Vanilla. And it's delicious. I was grocery shopping a few days ago and I just saw it sitting there on the shelf in a big plastic jar labeled "instant pudding" transliterated into big Hebrew letters. A whole kilogram of creamy yellowish-white powder just waiting for five liters of milk to mix with. I couldn't resist a dare like that.
This section contains the following posts:
Hooray! After a night of letting it cool down, the old hard drive responded well to the repair procedure on the vendor's diagnostic/recovery CD. This means that I've been able to grab all the data I care about from the old disk. Since this is the second time that this drive has decided to fail within the past few months, I no longer trust it and I bought a replacement for it this morning. Since the failing drive is still under warranty I'm going to get the vendor to send me a replacement also. It will be nice to have two hard disks because I will then be able to take all the tedium out of making backups through the magic of RAID 1 (which does disk mirroring).
Bah! My hard drive seems to have died as of a few hours ago. Fortunately, I'm well-prepared, so the computer is back online again with a small replacement drive that I've got handy for just such an emergency. My last data backup was made a month ago, so the loss is stinging, but not staggering. You'll notice that the diary entries in the past 30 days or so have disappeared, and that is why. If anyone happens to have copies of those old diary entries saved somewhere, I'd be happy to accept them. If I'm lucky, I might be able to pry some data off of the old drive, but it's not to be counted on. This sort of thing is still very annoying, no matter how prepared you are.
Yikes! I've been tagged by Steve, so now I must participate in this silly game. Apparently the rules are as follows:
After a couple weeks of warm sunniness and pink puffy clouds, I was getting more than a little bored with the weather, so last night I was happy to feel the humidity rise and the temperature drop, and see the fog roll in and the lightning flashes in the distance. The promise of rain was fulfilled very early this morning and it's been both pittering and pattering all day. There's something mystical about staring out your window and seeing nothing but the pearly mists swirling around. Itai is coming over for Shabbos again, and we're eating both meals out at the tables of different families I know in town. Now it's time for me to tramp through the puddles to the grocery store with my umbrella and coat, all the while counting the minutes till my dear-heart pierces the veil and arrives on my doorstep.
Yesterday afternoon, Chava called me up and asked me if I could change her Web site so that a sample song would start playing as soon as someone visited the site. I figured that the best and easiest way to do this would be to create a Flash applet, and it seems I was right.
Today marks two anniversaries for me. It was four years ago today that I boarded the plane that took me to my new home in Israel. And it was one month ago that I started dating Itai. This is a time for me to celebrate the two biggest steps in my life toward wholeness and happiness. This past Shabbos was spent with my dear Itai, and was filled with more than enough good memories to appropriately mark this auspicious occasion. I thank G-d for helping me find someone who enriches me so and who so stimulates me to open my heart to shower whatever goodness I possibly can upon him and upon all the world.
Last night I zipped over to Tel Aviv to take my Itai out to dinner. He had been working like the dickens for almost a week to prepare for a presentation he had to give in one of his history classes on a 550-page article written in French. The presentation, of course, had gone off as well as I'd predicted, despite Itai's doubts and nervousness about public speaking. But he sure was worn out and hungry and in need of some good old R&R.
That's right. This January, I'm going to be making my first visit back to the US in over three years. I'll be leaving with my sister and niece on the 4th, and we should be arriving in the Baltimore area late on the 5th, after a short layover in Paris. (It will be my first time in France, so I'm open for suggestions on interesting things that can be seen or done in just a few hours.) After getting to America, the first order of business will be visiting my grandparents in Connecticut to celebrate my Safta's 80th birthday. After that, my plans are pretty free-form. My only goal is to visit as many family members and friends as I can in the three weeks that I'll be there. So if you're in the States and you're reading this, then I hope we can get together.
It's been unseasonably warm this week, and that might have some relationship with the amazing sunsets we've had the past couple days. This Shabbos both started and ended with the western horizon set aflame with scarlet clouds.
