Monthly Archives: January 2007

Terror Update

This time it’s Eilat: After almost nine months without a suicide bombing, a terrorist slips through and blows himself up in Eilat. Eilat, a resort area at the tip of Israel, is known for diving, hotels, beaches, and night life. It doesn’t usually get targeted for terror attacks.

The attack reminds us that nothing has changed:

Our soldiers are still held captive.

Hamas is still heavily armed and still in southern Lebanon.

Communities near Gaza are still being hit with Qassam rockets on an almost daily basis.

The solution? I have no idea, and I’m too tired to even think.

The flu that just won’t quit: Gill’s sick. I’m feeling crappy. I fall behind with project work, correcting student homework, and even basics like doing laundry. Meanwhile, the training schedule is still intense. Yesterday I leave the house at 5:50, drive to the Tel Aviv area, set up, teach, drive back, organize my stuff for my evening class in Akko, head out there, teach, and get home at 21:30. It has been an almost 16-hour day and I am completely done in.

But there are a few nice things along the way. The engineers in the training course are funny, smart, and clearly having a good time. Leaving their building, I see that my car has been wedged in, and I enlist the help of a passer-by to help me navigate out. That’s one of the great things here—you can stop a total stranger and ask for help, and instead of having the guy stare at you, he is usually happy to jump in and do something. As I stop on the long drive home for lunch, I get an exceptionally friendly and helpful waiter. Finally, the rain holds off until I am safely home. It all adds up to help me survive the day.

Diagnosis: Despair

That’s what we feel: Northern reader LS sends me this Daniel Gordis article. Gordis, a thoughtful and articulate writer, has once again managed to express what many of us are feeling. “He puts his finger precisely on the pulse of my feelings,” says LS, and I agree. More interesting is that LS and I are poles apart politically. Our world views differ. We often disagree on many of the key issue of the day.

But Gordis manages to identify and dissect the underlying problem. And this seems to be something that many of us “get” at some level. It is a long piece, but well worth reading. Don’t miss the podcasts and email newsletter options on his site, too.

Welcome, Madam President: Meet our new acting president, Dalia Itzik. Currently the Minister of Communications, Itzik has also served as Minister of the Environment and Minister of Trade and Industry. Itzik is has been an MK (Member of Knesset) for many years, serving in the 13th, 14th, and 16th sessions of the Knesset, representing Avodah (Labor party). She has sat on a variety of parliamentary committees, including Constitution, Law and Justice, Internal Affairs and Environment, and Science and Technology. Itzik served as Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, where she resides, and was educated at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I’m glad that she was able to step in as acting president when Moshe Katsav was forced to step down from his duties (though still not official resign!) when faced with charges of rape.

Welcome to My World

It’s spring, and the nut-cases are blooming: Something about the warm, spring-like weather of the past two days has brought the nuts out en force.

  1. They are on the roads (the driver who missed a turnoff on a main highway, and then backed up, ignoring all the traffic behind him—in the dark, no less—to make the turn).
  2. They are in the stores (the entire sales department of Office Despot, huddled together for a cozy gossip session, while helpless customers roam the aisles).
  3. They are in our government (the list is too long…).
  4. They are in our house (witness Nadine’s attempt to eat a plastic bag).

Nadine, in particular, has spring fever. She waddles from room to room like a restless bear, meows, whacks us with her paw to get attention, and then suddenly trots (belly flab swinging from side to side like udders on a cow). Last night she sits on my lap during Shabbat dinner, gorging herself on challah and deboned trout.

And what kind of a strange world do we live in? I get home from my Tel Aviv class thinking of lentil soup. “Sounds good,” agrees Gill. So I start to saute onions, assemble ingredients, and only then do I discover that we have no lentils. “No problem,” says Gill (or words to that effect in Hebrew), grabbing his keys. In less than ten minutes, he is back from the grocery store in the Arab village across the road, which is open on Shabbat. He brings lentils, a few odds and ends, and… challah. In what universe can you buy challah in an Arab village? We must be in Israel. There is something sweet yet bizarre about it.

