Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Tom Cruise Kills Oprah

Watch it here! It made me laugh!

Thanks to my blog-friend, Dajoro, for the link!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Surprises

I don't really like surprises. I like to know what's going on and "feel" that I am somewhat "in control". As I get older, I am realizing that these are all delusions...

I've had two surprise birthday parties in my life. I think one was when I turned 14. My mom did a good job of planning it - I was totally surprised. The other one was (I think) when I turned 26. Yaacov (and Ingra!) did a good job of planning it. I was totally surprised. But the first thing I thought about when I realized that their was a surprise party at my house was, "Oh my God, I hope the bathroom is clean!" I didn't have to worry about that with my mom. She's a bigger clean-freak than I am.

But some surprises aren't big like surprise parties.

Each time I open a carton of yogurt I am surprised when that little bit pops out. It's especially bad if the yogurt has warmed up a little. Many times I've ended up with little blobs of yogurt on my shirt. The other surprise I get a lot is with the bottle of Angostura Bitters. I LOVE bitters in coke, in ginger ale - I am a freak about it. It's tatsy! Well, every time (really, every time!) I turn the bottle up to add some bitters to my drink, a little shoots out before the bottle is aimed into the class. Little brown dots of bitters ends up on the counter. Every time. And I am still surprised.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Verdict Is In!

We just received word that the judge that heard the case this morning regarding the Jerusalem Open House against the Jerusalem Municipality has made a decision!

The result:
The pride parade and festivities WILL take place as planned! Click for more pride details.

The judge ruled that the city must allow the JOH to use city facilities, that the city must put up the pride flags, and that the City must pay the JOH 60,000 NIS in damages!

It is an exciting ruling! I don't think that the City will appeal because they don't have a very good legal case.

If you are from out of town and want to show your support for the JOH and the Jerusalem LGBT community JOIN US! Seriously, please contact me if you want to meet up. My email address is on the profile page. I'd be happy to host you and hang out!

Wahoo!

Silly Boys!


Look at these silly guys! It's me with my cousin's son when I visited them in May. Cute, huh?!

In My Neighborhood (part 1)

I've decided to start a new series of posts about my neighborhood so that I can share with you some of the neat and fun things that I see from day to day. My neighborhood is called Rehavia or Rechavia. Either way the throaty H sound in the middle of the word is a sound that we don't have in English. It sounds a little like clearing your throat.

Generally, the neighborhood was initially developed in the 1920's and 1930's (British Mandate)although some buildings date from the 1880's. There is a mix of architectural styles that make walking here interesting. The homes in Rehavia were planned with a garden area surrounding them encompassing an area twice as large as the footprint of the house itself. This allows for lovely trees and shrubs that thankfully provide shade and a buffer from city life.

From the balcony of our apartment you can see an interesting building or compound. I'm still researching the history of the building and its current use. I know that during the British Mandate it was used for British offices and that now a Christian religious organization uses it (I've seen Nuns coming and going)- but I am not sure about the specifics.


This photograph is of the back of the building. You can see their nice garden with grape vines and olive trees. In the center of the picture there is a small, domed structure. Click on the picture to enlarge.


Here's a close-up. I'll try to get another shot from the road later today. Can you see the small slits in the concrete structure? Again, click to enlarge. Since I moved here, I wondered what in the world this little building was used for. Naively I thought that it might be a place for folks to get out of the sun in the garden or used to store tools. Then a couple of months ago Yaacov was reading the autobiography of Aharon Barak and he discovered interesting information. Barak tells the story of growing up in the building next to ours on Radak Street. He talks about trying to get to school during the unrest of the Jewish Resistance during the British Mandate. Apparently, this little concrete structure is/was a guard post and the slits were used for surveillance and shooting.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Battle Colors

The summer is heating up in Jerusalem. According to the countdown at Haaretz, there are only 53 days until the pullout. For those of you who don't know what "the pullout" is, well, wake up, read something, turn on CNN! It's too complicated to explain here. It's enough to say that it's a big political and social mess - and even though it's dealing with Gaza settlements it seems like the drama is being played out on the streets of Jerusalem.

