Monthly Archives: December 2006

Snow Days

What’s that cold white stuff? Yup, snow. Not in Karmiel, but lots of snow in Jerusalem, S’fat, and all other high elevations. There was a dusting a white on the hills around Karmiel, and the temps have stayed unusually cold for the past few days. Kids in various communities got a late start to their school days as the snow piled up. Check it out.

Peace sports: There may be a chill in the air, but the playing field is heating up. In a good-will game featuring a joint Israeli-Palestinian team against a Spanish club, history was made. We got massively creamed, but everyone left in great spirits.

A real thaw? As Olmert meets with Abu Mazen, and there are hints of Shalit’s release, we hold our breath and hope that 2007 ushers in a more peaceful and hopeful year for all.

On a personal note: Mazal tov to fellow blogger and colleague Laura on the birth of her baby girl. Mom and kid are doing fine. Mazal tov to Marcie S. of Karmiel, whose Celtic music band appeared live on Gidi Gov’s morning show this AM. Tres cool!

A Ticket to Ride

Nooooooo!!!! I got a parking ticket! Yes! In sleepy little Karmiel, where we used to park wherever we wanted.

So here I am, facing an NIS 100 (about $24) ticket. I can’t get used to the new metered parking, and I know a number of people who simply refuse to pay. I’ll pay. I’ll grumble, but I’ll pay.

About 25 years ago there were two rival journalists who worked for the Santa Barbara News Press. They began a series of pranks and practical jokes that quickly escalated. One guy had a bumper sticker made up and stealthily placed it on his enemy’s car. The sticker read: Metermaids eat their young. Of course, the hapless owner of the car couldn’t figure out why he was getting dozens of tickets a week.

Winter? We’re still waiting! Yes, no rain yet. As the States are coping with massive blizzards, closed airports, lost climbers, etc., here it is balmy and dry. Too dry. We need the rain. The other day I stopped to watch and listen to a flurry of dry leaves being swept down the street by a light breeze. We have few deciduous trees here, so we don’t get to crunch through drifts of fallen leaves. But the few trees planted in the grove below our house give a spot of color in the fall and make me think of cooler climates.

End-of-year Crunch

Is your bowl shiny? Nadine’s new water bowl (Hanukkah present) reminds me that there are many less-than-shiny details to sort out before the end of the calendar year. And lest I forget, my accountant is there to berate me into action. He’s a cruel man, that Baruch, but perhaps that’s why I picked him when shopping for an accountant six years ago. I want a Rottweiler, not a Golden Retriever, standing as an unflinching barrier between me and Mas Hachnasah (the tax goons).Of course, with our tax rate down from a one-time high of 18% to a more manageable 15.5%, things should be rosy, but the year end flurry of adjustments, deposits, and financial statements is always depressing. I return from Baruch’s office feeling deflated and, well… poor. If only I could find a way to write off Nadine’s tuna and chocolate pudding habit…

Open wide: I get through my six-month cleaning without succumbing to the urge to bite the dental hygienist. It is a struggle at times. When she is done, she turns me over to Dr. Yuval, aka the Dentist With More Hi-Tech Gadgets Than James Bond. He makes happy gasping noises as he examines my chompers. “Ne’hedar!” he exclaims (wonderful). He calls in his assistant to join him. Now both of them are peering into my mouth and admiring the results of fluoridated water, American dental care, and good genes. It’s nice to be appreciated, but the sad truth is that my teeth are the only part of me that actually meet design specs. The rest of me is sagging, fading, weakening, aching, or leaking.

It’s raining Qassams: Nothing has changed. Qassam rockets are still falling on S’derot and every time we attempt to take out the launchers, we get blasted by the international press. So perhaps Olmert is right in trying to ride it out, but life is hard and unfair for the residents of S’derot.

Hibernation

Has it really been four days? I can’t believe that I haven’t posted since Friday, but yes, it is true. I am feeling like a sluggish old bear who just wants to crawl further back into the cave and sleep for another few weeks. Unfortunately, my work schedule, which is borderline insane, won’t allow for any extended shluffs. Instead, I find myself working late, juggling night classes with morning meetings, copying with traffic, and correcting homework while my brain is only partially functioning.

I would have been a great bear.

I start a new in-house course on Sunday, and despite the horrific traffic jams on the way, I arrive in time and find the participants to be a cheery blend of Hebrew, English, and Russian-speakers. They giggle and argue and return after each break (always a good sign).