Rebuilding: My computer is still not fully set up the way I want. I had become lazy and complacent about recording all system changes, and my old computer had a number of small aps downloaded from shareware sites. I didn’t remember to back up the downloaded install files, or even record which aps I was using, and it took me two weeks to remember the name of that great little graphics program. (Sigh!) So, kids, learn your lesson from Aunt Leah. Don’t just back up your data, but record things like port configurations, downloaded aps, etc. And don’t keep your backup next to the computer! Someone has tried to convince me to do one of those online backups, but I am leery of sending endless amounts of potentially private information to some server out there. How secure it is? Windows tracks things like browser activity, field data, etc. Can you imagine someone harvesting that data. “Hmmm. Looks like she has a fondness for cow-related websites and online cheese forums…” I mean, really!

Dogless in Karmiel: “Do we really want to make our lives miserable?” That is the question of the hour. Nadine’s antics remind us that she is the boss and will not tolerate any interloper (though she apparently has no problem with burglars breaking in and ripping us off while we sleep). “Just think of the balagan,” says Gill, trying to draw a picture of the madhouse that would be sure to ensue if we added a dog to the family. He’s right, you know. But I still feel the need for a tiny dog.

Family, family: We’re off to a large family function at the kibbutz. It has been a while since I’ve seen Gill’s siblings and families, so it will be nice to catch up with everyone.

National Shame

It’s official: President Moshe Katsav has been charged with rape. He’ll probably be out of office by the end of today. That pretty much sums up the news right now. Everything is dark, depressing, and desperate. Perhaps my perspective is being colored by the break-in, but it certainly seems pretty bleak. We lack leadership; our generals resign; our heads of state are deviants; our schools crumble; our enemies remain implacable. Oh, and Gill and I are still sick.

The only thing that gives us any comfort is patting Nadine’s ample belly, which is soft, squishy, mostly bald, and delicately scented.

So I have a challenge for you. Write in and tell me what cheers you up, puts you in a good mood, and brings the sun out in your life.

More break-in follow-up: Gill and I get some ID and credit cards back. Someone found some stuff by the side of the road on Route 6 and Gill was able to pick it up on Friday. Some of the stuff belonged to a neighbor who was robbed the same night. He came over to pick things up and we had a good venting session. He’s been robbed a few times and is really fed up. He’s decided to go the Rottweiler route, which seems foolhardy as he has small children.

The great search: OK, I’ve been talking about doggies for a long time now, but we’re ready to start. There is a lot of conflicting information out there, and I’ve read just about every “professional” piece, but what I’m looking for is personal experience. If you have had a small dog (as in very small), let me know. What did you like, what did you find annoying? What worked and didn’t? I have my own prejudices and preferences, but I want to hear from you.

Grump-fest 2007

Rant mode ON: Oh, what a crappy week it has been. Gill and I are still sorting through the insanity of it all. The spree of break-ins was so significant that it made headline news. One of the houses hit was a police officer’s. I wonder if that will spur the police to do something about this.

Suddenly, small yippy dogs seem much more appealing…

I escape for the day to Tel Aviv on Friday; a guest instructor takes over the class, giving me a chance to run two long-overdue errands and gobble some very chic food before trotting back to the classroom.

On the long drive home, we witness a bad accident as a car tries to move into the fast lane, not seeing another vehicle. At the last moment, the car swerves back across our lane, loses control, smashes through the guard rail, and comes to a stop wedged between some trees on the sandy ground next to the highway. All the cars around me waver, weave, and wobble, and we are very nearly in a horrific chain accident, but luckily everyone manages to stop in time. We find ourselves on the shoulder with our hazard blinkers on; Northern LS (my guest instructor for the day) grabs the mandatory fluorescent yellow vest and hops out. Four guys erupt from the car in front of me (also stopped on the shoulder) and sprint for the wrecked car. Everyone is whipping out their cell phones and making calls. The driver and passengers are shaken but unharmed, though the car looks like a real mess. Our systems coursing with adrenaline, we ease back onto the highway and continue home.

