to contruct various drinks.
  • Pool tables and ping pong tables are popular in dining rooms of college students.
  • Too many people paint over wood trim for no good reason.
  • A queen-size bed will take up most of the space in the largest bedroom in nearly all the apartments we saw.
  • A house that costs $125,000 more than another, really is a lot nicer than its less expensive counterpart.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Beware the Ides of March

Well, once again we're at the Ides of March. A lot of people don't know that every month has an "Ides". The ides of March, May, July and October fall on the 15th of the month, and on all the other months, it's the 13th.

It's also my half-birthday, just in case you were interested.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

From 20.75 to 83 in no time

I was in St. Louis last week for my father's 20.75 birthday, or 83 if in human years. He celebrates in leap years, so next year he'll finally be old enough to buy a beer his doctor won't let him drink.

Friday afternoon we went driving. About a year ago, we went driving for the first time in a long time. We were in a big, empty parking lot and it wasn't easy for him to shift his right leg enough to cover the brake and stop quickly if he needed to, but I think it was good for him to get back behind the wheel. A few weeks later, still in the parking lot, he was definitely better but not quite ready to drive in case of any emergency (not that any were expected). And last Thanksgiving, we went out on "real" streets really early on Thanksgiving days without many cars. But this past Friday my dad pulled out of the driveway and took us around the subdivision, onto the main roads, through a parking lot, back up through the neighborhood, around the corner into the next subdivision, back onto the main roads and then back to the house. Definitely an improvement. Maybe highways next time?

Friday, February 23, 2007

Casual Friday

I seem to have surprised everyone today by wearing jeans to work. It is casual Friday, but I think given how relatively casually dress on a daily basis, no one thought I could get much more casual without wearing pajamas to work. Evidently they just don't know me well enough. My boss did a double take - that was worth the whole thing.

I have to say, it is very comfortable to wear jeans and a t-shirt (long sleeve, from a Hillel conference - they shouldn't give them to us if they don't want us to wear them!) and tennis shoes to work. I may have to do it more often.

I'm pretty sure it won't effect my work product, so maybe I can lobby for Casual Wednesday...?

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Amazing Race

Well, the all-stars edition has begun. And while popular opinion says that Rob and Amber are completely annoying, they're also a great team to watch. They've got one goal in mind, they are are ruthless, completely competitive, and they aren't mean to each other. Dave and Mary don't have a chance, even though I wish they would.

Work these days also seems like an amazing race of sorts. Will we actually get 4000 students on buses, or even have time for them to apply before registration closes? Who knows?! The numbers are creeping up way, way too slowly.

And in March, the travel begins again - Chicago/Milwaukee, New Orleans, Orlando, training (who knows where) and then back to Israel. St. Louis at some point? more Milwaukee? Unfortunately, Phil won't be waiting at the mat to tell me whether I've been eliminated or not....

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

March Madness

Well, it's official. The March round will be the death of us yet. We probably won't really die (and boy would that be bad if we did!), but we might be placed in an undisclosed location for an indeterminate period of time while we regain basic the life skills which have been put aside in order to get 200 people on flights.

For us, it's not even 10% of the population we brought this winter, but we're doing it in 10% of the time....

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Austrian Airlines...

I flew Austrian Air home. Truth be told, the flights were excellent, if you could get beyond the green seats with yellow and red fabric where your head rests. It looked like a big circus tent. And all the flight attendents wear read from head to toe. Pants (or skirts with red tights), shoes, jackets and when I saw them getting their luggage (not all red, interestingly enough), they had red coats and briefcases. The pillows were good and I got a little bit of sleep and saw two and a half movies. And I also learned that Diet Coke (here, Coke Light) could be considered Halal, but there it was, the Halal hechsher. It was produced in Malaysia, which could explain why there was no OU on it, but I really didn't know that Coke had to be Halal....

Sunday, January 21, 2007

4:45am - does it matter where?!

This hour should just not be allowed. I'm checked in for my flight, my bags will hopefully make it with me to DC. The airport is actually a pretty busy place at this hour. The road here was empty, until the last few kilometers when cabs magically appeared out of nowhere, all en route to the airport.