Over Sukkos, I read A Separate Peace by John Knowles. This was a book I'd been assigned to read back in ninth grade, but the homoerotic undercurrents of the story freaked me out so much at the time that I couldn't properly concentrate on it very well and so I faked my way through most of the schoolwork that was assigned with the novel. Of course, I was all the more freaked out because it seemed like I was the only one seeing that sort of theme, and so part of me assumed I was just being gutter-minded and reading stuff into the book that wasn't there. Now that I've been around the block a few more times, I'd since discovered that it wasn't just my wild imagination at work, and so I was happy to take a second, fresh look at this marvelously well-written book.
This past Shabbos was a quiet one, and I mostly just caught up on some reading. Most notably, I went back and read the end-notes for The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene. I'd finished the main text earlier this week, but I wanted to collect all the end-notes to see if anything terribly interesting was hidden within. The book was quite enjoyable. As its subtitle suggests, it is about "Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory." This was particularly interesting to me since until reading this book I didn't know much about string theory other than that it is a cutting edge branch of physics that, though still in its infancy, promises to heal the pernicious rift that divides relativity theory and quantum mechanics and provide us with a unified view of the rules that govern the universe's most fundamental machinery.
Today I spent way too much time flirting with Typo. Typo is a blogging system based on Rails. Rails, in turn, is the Web application framework for Ruby that's been making Web developers so very excited lately (and with good reason). Ruby is the only programming language that's been able to tempt me away from Python ever since I first discovered Python's incredible sleekness in my senior-level algorithms course at university.
Last night, we surprised Seth with a birthday party at his apartment. Rachel invited a bunch of Seth's friends, and Becca and I made our own separate journeys from Tzfat. Rebecca and Avraham and Ashira simply drove in yesterday evening, and arrived early enough to help out with decorations while Rachel distracted Seth by taking him out to dinner. I took a less direct route to Jerusalem since travelling for three hours on Wednesday would conflict with my work schedule. So I left Tzfat on Tuesday night and arrived in Tel Aviv where I could crash with Itai and do all my Wednesday work shifts and still have time to get to Jerusalem in time for the party.
On Thursday night, Itai and I travelled to Tzfat. By the time we got to my house, it was past midnight and we were both ready to go straight to bed. Between working and shopping and cooking for Shabbos, Friday went by in the blink of an eye, even though I had gotten an early start on the day. The one thing that both Itai and I noticed about Friday was how much we had both missed just having a partner in the kitchen, turning together through the dance of making Shabbos, quietly chopping or frying vegetables in harmony.
Last night, I made a trip to Tel Aviv to spend today with Itai. I took the 6:35pm bus from Tzfat to Akko (a.k.a. "Acre" to you Anglophonic archeology academics), and took the train from Akko to Tel Aviv. This was my first time travelling by train in Israel, and I must say that it is a very pleasant change of pace from bus travel: smoother ride, more comfortable seats with a table in front of you, more space, and shorter transit time. My only complaints were that they had the air conditioning on so high that I had to wear my coat with the hood up and that they had the inside car lights on so bright that I couldn't see the scenery through the windows.
...but in a good way: Itai's latest journal entry articulates a lot of thoughts that I've had myself almost exactly. I've also given a lot of thought to the necessary criteria that my prospective mate must match, and I've also done the back-of-the-envelope calculations to realize how the slice of humanity that these criteria leave for me is vanishingly small. Now when I meet a person on my first try that successfully meets every important criterion, and who is also seeking the exact same improbable things in his mate, is it a merely some sort of analog to the anthropic principle at work, or is it a miracle?
Yesterday, I was too tired from my adventures out of town and my late-night return to do anything much of note, besides sleeping late, working all day to catch up, and posting a new version of MoosicApplet from good old Paramjit. (Please don't ask me how to pronounce his name.)
My second date with Itai was deliciously comfortable. So much so that the first date seems practically wooden in comparison. We met at 3pm at Yaffo Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem. From there, I led the way to a little nook with flower-covered walls in the ruins on the way to the Kotel. On the way, I began a patchwork presentation of my life story. When we got to our destination, I continued talking while drawing a little picnic feastala from my backpack. We munched and chatted until the descending afternoon shadows caused the cold to creep up on us.
Friday went by fast, split equally between working and picking up groceries from the shuk. It was a pleasure to get reacquainted with the intense liveliness of the Machaneh Yehuda market. As always, it reminded me of a scene from an Indiana Jones film, with merchants of all kinds hawking their wares at the top of their lungs. Rachel did the cooking, since Seth and I were working for most of the day.