The other night I was on my way out to meet friends at a bar around the corner from my house. On my way there, there were groups of folks walking through the streets putting blue ribbons and flyers on cars. For the past few months opponents of "the pullout" have used the color orange to represent their cause. They've made orange t-shirts, orange posters, and have tied orange ribbons to anything that will hold still for a minute. Orange is everywhere. You can't even wear an orange shirt without people thinking that you support the settlements/settlers.

Very recently there has been another group pushing blue as the color the pro-disengagement (or pro-pullout) camp. The distribution of blue ribbons and flyers in my neighborhood was an effort to balance the colors wars.

Yaacov used the car yesterday morning to go to court (he's a lawyer you know) and when he got back I asked him if he tied the blue ribbon on our car. He said, "What blue ribbon?" The night before I personally saw that there was a blue ribbon on our car. I told him about the late-night distribution and he said that he didn't see any flyers or ribbons on any of the cars. Wow! All I can figure is that someone went around after these folks and picked up all of their blue ribbons. It was like birds had eaten all of the crumbs and left nothing behind.

I think that people that read this might make some judgements about my position on the pullout. I am not going to share all of my personal beliefs here - let's just say that I probably hold a much more sympathetic position than you may think. Yet, I am interested in peace since I plan on living here, and riding the buses, for a long time.


In other color news, Yaacov has been working hard in and out of court this week trying to get the Jerusalem municipality to put up the rainbow flags for Jerusalem Pride and to allow the use of city parks for Pride. Earlier this week the Jerusalem Open House filed petitions with the District and Supreme Courts to get the city to just respond to requests from the JOH. A decision will be made by a judge on the petition on Sunday. The thing that strikes me as ironic is if the city just went ahead and let the JOH have the parade and use the park, the event probably wouldn't have been in the paper until after the fact. Now, just in time to be really good publicity, the city causes a stink that makes the papers. You can read all about the situation in this article. Most people think that the judge will rule in favor of the Jerusalem Open House and the city will be forced to allow the parade. The city's own lawyer has refused to defend the city's position because he feels that it doesn't have merit. The city is having to hire a private lawyer to defend its position!

Basically, freedom of expression (speech, press, etc) and freedom of assembly are two very important rights. When a city government allows one group to meet and march and then denies another group those same opportunities, the city infringes upon the basis of democracy. It's the "I might not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it" idea. The city is trying to put limits on the freedom of speech and assembly - boo! boo!


For more info about Jerusalem Pride, click here.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

TLV Pride

Earlier this month Yaacov and I went to the Pride Parade in Tel Aviv. It was a lot of fun - great weather (not too hot!), friends, and entertainment. Pride in Tel Aviv is a big event. There's a rally, then the parade, and a festival afterwards. I wasn't up for a long day of hanging out. So, we just stayed for the parade. It's not really a parade in the traditional sense - basically folks march down the street and hang out with each other. Anyone can join. There are just a couple of floats and organized groups - it's a blast though.

Here's Yaacov having fun before the parade!

We stayed in the shade before the parade and talked with friends.

These are some friends from the Jerusalem Open House.

Here's a guy that lost his pants and shirt but held on to his flag!

Creative!

Hmmm...

Since the Stonewall Riots in NYC in 1969, marches, parades, and other gay pride events have taken place in communities all over the the world (well, almost all over - that's another post altogether). Pride events exist in order to celebrate, empower, and support the diverse and fabulous community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex, and queer people!

Jerusalem Pride is June 30. I'll be there too!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Meltdown

As I sit here and type this, I'm a little uncomfortable. I went to the beach in Tel Aviv yesterday with my friend Demetri and forgot my sunscreen. Demetri, being the kind-hearted Greek guy he is, let me borrow his - SPF 2! Well, I got more sun than I wanted, but it's not too bad. Just a little pink. We were only out in the sun for about an 90 mins!

