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Archive for August, 2010

Radio Silence

We were temporarily living in a small apartment with a broken WiFi. However, there were a handful of nearby, open access points allowing us limited access to the Internet.

We moved a couple of days ago into the home that we rented for the year. All of our neighbors are smart enough to the have encrypted WiFi, so now my only access to the Internet is via my cell phone.

It is not so simple to get Internet to the home. You need a physical link from one company and an ISP service through a different company. The landline phone service can be provided either by the link provider or the ISP provider. The link can be regular twisted pair, cable, or satellite (all different companies).

I finally decided that I want to use cable for my link. I called today, but the automated message system only offered languages of Hebrew and (I think) Russian.

I then called the ISP that I wanted and they did have an English option. So, through that call, the ISP confernce called the cable company and found an English speaker.

We agreed to the terms an then the installation was scheduled.

SEPTEMBER 13! THAT’S CRAZY!! (that’s my quote after being told when it could be installed.)

They called me back an hour later and confirmed a better time for me — this Friday.

That is the current plan. I don’t yet know when the ISP portion will be done, but I hope I’ll have full Internet access in the home by early next week.

Categories: Uncategorized

Banana Liqueur

We’ve been in Israel now for 8 days.  Eight rough, difficult, exhausting, maddening, and amazing days.  I don’t have time now to describe it all, because שבת will start soon, but I’ll provide flashbacks in future posts (there are weeks worth of stories in those eight days).

I was planning on writing about many of the events last night, but that became impossible. It was impossible because of banana liqueur. We were grocery shopping yesterday evening in this amazing store. Actually, all of the grocery stores are amazing — I’ll explain on some other post.

Anyway, I noticed Banana Liqueur.  I’ve never seen Banana Liqueur, although my wife says it is available in the States.  We bought it and, after arriving at our temporary apartment, we sampled it.

Banana Liqueur is very good.  Very good indeed.  Also, very potent.  I drank, I became tired, I crashed, and (yet again) I didn’t write a post.

I should start writing regular posts starting Sunday.

שבת שלום

Categories: Israel

Over the Edge

I need to get some sleep.  Everything is finally packed and ready.  I need to get up in 3 hours to meet the bus.  The bus will head up to New York, and from there an El Al flight will take me (and the family) to Israel.  We are scheduled to arrive at 8:30 am (Israeli time) on Thursday.  So much has happened over the last few days, but there has been no time to write.  I’ll try to reflect on some of it later.

Check out this link after the landing to see the arrival: http://www.nbn.org.il/live/

If you use facebook, you can find it at the “Official Nefesh B’Nefesh Fan Page” (http://www.facebook.com/NefeshBNefesh?ref=ts)

I gotta get some sleep.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

The Quick Vacation

I thought it was a good idea.  Even though we had a gazillion things to get done and not a lot of time left, I agreed to visit my sister-in-law and family at their North Carolina Outer Banks beach house.  I thought it was a good idea and I’m glad that we did it.  The trip forced us away from all the issues and gave us some time to just enjoy a few days.

  • Sunday: 6 hours of driving and a late hour at the beach
  • Monday: Beach, beach, and more beach
  • Tuesday: 5 hours round-trip driving to Busch Gardens
  • Wednesday: Beach + incredible thunder and lightning show
  • Thursday: 6 hour drive back to Maryland

We had a great time at the beach and Busch Gardens was a lot of fun, although it was too hot and the driving was a bit too much.

In part, I thought this trip would be good for the Tabby Cat. I really want her to get used to traveling long distances in the carrier bag.  Also, I thought it might be helpful if she has experiences showing up in new places with new people.  The cat plan went perfectly at the beginning of the trip.  I stuffed the cat in the bag and we drove to North Carolina without any real issues.  I was very pleased with myself at how well I trained her.

I was so pleased, I even documented traveling with the cat on the trip back to Maryland.

First, you need to find the cat. This is not always easy to do.  Cats know when something weirder than normal is happening.  When all our stuff is packed and stacked by the door, she knows it’s time to hide.  Luckily, she always hides in the same basic place: under the bed.

If I stay very still, maybe you won't see me

Next, I pulled the cat out from the hiding place and attached the harness.  Tabby Cat is very sleek and hard to hold.  The harness, on the other hand, is easy to hold.  This harness was the smartest cat travel thing I ever bought.  And, as an added bonus, the cat is now resigned to wearing it.  She used to go through all sorts of antics in a crazy attempt to get the harness off.  Now, she just deals with it.

