Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Treasuring the Classics

Courtesy of Chayyei Sarah borrowed Treasure Island and reading it on the bus.

Was a book I always wanted to read but had never gotten around to it. It didn't disappoint and is a superb read.

Interesting to see how much of an influence the book is and how many of the concepts in it have been passed down the line and recycled by other people.

Of course the stereotypic notion of a pirate borrows heavily on the persona of Long John Silver.

Once Yakira gets of age the idea will be to read her all the classics such as Peter Pan, Robinson Crusoe, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, the Wind in the Willows, etc.

She will probably want the Chick-Lit as well such as Anne of Green Gables, Nancy Drew, the Little Miss books, Baby-Sitters Club and of course Dora.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Shabbas Pursuits

Cold, rainy and wet outside while cosy inside on a Shabbas afternoon. It doesn't get much better than that. Only thing that could have topped it would have been if we were swaddled in terry towelling like Yakira was.

Managed to play two games of Trivial Pursuit over the course of the day. One after lunch and one later in the evening. Were both fun games which went right down to the wire. The first game was the Genus IV edition while the second one was Volume 6.

Problem I find with the newer editions is that the questions are more general knowledge than trivia. The quality of the newer questions also aren't as good.
Then again the original edition had thousands of years of trivia to use while the more recent ones don't have that luxury.

Interesting to see that the rule we invented for winning has spread and other people are using it. As per the game itself, when you eventually get back to the middle with all 6 wedges, without seeing the card, someone is meant to nominate a category and ask that question. But that is an anti-climatic way to finish. You could have "Where is the Wailing Wall?" or "Which country was Menachem Begin the Prime Minister of?" and who wants to win like that?

So we instituted that you had to get four right from the card which makes it an all-round victory as well as having the obvious questions balanced out by the obscure ones.

Can't really fathom what Shabbat would have been like before Trivial Pursuit, even more so since I can't stand Risk or Monopoly. TP has become a staple of the day and is also always good for a few laughs.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Settling In

Just getting back into the swing of things after a number of weeks away. Back to my new job which I only started just before I left. Good thing I started here as my old work just fired 70% of the staff.

Also getting used to being a dad. At the moment Yakira has no set-in-stone schedule. She is still getting over the time difference. We are trying to establish a routine but currently more a case of the tail wagging the dog.

Took her to the doctor today and she tipped the scales at 5kg (11lb) which is good and her height is off the charts so she has that going for her which is nice.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Table for 24

Last night had a farewell dinner for friends of ours who are leaving Israel. The plan was to gather at a restaurant in town at 8.30. I came with the guests of honor at 8.30 but of course everyone else started arriving in dribs and drabs around 9.30.

We finally sat down and 45 minutes later were still waiting to be served. Then we had enough and got up to leave. So now we were all standing outside the restaurant in the cold like a bunch of high school kids on a Saturday night. Not sure how or why but someone started talking to someone from the restaurant and would we consider to come back inside if we accepted their token offer of free chasers?

So back we all went inside. At this stage it was well past 10 and I was starving. They were only starting to take our order now and I estimated that the food wouldn’t arrive for at least another 45 minutes. So I got up and went to Burgers Bar. I ordered, ate my burger and still got back before the food had arrived.

The food eventually came. You know that saying worth the wait? Definitely not applicable here.

And just like high school kids, by the time the bill came most of the people had already left and all the bits and pieces of money came 100 NIS short so those still there had to foot the bill.

Those evenings when every single person went out together were never much fun because its simply unmanageable to be able to do anything with so many people at once. Just too cumbersome.

I remember on my year in Israel when the plan was to cycle around the Kinneret during Chol HaMoed Pesach. We all get there and after about four hours get our bikes and go on our way. After two minutes in the saddle we are told to stop as there has been a problem. What was the problem? A girl came who couldn’t ride a bike and had tried to ride but surprise, surprise had fallen down. She was going to walk instead…..

But back to last night, there was a sad vibe in the air; there always is when its time to say goodbye. We’re going to miss E & M who we have come to know very well and things won’t be the same without them.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Supermarket Sweep

My final assortment of photos comes from the West Orange Shoprite which is an incredible supermarket. It is very impressive and makes for a superb shopping time.