Demetri and I had the pleasure of meeting Savtadotty yesterday before our sunbathing. She very graciously let me borrow her copy of As I Lay Dying. She's a dynamic and fun lady. She reminds me of another friend. My friend David's mother lives part of the year in Cayman Brac. You can see pictures of her house here. I got to visit Minnie (David's mom - are you following me here?) several years ago at her house on the Brac. Gorgeous! Peaceful! One of the best things about the trip was meeting Minnie's neighbor, Carolyn Hesselbach. (I guess just about all the folks on the island are neighbors. It's only 12 miles long and 2 miles wide.) I met Carolyn a year or so after her husband, a very successful New York City psychiatrist, had passed away. Carolyn busied herself with all of the best things about retiring to a tiny island - swimming, gardening, reading, napping, feeding iguanas, volunteering, drinking champagne in the afternoon. She missed her husband but felt closer to him on the island in the home they created over the previous decades. What a home it was too! Carolyn lived in a real "compound". Their residence was a collection of little buildings - a library, a kitchen a dining room, and individual guest and master bedroom suites. The buildings were tied together with sidewalks in between groves of palms and other greenery. Carolyn had been a flight attendant and met her husband on a flight. She was part of the glamorous days of air travel - you've seen the pictures of well dressed attendants waiting on travelers in human sized seats. Anyway, Carolyn was taken out of the airplane and thrust into the lofty heights of New York society. You should have seen her closet of party clothes - wonderful vintage from designers...very Holly Golightly. Carolyn was well read, artistic, a wonderful conversationalist, beautiful - and fun!

Carolyn and I corresponded a couple of times through letters and cards. I was very sad to hear when she passed away a couple of years ago. According to Minnie, she had pancreatic cancer and died just a few months after the diagnosis.

People like Carolyn and Savtadotty are rare. Savtadotty, I am glad that we're becoming friends!

I have some pictures form our adventure yesterday, but they'll have to wait. The other computer (the desktop) had a meltdown yesterday. Seriously, it made a burning smell and just stopped working. I think that the fan is the culprit, but we'll see. I am using the laptop now. All of my preferences are on the other computer - bookmarks, passwords, etc. I'll be able to figure them out - just give me an hour - but until then...

Oh, yesterday was also a big news day. Sharon and Abbas met right around the corner from my apartment. Talk about security - helicopters, main roads completely closed, police everywhere. It was hard to get home. I hope they worked some things out! In very sad news, there was a train accident in Israel yesterday too. Right now there are eight people reported killed and over 100 injured. Terrible. But I am ok.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Making Friends

I made a new friend this week. You can find out more about him at http://adamlavitt.blogspot.com/. Yesterday Adam and I took a walk to the Sherover Promenade. I should have taken my camera - but you can see the pictures at the link.

Today I am going to Tel Aviv to hang out at the beach and meet up with Savta Dotty to have a little book swap. She has a copy of As I Lay Dying! Wahoo and thanks!

I'm sleepy today because I didn't go to bed early enough. I think a nap this afternoon is in order!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Scribbled Eggs

Y and I went to brunch at Cacao today. I ordered the "Israeli" breakfast which includes two eggs, salad (small pieces of cucumber and tomato), soft cheese, a few olives, and bread.

I am working on ordering in Hebrew and I asked Y what the words for scrambled eggs are in Hebrew. He said, "beitsa (egg) mekushkeshet".

I asked him what "mekushkeshet" meant and he said as he made circles in the air with an invisible pen, "You know when you take a pen and mark on a piece of paper to get the pen to work?"

I said, "Oh! Scribble?"

"Yeah. Scribble."

ZZZzzz!

It's 3:30 AM and I am awake! WHY?! Ugh!

Update: I went back to bed at about 4:00 and slept until 10:00! Yeah!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Good Morning

This morning I awoke at about 5:15 and instead of making coffee and heading for the computer, I decided to go watch the sunrise. Yes, I was up before the sun this morning! Here are some photos of my journey.


This is the view from Jerusalem toward Jordan. On a clear day you can see the hills rising up from the other side of the rift valley in Jordan.


The Sun is beginning to rise over the Old City. I need to play with my camera more to figure out how to get better pictures. Any tips, folks?