My two cents - every airport should have free wireless. I'm not sure what to do for the passengers without laptops, but I just can't worry about them right now.

And for the first time I have two very full bags checked. I usually check two bags back, but they usually have a good amount of extra room in them. This time, they're both stuffed. Between gifts for the rakazim (which I really hope don't break), a small container of rugelach for the IT team and two extra fleeces, there's really no extra space. And this means I have two carry-ons, which I hate. My backpack (with the computer) and my other bag with my binder and a few pita/hummus/eggplant sandwiches I made 12 hours ago but that I'm sure will be really tasty for breakfast in Vienna.

When I moved in to the apartment, there were 2 eggs, 1/2 a loaf of bread and the dregs of the last person's orange juice. All those things are still there, plus I left three apples, the rest of the hummus and eggplant, and two liters of Pepsi Max (aka diet pepsi). I guess it will be interesting to see how long it all collects there... Mostly, I regret leaving the Pepsi Max.

And, as crazy as it sounds, I need to go some cash. I think I have maybe 10 shekels to my name right now, which means I can't buy something to drink now, and have enough left to buy something when I come back. I tried to get money yesterday, but the machine was closed and the next bank didn't like my card.

4:45am - does it matter where?!

This hour should just not be allowed. I'm checked in for my flight, my bags will hopefully make it with me to DC. The airport is actually a pretty busy place at this hour. The road here was empty, until the last few kilometers when cabs magically appeared out of nowhere, all en route to the airport.

My two cents - every airport should have free wireless. I'm not sure what to do for the passengers without laptops, but I just can't worry about them right now.

And for the first time I have two very full bags checked. I usually check two bags back, but they usually have a good amount of extra room in them. This time, they're both stuffed. Between gifts for the rakazim (which I really hope don't break), a small container of rugelach for the IT team and two extra fleeces, there's really no extra space. And this means I have two carry-ons, which I hate. My backpack (with the computer) and my other bag with my binder and a few pita/hummus/eggplant sandwiches I made 12 hours ago but that I'm sure will be really tasty for breakfast in Vienna.

When I moved in to the apartment, there were 2 eggs, 1/2 a loaf of bread and the dregs of the last person's orange juice. All those things are still there, plus I left three apples, the rest of the hummus and eggplant, and two liters of Pepsi Max (aka diet pepsi). I guess it will be interesting to see how long it all collects there... Mostly, I regret leaving the Pepsi Max.

And, as crazy as it sounds, I need to go some cash. I think I have maybe 10 shekels to my name right now, which means I can't buy something to drink now, and have enough left to buy something when I come back. I tried to get money yesterday, but the machine was closed and the next bank didn't like my card.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Well, I'm headed back to the Shalom hotel for the fourth Shabbat in a row. At least its predictable, and there is only one other bus there other than our four. I believe I can fairly accurately predict the menu for both dinner and lunch and where they will hide the vegetarian shnitzel so that it will sufficiently cool before anyone who actually wants it, will find it.

There are four elevators at the Shalom hotel. One is a service elevator that holds three people, max. The other three each hold about seven people, maybe 8. One of them, on Shabbat, is a Shabbat elevator that stops at every floor on the way up to 17, and every floor on the way back to the Lobby. Of the other two, one usually broken. The fun begins because you never know when the elevator is going to break and who will be in it when it does.

What this Shabbat also means though is that I'm due to leave Israel soon. As always happens, I'm inevitably caught between being ready to go back, and not ready to leave. I'm cramming in a few last meetings this morning and Sunday, and yesterday was pretty packed as well. Still left to do, buy rugelach to bring back to the office and deliver the plant that I was given for Shabbat a few weeks ago to Esther's parents.... And drop off my laundry so that I have something clean to wear tonight.

