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Monday, July 30, 2012

Thinking Tzfat This Summer?

[I'm traveling on business south of the equator and genuinely missing the warm weather back in Israel. For those in a summer mindset and looking for a great destination, here's a little write-up offered by a friend while I'm away]

The expanding tourism infrastructure in Tzfat is drawing tourists in increasing numbers, both native Israelis and foreign visitors. The peak of the tourist season occurs during the summer months when the historical sites and galleries stay open late to accommodate the thousands of people who stream through the Old Jewish Quarter and Artists Colony daily.

Visits to Safed often begin at the Tzfat Tourist Information Center where there are maps and guidebooks as well as suggestions and explanations about how to make the most of a Safed visit. The Visitors Center also offers a ten-minute movie about the History of Safed as well as an opportunity to descend into 500-year-old tunnels which have been excavated by the Livnot U'Lehibanot Israel Experience Program.

Summer visitors will find four old synagogues open daily including the Ari Ashkanazi, the Yosef Caro, the Abuhav and the Ari Sepharadi. In addition the legendary "cave" where Rabbi Yosef Caro is believed to have sat with the "Maggid" -- angel -- to write the Shulhan Aruch Code of Jewish Law is accessible to visitors who can walk down the stairs to the left of the synagogue in the morning and evening hours.

There are a number of additional activities that visitors can enjoy in the area. Dozens of art galleries are open throughout the Old City which exhibit a wide range of Judaica as well as contemporary and traditional artwork, crafts such as pottery and glass fusion and unique examples of weaving and wax sculptures.

Tzfat is known as the City of Kabbalah. Visitors can learn more about Kabbalah by viewing the 15-minute movie at the International Center of Tzfat Kabbalah or joining a class at the Ascent Institute. Many local artists combine their study of Kabbalah with their art and they invite visitors into their galleries to explain how Kabbalistic concepts influence their work.

Posted by David Bogner on July 30, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Being someone's knight in shining armor

I had a meeting in Tel Aviv not too long ago, and to get there, I had to take my scooter onto a fast moving highway called the 'Ayalon'.

At one point I found myself following a nicely dressed young woman riding a little retro looking scooter.

What struck me as odd was that she was holding onto the right grip with her right hand, with her left hand out of sight in front of he body... and she was following a somewhat erratic line.

At first I thought she might be texting on her cell phone, but when I swung into the parallel lane to pass her, a quick glance told the whole sorry tale.

She was dressed in heels, a pencil skirt and lightweight blouse... which she was unsuccessfully trying to keep from blowing completely open to expose a frilly little push-up bra.

The shoulder of the highway was littered with piles of construction debris, so she didn't really have the option of pulling over to safely re-button her blouse.

My exit was coming up so I passed her, moved over to the right lane and rode my scooter up the ramp to the red light at the end.

Within a few seconds, the girl with the wardrobe malfunction pulled up next to me and started fussing with her blouse buttons. I'm a bit ashamed to admit how closely I must have been looking to have noticed, but the top two or three buttons of her blouse were gone; having probably popped off when the first gust of highway wind filled up the fabric.

After a beat, I popped open my glove box because I was pretty sure I had one or two of those freebie hotel sewing kits tossed in there for an emergency. Sure enough, it was there among the pens, fuses, pocket knife, electrical tape and handy wipes.

I opened the little cardboard sleeve of the sewing kit, fished out the two little safety pins that were there, and handed them over to the girl whose cheeks inside her three-quarter helmet were as red as my Vespa.

Almost immediately after she'd taken the safety pins from my hand, the light changed and I started to pull out.

The shouted words that followed me into the intersection (and throughout the rest of my workday) were אתה אביר שלי (you're my knight!).

Such opportunities to help a damsel in distress are so few and far between, that the afterglow of a successful 'rescue' is enough to put a spring in my step for days, or even weeks afterwards. I figured I'd share the story with you in case you needed a reason to carry around a little sewing kit with you on your daily quests.


Posted by David Bogner on July 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Sunday, July 22, 2012

When the ump makes a bad call

Back in May, the Red Sox were playing the Detroit Tigers in front of a capacity hometown crowd at Fenway when the home plate umpire made a bad call. 

