Friday, March 30, 2007
I just glanced at the date in the upper right corner of my screen and had a moment of doubt as to whether March has 30 or 31 days. Without thinking I started counting on my knuckles... you know, that trick where all the months that land on top of the knuckles have 31 days and the ones in the valleys between the knuckles have 30 (or less, in the case of Feb.).
What am I, a nine year old... or a doddering idiot??? [warning: That was a rhetorical question]
I think there is something seriously wrong with me. I mean, who can't keep track of the same twelve months that roll around year after year (G-d knows, at my age I've had enough practice)?
Now that I think about it, I have other senile habits as well... like singing the ABC song (or the Hebrew equivalent) quietly to myself while looking up a name in the phone book.
Man, I hope my kids pick a good nursing home for me.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Crime & Punishment: Israeli Style
This morning the Israeli justice system's rusty wheels finally turned just enough to hand down a conviction and sentence for Justice Minister Haim Ramon's sexual assault (a forced kiss) on a female soldier who was working for him.
Here is the frikkin' Justice Minister of the entire country convicted of making unwelcome and inappropriate sexual advances on a subordinate, and the result is... pretty damned disappointing.
Yes, he was convicted. But the punishment handed down makes a mockery of the proceedings:
1. Instead of his criminal act being judged more seriously because of his having transgressed while serving in a position of public trust, it now seems that the very fact of his public service and membership in government has been taken into account in his favor... and has resulted in his sentence being reduced from several years of jail time to 120 hours of community service. Doesn't it make more sense that public officials who commit crimes while in office should be held to a standard at least as high as the office they besmirch?
2. The judges sentencing Ramon decided to remove 'moral turpitude' from the list of offenses with which he would be convicted. This may seem like a small gesture, but in fact it is huge. You see if he were convicted of that particular crime instead of just the lesser 'performing an indecent act', he would be barred from serving in the public sector (i.e. government) ever again. Now it is possible (and actually quite probable) that his buddy Ehud Olmert (another perp) will appoint him to another ministerial position such as the treasury. What is the public to take from such a worthless slap on the wrist that ends up being a reward of sorts?
3. The final irony that seems to have been lost on the judges handing down this ridiculously lenient sentence is that by ordering Ramon to pay the victim NIS 15,000 (about US $3,500) in compensation for his sexual assault, they have unwittingly turned this blameless young woman into a whore (albeit a very high-priced one). The victim was not injured financially, so financial compensation to her is entirely inappropriate as a punishment. If the perp is to be fined... go ahead and fine him (and fine him an amount that will actually hurt... not some paltry sum that he could probably find behind his couch cushions while cleaning for Pesach). If the victim needs therapy, force Ramon to pick up the tab for the best shrink in the country... but to suggest that a sexual assault can be paid off with a modest sum of money is just sleazy!
In a country where there is barely a single public figure that has not been indicted (or at least plausibly accused) of gross misconduct and/or outright criminal activity, I was hoping that the legal system would finally step up and send a message that there is a serious price to be paid for betraying the public trust. Instead they set the wages of sin within the reach of any petty criminal... and instructed the perp (with a wink and a nod) to leave the payment on the nightstand.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
How to totally charm me (Pre-Passover Edition)
Like most kids, our 3-year-old (Yonah) occasionally (OK, more than occasionally) 'resists' going to bed.
Here's a partial list of some of his favorite delaying tactics:
"I want to get a toy to sleep with"
This is a basement-to-attic hard-target search that can take hours.
"I need to brush my teeth again"
He hates brushing teeth, but after doing a cost-benefit analysis he seems to have realized that he hates bedtime more.
"I have to make in the water"
This is his unique way of saying he has to pee. He is careful to make this important distinction because he has a big problem with constipation [I know... TMI] and would, if he knew about such things, demand general anesthesia before defecating. However, he has an uncanny ability to make himself pee on demand, and can make 16 or 17 productive trips to tinkle before I finally have to tie him into bed with his bedsheets.
"I didn't give [fill in the blank to include anyone/everyone in the house including our dog, Jordan] a kiss good-night."
Yonah is a very affectionate little boy, and good-night kisses are an essential part of his bedtime ritual. If there is a living organism in the house that has not been properly kissed, the boy simply can't/won't go to bed. We've had unsuspecting shabbat guests giggle in amazement when Yonah grabs them by the ears and plants a big smooch square on their lips.
"I want to snuggle you."
If Zahava or I are in bed, Yonah will invariably use this line. It basically means he wants to start out in our bed and then be carried into his own room after he has fallen asleep. But in practice it means we're in for an hour or two of him bouncing around our bed, handling everything on both of our bedside tables, and finally sticking his wet fingers into the ears, nose and eyes of whoever is unlucky enough to be the 'snuggle-ee'. Good times.
But last night while I was stretched out in bed checking my email, Yonah introduced a new wrinkle to his list of tried and tested delaying tactics. He poked his head out of his room (which is off of our bedroom) and said, "Abba, I want [to] sing you a song."
Now normally this would have been a nonstarter since I'm familiar with his entire repertoire of three or four songs, and they have long-since worn thin on my patience. But this was the first time he had used this particular dodge to delay going to sleep... so I gave in.
Once he got the nod, he ducked back into his room to grab his favorite blanket and then flew into bed beside me. But rather than starting up with his usual round of fidgeting and exploring, he immediately launched into an adorable rendition of 'The four questions' from the seder.
I probably should have realized that they would teach the kids in his 'gan' this song, but it caught me so completely by surprise that I simply had to smother the kid in kisses when he was done. He was so pleased with my reaction that he reprised his performance several more times before voluntarily going back to his own bed.
The last I saw of him was his little 'tushie' disappearing around the door to his room as the words, "♪ Ma Nishtana haLila haZeh...♪" drifted out of the darkness.
Boy, did he squander an opportunity! With that kind of a performance he could have gotten at least another hour out of me before I would have finally given him the boot. :-)
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
The unexpected rewards of blogging
Just in case anyone out there might be entertaining the idea of starting their own blog I feel that in the interest of full disclosure I should point out that keeping up treppenwitz hasn't always been all beer and skittles.
There have been countless times when cantankerous commenters and tiresome trolls have nearly sapped me of my will to continue. And every few months I look in the rear-view mirror and wonder if I even have anything left worth saying.
