יום שני, פברואר 27, 2006


Things I need:
  • Shabbat
  • Questions
  • Hugs
  • Music
  • Beauty/Awe/Joy
  • Admiration
  • Space
I want:
  • Social acceptance
Everything else can go out the window.
And then is the blank of something we call love. And a million people describe it and a million people discard it. It's fleeting, it's everything, it's chemical, it's wonderful, it's forced, don't force it, renew it, invent it, live it, don't deny it, and on and on and on and on. I don't know

יום שישי, פברואר 24, 2006

Eilat to Chicago

So here is my first attempt at describing Israel as a tourist.

We left Eilat around 11am. Of course after availing ourselves of the pool, the sun , and the breakfast buffet. Like I said, it's such a pleasure to be in a place with kosher restaurants and kosher hotel breakfasts. Happiness is going into a roadside cafe and being able to order something other than the black coffee.

Maps are all good but if a road was built (as you know) - it must lead somewhere. So we took it. To a less built road. To a dirt road. To a dirtier road. To a road that made us realize that Dan's Honda is not a 4x4. To a place to stop, leave the car and hike for an hour in random desertscape. We saw lots of desert.

While driving we saw a lot of desert art. Sculpture so bad that no city wanted it. "That? Go shove it down in the Negev." Objects d'art condemned to line route 90, a road with 60 and 70 kilometer stretches of nothing.
We saw: an eagle, a wall, 6 standing Egyptians, a cyborg cyclist, and a giant Easter Island-esque head! It was a long drive.

So that was leaving Eilat. And Chicago?
We needed to stop for lunch. Driving north from Eilat there are two options:Continue on 90 past the Dead Sea or turn left and take 40 up through Be'er Sheva. I was voting for the Dead Sea route but had we taken it there would have been no food for us till Jerusalem. Dimona was to the left and only 30 minutes away.

Upon arrival we remembered that Dimona is the home of the Black Hebrews. And they have a restaurant. Soul food in Dimona! A little miznon (cafe) in the Black Hebrew neighborhood, 6-7 tables and a tall elegant black man behind the counter. We ordered the chili and the fried tofu somethings (these guys are all vegan). That was some good chili and I don't think I've ever had such good tofu somethings.

Warning: After sprinkling chili powder with your fingers, wash your hands before going to the bathroom.

Time to move on?

I'll have to give it some thought but I may move on. Over the past 3 months it's been creeping up on me that I'm losing my anonymity. I rather liked having it. I made one silly mistake and one person "found" me. I posted a few comments and a few more did. I submitted an article to a carnival and it may be all over. I think I have to decide between changing my style to reflect that people know it's me writing this or moving house.

I was closed off enough that one person linked to me and couldn't tell if I was a woman or a man. Good! I liked that. No-one knew where I lived. Great! I'll have to give it some thought. On the upside is that I now have "readers". I'm not sure I want to become a grand-high-blogger.
Hmmm.... Thoughts?

The reason I care if people know who I am. Good question.
I use my blog to ask questions of myself and anyone else who wants to listen in. Anonymity allows me to ask those questions without people answering based on who I am.
For example:
  • Where do I live? Someone who knows where I live might pre-judge my political views.

  • How do I dress? Long sleeves or short? My religiosity is assumed by that.

  • Am I a man or a woman? My views on sexuality and relationships.

You get the picture. It also allows me to tell stories and ask questions that I could not voice in person.

יום חמישי, פברואר 23, 2006

Traveling close to home

Part of traveling is the spirit. The idea that at any time I can pick up and go and do or be anywhere. Not to neglect real life but not to get tied down to a place or an item or to sink too deep into a comfort zone. I'm glad that when my friend said "I'm going to Eilat tomorrow, want to come?" I said yes. "Say yes to the music when it tickles...

Part of traveling is seeing new places & trying new things. I wonder how much traveling can I do in my day to day life? Forget far away exotic countries. I'm living in Israel! In the middle east! In (as Newsweek kindly puts it) a "war-torn country"! Jerusalem! Tel-Aviv! Hebron! Multi-cultural! Dominican monks and hassidic Jews!

Methinks that there is what to see here.

"What I have to say of Clarence Fud
(Who wouldn't say yes and wouldn't say no) is:
Once you turn into a stick in the mud,
You can't be sure where your big toe is.

Suppose it itches, suppose it twitches
And wants to go where the music goes?
-If you're stuck in the mud like Clarence Fud
You can't get the music into your toes.

