Tuesday, August 30

i've got soul

I have added a very cool button to the bottom of my blog, which I discovered on someone else's blog, and you can get one too if you want.

It's a great way to free-float the Web. Look what I found!

I love the Internet.

"can't wait for a book?"

This gives me tingles.

Definitely better than candy, and almost as wonderful as the Internet.

Saturday, August 27

what you learn from 15 years

Hard to believe, but the jetlag continues, and so does the secondary jetlag. Young ms. has been back in the time zone five days, but we're both still waking before 6 am, and she's still crashing at midday (with us parents trying everything to keep her awake).

Today, though, she fell asleep in the car on the way back from Tel Aviv (okay, we stopped to pick up sushi, so that didn't help) and when we got home at 8:30 she went straight to bed.

Damn, wouldn't mind THAT being permanent!

So we went to Tel Aviv to welcome the in-laws back from their month of fabulous weather in Germany. They've made it a habit to get away every August, and now end up at the same place near Munich every year, near "the baths" which they visit every other day. They've returned very relaxed, and it's good to see my father-in-law mellowed out.

Yesterday, Mr. & Ms. Squarepeg and I went to my company's annual picnic at a kibbutz pool not far from here. It's always weird parading around in one's bathing attire in front of people one spends most of one's time deliberately covered up in front of. But whatever. I'm getting incrementally less vain as time goes on, so was relatively unconcerned about the mashed-potato thighs and horrid wet-hair-just-out-of-swimming-pool look.

Oh, who am I kidding? At least my usually-glamorous boss looked just as horrid in her ugly two-piece.

The kid had fun with the water activities, and it was a nice outing, but the mr. was determined to leave right after lunch and get back to Saturday soccer matches and like a junkie was going through withdrawal after half a day away from the betting forms. All the way home he was gnashing his teeth and muttering, "I haven't had time to concentrate!"

Listen, we've just marked our 15th anniversary this week (yes, amazing, I know, thank you very much) and the upside of that is that the dark forest with all its nasty creatures looks very familiar now, and not much is worth getting riled up about anymore. (Hey, you take whatever upsides you've got -- they are, by definition, relative.) So even when there's a bad day, a really bad day, you can say, "No worries; been around this sharp turn before and I know it all works out in the end. I'll just go take a little time-out."

When others are cranky, withdrawal works wonders.

loners' manifesto

I read a great article in Salon by author Anneli Rufus, actually an excerpt from her latest book, The Farewell Chronicles, about the way people really feel when faced with the death of others. She's a hell of a writer. Then I followed a two-year-old link to her previous book, Party of One. I was kind of surprised I hadn't noticed this before, since I've been reading Salon fairly religiously for at least 6 or 7 years. Party of One speaks so directly to me and it's wonderful to discover her. She writes of the loner:

We do not require company. The opposite: in varying degrees, it bores us, drains us, makes our eyes glaze over. Overcomes us like a steamroller. Of course the rest of the world doesn't understand.
Except in my case, it's me who has been having trouble understanding. Well, accepting, actually. I've been wondering how I can be an emotionally healthy person without a requisite number of friends. Is there something wrong with me? The thing is, I really just prefer most of the time to be alone.

Someone says to you, "Let's have lunch." You clench. Your sinews leap within you, angling for escape. What others thrive on, what they take for granted, the contact and confraternity and sharing that gives them strength leaves us empty. After what others would call a fun day out together, we feel as if we have been at the Red Cross, donating blood.
Oh my God, that is so true! I love her! Rufus has turned the loner state into a kind of cause celebre, a lobby even. On her website, she has a section called "Loners in the News," where she quotes newspaper reports that refer to all kinds of criminals as loners, as if to say it is the loner aspect that proves guilt. She's fighting the pejorative use of "the l-word" with the passion of an ADLer battling antisemitism.

As she says, the Internet is manna from heaven for the loner:
The Internet is, for loners, an absolute and total miracle. It is, for us, the best invention of the last millennium. It educates. It entertains. It
transforms. It facilitates a kind of dialogue in which we need not be seen, so it suits us perfectly. It validates. It makes being alone seem normal. It makes being alone fun for everyone.