But every so often this thing called treppenwitz opens a new door or provides a personal connection that I didn't think possible. And just when I am asking myself why I bother doing this, I get a surprise of... if not beer and skittles... then at least cookies and cream:
Cookies: As we were sitting down to dinner last night our postman rang the bell (no, you movie buffs, he only rang once).
When I opened the door he handed me a package that had arrived from overseas. It was from a long-time treppenwitz reader/commenter who had thoughtfully sent a gift to keep up our spirits during the week of pre-Pesach cleaning; two boxes of Girl Scout Cookies ('Thin Mints' and peanut butter 'Tagalongs' if you must know).
This faithful reader (I'm not sure if I'm allowed to mention her name... but you know who you are!) and I have enjoyed a long-time email correspondence in addition to our exchanges in the comments section. When her daughter started selling Girl Scout Cookies I asked to buy a couple of boxes, but instead she very generously opted to send them as a gift. The generosity of the gesture was only enhanced when I noted with some guilt that the shipping cost her more than the cookies!
With only a few days left 'til Passover we have to make sure they get eaten in short order. Somehow I don't think that will be a problem.
Cream: As if the cookies weren't enough to make me appreciate the wonderful, unexpected connections I've made through this whole blogging/journaling thing, a few minutes after the cookies arrived I got a dab of cream on top. The phone rang and I found myself having a surreal-but-flattering conversation with another treppenwitz reader.
This young woman introduced herself by saying that I didn't know her but that she was a long-time fan of my blog. It seems she was visiting from the U.S. and staying with some friends in Efrat and wondered if she could stop by 'chez treppenwitz' to say hello in person.
I should mention here that 'chez treppenwitz' has hosted many fellow bloggers and more than a few readers over the years. But most (if not all) of those impromptu dinners and shabbat visits had been proceeded by weeks, or even months, of 'getting to know you' emails and comments so that by the time the person showed up on our doorstep there was the sense of meeting an old friend.
But this young woman (a recent college grad) had never left a comment in all the time she's been reading. Her phone call was, quite literally, the first time we had 'met'.
I have often wondered if I would have the nerve to pick up the phone and call some of the bloggers I read if I were to ever find myself in their city on business or vacation... and on most days the answer to that is 'probably not'. So, I was extremely impressed (and flattered) that someone had found the courage to call and seize an opportunity to make just such a connection.
When I got off the phone I told my wife about the call and that I had invited the young woman over for tea in a few minutes. To her credit Zahava only teased me about 'my adoring fans' and stood batting her eyelids and sighing in mock admiration for about 5 minutes. She then wandered back to her studio shaking her head and giggling.
No, no guys... hands off... I saw her first!
Anyway, a few minutes later there was a knock on the door and I was privileged to welcome this reader to our home. She was/is a perfectly lovely (not to mention very bright) young woman from the metro-New York area (I don't know if she'd want me mentioning her by name, so I will leave it to her to introduce herself here if she so chooses).
Ariella, Gilad and I sat and drank some tea with her and we played the inevitable game of 'Jewish Geography' (Yonah was already in bed). In a few minutes Zahava emerged from the studio to join us and was, of course, the perfect hostess.
One of the slightly jarring things about this kind of meeting is that pretty much everything we were finding out about our guest was new to us... yet because she'd been reading treppenwitz for so long, she already knew a great deal about us. However, in a very short time we had managed to even out this 'information imbalance' and were getting along like old friends.
True, keeping this journal has offered nearly unparalleled opportunities to look stupid and attract criticism. But yesterday was a perfect example of the many intangible benefits of blogging. Besides allowing me to document our aliyah process and provide a visual record of my/our transition from 'greenhorn' immigrants to relatively acclimated citizens of our adopted country, treppenwitz has been a springboard to meeting some truly special friends.
So while blogging/journaling may not be all beer and skittles, I am here to tell you that it can sometime reward you with a welcome (if unexpected) serving of cookies and cream.
Clarification for American readers: No, the word 'skittles' in the expression I used above does not refer to the colorful, sour American candy by the same name. Consuming a bag of Skittles® candy together with beer would be, well, unpleasant to say the least... and quite the opposite of the expression's intended meaning.
Rather, the skittles in the expression '... not all beer and skittles' refers to a game that was the great grandfather of what we Americans call bowling today. The Skittles are actually the pins, and playing this 9-pin bowling game was apparently once quite the popular pub pastime in the UK. Thus the prospect of an evening spent consuming beer and playing skittles would be considered something potentially enjoyable. For more detailed info, go here.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Please... stop the madness!
A personal message to the Ba'al Mussaf (the person leading the additional service) this past Saturday morning:
I should begin by saying that I'm really in no position to criticize your voice. I'm certainly not in possession of a professional-quality set of pipes, and I generally shy away from leading services because I am more than a little self-conscious.
However, despite my meager talents and limited knowledge of 'nusach' (the agreed-upon text/order of the prayers), I feel the need to step up and have a word with you about your choice of melodies to which you decided to set the traditional Mussaf prayers.
Here's the deal... If you grab pretty much any Sephardi guy off the streets of Israel... religious, secular, it really doesn't matter... he will almost certainly be able to recite every word of any weekday or Shabbat service out loud from memory. Not only that, but what he recites will sound strikingly similar to what his great, great, great, grandfather would have recited when asked. You see, the traditions surrounding 'nussach' and melodies have been a thing of relative constancy in the Sephardi community since, well, pretty much forever.
But if you ask an Ashkenazi guy to get up and 'daven for the amud' (lead the congregation in prayer), things are going to be a tad less, er, predictable.
First of all, there is an excellent chance that he will decline the honor altogether for lack of confidence in his own knowledge and ability (I sort of fall into this category). If by chance he agrees to lead the service, you are likely to get something resembling the bastard child of Eurovision and a Manhattan piano bar. To say that it won't be anything approaching a traditional rendering of the service, would be a gross understatement.
Why is that? When did the Ashkenazi community completely abandon any attempt to preserve and pass along traditional melodies and the specific knowledge of how to lead the community in prayer?
I ask you these question because this past Shabbat I sat through your rendering of Mussaf that included, among other offenses:
- Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Close Every Door To Me', from the Broadway musical 'Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat'.
- Another offering by ALW; 'Memories' from the show 'Cats'.
