Thursday, June 29, 2006

In the Bubble

For the past couple of days, I've been hanging out in Tel Aviv. My friend Savtadotty is in the US visiting relatives and she generously let me stay at her apartment. I've been able to hang out with my friend S that blogs over at Shirat HaSirena. Together we've heard mediocre music at a bar called Stout, had yummy shushi, and lots of laughs. I also finally got to meet Jacob Shwirtz. I read Jacob's journal even before I moved to Israel and it was a full circle moment to meet up with him. Noorster and I spent time together yesterday. We tried on 100s of sunglasses in my quest for the perfect pair. She humored me while I tried on a Tyvek jacket at American Apparel and I listened to her lament being an impoverished snob.

I've also been busy commenting over at Jewlicious. CK wrote a post a couple of days ago more or less about WorldPride. If you want to get in on the discussion jump right in. I am kind of tired of beating my head against the wall. Normally, I wouldn't get involved in these online discussions. However, I think that it's important to at least show readers that there's more than one side to the story.

The news in this neck of the woods is distrubing and getting to me. Not fun.

Y is coming to town this weekend an we're planning some interesting late nights in the White City.

Monday, June 26, 2006

But How Hot is It?

Re-doing your bathroom? Gotta get yourself the Light Delight! It's a new series of taps where the color varies according to the temperature of the water. Check out their site - there's even a little movie. Hey! It's dark in here! Who turned off the water?! (Or if you're in Israel - Who closed the water?!)

Buy a Baby for Just $40

That's right, you too can be a parent for as little as $40! Buy yourself a glassybaby. Glassybaby is a small, colored, glass cup, candleholder, or vase. Yeah - it's a $40 votive. America. (But they are beautiful! Check out the glassybaby website.)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Your HaShir Shelanu Update

I know that you've been waiting on the edge of your desk chair for this update. So here it is! For you newbies, HaShir Shelanu is a popular Israeli soap opera. The guy in the shiny pants is straight - so they say. I don't know about the other guy. He's Or Cachlon, the winner of Nolad Lirkod or "Born to Dance". It's an Israeli dance contest kind of like American Idol...but Israeli and with dancing...but they have snarky judges though.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Shirat HaSirena is Down with O.P.P.

A couple of weeks ago I was hanging out with my friend S in Tel Aviv. Get this, she's from NC and we went to the same university at the same time! We didn't meet each other there but on the internet - through blogging. And now we're sharing in friendship the ups, downs, ins and outs of moving to Israel.

S told me a story while we were hanging out that made me laugh so hard. It's a wonderful example of cultural differences and how new immigrants often feel here.

So, take a minute and read how S is down with O.P.P. and adjusting to life in Israel!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My New Look

I've wanted to make some adjustments to my blogger template for a while. Yesterday I asked my friend Sam for some advice and he just did it for me! It's not a radical makeover, but it definitely looks much better with the larger text area and a few more pictures at the top.

So, if you need computer help, contact Sam at He's great!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hero of the Day

David over at Treppenwitz is my hero of the day for writing this post! Check it out!

Monday, June 19, 2006

WorldPride News Round Up!

ENJOY! Linky Linky!, June 7 ***

Organizer: Jerusalem is ideal for WorldPride, June 7

Is Jerusalem right for WorldPride?

The Guardian, June 12

Don't boycott World Pride Jerusalem

Jerusalem Post magazine, June 15 ***

Whose pride?

Ynetnews, June 16

'Modesty parade' protests gay parade, June 19

WorldPride organisers condemn attempts to "sabotage" gay parade

Arutz 7 - INN, June 19

Working to Stop the Gay Pride Event in the Holy Land

UK Gay News, June 19

Don't Boycott World Pride in Jerusalem - Tatchell

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Israel Needs Your Quickvote!

The folks over at CNN have been writing some fun things about Israel lately - and I am happy to pass them along. Below is an article about this guy's trip to the Dead Sea. I was just at the Dead Sea this weekend - love it!

Here's the important part: Follow this link to the article. In the margin, there is a Quickvote survey asking, "Would you consider visiting Israel, either on holiday or for business?" After reading all the wonderful things about Israel on this blog, I am sure that you'll answer YES!! Click away!

Dead Sea soak a hidden oasis

From CNN's Richard Quest

(CNN) -- My escape begins at dawn on a rocky plateau above the biblical town of Ein Gedi.

The sun rises above the water far below and although it's hard to believe, I'm actually at sea level.

The Dead Sea, over 400 meters beneath me, is the lowest place on Earth.