A way to connect without leaving the house, without, in fact really connecting. Virtual is truly the loner's dream-come-true.

white house: killer of truth

Whoa, brava Cintra! You've outdone yourself. Awesome.

Cintra Wilson has published a breathtaking and devastating opus on Salon: I invaded the white house press corps.

Dirty business, but someone's gotta do it.

Usually Salon publishes pieces this long in two parts; perhaps they had reason to believe part two might get squashed once the VRWC* saw part one.

Wilson describes the main players in the press briefing room for us, and gives anthropological/sociological analyses of each of their secondary roles. She brings the atmosphere to life, with its baiting, its frustration, its breakdowns, and its ultimate realization that the job of the White House spokesman is to Reveal Nothing. Ever. And how robotically, diabolically good he is at it.

Fans (mourners) of "Six Feet Under" will especially love this:

Scott McClellan is the Undertaker of Information.

With the gentle sterility of a mortician, McClellan puts a dark suit on every day and tells us, in a soothing voice, how comfortable our beloved information will be now that it is dead and resting in an attractive coffin. The press -- outraged family members of the strangled Truth -- wail, "But Scott, it wasn't dead before you guys got your hands on it!" And the Undertaker, unruffled, sympathetic and appropriately somber, politely informs you that it is part of an ongoing investigation, and he
believes he has already told you what the president's comments were on that.

After a while, it is sickeningly passive-aggressive.

But the bottom line is, Scott is telling the truth: The truth is dead. And you're never going to see it again. It's in heaven now, with Chandra Levy and JonBenet Ramsey and Nicole Brown Simpson. He understands your grief, but getting angry won't bring it back.

I guess all of us expecting journalists to rally and storm the barricades are just plain naive. It may indeed be their job to ask the hard questions and demand answers, but it's very obviously a waste of time asking them in the White House press briefing room. So perhaps we might ask why these very senior journalists are going there day after day? Are they just idiots? Are their managing editors idiots?

What if they just didn't show up? Who would Scott blather to?

What if, instead of showing up and wasting everybody's time with this horrendous mind-fucking, they all just wrote editorials/opinion columns about what's REALLY going on? And what if they didn't stop until something more earth-shaking than the announcement of a new Supreme Court justice happened?

*vast right-wing conspiracy

Tuesday, August 23

secondary jetlag

aaargh. I'm suffering from a heretofore-undocumented malady that must logically be termed "secondary jetlag" or perhaps "passive jetlag." (By the way, both terms get 0 hits in Google -- there's a name for two-word search terms that get no hits, but I can't remember what it is ... sproogle or something? Anyone?) Secondary or passive jetlag is what you get when you haven't left the time zone, but someone living with you has just returned with jetlag severe enough to disturb YOUR sleep. I'll let you guess who that is.

However, there's disturb and there's disturb. Little ms. teenage squarepeg slept from 1 am (long after I'd collapsed following over an hour's wait for her to emerge at the airport, and then another couple of hours unpacking her suitcases -- no, I wasn't about to endure the chaos of waiting for her to do it herself) to 5 am, woke up starving and fed herself 2 bowls of cereal, succeeding in being very quiet. After that one-hour grace period, and the emergence of daybreak, she was good and ready to wake me with kisses and a declaration of, "I've been up since 5 and I've had 2 bowls of cereal, but I'm still hungry! I missed you! Feed me!"

Now how can a person be angry with that? Even though I was in a deep sleep and looking forward to at least another hour of it.

It's not just the secondary jetlag. The kid is a whirlwind that never stops talking or having some kind of self-inflicted computer problem that needs my immediate attention. And demanding that I play with her immediately on one of her two new Scrabble games. Or watch her pirated OC season 2 dvds. Or feed her again.

I really don't feel like working.

Monday, August 22

airport day

Baby comes home today. I've worked the equivalent of another whole day in the past week, so I can afford to leave at 3 for the airport without it costing me valuable hours. But the pressure at work is gruesome right now; I have 280 pages of new website to produce and my only writing colleague is on holiday this week, and our graphics colleague has his wife in the hospital. And my usually wonderful boss is having trouble maintaining her usual buffer zone between me and the unreasonable CTO (who's in charge of the website) above her. I'm feeling a tad overwhelmed.