The Red Sox had a base runner on second with two outs in a tied game when the batter appeared to strike out swinging. But instead of the end of the inning, the home plate umpire called it a foul tip that hit the dirt before landing in the glove of the Tiger's catcher; keeping the at-bat alive. 

On the following pitch, the batter singled in the game winning run.  Replays showed that the catcher caught the ball cleanly and it never hit the dirt.

Anyone who follows baseball will have had the misfortune to watch a game handed to the other side by a bad (or questionable) call by the umpire.  In this case, my Red Sox benefited from the bad call (and went on the win the game), but the call could have just as easily gone the other way.  That's because the calls are made by human beings.

I like that baseball doesn't rely on instant replay for the most part.  It is analogous of life, in that sometimes the ump gets it wrong... but you have to live with the call.

If it is an early/mid-season game where very little is on the line, a bad call is frustrating... but the players and managers usually argue a bit with the ump and then shake it off; looking forward to the next at bat... and the next game.

But if a pitcher's perfect game is on the line... or it's a late/post season game which might lead to elimination, emotions run high and it wouldn't be uncommon for players and manager to yell 'enthusiastically' at the umpire over a bad call... and maybe kick a little dirt on his shoes (getting ejected for their efforts).

For their part, the umpires are aware of the fact that it is impossible to get every call right.  They are required to make dozens of key calls in every game, and they have to do so in a split second so as not to interfere with the flow play. 

While I've never actually heard a major league umpire admit it, my sense is that when they know they've made a truly bad call against a team, they keep their eye out for a way to make the next close call go the other way later in the game, or later in the series.  Sometimes such an opportunity never presents itself.  But sometimes karma or luck smile on the men in black and give them a chance to balance the scales.

The same goes with parenting.  We try to make the calls with our children as best we can.  Occasionally we think our kid has done something worthy of a being grounded, and only after it is too late to revoke or modify the punishment do we realize that the original offense, while not good, wasn't as bad as we'd originally thought.

I've rambled on this morning because I made a questionable call this past week with one of our kids.  By the time I'd thought better of it, it was too late to turn things around in such a way that plans with friends could get back on track.  The window of opportunity had closed... the game was over and lost.

I listened as my kid vented and told me how wrong I was (the family version of kicking dirt on the ump's shoes), and then responded with the gist of what I've written above.  I explained that as a parent, I try to make good decisions that will result in my children growing up to be good people. 

Do I always make the right call?  Of course not.  But I try.

I then explained that, like an umpire, I would keep my eye out for another close call... and if possible, I'd try to make sure the next one goes the other way.

It feels bad knowing I blew a call.  It feels worse when I know a big game - or an important outing with friends - was riding on the call. 

But despite the inexact science of making these calls, we parents/umps have to make them with confidence.  The strikes, balls, foul/fair balls and outs of our children's lives need to be shouted loudly, and with conviction... or else the legitimacy of the calls will be in doubt (not to mention open to debate).

I hope my kid understands all this, and will realize that in the grand scheme of things, this was an early season game.  There are many innings still to be played... and the outcome of the season is still very much up for grabs.

Posted by David Bogner on July 22, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Deflecting Blame

I was saddened, but not surprised, to find the morning headlines bleating the current excuse of the Bulgarian government for not having prevented yesterday's terror attack against innocent Israeli civilians:

"The Mossad didn't warn us!"

Really?!  Seven tourists are killed and more than 30 others are wounded within your airport facilities (an area over which the government has exclusive security responsibility), and that's the official position?!!!  'The Mossad didn't give the Bulgarian government an official warning of an impending attack, so nothing we could have done...  how could we have known, right?'

It's not like an attempted attack on an Israeli tourist bus wasn't thwarted in the same country only a few months ago.  Oh wait, it was!

And then instead of focusing on the current emergency, the Bulgarian government seemed more intent on reassuring potential tourists that their country is not a dangerous destination to spend their money!

They (meaning the Bulgarian government) even went so far in the hours immediately following the blast, to say that one of the possibilities they were investigating was that the explosives had been in one of the Israeli's suitcases; as if the tourists themselves might have been responsible for the explosion.

