Week in Las Vegas (AWS reinvent)

I have been fighting illness and at the same time travelling for work.   This week I went to Las Vegas for an AWS conference.   I try not to talk about work in this blog and will not bore you with work details. I do want to share some pictures especially pictures of the odd things you can see in Las Vegas.

SO just to contradict what I just said… oh the  duplicity… I will post two pictures from the AWS conference for those curious about what it was like.

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The first one might make you dizzy or cause epileptic seizures.  (I can’t tell you that it is better in person… all the light flashing when you are on cold medicine does make one dizzy)This is one hall of four that was filled with people all waiting to hear a “keynote” speech.   The content was great this year… but the number of people and the size of the event was crazy.

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Here is what it is like walking with the other 45,000+ attendees…   This event was in four conference centers all up and down the strip.   Great conference but crazy crowded.

Here are some pictures from Vegas (non conference… some might be a little risqué but I avoided the really “naughty” stuff)

Let me start with the really tame and normal pictures.

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I stayed at the south end of the strip.  I walked the strip up and down each day.  If you have not visited Las Vegas there is a lot to see on the strip both day and night.  (Some of it both buildings and people tend not to be “family friendly”)  I have joked with my family that you don’t need to visit the world… just visit Las Vegas and you will see it all.  I once said that this is the only place you could take a picture of  the statue of liberty and the Eiffel tower at the same time  but I realized you can do that in Paris as well.

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Yes you can take the same picture in Paris but you can’t gamble and buy legalized marijuana which you can in Las Vegas.   Not that I did…   in fact as a tourist you can buy “it” but you will not be able to smoke it since you have to smoke it in a private residency.  You are not suppose to consume it in any casino, hotel, or public place.  I noticed this law was not often followed.  I smelled that awfully pungent smoke every time I walked up or down the strip

Oh speaking of Paris…  Each time I visit somewhere without Isabelle and I pass anything that is even close to a French patisserie I take a picture and text it to her.   This is my way of letting her know that I am thinking of her. (I am such a great husband… and it is also fun making her jealous by telling her how good they were)

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These are the ones I texted her this trip… and although I only tried a couple they were delicious! (I use to bring something home for Isabelle especially macarons… but too much of a good thing would spoil her)

Speaking of food…

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Would you eat here?  and more importantly who starts up a restaurant and decides “egg slut” is a good name.   I understand the concept… they serve eggs all day, but couldn’t they name it better?

I was invited to eat here one evening but I am not an egg guy… and some how I imagine a very unpleasant eggy flatulent smelly place. Would you eat here?… and if you think the place offers something more based upon the name you will be disappointed.   They do serve “Slut”.  In fact it is one of their specialties.

I am a bit torn on this item…   I have never had egg on potato puree and why does it matter if it is poached in a glass jar?   Just in the case you think I am making all of this up here is a link to the (menu)
For those of you who can’t get enough of my boring restaurant comments…

I had an interesting only in Vegas experiences during a “pub crawl” this week at a restaurant.   I picked one of the less crowded places (LAVO beautiful Italian restaurant with excellent food) and sat in a corner next to the kitchen door.   The idea being that every new appetizer being brought out would stop at my table first and I would be sheltered from the crowds of festivity.   My plan worked excellently in fact better than I thought since the trays of  food visited my table on the way out and then returned on their way back to the kitchen.   I could not have been more happy even if there was neon flashing lighted wands on my table.

Then weird happened… that is I guess if you are not use to acrobats/contortionists doing things on the floor between you and the beverage table.   I was also concerned since I didn’t really know the applause or not applause etiquette for these types of acts.

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I imagine these ladies are very talented but there has to be an easier way to earn money.  Can you imagine how strong the lady on the bottom is… holding up the two other women.

All of this made me feel weird at the table.  I started wondering if should I look or not and how much is too much looking.  There were some guys yelling out encouragement which made it all the more uncomfortable.   Am I out of the norm… is this “dinner party acrobatics” a common thing?  I left my ideal location because of the awkwardness I was feeling which turns out to be a good thing.  I probably had eaten two dinners worth of calories with all of the appetizers passing by.