I stood in this park to take some of the photos. There's a broken fountain that used to run through the park. It's a shame that it doesn't work anymore. There are several fountains that aren't working in Jerusalem. If I ever become really wealthy, I think that I'll give money to cities to repair and maintain their fountains. That and health care for poor folks.


Ok, this is a scene that you won't find in North Carolina. This is a picture of the Dormition Abbey (the bell tower in the center and the tall building on the left) and the Greek Orthodox Seminary (the long horizontal building in the shadow).


I turned around and this was the scenery behind me. The tower of the YMCA building is in the middle of the picture. The King David Hotel is on the right.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Yes! No! Yes! No!

So Yaacov and I have gone back and forth on the idea of moving to Tel Aviv. I think that we've decided to stay in Jerusalem for another year.

When we first moved to Israel, we settled in Jerusalem because Yaacov's family lives here and he was working at the Knesset. Well, the job at the Knesset wasn't all that it was cracked up to be and eventually he got a teaching position at a University in Tel Aviv. He taught one course this spring and just had to drive to TA once a week. Sometimes he had to make an extra trip or two for faculty meetings and lectures. But driving to TA once a week isn't a big deal. It's about a 45min drive from Jerusalem (without traffic and disengagement protesters blocking the highway).

Well, Y was offered a great job at the Supreme Court. It's just a wonderful experience for him. He's really committed to contributing to Israeli society and this gives him an opportunity to do just that. (I'm so proud!) Right now, we think that the Supreme Court job will only be for a year So, he's still going to keep his job at the university and just teach one course a semester for the next year. The Supreme Court is in Jerusalem. The university is in Tel Aviv. The Supreme Court job is an full workday every day. So, we decided to stay here. What's the use of living in Tel Aviv if you can't enjoy it because you're always on the road?

I have held back from making too many changes to our apartment. It really needs some love. I've already been thinking about painting and other ways to make this place more comfortable. Now that we're going to be here for another year, I don't mind nesting a little.

I have to admit that I am a little disappointed that we're not moving to Tel Aviv though. We'll get there eventually. It's just a bright vibrant city with lots of young people. Jerusalem is so conservative and traditional-family oriented. But the weather is better (at least in the summer) in Jerusalem.

_____________________

But I already left a comment?!
I am now using a commenting system from Haloscan. Unfortunately, all the old comments were removed. But I think that the Haloscan thing is easier. So, comment away!

Oh, by the way, help Celestial Blue go to Israel. Check out her blog!

Upcoming posts: my thoughts on Michael Jackson, Gay pride in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and lots more!

Almost forgot: Just finished reading The Trouble Boy by Tom Dolby. It was fun. Read it in a day. See what other folks say about it here.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Warm Milk

Well, it's 5:15am and I am up blogging. I have just finished reading the regular round of blogs this morning. Checked the news. Gosh, I am sleepy. I went to bed last night at midnight and this morning I am up with the chickens. Not fun. I'll take a nap this afternoon.

Some people do all kinds of tricks to get themselves ready for sleep. I have a little aroma therapy thing-a-ma-bob that makes the bedroom smell like lavender. Lavender is supposed to encourage deep, restful sleep. Some people drink warm milk before bed. Yuck. I hate the taste of milk...except in coffee.

It's not a problem here that I don't like milk. I generally like cheese and yogurt. In fact, I probably eat a serving of yogurt every day. Israelis love their milk products. They're all kinds of fresh cheeses, sour cream, yogurt, etc. in the supermarkets and shuk. There are whole restaurants dedicated to dairy products. Religious Jews do not eat meat and dairy products together. Really religious Jews keep different cooking and eating utensils for meat and dairy meals. Utensils that touch meat never touch dairy products.

Last night was the beginning of Shavuot. You can follow the link to find out all about this holiday. Basically, it's believed to be the day when God gave Jews the Torah. There are some neat traditions with Shavuot. First, everyone eats milk products. All kinds of tasty dishes from cheese are served. It's not a good time to be lactose intolerant. Another neat tradition is that there are folks that stay up well into the night to read the Torah and attend lectures. Last night Yaacov went to one of these lectures and got home well after I went to sleep.