Finally this morning Bulgarian officials are admitting that it was a suicide bomber.  They have admitted that after reviewing the security tapes, the bomber was seen for more than an hour casing the bus and waiting for the passengers to arrive.  No mention of why the security cameras weren't being monitored, or how anyone would be able to know in advance that a charter flight of Israelis would be arriving and that they would be using a specific bus to transfer from the airport to their hotel. 

Inside job?  Nah... that's crazy talk!

Oh yes, this morning all the usual talking heads and foreign government officials are expressing their condemnation of the attack.  But, on the heels of the condemnation everyone seems to also be urging restraint on the part of the Israeli government. 

We can't have a few dead Jews upset the apple cart of International Relations, now can we?

Given the passivity with which the European governments have greeted even the most horrible attacks on their countries (e.g. the Madrid and London train bombings), I doubt they will ever come to the conclusion that of all the weapons at their disposal in the war on terrorism, the sternly worded condemnation is as useless as no response at all.

Deflecting blame from the terror organizations and their state sponsors is, for all intents and purposes, the same as actually supporting them.

Posted by David Bogner on July 19, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A busy day for the religion of peace

The Israeli media is reporting that a suicide bomber boarded a bus full of Israeli tourists which was about to depart from Sarafo airport in Bulgaria and detonated an explosive vest.

The most curent reports are of at least three killed and 20 wounded.

Call me cynical, but what are the odds that this was a random attack and that this wasn't the work of Muslim terrorists?

My guess is that this will get very little mention in the foreign media, and that Islam and terror aren't mentioned at all.

Update: the number of dead in the attack is now being reported as 7.


Posted by David Bogner on July 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Wow, this hits kinda close to home

My generation

Posted by David Bogner on July 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Monday, July 16, 2012

Flounce... writ large

For those not up on the latest buzz words, 'Flounce' is a term which is used to describe when a member of an online community announces they are leaving, usually after a protracted disagreement with other members of the community.

In the pre-Internet world, one would flounce by storming out of a meeting, office or social gathering, while vowing never to return. 

Perhaps the most memorable flouncing that can be offered for illustration of the term would be the the morning after the polls closed in the 1962 California gubernatorial race in which the incumbent, Pat Brown handily trounced the Republican challenger.  That challenger, in his ill-advised 'concession speech', blamed the press for his humiliating defeat and offered the parting shot, "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference".

Nixon's famous 1962 'flounce' serves as a classic example/cautionary tale for the simple reason that it certainly wasn't his last press conference, and the media definitely hadn't finished kicking Dick Nixon around... not by a long shot.

'Flounce' has had a resurgence in popular usage in our era because such behavior - the announcement and accompanying drama surrounding the departure... not the departure itself - remains as counterproductive to the one departing as it is baffling to those left behind.

Obviously, anyone who 'flounces' from an on- or offline community after a real or perceived slight/insult hopes that his/her noisy departure will:

1.  deprive the community of his/her presence (a very big deal or a shrug-worthy yawn, depending on whether seen from the point of view of the flouncer or the community he/she is leaving).

2.  serve as a very public reprimand to those against whom the flouncer has a grudge.

3.  create a deep feeling of remorse on the part of those left behind, as well as serving as the impetus for changed behavior so that nobody else will be similarly hurt.

But what all forms of flouncing share is that the person who storms out ('flounces') is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that his/her departure will force those left behind to beg him/her to return (almost always an incorrect assumption), when what happens is that nobody seems particularly bothered by their departure... forcing them to either remain apart or slink sheepishly back into the community with their tail between their legs.

Probably the most serious, and potentially risky, form of flouncing is the public suicide attempt.

This type of flouncing has been used as a literary device in countless books and movies, but the one that sticks on my mind is from John Steinbecks 'Tortilla Flat' in which Jesus Maria tells his friends how Petey Ravanno won the attention of Gracie (a pretty girl) by hanging himself and being rescued at exactly the right moment, thus convincing her of his love; and how Petey's father the viejo (old man) hanged himself to get the same effect, but as he stepped off the chair, the door blew shut at exactly the wrong moment, and nobody found him... until it was too late.