So I'm blogging! :))

The kid sounds a bit bummed about returning to the homeland after her wonderful month of being completely spoiled by family in Canada, but as I pointed out: Which would you prefer, to have such a good time that you don't want to come back, or such a lousy time that you can't wait to come back? She agreed her experience was preferable. But I am expecting some sullen teenage attitude along with the hugs and kisses. After all, she turned the big THIR-TEEN two days ago.

As Kramer would say, "Giddyup!"

Friday, August 19

Arik moves further left

Readers of this blog know better than to count on me for Israeli political commentary. But we're really making history over here these days, and how can I not comment? I can't say I feel involved, exactly, though I am whether I feel it or not. After all, the big events of the day are transpiring far away, and all I can do is read about it (or watch it) on the news. The closest it came for me personally was my colleague, a religious man, a grandfather of five, who lives in a settlement not being evacuated (at this time, anyway). He agonized all week about how to participate/help in the fight against the evacuators, and eventually took a day off to drive down south. I don't even know what happened, because he refused to talk about it when he returned. I imagine it was an extremely painful day for him, and that he probably felt quite helpless in the face of what was happening. At least he can say he went to show solidarity with his brethren.

But I I feel very proud of Arik Sharon this week, and extremely pleased finally by his immense strength. This article summarizing a speech he gave this week gives you an idea of his new "leftist" perspective and what may be coming down the pike in the foreseeable future.

It's good to feel optimistic, and proud of our prime minister, for the first time in a decade.

smoking for bad guys

[Happy birthday, Mom!]

I thought this was an interesting finding. The study by lung specialists in New Jersey found that movies overwhelmingly tend to portray baddies as smokers or, conversely, smokers as baddies.

So the annual millions [I'm just guessing] spent on making smoking glamorous to up-and-coming potential tobacco consumers (i.e. teens) are finally being countered by pop culture -- that is, as long as the baddies aren't being played by their favorite movie stars.

If the bad guy (or the actor) is disliked by the audience, his/her smoking would tend to be associated with a negative feeling. On the other hand, it could backfire.

Said the chief researcher, "it might be cool to be bad."

Oh yeah, we forgot about that ... damn, we're getting old.

Wednesday, August 17

"disengagement" from the internet

Finally went home earlier last night, 8pm. I was supposed to go to the gym but I blew that off so I could have some quiet internet time at home (Mr. S was out for a couple of hours and I love having the quiet apt to myself). I promised myself I'd go tomorrow (but now that's today).

And then there was no !!)(&^$$#$%^%R*&^* internet connection! So instead of a nice, relaxing evening, I spent the next hour and a half on the phone with our ISP rep and then the phone co. rep trying to get the problem fixed. "Nope, we're fine here; it must be a Bezek [phone co.] issue; I'll connect you to them." "Nope, it's not us; your phone connection's perfect." "No, ma'am, it's really not us; I'll re-connect you to the phone co. and this time I'll stay on the line." "Ohhh yeah, there does seem to be a problem with your phone line, actually. Let's see what we can do."

THEY, however, didn't do anything. But I was instructed, among other tasks, to dig thru the jungle of tied-up and bundled dusty wires BEHIND the furniture, in 90 deg. weather, remove my modem cable and find another one like it on one of my phones to see if the problem was a faulty cable. It wasn't. They promised to send a technician to check our phone lines sometime today. And we were still "disengaged" this morning.

To mention that I was not happy is, shall we say, an understatement. Fury covers it better. Yeah, just like an addict. An especially spoiled one, actually.

An internet addict without a connection is too much like an asthmatic without a puffer. It's not really like a drug addiction, though, because you can't quit, any more than you can quit eating in order to lose weight. The big I is an inextricable part of our lives now; even 12 hours without it initiates severe withdrawal. For me, at least. (You may be worse.)

I've just heard from Mr. Squarepeg that the phone (ADSL) technician finally called and informed him that apparently there was a problem with some card, which they've now replaced, in our area's central hub [merkazia]. So, [breathing heavy sigh of relief] we are once again ... connected at home.

