Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Things we have learned

Here are some things I learned on my long weekend in Israel:

1. Roaches are huge. They are still scary when dead.
2. Kingdom of Pork has a second branch in Ramat Gan.
3. Aviad's mum is an amazing cook (well, we already knew that).
4. Sorry, Interior Ministry, but there are foreign workers in Israel - we know because we saw a shop called MENTAL: FOREIGN WORKERS, FILIPINOS AND ROMANIANS. We will get a photo on the next trip.
5. The Ben Gurion Airport sticker colour schemes for travellers is top secret.
6. Parakeets can be dangerous.
7. People can be amazing. On my charter flight they only gave out blankets to children. I was freezing. The little Hasidic kid next to me pretended she didn't have a blanket, got an extra one and gave it to me. These kids also fed me chocolates and fixed my earphones. Thanks, guys.
8. Jennifer Lopez is a terrible actress and Monster in Law is a terrible film.
9. Don't compete with Aviad on a computer game. He will play it until he wins. Then he will taunt you with his high score forever.
10. Shoko speaks Russian.
11. Kibbutz Galuyot is not a kibbutz.
12. When camping in the wilderness, all you need to survive is Bamba.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Island

We went to see "The Island" yesterday, to find a movie starting out with a great concept and finishing as another lame second rate action movie.

If you haven't seen the movie, do not read further - This rant Is a bit of a spoiler.

The movie starts out with a society living a weird, forced, monitored life in a big cylindrical establishment: When the character first wakes up he is told that he is having bad dreams again, his urine is tested when he goes to the loo, causing his daily meal be sans meat. During the day he will see the establishment's head doctor, who will try to understand the character's dream.

Also, all the people are living their lives waiting to win The Lottery, a ticket to The Island - A utopia made up for them to wait for so they would live a happy, quiet life trying to achieve passage to. The world is destryoed and The Island is the only place surviving. Everyone want to win the lottery, they are being forced to think that from "birth". Social contact is minimal and is discouraged, inspite of what the heads of the establishment would say: "Proximity" is against the law.

Eventually, the character and the viewer discover that the whole establishment is just a facade for a life insurance company of the worst (or the best) kind: The grow human replicas, clones, of the insured people so should something happen to them (infected liver, heart problems, etc) they would get a transplant from their best donor: Themselves. Obviously the insured are unaware to the fact their donors live a life before being cut to shreds in order to supply them with body parts, so when the character finally escapes this establishment with a female clone, they try to find their origin and tell them of what is really going on.

This is where the movie goes terribly wrong: Instead of having some clever, phylosophical endeavour, they go off in a wild run to a random location, to find themselves in the most common of action movie scenes: First the horrible bar scene looking for clues, then the cars chasing a truck with heavy things falling off it scene, followed by a flight scene, on to a car chase scene, to the obvious sex scene, and then to the commando scene where they come back to the establishment, two people who lived for merely 4 years at most, and stop a whole army sitting there to defend the place. If that wasn't enough, the movie gave us a final "the-bad-guy-is-having-second-thoughts" scene where the one chasing them all along, killing (in numbers) around half the population of Israel on his and their way, decides to help them out at the last minute and they all save the day.

Oh, I almost forgot the scene where he meets his origin, and they have a fight, and there is a guy pointing a gun at them, and they argue about who is the origin. Classic.

Sigh... I just wish movies could start AND end with a good idea...

Sunday, August 28, 2005


I hate getting addicted to games. It started with Digger (By the way, did you ever see this?), moved on to some other classics, then to die off with three great games.

Now, years after (some would say "years after buying a Mac and having no game to play," though I wouldn't agree..) I have found a new addiction in the form of Village Sim!

And Joah is very pleased about it, too.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Human Zoo

One of the things I am missing this weekend, thankfully, by being here in sunny Israel instead of miserable rainy London is this horror.

Not content with reality TV, the British are now putting 'real live humans' on show in an actual zoo. Presumably this means that people get to watch them pace up and down, 'answer calls of nature', swing on ropes and have sex in public. Sounds like any central London tourist zone on an average Saturday night to me.

Slightly more weird than this is London Zoo's other unique event, Gay Sunday. Thanks, but I don't think I will 'meet the monkeys'.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

NetNewsWire for Mac

This is a rather nice little news syndication program for Mac.

For those of us, like me, who don't like spending money, there is a freeware version, NetNewsWire Lite.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Just some stuff about some things

1. The word "sexy" should only ever be used when referring to something related to sex. To the person who today used this adjective when referring to a bespoke membership database programmed in Oracle - stop it.

2. Every Tube carriage at rush hour will always contain a man in a cheap suit and "personality tie" who will push past women to get to the one vacant seat. This man will inevitably give women a look as if to say "I don't have to give up my seat for you just because you are a woman, ha ha that's where feminism got you". This type of man is an asshole.