A jeep safari is the preferred way to uncover the desert's secrets. My guides Dani and Merav follow camel trails and dusty wadis as we explore the land of Moses. It is an environment as harsh as it is historical.

Merav tells me: "When the Bedouin come with the sheep and the goats -- they're just taking it, like in the Bible. Remember the story of Jacob and Rachel how they met? Next to a water system? She couldn't take the stone and he helped her and they fall in love -- it happens all the time in the desert."

Standing by the well watching a herd of camels traverse a distant ridge I realize this is real Judean desert -- as hard as it gets. No easy tourist version.

In the midst of this arid desert there is an oasis: the Ein Gedi Botanical Gardens.

I spot a giant tree that looks at least 100 years old. Actually, it was planted just 25 years ago.

"The air, the sun, mineral water and the ground all come like a heaven for plants and a small plant planted three months ago growing up so fast. We don't understand exactly why but we're blessing with it. We say thank you," Merav tells me.

Next it's time to wash off the dust from my desert odyssey at the Ein Gedi Spa.

This is the real Israel, a melting pot of languages and cultures where the locals have been coming to sample the healing waters for hundreds of years.

First for me, the sulphur baths -- and they stink.

But I'm told the bromide in the air is good for me -- promoting calm and relaxation.

It's also my first chance to feel the extra buoyancy from these mineral rich waters.

But what I've really come for is the Dead Sea itself.

It really is an unusual experience. The lifeguard warns people to swim on their back and believe me, you don't want a mouthful of this stuff.

The other thing they don't tell you in the brochures -- this water stings. Five minutes is enough for me.

The waters are only half of the attraction though. The real fun bit is the famous Dead Sea mud.

Now, there's no two ways about this. If you want the authentic Israeli Dead Sea mud experience you're going to get very messy. But it's all good for the skin, if not the swimming trunks. And a must-do for every visitor here.

They promise it'll make me look five years younger.

All good things have to come to an end and when I finish soaking up the nutrients it's time to get rid of the mud.

Invest in Israel!

This post comes from CNN:

TEL AVIV, Israel (CNN) -- Israeli entrepreneur and industrialist Stef Wertheimer started metalworking firm Iscar in 1952 when no one else would hire him.

Back then it was a small tool company -- now it is one of Israel's biggest corporations and recently hit headlines when American millionaire Warren Buffet paid $4 billion for an 80 percent stake in the company in May.

The sale is the largest corporate deal in Israel's history. It is also Buffett's largest outside of the United States, putting Israel on the map as a destination for offshore investments.

"The only thing I knew how to do without a lot of money was repairing tools. I actually started making and repairing tools for machines," Wertheimer told CNN.

His son Eitan is president of the company. He told CNN that the deal with Buffett came about when he approached the wealthy American investor and businessman.

"I did send him a letter of a page and half that had some writing some numbers and some graphs. After a couple of hours I got an e-mail. A week later we were all of us in Omaha having coffee in his office," Eitan told CNN.

That coffee led to a deal, sending Israel's share market to an all time high.

In a speech to the U.S. Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lauded the deal as a sign of confidence in Israel.

For Stef Wertheimer, it is more than just selling a company. His industrial parks -- all six of them -- include schools, universities and even museums.

Buffett's buy takes Wertheimer one step closer to his dream of building more.

"I want to see that this area will slowly be a part of Europe by having its own qualified industry," he said.

"I'm so happy about the Buffett story which helps me to sell this idea that peace can be made by educating people in the right direction and helping them to have independent private industries -- just normal businesses like everywhere else in the world."

Israel is recording its strongest growth in years and Wertheimer has a vision of uniting a divided nation.

He wants to see Jews and Arabs moving in step with each other, celebrating a nation that becomes known for its industry and innovation.

CNN's Richard Quest and producer Hilary Whiteman contributed to this report.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

"You think gay pride, bimbo!"

OMG! This is awful (on so many levels), but very entertaining!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Israeli Orthodontics

With vocabulary like realignment, convergence, evacuation and compensation, the news here lately is taking me back to the years I spent in my orthodontist's chair. ...and this diagram looks kind of familiar too.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In North Carolina Barbeque is Haute Cuisine

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting next to a friend at a dinner party. Knowing that I am from North Carolina, she shared with me about the time she spent in the Tarheel state. She recalled an occasion when she was invited by a local family to go out for barbecue. At the local barbecue joint, she was presented with a menu and ordered based on the recommendation of the waitress. When the food arrived, she said that she was unable to eat it. She said that it looked like vomit.