The harness is now easy to wear

Once the harness was in place, I grabbed the bag and stuck the cat into it. Then, I pulled the bag out, ignoring the hissing and flailing razor-sharp claws, and jammed the fur-ball with teeth in the bag.  I have tried different strategies: head-first and upside-down seemed like they should work best, but cats seem to have claws in unexpected places.  So, I have found that the best strategy is to do it in two steps. First, get the cat seated in the bag and then push her head down while zipping the bag closed.  Pretty simple.

Sit, stay, no..., STAY!,... down...

Once the cat was in the bag, I was pretty much home free.  The cat might make a lot of noise and look really angry or irritated, but there is not really anything she can do about it (or to you) once she’s in the bag.

Two annoyed eyes peeking through the screen

The next few stages were not photo documented because the events happened too quickly. The cat (in the bag) was carried to the car and partially buckled into a seat belt.  Then, my son says something like, “What’s that smell and why is the seat belt wet.”  At that point, I realized that there is something the cat can do while in the bag.  The bag was yanked out of the car, placed on the driveway, and carefully opened for inspection.

I was even more thankful that the cat had a harness since she was covered in urine.  So, we raced the cat into the wash room (in the basement of the house) and tried to clean her with paper towels. This didn’t really work at all. Finally, we decided the cat needed to get a bath. It was her first bath. Purrfect. Warm water was turned on in the wash basin; the sound of water, naturally, caused the cat some distress — especially when I started moving her toward it.  Again, the harness was a very good thing.

I managed to jam the cat into the basin.  At that point, I realized that sticking the cat into the bag wasn’t really that difficult — holding a cat in a basin of water, on the other hand, truly is difficult.  There was only room for one person at this wash basin, so I was holding the wet bundle of teeth and claws with one hand while rinsing various body parts with the other hand.  This activity progressed without any real incident until Tabby managed to get a claw in the shoulder area of my shirt.  At that point, she turned into a world-champion mountain climber working her way out of the tub by way of my shirt.  That pretty much ended the bath.

Next stage: I was given a dry towel and wrapped it around the cat, paying special attention to covering up all the areas with claws.  Only after the cat was covered did I dare to dry the cat with the towel.

Finally, after this additional 30 minute delay, we really needed to leave.  The cat carrier had been cleaned, but it was still somewhat wet. I didn’t have the heart to put her back in the bag again, so the cat was able to ride home without the carrier.

The best way to travel - purrfect

I really hope we haven’t taught Tabby a strategy for traveling without the cat carrier, because the next trip is the one that really counts.

Categories: Family, Pets, Pre-aliya Tags:

Time Out at the Outer Banks

I’ve had limited Internet access over the last few days. We are spending a few days on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with my sister-in-law and her family.

NO INTERNET (accept my iPhone)!

On Thursday we will drive back to Maryland and things will be back to “normal.”

Categories: Pre-aliya

Ten More Days

In 10 days we’ll be leaving the Western Hemisphere. Wow! It is starting to feel a little crazy. I have not really been able to prepare myself mentally; I’m to busy preparing physically because we still have too much stuff. Even though we sold, trashed, donated, or shipped almost all of our possessions, we still have more! All these remaining things need to be either sold, trashed, donated, or carried with us on the plane.

This seems like a fractal problem. As we de-clutter and “zoom in” on our flight date, we still have the same problem of too much stuff. I’m really hopeful that we can whittle away at it until the remaining items can actually fit with us on the plane.

The amazing Adam Bomb!

Since selling the house, I’ve been trying to get rid of more things. Last week I sold my vintage, vinyl record collection. It was lost and virtually forgotten in the basement for years until we started packing for the move. Where do you find a “brick and mortar” store that buys vinyl records? Record & Tape Traders in Towson, Maryland. I didn’t think stores like this existed anymore. Twenty years ago, before Al Gore’s amazing internet, every small town in America had at least one store like this. I know because I went to college in Terra Haute, Indiana. Terra Haute is the sixth largest city in Indiana and it still qualifies as a small town. It’s really quite nice, as long as you can ignore the wondrous sulfur smells from the various chemical processing plants. Anyway, Terre Haute has Headstone Friends and Towson has Record and Tape Traders.