3. People who rush to get on the Tube just as the doors are closing, thereby standing on me, and pushing me out of the way: LOOK AT THE BLOODY ELECTRONIC BOARD THING, THERE IS ANOTHER TUBE IN JUST ONE MINUTE'S TIME.

4. Every London bus has a gaggle of teenagers playing terrible "RnB" music, demonstrating their ringtones and saying "Innit like, yeah, innit, laters innit".

5. Colleagues, if you can actually see me from your desk, don't email me. Speak. It's faster, and doesn't make me want to cry.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

Phantom Car

Microsoft just filed a patent for an application that would replace how-to-reach-X instructions.

Instead of studying an on-screen map or listening to spoken instructions, the system lets a driver pursue a cartoon car projected onto the windscreen in front of them. The navigation system checks a car’s location and calculates a route in the usual way, but the driver follows the ghost car as if it were the leader of a convoy.

Can't say I don't want that for my car.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Secrets of Life: Revealed

If you're like me (and I know I am), you're constantly pondering life's deep and meaningful questions. Today, I had to face such issues as what colour T shirt to wear, what to eat for lunch, what drink to get from the drinks machine at work, and why the Universe was created.

So it's good to know that help is at hand from a resource that has an answer to absolutely everything from why drivers of 4x4 cars park like assholes, to the difference between the Trance and House genres of popular music.

So seek the path to enlightenment, friends.

Notes from the Disengagement

I didn't give much of a preview to the last post, so I would like to correct it and write something here. Call it a postview, if you like.

The first week of actual disengagement was an intense one. Even though it was definitely not characterised by violent acts, it was absolutely filled with intense feelings. One day, standing near a Jeep, I realised I had a lot to say about what's going on here, and to as many people as possible. I took out the notebook I always carry around, asked for a pen from a friend, and starting writing. I found myself filling 4 pages just then, and another 4 got filled up quickly in the next long break we had. I can write much more and I will, and for now I translate some of it and put it up on the blog.

I hope it will shed some new light on the events during the disengagement. I am sure there are many blogs or forums showing things like this, and I am glad. People ought to write what they feel and see in this disengagement, from both sides.

I have to thank Joah, more than once and probably forever, for being like an anchor to me in a lot of cases even without knowing she is. Her love is an amazing one, and so is my love for her.

Disengagement Posts

Crying Man
A gentle grown man with an American accent is clinging himself against the wall crying; He doesn't want to leave his house.

No need to hide it. Some people are going to the disengagement. Some do not.

Crying Man

A gentle grown man with an American accent is clinging himself against the wall crying; He doesn't want to leave his house - Is it really his house? The house is empty except for a cornflex box, religious books and a suitcase already packed. There is nothing else to do, he is being told. The disengagement, the evacuation, it will be done. It's better to go quietly so that no-one would get hurt.

He stays up. Doesn't move. Partially whispering, probably trying to shout but being too drained from the crying to do so, he sings the now-common phrase "A jew does not drive out another jew". We heard that phrase so many times during training, we screamed these slogans at each other during training, when simulating the settlers. After the first week of training was over, it seemed logical to me that a good portion of what the training did was make us less sensitive to these words; Words that caused us all embarrasment, sadness, anger and sometimes arose humouristic remarks from us; This done so we could do this task in a slightly easier mind.

Obviously, it all sinks in eventually; And looking at this man crying, holding a book - most likely a Bible - I felt the tears building up in my throat. He was gently put down to a sitting position, from there four people held him from his arms and legs, making sure he can't fall and that the way they're holding him was as gentle as possible while still managing to hold his body weight. It wasn't the first time I felt like crying in the disengagement process and unfortunately, it won't be the last.

An open letter to the UK coffee buying public

Dear UK coffee buying public

When you are purchasing your skinny latte or single cappuccino or frapadapamapaccino from Starbucks, the correct way to do so is as follows:

"Please can I have a latte?"

And not:

"Can I get a latte?"

You are NOT IN AMERICA. You are NOT AMERICAN. It just demonstrates to everyone else that you think imitating the speech of characters on American situation comedies is cool. You are NOT ONE OF THE CAST OF "FRIENDS".

Also, please can you stop saying that you are "doing lunch" and just "have lunch" or "eat lunch" like regular people? "Doing lunch" just makes you sound like a prat.

Yours sincerely


Thursday, August 18, 2005


When I lived in Russia, my apartment, like every other apartment, had visits from cockroaches. These nasty little beasts are practically indestructible, as I found out after one survived me stamping on it, bashing it repeatedly with a rolled up newspaper, and trying to drown it. However, the answer to the roach problem was solved by the purchase of a couple of Roach Motels - strapline being 'They Check In: But They Don't Check Out'.