Now for those of you who have the misfortune of NOT being from North Carolina, here's a quick barbecue overview. In NC, when we speak of barbecue (or BBQ or Bar-b-que), we are talking generally about roast pork, often the whole pig. There is an art to cooking the meat as well as preparing the thousands of secret sauce recipes. There are even regional differences! Barbecue from Eastern NC is different from that in the west. Follow this link for a whole primer on North Carolina barbecue.

The woman I was sitting beside is a very well educated and well travelled woman. What I found interesting is that generally when these well educated and well travelled people actually travel to a new environment they are willing to embrace the culture around them - you know, when in Rome. You wouldn't travel to some remote African village and expect to get the kind of food that you find in Paris. Plus when you're served grubs and exotic root vegetables in that African village, you are probably going to smile and at least make an effort to try something new.

Why is it for this culturati hip circle that barbecued pork in North Carolina is nauseating but funky cheese from France - or even bottom-feeding lobsters are delicacies?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I LOVE the Internets!

Today I found this on the internet:
It's a picture of Jerusalem's Jaffa Gate. There is no date for the image, but it was taken during the Ottoman Empire (see the flag in the photo) which ended in 1917. Check out that big clock tower!

For almost 6000 other old images of Jerusalem, Israel and Palestine, click on over to the Library of Congress PPOC and search for "Matson Jerusalem" - without quotation marks. Just click on "Preview Images" and start browsing! It's wonderful - and you can download the images and print them yourself. Quick and fun art!

Here's what Jaffa Gate looks like today:

We EAT This Stuff!

My friend Sam recently posted this video on his blog. I liked it so much I am re-posting it here. While I was watching it, all I could think about was, "We EAT this stuff!"'s just Mentos and Diet Coke!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I Passed

Several weeks ago, I decided to start the process of getting an Israeli driving license. They don't tell you this when you arrive in Israel at the airport, but if you are in Israel for more than three months (This is debatable - I haven't seen the rulebook, it's Israel after all.), you're supposed to get an Israeli driver's license. I have been here for over a year and a half. Now that I am driving to Bet Shemesh to work three days a week, I just wanted to be within the law. I already have a North Carolina driver's license, I just needed to get it "converted" to an Israeli license. Sounds easy, right?! All you need to do is to get an eye check, brief physical, answer health questions, pay a bunch of money, and take a driving test.

Well a couple of days ago, after weeks of jumping through bureaucratic hoops, I got to take my driving test. Here you arrange for a lesson with a driving teacher and use his car to take the test because it has a brake on the passenger side. My driving teacher was about 1000 years old. He used a cane and had a really hard time getting in and out of the car. He let me drive for about 30 minutes around the area in Jerusalem where the testers usually test people. He gave me pointers on what to do/not to do to pass the test. We met up with a married opposite-sex couple at the testing center. I got out of the car and they got to both take a lesson. I waited on the steps at the testing center and watched people on motorcycles drive in circles.

After the man had driven, they picked me back up and I rode with them while the woman had her lesson. The husband and I had a little chit chat in the back seat while she was driving. Turns out they've been in Israel about 9 months and they live in Ma'ale Adummim. The husband asked me where I was from, where I lived now, if I was working, etc. Then he started asking me about the "community" in North Carolina. He asked me if I knew a particualr rabbi. Then I realized that he thought that I was Jewish. It's an easy assumption. I do live in the Jewish homeland. I passed as a Jew!

The woman drove back to the testing center and the driving teacher got out. A tester came and got in the car. He wished us all good luck. I looked at my watch as the wife pulled out and made a few turns. Then the tester told her to pull over and for us to switch. Yes, you take the test with 3 other people in the car! Crazy! She drove for no more than 5 minutes. I got in the driver's seat and checked the mirrors, bluckled up, signaled and pulled out. After about 30 seconds of driving, the tester reached down and released the hand brake!!!! That's right, I forgot to put the hand brake down! Duh! I don't think that I took another breath until it was time for me to switch.

I just knew that I had failed the test, but I didn't. I passed the test. It was a relief. I didn't want to have to do that again.

The next day I needed to go to the driver's license office again to do the last step. I had to pick up a form that I needed to pay at the post office in order to get my license. I went to the ATM before I went to the office to get some cash to pay this fee. Well, the ATMs near my house were out of order. So I walked three blocks to the next closest one. I put in my Israeli ATM card, entered my PIN, glanced at the Hebrew and selected the button with the Hebrew word for "withdrawl". I wanted to take out 400 shekels (about $80). Well, you should have seen my face when 400 US dollars came out! I guess I should read more carefully. I had no idea that you could get US currency out of an Israeli ATM! I later learned that you can get Euros from some ATMs too! Time for some Hebrew lessons!

