Monday, March 28, 2005

Woops!

Here's to sticking your neck out...

Ok, so, like, sometimes, I like, re-read my blog and, like I see mistakes, and I am like, oh my god, how many people read that?! They must think that I am, like, a total idiot!

I promise I went to college. Sometimes I don't proofread. Sometimes spellcheck doesn't catch made-up words. Sometimes I have had a glass of wine and I don't care.

So, apologies for errors. Consider it "color".

J-

Blog Props

Check out these blogs I've been reading recently:

Xta: http://www.singintomymouth.com/blog/

on the face: http://ontheface.blogspot.com/

(These two are just getting their blogging legs. You go girls!)
Waiting: http://www.whileuwait.blogspot.com/

Jennifer: http://www.jennifergwalker.blogspot.com/

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Disenfrenchfriesment

Disenfrechfriesment (dis-en-french-fries-ment): A situation that occurs when one goes to Burger's Bar and expects Yaacov to order french fries, but he doesn't and therefore one is denied the complete Burger's Bar experience.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Ewww! Gross!

Update: April 23, 2005

SAN JOSE, California (CNN) -- Police said Friday that a woman lied about finding a human finger in a bowl of chili last month at a Wendy's restaurant here.
They said Anna Ayala, 39, was arrested Thursday night at her home in Las Vegas, Nevada, on a charge of attempted grand theft in connection with the episode.
Ayala was also charged with grand theft in connection with an unrelated incident uncovered during the course of the Wendy's investigation. She is accused of bilking a woman out of $11,000 in a real estate transaction.
San Jose Police Chief Rob Davis said Ayala will be extradited to California.

WARNING! Don't read this if you you get queasy easy.

Wendy's Customer Bites Into Cooked Finger While Eating Chili
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- A diner's meal at a San Jose Wendy's restaurant brings a whole new meaning to the term "finger food."
Health authorities in California report a woman bit into a human finger while eating a bowl of chili at a Wendy's on Tuesday night. She immediately spit out the finger and warned others to stop eating. Then she got sick.
They said the fingertip was about an inch and a-half long, and contained part of a manicured nail.
The county medical examiner said the human finger was cooked but not decomposed. Authorities temporarily closed the Wendy's and seized all the ingredients at the restaurant.
Officials counted all the fingers of the Wendy's workers -- and say none had a missing digit. Authorities think the finger must have come from a Wendy's supplier.
Investigators have seized all of the ingredients at the restaurant, and they're trying to trace them back to the manufacturer. They think the finger got into the chili at an earlier stage. They also said it was cooked at a high-enough temperature to kill any viruses.
Wendy's says it's cooperating in the investigation.

There and Back Again

Wow! Our trip to Paris was amazing. I am not going to bore you all with lots of details. Just know that this was one of the best trips I have ever been on. First of all, the weather was absolutely wonderful the whole time we were there...sunny and high 60s. I got a nice suntan on my face. Paris is mainly flat and incredibly "walkable". Yaacov and I walked miles and miles through the city. Never took a cab. Took a city bus once in a while and took the train to/from the airport.

We stayed at the Hotel de Suez. It was lovely. Cheap. Clean. Wonderful location. If you visit Paris on a budget, this is a good place to stay.

The pictures below show some of the places we went. I forgot my camera at home. I realized that I left it at home about 20 minutes into the trip to the airport. So, the pictures below aren't mine. They were "borrowed" from other websites and pretty well reflect what we saw while we were there without giving you a long slide show. Not reflected in the photos is the fact that many things were in bloom while we were there. Spring in Paris!

Parisians know how to through a party. They had a daffodil festival at the Pantheon while we were there. They put strips of sod (grass) down on the sidewalk to/from the Pantheon and had thousands of daffodils decorating the front entry. It was beautiful and fun.

Paris is also putting on a really good competition for the 2012 Olympics. Everywhere you went, you could see huge signs for 2012 Olympic City Finalist! I am sure that they already have the infra-structure to support the event.

As I mentioned, we were on a budget, and this made things fun. Food is expensive in Paris. We spent our days sightseeing and looking for cute restaurants for our evening meal. Yaacov doesn't get into wine, so that was a budget helper. (Although wine is cheaper than Coke in Paris.) We managed to find good places to eat on our own and when our friends arrived they had some places that they wanted to try out too.