So, when Aviad told me that there were roaches in the bathroom, I suggested that a couple of Motels should do the trick. I was really quite surprised when he didn't know what a Roach Motel was...

But then, I found out why. On visiting the bathroom, I noticed a huge creature was already in there, waving its pseudopodia about. I apologised to it for rudely invading its privacy and told Aviad that there was a rare form of giant dung beetle in the loo and could he come and help lift it.

It wasn't a dung beetle.

It was a freakishly large roach. The size of a small kitten. No wonder there are no Roach Motels - they would need to be the size of real hotels, and the roaches would demand pay per view movies, room service, internet access and a pool.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Apples, apples, apples

In case you missed it, Aviad is an Apple addict. No, really. He is.

Before I got my Mac Mini, I had a Windows XP (that stands for Experience) Pro (that stands for Professional) computer, and a Microsoft keyboard (which was actually much better than the Dell rubbish I am forced to use at work).

Aviad was forced to express his regret and shame about my keyboard choice. He regretted it, but my keyboard choice was a poor one. He was ashamed, but he had to say that Apple was better. He was really sorry about it, because I was missing out on lots of new experiences with the F keys.

And so, to make Aviad happy*, I made my Microsoft keyboard into an Apple keyboard.

*and stop nagging.

Mighty Mouse

No, this is not another cartoon post, even though I have a lot to say on the cartoon subject.

This post is about Apple's new mouse, the Mighty Mouse. This mouse actually Looks like the regular, elliptic, some would say archaic yet elegant one-button mouse. In fact, the only noticeable difference is a small dot in it's front.

Practically speaking, this is a two-button mouse scrollable mouse. The no-button surface, as Apple Mice have been famous of having in their last few iterations, is actually built with touch sensors, so that the mouse knows whether you chose to make a right click or a left click, even though you're actually pressing a "one-button" area. Also, the small dot is a scrollable touch point, enabling vertically, horizontally and even diagonally scrolling. To finish it off, the useless half-ellipses on the regular Apple Mouse became a touch-sensitive pair of buttons, for programmable use.

I dislike the two side buttons myself and I usually disable them on my Microsoft IntelliMouse at work (Oh my, he said the M word!). Since this feature is programmable, it can be disabled and that satisfies me.

Just to conclude things: I wish I was able to test this mouse, because from the specs side, it looks great. No wonder it reached my Wish List.

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Jung Ones

Today, I learned that I, and the other managers at work have to undertake a personality test apparently "based on the theories of Jung".

When I have been shown my 'personality type' I will be able to discuss this with a Counsellor.

This will then help me understand how I can best contribute to The Team and the Vision.

I did the quick test on-line and it said I am like Mikhail Gorbachev. Presumably this means I will play an active role in the disintegration of a major world empire, and then go on to relative obscurity, whilst making some really quite poor advertisements for Pizza Hut.

Save me. Please.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Hasta la Vista, baby

Microsoft has announced that the brand name for its new version of Windows will be called Vista (TM). The original codename was Longhorn. That's right, Longhorn. Stop sniggering, you kids at the back. Americans don't understand why names like 'Randy' and 'Longhorn' make the UK split its sides laughing.

I wonder how many marketing professionals it took to come up with the name Vista (TM). You can almost hear them, can't you: "Hey guys! Let's idea-shower* a name for the new version of Windows! We want names that reflect the core values of Windows, sort of glass things you can look out of, looking out, out looking, Outlook, no, we already used that one....View? No, too simple...French doors? We hate the French...Panorama? No, too many of those darn syllabubble things...Wait, I need more coke...Got it! Vista! It's a fancy view, optimistic, you can see the future from here! It will bring clarity to your world. Deferred success** is not an option!"

And so Windows: Vista (TM) was born. It's got to be better than XP, which means nothing. eXtremely Professional? Whatever, its home networking doesn't work. That's home netNOTworking, Bill.

I have some alternative suggestions for Microsoft:

Windows: Can Someone Please Tell Me How To Turn Off This Annoying Paperclip?
Windows: Where Do You Want To Crash Today?
Windows: 2001 (makes as much sense as Office 2003)
Windows: I Don't Need A Little Speech Bubble To Pop Up Every Time I Use The Start Menu To Tell Me That My Programs Can Be Found Here Because I Already Know That As I Have An IQ Over 46.
Windows: I Know What You Downloaded Last Summer
Windows: Would You Like To Tell Microsoft About This Error?

OK, enough already. But mostly because I've got the giggles over Longhorn.

*It's not politically correct anymore to say 'Brainstorm'
** It's not culturally sensitive*** anymore to say 'Failure'
***It's not politically correct anymore to say 'politically correct'