After this amazing consumer experience, it won't be easy to come back to Israel and what we have there but regardless of what they have or don't have there, it's still the land of milk and honey!

Outside Shoprite

Various Tomato Types

Various Lettuce

Produce at a Glance

Fresh Juice Section

More Beverages

Full Array of Ben and Jerries

Chadesh Y'menu C'Kedem

Getting ready for Halloween

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Picture Postcards

After my post the other day thought I would take same photos and show you about some of the things I was talking about...

Back of the Inlaw's House overlooking the Forest with the Succah still up.

On the Way to the Lost City

Changing Leaves

Getting ready for Halloween

Scenic Drive

Hairdresser where the chairs are funky and they watch TV or play video games while getting their hair cut

The Lost City

Inside the Lost City

Like the Shul foyer on a Shabbas

Lots and Lots of Dresses

Personally I'd be frightened about sitting in this.

More Clothes

And Even More Clothes

The Color is Pink

It's a Bit Chilly Outside

If Abba is Papa Smurf, she must be Junior Smurf

Monday, October 16, 2006

Living In America

Please forgive me for the lack of recent activity but was busy losing myself in the land of suburbia.

Suburban New Jersey is worlds away from Israel…

Instead of bland apartment block after bland apartment block you have pristine homes each of which is unique in their own way. Despite the homes being quite large they still have a big front yard and back yard.

Everywhere you look there is grass and trees. Manicured lawns which are now littered by the falling leaves which come in a range of colors. As you drive through the streets the tall trees form a spectacular cavalcade.

What’s a Skoda? This is the land of the 4WD. There must have been a day when SUV’s were handed out because every single person drives them.

The shops are set up in a quaint way. The banks are in little huts and have drive-through ATMs.

Shoprite is a sight to behold. It is a supermarket more impressive than I have ever seen. The produce section puts Machane Yehuda to shame. There would be 14 different types of tomatoes you can choose from or nine different types of mushrooms. Kosher Sushi as well as a kosher deli. Everything you have ever wanted to buy can be found in the aisles on a floorspace which is bigger than a football field.
Most of the stuff is kosher but they still throw in a kosher aisle which has all the stuff from Israel. You have to know though what combinations of a K and a shape are kosher and which aren't.

Then there is Costco which is as big as 4 football fields and has everything you have ever wanted to buy and everything you have never wanted to buy. Shopping here becomes addictive and no wonder obesity is such an issue here. If I lived in this environment where I was bombarded by a saturated and concerted advertising campaign to buy things I would do so as well.

You can also throw in Babies "R" Us, Target, Borders and Barnes & Noble and you can see why there hasn’t been much time for blogging. On the subject of Babies R Us the amount of things you can buy for babies is mindblowing. Won't be easy to adjust to the lack of products in Israel.

There is also the thrill of watching American TV. Most of the stuff on TV garbage but you can watch GSN which stands for Games Show Network and has classics such as 25 year old episodes of Family Feud where you can watch a lecherous Richard Dawson kiss all the female contestants on the lips.

ESPN is obviously attractive but it can suck you in. You start watching the pre-game, then the game which is followed by the post-game. This goes hour after hour, day after day which you think you better go outside and get some sunlight. The big adventure outside is usually to Shoprite.

If games shows and sports aren’t your bag then you have chat shows of which there are lots. Megan Mullally, Ellen, Rachael Ray are on and there is also the View as well as Oprah. At night you have Letterman, Leno, Conan and Kimmel to choose from.

West Orange has a great Jewish community and a great setup here Jewish wise. Its biggest problem is that the young singles aren’t here because they have all gone Pied Piper and fled to Manhattan where everyone else is. So it goes teenagers and then the next level is young married couples who have fled Gotham looking for a house to bring up their family.

West Orange feels like it has been placed in the middle of a forest and everywhere you look you see squirrels. I also saw my first real life blue-jay and skunk. Spoke French to the skunk but he didn’t answer back.

Famous residents here include Thomas Edison, Scott Wolf and Ian Ziering. I guess that means Nikki Schieler Ziering used to live here...

And to think I got excited about seeing a squirrel!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Nice Booth

After the stress of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Succot is a nice wind down. Relaxing was to wind out the high holyday period.