Funny, though, I was struck when reading this article (about how Arik Sharon, the former builder of settlements, morphed into their destroyer), how the Hebrew word for "disengagement" -- coined for PR purposes -- is "hitnatkut," whose primary meaning is "disconnection."

So, as a result of the relative poverty of Hebrew, I do feel a certain solidarity with today's historic events. Disengagement sucks.

Monday, August 15

working overtime

We're in the home stretch here, now. Little Ms. returns in 6 days. It's been very quiet around here ... damn, we're spoiled!

So, in anticipation, I've been working a few extra hours this week in order to build up credit and be able to work a bit less next week. In any case, I have an unusually large workload this month. Tonight, I stayed until 9:15 pm, a new record for me, just working on uploading files to our new website. I must admit I was in a very zen flow and didn't want to stop, knowing that to break my stride would mean it would take me twice as long to do the same thing tomorrow. It takes me a very long time to get my engine revving ... something about my brain's hard drive re-booting overnight. The weekend re-boot is even worse, and after my 6-day holiday -- fugeddaboudit!! I actually had a manager come to work with me on something I had half-finished and put on my task list, and when he came I couldn't for the life of me remember what or where that document was, or what I had to do with it. Thank god another colleague (who usually gives me nothing but headaches) came through this time. My filing system looked so logical before I went tripping...

The evening's in the office can be very nice, once the cleaning staff finishes puttering around with their trash-emptying, desk-dusting, and noisy vacuuming. No phones, no radios, no boss calling for help ... sweeeet.

And I'm ahead by 5 hours already, which earns me a free trip to the airport next Monday afternoon. Pass Go and collect one freshly-minted teenager.

Saturday, August 13

Bibi the Little Prince skips town

Excellent article by Yoel Marcus in Haaretz from yesterday, for anyone looking for an explanation of why the ego-inflated [ex-]Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ("Bibi" to Israelis) has suddenly chosen this week to make his big trumpeted jump from the government, abandoning all pretense of principles and integrity. In two words: unscrupulous cowardice.

And not in a good way.

Thursday, August 11

last bits of prague

View just beneath the Charles Bridge

Yeah, re-entry sucks, but I had only two days of work this week, mostly spent cruising while happily giving out chocolates (a traditon in Israeli offices when one returns from a holiday outside of the country) and making people smile, and now it's the weekend!!

As the memories already begin to fade, a few remnants of a great getaway, and then I promise to let it rest:
  • getting burned by a taxi driver the first night. i didn't have a map yet and couldn't figure out where we were, but I knew we were just 5 min. walk from our hotel, if we could only find it. got in a cab with a driver who seemed to know no english , but knew immediately where our hotel was. the meter ran the crowns up quickly as he flew up and down one-way streets. the fare ended up being 280K, about $10, probably five times what it should have been. not a really terrible sting ... except to the ego. after that, our biggest cab ride was 100K, which we agreed on in advance, for what would have been at least a half-hour walk. we'd been warned never to get in a cab without agreeing on the fare in advance, but we got burned anyway, thinking that the cabbie wouldn't understand us, and just thankful he knew where we needed to get to.
  • my aching legs, especially one spot that i'd never noticed before, on the outside of my leg just below my knee. it was killing me for 2 days, and then miraculously disappeared as if i'd whipped it into shape. walking in prague was much more exhausting than I'd expected, maybe because of the cobblestone streets and sidewalks, which are uneven, like textured mosaics, and after a while tend to make walking hard work, and make flat, boring pavement look really attractive.

  • pashminas: beautiful scarves of 90% cashmere and 10% silk. they're sold all over the city, in a variety of solid or mixed colors, and I bought one of each. man, that's soft. after i bought the first one, i never went out without it, as the weather could go from hot to cool at any moment, depending on the clouds, and it was lovely to have that fluffy softness around my neck. the price is not fixed, by the way; I saw the same item range from 249K to 580K (around $10-23), depending on where it was sold.