- Andrea Bocelli's 'Time to say goodbye' (ironically, the exact message I was trying to send you telepathically during this particular portion of your 'performance'), a song which gained popularity after being featured on the HBO series 'The Sopranos'.
Obviously it needs to be acknowledged that most critics have the luxury of passing judgment from the safe anonymity of the audience (as I have here). But that doesn't necessarily mean the criticism is ill-conceived or incorrect.
Please take my advice (for what it is worth): If you enjoy Broadway and light opera, there are piano bars for showcasing your talents with fellow enthusiasts. If you don't like crowds and smoky rooms... then invite some like-minded friends over for an intimate evening of song in your living room.
But please... I'm begging you... please leave the show tunes at the door when you enter the synagogue. And if you are asked to lead the services, kindly remember that we are all there in shul because of a shared obligation to participate in communal prayer... not due to a common fondness for Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Oy, the humour-impaired among us
I wish I had $9.69 for every email I've gotten over the past few days containing breathless 'news' of the gas station in New Jersey selling Chametz-free (actually, kitniot-free) gasoline for exactly that inflated amount per gallon.
People, people.... take a deep breath. This is joke... and apparently a well written one at that. I have seen it attributed to several websites but have yet to locate the original (please send me the original link if you know it so I can provide attribution).
If you haven't seen it, here it is in all its glory:
*Kosher for Passover Gasoline*
By Danielle Wolfbergand and Henry Lorman
Jewish Times Teaneck,
New Jersey March 1,2007
Yaniv Ban-Zaken, a local gas station owner, will be selling Kosher for Passover gasoline during the holiday this year. The move, Ben-Zaken says, has become necessary due to the increased ethanol content in gasoline required by the government. The ethanol istypically derived from corn, which is a forbidden food for Jews on Passover. And, according to Ben-Zaken, underJewish law, it is also forbidden to derive any benefit from corn.
"We will be providing a number of services to anyone interested in making their motor vehicle Kosher for Passover," Ben-Zaken says. Services will include siphoning off the non-Kosher gasoline and replacing it with the Kosher gasoline. The entire process will be supervised by Rabbi Yitzchok Mendelbaum. A special exemption to the EPA rule regarding the plant ethanol content of gasoline had to be obtained from the government to allow for the use of this gasoline. The move has created some controversy among local community leaders. Rabbi Shalom Silver, of Congregation Ohel Emeth in Teaneck, has recommended to his congregants that they not buy the gasoline.
"Although Jews of Ashkenazi descent are not permitted to eat corn on Pesach, they are permitted to derive benefit from corn byproducts, such as gasoline with ethanol additives," he said. However, Rabbi Mordechai Silver (no relation to Shalom Silver), of Yeshivas Torah Ohr in nearby Englewood, disagrees, and maintains that while it might technically be acceptable to use mass-produced gasoline, those who can afford to purchase the new alternative should. "In Jewish law, we have a principle of lifnim mshuras hadin--going above and beyond the basic requirements of the law," he explained in an email. "Thank G-d, many people in the area can afford to do so in this case."
Some local Jewish leaders have also complained about the high price of the ethanol-free gas, which Ben-Zaken estimates will be $9.69 per gallon, but Ben-Zaken insists that it is necessary. "The Kosher gas is made in small quantities and not mass produced, so the costs are high." In fact, Ben-Zaken, an immigrant from Israel who is not himself religious, claims that he will not be making any profit on the sale of the Kosher gas. "I'm doing this more as a community service. My hope is that people will be more likely to patronize my station the rest of the year." Julio Sanchez, one of Ben-Zakens employees, also expressed some concern over the high price, explaining that it might drive away customers and reduce his income from tips. Co-worker Naveen Samhari disagreed, because, as he says, "Orthodox Jews are among the best tippers in the area."
Ben-Zaken also says he will be contracting with a local car rental agency to provide customers with a Kosher for Passover car if they would prefer not to use their own. This will also save the time of having to clean chametz from the car before Pesach--time that many local two-income families do not have.
"Jews use different dishes for Passover. They ought to be able to use a different car, as well." Ben-Zaken says.
Danielle Wolfberg is a freelance writer and reporter. Henry Lorman has published several novels and is currently working on a memoir, to be published by Random House.
The first hint that this might not be totally legit should have been that there is no such periodical as the Jewish Times of Teaneck (although it beggars the imagination that there isn't).
Next, There are more mispellings and grammatical errors in the 'article' than in a typical treppenwitz post (and that's saying something!). And although the piece is attributed to the collaborative efforts of Danielle Wolfberg and Henry Lorman, both ostensibly well-published writers, a google search failed to turn up any of their previous work (or any references to it) other than the send-up presented above.
Lastly, while there really is no limit to the idiotic stringencies to which certain Jewish communities will subject themselves in the name of Passover holiness (or more correctly, holier-than-thou-ness), the yawning bastion of modern orthodoxy known as Teaneck would be more likley to be leading the charge towards controversial leniencies... not new 'chumras'.
So I suggest that before anyone else gets their knickers in a twist and clogs up anymore email inboxes with some variant of "OMG, did you hear about...", that everyone put down the blowtorches and wire brushes... step out of the kitchen for a few minutes... and maybe even 'dispose' of some of that pesky chametz lurking in the family liquor cabinet. Trust me, you'll feel better for it.
Happy Passover cleaning.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Biting the hand...
I have to admit to having experienced a certain amount of shadenfreude when reading about the recent spate of Palestinian attacks on UN personnel and facilities in Gaza. After all, here are the only people on the face of the planet for whom a permanent UN relief agency was created (UN Relief and Works Agency - UNWRA)... but instead of doing everything in their power to protect the Golden Goose, the Palestinians seem to be doing everything in their power to roast it.
Only last week, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on UNRWA chief in Gaza, John Ging who was traveling in a clearly marked UN vehicle. And today four masked Palestinian gunmen carjacked another UN vehicle in Gaza.
The sad part is that these events will likely have absolutely no effect on the UN's doting infantilization of the Palestinians or the relief agency's eagerness to continue financially underwriting their very existence, for the simple reason that if the Palestinians were ever to become self-sufficient (meaning non-refugees), an entire UN agency - the largest of all those under the United Nations umbrella, employing over 25,000 ... and the only one dedicated to a specific group of refugees - would become obsolete overnight.