The good news is that I'll have 4 hours in the airport before I can even check my luggage in on Sunday night so I'll get a lot of work done in the off chance that I'll be able to keep my eyes open.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lost in Mea She'arim

Yes, I finally got really lost in Jerusalem. And not just Jerusalem, but Mea She'arim. I needed to find the Prima Hotel. I had an address and a really good map. And at some point when I was only a little lost, I called someone who gave me great directions, but I got a little more lost trying to get out of where I was. I was only a few blocks from where I needed to be, but I wasn't dressed appropriately enough to walk the short distance (read: I was wearing pants). Plus, even if I'd been wearing a skirt, the only skirts I have here are short.

Plus, the streets there are very, very narrow, with cars parked on both sides. It's a little harrowing to drive there when there are people dressed in black running across the streets all the time. The streets aren't so well lit and it's incredible that more people aren't hit by cars. I was lucky in that I only slightly bruised two teenagers.

The end of the story - I gave up the search for the Prima. I'll look again tomorrow...

It's Raining Camels and Dogs

Camels: Yesterday on the way up North, I saw a camel and her baby camel. It was pretty cute and I'm not aware that I've ever seen a baby camel before. Someone told me that baby camels are born just at the right height to nurse from their mothers. I think that the reverse might also be true - that the mothers don't grow taller than their babies can reach.

Dogs: Today, for the second time, a dog attacked my car. I'd slowed to let the sheep cross the road (there's a joke here somewhere) and the dogs that were there came up and jumped at my car. Last Friday at Hebrew U, I was driving with someone and four wild dogs attacked my car. Strangely, the person who was in the car with me on Friday was on the phone with me this morning when the dogs attacked. Lesson learned - don't talk to Hal....

Our last bus arrived yesterday. That's 55 in six weeks. Only 9 days to go (I leave in 4...).

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Al Weiner

Ronnie's father passed away Sunday and the funeral will be today. Ronnie was already in Chicago and will be headed back to DC, we're just not sure when. After many conversations and a lot of thought, it was decided that I'll be staying in Israel until next Monday when I was originally scheduled to return.

It's a bit surreal to be here and not there, with life basically going as normal here. But if I'm not going to be there, then it should be as normal as it can be here. I'm headed back up North today to stay at Ein Gev overnight with some groups. I don't think I'll make it to Tzfat this time, but we'll see.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Staff Ills

Well, I was back at the hospital. This time with a very, very sick staff person. What I hadn't realized until yesterday, is that Shaare Tzedek is a religious hospital. I've never been there on Shabbat, so if I did know, it just hadn't mattered. We actually drove down in two cars and I was in the second car. It turns out, that unless you are the sick person, or have them in the seat next to you, you cannot drive into the hospital on Shabbat. No amount of "she's my student and he's just the driver (he's not) would get me in. So I parked a few blocks away. Oh well.

The good news about being at Shaare Tzedek in the emergency room, is that based on my last trip there, I know where things are. Which means that when she needed another blanket, and a pillow, I could go to the supply closet and get them. The bad news, is that never having been there on Shabbat, I didn't know where the Shabbat elevators are.

I left for about an hour in the afternoon and when I got back, she was on the 7th floor. By the time I got up there, she was already back down on the 2nd floor. They released her as soon as Shabbat ended with a really, really bad virus. Thankfully she's got family here and they picked her up and she'll recuperate there.

The three times I've been in the hospitals this round have all been with staff people - one gastrointestinal, one with mono or Epstein-Barr (I don't know if they ever figured it out). And we've had a few others that weren't "hospital-worthy" but who were also very sick.

And one staff person's grandparent died on the 2nd day of the trip, and another's grandmother is not looking long for this world either. I'm not sure what it is this round....

Monday, January 08, 2007

Seasonal changes

This past summer in Israel, I was able to watch coverage of the first few stages of the Tour de France coverage in Hebrew, and last night I had the opportunity to watch the Paris-Dakar rally coverage. Only this year they're leaving from Lisbon before heading to Dakar. It's pretty cool, although I'm not sure why. I forget that this is the only place that I really ever see coverage....

There's s no food in my apartment. I'm leaving to go up North for three days, so it doesn't make sense to buy any, but eating dry granola is just bad and causes choking. There are two eggs left from the last tenant, but for all I know they could be left from the tenant a few months ago. Needless to say, I'm going to leave them for my successor as well, along with the 1/2 loaf of bread in the back of the fridge.