  • tourists on the Charles Bridge, madly pushing each other to touch the famous statue of Prague's Saint John of Bohemia with his five-star halo; the legend is that anyone who touches it will have good luck and return to Prague; I think they just wanted to say they'd touched the famous statue, but they were as rude as bloody -- well, perhaps that's best left unsaid. but there's another interesting factoid I picked up along the way: the origin of Bohemia was here in the Czech Republic, which is divided into Bohemia, Moravia and (in case you didn't know -- I didn't! -- it hasn't been called "Czechoslovakia" since Slovakia became a separate country -- capital, Bratislava -- in 1993)

  • our hotel, Novotel City -- aptly described as "clinical" in one of the city guides I picked up that summarized the robotic front desk staff very well. the place was fine, but had no soul. for sleeping, though, it couldn't be faulted: great mattress, well-controlled room temperature, and complete silence.

  • and once again, the drivers. every time I get on the highway, to and from work, I get incensed at how badly we drive in this country; it makes commuting so much more difficult when people hog the left lane (ALL the time) or weave around the lanes without signaling as if they were alone on the road, or take absolutely every opportunity to cut in front of you if there's so much as half a carlength of space between you and the car in front. before prague, for some reason, I'd almost become immune to it. now the comparison is painful.

    However, it is our country, for better or worse.

Terezin (Theresienstadt) Cemetery ... hundreds buried here died AFTER liberation of the camp. They never left, as a result of the typhoid epidemic that was raging when the camp was liberated.

Many other graves are unmarked, containing bodies found in a mass grave.

Tuesday, August 9

prague pics & impressions

We're home following a brief but cramped overnight flight. It was only 3 hrs and 20 min. but that's a very long time when you're supposed to be in bed. I did manage to doze, but both my back and neck were killing me by the time we arrived. We took a taxi from the airport -- a sweet and speedy trip at 6am -- and went to bed until noon.

Then we went to Tel Aviv to pick up our cat. I was so worried about how he'd be feeling after about six days alone in a strange apartment. He was hiding and wouldn't come out, but I soon found him and devoured him with affection and he was eventually back to his old purring self.

It's not really possible to take bad pictures in Prague. The place is a no-brainer for amateur photographers. I will publish samples (taken with my new 4MP Nikon Coolpix 4600 -- thank you, duty-free!) over the next few days.

View from Prague Castle

View of the Charles Bridge (from another bridge)

Some impressions of our getaway this past week:

They're nothing like Israeli drivers -- Czechs drive like they've trained their whole lives for the indy 500: fast, on narrow roads or wide, single lane around bends, they don't care. In contrast, Israelis speed recklessly, not in the deliberate, controlled manner of the Czech Rebublic. Because, although they routinely hit 130kph, they are skilled (no right turns from left lanes), respectful to other drivers (using the left lane only for passing), and courteous to pedestrians (stopping on a dime, whether it's a crosswalk or not -- I only heard a driver honk at a jaywalker once).

By day 3 it was definitely starting to become a joke with us: we were having a fight with restaurant personnel at nearly every meal. The very first night we arrived, we chose a cute restaurant near the old bridge and got a waitress who was very sweet but didn't know much English. When asked if the seafood came with the shells (Mr. Squarepeg will have nothing to do with de-boning or de-shelling), she assured us that it did not. Turns out she didn' t have a clue what we were talking about. After waiting 45 min. for the meal, we had to send it back. So Mr. S. ordered "4-cheese" pasta, but what he ended up with an hour and a half later was just bad, expensive kraft dinner. We laughed about it, until the waitress came over crying and saying they'd fired her over the incident. Apparently she'd made a lot of mistakes already in her first week. (Turned out later that they were just blowing off steam and didn't actually fire her yet, but we felt so sorry for her that we gave her a huge tip.) That was by far the worst -- and priciest -- meal we had in Prague. The next day, at a nice cafe in the Prague Castle neighborhood, we ordered a capuccino after lunch, and then changed it to an espresso. The waiter, who had been told about the change 15 min. earlier, came out with the capuccino anyway, insisting that we ordered it and had to take it. In this case, the issue was clearly insanity, so we demanded to speak to the manager. The waiter went to talk to him and was obviously told to get over himself, because he simply erased the coffee from the bill and haughtily informed us that the manager was very busy. There was no tip. The next day, we had dinner at a place with live rock n roll music. I ordered only soup and mr. S., much hungrier, ordered a hamburger. Until I insisted, the waiter refused to bring mr. S's hamburger before he'd collected my empty soup dish. And even in the hotel dining room, they charged us 70 crowns for a capuccino one morning, and 100 crowns the next day. An error, so sorry. On the fourth day, at a "Texas-style" hamburger and steak place, we'd already learned to sidestep fights, but I couldn't help but comment to the waiter who brought us a basket of bread and a little dish of cold butter (with bits of pimento and other strange condiments mixed in), that he'd neglected to include plates and cutlery, specifically a butter knife. He then brought the plates, along with steak knives. Have you ever tried to butter bread with a thin-bladed, pointy steak knife? He informed us that that was the only kind of knives they had. Okaaaay. Ironically, the best service we got in Prague was at TGI Friday's -- now that waiter knew the meaning of good service, and we left there extremely happy. And then there was Don Giovanni -- a great Italian place in a small lane. And on our last night, we discovered Bandito's -- great Mexican right across the street from our hotel.

