Category Archives: cats

The Science of Happiness

From Harvard, no less: Very cool stuffHat tip to my mom.

Hell cat: Terri can’t stop herself from chasing cats.  The instinct is so hard-wired that virtually no amount of training can overcome it. However, she seems to consider cats some sort of super fun outdoor toy: she gets into a play mode, bouncing, barking, wagging her tail, and generally having a grand old time.  I have never seen her actually try to do anything to a cat, other than chase it.  On our walk this morning, she barked happily at a little black kitten.  The kitten held its ground, hissing.  Terri was perfectly happy to bounce around in front of the kitten, barking.  No harm, no foul.

However, on our way back home, Terri stuck her nose into a bush, and a little calico cat flew out after her, spitting, hissing, and scratching. Not only did she attack Terri, but she would not stop attacking.  She attached itself to Terri’s head, biting and scratching.  I tried to pull Terri away, and the cat attacked me.  I was finally forced to kick her (I’ve never before kicked a cat or a dog in my life!), giving me time to scoop Terri up in my arms and get away.  Terri was scratched and bleeding around the nose and mouth. I ended up with ripped pants and a bleeding leg!  What a hell cat! I have to assume that the cat had a litter of kittens under that bush, and was desperately trying to defend them.

First Rain

It must be Fall: I wake to the wonderful smell of damp earth and ozone.  It rains again in the morning. 

Speaking of water… I’ve never seen a cat do this before.  Hat tip to LR.

Refu’ah shlema: President Peres collapses yesterday.  He is doing well and has already been released from the hospital.  The man is 86 and is one of the hardest working public figures you can imagine.  He routinely has long, intense days, often standing for hours at public events, enduring endless meetings, reading hundreds of pages of documents.  Just reading about his average day makes me tired. 

Oh, dear, didn’t we tell you?  So apparently UNIFIL forces got a heads up ten days before the latest Ketusha attacks, and they didn’t bother to tell us.  They told the Lebanese army, but not us, the targets of the attack.  Grrr…  Here we go again.

Slow down!  Last week’s train derailment has triggered the expected investigations. Was it sabotage or an accident?  The decision to slow trains down to a max speed of 80 kph is frustrating, because it doesn’t address the security issue or solve anything.  I ride the trains quite frequently (though not that particular line), and I will continue to do so.

Madonna is ho-hum, be we love Leonard: Madonna couldn’t come close to selling all the tickets for her recent Tel Aviv concerts, but Leonard Cohen is in hot demand.  Is this a sign of musical taste or politics?

Top prize: Movie “Lebanon” wins Golden Lion in Venice.

A Thousand Walks

Doing the math: well, we aren’t up to 1000 walks together yet, but we are getting there.  Terri came into my life about 11 months ago, and even taking into consideration the times I traveled, that adds up to a heck of a lot of walks.  We’ve been out there in blazing heat, hamsin dust storms, pouring rain, hail, and cold.  We’ve seen sunrises and sunsets.  We’ve seen tons of birds, plenty of other dogs, lots of cats, shefan selah (hyrax), and several jackals.  We’ve seen sunrises and sunsets, smelled sage, jasmine, and lavender, and looked at spectacular views.  I’m looking forward to the next thousand.

And don’t forget the kitties: They can do tricksHat tip to San Diego reader LR.

Missing Denise: A memorial site is up at her local newspaper. Meanwhile, the library where she worked is planning a Denise Guren Memorial Bike Rack.  She would like that!

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…

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.




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).

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.

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.


Sometimes the surgeon goofs: Even our excellent intel is bound to slip up once in a while. This morning, IDF shells UN headquarters in Gaza. UN officials are pissed off. Gee, I wonder if they are now going to do something different, like condemn us? Oh, wait…

The goal: We are trying to stop missiles and rockets from being fired from within Gaza.  We are not trying to wipe out the population.  You only have to look at the stats to see that we are targeting military sites, which is damn impressive considering that Hamas likes using human shields and hiding their launchers in mosques, hospitals, schools, and apartment buildings.

A few things to consider: Others have said it first and say it better than I could:

  • Dershowitz is on-target.
  • Melanie Phillips has a few lucid things to say about the history of this an the Hamas response.
  • Emanual Shilo talks about the rationale behind the move to ban two Arab parties from the next elections, saying, “Despite the claims of discrimination which they commonly make, there is no denying that Israeli Arabs enjoy the advantages of living under Israel’s democracy without being asked to bear the price of its existence in terms of putting their lives on the line. They do not die on the battlefield like the Jews or the Druze, and they vehemently oppose the notion of civil service within their own communities. As opposed to most Israeli citizens, they are also not a target for terror attacks. Therefore, they continue to smear Israel’s democracy while at the same time firmly objecting to any proposal that would see even one of their villages within Israel being transferred to the Palestinian Authority’s control.”
  • While Tel Aviv and the Shalom Achshav crowd wail, other cities, including those with high Arab populations, seem less outraged.  All this will be for nothing if we can’t get Hamas to agree to a real truce.

Nadine post-mortem: Poor baby was riddled with tumors (probably cancer), had a weakened heart, fluid in her lungs, and a nearly-dead liver.  She had clearly replaced her immune system with sheer cranky orneriness.  I miss my Bed Lump.  Thanks to readers who posted messages; you are all welcome to add your farewells to Miss Thing.

