Monday, June 30, 2008

Economy Parking?!

I believe it's false advertising to say that Economy Parking is $16/day. That's Economy? Economy is $8/day at BWI or even $10/day in Milwaukee, but it is most definitely not $16/day at O'hare Airport.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Doing Absolutely Nothing

I'm sitting here in a little cabin on a little lake doing nothing. I've been doing this now since Friday afternoon. It turns out it's a very easy thing to do. Especially if you know someone with a little cabin on a little lake.

It's very quiet, and I think because it's a little lake, there aren't a lot of loud boaters - by the time they'd get up whatever speed they'd need to be loud, they'd be on the other side already. And it seems that unless you have a boat, pretty much the only thing to do is hang out and do nothing. And from what I can tell, the people that do have boats are doing the same thing, but on the water.

Rumor has it I'm somewhere in Michigan. and maybe not too far from Ohio. Ok. It doesn't really matter to me. I am pretty sure that I would be able to do nothing in Ohio too. There's a large family of geese swimming by. Other than sliding across the water, they don't seem to be doing anything either. Evidently it's the culture here. You gotta love Michigan.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Still Combobulated

I landed at the Milwaukee airport a few hours ago and wondered if there was any chance I'd misread the sign on Sunday. I mean, I've been telling people about this sign and virtually no one believed me. They eventually did because I'm convincing (and in this case, telling the truth), but really, why would they. Who has ever heard of a Recombobulation Area. Heck, I'm surprised the people who make the signs could even spell it. Try typing it three times. Fast or slow. It's nto so easy. But I digress.

The "Recombobulation Area" sign was still there. Evidently the sign was not a figment of my imagination. If was an April Fools joke, no one has figured that out yet. Or maybe they have and figure that after making you walk on the floor in bare feet after hundreds of people before you, you need to laugh to forget how disgusting the floor probably is.

At National Airport in DC they have little booties you can put on. Of course you can't get to them until after you've already put all of your things, including shoes, into the metal detector. But if you want booties for later (I hear they are all the rage among teens today), or for walking through the metal detector, or from the metal detector to the area that in Milwaukee is evidently known as the Recombobulation Area, you can have booties.

And once again, there are people who seem surprised that they have to take off their shoes. Have they not read the news for the past five years. Shoes can be dangerous. They can be thrown. A really spiky stilleto or a heavy work boot can be pretty dangerous (not to mention painful if you're on the receiving end). I'm not sure how the metal detectors prevent someone from hurling their shoe but I'm sure the good folks at TSA know more than I do about this.

These same people seem surprised to learn that they can't take a water bottle through, and that they need to keep their boarding pass with them. There are announcements all the time. And signs. I would think that if they are as unfamiliar with the process as they seem to be, that they would be paying attention to these things. Evidently, I would be wrong.

There was a woman in front of me in line who had two small bags, two jackets and a Virginia Road Atlas. Seeing as she was going through security and about to get on a plane, I'm not sure why she didn't pack the atlas in the bag she must have checked, but maybe she's really attached to her atlas. Anyway, when she got to the first TSA person who checks your ID and boarding pass, she had to put everything down and find her ID. And then find her boarding pass. I'm pretty sure this is the same woman who doesn't think about deciding how she's going to pay for her groceries until the cashier totals her purchases.

But I digress. So she puts everything on the floor and roots through her bags for her boarding pass and ID. The security person looks at them closely, and when she hands them back, the woman bends down four separate times to pick up the bags, the jackets and road atlas. None of them were particularly large and I'm not sure what purpose standing up straight between bobs for her next item served. But again, this is a woman carrying a road atlas onto a flight.

The same thing happens when she puts all of her things down to take off her shoes. And yes, she did seem surprised that this was happening. I was not amused. And it happened again when everything came off the line. I was even less amused. THIS is why we need special lanes for security. She was risking serious harm to herself by those of us immediately behind her. Certainly someone had heavy shoes that could have easily been dropped onto her head while she was bobbing for jackets.

In the end, I think the Recombobulation Areas should have couches, lavender incense and maybe some New Age music to calm us down after being behind these people in line. That would give true meaning to recombobulation.... don't you think?!

Monday, June 23, 2008

New Words

I usually expect my main source of new words to be the Word Spy ( and I was very (!) surprised yesterday afternoon to find a new word at the General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee.

I left my laptop in DC last week figuring I could do without it for the weekend. (I was right.) Going through security without a laptop is a breeze. I'm used to pulling my laptop out and putting it in the little gray bin, but not having to do that is just so much easier. So once my bags and shoes went through the x-ray machine and I walked through the metal detector, all I really had to do was put my shoes on. There was no reassembly of anything required.