I once read a wonderful quote (feel free to point me to the source... I tried for over an hour to find it) to the effect that; 'an organization set up to find a solution will never do so because their continued existence (and funding) depends on the perpetuation of the problem'.
This pretty much sums up the UN relief agency's relationship with the Palestinians.
Since I wasn't able to locate the source of the earlier quotation, here's another appropriate one I stumbled upon during my search that could easily apply to those [pick your favorite] who consistently turn a blind eye to Palestinian/Arab wrongdoing:
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
~ Sir Winston Churchill ~
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Baruch Dayan HaEmet.
It is with a heavy heart that I have to report that Israeli culture officially passed away 22:20 last night with the release of the following information to the press:
"Hooters to open branch in Israel
US restaurant chain Hooters, known for waitresses in low-cut blouses and short skirts, will open its first branch in Israel this summer, in the Mediterranean seaside city of Tel Aviv.
"I strongly believe that the Hooters concept is something that Israelis are looking for," Ofer Ahiraz, who bought the Hooters franchise for Israel, told Reuters on Monday. "Hooters can suit the Israeli entertainment culture."
At Hooters, scantily clad waitresses the company calls Hooters Girls serve spicy chicken wings, sandwiches, seafood and drinks.
Ahiraz said a specific location in Tel Aviv, Israel's most cosmopolitan city, had yet to be chosen, but he said it would not open restaurants near large religious populations, and they would not be kosher.
He said his plan was to open as many as five Hooters restaurants in the next few years, including one in the southern resort city of Eilat."
As many of you know, Israeli culture has been ailing for for many years and had successfully fought off such deadly foreign infections as $trabuck$, KFC, Dunkin' Donuts and Hard Rock Cafe. But it seems that the onslaught of pathogens from abroad was just to much and Israeli culture finally succumbed.
Israeli culture will be sorely missed by family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Beit HaTfutzot Museum. A candle-light vigil is planned some time after midnight at Sima's on Rechov Agrippas in Jerusalem.
Monday, March 19, 2007
So much for renoucing terrorism
Hamas, the ruling faction in the P.A. for over a year, and the stronger voice in the new Unity government, has proudly claimed 'credit' for the sniper attack on an Israeli Electrical worker who was working on some lines near the Karni Crossing into Gaza.
This occurred on the same day that Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Raymond Johansen met Hamas leader (and P.A. Prime Minister) Haniyeh to officially reestablish political and economical ties with the Palestinian government.
I have an idea. Let's put aside the useful idiots in Scandinavia who don't seem to have a problem with shooting joos. I have a problem with it and so should my government.
I think that since this wasn't some random idiot taking pot shots... but rather an officially sanctioned act by the main faction in the P.A. government... that justice would be best served by turning off the electricity to Gaza for the next 48 hours.
What's that? You didn't realize that Israel still supplies Gaza with its electricity and water??? Oh my yes. And in my humble opinion, trying to kill an Israeli electrical worker should result in a loss, albeit temporarily, of that particular service.
But what about all the poor Palestinians on respirators and dialysis and all kinds of other life-saving machinery that runs on electricity, you ask? To that I have but one answer: Better run and make sure you have 48 hours worth of fuel in those emergency generators.
Jeezuz these scumbags are so lucky I'm not in charge over here.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Does 'implicit' have the same value as 'explicit'?
Israel and much of the civilized world have been boycotting the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority for about a year now because the P.A. has refused to comply with three very basic Quartet demands:
a) Recognition of Israel
b) Renunciation of armed violence (i.e. terrorism)
c) Acceptance of previous agreements and obligations
But now that the Mecca accords have resulted in a Palestinian unity government, the UN, EU and even the U.S. seem to be softening their stance towards reestablishing official relations, and more importantly financial aid, to the Palestinians.
For their part, the spokespeople for the P.A. unity government have wasted no time in telling anyone who will listen that they are now in full compliance with the demands of the Quartet, and therefore their government "... must be accepted and dealt with by the entire international community, if there is justice in this world" Yet in the same breath they are quick to point out that "although there is no explicit recognition of Israel in the political program of the government, such recognition is evident in the fact that it has pledged to respect agreements reached with Israel in the past." [emphasis mine]
But are they really in compliance with the three basic demands listed above? Has their official position towards Israel changed? Let's take a look at them one by one:
a) Recognition of Israel - This hasn't happened... not by a long shot. The P.A. is playing a game of semantics by saying that since they will 'respect' previous agreements with Israel they are implicitly recognizing it. Yet to anyone who cares to look closely, they have deliberately avoided any language explicitly promising that they will abide by any previous agreements. After decades of non-recognition, the Palestinians have not earned the right to claim that 'implicit recognition' has the same value as 'explicit recognition'. Proof positive that recognition is still something being withheld for some future stage of negotiations with Israel is the statement from the same interview; "If Israel wants recognition, it has to recognize the Palestinians as well." The problem with this is that starting with Oslo and continuing to this day, Israel has signed dozens documents stating that it explicitly recognizes the official Palestinian political entity; the P.A..
b) Renunciation of armed violence (i.e. terrorism) - This hasn't happened by any stretch of the imagination. The most blatant assurances that Israel has not seen the end of attacks is the statement by PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh calling for "pursuing "resistance" against Israel..." and that "...his government would support "all forms of resistance." [source] These aren't statements by some splinter group over which the P.A. leadership exerts no control. This is the leader of the new unity government! There is no way that his statements could possibly be taken out of context since they were part of his speech immediately following the cabinet vote approving his Unity Government.
c) Acceptance of previous agreements and obligations - Lots of double talk and semantics games going on there, but no substantive change in previous P.A. policy. If they really meant to say that they would live up to all existing treaties and agreements signed by Arafat and Abbas they would have said so. Using deliberately ambiguous terminology will likely get the international gravy train back on track (which was certainly their only goal), but it won't get Israel a millimeter closer to having a peace partner. The Palestinians haven't lived up to one explicit agreement they have signed in the past... agreements that have required them to bring nothing more valuable to the negotiating table than a pen. Why should 'implicit' commitments suddenly be of any value?
The European Union has been anxious to resume financial aid to the P.A. because they don't want to have a 'humanitarian disaster' in the Palestinian territories weighing on their collective conscience. That such a humanitarian disaster would be entirely the fault of the prevailing kleptocracy entrenched in every Palestinian leadership is completely lost on the well-meaning bleeding hearts in Europe and the United Nations.