I was pretty nervous at first. Having run out of ways to prepare for the date, I had nothing better to do than to show up at the restaurant at 6:45pm, fifteen minutes early. Even though I kept scanning in all directions for him, Itai came up and practically tapped me on the shoulder before I saw him. I greeted him with a smile and presented him with a small bunch of purple flowers I'd bought earlier in the day. Rachel (my brother Seth's girlfriend) thought the flowers were awfully sweet, but I think that sort of gesture might be something that's more appreciated by women than men.
It's official. I've got my first date in a long while all lined up, and I'm bouncing with anticipation. His name is Itai, and we learned about each other through a web site for personal ads a little more than a week ago. We've been emailing each other since last Thursday, and he seems like just my type. We'll be meeting this coming Thursday at the Village Green, a vegetarian restaurant in Jerusalem. Wish me luck!
This morning I attended the first lesson in a four-part weekly course on Chi Gung, given by Michael Oxman, Tzfat's resident practitioner of Chinese medicine. A lot of the principles and material was familiar to me from when I took a course on Tai Chi Chu in the summer session that was my very last semester at university. On the way home after the lesson, my body was rushing with heat sensations and almost more energy than I could contain, so it looks like it got my chi flowing pretty well. Fun so far; we'll see how this develops in the next few weeks.
The past two days have been full of lots of random geekiness. Yesterday, I went to hang out with Ashira and Becca, but got commandeered into helping Becca with her web site and spent at least as much time teaching Becca how to use .htaccess to lock web pages with a password as I did stealing the precious little baby from her.
For Shabbos, I'd invited my friends Avicom and Yael to dinner to welcome them to town. They just moved in this past week or so to do a few semesters of school at Tzfat's little branch of Bar Ilan University. I wouldn't have even known they were in town except that I'd bumped into them on Tuesday night on the way to the bus station. The early onset of Shabbos was again highly unappreciated as I rushed on Friday to get all the shopping and cooking and cleaning done. Fortunately, the spaghetti and meat sauce were finished just in the nick of time. Avicom and Yael also brought along Amir, who was staying with them for Shabbos, and whom I'd first met when Avicom spirited Justin away to Tzfat for the weekend before Justin's wedding. The honey-flavored distilled wine they contributed to the meal was fully appreciated. I wanted to see Avicom and Yael's new apartment, so I walked them home after dinner. I knew they lived way on the other side of town, but I hadn't even realized that Tzfat extended quite so far east. This neighborhood was obviously not built more than a few years ago, and it's got some very nice houses in a variety of styles along its suburban streets. As I'd been warned, the apartment's bathroom is bigger than my bedroom, and the spacious living room has a nice shiny marble floor on which you are not allowed to wear your shoes. After Yael plied me with tea and an invitation to spend the night, I couldn't find any pressing reason to walk home. So I stayed at their house for the rest of Shabbos. Yael gave me a biography on Albert Einstein to give me some needed practice with reading Hebrew, and I promised to tutor her in statistics. After Shabbos, Amir and Avicom and I took Amir's car down for a quick jaunt to Rosh Pina to see if there would be anything interesting to do. There wasn't, aside from a little window shopping and the decidedly mediocre cigars that Avicom and Amir bought and smoked.
I got back to Tzfat very late Wednesday night, but not too late to say good night to Seth and Rachel, who were still at my house but were leaving the next morning. On Thursday morning, I met up with the Laderman family and started them on a highly accelerated tour of the town before taking them to hike down in the wadi. I walked them through the Artists' Colony, past Becca and Avraham's house, and through the alley in the Old City that's filled with vendors of multifarious art objects. Sara Malka's eye was caught by the promise of weaving at the Canaan Gallery located just a little before my house, and so we stopped in to check out the looms. The kids, Efraim and Shoshanna, occupied themselves with ogling the nifty collection of elegant metalwork in the gallery while Jacob and Sara Malka talked shop with the weavers. I practiced my highly inept flirting skills on Uri (the sweet Israeli I'd gotten to know on Rosh Hashanna) who was working there.
