Monday, March 30, 2009

And more only in Israel

Another only in Israel moment.

It could just be any wacky guys until you get to the security officer who lets them continue once he finds out what is going on.

No we do not know these people.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

This is a serious only in Israel sort of thing.

Learn to Shoot
with Top Israeli Anti-Terror Experts

It is a FAMILY day course in anti-terrorist training. Children. With. M-16s.

$100 per person (only $85 for groups of 20 or more) for a 2 hour session of

  • Programs for Families, Groups and Individuals

  • Professional M16 Training

  • Professional Handgun Training

  • Live Anti-Terror Demonstrations

  • Speak with Top Anti-Terror Experts

  • Get an insider's view of the immense security challenges Israel faces

  • Learn how we protect Israeli families from terrorists

  • Bodyguard and Security Services

Yes we are thinking of going.

I miss roots.

I have to take Channah for yet another backpack for school. Another one bites the dust. She likes the ones on wheels so they get expensive the way she blows through them. I would get upset, but she isn't hard on her toys/stuff and I think it is just the nature of the beast so to speak.

I have not seen wheeled ones around lately. If she is willing to get a carry one then I saw a cheap light pink one last week that will work.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Day Working in Israel

At one point this week my job was described as living out a second childhood.

"Your broke it and I am going to tell!"

Every year in Toronto my boss would send me the prayer for Parnasah that is said Erev Pesach. As he was the one who signed my paycheck he knew I needed it. This year I forgot.

Every month my company has some sort of lunch for Rosh Chodesh. When I got to the office yesterday, all I knew was that there would be pizza and the possibility of being outdoors. There was also to be a surprise. Lunch was scheduled for 12:00. At 11:28 a company wide e-mail went out telling everyone to be ready to leave in two minutes for our trip. Some would be travelling by car and others by bus. There was a list of travel arrangements.

Our first stop was a tiny orchard off of highway 10 (the backroad) near the entrance to Bet. There were olive, lemon, orange, grapefruit and pomello trees in various stages of bloom. At one point there was a disagreement if a tree was grapefruit or pomello. Someone made the comment that it was too small to be a pomello. Someone else pointed out that it was because it was still growing on the tree. We made the bracha on newly budding trees that is said after Pesach.

We have launched a beta version of our product in Germany. It can be downloaded and used for free. One of the cellular provieders is even waiving airtime fees on the product. We need 500 users to get to the next stage in marketing. If you anybody in Germany willing to give it a try please let me know.

The next stop was a park in Migdal HaMayim for a picnic. We had pizza and ice cream. We also had an update on how the company is dong financialy and where it is going in the future. In spite of all of the economic downturn the future looks bright for our company. We have a product that everyone wants, that other companies are not able to deliver.

It was a fun day. It is nice to be in a good working enviornment with a company that has a promissing future.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Starting to bring in the new summer wardrobe.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another Channahism

Channah is currently singing kabbalat shabbat at the top of her lungs....

... in the bathtub.

Pictures from mom's trip- from mom.

The three of us at Kever Rachel.

Channah being Channah


Channah and I at Migdal David

channah in her "Birthday suit" (thanks Abba- she really loves the jacket!)


Random Channahism

What happened at Har Sinai?

There was a big boom, then they ran away to Israel.

How long did it take them?

45 minutes.

Did they have to go through customs?


Why not?

They had no luggage!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Settling in- Again.

So once again we are settling in to a new routine. Now that Jason is at work all day pretty much every day we have had to reevaluate some of our timing. As of now

Jason son gets up at 7, davens and gets Channah out the door at 7:40. He drops her off on his way to his bus which means that Channah gets to school and is the first kid there so she gets her pick of toys, and Jason never misses his bus. I am seriously not a morning person. Over time we have learned it is much better for both of us if I take the late at night stuff and he takes the early morning stuff. 8:30 or so I decide it is time to face the world. By 10 I am almost human (and have generally spent the last 2 hours or so on volunteer stuff I am involved with, responding to random emails, and whatever else I can do with my brain set to off). Get up, clean upanything left over from breakfast and take care of any errands that need to be done (shopping, post office, banking, researching purchases, whatever it happens to be). you might think of each of these as little tasks, but with no car these things take a whole lot longer than you might think. Also, I rather enjoy the walking first thing in the morning, so I do not exactly rush it most days as fast as I could.