And speaking of awkwardness…. one afternoon while walking down the strip a “take a picture and pay me money” worker spanked me with a riding crop.   You read that correctly I got spanked.  Honestly I was walking and avoiding any eye contact with these street money making acts, especially the mostly naked ones, and next thing I know a lady dressed up I think as a nasty police officer started hitting my butt with her riding crop (I didn’t know police used riding crops).   I asked her to please stop spanking me.  Not because of the pain… it only hurt a little but it was really embarrassing.   She made things worse when she started yelling “Don’t be shy… come and take a picture with me”.  She got in at least 6 good whacks…  and I not knowing really how to react told a coworker “well I can cross that off my list”.  My coworker just laughed and said “What happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas”.

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I did get a “free” picture of the lady.   If you look closely you can see here with the crop on her shoulder.  I am sorry that I didn’t get a better picture but the closest I wanted to be to her was all the way across the street… you know a “safe” distance.

I had one more “invade my personal space” experience while in Vegas…

Monday I was still sick and it was showing especially on my face since my eyes were puffy and my nose was red.(at least I want to blame my face appearance that day on being ill).  I walked past some kind of beauty boutique and one of the men came out and asked me to come in.   I thought he was going to try to sell me something for my wife but he said “You are much too young to look like this”.  I told him there was nothing he could do to help the way I looked   He ignored my comment and sat me in a chair. (I don’t know why I go along with these kind of things).    He started talking about my fair complexion and stated while it can be beautiful that he could see every flaw.   He started with all sorts of stuff… some in syringes…  He spent at least 15 minutes working on just the left side of my face. (I spend less time in the shower for my entire body)  He then showed me how much nicer the one side was and said it would only cost me about $300.   I told him I struggle spending $5 on lotion.  He asked for my phone and took two pictures.

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Untreated side….

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His “miracle” side”…   I am not sure I see the difference but he said send these to my wife and come back after she tells me how much better I look.   The man obviously didn’t know how frugal Isabelle is… even if she saw a difference she would never spend that much on my face.  Would you spend over $300 for the change you see?  (if you see any)

There are some cool things that happen in Vegas (still weird ).   One afternoon I noticed that they had shut down traffic on the strip and that there was a crowd growing around an intersection.   I stopped just as a stock car revved its engine and squealed into the intersection.   The car proceeded to spin it tires and spin itself in circles.  This was very cool and there was a line of stock cars waiting to show their thing in the same intersection.

I thought I had to get some pictures of this…  I took over 30 pictures but as I reviewed the pictures later I realized that all you could see was the smoke.   I should have taken a video… lesson learned.   I will end this post with a couple of those pictures.  (enjoy the smoke… if you look hard you may see the car)

Thank you for reading my post!

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Weekend in Paris

I am off to India again for this coming week. (the feature picture is not India… I don’t want to confuse anyone)

Instead of having a stinky marathon travel fest… yes after 20+ hours I usually am quit stinky… I decided to break up the trip into two segments with a half day and night in Paris.  I was accompanied by three coworkers two of which were Paris virgins.   (that reads a bit weird… virgin meaning never been to Paris… again don’t want to confuse anyone.)  They asked if we could go site seeing and I said half a day is more than enough time to see all the major sites in Paris.  (It is not lying if you are very vague with respect to your interpretation of the “major sites of Paris”)

I have been playing with my camera settings (pretending to be a photographer… see I am not a stalker… promise) and most of my Paris pictures are very bad. I finally notice that I had messed up a setting and fixed it quit late in the evening.

Here are some pictures of our afternoon in Paris. I will be adding words… but they are not mandatory reading.

Here we go!

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We dropped off our bags at IBIS (Cheap but not horrible hotel at terminal 3, Charles de Gaulle airport) and caught the RER to Paris.  My coworkers wanted to take a taxi but how can you see Paris without using the Metro.   We got off at the stop you see above… (Saint Michel… I love the Art Nouveau styled metro stops.  You can see the awesome sign with the two lamp posts shaped as lily of the valleys)

I may have mentioned this before but this stop is in the Latin quarter and back in the 80s I used to buy gyros packed with fries just a half a block to the left of this picture.  After buying them, I would walk another block and cross the Seine and eat the gyro and fries in front of Notre Dame.

No matter how hard I “vocally reminisced” about this my co-workers were not interested in eating.  “We are not hungry yet” was all they said.  I still held hope and had a secret weapon.  I walked them down the street and showed them this sign!