It apparently makes no difference that the Palestinians have received more aid per capita than any other people in the history of the world and that this aid has never once found its way to to the people who need it most. For some reason the act of signing that aid check is enough to assuage any guilt pangs felt around the continent. Meanwhile, the Swiss bank accounts of the P.A. officials will once again swell with the largess.
Now it remains to be seen if our own government will be able to resist falling into yet another trap in this 'war of stages' of which these latest empty 'implicit' commitments are certainly just the latest salvo.
Friday, March 16, 2007
The value of perspective
A couple of months ago when a Jewish woman in Hevron was filmed berating and cursing at an Arab woman it was a hot topic of discussion among the Jewish blogosphere. Predictably, those on the secular left were appalled and wrote extensively about how terrible it was that a religious person could act this way [funny how those who are most vocal about Jewish law are rarely those who follow it] and how it was not only demeaning to this poor Arab woman, but it was representative of all that was bad about Jewish settlers.
One blogger, who is also a professional journalist, went to to Hevron to cover the story and wrote:
"A horrible shame. No words to describe what you can see there... I felt so much tension that I came home emotionaly destroyed. There are checkpoints in each corner. Palestinian kids walk around under the eyes of Christian international volunteers. Jewish settlers sometimes provoke them in front of us in clear and good English to be sure everyone understands. "
The deliberate lack of perspective presented in such a report beggars belief. When a commenter tried to point out that the blogger seems to reserve her outrage for the religious and settlers, she refused to respond directly and fell back on her standard 'it's my blog and I can write what I like' answer.
For that reason I have given up commenting on that particular blog. However I was pleased to see another commenter eloquently write:
"Words can be uncivilized, but NOT NEARLY as uncivilized as the recurring Arab gunfire targeting Jews (and especially targeting Jewish children) in Hebron for decades. There is a broader context than your post acknowledges for the tension in Hebron, dating back even earlier than when the Arab massacred (i.e., *MURDERED*, not insulted) the Jewish population of Hebron within the lifetimes of many of Hebron's current Jewish residents. "
I sat back to see what kind of answer that would receive. Instead of the blogger responding, another commenter (from whom I expected more balance) asked the critical commenter "Is one to understand from your comment that the behaviour of the Jewish settlers who curse at their Palestinian neighbours, throw stones at them and vandalize their property is therefore acceptable? "
WTF? A commenter asks why it is that the blogger seems to be ignoring the context within which the events she is describing took place (i.e. nearly constant attacks, both verbal or physical against Jews)and this is somehow taken to mean that one condones bad behavior by Jews?! ARGH! [bangs head against wall]
There are nearly daily reports of Palestinians stoning Jews in that area (and many others)... throwing Molotov cocktails at cars and even shooting at people whose only crime is being Jewish. This in a community that was literally wiped out in murderous Arab rioting less than 80 years ago... and this journalist/blogger doesn't feel any of that is cogent to the ongoing problems between the Jews and Arabs in the area?
Was it a terrible thing that this woman cursed at an Arab? Yes. Was it a disgrace to all Jews that she did so on camera? Of course. Do Jews behave this way (and often worse) in Tel Aviv towards their neighbors every single day? Yes, sometimes they do... but somehow, that isn't newsworthy to a blogger with an agenda.
I have been privately seething about that episode and the way some bloggers covered it for some time now... and this morning it came to a head when I read of another report - a real tragedy this time - from the same area:
During yesterday's freak snowfall, a minivan lost control on the icy roads and slammed nearly head-on into a bus near Hevron. The driver of the minivan and his wife were killed and one of their children was critically injured. They left behind eight orphans including the injured girl (Gitit Bat Simcha for those who want to offer prayers for her recovery) and that really should have been enough to set the nation to mourning.
But as if this tragedy weren't enough by itself, I read with horror that "Ambulances rushing to the scene came under attack by local Palestinian Authority Arabs, who hurled rocks and bricks at the rescue vehicles, as well as at those motorists stuck in the ensuing traffic." [source]
Where is the outrage? This was a blameless car accident in inclement weather where two parents are killed and a child is critically injured and nobody seems to have a problem with a Magen David Adom ambulance coming under attack by an Arab mob as it tries to rescue and evacuate the survivors?!!
I scoured Haaretz for a report of the accident and came up empty. Even the Jerusalem post seemed to have found trouble squeezing it into their busy coverage of, well, nothing much. There was a brief mention of it in both Maariv and Yediot, but without any mention of the attack on the ambulance (although that might have been buried on page 8 or 9 where the story was continued).
Instead, I had to read about this on Arutz Sheva, arguably the worst written/edited news source in country. But for all their problems (bad, high school level writing, quirky choice of topics and unabashed political bias), Arutz7 is at least willing to report on stories that hold no interest to the left.
I am sick to death of certain tragedies not being newsworthy... of attacks against development towns and religious settlers being something the country 'just has to learn to accept'.
As terrible as it is to write down, a part of me actually can't wait for the PA to develop rockets that can reach Tel Aviv so that blatant Arab attempts to injure and kill Jews can once again be an Israeli problem that must be faced instead of just an inconvenience that the poor, the religious and the settlers have to 'suck it up' and accept.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Confessions of a Middle-Aged Design Diva*
[~a guest post by Zahava~]
Tap, tap, tap…… [blinks nervously].
Hi. Is this thing on? [gently pokes mic…. Yikes! Feedback!…..Hey! Who’s running the sound board?!].
Okay. First of all, I’d really like to thank everyone for stopping by today. I’d also like to thank my husband for sharing the stage with me today. You see…. I have a confession to make:
I Am. A shameless. Design. Snob.
There! I said it.
Hey, Trep! You’re so right! These public declarations are soooo liberating! Wow!
The thing is, not only am I a design snob, I am proud of it. My visual voice is my entire professional essence. Thanks to a wonderful design education at the Washington University School of Fine Arts, I have developed the skills to market my abilities and use my aesthetic sensibilities in a professional career in graphic design.
Thanks to my incredibly talented and devoted instructors, I learned that there is much involved in design problem-solving. For example, I learned to be inspired by all the wonderful creative talent that exists in the world. I also learned to show hakaret hatov (giving credit where it is due) for those inspirations. I have been very lucky in that each of my professional opportunities provided exceptional opportunities to learn, explore and grow.