Right past the formal security area is a place with a few chairs for people to sit down and put their shoes back on. I put my bags down, put my shoes on, and looked up. Why I looked up, I can't be sure. But I'm glad I did. I was evidently using the "Recombobulation Area". I looked at the sign three times to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was reading. Yes, it said "Recombobulation Area".

Now I was not particularly discombobulated at the time, although there were certainly people around me who were. And anyone traveling with kids and strollers seems perpetually discombobulated when tney go through airport security. But who knew there was an area where they could recombobulate?!

Let's be clear here - "recombobulate" is NOT a word found in the dictionary. In fact, neither is "combobulate". The word, evidently, can only be used in the negative, or whatever adding a "dis-" to the front of the word would make it.

Yes, I have been to a recombulation area and lived to tell the tale.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Militaristic D'var Torah

Somehow, with no proactive actions on my part, I find myself receiving weekly Torah explanations from the Jewish Defence League. They're Canadian so yes, that's spelled correctly. I've only received three and while in general I'm not interested, it's like a crash on the side of the road you can't help but slow down for. (One in which no one is hurt, by the way).

To read their commentary, it's like Genghis Khan writes the Torah. I know the Torah covers all sorts of violent topics but not everything is about the Jews being in peril. It just can't be. The JDL concludes that the Torah portion this week (Shelach) tells us to be suspect of our leadership. The text is about the spies being sent to Canaan and how 10 of them come back and say we can't conquer the people there and 2 spies disagree.

It seems to me that the lesson should be that you can't trust all spies.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I don't get spam. It's not that I don't receive it, I just don't understand it. The folks that want to sell me things I don't want or need, ok. The people that think I'm going to fall for the "my father was the king of England and you have to help me get my money", ok. I even understand that there are people out there who are just trying to give my computer a nasty virus.

But lately I've been getting spam with the subject line of: "You Look Really Stupid Andrea". Huh? Is this supposed to entice me to open an email? I don't think so!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


My flight to DC included a large class of 8th graders on their school's annual pilgrimage to Washington DC. I would guess that there were about 30 of them and, as luck would have it, all sitting in the rows immediately in front of me. Since we know that groups regress, even with appropriate staff, once on the plane, they began acting like 6 year olds.

Not long after we took off, I figured out where they should be sitting. In the middle seats. No one else wants to sit in them, the kids would all be separated, and they might behave a little better if they sit next to "real" people and not just their peers.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kids these days

I am sitting in a coffeeshop working. It's about lunch time. I figured it would be full but hadn't considered who the "fillers" might be. I quickly learned. I am surrounded by hundreds of middle school kids. Okay, mayber there are only 40, but you'd never know it by the noise level.

The boys all rode their Trek bicycles and locked them to the signpost outside. They each have Treks. There is not a Schwinn or Huffy in the bunch. The girls all seemed to have walked. Probably because it's hard to ride a bicycle and text on a cellphone at the same time. They came in and immediately pulled as many chairs around a small table as possible. There is only one table where boys and girls are sitting together. Pretty much all the boys are wearing tennis shoes and the girls are wearing flip flops. Another reason not to ride a bike.

They look like rows of corn when they all stand up- all the same height. Except for one or two over- and under-acheivers. And except that when you look at a corn field, you can't generally see the underachievers.

Of all of the kids here, they are all white except for four who are black. There is no one obviously Hispanic or Asian. I believe that the only people over 15 are me, the grandmother-looking person who just walked in and the staff.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Asian Vegetarian is the way to go!

It turns out that Asian Vegetarian is the way to go on flights. Or at least on Delta's international flights. I was really not interested in eating dinner on the plane last night, but they brought it around and I figured I should at least look at what it was. It was rice, tofu and spinach. I haven't had tofu in weeks - this was very exciting. And when everyone else got pancakes or an omelet (both with sausage) for breakfast, I got more tofu, but this time covered in panko crumbs with rice and lentils. Not a traditional breakfast, but definitely good.

I did see two other people on my flight wearing kipot. I couldn't figure it out. They looked like the type of peopel who wore them regularly, and yet there they were flying on a major festival. I'm not one to judge, but I'm definitely curious.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I met a man with 7 wives.

Ok, that's not true. He had one wife and 7 children. They were all tall and blond, except for the little kids, who were blond and not yet tall. The men were all wearing kipot in various styles. One had a knit one with blue concentric circles. One had a red velvet one with gold trip. One had a blue velvet one with silver trip. You get the picture.