I spend most of my time during the day in the studio. Baruch Hashem business is ok. Not great, but okay. Recessions suck for purveyers of luxury goods!

On days I need to go to Tel Aviv or Yerushalayim I am on the bus by 8:15. It is the only way to make it back here by the time I need to get Channah.

Channah gets picked up at 3:30 except for Tuesday when I get her at 1:00 and Fridays when Jason or I get her at 12:00. Often Fridays is still Jason as he does not work on Fridays and is often out and about doing errands (buying Challah, toivelling the third can openiner we have gone trough since getting here, going to the post office, etc.)

Most days, so long as we are not in a rush to get somewhere or it is not to mucky, after gan we go to the park for about a half hour. Sometimes more, sometimes less. She has fun with the other kids. I have fun with the other moms. Works out great.

Thursdays right after gan Lor picks us up and Channah and I go straight to Ballet. Ballet ends at 4:30 so by about 4:45 we are ready to leave. We tend to run whatever errands we need to run at the mercaz. We also do the big weekly grocery shopping. Jason meets us there after work (it is one of the stops he can get off at) and helps with the shlepping (by taxi) home from the mercaz.

Most days Jason gets home just before 6. Dinner for the first half of the week is generally leftovers from shabbat. The second half of the week is single fix meals like tuna patties, stir frys, or pasta.

Bedtime for Channah is somehwere around 7:00, but with dinner often not being until 6:30 it has been creeping towards 7:30. She brushes her teeth, gets a story and goes to bed pretty well most nights. Her room is the hardest to keep at a normal temperature for some reason, so we often get called to readjust the blanket situation at least once or twice before she is really out for the count.

Around 7:30 ish is when I find I need to start dealing with American clients. Any orders that came in, questions I have or they have, bids I am submitting, packages I need to trace. That is part of the reason mornings just do not work for me. Some of my work tends to be "American hours".

Monday through Thursday nights Jason goes to a Mishnah Breura shiur followed by maariv at the Beit Knesset. Sundays he goes also, but there is no shiur. Shacharit with a minyan is a nice thought, but there is no way my husband will be getting up for a 6 am minyan anytime soon. He is almost as great a morning person as I am. consdering this time last year minyan was sort of a once a shabbat thing, I am really proud of how often he is going! He is building a nice kesher with the shul and the Rabbi and I am really happy to see it.

Then he comes home. We blog. sometimes we watch a movie on the computer. He falls asleep fast and I am my normal insomniac self. Yes I know that if I could go to sleep earlier I could wake up earlier, but after almsot 30 years I am pretty sure that is just not going to happen.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What do I do?

I have been getting a lot of questions about my new job. Our company has been in the news lately.

This is an article about my company.

This is an article about the product I am working on. It is amazing how much I have learned in only 2 weeks. Some issues are under our control and some issues are directly based on our customers specs or the social networking sight.

My job is to test the software as it is being developed and report any bugs. I interact with the program on the cell phone. I am also learning Unix, so that I can more accuratly diagnose bugs.

I have a Twitter and MySpace account that I only use for work. Plus I get paid for checking my Facebook account at work. That should cover all of the basic questions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Relatives of all ages
I proudly present to you the sweetest thing I have seen in a long time...

My proud to be an Israeli 5 year old singing her rendition of Tefilat Lishlom Hamedina

(Please pardon the mess in the background. Shabat just ended when I shot this and we had friends with little kids staying with us until about 5 minutes earlier. Yes mom it is all cleaned u now.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Purim. Still.

Today we are a lady bug. It just would not be purim if we did not use every costume in the dress up box.

There is a carnival on Lorien and Avri street in Beit Shemesh on Shushan Purim. It was a lot of fun and way more organized than anything I have seen to date in this country. Seriously, whoever runs that thing ought to run for office- they *might* have a prayer at getting it all organized--- nah.

Channah in a bouncy castle

Channah checking out the inside of an ambulance (actually a boy in her class gets a ride hoem in it every day- the emt is his father :)

Purim- Part whatever. Too drunk to care. (Ok, no not really. We all know I don't drink)

A "tollbooth" on our friends street. Before you could get on to the street all CARS were stopped at the tollbooth. You had to take a shot (grapejuice for the driver and anyone else who preferred) before you could proceed into the neighbourhood. We were incredibly amused. Not a bad selection overall :)

Purim tzedakah advertizing campaign

Friends at the purim seuda.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Start of Purim

It is amazing to think how different my thoughts, hopes and worries are from a year ago. I can't believe that the decision to move here had not been finalized.