The night after the festival ended, I zipped away on a short trip to Jerusalem for Justin Alexander's surprise birthday party on Wednesday. Ironically enough, Seth was coming to Tzfat the same night with Rachel and the rest of her family, so we wound up trading apartments for the night. The birthday party was a success. There are even a few pictures, in which I look like a total dweeb. The original plan was to go to the paintball place at 3 o'clock, but they totally screwed us out of our reservation, so we got bumped to 5:30. We took advantage of the extra time to have a late lunch of hamburgers and gawking over each other's electronical gadgets. The paintball itself was okay despite several problems. When we first got there, we had to wait about a half hour for reasons that are still unclear to me. After we finally got our short training session and were suited up, we went out to play with big group of forty or fifty high school students. And that was when the problems really manifested.
The festivity-filled month of Elul is just about over and the I'm happy to return to the normal, quiet routine. For the final holiday of Simchas Torah/Shmini Atzeres, I played host to Rachel's brother Daniel (visiting Israel with Rachel's parents for Sukkos) and his friend Aaron. After hours of gratuitous dancing in shul, we had dinner at Becca and Avraham's, where I got to catch up with Chana Golda, an old neighbor from Nachlaot. Lunch the next day was a quiet affair in my sukkah, just me and my houseguests. The earliness with which sunset had descended on Monday evening had me in a tizzy trying to get everything prepared and still squeeze in work, and in the frenzy I'd neglected to flip on the timer for the oven, so it was stuck on all night and all day, which meant that the chicken I'd made for lunch got quite overcooked. Thankfully, it managed to remain quite edible anyway. Lucky save. After spending most of the afternoon napping, I left my guests behind for a while to visit with Becca, and she let me borrow The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene, which is an explanation of superstring theory for the layperson. I'll wait till I finish it before writing much more about it, but I'm enjoying it so far.
The holidays have felt like such a whirlwind, there seems to be so little time to write. I spent a very nice Rosh Hashanna at Becca and Avraham's, the highlight of which for me (besides playing with Ashira) was getting to know their friend Uri a bit better. Uri seems like a quiet, sensitive type to me, which is what I find absolutely lovable in a man. But while he's unmarried, I haven't much idea how to tell if he plays for my team (if you'll excuse my Sienfeld-ism). I've never been expert at subtle social maneuvers, and striking up a date with someone when you aren't certain whether their sexual orientation is compatible is one of the most tricky tasks I can think of. Perhaps it's just as well, since my limited Hebrew coupled with Uri's limited English would make for rather limited conversation.
The rest of that Shabbos was pretty chill. Since Seth and Rachel were both out of town for Shabbos, I was responsible for taking care of Meeko, Rachel's month-old kitten over Shabbos. Since he's so young, he had to bottle-fed rather frequently. I managed to acquire a nastly back-ache while sleeping in Rachel's apartment, possibly because I was unconsciously stiff with caution against rolling over and squooshing little Meeko.
On the following Friday morning, I took a break between my shifts at work to have breakfast with my friend Alex Margolin. Since I last saw him (almost a year ago), he had gotten engaged to a British comedienne, and I wanted to hear whatever I could about her. But I made the mistake of letting slip that I had my own news to share, so I only got the basic details before Alex's curiousity got the better of me. I keep expecting people to at least blink in surprise when I tell them that I'm gay, but I should know better than that when talking to someone who lived so may years in LA. Alex had plenty to ask me about the topic, though, having never been much involved with the issue in the Jewish world before. It was a good experience for me to explain in person the position at which I've arrived. The thorny question to debate was whether and how to tell our mutual friend, Dov, about me being gay. I was going to be eating Shabbos lunch at Dov's house the next day, and I wanted to figure what I was going to say, if anything. The big deal is that Dov is probably the most Charedi friend that I have. Unlike all the people I'd come out to so far (excepting my mother), he's not virtually guaranteed to accept my decision to seek my bashert from among the menfolk.
I just got back to Tzfat late last night. I've been busy all day working and arranging for work coverage for the next couple days, so it looks like I'll have to wait until after Rosh Hashana to finish writing about the rest of my recent adventures in the Jerusalem area. Until then, have a sweet and happy new year! G'mar chasima tova!
