Monthly Archives: June 2007


Sheila as a puppy
Missing: Sheila, Nadine’s cousin, is missing. She went out one morning to do her business and never came home.  We are all very sad, but especially Sheila’s immediate human family—my sister-in-law Eilat, her husband Haim, and the twins (Rona and Maya).  Sheila is chipped and we can only hope that someone finds her and takes her to a vet.

Life Among the Sentient

Man on the street:  On of the great joys of living in Israel is the public’s level of political savvy and awareness of current events.  As I stop to buy a quick popsicle at the train station, the vendor, an older man with a baked potato for a nose, demands, “Hey!  Do you think Katsav should be treated differently than any other citizen?”   A lively discussion ensues. 

The Katsav situation, which vies for conversational choice with Olmert’s plan to release 250 Fatah prisoners, has people outraged.  “The man is a rapist, a pervert, and a repeat sex offender!” says the woman standing next to me, waving her 20 shekel bill and the bag of Bisli to punctuate her point.  “It is an insult that he is getting off with this plea bargain.”

But the news headline catches my eye:

State Prosecutor Eran Shendar tells Army Radio that plea bargain signed with former president Moshe Katsav will be canceled if he did not plead guilty to sexual offenses before a judge

You mean he did all that stuff in front of a judge?!   Why didn’t they stop him?  Maybe it was Judge Thompson.  Hmmm…

Still hot:  Even with the promise of a break in the heatwave, we are all pretty cranky right now.  Nadine barges into my office last night and screams repeatedly while I am on an STC conference call.  Gill herded her out and fed her treats to shut her up, but I suspect we are just reinforcing bad behavior.  Do something bad, get rewarded… hmmm.  Remind you of any current events?

Man’s Best Friend

Woof:  Doggies on the lam


Asp interaction rocks!  Northern LS shares this very cool interactive map with us.  I just gave it a whirl, and with enough zooming and moving I was able to see our house lot on the street. 

A slip of the tongue:  Or in this case, fingers, as I referred to Gilad Shalit as a POW earlier this week.  Quite right, George—he is the victim of kidnapping by terrorists.  Meanwhile, we’re back in Gaza as Barak gave the IDF a green light to go in to try to stop the ongoing Qassam rocket fire on S’derot and other communities (though the suspected Qassam attack in Ashkelon on Wednesday turned out to be rival gangsters).  In a simultaneous action, IDF troups go into Nablus in the West Bank to arrest wanted terrorists.  It is not pretty but, in light of the recent escallation, it is necessary.  But on the good news side, Mubarak has agreed that Egypt will help Israel deal with infiltrators from North Africa into Israel,  other than the refugees from Darfur who are being given protection here.

Security training: this wasn’t my group, but you can get a good idea of the kinds of police and security professions I meet with who come to Israel for specialized training.

Proof of Life

His voice:  The news plays the tape recording of Gilad Shalit over and over.  While it is encouraging to hear his voice, it is depressing that he has been held prisoner by his kidnappers for a year now.  All the pain and suffering of the Second Lebanon War, and our guys are still being held hostage.  Olmert is at the summit in Sharm el-Sheik, shmoozing with Mubarak and trying to decide how many Fatah prisoners we’ll release. 

Have you melted yet?  The heat makes it hard to keep up any kind of fitness regime, but I drag myself out at 5:30 and slog my way through a painful, clunky trot.  By the time I finish my loop, it is already 28 C.  The heat as also triggered massive hatchings of mosquitoes and sand flies, and they ignore Gill and Nadine and feast exclusively on me.  I feel so honored…

Is your sunscreen dangerous?  Gill discovers the Skin Deep site, consumer watchdog organization that tests cosmetics for safety and effectiveness.  Do not miss their information on sunscreens!  And yes, something that I use (make that used) is on their Worst Products list!  Yikes!  

Attack of the Killer Hairdressers

No one has ever complained about that before:  In one of those bizarre flukes that is clearly stranger than fiction, both Gill and I are subjected to painful haircuts within just a few days of each other.  First, Gill tries a new place and gets such rough treatment that he actually ends up with a cut on his lip (from their ham-fisted attempts to trim his moustache).  In my case, I try someone based on a recommendation, and am subjected to a mauling that I won’t soon forget.  The stylist (let’s call her Sadistic Sadie) has long talons instead of normal nails, and repeatedly combs my ears aggressively, as if trying to get them to change shape.  Granted, I have big ears, but so far I have never found that combing them back is very effective.  She almost cuts me several times and I have to resist the urge to check for blood.  By the time I leave, my entire scalp, ears, neck, and the sides of my face are sore.  When I ask her to take it easy on my poor scalp, Sadistic Sadie is insulted.  “No one has ever complained before,” she huffed.  “You need to…” she starts, launching into an explanation of tipulim that I need, and thus squarely shoving the blame back on me.   (My perfectly healthy hair and scalp don’t need to do anything other than escape from Sadistic Sadie!)  