On fast days, those who are fasting are allowed to leave my office at 1:00. The catch was that the bus would be leaving at it's normal 2:30 time for part time employees. I was fairly busy as I discovered a really major bug that required extensive testing before writing up my report. It turns out that I had actually uncovered 3 seperate bugs at the same time. I was proud of myself, especially as I hadn't found any yesterday. I took the 2:30 bus home. With only 5 passengers in the middle of the afternoon, it was a quick ride home.

There was some time to finish preparing costumes and resting before Mincha. There was 20 minutes between Mincha and Maariv. That left plenty of time to take care of Tzedaka and go home to get Rachel and Channah. I love being able to do Machzit HaShekel with a real circulation half shekel coin. There were some collector silver ones there, but that didn't interest me. One of the Tzedakah organization provided an envelope where you could allocate how much of your donation would go to Matanas LevYonim and how much could be used to help the poor the rest of the year.

Megillah reading was packed but nothing too much out of the ordinary. After Megilah reading was the fast breaker that we helped sponser. They had pastry, bagel, buns, eggs and tuna. It wasn't elaborate but it was a good way to end a fast. Next time they will need to increase the filling to bread ratio.

Then they had the costume 'contest'. One girl had a hat with speghetti and meatballs on top. Then she put her head through a red and white checkered table that had place settings including cups and napkins for two. It is interesting to note the differences in the types of costumes used for Purim as opposed to Halloween.

They then had a Purim Shpeil, where they did the musical Purim story. It was quite entertaining. In order to give everyone a turn, they had different people play the same character. It really confused Channah. We were in the front row. At one point there was some dancing, that included the person who leads the kids programming that Channah goes to. Channah let out a laugh. He told me that laugh made the entire night worth it. He also complimented me on how nice she sat during the play. After the play they had shtick with the thank yous. They also had a few people take an oppurtunity to make fun of the announcements.

It was really great being in a shul where I know people and they know me. I have a close relationship with the Rabbi. Two of my co-workers are there. Channah goes to the children programming and I have been in touch with people running various programs.

In the evening there were cars driving around playing loud music. A shul one street down had music blaring that we could hear it in our living room. They turned down the music at 11:15. There were also fireworks going off at different points of the evening.

Purim has been really fun. Tomorrow should be even more fun.

Purim- Part 6 (Mishloach Manot)

Unwrapped. A garden theme.

Brownies with "grass" sprinkles, chocolate rocks, a (gummy) worm and 2 flower shaped lollypops.

All dressed up.
Ready and waiting to go.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Purim- Part 5

This is just a short bit from shul at the end of the night to give you some idea of the ruach.

Purim- Part 4

Ok, so tonight was harder than I thought it would be. It was the first time in a long time that I felt a little out of place. I miss being able to show off our costumes to our friends and family back in Toronto and visiting with famiyl for a few minutes while we deliver our mishloach manot. The fast breaker and purim shpiel at shul was fantastic. Really a lot of fun. The songs were hysterical. It was a purim "musical" set to music everyone knew with new words. It took a termendous ammount of work and was probably the best purim shpiel I have ever seen. I just felt a little outside of things.

See, aliya is not all fun and sunshine (although we do get a lot of that). I just want to be sure I am presenting an honest and balanced viewpoint. But seriously, I know there are lonely times. I am just a little sad that I had one on my favourite holidy.

On to happier things. Lots of gratuitous cuteness! Maybe at some point I will post some pictures of my costume. It is cute but not as good as the other's. Jason is either a Renaissance man or a peasant who might or might not be revolting ;)

Sorry. There was no way I was gettign the man into tights.

My two fairies- um, I mean, my um- he vetoed the tights...

See the crown centrepiece from Channah's birthday got a new lease on life as the shpielers crown :)

Happy birthday Mom!

A mom like you
Brings joy to my life
Year after wonderful year
The love that you give
Brightens my days
Even when you're not here

Love is what this greeting brings
To you on your special day
A love with depth beyond compare
A love that will never sway

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Purim- Part 3

Channah at Gan. The tall one is the teacher.

