Monthly Archives: September 2008

US Politics

A few political videos:  No one spins ’em like Craig Ferguson.  And get ready for the Great Shlepp (hat tip to Central LS).  Don’t watch either if you are easily offended by satire, opinions, or rude language.

Perpetual Motion

Now if only we can find a way to harness this energy: Terri does her thing.


A wide swath of destruction: Here’s Naughty Dog’s contribution to my home decorating efforts to date:

  • shredded rolls of toilet paper: 8
  • chewed coffee table: 1
  • socks slobbered on: 3
  • chewed underwear: 2
  • bowls of cat food devoured: 12+
  • gnawed books: 2
  • paper shredded: countless
  • rawhide bones hidden around the apartment: unknown
  • cork coasters eaten: 1
  • cork coasters pooped: 1
  • outside cats chased: dozens
  • inside cat annoyed: 1, but repeatedly
  • number of fights with cat over priority bed real estate: 4
  • number of people and dogs annoyed on our walks: at least 20
  • number of times I have to sweep up dog hair every week: 7
  • illicit objects (pillows, razor, sponge, sandals, door stop) appropriated as toys: 8

But help is on the way!  I have an appointment with Vadim to start obedience training on Sunday.  Wish us luck!  (I hope that I don’t have to do the commands in Russian…)

What’s out there?  Last night, Terri and I do our evening walk quite late.  It is close to 22:00, after a long but fruitful va’ad bayit (tenant’s association) meeting, by the time we head out.  The walking trail is pitch black and deserted.  Naughty Dog frisks ahead, doing her business and enjoying the cool evening air.  Suddenly, she freezes, stares intently into the dark, and starts barking hysterically.  I put her on the leash, expected to see another dog walker approaching on the path, but there is nothing out there.  I have never seen her so crazed—both excited and scared.  I can’t see or hear a thing, but I coax her back home where she spends the next half hour on the balcony, peering intently down into the wadi.  Later that night, I hear the eerie calls of the jackals hunting.  I can’t be sure, but I think that it was something wild out there that made Terri react that way.

One of the odd fringe benefits of jet-lag is that I wake in the middle of the night and hear all sorts of things that I normally sleep right through.  Jackals, the piercing cries of other nocturnal predators, the earliest call of the mu’ezin (04:30 or there-abouts), cat fights, the neighbor coming home from a night shift, the pre-dawn wind that rises from the wadi.  It turns my normally mundane urban neighborhood into an exotic and wild place of mystery and danger.

Still Wonky

It seems to take longer to recover: I remember when I could fly back from the Old County and be functional the next day.  No more.  Nowadays it seems that I stumble along in a fog for several days before finding my rhythm again.  I find myself sitting and staring at the screen with no recollection of what I was supposed to do. 

Call me Imelda:My hard-to-fit feet are a real challenge.  Very narrow, scary pronation, an arch that is closer to the heel than normal, arthritis already nagging at my big toe, and a bony structure that tires easily without good padding.  Add it all up and you get a very difficult fit indeed.  So I’ve spent most of my adult life on a search for the ideal shoe.  It has been years since I have had a running shoe that I didn’t loathe, so it was with great joy that I found a trail runner by Teva that provides excellent stability, has a super deep heel counter to accommodate my heavy-duty sports orthotics, and is lightweight.  Add to that a dark color that doesn’t scream “stupid Yank walking around in athletic shoes!” and I’m thrilled.  Oh, and my mom’s $10-off coupon helped, too!  For the price of a crappy pair of plastic shoes in Israel, I have the best sports shoes I’ve had in years.  Check out the TevaPro X-1 Control Wraptor Lite.  And no, I don’t have stock in the company…

Naughty dog update: Terri eats a piece of my coffee table this morning.  Yes, the brand new coffee table from IKEA now looks like a shark gnawed the corner off.  I try to stay calm while applying firm parenting skills.  Nadine stands by and offers rude suggestions.  “Throw the damn mutt off the balcony!” she urges, meowing frantically.  Terri bides her time and then tries to pounce on Nadine when I’m not looking.  Nadine hisses and whacks her.  The dog is twice her size (though probably only a kilo more than her), but Nadine is fearless and pissed off.  She also shoulders Terri out of the way to get at the dog kibble, which she finds a lot more interesting than her cat food.

Jet Lag Jitters

I’m back: Sorry about the long silence.  I wasn’t exactly off the grid, but too darn busy to update y’all on my trip.  Here’s the ten shekel tour:

  • Great visit with family.  Crammed an amazing amount into a very short time.  Seattle weather remained beautiful the whole time. 
  • Got to see three classmates from high school.  All three women were instantly recognizable, and are leading interesting, busy lives.  And, of course, all looked fabulous!  We had a great evening a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant.
  • Discovered the joys of PetCo and spent way  too much money there on the mutt.
  • No snags in security, luggage, tickets, special meals, or anything!  Astonishing!  Six flights and nothing went missing, nothing got screwed up…  Of course, I sat next to some seriously hygiene-challenged French folk on, davka, the long legs.  They have us beat at wine and cheese, but we sure as hell can teach them a thing or two about deodorant.  Maybe it is time for the airlines to start screening for aroma…
  • Meetings were good.  Good chance to get to know some of the new board members.  Hard work and serious concentration was broken up with fun dinners together.  The hotel seemed to have a surplus of asparagus, because we were served it at every meal except breakfast.  No complaints here!