Ingra and Ron were our neighbors in NC and are our good friends. We met them in Paris and had several fun-filled days. Our friend Adrienne also joined us. Like us, they were into walking the city and just looking at all the wonderful things to be seen. Paris is a place full of dynamic ideas and fun window shopping.

Parisians are proud of their city and country and rightfully so. It is beautiful!

One of the things that Yaacov and I didn't like was that they close parks at dusk (and even before dusk). On two occasions we were enjoying the sun in one of Paris' beautiful parks when the park police came, blew their whistles, and kicked everyone out. It guess that's the way they keep them safe and clean. On the first night Ingra, Ron, and Adrienne were in town, we stayed out until 2:00! At that hour, they turn off the lights to the Eiffel Tower and other sites...things get sketchy as there are fewer people about. There is kind of a spooky feeling about the city at that time of night.

Paris is a city of about 12 million people (in the metro area). Not all of Paris is as beautiful as the central part that most tourists see. On the train into town, you see poverty, graffiti, and the other side of urban life.

It was tough to return to crazy Jerusalem. But I am feeling more confident somehow in my interactions with people here. In France, I just pushed right ahead in my conversations with people (smiles take you far) even though I don't know French. Here I feel kind of timid to stick my neck out. Mainly, it's just easier for me to let Yaacov do all the talking. But I think that I am going to try to take full advantage of this city. I now actually know more than enough Hebrew to communicate with just about everyone on a basic level. So, there's now reason for me to be afraid or intimidated.

I saw a show on the Chaim Tovim (good life) channel last night about Marrakesh. I was amazed by their markets and life style. Then I realized that I have all of that right here in Jerusalem. DUH! See, there are two cities in Jerusalem: the Old City and West Jerusalem. (There's East Jerusalem too, but that's another story...) I live in "new" West Jerusalem. The Old City - well, it's intimidating. The shop keepers call to you to enter their shop. You have to negotiate for everything (or just get totally ripped off) and the worst part is not knowing where you are. The streets in the Old City are narrow and the markets are covered so it's impossible to look up and find landmarks. So, for a guy used to shopping in Wal-Mart with big organized aisles, it can be a little overwhelming.

Anyway, if I can take on Paris. The little Old City shouldn't be so bad.

Jerusalem (just the Old City) from Space

Fountains at the Pompidou Centre


These cute fountains are outside the Pompidou Centre which houses the Museum of Modern Art (and bathrooms). The fountain sculpture moves and sprays the water all around.

Les Invalides


This building houses a hospital, a church, and a military museum. It is surrounded by gardens and was a great place to take a long break. Yaacov and I sat in the sun, read a book and put our feet up.

Eiffel Tower (duh)


This is the Eiffel Tower. It is amazing. Yaacov and I had lunch in a nearby park our second day in Paris. It was very hazy that day so we didn't go up. It's hard to describe the volume and elegance of this building. You gotta check it out for yourself.

On our last night in Paris, we ate at a tiny little restaurant near the tower. Afterwards we bought a bottle of wine and walked to yet another park to enjoy the view of the tower illuminated. It's spectacular at night. Every hour they turn on thousands of flashing lights and the whole tower sparkles for ten minutes or so like a huge firework display.

Arc de Triomphe Interior

Arc de Triomphe

Doors of Notre Dame

Notre Dame

The Seine!

Jardin de Luxembourg

The Pantheon from the Jardin de Luxembourg

Paris from Space

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Taste of Paris...

I've included the picture below as prelude to the forthcoming Paris report.
Stay tuned!

Notre Dame

Piro in Tel Aviv for Purim

Happy Purim!

Tiger and Tubby

This weekend is Purim in Israel! Purim is the Jewish festival celebrating the survival of the Jews marked for death in Persia in the 5th cent BC.

From http://www.britannica.com/
According to the Book of Esther, Haman, chief minister of King Ahasuerus, planned a general massacre of the Jews and set the date by casting lots. Ahasuerus' wife Esther interceded for the Jews, and they were allowed to attack their enemies. The ritual observance begins with a day of fasting on the 13th of Adar (in February or March), the day before the actual holiday. The Book of Esther is read in the synagogue, and Jews are enjoined to exchange gifts and make donations to the poor. Purim is a day of merrymaking and feasting.