The third and final mega-event was last night. There's really just not much more to say than that. It's always loud, full of screaming students and lots of VIPs. The Prime Minister came so secruity was pretty tight. The swabbed and tested all of our hands and cell phones. I'm not sure for what, or if they also swabbed all the students as well. The best part was the ability to check our coats.

Friday, January 05, 2007

5am this morning, no hospitals involved

The flight that is supposed to arrive at 12:40pm today took off from JFK last night, and turned around because of engine trouble. They're hoping to get out tomorrow night. When I mentioned to someone that I was alerted to all of this at 5am, they didn't understand why I had been called. Their exact response, "What, did they think that you could fix the plane?" I responded that I have many skills that while not used in my everyday job, could be called on should the timing be right....

I then went to the shuk at about 8am to buy rugelach, because gd forbid there should be a staff oneg without rugelach from Marzipan. It's good, but the chocolate ones are over-rated, in my opinion. The cinnamon ones are definitely better. In any case, I walked out without having showered, and wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt previously stained with amba, a sort of curried mustard sauce that can be put on falafel (and in my case, was also put on my shirt). I was really hoping I didn't see anyone I know. Which I didn't. But the boys at Marzipan still laughed at me. I'm not sure if it was my completely disheveled hair, the fact that I have no voice, or the fact that I handed them a list of what I wanted because I knew I wouldn't be able to actually tell them in a voice they could hear.

I have no voice. And when I do, it's very squeaky. For all the talking on the phone that's required, it's a bit of a problem. Some of it might have to do with the fact that I've only slept about 4 hours a night for the last 3 nights. Probably on Pluto, or some other fast-spinning planet, that would be a full night's sleep.

11:30pm at Shaare Tzedek, yesterday

I actually only got the hospital for the closing act. Someone else went at 8:30pm with a student and a staff person, both of whom had different presenting issues. By the time I got there, my primary role was to find water for the student, and then to find pants for him. He hurt his knee and it was bandaged up so much, that he couldn't put his jeans back on. So the nurse sent me to look through their closets. It was only strange in that no one asked me what I was doing rummaging through piles of smocks, shirts, laundry bags (I really should have taken one of those) and sheets, before someone finally helped me find a pair of xxl pajama bottoms.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

4:30am at Poriya hospital two days ago

Ok, I got the call at 4:30 and we didn't get to the hospital until 5:30am, but still...

The staff person I went with is fine. Here's what the hospital is likeat 5:30am. Really, really quiet. No one was there. So things went rather quickly, at least at first. And then they slowed down, but not so much.

Around 6:30, more patients started to arrive. One was wearing leopard print slippers, and blue and pink flowered socks. There was no visible blood, and so I mistakenly thought that barring a real, urgent, dire emergency, no one would have otherwise put that combination together.

The doctors there were nice, and by 10:30am, we were on our way back to Ramot to sleep for an hour and shower, before driving back to Jerusalem. The drive back on the Bika road was stunning, as always.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Fluffy white towels

I drove up to Ramot today. It overlooks the Kinneret, and is sort of just across the Kinneret from Tiberius. And I only got just a little lost on my way here. Driving up the Bikaa road was beautiful as always, and as desolate as always, which is nice, until you find yourself behind the only truck for miles on curvy roads unsuitable for passing.

I checked in and was put into a chalet. This is not your regular hotel room. It's a stand-alone little wooden house, kind of like, well, a chalet. With a jacuzzi. And a sauna. And a big bowl of fruit. And big fluffy white towels. And a robe and slippers and fancy shampoos and conditioners that I've already taken. And a cappucino machine. And a DVD player. And too many remotes that I will never understand how to use (The one that has the most buttons, is only used to turn on and off the television. Go figure.) And the windows aren't drafty and there's a lot of heat. And I'm pretty sure that in the morning I'll see a small deck in the back with a table and chairs. All in all, I think it's completely unreasonable for them to put me in this room and then expect me to work for the next few days.

I think I'm headed to Tzfat tomorrow, which will be great. We've got a lot of groups there, and I'm interested to see the work that's been done since this summer.