I've had flouncing on my mind over the past day or two because of an event that took place in Tel Aviv during one of the recent Social Justice protests.  A man who felt that he had been soundly, and iretreivably screwed by the system, poured a flamable liquid over himself and lit himself on fire.  He remains in critical condition, but survived (at least so far) because many of the nearby protesters poured their bottles of water over him and put out the flames with clothing.

I want to make it very clear that this post is not meant to make light of as serious a topic as a suicide attempt.  The man in question here, it seems, had reason to be dispondent.  He was partially paralyzed from a stroke and had supposedly been denied necessary benefits to the extent that he was essentially homeless.

What is truly troubling is that in the wake of this attempted self-immolation, the coverage has taken a very bad turn.

First, almost immediately the leaders of the Social Justice protests grabbed onto the unfortunate event to further their agenda.  They gave lip service to common sense by saying things like 'Obviously we don't want anyone to do such a thing, but...", and what followed that 'but' placed the blame for the suicide attempt conveniently at the feet of the very government they feel is deaf to their own demands for cheap housing, free education and endless benefits.

What had been a single, despondent, man attempting to flounce in as public a fashion as possible, has now been given the nod of legitimacy by the inexperienced, childish leaders of the protest movement who found it too conveneint a weapon not to take up and wield.

As a result, the day after the event more than 2000 people held an anti-government rally in support of the man who tried to kill himself, making him a convenient hero, albeit a tragic one. 

Daphni Leef, one of the most visible and vocal of the protest leaders said, “This is the responsibility of the Israeli government which is not taking care of its citizens.”.  What she failed to mention in her rush to capitalize on the tragic event, is that the man in question had attempted suicide previously (in 2005) and had a long history with a variety of drugs, run-ins with the law, and the inability to take care of himself. 

A report of his background and his psychiatric and social problems was posted to an Israeli scoop news site called Rotter, and paints a clear picture of a person who was almost certainly failed by the Israeli health care system, not by any lack of the government's interest in what is currently being called 'Social Justice.  Yet, because it was convenient, the protest leaders made this tragic man a poster boy for their agenda.

What the leaders of the Social Justice protests have failed to grasp is the inherent danger in offering a flouncer some, or even all of what they want from their act.   They don't appreciate is that once the behavior is proven effective... you can't easily put the genie back in the bottle.

By offering the excuse that 'He didn't have any choice..." or "He had nowhere else to turn...", the protest leaders have given blanket permission to anyone and everyone who has a sad or tragic story (something that, unfortunatly, is in no short supply here in Israel), to act in an irrational, dangerous, or even criminal manner.

Case in point is the fact that the above mentioned solidarity rally turned into an impromptu attempt to burn down the National Insurance Institute; the governmental well from which the Social Justice Movement childishly thinks they can magically draw unlimited benefits.

As if to make my point even more strongly, less than 24 hours after the attempted self-immolation, a man attempted a repeat performance, but was stopped before he could light himself on fire.  The man in this case, who was 'suffering' from a cell phone debt of more than 20,000 shekels (about $5000 US).  He walked into an Orange outlet, threatened to douse himself with gasoline and light himself on fire if they didn't wipe out his bill.  Luckily a security guard was able to get the bottle of gasoline away from him before he could act.

Going back to my original example, the way a well managed online community keeps flouncers from distrupting the fabric of the community is by discouraging people from giving the flouncers the attention they are seeking.  Some flouncers come back... and some don't.  But that is not the community's problem.  Flouncing cannot be allowed to become a potent cudgel with which an individual can beat the group.

Unfortunately, the leaders of the Social Justice movement are so immature, irresponsible and desperate to remain relevant, they will stoop to legitimizing even this most counterproductive of protest tactics; flouncing... even if it means spawning a rash of equally dangerous behavior.

Posted by David Bogner on July 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Jewish Resource Worthy of Note

I recently became aware of a new resource; a historic repository of sorts.  It is  the Milken Archive of Jewish Music, the largest collection of American Jewish music ever assembled.