On Thursday night of the day of the Parker bris, Seth was working all evening, so I joined Rachel and her friends for a night out. Our first destination was the local office of Nefesh B'Nefesh where they were throwing a reunion barbecue for recent immigrants who'd come over with their help in the past year or so. I met up with Rachel at her apartment, where she introduced me to Adelia and reintroduced me to Alina, whom I'd met at the bar the previous night. I also got to meet Rachel's month-old kitten, Meeko, for the first time.
The one problem with Tzfat is that (as far as I can tell so far), there's practically no social life for an American-born single looking to change the single status. Now that I'm equipped with the right gadgets to take my job with me away from home, I'm ready to wander around in other cities and restart some sort of social life. So when Eliyahu invited me to Shilo for the bris for his new baby boy, it was the perfect excuse to haul myself out to Jerusalem for a little getaway.
I've officially had it with GNU Mailman. Not only is its interface hopelessly cluttered with a bajillion cryptic options, it's just downright flaky. It usually works just fine, but whenever it suddenly decides to not work, it gives no warning whatsoever nor any feedback on what went wrong, and the only available remedy is to attempt random voodoo with the above-mentioned cryptic options. The truth is that Mailman is just not designed for what I want it to do. By default, the lists created with Mailman are discussion-style lists where all members are expected to participate by posting messages to the list. But for RCBMP, I need to provide an announce-only mailing list, where only one person sends messages and all the normal subscribers only receive the messages. I've had to twist Mailman's arm viciously to get it to behave as an announce-only list, and I'm sure I've screwed up something stupid that's buried somewhere under that huge pile of poorly documented and mysteriously interacting configuration directives.
Last night, the first rainfall of the season fell on the Upper Galilee. About a month early, but I'm not complaining at all. The lovely humidity seems to have finally healed my persistently dry nose and throat. The gentle drizzle started sometime in the wee hours of the morning and left the world softly soaked by the time I got out of bed this morning. Now the landscape is shrouded by a fog that drifts in and out to alternately hide and reveal the mountains on the horizon. I love fog.
I appear to have fallen under the weather. I should have known something was up as early as Friday, since I had trouble singing at Kabbalas Shabbos and my left lymph node was swelling and tender, which seems to always happen when I'm about to come down with something. Staying up way too late on Saturday night must have been the last straw, because I was feeling ooky for most of yesterday. My voice had recovered enough last night that I was able to sing normally when I suddenly got invited to a sheva brochos meal at the home of Baruch and Batya (friends of Avraham and Becca). But when it came to bedtime, I could barely sleep at all because my nose and throat were so dry. A mosquito also took to snacking on me, and I couldn't use my usual tactic of warding it off by running the fan, because flowing air and parched sinuses do not mix. So I spent most of today bed-ridden, crawling out only to eat and work. A shame because there were some errands I really would have preferred to get out of the way. Treating myself with copious amounts of food and water seems to be doing the trick, though, and I predict a decent night's sleep tonight.
Some of you have been bugging me for pictures for a very long time. I've finally caved in. You can see the photographs I've taken by visiting my section of flickr. Enjoy.
Success! Trying though it was at times, I've replaced the hard drive in the iBook and now it's contentedly churning its way through a Mac OS X installation. And I only have a very few little leftover bits and pieces! :)
So on late Monday afternoon, Becca calls me up and tells me that Seth will be getting into town in about an hour. This was the first I'd heard of this, and I'd hoped to have my iBook fixed before I saw him next so I could give it to him. So while I waited for him to arrive, I started the long process of taking the laptop apart. When Seth called me from Becca's house, I'd gotten about a third of the way through the crunchy outer shell into the chewy center and was becoming exhausted by the trying steps of disassembly.
On Sunday, the Palm LifeDrive that I'd ordered a week and a half ago arrived, tossing me into a tizzy of "new toy!" excitement. This tiny computer is a lot like any other Palm Pilot or similar PDA, but it's packed with high-end features like a 4 gigabyte hard drive, a (relatively) large color screen, sound recording, the ability to play music and videos, and (most importantly) wireless communication with other computers. Together with a fold-out IR keyboard accessory, this is meant to provide me with a computer to use for work when I'm away from home, since I have concluded that every affordable laptop in existence is far too heavy and fragile for me to enjoy as a travelling companion.
