Monthly Archives: November 2006

Brrrr!

That is too &$%#* cold! My sister in Bellingham, Washington, reports temps hit 12 F the other day (that’s -11 C). She provides some visual aids:

Your point is…? My sister in Long Island, New York, is my intrepid guide through Manhattan. The night before Thanksgiving (aka erev yom ha’hodi), we go to see the giant balloons getting prepped for the Macy’s parade. Now does the sign make sense?

It’s a cold! It’s a strike!

Sniffling and wheezing: Ah, yes, those back-from-the-travels colds. Here I was thinking that I had outsmarted those airborn germs and viruses, but the many flights, changing climates, and general travel-related stress finally caught up with me. I spend the last two days lying around like a sloth, going through several metric tons of tissue, coughing and sneezing and feeling miserable. Nadine, confident of her feline superiority, snuggles close to me and purrs. She doesn’t even mind when I sneeze on her.

While I’m down for the count, the country is, too. The Histadrut (largest labor union) calls a general strike, closing all seaports, airports, trains, post offices, government offices, etc. Luckily, it looks like the strike is ending today.

One if by land, two if by sea: While the police arrest a knife-wielding Palestinian youth near Jerusalem (sent, he says, by Hamas to “stab soldiers and Jews”), our navy stops a suspicious foreign vessel off the coast near Ashkelon. One of the things that doesn’t make it to the front pages is the astonishing number of attempted terror attacks that are thwarted here, almost on a daily basis. Our police, border police, army, and intelligence units get a lot of flack when someone slips through, but we tend to forget that 99% of the time, they are getting it right. Even the much reported “grandmother jihadist” was stopped before she could effectively carry out her attack.

Lebanon update: The assassination of Lebanese industry minister Pierre Gemayel (who happened to be Christian, anti-Hezbullah, and an outspoken opponent of Syrian control) triggered large anti-Syrian and anti-Hezbullah grassroots protests, especially in light of intelligence linking the assassination to a Syrian plot. However, pro-Hezbullah forces are not going to give up easily. They are calling for demonstrations against the Western-backed government.

The situtation has become more complex and you almost need a scorecard to keep track of the players. In the past, Lebanese Christians were always pro-Western, pro-Israel, and political moderates. In fact, during Lebanon’s civil war, Israel gave refuge to thousands of Lebanese. (If you’ve never heard Brigitte Gabriel speak about her experiences, check it out.) of But with Christian politician (and former general) Michael Aoun throwing his support behind Hezbullah, it is getting tricky.

Oh, those wacky Taliban guys: Let’s see the PC crowd try to explain away the brutal slaying of a schoolteacher who dared to teach (gasp!) girls.

A ray of hope: Meet Good Neighbors, a new blog in town. Real people from all over the Middle East, speaking in a civilized, rational manner, respecting each other’s histories, religions, and opinions.

Vote early, vote often: I can official announce my candidacy for a Director position in STC (Society for Technical Communication). If you are an STC member, make sure to vote in the 2007 elections! As the largest international professional society in the field of technical communication, STC needs to make sure that society-level leadership includes people from outside of North America. We’re on the right track.

I have cool colleagues: I’m always pleased to see friends and colleagues get good articles about the field published. Check out David Farbey’s article in the British Computer Society about technical documentation. David, now an active member of the UK chapter of STC, was a long-time active member of the Israel chapter.

Here’s What You’ve Been Missing

Living out of suitcases sure cuts down on my ability to keep up with my little corner of the world. I’m not home yet, but I hope these items will serve as a quickie “fix” for those of you who are news junkies:

  1. HaPoel Tel Aviv beats Paris SG, leading to attacks on fans of the Israeli team. Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe finally wakes up to the real problem of anti-semitism in his city.
  2. Qassam rockets are killing and injuring residents in S’derot and surrounding towns. Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, makes no bones about it by labeling the use of these rockets war crimes, and demanding that Hamas take responsibility for stopping these attacks. This is a surprise, in that the organization has always been critical of Israel. Bradley Burston writes about it in his column.
  3. More European academics target Israel, as Germany is added to the list. Petra Marquardt-Bigman says, “With friends like these, who needs enemies!”
  4. Israel needs to speak out against the genecide in Darfur. While I agree with Rabbi Sherlo’s op ed piece, I should add that Israeli citizens have been extremely generous in their efforts.
  5. Even Time Magazine says that it is no secret that Hezbullah is rearming with the help of Iran.

There is no shortage of bad, depressing, and even alarming news. But we can’t let ourselves become frozen by fear.

Onward…

Blog-on-the-road, Part 11: Last Day

The next generation: Friday afternoon, the next generation descends upon us. Three cousins, two with partners, all smart, funny, and energetic. It is great to see them doing so well out there in the cold, cruel world. The youngest of the batch is finishing a degree in graphic design, and I am quite impressed with the quality of his work. Also represented: a math teacher and an English teacher, and it was great to sit back and listen to them swap classroom war stories.

On Shabbat, I have a chance to speak at Temple Israel. I share with them some of my experiences of the war, and enjoy meeting some of the members of the congregation.

It’s been a long trip. I leave for home tonight and look forward to getting back to my normal schedule. Expect more news, politics, current events (and, of course, annoying videos) in a few days.

Blog-on-the-road, Part 10: Gobble, gobble!

Gevalt! I meet the huge, extended family that my nephew Tavi is marrying into. About 70 people from this clan gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, and it is certainly an impressive event, with too much food and too many names to remember. My nephew’s fiance brings an elaborate family tree, which remains on display in the front hall throughout the day.We get a ride back with one of the cousins, his wife, and an tearfully smelly dog named Lilly. If the dark, cold, rainy conditions are not challenging enough, the added traffic from the holiday evening, plus the inherently horrible NY highway signposting, add an extra level of difficulty. We arrive safely, however, though the house is like a meat locker and Mocha, the guinnea pig, is screaming her head off. I am given Pig Combing Duty while my sister cleans the pig’s cage and refreshes her food and water. In an attempt to create a more interesting hair style, I back-comb Mocha’s tush and earn a nasty bite for my efforts. Some pigs are just so ungrateful.

Blog-on-the-road, Part 9: The Big Apple

Life on the road is often a challenge, but there are some benefits: seeing my sister Tracy, catching a Broadway show (Spamalot, which was every bit as funny as a Python-inspired musical should be), eating some inspired food, and walking down 5th Ave. at dusk. It is cold and rainy, and I long to return to my own climate, home, diet, cat, etc. I’d rather see my view east into Karmiel than this view of the Hudson.

Today is Thanksgiving, and represents the first Thanksgiving I’ve had in over 15 years. It should be interesting. Happy Turkey Day to one and all…

Blog-on-the-road: Pictures

Penny, the hotel dog, basking in a stripe of sun


The list of American ships the participated in WWII is impressive


One of the navy memorials down by the waterfront


I make friends on Coronado Island


My father poses with a bike made of bamboo