To some that may not sound exciting.  But think for a moment... Jews have been in America for more than 350 years!   Without such a repository, much of the secular and liturgical musical legacy of the American Jewish community will simply be lost in the sands of time.

The driving force behind this project is a philanthropist named Lowell Milken.

From the short time I've spent poking around the site, the project seems quite new... like a newly constructed library building where most of the books, media and other resources have yet to be moved in.  But it seems like a worthy - lofty, even - undertaking that can only flower and grow as its collection grows.

I encourage you to check it out, and especially my friends from the Jewish music world... I hope you'll take the time to offer suggestions and maybe even consider donating historic manuscripts and recordings you may have in your personal collections.

Posted by David Bogner on July 11, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Precious!

I'm not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point over the past few years I stopped translating in my head and began thinking and speaking in Hebrew in my daily interactions with Hebrew speakers.

But there are still a few idioms and expressions in Hebrew that ring so strangely in my ear that they toss me out of whatever Hebrew frame of mind I may be in at the moment, and make me do a mental double-take.

An example of this is a form of address I hear, typically (but by no means exclusively) from Israeli men and women of Sephardic background;  In the midst of a conversation they will suddenly drop my name and start calling me 'yekiri'.

For those who don't speak Hebrew, 'yekiri' is a combination of the words 'Yakar' (precious) and 'Sheli' (mine). 

Together they literally mean, 'My Precious'.

And I assure you they are not using the term ironically.  It is an accepted, friendly term of endearment used by a certain segment of the Israeli population.

The problem is that anyone who has ever seen the Lord of the Rings movies in English knows what I hear in my head every time someone calls me 'yekiri'.


Posted by David Bogner on July 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Monday, July 09, 2012

And the Nobel Prize for optimism goes to...

... the author of the following comment on yesterday's post:


Okay, to be fair, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that comment.  It is as correct a sentiment as it is laudable.

The only problem with it (aside from shamelessly ripping of the thesis contained in John Lennon's 'Imagine'), is that pacifism only works with pacifists.

Posted by David Bogner on July 9, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Religious-bashing dressed up to look like patriotism

Last night there was a 'rally' in Tel Aviv, that was billed as a 'universal draft rally', and was purportedly held to try to pressure the government to pass new legislation that would require all segments of Israeli society to share in the burden of national defense through mandatory conscription.

If only the rally had been about what the organizers say it was, you would have seen hundreds of thousands of people there, instead of the estimated 10,000.  But as is often the case here in Israel, people rarely say what they mean. 

The first hint was the timing.  When a rally is held on a Satruday night in the early summer (when Shabbat ends after 8:30PM), you might as well post a big sign saying, 'secular Tel Avivis only... religious participants and those from outside 'Gush Dan' not welcome'.

Not surprisingly, most of the reports I have read so far indicate that last night's rally's unwavering focus was on the the Haredi (ultra-religious) segment of Israeli society who are portrayed as the primary block of Israeli citizens (i.e. potential draftees) who are not shouldering their share of Israel's national defense burden.

Before I go any further, let me state for the record that I feel strongly that some sort of an organized framework has to be created through which Haredi citizens will be required to serve the country from which they (like all citizens) derive benefit. 

However, what you didn't see or hear at last night's rally was any data that might have provided a more factual glimpse of who is and isn't serving in the IDF. 

For instance, while the information is readily available from the IDF's manpower directorate, few people mention the fact that more than half of those who receive draft notices each year are exempted from military service for medical reasons. 

Think about that statistic for a moment:  More.  Than.  Half

If even a portion of those who are currently given draft exemptions for medical reasons (think asthmatics, diabetics, obese, etc.), would be forced into an alternate track where they would be required to do some sort of administrative IDF or civilian national service, the benefit to the country would be tremendous! 

So where does that leave us?  The remaining (slightly less than) half of the population who are considered medically fit to serve in the IDF, can be divided into several large, easily identifiable demographics:

Haredi (ultra-orthodox) men

Haredi (ultra-orthodox) women

National religious women

Arab men

Arab women

Yet, for some reason, last night's rally identified only Haredi men who must be forced to enlist at any cost.