Succot is also a far more relaxed time than Pesach where amongst other things you have to cook and clean and worry about the Seder.

My first Succot in the States and I am looking forward to it. Picked up the Arba Minim yesterday and this afternoon will put the finishing touches to the Succah.

Time away has helped me come to terms with the one point loss. Kudos to the victors.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Blame Canada or The Perils of a Flight Bought With Points

While we had our break on Yom Kippur I looked up at the blue sky wondering how our Tefillot were faring up there. Who would have known that some 12 hours later I would be sitting on the side of the road outside Ben Gurion airport looking up at the star filled sky…….

What began as an uneventful evening would quickly become unforgettable.

Monday Night
Yom Kippur went well. The davening at Nafka Mina was amazing and probably thanks to that, I fasted as well as I ever have. We started Neilah at 4.30 and finished smack bang at 6.

Got home and we had 90 minutes to get everything done before our ride to the airport arrived. With a lot of babies on the plane and only two bassinets we had to get there extra early to ensure getting one of them.
Was hectic but we managed to be ready by the time our ride game and traffic to the airport was very light so arrived there at 8.30, some three and a half hours before departure.

Originally I was going to be sitting 18 rows behind Mrs Co.Il and YM but Gila the lovely check-in girl was able to make me the row behind. She got us the bassinet as well as checking our luggage all the way through to Newark. My ticket came on points so instead of flying direct we were going Air Canada to Toronto and then AC again to Newark. Leaving TLV midnight on Monday night and arriving at EWR on Tuesday morning.

After checking in had a bit of time to kill and wondered around looking at the litany of duty free places at the airport. You have to love Israeli’s and duty free – a somewhat symbiotic relationship.

Its about time now that we started boarding and we are now sitting by the waterfall looking up at the big boards which is a good test of your geography ability trying to guess where places such as Ljubljana (Slovenia), Anatolia (Turkey) and Dubrovnik (Croatia) are.

Waiting and waiting but our flight still hadn’t begun boarding so we decided to wonder down there anyway. Just waiting and all seemed calm until there was an announcement over the loudspeaker.

“Sorry to say this but your flight has been cancelled tonight. You will all be put on a new one in the morning.”

Well suffice to say that pandemonium broke out. Everyone was running around shouting, yelling and screaming. Worse, everyone thought they could solve everything simply by stating their case.

Rude passenger: Can I get on the plane?
Besieged Stewardess: No. It isn’t here.
RP: Can you put me on another one?
BS: There isn’t another one.
RP: Grunt.

Imagine this replayed 100 times in the space of 3 minutes and at 250 decibels.

After a few minutes they told us we could either be taken back to our homes or to a hotel. It had to be the latter. What was the point of going back to Jerusalem? So we were going to the hotel.

Israeli 1: Which hotel are they taking us to?
Israeli 2: The Sheraton.
Israeli 3: No it's the Sheraton-Hilton.
Israeli 2: Yeah. There.

So we would go to the hotel, only problem was that we would have to go and pick our bags up. Not sure why. They had already cleared security so why couldn’t they just wait there till the morning and then put on the new flight?

Airport Guy 1: The flight to Toronto is cancelled. Should we put all their bags in Holding Room 22 for the night.
Airport Guy 2: No. Shmulik has the key and I can’t bother chasing him up. Make them pick up their bags and we’ll tell them its security.

So we picked up the bags and then headed up to the place where we told the bus would be. With four bags as well as a baby we weren’t so mobile as the others. By the time we got up there the bus had gone leaving us and about 50 others waiting around for a new one.

And this was where the night got really interesting. Think Survivor meets Lost – except Israeli version.

It was at this point I realized that Israelis are like assholes - everyone has an opinion. And they’re not shy in letting you know it.

Everyone there has there own back story and in the beginning they were just some random passenger but after a while you get to know the back story.

*Like the kid who was flying back for his sister’s wedding the very next day and was now going to miss some of it. Not sure why anyone would have a wedding the night after Yom Kippur but still.

*The guy who was flying with his 3 year old son and had to juggle the sleeping boy on his shoulder with his luggage.

*The couple who couldn’t find one of their bags and the missing bag in question contained all of their 6 month son’s luggage and diapers.

Like Lost, the different personalities emerged as did who the leaders were.