Thursday night, the third and final night of the Klezmer festival seemed a little less crowded than the previous two nights. Mark and I had spent the day touring art galleries in town, and so we were both well rested for the concerts of the evening. We started out at the stage near Rebecca and Avraham's house. The first act of the evening was very talented solo violinist. It was exactly what I was looking for in this festival, since I'd heard relatively little violin music so far, whether because there were fewer violinists this year or simply because of bad luck. Although this violinist was technically excellent, she didn't project a very charismatic stage presence so the crowd didn't seem as engaged as it could have been. She simply walked on stage after her introduction, played some songs wonderfully, and walked off.
My previously mentioned friend, Mark, arrived in town at around 5pm yesterday. He got a late start on his travels from Jerusalem because he got occupied with finishing up at his job, where he works overnight hours. Despite the fact that he hadn't slept for well over 24 hours, he still showed no inclination to sleep. I made chili for dinner and showed him how I did my job. He talked a lot about his workplace. He's a manager at a big communications company that has a big branch in Jerusalem. The work itself is pretty meaningless to him, and he's sick of being forced into the role of pointy-haired boss. Unfortunately, he's been completely unable to find opportunities in his original and preferred profession of social work in the several years that he's been living in Israel. Eventually, Mark got his work stress out of his system and he gave me a little gossip about the old neighborhood over dinner.
Yesterday I helped Becca learn how to successfully shrink movies recorded with her camera, including an overview of the fundamental concepts of digital video encoding. It was a bit frustrating for a while, since Apple's QuickTime encoder seemed to think that her movies contained no audio track and MEncoder's Mac OS X wrapper is just generally rough around the edges. But we eventually figured out how to produce a file that balanced size and quality and compatibility. Afterward, she rewarded me with lunch at the Canaan Gallery where a couple of her friends work. We enjoyed sandwiches and quiche and a mango milkshake, while Ashira entertained us endlessly, snatching at everything within reach and blowing bubbles into her water bottle with a straw.
I went shopping for a bigger fridge. The little counter-top fridge I've been using for the past couple months, while cute, just isn't cutting it. I can deal with its tininess, since a life filled with an excess of playing Tetris has trained me well in the art of efficient packing. But it just isn't strong enough to wage battle against the Israeli summer heat. After a day of heat soaking into the environment, its internal thermometer hovers around 20 degrees Celsius. The new fridge uses more conventional refrigeration technology rather than a dinky little Peltier engine. It should be delivered either tomorrow or Sunday. In preparation, I moved the dead washing machine that came with my apartment out of the way by sliding it next to the kitchen stove, providing a pleasant side effect of a little more usable counter space in that area.
I've added a few new features for you beloved diary readers. Yesterday, I activated the ability to add your own comments to each entry. I don't know if anyone will actually care to use this, but it was requested by a vocal minority.
After over a year of procrastination, I've placed the finishing touches on version 1.5.2 of Moosic. There's nothing terribly exciting about this version, which is why it incubated for so very long. I didn't want to release a new version until I'd added a significant feature or two. My particular goal for this release was to implement support for a configuration file that would alleviate the need to specify options on the command line if you happened to always use the same options. The most significant reason why I never did this illustrates what is probably the weakness in this program's development model. Since the only real motivation for development is to satisfy my own personal wants, any issue that doesn't affect me personally probably isn't going to get that much attention in the long run, no matter how much a particular idea appeals to me theoretically. And since I, the author, get to set the built-in defaults, I'm just never going to care *deeply* about making it convenient to override those defaults. I suppose the exception to that rule is the program's documentation, but we can attribute the painstaking work done in that area to my own private little obsession.
After Tisha B'Av ended, Avraham invited me home to break the fast with Becca and Ashira, as we found ourselves both at the Abuhav shul for evening services. Together with Guy and Tiferet, who were visiting from Jerusalem for the "holiday", we dined upon Becca's delicious delicacies, including her amazing-as-usual challah. A fun time was had by all, and I got the opportunity to be impressed with Rebecca's and Avraham's newfound obsession with the Kotel camera, continual live video and audio straight from the Wall, running full-screen on two monitors. There was still quite a crowd leftover, apparently lingering even after the completion of services.
...or, you know, the night after tomorrow night; because Tisha B'Av.