Why weren't the organizers and protesters from  the so called 'universal draft' movement talking about the other segments of Israeli society and how to bring them onboard?  And why isn't the related issue of national service - a concept that today is voluntary, but could easily be made into a mandatory parallel track for draftees who, for whatever reason are unable or unwilling to serve in the army - being discussed?

Think about this for a moment...

The number of Haredi women who could/should be doing some sort of national service will remain relatively low because, as a group, they tend to marry and start families at an earlier age than most other segments of Israeli society.

The number of national religious women who serve in the IDF has been rising steadily over the past 5 years (something you don't hear much about in the news), and such a large proportion of national religious women who don't do army service are already volunteering for a year or two of national service, that there would hardly be an outcry if civilian national service became an official 2nd track in a mandatory draft scheme.

Which leaves a huge segment (approximately 20%), of Israeli society about which the 'universal draft' movement is curiously silent:  Arabs.

True, many Arab women will probably fall into a similar category as Haredi women in terms of being exempt from any sort of national service based on their tendency to marry and start families early. 

But judging by the not-insignificant number of single Israeli Arab women who are currently enrolled in Israeli universities, I certainly wouldn't discount the potential contribution that Arab women could make - especially within their own communities - if they were obliged to do some sort of national service; whether military or civilian in nature.

Which brings us to Arab men. 

While many members of the Israeli Druse and Bedouin community serve in the IDF with honor and distinction, they do so on a voluntary basis; meaning that the overwhelming majority of Israeli Arabs are not obliged to do any sort of national service!

Why is nobody at these 'universal draft' rallies talking about this?

The reason is very simple: 

While they are saying that they are rallying to get all Israelis to shoulder their fair share of the defense burden... what they are really doing is employing a rather clever new way to attack the religious community without appearing to be anti-religious, (in much the same way that anti-Semites often disguise their hatred of Jews as criticism of the state of Israel and her policies).

I'm all for a change in the status quo... but only if it will act as a unifying force for the country.  

Until the so-called 'universal draft' movement genuinely embraces a broad platform for a universal military draft of all citizens, along with mandatory civilian national service for those who are unable /unwilling to serve in the military (according to clearly defined guidelines), you can discount these Tel Aviv 'rallies' as little more than old fashioned religious bashing dressed up to look and sound like patriotism.

Posted by David Bogner on July 8, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Talking with Siri about 'Zionist Time'

In 1999, three would-be Palestinian terrorists were killed by the time bomb they were transporting to its intended target when the explosive device went off in their car an hour earlier than they'd expected.  It was widely reported at the time that the premature detonation occured because of confusion over what time it actually was. 

It seems Israel had recently switched over its clocks to summer Daylight Savings Time, while the Palestinian Authority had remained stubbornly on standard time; having refused to conform to 'Zionist time'.  As Dave Barry would say, 'You can't make this stuff up'.

 I was reminded of this incident recently when my iPad - which I use as my alarm clock - woke me up an hour late.  When I tried to figure out why the time on my iPad was suddenly set an hour earlier than all the other clocks in our house, I discovered that the iPad 'Time and Date' function was set to automatically update itself (I guess this was the default setting in the most recent IOS update).

The result was that the iPad checked my location... determined that I lived in Bethlehem (hey, maybe the folks in Cupertino know their Bible; Genesis 35:16-20)... and decided that Bethlehem was an hour behind Efrat (which is on Zionist Israel time).  At least that was my theory.

The problem with that theory is that I hadn't heard anything in recent years about the Palestinian Authority and Israel keeping different clocks in the summer.

So I went onto the web and did a Google search for, "What time is it in Bethlehem?"  The result indicated that Bethlehem (listed as located in the 'West Bank' and sporting a Palestinian flag), was on the same time as Israel.

Hmmmm.... now I was really confused.  If the PA and Israel are on the same time, why had my iPad decided otherwise? 

Then I remembered that I have the ability to ask at least one of my Apple products questions, so I took out my iPhone (which I now noticed for the first time was displaying the same time as my iPad) and started interrogating Siri:

Me:  Siri, what time is it?

Siri: Sorry Dave, I don't know what time it is where you are.