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Who can resist a “SUPER ASS GYRO”?  (they did… darn them…)

Fortunately we did walk to Notre Dame (they had not choice I was the guide) unfortunately our hands were empty.   (Just not as awesome without the gyro)

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This is the picture that I noticed that my camera was messed up. I knew that I had a setting that was off so as we walked I tried to fix my camera.  I hope you are able to forgive me for the poor quality.  After a quick peak at the cathedral I suggested that we walk across the other side of the Seine and visit the Louvre.

I imagined us just walking up to the entrance and then off to our next “major site”.   One of my co-workers wanted to visit the museum and they all decided that 1 hour should be enough time to see the Louvre.   Who was I to argue plus nowadays nobody actually looks directly at the art.   They all have their backs to the art with their phones pointed at the art and themselves to capture selfies.    I find it funny that many people spend more time looking at the amazing works on their phone screens instead of directly at them.  If you don’t believe me here is some proof.   The first is me taking a picture of people at the Mona Lisa.  (They should all be looking to the left… the direction of the painting)

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Here is another example. (venus de milo)

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It is almost crazy how many people have their backs to the art… (Am I creepy for taking a picture of a couple taking a selfie… hmmm is it still a selfie if you are taking it with a work of art?)

I just realized that I am criticizing everyone for turning their backs to the art and I actually spent most of my time looking at people… not the art… hmmm…  I just went through my pictures and they are all of people taking pictures of themselves.   I might have to get therapy.

Let me continue with our day in Paris.

After a crazy run through a very small portion of the Louvre.  We  decided to have lunch.  I thought they would complain about not really getting to spend much time at the Louvre but they all agreed that even a tiny bit of time there was an amazing experience.

We ate lunch at Cocorico…  (random café next to the musee d’orsay).

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I had to steal these pictures from a co-worker… (let’s call him Nate… my pictures at this time were all bad… I was still messing with settings.)  We ordered a “plateau de charcuterie” and “fromage”.. (meat and cheese…  you can’t go wrong… see Nate’s picture below)   Food is an important part of any French tour regardless of how much time you have.

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After eating we were off to the Eiffel Tower.  (the picture below is mine… I almost have the setting fixed by now)

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We waited in the security check line for 20 minutes.  We ran over to the pillar that was open for walking up the stairs (usually the shorter line) and as soon as we arrived they announced that it just closed.  I tried shedding tears and mentioned that it was our first and only day in Paris.  The city employee was not moved by my emotional plea.  With some bit of Parisian smugness, she told us go to the other pillar and wait for the elevator.

We looked at the elevator line and it was over two hours.   I promised that we would return later (I can’t be trusted) and said it would be a good idea to take a boat tour of the Seine.

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I stole this picture on the boat from Nate (messed my camera up again… gesh).  The boat tour is always incredible but it was really chilly this night.  Towards the end of the tour we were some of the only ones left on top of the boat.   It was either the cold wind that chased everyone down inside the boat or it was the overly romantic couple who were trying to heat the top deck in their own special way.  I think Nate was the one who said since they invited us to be a part of their special romantic moment… we should at least have a say in naming the baby.  I would have taken a picture of the couple but I wanted to keep my blog family friendly.

After the boat tour ended we stopped back at the Tour d’Eiffel and I feinted a surprise when we saw that there was still a long line.  I suggest we visit the arc de triomphe.  (Here is the last stolen picture from Nate)

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It was suggested that we should climb to the top.  I have been here many times but have never visited the top.  I was kind of “giddy” to experience something new.  I let them decide but made sure I offered a subtle hint by adding the sneaky line “This might be your only chance to get a good view of the city since there is such a long line at the Eiffel tower”.

I am ashamed that I had not bothered to do this years ago.  The view was amazing! and so are the spiral stair cases going up and down.   (I sat down and fixed my camera before I started the ascent).

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This is looking up…

Paris November 09This statue is just before you go up on top of the arc.  (This reminds me of Isabelle when she realizes I have just done something really stupid)

Here is on top… imagine the 360º view you have of the city.

