Monthly Archives: February 2009

Storm Watch

Hail?!  So much for the temperate Mediterranean climate!  It has been wildly stormy since Friday, with thunder, lightning, heavy rain, and even hail that covers the ground and remains in clumps for hours afterwards.  Terri and I try to get out in between the downpours, but we still get caught in a hailstorm in the morning.  That hurts!  Poor doggy is soggy and shivering when we get home.  I pop her in the tub and hose her down with warm water, both to warm her up and to get rid of the mud.

hail

hailcloseupYup, honest-to-goodness hail.  That’s Terri’s brush that got left out on the balcony.  Here’s a closeup of the hail. Terri is fascinated and wants to go out on the balcony to sniff it, but then is shocked at the cold, wet sensation.  I make her wear her red hoodie for most of the day.

The worst part is that we are springing leaks all over.  I have several dripping spots in the ceiling (clearly, the building roof is saturated and things are looking bad).  Water damage under one window… Why do these things always happen on Shabbat (or erev hag)? Well, even if it was the middle of the week, there is way that anything can be done until the rain stops and the roof dries out. Who knows how long that will be. It is going to be a very nervous night! I have book cases emptied and covered in plastic, and will keep my fingers crossed.

waterdamage

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Stormy Weekend

Escape to TA: Terri goes to Doggy Daycare and I go to Tel Aviv for the weekend (thus missing the ketusha strikes in the north!).  It is a cold, wild, stormy weekend, but we luck out with breaks in the rain exactly when we want to go out.  First, an adorable little cafe where I try their onion-and-wine tart (mmmm!), then a stroll down Shenkin (always entertaining).  I hang out that evening with Central LS and her girls.  The human kids are great, but the feline kid is, well… Let’s just say that this is what Muffin thinks of the world in general…
muffinbutt

On Shabbat, we head out to the tayalet in Tel Aviv and walk for an hour.  The wind is so fierce that it is difficult to walk at times.  The storm has whipped the normally placid Mediterranean into a wild pallet of greys.

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stormy2

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We get splashed by the waves crashing over the rocks and end up salt-encrusted.  We are also bundled up against the cold.  Yet there are knuckleheads out there in the water!  A few surfers and lots and lots of parasailers.  We can’t figure out why they don’t get their lines tangled or go smashing into the breakwater (or get blown up onto the beach).
parasail

Next to one of the beach-front restaurants, we meet the hugest stray cat I have ever seen in my life. While most of the stray cats that hang out in that area look pretty well-fed, this one (we immediately dub him “El Gordo”) is of massive proportions. I’m guessing a 90 cm girth.
elgordo

We wrap up with another great meal of salatim and lovely bread, and a gorgeous view out at the spectacular coast.

Anti-terrorist training: I have an evening lecture with another group of security professionals from the States.  The company that brings them out, Security Solutions International, has me do a basic orientation for each group.  Most of them know very little about Israel (or Jews, for that matter!), and have a very vague idea of politics, history, or cultural issues here.  Despite their lack of exposure to this stuff, they are all bright, pleasant, and interested in learning.  I field some excellent questions and get most of them laughing.  My hope is just to send them out better prepared to appreciate this amazing country.

I wrap up and, as it isn’t pissing rain at the moment, decide to walk to train station.  About halfway there, there is a dramatic roll of thunder, and it starts raining again.  Amazingly, abut 20 seconds later, an empty taxi rolls by, and I ride in comfort to the train station.

Tip of the Day

Lentils. Dogs. Bad combo:  She tried to warn me, but it was 4:00 and I just pulled the covers over my head.  Results: massive explosion.  Sort of like pudding.  ‘Nuf said.

Techno Toys

New day, new phone: Well, it’s about time.  I move up to a 3G smart phone (Nokia E71) and am learning my way around it. The E71 has earned glowing reviews and so far, I’ve been quite impressed.  Don’t have everything set up yet, but I’ll be thrilled to travel without a separate camera and a separate MP3 player.  Here’s a picture taken with it…

newcamera

So now on the gadget front: have any of you ever tried Bluejays (Bluetooth headphones)?  Let me know.  Also any other gadgets you love with your 3G phones…

Still no government: No one has managed to get anywhere yet.  The lack of excitement is palpable.