Meanwhile, Gill is still sick, and just not making any headway. He seems to have the same flu that has been plaguing me off and on all winter. Right now he is upstairs, attempting the best known cure (cat massage).

In my attempt to sort through more things today, I end up being outrageously irritated by the manager at my gym, my cellular provider, Office Depot (or Office Despot, as I prefer to call it), some knucklehead at an electronics shop, and just about every other human being I come into contact with during the day. Meanwhile, my phone doesn’t stop ringing as clients call me while I’m standing in line dealing with endless red tape. I’m sure in another few days things will seem better, but right now I am tired, angry, upset, and I would have no problem inflicting extreme bodily injuries to the *$%#s who did this to us. Rant mode OFF.

What’s leather, stylish, and potentially toxic? Give up? Your purse! Northern LS sends me this very scary Snopes report. Snopes is the place to look for the definitive truth on any number of ULs (Urban Legends). This one, unfortunately, is true.

Sweeping changes in education: OK, they are only proposed changes, but they make sense to me. The school system here is in crisis, and we hear endless horror stories from friends with school-aged children.

A grab-bag of strangeness:

  1. Carter defends his book. No surprise here, just a lingering sadness over the decline of a statesman in pursuit of an agenda.
  2. Like an old vaudeville joke, it turns out that Kim Jong-il is bad for the Jews (and everyone else).
  3. You would think the Brits would have learned that Chamberlain’s tactics don’t work…
  4. A void that no one wants to fill… The post of Chief of General Staff of the IDF has changed hands repeatedly. Dan Halutz’s resignation last week may be motivated by the soon-to-be released report on the IDF failures of the second Lebanon war. In any case, we are left flapping in the breeze. Maybe Condaleeza Rice wants to try?

Return to Civilization

I’m baaaaack…..: My local computer guy (always ready to provide me with an emergency technology “fix”) whips up a generic box and after spending a day installing software, restoring backups, fixing connections, and tweaking, I’m about 1/3 of the way back to normal. Gill and I already have our ID cards and licenses, medical cards, and a few other critical bits and bobs, but it will take time to get everything sorted out.

There are several sad bits of fallout from the burglary:

  1. We are being forced to install some sort of security system. I refuse to live with bars on the windows, and I truly hate alarms, so this is going to be a challenge.
  2. I am now even further behind in my work, having lost a whole week to this nonsense.
  3. My students are now shamelessly lying about their test scores, as the grade sheet was a physical page in a binder, not online, backed-up data.
  4. We have been forced to cancel our dream vacation.

All in all, a real bummer. People keep saying, “Oh, well, at least it was only stuff,” and while I know that they are right, there also the loss of intangible things such as feeling safe in your own home.

We bring up the “d” word again, much to Nadine’s disgust. I would love a Pug…
…or maybe a Boston Terrier…
…or how about a little Chihuahua? Basically, anything that I can dress up in ridiculous outfits and tote around with me. All it has to do is bark during a break-in (which is more than Nadine did).

Crappy Way to Start the Week

We’ve been robbed: Oh, how I wish that was the punchline of a joke, but it isn’t. Fairly audacious burglars broke in Saturday night (probably around 3:00) and stole a ton of stuff. My computer. My laptop. Gill’s laptop. His camera. Our bags (including wallets with credit cards, ID, drivers’ licenses, etc.). We’ve spent the past two days dealing with police, insurance adjusters, and endless red tape in replacing critical ID, etc. With no computers, we feel as helpless as babies stranded on a desert island. This does not bode well for 2007.

If you have put off doing a thorough backup for a while, don’t put it off any longer! You never know…