Purim- Part 2

There was a children's carnival at the matnas this afternoon. The thought of a petting zoo + a Cinderella costume just did not work for me. I was going to just send her in play clothes, but Lor suggested juts using other stuff from the dress up box. Duh! Why didn't I think of that.

In any case, Channah got to wear her Tinkerbell costume while watching the tinkerbell movie! In any case, it all worked out great. Sorry the full length pictures are sort of dark. I took them when we got home and it was already getting dark outside. See the little plant? She got to plat it herself at the carnival :)

On the whole the carnival was pure, unadulterated chaos. I am not sure why I ever expect anytihng else on this side of the world. Even back in Toronto purim carnivals could be a nightmare of logistics. How much more so when you are dealing with a country full of people who do not have Canada's reputation for politeness!

There was a little petting zoo sort of thing. There were chicks, guinea pigs, rabbits, turtles and a couple of brand new puppies. Channah liked it all well enoguh unless one of them noticed she was there. She did pet some and liked watching a cage of chicks.

This was the "you want me to do WHAT(!?) face.

And for your viewing pleasure a really short clip of Channah being a goof :)

Purim- Part 1

Today was Channah's costume day at school. They halve a half day today, then are closed for 3 1/2 days until after shushan purim.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A guy with gas

so two days ago I get a knock on my door. It is the gas company wanting to set up an inspection appointment for later this week

I think you can figure out that after having all our other utilities cut off for billing issues, I got a little worried (no, we are fine for finances- on target with our aliya budgeting, just when we got here there were some difficulties transferring accounts into our name). I set it up for Today between 10 and 12.

Obviously I figured there was no way in heck the guy would actually be here between 10 and 12. Or he would be, but that would be 10-12 tonight, or next Wednsday. Or two weeks from Shabbat. Who the heck knows in this country.

I was pleasantly surprised when my doorbell buzzed (yes, buzzed. I have you find one that rings in this country) at 10:17.

The guy was on time, really friendly, and in and out in about 10 minutes. Apparently when you set up a new account (or get a new stove) you are entitled to (Well actually obligated to) call them to come check and replace any worn tubing or connections. Who knew? Not I and it is not something ANYONE had mentioned anywhere.

And now you know.

Monday, March 2, 2009

God Bless the Blue and Yellow

You know how sometimes you just walk into a place and feel like nothing ever changes? That wonderful comfort of no matter where you are in the world, you can go there and feel instantly at home?

I went to IKEA today. I went so far back into my Toronto self I started looking at every kippah or tichel and wondering if I knew them.

It was awesome.

On the other hand, not that we got any, but it was pretty cool to know the Swedish meatballs were Mehadrin kosher.

I got a really nice square mirror for the living room as well as some end tables, tall, thin shelf to use for display purposes in the studio, and baskets to reorganize Channah's toys.

I am a happy, happy Israeli right now.

A little more about our place.

I was talking to my sister tonight and I was trying to explain something to her when I realized that to anyone who had not seen the layout of my apartment the fact that we get rain in the bathtub room (or that we have something called the bathtub room) would not make a whole lot of sense. So, to rectify this problem I jsut spent way too much time when I probably should have been doing something else to bring you the layout of our home here.

Yes it is a really weird shape. This is Israel. Weird shapes are normal. As always, click if you want a bigger view.

Anything with a light beige floor is outdoors. Yes that includes the laundry room. I repeat. Our washing machine lives outside. We do not currently have a dryer. We have a clothes horse on the mirpeset that I did not bother drawing in because it is ugly. Out there we also have a fisher price picnic table and toys. I love the fact that in this country play dough is an outdoor toy.

Grey floor is the main living space.

That dark grey square next to the wird circular ish cut out is the oven with storage above and below.

Anytihng green is mostly clothing storage. Anytihng sort of salmony is stuff storage (toys or dishes. The one that looks sort of like a piano is.

The grey things are our book cases.

The bed in the guest room pulls out into two singles or a queen. We also have two air mattresses that beleive it or not fit in the work room when the table on the right comes down (it is just a folding table).

Ok, I tihnk that is about it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

First Day on the Job

Today was the first day of my new job. I woke up early to make sure everything was prepared for my first day. Channah woke up even earlier as she had another nightmare. We got up and ready.

