Thursday, November 24, 2005

Back post: Turkey, Pikachu, and the Spud Man

Thanksgiving. We flew in from Houston at 2 am and are headed down to Baltimore later on today. But first, something I have never done.

I lived the first 25 years of my life in New York, and had never gone to the Macy's Parade. There were people everywhere, but we finally found a quiet spot on 36th and 6th to watch the action. I realize that, bad blogger I'm being, I left my camera in Brooklyn and only had a nearly-out-of-batteries Palm to work with.

I read that Alison and the Things were there, too. Along with what seemed like half the population of the Eastern Seaboard. When we saw Santa pass us, we bailed and headed uptown to 42 St., figuring the crowds would have gotten on the trains before us, and we wouldn't be playing sardines on the way back to Brooklyn. Score one for the home team--it worked. And yay to the NYC Transit Authority for half priced weekend fares!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Backpost: Houston

After the convention, The Spouse had work to do for 2 congregations. I felt like such a good suburban housewife: I'd drive him to work in the morning, go to the mall to shop my little heart out (geez, all I bought was a Houston magnet for the sukkah and a 100% cotton brown/gold skirt that was on sale for $12. So how come our luggage was about 10 pounds heavier going out of Houston than in?) and then I'd pick him up from work.

We did go out to eat once. Since the Chinese vegetarian place on Westheimer no longer has HKA supervision, we got recommendations from locals and went to the dairy Indian place, Madras Pavillion. Good food, even for those who don't keep kosher.

Our last day in town we drove around town. Downtown was a ghost area, which is always a surprise to me after large East Coast cities. I suppose it's the lack of a mix--it's all offices or hotels, no small shops, residences, all the stuff that makes people want to walk around.

Getting there we got a little lost and passed a topiary nursery. Pretty, huh?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Can we talk about Israeli politics?

What's that you say? You don't speak gibberish?

Sharon says his new party, National Irresponsibility, is going to follow the Road Map and fight poverty. Um, so you mean it's going to be Labor? And Labor is going to be Am Echad, Shinnui is going to become Tzomet, and NRP is going to become h-i-s-t-o-r-y.

In the meantime the president and the Knesset are fighting over who gets to slay the dead duck of this government, Ehud Olmert is likely to get a few more portfolios (he currently has more than Eileen Ford). The government is worried about the hilltop settlers and how to control them--something they'll never do because they're defining normative middle-age beliefs and behaviors as youthful aberrations. (Aside from the killing and hiding weaponry in caves, I fit the definition. Watch--I won't be allowed back into Israel now…) The Left thinks that 25% of those who live on the "wrong" side of the fence would leave; I took part in that survey before I left for the States, as did many of my friends--we lied. (Teleseker, the polling firm, should have known I was playing them. I identified as a Charedi who voted for Shinnui last election, and said that I would vote Balad next time around.) Father Franz Schmidberger wants us all to convert. Hizbullah is shelling the north and people who planned a protest -- one which never actually happened -- were sentenced to 2 years in jail.

Who said life is boring?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A short post

Still at the URJ Biennial in Houston; it's all over later today except for the following up on leads. (We're at booth 243 in the exhibition hall, if anyone wants to stop by and say hello. Stop at the booth next to us for amazing fair-trade coffee, chocolate, and tea while you're there.)

It's a bloggers' carnival here -- so far I know Random Meanderings and Velveteen Rabbi.

Thank the Lord above we've been doing a brisk business, so not much knitting -- divided the front from the back on the pink tank top and got about 8" done on the Cinxia sleeve. Tonight, it's back to work and my knitting -- I miss them both. (Work? Now I know I'm punch drunk.)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Back post: Grab 'em while they're hot

Amy has written a little about the URJ Biennial, and Velveteen Rabbi has written a lot.

We vendors don't get to see much of the conference. We don't go to sessions, we don't go to meals, and we don't even get to go to services. Many of the vendors are Orthodox, and they organized their own services, right behind our booth (and next to the concession stand). When I turned and saw them at prayer, I knew I had to capture this as future blackmail material.

The other side of the URJ convention:

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Struck by a muse

The one and only Muse struck me with the Mesorah bug. It took me a few days to answer her; I may have high speed wifi on the road, but time--now that's another matter.

The idea is to comment on the following which was published by Ha'aretz:
The Jewish public's pessimism can apparently be ascribed to the state of affairs today, which leads an overwhelming majority of 74 percent to expect that even if Israel withdraws from all the territories beyond the Green Line and the occupation ends, Palestinian violence will not stop and may even intensify.