Angels and Demons

What’s naughty and nice?  Terri spends Thursday being an angel.  She is on her best behavior when a friend of mine visits.  But the next morning, she turns into Naughty Dog, chasing a cat, eating chicken bones out of a garbage bin in the park, trotting off and ignoring me when I call, tormenting goats, and generally being a big pain in the butt.  Saturday morning she is back to being Angel Dog, allowing many small children to pat, hug, and otherwise get their grubby little hands on her.  She licks a baby, endurs having her ears pulled, and is extremely sweet and patient.  But then she goes and rolls in goat poo and I have to shampoo her again.  Sigh!

Once home, she has a big meal and shluffs out for the afternoon.  I always thought that dogs curled up when they slept.  Hmmm.

shluff1

shluff2

shluff3

Rockin’ with Rita: I treat myself to a concert—Rita at Karmiel’s hichal hatarbut. Lots of old farts like me in the audience, and it turns out to be the first pop concert that I’ve been able to sit through in years (i.e., people sedately stayed in their seats, rather than standing). Not the best concert I’ve ever heard, but quite nice, and she is a real doll.  It is nice to see that there is Life After Rami.

A Confusing Morning

Election results: Who knows?  With 99% of the ballots counted, the results are still foggy.  Livni’s Kadima has 28 seats; Bibi’s Likud has 27.  Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, as predicted, is a big winner with 15 seats.  Of the 33 parties in the election, only 11 got enough votes to make it in.  Even HaGimla’im (the pensioners’ party), a huge victor in the past, didn’t make the cutoff.  Grand old Avoda (Labor) is down to a record low 13 seats.  Point is, neither Likud nor Kadima will have an easy time cobbling together a coalition.  If Bibi tries to do something with Lieberman, he will lose all the religious parties (or at least Shas).  Never dull here. See all the results here.  (You can play with the chart and see how different regions and sectors of the population voted.)

All I can say is that the wild stormy weather yesterday and last night (thunder, lightning, torrential rain, gusting winds, and even hail at one point) was very appropriate for the confusing storm that we face now.

Election Day

Storm clouds:  The long-predicted storm moved in with thunder, lightning, and driving rain.  As usual, Terri and I get caught just minutes into our walk, so we trot home quickly.  The polls are open until 22:00 tonight to allow everyone to vote.  Whatever the outcome is, I hope that voter turnout is high.  Some are saying that it is going to be a race to the wire between Likud and Kadima, but Yisra’el Beiteinu could throw a major spanner in the works.  Labor is predicted to take so few votes that it will be a minor player in a left coalition.  Here are the last-minute hghlights:

  • Lieberman has pissed-off the religious parties (Rabbi Ovadia Yosef says that a vote for Lieberman is a vote for the devil, which is really silly, because a vote for Lieberman is a vote for the love child of George Wallace and Stalin).
  • Bibi gave an interview in Russian (via translators) to try to woo some of the Russian vote away from Lieberman.
  • Lieberman announced that he will not go into a coalition with Kadima, which might give Livni and Kadima more votes!
  • Barak announced that if he is not elected prime minister (duh!), he won’t accept the position of Minister of Defense unless Labor gets at least 20 seats.  (Looks like Barak is going to have a lot of time on his hands.)
  • We have an all-time high record number of parties (33, if I am not mistaken) running.  Many will not get the required two-seat minimum, so those votes will end up being flushed down the toilet.
  • The polls are all very uncertain because there is also a record number of undecided (as much as 20%).  This is because many of us are thinking strategy.  For example, someone who might normally vote Labor may cast a vote for Kadima as a more realistic way to block Likud.  It is very confusing. 

I’m sorry to say that the Dog Party will probably not do well, as many dogs hate the rain and will stay home.