So, I sold my records. I was a disc jokey at the college radio station and I used much of my own collection. I had some really amazing classics… like Adam Bomb’s solo album. Awesome, don’t you think? If you’ve been looking for a vinyl copy of it, now you know where to go.

I also tried to sell my vintage collection of collectible football cards. Vintage all the way back to the early 1990s. Why do I have such an awesome collection? Because I had a buddy who collected sports cards and he convinced me that it was a great long-term money-making venture. I’m pretty sure that the sports card collectible craze peaked in the year 1991 — that’s the bulk of my collection! That’s the year that hoards of people bought collectible sports cards (without bubble gum) thinking that in twenty years their $100 card investment would be worth six-figures. Anyway, here I am twenty years later and no one is interested in sports cards from 1991. It’s just like money, if you print to much, it becomes worthless. Luckily, back in 1992, my wife told me something like, “Why are you wasting our money on those things!” and, at least that time, I listened.

This RAV4 is awesome!

On Friday I sold my silver, 2008, V6, Toyota RAV4 Limited. I love this car. It goes when and where I need it to go and, more importantly, it stops when I need it to stop. Toyota should build all their cars like this one. I really, really, really like this car. Anyway, I sold it. It’s gone. I’m now homeless, jobless, and car-less.

The tooth that wasn't

Even my son is working on getting rid of things; on Thursday, he had a “baby” tooth extracted to make room for an adult molar. It’s so nice having everyone involved in the common goal of getting rid of things.

One final thought. If everyone recycled as much as we have been, the world would be full of… well… full of a lot more recycled garbage.

That's a lot of recycling!

Categories: Pre-aliya

The Plan

It was a simple plan: let’s move to Israel. It sounds a bit overwhelming; after all, just moving to a new house across town can be a major operation and moving to Israel is obviously more complicated than that.  But is it really significantly more complicated than, let’s say, moving to another region of the US?  After all, once you’re moving more than a few hundred miles, does the distance really matter?

The distance probably doesn’t matter once you’re talking about more than a thousand miles, but there are plenty of other complications that do matter.  However, as long as we focus day-to-day on the issues at hand, and don’t think or dwell on everything at once, then it seems doable.

It was relatively easy to get accepted by the Jewish Agency as a new immigrant.  Israel has the “Law of Return” which provides a streamlined process to citizenship for Jews.  I guess that was probably the easiest part.

It was difficult telling our parents.  This great country (the United States) is so large that our families are already spread out across thousands of miles. Yet, the distance does not seem so great because we are all living in just one country. As a result, it was difficult explaining our desire to live on a different continent. Thankfully, everyone has been supportive (although many are concerned or worried.)

Selling the house was also a major pain.  We placed the house on the market last October with the intent to move to Baltimore. Why Baltimore? Well, why not? We currently live in Columbia, Maryland, which was rated recently by some big-shot survey as the #2 best place to live in the country. Guess what? I believe it! This is a great place to live — as long as you’re not us.

My children attend private day school…in Baltimore. The majority of our friends live…in Baltimore. The restaurants that we are willing to use are… in Baltimore. The kosher shopping is done… in Baltimore. The children’s friends live… in Baltimore.  So, although Columbia is a great place to live, it is not so great for us.

Anyway, it took so long to sell the house that we eventually realized that neither of us really like the city of Baltimore.  It would be convenient and we would be near our friends, but why move to a city that you don’t like when you can travel to some remote land where they speak a different language and constantly fight with neighboring countries.  Seems like a no-brainer. If nothing else, it should be exciting.

Quitting my job was difficult, primarily because it was a great job, with great people, and with a great mission.  The fact that the work was stable, profitable, not transferable, and really the only business that I know added to the difficulty. Having said that, now that I’m unemployed, I have a completely new perspective. I think I am enjoying life more without all those pesky work responsibilities. I guess I can see the appeal of living on welfare.

We sold the house at the perfect time (although, not at the perfect price). The timing really could not have been better. Instead of renting storage or having to move our goods into a temporary home, we were basically able to store everything in a great, big crate floating in the Atlantic Ocean. Sweet.

I think that we have basically completed the easy parts of the plan (although I still need to dissolve my corporation, which should also be relatively easy.)  Thankfully, the hardest part of the plan should also be the best part: learning Hebrew, starting a new career, and adapting to a different culture. At least that is what I want to believe. So for now, that’s the plan, and I’m sticking to it.

Categories: Pre-aliya Tags:
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