Say yes to the music when it tickles.
Or else – well, just remember Clarence,
Whose toes turned into ten dill pickles.
That was a terrible blow to his parents."

-The Man Who Sang The Sillies

יום ראשון, פברואר 19, 2006

Everyone needs a chair

I was out of the country for Katif and Amona. I'm still trying to figure out my take on it all. I am appalled by the treatment/attitude taken towards the people who used to live in Aza but that's a different post.

From a few days ago I found Yael K's post. It's an idea I've heard before but found it better food for thought this time in the aftermath of Amona.

-----------I was reading a new poll showing that pretty much everyone thinks that there will be even more violence with pull-outs from illegal and legal settlements alike. A not small percent thinks that the violence will even be of the deadly nature. I've got a position on this that I will probably change, probably moderate, but, depending on how things pan out could certainly go the other direction.

I don't see why our military or our police should be involved at all in future pull-outs. No, let me rephrase that. I think they should be available to help and support those who, having exhausted their petitions through court proceedings (we're talking in the event that those proceedings go against them) and then having accepted a relocation compensation package need help with packing and transporting their things. Those who refuse to move and refuse compensation should simply be left where they are. They want to stay there, let them stay there. They should at that point be treated like any other ex-pat living anywhere else in the world. The IDF is not there protecting Israelis living in New York, or Paris. Our soldiers and police are not there for those in London, Berlin, Rome, or Sydney. People choosing to live in those places must rely on the rules and laws and protection of the place they are in, not on Israeli protection. By choosing not to remove within the legally designated borders, as decided by our government and our courts, they are choosing to be ex-pats and that's fine. There are Israelis living all over the world. But once you choose to live on the outside, you are on your own --in Paris or Amona or anywhere else.

The sad reality is that those people who stayed behind would be murdered very quickly. Take as an example the destruction of the Synagogues left behind in Aza. I agree it would be a good way to avoid all the internal strife but it would leave us party to the murder of many.

Question #1: What would be the moral implications of this scenario?

Once I was thinking about alternative solutions, the other thought of mine is: If the govt is OK moving Jews from place to place, could we make it a two way swap? Could we move both Jewish and Arab populations to create continuous, defensible, and economically viable areas?

Allow me to dream a moment: Clear all the Jews out of a nice big area around Aza. Sderot through to Askelon. Heck, I'd even give 'em Ashkelon, power plant, seaport and all. Next, move all the Arabs out of the Gallie, J-lem, and Hebron hills areas. Double check to make sure that the areas are roughly equivalent and stop the music. Everyone sits back down in different chairs and everyone has a seat. The Arab populace comes out somewhat ahead on quality of living but let's leave that aside. It might help us keep the world from bombing us to Tokyo.

The last part would be to say to our Arab cousins that we are sorry we could not live peacefully together and that we hope we will be able to live peacefully next door. We then declare an international border and proceed to build the biggest Berlin-wall the world has ever seen and seal it up. They have housing, farmland, industry, ports, a border with a friendly country (Egypt), basically everything an independent country needs to thrive.
{end dream}

Question #2: While I know this would be hard to do, and is unlikely to ever happen, what do you think? What do you think of this idea from a humanitarian perspective? What are the scenarios that might unfold politically?

I've had this scenario as a dream for years and this is the first time I'm sharing it with people. Please share your thoughts on my questions. And thank you Katie for the impetus to write this out.


I went to see a friend a few days ago in Ra'anana. Beit Levinshtien is the rehab clinic he's been in for the past year or so. He was going home the next day and becoming an outpatient. It was good to see him even as a shadow of the big hulking hunk I remember. Mentally he seemed together, his speech was a bit slow and he's still sitting in a wheelchair but for a guy who spent a month in a coma he's doing great.

His signature style was always the jeans, short sleeved t-shirt, and sandals. Winter, summer, rain, cold, whatever. The night I went was the last of the Tuesday night torah classes he'd been hosting in his ward. About 20 people were there. Guys, girls, some rabbis, his parents. Everyone was sitting around in long sleeves or jumpers, a few in jackets. My boy? Black t-shirt. He told me "All that's left is to go back to the sandals." Refuah Shelaima!

יום חמישי, פברואר 16, 2006

Must Read Blog

Read this Blog: You Ain't No Picasso.
I'll keep reading this for a bit but even after a short glance, I think this will get a link on the side. Maybe you want to help out? Let me know if you think it should get b-rolled.
And if nothing else, listen to Jesus and Mary Chain - My Girl. It's hosted by him and may get taken down soon so listen fast.