With each progressive night, the hanukki’ot (menorahs) look more impressive. If you haven’t tried burning an oil hanukkiah, it’s simple and quite effective. Use olive oil for a clean, smokeless (and odorless) burn. Any small heatproof container works; I have converted nine chunky glass candle holders into a makeshift oil-burning hanukkiah. Each holds about a tablespoon of olive oil. To make a wick, take a cotton ball, pull small piece off, and roll it into a long strip. (Only use 100% cotton, not those nasty synthetic cotton balls!) The wick soaks up the oil and creates a lovely warm light.

Nadine has been making out like a bandit this year. So far, she has scored a new stainless steel water dish, some Japanese freeze-dried tuna, and some tartar-control treats. Unlike me, Nadine is free to spend her days hibernating under her Fluffy Blanky.

The winter blahs also have me craving soft, mushy food. Comfort food. Noodles. Oatmeal. Sachlub. I used to bring my family packets of instant sachlub mix, but the traditional Middle-Eastern dessert is not to their taste. Sachlub is made from orchid bulbs, and has a delicate perfumed scent and an exotic flavor. In the winter, it is served as a hot drink, but the viscous texture grossed out my nephews, causing them to make rude comments about “perfumed whale snot.” It is really quite lovely, but clearly not for all palates!

Enjoy your winter, whatever the weather, and have a warm, mushy snack.

Where’s My Winter?

Well, blow me down: While our mild, dry winter continues, the Seattle area (where my parents live) and much of the Pacific Northwest is being pummelled by a terrific storm. Yikes!

First candle: We light the hanukkiah (menorah) tonight with the first candles. We each have our own (one for me, one for Gill, and one for Nadine, though we do the lighting for her). Two use candles, one burns olive oil. Nadine opens her first present (some Japanese freeze-dried tuna chunks) and gobbles them happily.

It’s too late to think coherently! Fridays are my killer days. Getting up at 4:20 is never fun, and in the winter it is extra tough. By the time I get home from Tel Aviv, I am wiped out. Now, all I can think about is my cat, my bed, and a good book. Hag s’meach, everyone!

Birthday Alert!

It’s my birthday and I’ll blog if I want to: One friend asks, “Are you old yet?” Passed that mark long ago, ta ever so much. I won’t tell you how old I am, but next year I’ll hit 30. In hexidecimal. Uh-oh! A geek joke! Alert the Marines!

Ranting Extremists

Where are the reasonable people? It seems that everywhere I look lately there are raving lunatics, frothing at the mouth and scaring the crap out of me. They are members of the Left, the Right, the religious, the secular. The outlook is so depressing.

  1. There’s been a long history of action guys being rightwing, often with a strong ties to NRA (think Charlton Heston). Perhaps it should be no surprise that some of them also believe that all children should be educated as Christians.
  2. Formerly sane and rational leaders have also drifted to more polar extremes, as former president Jimmy Carter’s book illustrates. While the book is a flawed piece of propaganda (to say the least), I still don’t hold with people vilifying the man and his life’s work. Read the analysis and decide for yourself.
  3. An LA garage band (The Bastard Fairies) put out a video to promote the band, causing Wendy Murphy to exibit some of the most bizarre rantings we’ve seen (even for Fox). She was appearing on Bill O’Reilly’s show. Now bill, a long-time card-carrying lunatic, has just accused me (on his show Radio Factor) of endangering America’s future:

I don’t own an iPod. I would never wear an iPod… If this is your primary focus in life—the machines… it’s going to have a staggeringly negative effect, all of this, for America… did you ever talk to these computer geeks? I mean, can you carry on a conversation with them? …I really fear for the United States because, believe me, the jihadists? They’re not playing the video games. They’re killing real people over there.

A new social problem: Prince, Boy George, and David Bowie (not to mention today’s metrosexual) brought us sexual ambiguity, but it took Ehud Olmert to bring us nuclear ambiguity. Oi.

Fear Factor in reverse: You know that you love to watch contestants eat those bugs and banana slugs. Well, having an upper respiratory-tract infection is sort of like a Fear Factor challenge, only backwards. You get to cough up slugs. This is not something that will endear you to those around you, as it is about as attractive as listening to a cat hork up a hairball, but it might be an effective way to ward off the unwanted advances of the office masher. Reminds me of a travel writer who, on his first exposure to banana slugs during a visit to the Pacific Northwest, described them as “living mucus.”