Ok, I am off to get that cup of coffee and to do yoga.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Airport


Here I am at the Ben Gurion airport in Israel. Cute huh? Folks were having some sort of staff meeting in the background.

Blog Envy

There are thousands of blogs (probably millions). I read several every day. Usually, I know the blogger or enjoy the writing style. All of them are entertaining or educational - stimulating. A lot of blogs have counters. These are the little tools that keep track of how many people visit your blog. I have a site meter and it gives me some information about who is visiting my site.

I think that I get about seven visits a day. There are blogs that I read that get hundreds of visitors. The reason I write this blog is for myself and to communicate a little with my family. But I can't help having visions of grandeur where hundreds of people want to read my blog. Not happening.

Another aspect of a lively, popular blog is are the comments that people submit in response to the post. Sometimes the comments are more interesting that the original post. Comments provide a place for conversation and good argument. Not too many folks comment on my writing. That's ok. I know that you're reading. Maybe I am just not controversial.

I don't think that I am going to do anything differently. I am going to keep blogging about what I want to blog about. If I become a blog star, well, that would be nice. But I really don't want the pressure.

______

Yaacov and I spent the morning looking for a copy of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying with no luck. We did end up buying fruit, a bottle of champagne, and a copy of The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.

The dinner party was a success. Tasty food. Good friends. Lots of fun.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Quickie

Um - finally finished reading Pillars. It's too darn long!
Was in Tel Aviv yesterday. A full posting on that coming soon.
Hosting a dinner party tonight - busy preparing. Ok, busy putting laundry away. Well, I am thinking about it.
My cousin has a new baby! Pics coming soon I hope!

I am going to read As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner next. It's one of Oprah's picks for the summer. I never thought that I would be reading an "Oprah" book at the same time her book club was reading it. But I am. Check it out on www.oprah.com.

Making lunch. Bye.

PS: Cute cats up for adoption in Durham, NC Check out: http://www.singintomymouth.com/blog/archive/002387.html

Thursday, June 09, 2005

New Additions

I've made some changes to the blog. I have put up some cool links in the column on the right side of the front page. I'll change them from time to time. One link that you should really check out is the Visit Israel link. There are lots of pictures of Israel and even a video of Madonna!

I've also put up a weather pixie! He reports the current weather conditions from the Tel Aviv (Lod) airport. Weather in Jerusalem is much more pleasant, but the weather pixie from Jerusalem looked like it was on vacation (not reporting)!

Enjoy!

73!

I made a 73 on my Hebrew test. For all of you that don't know me, I have never ever made such a low score on a test in my life. Ok, once in college I think that I made less on a test in Symbolic Logic (yuck!). But in subjects that count, this is probably my lowest score.

But I am still proud. I passed. I know some Hebrew. It's all good. My spoken Hebrew is better than many of my classmates. The test was all written.

I think that I would have at least made an 80 if I had trusted my instincts on part of the test. I did some work and then second-guessed myself. I went back and "corrected" my work - but I was right the first time.

Yeah for me!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Orchids


Here's a little picture to brighten your day. On my trip to the US, my mom and I visted the Reynolda Gardens of Wake Forest Univeristy. If you're ever in Winston Salem, NC, you should take some time to visit the gardens. They're cheek and jowl to Reynolda House Museum of American Art.

Ugh!

Today is the final exam in ulpan! Yikes! I was away from class for a couple of weeks and I totally don't know how to do some of the things that are on the test. I could have studied more the past few weeks, but that would have been work. I need to make at least a 61 to go on to the next level (Although they will probably let me anyway no matter what I score if I pay and argue a little.) My spoken Hebrew is better than my written. You can get away with little things - like double yuds. I always forget the double yuds! Ugh!

I was up late-ish studying. I just looked over verbs and such again. Now I am procrastinating.

I don't know why I am nervous - what's the worst that can happen? A little embarrassed because I don't know what I should know...

We'll get our scores back tomorrow and I'll let you know how I did.