יום רביעי, פברואר 15, 2006


I just found the following lines in a musing of mine from early this year.
Most guys will tell you that women should come with operating manuals. No. Women shouldn't come with manuals. They should come with warning labels:


Approach with caution.
Unpredictable. Volatile.
Hazardous if mixed with life.

Kosher Traveling

It's a challenge. You do save money but after week 2,3,4,.. on the road it gets to be a bit much. If you are up to the effort (or have no better choice 'cause you don't want to plan your trip around Chabad houses and Kosher supermarkets) then here is the way I pulled it off. If anyone else has done this I'd love to hear how you planned it and how it actually worked.

  1. Cook set: Mini-Trangia. This thing is amazing. Possibly the best bit of equipment I've ever bought. Most wow. I like. It's a pot, a frying pan and a burner in a tiny little package. You'll be the envy of all the other backpackers. Fuel is a bit tricky but I think it may be easier than finding gas canisters. The best is to find a chemical supply shop. In Thailand I found 2, one in Bangkok and one in Chang Mai. I think any major city will have such a shop but you'll have to break out of the tourist-only area. Which is a good thing. Methyl Alcohol is the best. The next best thing is to buy 70% Isopropenol from a pharmacy. This was what I had in Lao. You get less burn for your buck but it works. Some pharmacies will have 90% and that is just as good as the Methyl Alcohol. Always ask if they have the stronger stuff.

  2. Utensils: Med size plastic cutting board, bowl, 2 cups (you might have a guest), knife, fork, spoon, a non-metal spoon(wood, melmac, plastic) for the frying pan so you don't kill the Teflon. That's it.

  3. Condiments: Salt, Pepper, powdered soup mix. That's all you need for spices. Other flavors can come from the local market in the form of fresh anything. I usually had a head of garlic, some small onions and a hot pepper. Coffee & tea can be bought along the way, you might want to take powdered creamer. Sugar can also be bought along the way if you want. I had little use for it so I just had 1/2 a dozen little packets.

  4. Food Stuff: The following are emergency rations. These are not your mainstay foods - you can't carry enough to use them that way. Main foods are things you can buy in markets. These are for when you: have no market, have no time, are too tired, whatever... Use wisely.

    • 1 (400g) pkg of pasta

    • 3-5 cans (or packets) of tuna

    • 400-500g chopped dried fruit. Good for quick energy or to mix with rice.

    • 10-15 packets of instant oatmeal.

Se Tu. That's it. Along the way I met people with kilos of prepared food! They couldn't move with all the weight they were carrying. One person would stay with the bags and the other partner would go look for a guesthouse. Not my style.

Eat local stuff. Have fun trying new things from the markets. Be surprised that the thing you thought was a turnip is not a turnip.

יום ראשון, פברואר 12, 2006

Welcome home

I landed this past week.
My parents waited.
Until that evening.
To ask.
"A friend mentioned a name..."
Sounds interesting.
I agree with

יום שני, פברואר 06, 2006

All good things...

Sigh. Going home is the best and worst thing in the world.

Dec 13, 2005 - "And that's how I found myself in Bangkok Int. Airport.
7 weeks, $800, and no plan. It's gonna get mighty lonely"

Feb 6, 2006 - "I'm leaving Bangkok Int. Airport on ElAl flight #84.
7 weeks, $800, and I had one hell of a trip!"

I've been away for a long time. Hard to believe that it's over. Back to family, friends, school... Kosher food!

I hope that wherever I was I made a good impression.
I hope people liked me as much as I liked them.
I hope I will return to the beautiful places.
I hope I'll see my friends again.

I guess that is as much as I can ask for at the end of such a trip. Please God.

Let's go home.

יום שישי, פברואר 03, 2006

Sunrise from a train

Sunrise in Southeast Asia involves a lot of mist. In Lao it took a good few hours until it had all lifted above the mountain tops. Looking out the train windows, the fog thins and lets me see a bit more of the rice fields off to the left.

Paul Theroux writes about his train travels. I found he focuses on the inside of the train. With the exception of the young couple across the aisle, the inside of this train is unremarkable. To be fair, until an hour ago, so was the outside.

Returning past Ayutaya to Bangkok I'm closing the teardrop shaped loop I opened 5 weeks ago. North to Nong Khai, Vientienne, Luang Prabong, Nong Khiaw, Luang Nam Tha, Chang Rai, Chang Mai, and now back south to the City of Angels.

It's Friday. It's been a long trip.