But I digress.
Back to the confession: I am rather opinionated. I am rather direct, and I am rather protective of my work product and my professional reputation. Why?! Because people pay me to be opinionated, direct and protective. It is part of my job description. Not only that, but if I create something and someone else
poops all over changes it ... and people viewing it think I did (or at least approved) the pooping changes. Bad, bad, bad!
Wanna call me a snob or even a diva? That’s okay… I can live with that.
I can also live with the fact that some of those involved with the 2007 JIB Awards think I am acting the spoiled child who can’t or won’t play nicely with the new guy on the design block. Fair enough.
But what I can’t, and won’t tolerate are the following:
a) A logo I created for the JIBs (on a completely voluntary basis, mind you) which has been associated with my name since the inception of the awards being unceremoniously ‘ganked’ by a self-styled graphic designer and claimed as his own property/work (see the copyright disclaimer at the bottom of all the JIB site pages).
b) When I sent a private email to the three people listed on the JIB site who openly invited feedback and comments, one of them decided to make it public on his blog for the sole purpose of trying to publicly humiliate me.
c) When I take care to deal with a potentially touchy matter privately and someone decides not only to take it public… but then complains in this public forum (his blog) that I should have contacted him privately... Oy! can anyone spell hypocrite for me?
Trust me, this guy had ample opportunity to respond off-line. He didn’t. Rather than debate the merits of my point and/or application of copyright and intellectual property that I raised with him via the privacy of email, he chose to mount a public attack.
The irony is that in his post he claims:
a) … that he “didn’t know I claimed copyright of the design.” Well duh, that’s why I wrote him a private email. So now he knows.
b) … that he couldn’t understand why “any one would feel the need to 'own' the design on an individual level”. Silly, one doesn’t have to understand my motives. In fact the law doesn’t require that anyone understand or even agree with it… only that they obey it.
c) … that he had no idea “that anyone would care enough to want 'perpetual design credit' in the context of what it is for.” Huh? And he claims to be a Graphic designer? Oh my, this ‘designer’ must never have designed anything worth looking at if he didn’t want people to know he’d created it each and every time they saw it. As a point of fact I never asked Aussie Dave for credit for the design (perpetual or otherwise)…. that was just him being a perfect gentleman. But once credit had been given and my name was publicly associated with the JIB design, I had a professional stake in making sure it remained something I would be proud of. The graphic designers at the Jerusalem Post understood this last year when they wanted to adapt the logo. It was a no-brainer. Again, if this doesn’t make any sense to this guy I wonder how he can call himself a Graphic Designer.
This may be the Diva in me talking… but I feel strongly that this individual owes me a very sincere (and very public) apology. By dragging whatever ego/turf issues he had with the tone and/or content of my private email into a public forum, he lost whatever claim to moral high ground to which he might have been entitled.
I may be a diva and overly protective of my artistic reputation (to the point of being, er, somewhat less than diplomatic in my private communications), but there is stating an opinion, and then there is public defamation of character/Lashon Harah.
IMHO, this guy is guilty of the latter.
[gets down off of soapbox]
* title of this post is a spoof on the title of the Linsay Lohan flik “Confessions of a Teenaged Drama Queen”
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The feel of spring
Because we are situated high in the Judean hills, midway between Hevron and Jerusalem, Spring comes to Gush Etzion somewhat later than to most of the country. People in Natanya and Rehovot have been walking around in tank-tops and shorts for some time now, but sweaters and jackets were still de rigueur in 'the gush'... until last week, that is. Spring has finally arrived here!
This past Shabbat was such a glorious Spring day that I decided to forgo my usual afternoon nap and instead went for a walk with my father and my oldest son.
Gilad wanted to walk down to the ball-field and toss a baseball around. My dad didn't really have a preference. For me, the choice was obvious; We walked over to the neighboring kibbutz (Migdal Oz) to visit my bees.
'My' beeyard is actually a small meadow perched on a protected hillside above the kibbutz's cherry orchards. I picked the spot as much for its eastern exposure (the earlier the sun touches the entrance to the hives the longer the bees have to forage for nectar every day) and proximity to the local flowering trees and plants, as for the beautiful setting (click here to see pics from the last couple of bee seasons).
Several times during the walk I stopped to point out the thousands of honeybees on the flowering bushes lining the street... each gathering pollen and nectar. They were so intent on their work and besotted with the sweet nectar that I was able to gently stroke their fuzzy backs with the tip of my finger as they worked without any fear. Bees can forage as far as 3 or 4 miles from their hives, so it was certainly possible - even likely - that some of these bees we met along the way were 'mine'... but there was really no way of knowing for sure.
Anyway, it was a 20 minute walk out to the hives, but it seemed longer to me because I hadn't visited the beeyard since I 'bedded down the hives' for the winter after Rosh Hashannah. All I could think about was; 'were the hives all right? Were the colonies healthy? Had they all survived the winter? '
There are all sorts of bad things that can happen to beehives over a long, cold winter:
- They can run out of food stores
- They can succumb to any of several bee diseases
- They can die off after having been disturbed by man or animals
- The queen can die and the colony might not have time to raise a new one.
- The hives could be stolen (there is a big problem in this country with Arabs from the territories stealing Israeli hives in the early spring because they deliberately doom their own hives in the fall by not leaving any honey for their bees)
As we got closer to the hives I honestly didn't know what I would find. I had left four healthy hives in the fall with strong queens and plenty of food stores for the winter. They were nicely sheltered from the winter winds and blowing snow, and I'd reduced the entrance to each hive to a very small passage to cut down on drafts and help keep the place warm. But for all that, it wouldn't be uncommon for one or two hives to have died off.
As we walked down the sun-dappled dirt road through the cherry orchards I could see the white hive boxes nestled up on the hillside. The rocks I had placed on top to keep the covers from blowing off in a storm were still there... but I still quickened my pace and asked my dad and Gilad to wait for me a few yards away as I approached the hives. I didn't want to alarm the guard bees that should be at the entrance of each hive with three people approaching at once.
I shouldn't have worried. To my delight, as I inspected the entrance to each hive I found a veritable parade of bees flying off on foraging missions and coming back so laden that they practically crash landed on the front platform of the hive entrance. The traffic was so heavy that the guard bees were barely able to check each bee as it entered the hive.