Next round of ulpan starts July 3.

The fact of the matter is that if I spent an hour - or even a half hour - each night on Hebrew I would know much more than I do now. I guess that's true with everything - a little more time can produce better/faster results. Nevertheless, I am surprised at how much I know already and I am generally pleased with my progress.

Off I go...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

To Get More Stupider

Some things are not what they seem. I'm reading Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Ok, don't read this book. Why? Well, it's dumb. The dialog is moronic. Seriously, you're better off watching the Anna Nicole Smith show. I think that I might be acting like a book snob. Apparently from the reviews from Amazon, A LOT of people like this book. It is entertaining. But I don't read just for entertainment. I want to learn something about life. I want to be touched - and not just beaten over the head with less-than- accurate descriptions of 12th century life.

In Pillars, the author graphically describes rape. It also includes gory descriptions of other violence. I don't mind these things in books if they further the plot or provide for character development. In Pillars, it's kind of like a Sly Stalone movie - just there. Lots of blood - no reason. Just because. So, the sex and violence are pointless. No need to be so graphic, honestly.

I also think that Follett reinforces negative stereotypes about Jews and women. With both groups he tries to do the PC thing and show another side - basically, Jews can be kind and giving and strong women aren't all bitches. But via his descriptions, he defeats this purpose. He has to set up the fact (reinforce) that lots of folks think that Jews are shrewd business people and independent women are bitches or lesbians. I mean, he doesn't just come right out and say it - but I think that it's there. Please, please, please don't comment and say, " John, you are so wrong. Because...." and expect a response. I am just putting out here what I feel. Please feel free to comment away, but I am not going to re-read this book to back up my sentiments. God, what torture!

I am about half way through. I am going to finish the book. I have a rule that I won't stop reading once I have started. Even until the end I have hope that the author will experience redemption in my eyes. It's the same reason I didn't walk out of the second Bridget Jones movie. That stank too!

Once again, you can't tell a book by it's cover - or the reviews on Amazon.

Along those lines...
There are groups of American teenage girls that come to Israel for the year or summer. Some of them fit my stereotype of the Jewish American Princess. Rich. Private school. Good hair. Designer clothes. New England - ok, Long Island. Spoiled. Nasal voice.

I know that these young women are much deeper than that. I am just describing the stereotype here - it's not what I think myself. Calm down!

Ok, I know the stereotypes are bad. It's like seeing a black man and making assumptions. Generally, I am self aware enough to realize when I am being racists or judgmental. The other day I was in my favorite book store in Jerusalem, Sefer ve Sefal (Book and Mug), and overheard a conversation between a young lady that might fit this JAP stereotype and the shopkeeper. The young lady had credit and asked the shop keeper for recommendations. The shopkeeper pulled out a couple of books and to my surprise, the girl said something like, "Oh, I've read this one and that one. I don't like this author. I read one of her books already. Do you have anything by ___? Oh, no, I read that one already. I liked that story because it had a love story within." This went on for several minutes until the girl was able to find a book that she hadn't read. Seriously, I was amazed at how well read this girl was. I haven't read half those books. So, even if you phrase a sentence like, "Like, I have read all of those *smacks bubble gum* and I really, um, like that author. Do you, um, like have any other books by her?" Well, after you decipher the code, you'll see that there's a young person that reads. I happen to think that reading doesn't happen without at least some thinking - so there's a young person that thinks too. Hmm.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

A Film Not by Ken Burns

The Old Negro Space Program

Check it to get it.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Wanda Sykes is Funny

Just spent the past hour laughing with Wanda. Not really - via TV. She's smart. She's funny. Check her out.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Cherries!


Cherries are in season now in Israel. Yum! This picture is for Ingra!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Spring at Granny's


This is the view from my grandmother's backyard in May. She lives in Franklin, NC. I got to visit with her and my other family there on my recent trip to the US. The trees have new leaves - just a few days old. The world is clean, fresh, and green!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Store Wars

Meet C3Peanuts, Tofu D2, Lord Tater, and Cuke Skywalker in Store Wars.

It's funny.