So first, it's odd enough to see anyone wearing a kipah in the airport right now as it is already chag. Second, it's fairly odd to see a family so large who are all tall and blond here in Israel. They're on my flight and we were waiting in the check-in line together. After the flight to Atlanta, they have a 4 hour flight to Oregon (Portland, if I remember correctly) and then a 2 hour drive to wherever their home is. Evidently they come here once a year and the kids are excited because they just bought a home in Tiberius. I'm not sure how excited the infant really is, but I'll take his word for it.

My guess is that they got a big house for not so much money. You would think that lake front real estate would be at a premium there, but the international market has not yet figured out that Tiberius is just waiting for them....

The last word on the Shalom Hotel

I'm not sure who the Journo Family is, but I found myself stealing their wireless signal for the last day or so at the Shalom Hotel. If anyone knows them, please thank them for me.

I've left the Shalom Hotel, destined not to return for at least six months. By then, I am hopeful that there will be remote controls for the televisions I think it's probably too much to expect to think they would have sheets that fit the mattresses.

It is Erev Shavuot and I'm flying in a few hours. The airport is quiet, as it usually is at this hour. And there is no place to eat, at least before passport control. There will probably be something to get beyond that, but for now, as I'm waiting for another hour to check in, almost everything is closed.

I have a window seat toward the front of the plane. It's not a full flight, but it appears that my row is full. If I want to take my chances, I can sit farther back and I might have an empty seat next to me. I hate sitting farther back in the plane.... I just won't drink a lot of water and I'll hope for good movies.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Saturday night at the Malcha Mall

Last night I decided to make a last ditch effort to find the shoes that a friend of mine asked me to bring back. I've looked in shoe stores all over the country to no avail. I figured this was about my last chance and the mall seemed like it should be promising.

I think half of the city had the same idea. Maybe they weren't looking for shoes, but it felt like a mall in the US on the day before Christmas. I've never seen so much traffic to get into the parking garage, the creative use of space to invent new parking spaces where none should exist, and then the hordes of people just wandering around once inside. And no, they weren't giving anything away. Evidently, it's like this every Saturday night.

And they didn't have the shoes.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Shalom Hotel

Really, I just don't understand the Shalom Hotel. First, dinner last night was excellent. Yes, at the Shalom Hotel. I don't understand it and I'm not complaining, but it was just such a shock. In all my stays there, so numerous I've lost count, it's never been this good. Of course, we'll see if that continues on through Shabbat....

What's not excellent there, is that their sheets don't fit the mattresses. Their sheets are just slightly larger than the top surface of the mattress, which means that they cannot be tucked in on either side. The first time you turn over, you're sleeping directly on the mattress, just like the 492 people who slept their before you. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's possible that George Washington slept there.

That, and there's no remote control for the television. That's not exactly true - the "remote" is a panel on the nightstand that also turns the lights, airconditioning and radio on and off. If you don't want to sit on the bed to watch television, the "remote" becomes a description of the distance you have to walk to change the channel.

And, I should mention, that I have a double or queen size bed. The headboard and nightstands (all one piece) are built to hold a king size bed. So when they artistically centered the bed on the headboard, they left a 6 inch gap between the edge of the bed and the nightstand. So if you're watching television in bed, you could roll off the bed before you find the right button to turn off the tv!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Not enough salad....

I ordered a salad the other day. It was at the kind of place where you tell them what you want and they put it in the container for you. I requested all of the usual suspects and told them that vinagrette would be good. And then I was told that there wasn't enough salad in the container and that they were going to add more. Only in Israel.

Two nights ago, I was out to dinner with a colleague at a restaurant with only three vegetarian things on the menu, including one I've had before and don't really care for. So ordered a grilled vegatable sandwich. The waitress responded, "I really don't recommend it. You should get the noodles or portabella salad instead." . Ok..... Again, only in Israel.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Still in Israel...

The Mega-Event was two nights ago. It was more over the top than usual. We waited a half-hour for the Prime Minister. It was possible in those 30 minutes that he could have lost his position, but evidently he was just running late. And then there was the parade of dignitaries, a video by Shimon Peres who started a torch relay around Israel that ended at the mega-event, a helicopter circling Latrun (where the event was taking place) to drop off a soldier who'd had to return to his base and wasn't going to be at the event (all staged, but it made for a good show), dancers, singers, drummers, a performance by Kobi Aflalo, and, for a huge change of pace, no Gaia. It was actually one of the best megas I've been to with nearly 9,000 people.

Afterwards, around 11pm, you can imagine the scene with 150 tour buses leaving the site, along with all the cars for the VIPs and the rest of us who drove. It was at that hour that the highway crews decided to close two of the three lanes of the highway into Jerusalem to repave the road. If they could have waited just one more hour....

I think there have probably been a lot of bloggable moments over the last week, I just can't remember them....