Children (and many adults) get dressed up for Purim. In the past few days, I have seen lots of cute kids walking around Jerusalem.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Funny Links

Thanks to my friend Nancy for passing these along!

Gotta love the internet!

Happy Easter http://www.grayace.com/dex/bunny.html

Too Funny http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/lyle_24/myhero.swf

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I am Back!

We just got back from a wonderful trip to Paris! I'll tell you all about it in coming days!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Here We Go

Yaacov and I will be spending the next couple of days in Paris. We are excited to get out of town for a while and to hang out with our friends Ingra and Ron! I promise to post lots of pictures and info about our trip when we return next week.

Things here have fallen into a nice regular pattern. After changing ulpans and Yaacov getting used to his new job, it's nice to get into a routine. For a while there everything was shifting.

Plans are still on for us to come to the US in May. I'll keep everyone posted about the specifics-dates, locations. Just a word about this trip...I really wish that I had a long time to spend with everyone. I am already feeling conflicted - everyone lives so far apart now and I won't probably have a car all of the time during my trip. So, I hope you'll all understand the considerations floating around in my head. I'll let you know as soon as I do what the plans are so that you too can be part of them.

I am tired...not enough sleep last night. I don't know if I should drink some coffee or take a nap. Maybe both!

Blog updates:
I added a counter. Now I can know about how many people have seen my blog. I was keeping track of hits via Adsense by Google. But I have decided to take the ads off my pages for now. They really weren't generating much money (at all), so no need to have it cluttering up the screen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Birthday Buffet

This was the delicious spread at our friend Ilana's 33rd birthday party! She and Yaacov have been friends since high school. Ilana is the talented person that made the Valentine's Day Cake. You can see here culinary work here too in the cute carrot cake in the background.

The party was last Saturday, but I am just getting around to posting about it now.

It was lots of fun and good practice for Hebrew.

I'll write more aobut this later...I am tired. It's 10:40 here and I didn't take a nap today.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Birthday Buffet

Sunday, March 13, 2005

A Day in the Life...

Hello, friends!

I though that I would take a minute to tell you about my day. Here it goes!

This morning I awoke to tiny beams of bright sunshine shooting through my bedroom window. Here in Israel we have plastic/wooden/metal rolling shutters on all of the windows. These are installed in a little box above the window and are raised and lowered with a pull cord from inside. When lowered completely, the block out all of the light. The sun is so bright and direct here, the blinds are a good thing. Plus I live on the second floor of the apartment building and it's about the same level as the street light. The blinds are good at blocking it out too. One thing for Israel, it's roadways are really well lit. Little alleys and such are a different story...

I had yogurt for breakfast. Yaacov had Honey Nut Cherrios. Yesterday I made breakfast. Salad, cheese, humus, pita, tangerine, coffee, sour cream...it was all good. Israeli breakfasts are all about salad, fruit and cheese. On the weekends, I throw in bacon for good measure. I am still looking for good pork sausage to fry up.

Then Yaacov and I went for a long, fast, exercise walk. Jerusalem is hilly, so it's great for your butt. People here are much slimmer generally than in the US. On the weekends and evenings, people go out and walk around. The DO stuff other than sit at home. Sometimes, it's too much of a pain to drive, so people walk. Although suburban habits like malls, "family" sized meals, McDonald's, and driving everywhere are catching on. Still there is a skinny aesthetic that is prevalent.

Sunday (today) is the first day of the work week here. I don't have ulpan on Sunday and Yaacov's work is flexible. So, that's how we were able to hang out.

After the walk, I washed dishes (no auto dishwasher), and folded and put away clothes that had been on the sofa for many days. Sunday is usually a little cleaning day for me. So, I do some throwing away and straightening up.

Yaacov and I snacked for lunch...pita and salami, "cigarrios"--little fried rolls with meat something inside--tasty! (They look like cigars.) I have stopped asking what it is made of and I just taste. If it tastes good, I eat more. If not, I spit it out or keep eating depending on what the situation demands. There is an Arabic cheese dish covered with something orange and I just haven't cultivated a taste for it. Although beef filet on a kabob is wonderful!