We left the apartment with 30 minutes for me to get to the bus stop. I walked Channah to school and continued to the bus stop. 11 minutes after leaving the house I was waiting in the rain at the bus stop. Approximately 4 minutes before the bus was supposed to arrive, I had not seen anyone else waiting. I called the person I knew to make sure I was in the right place. The bus runs like clockwork, so most people arrived exactly when the bus did. It was a 15 seater bus. The song playing on the radio was "Whisky in the Jar" sung in Hebrew. We then zig zagged our way down to the mercaz with a bunch of stops in between. We then headed out to the highway and off to work. We arrived shortly after 8:30.

I went to my office where the QA team works. It is a very nice group of people. There are some Israeli's with very little English and some Olim like me. At one point they were trying to explain to the Israeli's what a car pool was. My boss said, Car as in מכונית and pool as in ......
Myself and the person who sits in front of me both jumped in with בכירה. We got a good laugh and our boss went on to try to explain the concept properly.

Playing music for the team is part of the day. I also noticed there are basically no phones in the office. My table was ready but not my computer. I was handed a cell phone and asked if I had facebook and twitter. I was told to log into my facebook account and also start playing with the software.

A little while later my boss came in. He gave me the grand tour. The last big office I worked in was a giant circle, so if you got lost you just kept walking until you got to where you are going. You really have to know where you are going or you will end up in another department or somebody's office.

I was then briefed on the background of the company and my job. One of our older customers is an European cellular company that is the parent company of Orange. Another big customer is Skype. Skype had a contractual obligation to produce a Skype phone. Cell phone technology is not quite advanced enough to produce a quality product. We were able to offer a solution to make it happen. Using our software you can call anywhere in the world, for the same price of a local call. Phones sold in Europe with a Skype button are running off of our software.

Another product we have is designed to bring RSS Feeds, IM, Webmail, Facebook, Twitter into a single user interface. It has the advantage of conserving the amount of data being used and minimizing the use of battery power. Part of the product is being made specifically for AT&T which has already soft launched the product. My job will be mostly software testing on the AT&T product.

When I got back to my desk, IT was just finishing setting up my computer. I was instructed to immediately set up a Skype account. I played around with some software before meeting with HR. They had a number of forms to fill out. Some were in Hebrew and some were in English. A few times I was not sure if I should fill out the English forms in Hebrew. I should have a contract by the end of the week. If I want to use the gym, I have to get a doctors note.

I went back to my desk. I had a little bit of training and some more familiarizing myself with the program. I tried to get a 3 way chat with myself on the test servers. I could only get the chat to work two ways, but someone else did join the conversation. That kept me busy until I was told it was lunch time.

Lunch time is 30 minutes and our department normally eats on the roof. With the rain this was not going to happen today. I went to Avri's office instead. He has his own large private office. From what I can tell it was the only private office not reserved for executives. He claims he used to have a room mate. Then again he also claims he was at a murder mystery yesterday.

After lunch, I had more getting used to the software and looking thorough the main QA website.
Mincha is at 2:45 everyday. Towards the end of the day, I was introduced to the program where bugs are reported and tracked. It crashed partway through my lesson, but that was not my fault. I was then introduced to the bus Skype group. Each day everyone needs to confirm if they plan on taking the bus home.

The office is a fairly laid back environment. As long as you put in your hours everyday, there is room for flexibility. We have a swipe card for clocking in and out. There are snacks in the kitchen. It is understood that every once and a while you may need to get up and clear your head. The QA website even has a list of blogs to read during the break. People seem happy.

Every Rosh Chodesh there is a company lunch. There is a report on the business side of the company. Next week, Tanis Esther is a half day for those who are fasting. We get one day off for Purim and we can choose which day that is.

The bus took a different route home. It let's me off one block closer to home than the pick-up point. Somebody pointed out that at the end of the day I still had a smile on my face. I think this is going to be much better than my last job.

The Sandstorm

This is the normal (incredible) view from our balcony. Truthfully, this picture is a little foggy. Normally the colours are even more brilliant and jewel toned.

This was our view during the sandstorm. We physically could not find the mountains.

Random bits of Channah

store giveaways

The grocery store is giving out a free comic book of Megillat Esther.