I did pay the fee and I am waiting to get my lovely license in the mail.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Another Reason to Live in Israel

Ok - here's your HaShir Shelanu cute boy update.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Fun Shabbat (Saturday) in the Old City

The Jerusalem YMCA (tower) and the King David Hotel in 1936
Available from Elia Photo Service

I am convinced that the best way to see the Old City in Jerusalem (if you have lots of time to spend in Israel) is by picking out a few sights - finding them and then letting an afternoon of adventure unfold. If you try to push too much sightseeing in one day in the Old City, you'll be tired, hot, cranky, and basically won't have a good time. Since Y and I live in Jerusalem, just a 15 minute walk from the Old City, we're able to do this type of touring.

This past Shabbat, we headed out to the Old City with the plan to find two shops. One was G Kouz's Glass and Pottery Shop and the other was Elia Photo Service. I have started to collect "local" craft items and I am interested in learning more about things manufactured in Israel and Palestine. Jerusalem is full of craft shops but most of the feature Judaica and that's not my thing. I do like Bedouin rugs and embroidery work and Hebron glass which you can find in and around the Old City. I am not into the frosted, swirly Hebron glass. I prefer the blown pieces in shades of blue, green and brown. It looks like glassware that you could probably get at Pier One. Jerusalem's Pier One is the Old City.

We entered the Old City and Jaffa Gate and went down the Christian Quarter Road. We found the glass shop easily. We decided to continue on to Elia Photo Service and to come back to the glass shop. You'd pass right by Elia Photo Service if you weren't looking for it. It is a cute shop filled with wood and glass display cases and two chairs for visitors to sit and browse through images. The shop owner, Kevork Kahvedjian, is the second generation running this shop. Kevork's father took many pictures of Jerusalem through the years - from the 1930s onward and Kevork has reprinted many of them as wonderful souvenirs. He also sells a book of his father's photographs called Jerusalem Through My Father's Eyes. Yaacov and I had a lot of fun looking at the pictures of Jerusalem and Israel from not so long ago and comparing the past to the present. There has been so much change here in the last 50 years!

8x10 reprints go for 90nis and the book is around 230nis. Kevork gives a discount on quantity purchases and the pictures come with a cream/white mat ready for framing. We couldn't decide on which prints we wanted to get - he has over 1000. But we did buy the book and it's at home on our coffee table now. Be sure to check out the gallery at the website for Elia Photo Service. It's really something!

G Kouz Glass and Pottery shop is ok. They have decent prices for their items. We were just looking for basic glassware for a cheap price and that's what we found. If you're into that frosted, swirly Hebron glass this is a good place to look. One side of the shop is glass and the other side is devoted to pottery. I didn't check out the pottery because I only buy from The Armenian Ceramics across from the US Consulate in east Jerusalem.

After our shopping, we were ready for some food. We ate at Papa Andrea's. It's a roof-top restaurant near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The food there isn't wonderful - but the view is a knockout. There's always a breeze and it's not too crowded. There is a tarp that provides shade. You can get a "Jerusalem Plate" with different kinds of salads and falafel for 35nis. After lunch I got some yummy Arabic coffee at a stand on the way out of the Old City.

It was good to see so many tourists out in the Old City - many of them were from all over the world. However, a large number were Israelis out having fun on Shabbat. Parking can be problematic in the Old City on Shabbat - but can be found with a little work.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Martha Stewart Makes Teen Strip and Fold

From the link:
Martha Stewart, who was attending the WSJ's D conference in Carlsbad, was having lunch earlier today, and for reasons unknown, went up to a teenager, asked him to take his T-shirt, and started teaching him how to fold it.

For a Gayer Lebanon

Last weekend several friends of mine, all gay guys living in Jerusalem, decided to make a trip to Beirut. They asked me to come along - and I turned them down for various reasons. After hearing their stories, I kind of wish now that I had gone along. Apparently Beirut is a happening place - good shopping, good eating, and fun - with a "gay culture"! Who knew?! Oh well. Next time.

My dear friend Lisa forwarded me this BBC article about a recent rally of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people in Beirut! It's very interesting - check it out. It just reinforces the first-hand reporting my friends did on their trip. You can even read a Lebanese blogger's take on the rally here.

In August, we're having our own Pride Festival in Jerusalem! Plans are already being made to counter the violence we experienced last year - and to avoid what happened in Moscow.