No one from Air Canada was with us so we were left to conjecture on what was happening. One lady suggested forming a blockade on the street and another suggested a sit-in. Finally a lady from Air Canada emerged and she was quickly surrounded like a school of piranhas feasting on fresh meat. The lead piranha was a guy wearing a yellow polo who I dubbed Tony Soprano.

Why was this so? He carried on like he was running the shows. His wife was decked out in her faux jewellery and big beehive do. His slut daughter was wearing a dress with absolutely no back and his father was there acting like Uncle Junior.

Tony tried to push his weight around and intimidate the poor girl but that only resulted in freaking her out and her running away.

Eventually the tribe spoke and some decided to head back into the airport. A few of us stragglers remained outside waiting for the bus. After about 15 minutes someone from that group returned saying how we could get off the island if we followed them to were the bus was going to be.

We went there and the bus was just pulling in. Unfortunately a bus which could fit 30 people only had enough space for luggage for 10. So the bus came and went and we were still waiting. It was now around 2am.

The poor guy who was looking for his son’s luggage was going out of his wits looking for his son’s bag.

So this is how it was I was sitting by the side of the road looking up at the stars. After 20 minutes we were told the bus was there – only problem it was where we were before. So we schlepped back up to where we had been waiting.

Tuesday Morning
Got onto the bus at about 3am and made our way to the Sheraton. Got to our room, had showers and even watched some Monday Night Football. Then someone knocked on the room. Who was it? Someone who had been given the same room as us?!?!
Then the phone rang. Who was it? Someone asking us if we had bags in our room which weren’t ours? What next?

Woke up at 6.15 – davened and then went down for some breakfast.

So now back at the airport ready to check in. Good news is that we are at the head of the line and Gila is back again to check us in. Bad news are that the computers are having a problem in regard to the connections and we can’t check our bags all the way through to Newark.

Highlights of the flight to Toronto:
What is it with Israelis and standing on the plane? They can’t sit down? They can’t turn off their cell-phones?
YM was a charm in the midst of a lot of screaming kids.
An all-male flight crew of which 95% were raging.
Watching the Sentinel which was basically seeing Keifer Sutherland reprise the role of Jack. There were no individual screens so the choice was pretty poor.
The lost luggage was found. Some 80 year old had taken it by mistake. He opened the bag but he thought it was his when he saw the diapers.
There was some light to moderate clapping when we landed.

As we got off the plane I saw the setting sun and couldn't believe that it was only one sunset since Neilah the day before. Felt like we aged 20 years in the previous day.

At Toronto we had to check-in and who should be next to us at the next counter but the Sopranos! And where we they trying to get to? Las Vegas! Funnier thing was that Meadow Mariangela was doing all the talking while the two men were like caged lions on the leash. When we asked Carmela about that and she said “In Israel the methodology is to surround and scream and that works well (It does??) but over year it doesn’t work and if either of the men try to say anything we tell them to shut up.”

The flight to Newark was empty and after having done all the customs at the Canadian end we just walked out, picked up out bags and made our way to the in-laws.

We got here in the end - just!!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Going to America

You would have thought there was about to be a 100 day siege given the activity of people today.

The lines at the bank were snaking out the door as people wanted to make sure their money was safe. Not sure where they're going to spend it though.

The Blockbuster as well was having bumper activity. People were so desperate they were renting Cliffhanger and Police Academy.

And then the supermarkets.....Trolleys piled sky high as if it was Millenium Bug all over again. Seriously folks, what's going on?

It's one day - that's all.

Straight after the fast finished will be beginning my recovery and then getting onto a cab with all the Dot Co's Dot Il's and heading off to the airport where we will be making our way to the US of A where we can spend succot with the grandparents. Not that they are interested in seeing us.

So will be dark till Tuesday, but once we arrive expect a bumper post detailing YK as well as YM's first experience on an aeroplane.

For any Dot Co Dot Il fans or fellow bloggers in the Tri-State area, would love to see you and put a face to the name. Email me and we'll work something out.


Life is different with perspective.

Often we prioritize poorly which only makes trouble for ourselves.

Also with the perspective of time things change. Right becomes wrong and vice versa.

And with that hope this Yom Kippur is a good one for you and that the next 12 months work for you.