Now I think that there are a lot more reasons for Israelis to be pessimistic. I mean, have you ever looked at Amir Peretz? Did you ever wonder how many biological agents could be hiding in that mustache? Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe what's in the Sharons' bellies is that creature from Alien?

I would like to think that the reason the Jewish majority was pessimistic was that they'd finally woken from the Leftist opium of a New Middle East. I think those who do live some type of Jewish lives do realize that the Arabs are (and here I'll make a generalization) a very honest people. They say what they mean and mean what they say. They say they want the right of return; believe them. They say they want repatriation to their abandoned homes in Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jaffa; believe it. They say they want a Jew-free zone in the Middle East; you'd better believe them.

I think the 74% are showing stunning realism. What could make you pessimistic is that the other 26% of the Jewish population are all the politicians and policy makers.

Now, JanJan, what do you have to say?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hello, Florida; Goodbye, Florida

I love free WiFi in airports. Have I already said that? Oh, yeah, every time I travel. Seriously, JFK airport needs to get on the ball. It's bad enough having to pay for WiFi (hello, Newark International) but not even to have it? Come on, even Terminal 3 in Israel has it, and so does Palm Beach International (International, this dinky little airport? Sure....) where I am sitting right now.

Yes, I did land in the US yesterday. Yes, I have already checked off one city on my Hurricane tour. Yes, I am crazy, flying down to see the 'rents for less than 24 hours. But hey, they were crazy enough to diaper me, weren't they? And to give me beer bottles to drink when I was very small, like under 3?

Besides, I love the view down here. Look at this beautiful picture I woke up to this am:

Isn't that nicer than waking up to an overcast Brooklyn day?

The Youngest Teen called this morning; she's dropping dance class and starting pre-med class. The idea of watching real surgeries is much hotter than the idea of a nice jazz step. But why does she always have to wait until we're out of the country to have a life-changing revelation?

Time to board the plane--2 hours and 40 minutes of quality sock knitting time. Yesterday I finished one cuff of the Six Socks Mosaic socks; on Friday, on the way to Houston, I'll do the heels and start the feet. At this rate, I won't even be racing to the deadline as usual. What heresy!

If you have a minute, spare a thought for David Lasser, a 19 year old from Elon Moreh, where my kids used to go to school. He was arrested for "cutting down olive trees" outside his settlement and held in the Secret Services basement (aka Torture Central) and not allowed to meet with a lawyer. Enough of a stink was finally made, a lawyer worked his case without benefit of meeting his client, and David was released--without charges being pressed against him. Does the fact that his father is an influentual member of the local community have anything to do with this false arrest?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Pre-trip preparations

Before we leave on the Hurricane Special (Florida and Houston) portion of our trip, we had a few loose ends to take care of. Like cutting the grass. Lots and lots of grass. This stuff grows like--well, like weeds.

So we borrowed our neighbor's lawnmower.

Isn't he cute? And look at him in action:

He did a great job--and our lawn is fertilized!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The rest of the story

OK, so 24 hours have past and my son is still free, so here's the story. (BTW, Rachel Ann, you're a real Israeli now. Everyone else wanted to know the stry, you wanted to know who the cast of characters was…)

The Oldest Teen studies Ju Jitsu. He's an orange belt, and in about a month will be tested for his green belt. Part of the test involves the use of a jo, which looks like a thicker broomstick.

He's forbidden to practice in the house, so he went down the block, in an open area which happens to border on the army base, to do his workout.

At the same time, a group of soldiers starting practicing their krav maga using wooden sticks instead of their guns (which they would use in real life). The commander started making fun of The Oldest Teen, telling him that he was just showing off, that he didn't know anything, that Ju Jitsu is a joke and only krav maga is worth anything.

Wrong thing to tell an 18 year old rooster.

The Oldest Teen challenges the commander to a quick two submission contest. The commander, of course, must agree or lose face in front of his soldiers, so off they go, grappling at each other.

A minute later the army commander is on his back, on the ground, The Oldest Teen's jo resting lightly at the commander's groin. "Submit or make me make you submit," Teen says, gently pushing at jo. Of course the commander submits, but as he gets up, he says, "I let you have that one."

And they're off again. Scuffle, scuffle, let's get the kid in trouble--and the commander is whirled around, his back pulled to the Teen's chest, and the jo resting a little less lightly against his throat. Again the commander chooses to submit, to the sound of his soldiers' laughter.

The Teen lowers his stick, gives his bow, and runs for home, locking the door. In a country where kids can sit in jail for mouthing off to a cop, who knows what an army commander might do to revenge a humiliation?