Lately, the deep-summer heat has been discouraging me for going outdoors for extended periods of time. I hadn't done much in the way of walking for a few weeks, so last Wednesday I took advantage of the cooling evening to hike out toward the hills to the southwest of town. I followed the trails and dirt roads that snake around the hills until I saw some lights from must have been the village of Akhbara. Across the valley I saw a small light that I thought must have been a campfire.
I made an apple pie, rectangular though it may be. I tossed in raisins and prunes that I had lying around in an attempt to keep them from going to waste. It's still too hot to know if it was a success or not.
The most important book I got last week was Wrestling with God and Men. It is a call to the Orthodox Jewish community to find an acceptable solution for people with a homosexual orientation who do not wish to reject Orthodoxy. It pains me greatly that I feel the need to clarify that a halachic view which sentences any person to a life in which any kind of meaningful, loving partnership is categorically denied is not acceptable, but Rabbi Chaim Rapoport very clearly asserts that such a level of cruelty is indeed acceptable in his comprehensive and technically expert treatise, Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View.
Today I got an email message from a helpful stranger telling me that all the links in my entry for ParseTime on PyPI were broken. Indeed they were. I had submitted the information about ParseTime to PyPI when I first developed it, and the software led a quiet and happy life on my Web server until the early summer of 2004, when I lost a rather significant amount of data in a hard drive crash (the most powerful lesson in proper backup procedure). This little slip of a Python extension module was one of the more significant things lost.
This afternoon, Becca needed a nap but Ashira wasn't the least bit tired. So the bat-signal strobed across the sky and I swooped in to save the day. Boobalah greeted me with her usual beaming smiles. I can't help but get the impression of Avraham's face when looking at Ashira smile, which is weird because I can't consciously see it when I look at Avraham himself. It could be the beard getting in the way. I'll have to dig up and scrutinize some of his old baby pictures.
I had yet another "Oh, you're Rebecca's brother" moment today at the post office when I met her friend, Neely (sic). She heard my name as I was collecting the first half of my recent order of books and DVDs from Amazon and recognized it as Becca's maiden name. With no other introduction, she simply stated, "You're Rebecca's brother." "Yes, I am," said I, with little surprise. After the briefest of introductions, she wandered off, and I finished receiving my package. But as I was tearing the box open to see the order of the episodes on the Wonderfalls DVDs (the proper order in which to watch my low-quality, bootleg copies of the episodes is rather suspect in some cases), she appeared once more. We chatted a bit about the quantities of the taxes applied to imported items in Israel, and collectively decided that the 17% VAT tax in my case wasn't too grievous an offense, considering that far worse tariffs are far from unknown.
I finished reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. That's really the only interesting thing I did all Shabbos.
I just finished reading the sci-fi anthology that Seth got me for my birthday. It was a bit uncomfortable to read for a while there, because it got infused with kerosene fumes from my fire-spinning equipment on the bus ride home from Justin's wedding. But in the end, it was well worth the occasional choking fit, and by now it hardly smells at all.
The new washing machine that I ordered and which I was told would be delivered on last Wednesday finally arrived today. The shipping men had enough trouble merely figuring out how to get within the vicinity of my house, as they apparently hadn't any particular knowledge of the layout of Tzfat (and equipping delivery men with maps apparently hasn't yet occurred to the powers that be). By the time I reconnoitered with them several blocks away from my house, it had already become apparent to them that there was no feasible road access to any point directly next to my house and that the machine would have to be hauled by hand for quite a few blocks and up a few rather tall flights of stairs.
I know I'm a grammar nazi. This just seems to be my most recent pet peeve, so I might as well get it off my chest. The good news is that most English speakers seem to have broken their horrible habit of saying things like, "Jill and me were eaten by the alligator," instead of correctly saying, "Jill and I were eaten by the alligator." The bad news is that the price for this progress seems to be the fact that people who really should know better say maddening things like, "The alligator ate Jill and I," instead of correctly saying, "The alligator ate Jill and me."
I made shepherd's pie, which turned out well, except for needing salt. I'm almost done with the book of sci-fi short stories that Seth got me for my birthday. It turns out that there are two stories in the book that I had read before (I had originally thought that they were all going to be new to me), but they were worth reading again.