Hard to believe I never needed the AlkaSeltzer!

More later; I have to get up for work tomorrow!

Souvenirs in the Jewish Quarter (couldn't decide what to buy, so just took a picture of everything!)

Monday, August 8

... a little rain must fall

a little annozing, this cyech internet cafe kezboard ... the y and z are transposed for some reason, the numbers must all be hit with shift plus number, I can§t find the apostrophe, hzphen or dash, and forget about the semi=colon or exclamation mark. oh well...

this is our last day. we fly out on the redeye just after midnite and arrive in tel aviv very early tues morning. this morning we took a tour of Prague´s Jewish Quarter and got our fill of more pogrom-filled history. it´s shocking, really, to walk in the cobble-stoned streets of the ghetto and imagine what went on here. And yesterday we took a side-trip to Terezin (what I´d fomerly heard of as Theresienstadt). It´s just a 50-min. drive from here, and was a pretty nauseating place to visit. I was unprepared, I guess, for how sickening history can be when it´s off the page and just a little more in your face. It´s too much to take in, how do we process this horror?

I have learned an immense amount of history in the past 5 days, and it has been fascinating. Prague is a very enriching vacation, in this way, as there is so much education and enjoyment combined. I have adored walking through the streets in this gorgeous weather and having an adventure with my husband that we´ve never had the opportunity for in our marriage. Although we did finally get hit with a bit of precipitation today, finally.

A very fitting way to celebrate this month our 15th, and best, anniversary.

Saturday, August 6

honeymoon in prague

The weather continues to be perfect, a vacation in itself from Israel. The cool air reminds me of Toronto in September. Today Mr. Squarepeg´s parents came and joined us, on a little bus trip from where they´re staying in Munchen. What a fiasco that turned into. They left their group to come and meet us for an hour, meanwhile unsure of where they were supposed to meet up with them again. So instead of having a nice visit, we spent 2 hours with my mother in law hysterical over the meeting place. It ended with her blessing me profusely for being such a genius. I knew exactly how she felt, because not long ago I felt like an idiot when my daughter solved a problem that had me hysterical. Thank god for the younger generation.

Friday, August 5

holy roman empire, batman!

"The holy roman empire is neither holy nor roman nor an empire." This was my nightmare sentence from a history book of long, long ago. What grade I was in I can no longer remember, but I do remember that that sentence numbed my mind to the extent that I just couldn't get past it to the next paragraph. It has haunted me ever since.

Along with technology, I have always considered awareness of history to be on a need-to-know basis. Many is the time I have dismayed my parents with my casual ignorance of famous names -- Juan de Whatever is how I relate to them. It's all just trivia and I could care less.

But when I'm in the place where it all happened, that's another story. I want to get a general idea of what really happened here, because being here makes it real.