Goodbye, My Darling

Nadine Guren
11 April 1994 – 13 January 2009

May your memory always make us smile. We had a lot of good years together, and now you can join Rudy. But I will always miss you, my precious.

Muffin’s Mom

A break from the tension: Muffin’s mom comes up to Karmiel Friday midday and stays for the weekend.  We eat a lot, walk a lot (with Terri), gab a lot.  Head up to the Open Museum at Tefen and stroll through the wintery sunshine, admiring the strange sculptures.  It is a nice break from the war conflict operation, though the hourly news reports are hard to miss.  Meanwhile, mishmar hagvul are lined up by Dier el Assad and Madj el Krum in full riot gear, as some of those residents forget their nationality and start stoning passing cars.  In Sachnin, a huge demonstration pulls in thousands of participants, including Israeli Arabs from all over the country and a few MKs.  (Can you imagine a Jewish minority in an Arab country holding a demonstration like that?!)  Another big demonstration was going on in Tel Aviv on Ibn Gvirol, just blocks from our training center. 

arik_einsteinI was wondering if this current conflict had pushed the Idan Raichel Project’s Arabic song (what I call the “yo mamma” song) off the airwaves (does anyone have an MP3 of that, BTW?), because I hadn’t heard it for a week or so. Perhaps while Ashdod, Ashkelon, S’derot, Be’ersheva, and the rest of the south are getting pounded by Hamas rockets, people may have been less eager to hear a song in Arabic, no matter how charming.  However, I suddenly I hear it again.  Meanwhile, today Galgalatz is honoring Arik Einstein’s 70th birthday with a glut of his songs. OK, I admit it, but I still stop and listen whenever they pull out the oldies like atur mitzheh zahav shahor.  That voice.  And wasn’t ani v’atah our anthem from the 60s?  And ladies, face it—1960s Arik was one sexy dude.  Looks like crap now, but the voice is still amazing.  When he sang pitom nefal aleiha after Rabin’s assassination, I saw grown men cry. Anyhow, happy birthday, Arik.  Todah l’musikah, grazia per la musica, thanks for the music.  I can’t imagine Israel without your music.

Dogs are gross: Terri, after behaving like an angel for company, trots off happily on her afternoon walk and samples some donkey poo.  Erg!  You’re definitely not licking my face today, dog!  Meanwhile, Nadine emerges from under the puch and eats a microscopic portion of food.  How long can a cat live on air and water?

Warped Logic

Grads falling on Be’ersheva: Two Grad-class rockets (the mid-range ketushas that were used on us in the north during the the Second Lebanon War) hit Be’ersheva this morning.  Hamas uses the bizarre logic of saying that these are in retaliation for Israeli air strikes.  Uh, what?!  The air strikes were to take out rocket launchers that had been pummeling Israeli communities for months and months!  We’re through the looking glass now, kids.

Israeli math: Thank goodness for Kamah Kessef, the website that helps you calculate how much you are supposed to give at an Israeli wedding.  With the son of a first cousin getting married in a few weeks, I need to figure it out.  Hmmm.  That much? Oi.  And me without two skekels to rub together. 

Nadine update: Damn cat has gone from being lusciously fat to a sack of bones.  I now have an anorexic cat.  She seems totally disinterested in food, though if I heat up something and put it right in front of her, she’ll lick a bit.  She ate about 1/2 tsp of expensive Italian cat food this morning (chicken and pasta, I think).  Terri hovers nearby, almost shaking with excitement. She knows that she automatically gets to finish off whatever Nadine rejects.

Even Geeks Get the Blues

Menus from hell:  Can’t receive faxes. Can send.  Spent an hour trying to troubleshoot. Turns out that buried deep in a multi-nested menu system is a setting that blocks faxes where caller ID isn’t showing.  Sigh.  Since most companies in Israel use switchboards that block caller ID, this is not a smart default!  Still, this is what we call a cockpit error (i.e., the pilot’s fault, not the plane’s).  Color me stupid.

Nadine fresses on treif: Yes, it is that pork-flavored medical food from the vet that she seems to like.  Warm, mind you.  Girl is now eating a few tiny portions a day and seems to be OK.  I no longer risk cutting my hand on her backbones while patting her!   She scores a heat-able gel pack (microwavable heating pad) for Hanukkah, while Terri gets a fleece-lined raincoat (which she tried out yesterday in the rain).

hanukkah50Happy Hanukkah!  I eat my annual soufgania and feel ill.  Why do I do this every year?  It is a horrible compulsion.  The greasy, sugary mess always sits in my stomach like a rock, yet the next year I feel compelled to do the same thing again.  It is said that we celebrate the miracle of the small jar of oil that lasted for eight days by eating deep-fried food that sits in our guts for eight days…  But if anyone wants to share a healthy recipe for latkes (there are baked versions instead of fried), be my guest.

A Vice-grip on Life

She’s still here: Nadine settles into a new pattern. Sleep, walk around and complain, drink water out of the bathtub, eat almost nothing.  We still don’t understand why she is alive, but she seems determined to outlive us all. She has now lost almost 2/3 of her original body weight, yet continues to boss Terri around and make demands.

Humor for the thoughtful: There is so much low-brow crap out there that it is a real pleasure to see Jon Stewart’s mixture of articulate thought and irreverent humor.  If you’re not already a fan, check out this episode, where he conducts a very interesting interview with Huckabee.

Busting the myth: Here’s Lisa Goldman (aka On the Face) on the supposed Israeli support for McCain. FYI, this matches with my own impressions.