One of the hives seemed to be a bit weaker than the others, but the reason was immediately apparent; a big tuft of meadow grass had grown up to partially block the flight path directly in and out of the hive. The bees had dealt with the problem by taking off and landing on the very end of the entrance board... but it was costing them a few extra minutes on each trip to walk their heavy loads to the hive entrance. I waved my dad and Gilad closer to see all the bee traffic and pointed out the one with the partially blocked entrance.
Obviously since it was Shabbat I didn't have on a bee suit, but I really didn't want to leave the entrance to the hive blocked by the tall grass. So I got down on my knees next to the hive and pushed the grass down and out of the way. Instantly the bees began flying straight in and out of the entrance... bumping gently off the back of my hand as they passed.
My face was so close to the hive entrance that several bees alighted on my shoulder and brushed by my cheek as they went about their business. After having seen how little mind they paid me during the walk over I really wasn't worried about being stung. I wasn't going to open the hives (much as I was curious about how things were going inside), and I knew from experience that the bees were so sated with the abundant spring bounty that they would put up with a ridiculous amount of human interference without getting angry.
During the summer when I go out to make sure the bees have ample room inside the supers to store the honey, I often sit down near the hives and simply watch them come and go. It is endlessly fascinating and teaches a work ethic that any human company would envy.
Every bee has a task... some gather sweet nectar... some gather the brightly colored pollen. Droplets of water are brought back by other bees... and still others bring back propolis with which to seal and waterproof the inside of their home. Inside the hive there are bees who look after the queen... others who tend to the young, and a host of others whose job it is to meet the returning forager bees and distribute their cargo throughout the hive.
Anyone who has ever tried meditation of any sort without success should really sit and watch a beehive in the Springtime. The calm wholeness I feel while watching the bees in their idyllic meadow setting is something I have only glimpsed a few times before in my life; standing under the chuppah... holding my children for the first time.
Everyone has their own private way of noting that Spring has arrived. For some it is in the sound of kids playing in neighborhood parks or the crack of a bat on the local baseball diamond. For others it is looking out at the rich, loamy potential of their gardens or watching their fruit trees begin to blossom.
For me, Spring officially arrives when the sun shines warmly on the front of my hives and I can sit in the tall grass and hear the honeybees' gentle buzzing as they come and go.
Monday, March 12, 2007
A shanda fur die goyim
For those who aren't familiar with Yiddish, the title of this post is an expression that literally means 'a shame before the nations'... but which is used colloquially to describe any embarrassing or compromising behavior performed by a Jew where a non-Jew can observe it.
I remember when U.S. Senator Lieberman - a visibly observant Jew - was selected as Al Gore's running mate in the 2000 presidential elections, many Jews around the country were justifiably proud (this was before we found out he had more waffles than an IHOP). But in private, many voiced deep concern over the potential 'shanda' that would result if the first Jewish Vice President were to do something truly scandalous.
This double edged sword of pride and trepidation is the driving force behind this mindset.
The moment the modern State of Israel came into existence in 1948, the phrase 'A light unto the nations' was dusted off after two millenia of disuse, and tossed around by Jews worldwide. However, in the back of many people's minds was the very real risk - one might even say certainty - of the 'shanda' that would result from the less-than-admirable (i.e. human) behavior of Israeli leaders and citizens in full view of the family of nations.
During almost sixty years of it's existence, Israel has been no stranger to public and private scandal. Many of the big players in drugs and organized crime around the world are Israelis... and so many of our elected/appointed government officials have been indicted/convicted of wrongdoing in recent years that the very idea of an honest Israeli public figure seems like a fairy tale. Our young, post-army vagabonds are such a scourge in some parts of the world that governmental campaigns have been tried and tried again to try to get Israelis to understand that they represent more than just themselves when they are abroad.
So while I wasn't particularly surprised this morning, it was with a heavy heart that I read a news report of the Israeli Ambassador to El Salvador having been found bound, naked and drunk on a public street with a rubber ball stuffed in his mouth and various, er, adult toys nearby. As I skimmed the article I hoped against hope that he had been the victim of some sort of assault or hate crime. But as the information unfolded, it became fairly clear that this latest 'shanda' was the result of him having been involved in some sort of Sado-Masochistic game-gone-wrong.
I suppose that if we Israelis can't seem to elect public officials capable of keeping their hands out of the till and their tongues (and other things) out of their coworkers, I shouldn't be particularly shocked at the questionable judgment of their diplomatic appointments. If all it takes in this country to become a member of the government is to know the right people and kiss the right @ss, the bar for becoming an official Israeli representative abroad is obviously set considerably lower.
'A light unto the nations', indeed. More like 'a shanda fur die goyim'
Another source here.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
So I suppose you've been wondering what's up with the lack of posts and the spotty responses to comments.
Here's the deal:
Our first two offspring would frequently climb into bed with us (meaning with me) in the middle of the night... and both of them were adept at the fine art of spooning. By this I mean that they would snuggle their backs into my chest and after a minimum of fussing, they would go back to sleep wedged nicely between my chin and my knees.
I'm assuming that 'forking' is the correct term for whatever is the opposite of 'spooning'. Our third child 'forks'.
Yonah has always had a knack for doing things his own way... and early morning invasion of the parental bed has proven to be no exception to this rule.
Like the other kids, he has figured out that trying to insinuate himself into his mother's side of the bed might prove hazardous to his health. But instead of spooning comfortably into me with his soft little backside and going gently back to sleep, he inexplicably insists on facing me and poking me mercilessly for the rest of the night with his hard little elbows and knees.
Add to this the fact that while he is settling back into sleep mode (a period lasting anywhere from 5 - 45 minutes), he will routinely stroke my beard, pull on my chest hair and trace the outline of my ears, eyes, mouth and nose with his fingers.
I landed last Thursday, and by all rights should be comfortably back on Israel time. But thanks to my youngest (and last!) child's insistence on 'forking' instead of 'spooning', I feel like I may never get my body clock (and my blog posting) back on schedule.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Thoughts from the plane
I'm back in Israel, having landed at about 7:00 AM this morning. Here are a few things that occurred to me about traveling with Israelis on El Al:
Stuff I hate about traveling with Israelis:
1, Too loud. They all talk as though they are in their living-rooms at home and the kids have the television turned up too high. They are immune to the glares from Europeans who can't get away from the high-volumed conversations without going into the bathrooms.