One of the quirks of Israeli culture is that when you complain about anything, it is common to get the response, “No one has ever complained about that before.”  The guy right in front of you in line at the cafeteria complains that his soup is lukewarm, and they say that.  You complain right after him, and they say that.  And even if no one has complained before, does that somehow negate your own experience?

In a culture where customer service is still a relatively new concept, and many feel that being obliging to a paying customer is a sign of weakness or servitude, this is an ongoing theme.  Arguing with customers, ingoring customers waiting for service, not standing back and letting customers pass in a bottleneck (and our poorly-designed shops have many of those)—all these are daily occurences.  This doesn’t mean that there aren’t pleasant, helpful people out there who give great service; I must admit that in a day of running errands and dealing with a dozen merchants, you may only run into a few who will look you in the eyes and state, “No one has ever complained about that before.”

A swing and a miss:  Yesterday’s session with another group of security personnel is not a total flop, but I am certainly not at my best.  I am tired and not as quick on my feet as I normally am.  My audience, exhausted from a long and miserable flight (Continental, of course), are falling asleep.  It is a dull, listless performance and I am only consoled by a large pot of green tea and some edamame (boiled soybeans) on our way home.

Meet the BoD

Check out our BoD:  Here’s the STC Board of Directors for 2007–2008…

BoD 2007-2008

…and here is the real story:

BoD Misfits

Let’s Stop the Violence…

…against hapless PCs, that is:  one of my usability groups reports on consumer violence directed against PCs:

One out of every three US PC owners is inclined to become violent when faced with computer problems. The figure is mentioned in the Support Soft report “Cyber Stress.” Twenty per cent of PC users want to hit the PC or throw it out of the window, 11% curse the machine, 3% burst into tears, and 3% vent their rage on surrounding objects. According to the report, the growing frequency of rage outbursts is due to users’ increasing dependence on their PC. Computer problems cause emotional stress to the same extent as partner problems, which points to an ever greater intimacy in the link PC owners have with their PC.

Just call it “darling” and buy it a few upgrades.

More train doggies!   Today it is small black Pug named Lulu.  I got a few kisses but no pictures.  I watch nervously as homeward-bound soldiers with their massive packs carefully step over the tiny thing.  Lulu remains calm on the crowded train.

Steam bath:  It hits 36 C in Karmiel today and they are threatening over 40 C in Tel Aviv tomorrow.  Joy.  Glad I have a new fan in my office.

Mohammed Mouse:  Hamas is using Mickey’s evil twin to sell Jihad to kids.  Meanwhile, Olmert remains obliviously hopeful about the new-cobbled PA government, which is still shaky in the extreme.  Meanwhile, initial reports of thousands fleeing from Gaza during the recent battles between Fatah and Hamas forces have been discounted, though the death toll and damage is very real.  Crossing points have been looted and severely damaged, and even the US is suggesting that Israel just slam the doors shut and let the PA figure things out on their own.  No more crossings.  No more Palestinians working in Israel.  Yet we’re still sending them relief aid, taking their wounded into our hospitals, and subsidizing the new government!  Hmmm…

Spam of the Week Award

Self-loathing turkey:  Now how can you not open an email with that as the subject line?

Summer Shtick

Steaming:   Summer is here.  The weekend heatwave is supposed to break 40C in Tel Aviv, just when I’m supposed to be down there training another group of security people.  Gotta love that AC.  In another sign of summer, I wake up at 5:30 with a mild itch that rapidly turns into an intense burn, and I know that the sand flies are back.  These little things bite like mosquitoes, but the bit usually doesn’t swell as much and there isn’t much itch, but a whole lot of pain.  After about half an hour, it subsides, but get of few of those babies on your hands and feet (they love knuckles, for some reason), and you will not be a happy camper.

Fluff update:  Miss Thing sure does love her rubber massager, but there is one big drawback.  Rather than collect the fluff (as does the flea comb), this devices sends it flying.  The house is now covered in fluff. 

I may be old, but I’m not dead:  I lace up the old running shoes today and drag myself out for a slow, creaky, arthritic slog around my loop.  But considering that Nadine hasn’t moved off the sofa in a few days (other than to eat and take care of business), I guess I am the model of vim and vigor.  It’s all relative.