Me:  Okay, what time is it Bethlehem?

Siri:  The Time in Bethlehem, Palestine is [an hour earlier than my watch]

Whoa!  Not only was the time she'd given me for Bethlehem an hour earlier than my watch was showing, but Siri seemed to be under the impression that Bethlehem was in the not-yet-created state of Palestine. 

I then went on to check a couple of more locations:

Me:  Siri, What time is it in Ramallah?

Siri:  The time in Ramallah, Palestine is [an hour earlier than my watch]

Me:  What time is it in Efrat?

Siri:  The time in Efrat, Palestine is [an hour earlier than my watch]

What??!!!!  Now Siri was telling me that my very Israeli town of Efrat was located in Palestine??!!! 

So I asked her a few more questions:

Me:  What time is it in Tel Aviv?

Siri:  The Time in Tel Aviv is [same time as my watch]

Me:  What time is it in Haifa?

Siri:  The Time in Haifa is [same time as my watch]

Me:  What time is it in Jerusalem?

Siri:  The Time in Jerusalem is [same time as my watch]

Well, that was a relief!  At least Siri recognized the major Israeli cities as being on Israeli time.

But something was wrong.  I asked her about the three Israeli cities again and noticed that while she had given the correct Israeli time... unlike Bethlehem and Ramallah, with Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem she'd neglected to volunteer the name of the country in which the cities are located!

By now I was smelling a conspiracy, so I asked Siri a series of casual questions that I figured would confirm my suspicions:

Me:  Siri, what time is it in Denmark?

Siri:  The time in Copenhagen, Denmark is...

Me:  What time is it in Japan?

Siri:  The time in Tokyo, Japan is...

Me:  What time is it in France?

Siri:  The time in Paris, France is...

Me (finally ready to deliver the coup de grâce):  Siri, what time is it in Israel?

Siri:  The time in Jerusalem, Israel is...


Well, that totally killed my conspiracy, theory!  But just to be thorough, I asked one last question:

Me:  Siri, what time is it in Palestine?

Siri:  Sorry Dave, I don't know what time it is in Palestine.

You all now have all the information at your fingertips that I do.  Any theories?

Posted by David Bogner on July 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Sunday, July 01, 2012

If Freud had been a mechanic

This past week I brought my scoot into the shop to have the shock absorbers replaced.  I've put over 70,000 kilometers on it in just two years, and I figured it was about time.

Once my mechanic had finished installing the new shocks, he suggested I take it for a quick spin just to make sure everything felt okay.

I couldn't have been more than five minutes from the shop when I hit a poorly maintained section of roadway, and instinctively winced as I went over a few choice pot holes.  But instead of the teeth jarring bumps I was expecting, I was shocked (pun intended) to feel almost nothing but a smooth ride.  It was like riding a new scooter!

I circled back, pulled into the shop, and almost before I'd come to a full stop started going on and on about how great it felt.

My mechanic assumed a faraway look of world-weary wisdom, and set off down the following train of thought:

"Shocks are like a bad relationship; a marriage that is doomed from the start. When you start out, everything seems great. But over time, things get worse and worse so gradually that you don't even notice... and by the time you're really suffering, you can't even put your finger on what the problem is… you just know you're unhappy, things aren't right, but you don't know why! It gets to the point where all the fun has gone out of the relationship and you find yourself on the street, constantly looking at what else is out there…"

Just then, his cell phone rang, breaking in on his riff, and he answered it, "Hallo...Oh, hi sweetie… great, how're you… yeah… yeah… milk, eggs, and and a newspaper... yeah, okay, I'll see you later. I Love you too!"

He then turned back to me, clearly having forgotten what he'd just been talking about, searched his memory to try to get back on track, and finally said, "So, you're happy with the way the shocks feel?"

The couple of people standing nearby who'd overheard his long analogy of how shocks are like a bad relationship, all started howling with laughter. I joined in when I saw the confused look on my mechanic's face… he had no clue about the irony of the situation, or what we found so funny!

For his sake, I really hope he was just waxing philosophical and not talking about his own situation… but I'm honestly not sure.

Posted by David Bogner on July 1, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack