Monthly Archives: February 2008

Thanks for the Memories

I say good-bye to my current class:  They are almost ready to be turned loose on the TC community. Back row, left to right: Dirk and Bruce. Middle row: Farnaz and Jonah. Front row: Gayla, Luba, and Vika. (Missing: Jenny.)  I am expecting great things in their final projects.


Driver of the week:  Stuck in slow-moving traffic on the coastal highway (route 2), I see a beat-up old car with velour curtains (tres chic a la Arab village).  The driver is smoking a hookah and drinking a glass of beer.  No lie.  I try to take a picture but traffic starts moving again.  Luckily, I have a witness, as I am hitching a ride back with student Dirk.

Another Day, Another Dwindling Dollar

The incredible shrinking currency!  Yes, the US dollar continues its spectacular slide into the toilet.  For those of us who do business in one currency based on another, this sucks.  For example, I purchase for some large-ticket items (such as transatlantic airfare) that is priced in dollars, but paid for shekels.  The dollar tanks.  The client reimburses me at the dollar rate.  The dollars are converted back into shekels (leaking funds at ever step of the transaction).  I am out of pocket some NIS 800 (about USD $225).  I can’t complain, though.  The collapsing real estate prices mean that many people are paying more and more on mortgages that are greater than the current value of their homes.  How awful.

Oh, happy day: Omri goes to jail.  And ain’t it about time?  My theory is that he heard that Boaz will be singing Ke’ilu Kan in Serbia, and was so moved that he figured it was time to step up to the plate.  For those of us (and that seems to be the majority) who think that Dana wrote a kick-ass song, it is a happy day to know that we won’t have saccharine 80s-style kitsch representing us at Eurovision in this, our 60th year.  Check out the official Israel Eurovision site, and click the link to turn it into English (1) and then the button on the right (2) to see all of Israel’s entries in Eurovision since Ilanit represented us in Luxemburg in 1973.  There are videos of all the songs.  If you can watch Poogy performing Natati La Chaya and not instantly feel better (I mean, just looking at Danny Sanderson’s hair makes me grin), then you are either under 45 or pathologically crabby.  And check out the baby-faced Shlomo Artzi at the start of his career, or the late great Ofra Haza.  Good stuff.  Mixed in are some of the most horribly embarrassing performances of all times.  Makes you kinda wish we had a Siberia to send people to, eh?  So what are your favorites of all time? 
navigating the site

More music to cheer us up:  The stars come out in LA to shine for residens of S’derot.  Not surprised to see Paula there, since her dad is Jewish (does anyone remember where he’s from?). 

Smile despite the shrapnel: Meet Gila, a funny and smart woman who survived a terrorist attack in Jerusalem in 2002 and blogs about living with shrapnelHat tip to fellow-blogger cba.

Start Your Engines

Yeah, it’s that time again:  Eurovision 2008 is already in the works as we choose our representative and song.  Boaz Mauda, winner of Kohav Nolad (our local version of American Idol, if you will) was selected last December to represent us.  He’s short and has a very high tenor, but there’s no arguing that yo yo yo, check it out, dawg, y’all can blow, dude

So now we have to pick the song that Boaz will sing at the semi-finals in May.  Five song-writers were invited to submit songs.  Boaz performed all five last night.  A panel of judges (all former Eurovision contestants) makes a decision, plus the public votes.  A straw poll of former Eurovision contestants from England, Germany, and Sweden complicated things.

You can hear all the songs here (there’s an English link, too) and you have today to cast your vote.  Personally, I think that Dana International’s song (number 5) is by far the best.

If a really sucky song wins (like that wretched 80s throwback written by Ovadia Hamamyia), it won’t be just our parrots needing ProzacHat tip to Northern LS.

Security Alert

They’re baaaaaaack!  Another group of security professionals from the States arrives with an SSI tour.  I get ’em when they’re jet-lagged and groggy from the long flight.  My job is to give them a short orientation about Israel to help make their week of lectures, demos, and hands-on counter-terrorism training more enjoyable.  We talk about history, culture, food, and a lot of other stuff.  The idea is to help them avoid culture clash and understand a bit more of what they are seeing.  As usual, the group impresses me with their questions and interaction (though they are all too tired to laugh at the jokes).

On the way back, we swing through Netanya to link up with friend and fellow-blogger Caroline.  Here we are looking somewhat less than fierce after some impressive pasta servings…
Caroline and Me

Woof, woof!

fighting Islamic terror one sundress at a timeRise up barking: Daniel Pipes reminds us of the importance of standing up to fanaticism.  I cannot believe that any people who hate or distrust dogs can be on the right path to spiritual enlightenment. Unclean, indeed.  Considering that you’re a lot less likely to catch something from a dog than from a snot-nosed human rug-rat, labeling canines “unclean” is gross superstition.

Add to this the jihadists almost pathological fear of modern female fashion, and I think that we can come up with the ultimate smart weapon—tiny dogs in frilly dresses.  So how about we air drop a few thousand of these guys on ’em?  Watch out, Al-Qaeda!  Be afraid.  Be very, very afraid.

Miss Bandid looking ready to paw-taySo go ahead. Cuddle your Cocker Spaniel.  Kiss your Keeshond. Pat your Pit Bull.  Snuggle your Schnauzer.  Bond with your Basset Hound.  (And don’t forget to dress up your Doberman.)  Together, we can strike a blow for freedom.


The gas inspector cometh: In a classic example of the “ihiyeh b’seder” mentality, we discover that the work a contractor did some seven years ago is not kosher, and the guy from the gas company shuts off part of our gas access.  Oi.  Looks like another major expense to bring everything up to spec. 

The news you don’t hear: Christian Arabs in Palestinian-controlled areas live in fear.

Sunshine: It is still cold, but sunny.  Nadine has retired to bed and refuses to come out from under the down comforter.  Maybe it is the gas man who is causing her to live in fear!

Laughing Towards Peace

All sides joined in humor: Northern LS shares this video about a Israel-Palestinian comedy tour with us. 


sheep alertActually, it is a drab, rainy day and I’m feeling blah.  Cough, cough. There isn’t much newsworthy today, though Central LS submits this new kosher search engine.  (Try some searches for kicks…)

I know that it’s supposed to be spring and I should be feeling like a little lamb, out cavorting among the kalani’ot, but I’d rather bury my head back under the covers and hide. 

Central LS also sent this in via a comment to my previous rant; in case that link didn’t work for you, try this story about cell phone usage linked to salivary gland tumors.  I figured our ears would fall off first…

Northern LS submits this video.  Funny how the international press spends all their time talking about hardships in Gaza but not what it’s like living in S’derot.

A Plea for Quiet

Curb your noise!  It is another long day as I trek down to Tel Aviv for an STC (Israel Chapter) administrative council meeting.  The trip home is made even longer by a couple of knuckleheads playing music (and I use the term loosely) on their cell phones.  RANT MODE ON.

OK, here’s the deal.  Even if you are playing something gorgeous, like a nice sexy tenor singing Caruso

Qui dove il mare luccica
e tira forte il vento
sulla vecchia terrazza
davanti al golfo di Surriento…

(you get the idea), I still don’t want to hear it unless I choose to play it (or go attend a concert).  I’m listening to my own music, thank you very much, and listening to something played through the tinny little speakers on your cell phone is painful, to say the least. 

And if you have earphones on but the volume is cranked up so high that the sound is bleeding through to everyone sitting around you, then it is too damn loud.

And if you are sitting in a public place, laughing, shouting, slapping your friends on the head (“Geeeeevvvvvvvvverrrr!!!“), and throwing things at each other is not socially-acceptable behavior in most parts of the civilized world.

It’s called a cell phone, not a yell phone, BTW.  We really don’t want to hear the details of your business deal or argument with your spouse.  Please.  RANT MODE OFF.

60 Years

We’re getting up there: This is Israel’s 60th year.  Gill found this cute little slide show highlighting some of our achievements.  Extra fun: many of the companies mentioned are clients of mine.