So here I am, in the center of what was once the Holy Roman Empire, and for the first time I have actually absorbed some history that your average college graduate probably took in a long time ago. FYI, the "Roman" in there refers to Roman Catholic, (which is why it wasn't exactly Roman), and the Empire ... well, I still can't tell you why it wasn't an empire. Nor can I tell you much about the Habsburgs, King Charles IV, Duke Wenceslaus or the connection of all these with Vienna, though I now know that they're intimately related. This, I consider, progress for one so historically-challenged.

But I can tell you about Thomas Masaryk, the much-loved spiritual father of Czech democracy, the country's first president from the end of the first World War, 1918, and for the next 16 years. There's an important little square in Tel Aviv named after him, and I wanted to know to know why. What was the connection with the Jews? A guide took us on a 2-hour tour of Prague Castle, and I asked her about this, but got nothing substantial. It appears to me that he was just appreciated and loved by so many for his integrity, which included years in exile until the communists could be routed, that Jews from his part of the world wanted to commemorate him wherever they ended up. Maybe there are more specifics, but I'll find out later, I suppose.

Anyway, Prague is luscious. Prague has cool breezes and the Vltava river running through it and HUGE old buildings with mammoth spires everywhere. The weather so far has been perfect, if changeable. Cool, then sunny, most of the time partly cloudy. But rain is forecast for the rest of our visit. That'll be okay; I think we're pretty tired of walking anyway.

Prague, sadly, has no bargains, bummer for the shopping addict. Nothing is cheap, nothing is even cheapER than home. I'll buy a couple of tchotchke mementos anyway, some of them are quite cute.

Wednesday, August 3

i should be packing

I hate packing. Packing inspires anxiety in a control freak. My just-in-case medicine bag that takes up a quarter of the suitcase testifies to this phenomenon.

Gotta have headache pills. And bandaids. And cold sore medication. And conjunctivitis ointment (once got pink eye during a flight and was so pissed not to have ointment handy). And alka-seltzer (OH yeah, you know I'm gonna eat the whole thing). And my trusty echinacea-golden seal drops. All of these just-in-case. And naturally my period's due so that ups the ante some.

And trying to think about the weather, which will certainly not be all-hot-all-the-time, like we dress for here, from June through October. Layers, pack layers. And an umbrella; it's been raining in Prague every day (not that there's anything wrong with that). And then there's the shoe issue. I'll probably wear my running shoes full-time, as nothing else will be comfortable.

Mr. Squarepeg has taken our cat to my empty mother-in-law's apt. in Tel Aviv, where their neighbor will look in on him (and sit with him daily, I hope). It does pain me to abandon him this way, but can I really justify living my life around the needs of a cat? I love him, but I think not. That would be the kid's domain.

Well, must get back to the smelly suitcase. Thanks for the good wishes. And yes, I WILL be paying attention to the emergency instructions. Although they'll probably be in Czech.

Tuesday, August 2

work, work, work

I'm getting massive amounts of work projects piled on me suddenly. In the past seven months, I've hardly ever been seriously busy for more than the odd day. Now, though, it would really be nice to have more than 1-1/2 writers on the payroll.

And wouldn't you know this has happened just when I've planned a holiday. On Thursday, Mr. Squarepeg and I are taking our very first holiday all alone, ever. Having the sprog visiting family in Canada for a month has made this possible. We'll be in Prague for 4 days (a destination Ms. Squarepeg would never countenance), so I'll be absent from this screen unless I get into an Internet cafe (good chance of that, despite the city's famous architecture -- I'm an addict, remember).

Funny, I feel no guilt whatsoever.

apocryphal, perhaps ...

My boss [here in this telecom-related hi-tech company] emailed me this story this morning, entitled "Telecom History," and introduced it with the words, "true story." You be the judge:

After digging to a depth of 100 meters last year, Russian
scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 1000 years,
and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a
telephone network one thousand years ago.

Not to be outdone, in the weeks that followed, American
scientists dug 200 meters and headlines in the US papers read:
"US scientists have found traces of 2000 year old optical
fibers, and have concluded that their ancestors already had
advanced high-tech digital telephone 1000 years earlier than
the Russians."

One week later, the Israeli newspapers reported the following:
"After digging as deep as 5000 meters, Israeli scientists have
found absolutely nothing. They have concluded that 5000 years
ago, their ancestors were already using wireless technology.