After lunch, I went shopping. I am looking for cheap Euro-trash sunglasses that look good on me and other things to make me look more Israeli. I bought a pair of Blundstone boots and a couple of scarfs. I think they're great. I DID find some sunglasses, but they were about $350, so I didn't buy them. But they were really cool...and PRADA! I am sure I can find some knock-offs somewhere. Off to the Old City, maybe...

This afternoon Yaacov was interviewed on Israeli TV! He was talking about the legal implications of the same-sex Israeli couple that recently married in Canada. I was on the right channel, but for some reason they switch channels on cable here and I missed his part. I am SURE it was very good! He came home with lots of make-up which ended up on my bath towel!

I was vacuuming the floor when he arrived. Every Sunday, I vacuum and mop the floor. All the apartments in Israel are tile. They are laid in a bed of sand. Plumbing and electrical stuff goes in the bed of sand in plastic conduit. You can learn a lot about construction by watching renovations in buildings all around Jerusalem. There are lots of construction and renovation projects going on all of the time.

So I love the tile floors...great for people with allergies. You can vacuum and mop the whole apartment. Israelis are obsessed with clean homes from what I can tell. Maybe it's the whole immigrant culture...or the fact that outside is so dirty/dusty.

Even though I mop and vacuum every week, dust bunnies and dust ELEPHANTS grow in corners and under the bed. I don't know where the dust comes from...but every Sunday it's gone!

After cleaning the floors, I started typing...and there you are. Time for dinner.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Dress Yourself

The other day I finished reading David Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Demin. Sedaris is such a funny writer. I couldn't read this book in a cafe because while reading it I had fits of really uncontrollable laughter. Yaacov has been working hard on lectures for his class and found my loud snickering annoying sometimes. But it's just so damn funny!

I have already begun reading Anne Tyler's book Saint Maybe. I have never read anything by Tyler, so I'll let you know what I think.

Hebrew classes are going well. I just can't tell you what an improvement it's been going to the new ulpan. I am much, much happier here with the new ulpan.

I am a little out of touch with fashion. People in Israel really dress much more radically than they do in the US. Everyone (grannies included) seems to wear really tight clothes. There is crack everywhere on the street, if you know what I mean. You see lots of bellies of both boys and girls...very low waisted pants that would make even Paris Hilton sweat. I feel like such a nerd (prude) in my khakis and button up shirt. Part of the reason I still wear my school teacher uniform (khakis and button up) is that it's comfortable. I have the body of a 12 year old boy (even 15 years later) and it's nice to cover it up. But I also want to fit in, so last night Yaacov and I went to the mall in search of some Israeli-styled jeans.

I really hate the mall. Everything is MUCH too big for me. But here I can find some things that fit, even though the sizes start at medium...that is so messed up. I have developed some survival strategies. So, when we first got to the mall, I used the bathroom and got something to eat...you can't be hungry or uncomfortable and undertake the shopping challenge.

The long and short of it is, after trying on about 10 pair of jeans, I finally decided on a pair of Diesel jeans. They are tight, low waisted, and SIZE 27! I just have no idea how small my body is. I don't feel like a size 27. I feel like a normal person. Now, I don't need any sympathy or evil posts talking about how lucky it must be to be a size 27 waist. The whole point is that even though I am skinny, I don't want to be. I imagine that it's the same feeling as if you're too big. You want to be "normal"...I don't want to be on the extreme fringe of sizes...where things that fit properly are so hard to find. But the jeans were about $150, so I guess I'll have to be satisfied being a size 27 for a while.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Phipps Hosts Farewell Dinner In Prison For Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart, who was released from prison early Friday, left behind several friends -- including a well-known North Carolinian.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Stewart became close with former state Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps.
Phipps apparently hosted a farewell potluck dinner for Stewart.
Phipps is serving four years at the Alderson, W.Va., facility for her role in a campaign finance scandal.

more details....