So now I am back home and all is well.  Terri, being a dog, doesn’t know how to hold a grudge.  She flung herself into my arms.  I can tell that Cathy spoiled her, as she filled out a bit on all those tasty treats!  She looks happy and prosperous.  The same cannot be said for Nadine, who is sporting even more bald patches.  But she spent a scant hour under the bed when I brought her home, and then decided that she was too pissed off to sulk.  She emerged, demanded tuna, hissed at Terri, and complained at great length about having to share living space with a stupid hairy dog.

Terri and I were happy to see Spike (that’s what I’ve dubbed the retarded shefan selah that lives by itself a little ways away from the main colony).  Spike was out there on his rock this morning, ridiculously close to the walking path.  He tried his ninja invisibility trick, but Terri scrambled up the rocks and Spike had to make an ignominious exit into his den.  I find it strangely comforting to know that other species have their bell curve problems!

After two days, I’m still pretty spacy and tired.  I find myself falling asleep at odd times and in odd places.

Seattle in the Sun

A sparkling city: When the rain and clouds roll away, this place is amazing.  Some scenes from Alkai Beach…

The view back towards downtown:

The view across to the islands:


Typed on a Mac: My mom’s got a snazzy new MacBook, plus I’m insanely jealous of her new iPod Touch, which is wafer thin and awesome.  

Seattle is on her best behavior for me.  The weather is cool in the morning and lovely and sunny during the day. After the disgustingly hot August at home, this feels refreshing.  

As usual, I’m trying to cram as much family stuff into just a few days.  And I miss that foolish little fur-face.  Hope that she isn’t destroying all the toilet paper! I’m getting my dog fixes where I can, with Chihuahuas, Labs, and some goofy mutts.

Off on My Travels

Another trip: I’m off to the States for meetings and a chance to see family.  It is a rocky start as:

  • Terri tries to “help” me pack, carrying things out of the suitcase, eating one present (luckily nothing expensive), and generally getting underfoot.  I bundle her off to “Aunt Cathy” early.  Hard to believe it, but I already miss the little fur-face.
  • My cellphone recharger doesn’t work.  I just replaced it!  Now I realize that it was the phone port, not the charger, that is bad.  Will keep it turned off most of the time.
  • I order a cab to the train station.  On the phone, they quote me NIS 80, but the driver thinks it is NIS 100.  But that is not the real problem: we get to Akko and discover that there are no trains!  They are working on the tracks.  I call the train information number, and they say there are trains out of Kiryat Motzkin, but this guy wants more money to get there, and I don’t have enough cash.  I call Gill, and we swing by his factory and he runs out and stuffs some money in my hands!
  • I make the train in Motzkin and have an uneventful ride to the airport (catching up on reading all the reports for one of the meetings).  Security and checkin are a breeze. 

Well, I’m gonna miss the Girls.  Nadine is with her abba and probably enjoying a dog-free existence for a while.  Terri will be fine (probably not even miss me, since her beloved “aunt” gives her roast beef and other treats!).

Onward.  I fear that I will miss the mayorial elections in Karmiel!  Oh, well.

Terri’s Friends

The most popular girl: Terri continues to make friends left and right.  On Monday, she came with me to a short training session at a dog-friendly client site.  She went around and greeted everyone, and then settled down to shluff while we talked about style guides.  On the way out, she met a few of the dogs, though they were a big suspicious of this curly, rambunctious interloper.

On our walks, she continues to meet new doggies.  Don (short for Donatello) is a three-month-old chocolate Lab, quite shy and a bit confused about Terri’s attempts to play.  It is interesting to see that Terri eventually figured out that she needs to play more gently with Don than she does with, say, Donny (a gigantic Rotty mix) or Lady (a large, shaggy German Shepherd).  She gets very silly, indeed, with Joey, a tiny min-pin mix, and she is fearless with Prince, a massive German Shepherd who lives in my old neighborhood. 

But we can’t all be friends: there is the Golden Retriever on the floor below who wants to eat her, and there is a small, fiesty Chihuahua mix on our floor who is Terri’s sworn enemy.  I’m not sure the source of their mutual hatred, but Terri will stand and peer through the balcony railings, woofing frantically, as her nemesis saunters below on a walk.  There is also a very snooty Cocker Spaniel that growls at Terri when we pass on walks, and a duo of small, aggressive dogs that strain at their leashes to get at her.  (I’ve actually had to pick her up and carry her past dogs at times.)  Part of the problem is that Terri first assumes that every dog wants to play with her, so she dashes up happily and is stunned when the dog snarls.  There were two Doberman Pinschers who desperately wanted to get at her, and not in a good way. 

So I need to be vigilant when I walk her.  However, when she does link up with a friend, it is a joy to see her play.  She is lightening fast and can turn on a dime, and she always out-maneuvers the larger dogs.

Wonder if there will be a bidding war: Never a dull moment on eBayHat tip to Northern LS.