2. Fashion Victims. On the best of days Israelis are never going to be accused of being fashion plates. Just walking down an Israeli street is enough to hurt the eyes and offend the senses. The few who actually dress with any semblance of taste are those who were either born abroad or have spent significant time on shlichut (working outside the country). However, based on my observations, typical Israelis must save their most outlandish get-ups for when they go on vacation. The women all were belly shirts... even when they are senior citizens and grossly overweight, and the men all seem to favor an evil mating of capris & cargo shorts worn with tank tops, flip-flops and lots of gold neck chains.
3. Rules are for other people. In the airport, on the plane and just about anywhere in a foreign destination, Israelis seem to delight in flouting the posted/accepted rules. They smoke where they want... stand where they want... and line up for absolutely nothing. In fact, I watched in amazement as some of my countrymen and women used an orderly queue of Europeans as a sort of slalom course... weaving in between the gape-mouthed Brits, Swiss and Germans to reach the check-in and passport counters. Those little rope things? Those are for other people to stand between and behind. Israelis simply detach the rope from the nearest stanchion and walk through to the front.
Stuff I love about traveling with Israelis:
1. Jewish Geography. On the plane or on the street in some foreign country, the sound of spoken Hebrew will instantly elicit a knowing nod followed by a 30 second game of 'do you know' during which it will turn out you are related by blood, marriage, business or all three.
2. Jews Abroad. At home, many secular Israelis see themselves as, well, Israeli. Abroad they suddenly all become Jews. I was having lunch at the Chabad house in Bangkok and was amazed at how many totally secular Israelis came to have a kosher meal at such places. Not only that, but I was floored at how many of the men automatically picked up kippot from the bin by the door and how many of the women grabbed the available scarves to cover up their bikinis and tank tops. Mind you, nobody was enforcing a dress code... it was simply a nice, respectful thing to do.
3. Sappy Sentimentalists. Israelis can be infuriating with their tough, know-it-all attitudes. But when returning from abroad they will still clap like children as the wheels of the plane touch Israeli soil, and will unabashedly sing along to the corny Israeli music (♪heveinu shalom aleichem♪) playing over the speakers. After a particularly soft landing a few will inevitably turn to their neighbors and knowingly say "Only one of our [former Jet fighter] pilots could land a plane like that".
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
How did they not see this coming?
In a news story yesterday, it was revealed that Hamas has banned (meaning confiscated and burned) all copies of a collection of Palestinian Folk tales because one or two of them allegedly contained what are described as 'sexual overtones'.
Now, book burning isn't exactly surprising behavior for the local branch of the Taliban called Hamas... but the general reaction of the Palestinian public is beyond surprising*:
"The book ban angered and worried many Palestinians, who long feared that Hamas would use its victory in last year's parliamentary election to remake the Palestinian territories according to its hardline interpretation of Islam.:
The reporter writes as though the Hamas government was some sort of unwanted shower gift from a distant relative that the Palestinians don't quite know what to do with. Helloooooo... you guys voted these guys into power in a landslide! The whole world warned you... not only of the financial consequences... but of the very real possibility that the PA would soon come under strict Shari'ah law.
Of course, I'm not one to talk about not seeing things coming. I think I may have mentioned on at least one occasion that I nearly wet myself one hour, 12 minutes and 37 seconds into ‘The Crying Game’. I'll be the first to admit that I have a little... OK, a lot... of trouble predicting the outcome of even the most obviously telegraphed plot turns.
But seriously, Hamas wasn't exactly keeping its 'All Islam, all the time' platform a secret during the elections.
If it wasn't such a dangerous development for those of us who live next door, this would be a really satisfying case of 'you've made your bed, now lie in it!'
Monday, March 05, 2007
Photo, um, Monday
Trust me when I tell you that hitting the delete key was the most merciful thing I could have done to today's post. The lack of sleep and multiple time zones have given me a serious case of the dumb... so instead of a post I'll give you some pictures to pass the time:
And Gilad, being the wise a$$ that he is, decided to dress up as 'a good question'... as in; whenever someone would ask him what he was dressed as, he'd answer; 'good question'. That he didn't get beat up this year is proof of G-d's mercy!
The view from my hotel room today is sorta neat... if you're into big golden idols, that is. My room looks down into the courtyard of a Buddhist Temple of some sort, and I've been watching a small army of monks in orange robes come and go.
By way of introduction to this last picture, I should probably apologize in advance to my Buddhist readers for the proximity of some potty humor so close on the heels of the previous picture. Sorry... There's really no good way to segue into this.
I spotted this poster in a mens room this afternoon. Luckily I was alone in there when I saw it because it gave me a really bad case of the giggles... and as everyone knows there is no talking, laughing or giggling in the men's room.
The bad part is that just as I was snapping the picture I heard the door to the bathroom open, and a second later a very grim looking Asian businessman came walking around the corner of the partition.
The look on his face said 'please take your European perversions back to wherever you came from', as clearly as if he had said the words out loud. There simply is no plausible way to explain away flash photography in the men's room.
It's worth noting that both of the people in the poster - the one breaking the 'no talking' rule, as well as the one who has just peed himself - have Caucasian coloring/features. For context, imagine this sort of poster in a public restroom in say, Chicago... and both characters have Asian features. 'Nuff said.
I have to go pack my bag for the last leg of my trip. Seeya.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
No, Zahava didn't toss me out of the house
snarky comments on the last post, and a few days of no new content here at treppenwitz, I didn't want anyone to get the idea that I'd been tossed out of the house.
Yes, I happen to be out of the house, but it had nothing to do with my post... or Zahava. In fact, Zahava gave me a nice big smooch as I dashed out of the house 30 minutes after Shabbat to the waiting taxi.
Here's the deal:
I'm posting this from the travel lounge at the Airport.
I found out just before the weekend that I had to fly Saturday night... yes, that's right, on Purim!... for work. Instead of spending Purim with my family and enjoying a relaxing holiday watching the kids dressed up in costumes and eating my sweetie's scrumptious cooking, I will be reading my Megilla to myself on an ElAl plane and 'celebrating' the holiday (what remains of it after I land, anyway) in Bangkok.
I'll be hopping around Asia all week, but I hope to be able to toss up a few posts... or at least a few pictures.
Thanks in advance for your patience with whatever disjointed crap I may throw up here on my journal this week.