Before Martha Stewart left prison early Friday, she was treated to a farewell dinner organized by fellow inmates, including former North Carolina agriculture commissioner Meg Scott Phipps.
Phipps is serving a four-year term at the federal prison camp in Alderson, W.Va., for accepting bribes during her 2000 campaign and covering them up.
Before Stewart arrived last fall to serve a five-month term for lying to investigators about a stock sale, Phipps was the best-known inmate at the camp.
Phipps' father, former North Carolina Gov. Bob Scott, told The Charlotte Observer that Phipps organized a potluck farewell dinner Tuesday for Stewart.
"It was going to be a very small group of a few of her friends she made since she got there, and Martha," Scott told the paper.
Scott said his daughter used a microwave and ingredients bought at the prison commissary to make a pineapple cheesecake.
"Martha, soon after she got there, took the microwave and showed them how they could use it to maybe improve on some of the food or fix snacks," Scott said.
While Stewart was released early Friday and flew home to her estate in Katonah, N.Y., Phipps is not due to be released until 2007.

Poo Poo Moo Moo

You probably don't want to know this, but I just had a very satisfying bowel movement. You know that you are a/n (fill in the blank) _________ when you are happy, satisfied and refreshed even from a good poop. I think that there should be a Hallmark card for these occasions. Something like, "Congratualtions on your good poop!" or "You little stinker! Good for you!"...even sympathy cards for when you're feeling "blocked"..."Our sympathies at this time."

I feel like I just had a great hair cut (but without all of those prickly hairs left over).

You know the happy opening credits for the Mary Tyler Moore show? I bet she had a great poop too. I feel like tossing a beret myself!

Good poops should not be taken for granted. I just finished a thoroughly depressing book that Yaacov highly recommended, The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. I did enjoy reading it. It took me a while to finish. It can be very dark and made me self-reflective in a depressed kind of way. In any case, one of the characters has Parkinson disease and has trouble controlling his bowels. The way Franzen describes the condition made me very thankful for simple things like a good poop.

The only thing that I didn't like about the book is that sometimes the author tends to, as we say in the South, "go on". He has these lovely, lush sentences that really make you feel - anger, anxiety, entrapment, hope and hopelessness - but they are often a little over the top. Someone commented in a review on Amazon.com that Franzen seems to be in love with himself. I tend to agree. He seems in love with himself, the literary ideas, and with language. I didn't find this particularly annoying at first because the prose is so enveloping. But after a while, it's like, ok, get OVER yourself already! As a caveat though, I am not sure if it Franzen that's in love with himself or if the characters bring out this kind of writing. I need to re-read it to be sure. What I mean is that, maybe the characters are the wordy, over-the-top people here and not Franzen. But I am not going to read it again anytime soon. It put me in a funk. I need something light and funny now.

I bought David Sedaris' Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Demin, and I think that will be just the ticket.

I just ate a bit of a chocolate bar. There is an Israeli brand of chocolate and its icon, trademark, brand, whatever...is a big cow. It's kind of stylized in commercials, but on the package it's just a painting of a cow. Many little cows are molded into the pieces of the chocolate bar. Nobody wants to think about cows while eating chocolate...you big cow! I see the connection - milk - chocolate. But I thought that chocolate came from a bean? Why not a talking bean? How much milk is in chocolate anyway? There's a strange coconut taste to the cow chocolate too. It's also very sweet. But like most things Israeli, you get used to it.

Now don't get me started on Kinder chocolate. They're wrapped in these bright packages with pictures of little children on them...all blonde and smiling. I would feel like such a perv buying and eating it.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Paris!

Eiffel Tower from Space! You can find pictures taken from satellites of a lot of famous buildings. I once found a website that could zoom in on your address in the US. I bet that the folks over at the CIA can find naked women/men with their cameras, but of course WMDs are much harder to locate.


Yaacov and I are going to Paris in a few weeks. We are meeting our friends and former neighbors Ingra and Ron there for a few days of FUN!

I have been to Paris before and it really is a beautiful city. Somehow I don't have any pictures from that trip! I am going to take lots of photos this time.

Have you been to Paris? Do you have any suggestions or travel tips? Post a comment and tell us all about them!

In other news, I got my visa to stay in Israel until November and I got a multiple entry visa. That means that I can come and go here and not have to worry about the tourist restrictions. I also got a work permit! A work permit?!?! What am I supposed to do with that?