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Finally the way down.   You can get dizzy walking down these stairs.  I actually fell.  I wasn’t hurt at least physically. I had two young French ladies run over and ask me if I was ok.   How embarrassing… I hope they thought I was drunk and not some old guy struggling to make my way down.  (Still sensitive from the Halloween old guy costume)

As you can see from the pictures our day was almost gone so I said we had one last thing to do before our tour was over.   We located a Monop’ (grocery store) near the Arc and bought my favorite chocolate (only found in France during Christmas time)

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This chocolate is the only thing I really wanted to visit anyway…. much better than the top of the Eiffel tour.  (This was not just a way to make everyone feel better about missing the climb to the top… but I can earnestly say that it is better… at least in my opinion)   If you have not had this I believe it is the best tasting chocolate in the world.

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I also bought some tomme de savoie… love this cheese! and it is right now in my hotel fridge here in India.   (I brought my food again…  I know shame shame)

Stay tuned for stuff from India… and at the end of the trip I will be sharing my weird pictures!

Early Morning Walk in Jerusalem

I find myself back in Israel.  I have so much that I want to share with you… and so little time.   For this post, I think I will share with you some pictures I took early this morning while walking through the streets of Jerusalem.

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I did not go into the office today but decided to sneak away and visit Jerusalem.   Being a bit weary of traffic, I left very early  and arrived before all of the shops were open.  What an amazing time to walk the streets.     You can take time and look at the shops with their colorful doors and really appreciate the arches as you walk under them.  There is something magical about the way the columns of light make their way down illuminating the narrow walkways.   (that was such a nice sentence…I should stop with that…  but I can’t help myself… so here comes more words)

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I think in addition to all the aesthetics of this morning’s walk, the thing I appreciated most was not having people harshly telling me to move out of their way each time I stopped to take a picture.   That happened frequently after the crowds arrived and they were not using polite phrases like “excuse me” or “pardon”.  Worse I understood their insults.  You would hope they would at least have said those things in their native language. (That makes it so much easier to ignore)  Who ever said “names will never hurt” was not really listening to what they were being called.

EarlyMorningJeruselem6Here are the rest of the pictures I took during the morning time.   I have many more I want to share but I will do that in a following post.

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I have two more pictures to share and they the type of pictures I like…. weird.    The first picture has a sign that I thought meant “No tractors”.   I now, after almost being run over by one, believe it means “warning tractors”.   I could be wrong, but if that is the case, the person driving the tracker was just as wrong.

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The second photograph is well….

A men’s toilet taken from the street while looking in through the door.   I don’t often take these kind of pictures.  This time I was curious and not in the creepy way.  I just don’t understand what I was seeing on the right wall just through the door.    Is this a foot wash… some weird urinal… or maybe a squatting type of toilet?  I would love for anyone out there to explain what I was looking at.

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Please come back later this week.  I will be posting more pictures from my Jerusalem visit.

Week in Westminster

This week I find myself in Westminster Colorado.   I am attending ÜberConf… and no this is not a conference for uber drivers.  (although an uber drivers  conference would have the most diverse and interesting attendees… just not sure what they would talk about}  When I started this blog I stated that I would not talk about work… (Oh the duplicity…).   I still will try to omit work details and just show some interestingly weird things from Westminster.

There is going to be a little bit of story telling as well… (sorry)

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My family and I are a bit sad that I am gone again.  I was sitting at the airport a little down and on a very “tense” conference call when I noticed that the coke I had purchased had my name on the bottle.    This made me smile… I took this picture… and then everything seemed much better.   Isn’t it strange how little things can make such a difference.  (Wonder if it is because I am an incredibly simple guy… or maybe I am just narcissistic)… oh ya… don’t tell my family that I stopped missing them after I saw that my coke had my name.

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I arrived early in Westminster and my co-worker suggested that we visit the “Butterfly Pavilion” near the conference hotel.   I thought this sounded like an interesting name for a lounge or bar and said sure.    It was neither bar, lounge, nor restaurant.   It is exactly what it sounds like… a bug place.

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One of the first things I saw were domino cockroaches.   Probably the only cockroach you could consider cute.  (Cute relative to other bugs… not “cuter” than my daughters Gwen and Hanna)

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OK… hmm (not sure that I should I write this).   In the museum they had a display that allowed you to smell…  well… smells.   They had tall smell holes and short smell holes connected for some odd reason.   When I saw someone use this smelling contraption for the first time I noticed that as they put their nose to the top smell hole… the bottom hole was positioned… well exactly at their… hmm crotch.   I initially thought this was some weird thing to allow weirdoos to smell themselves or a way to help you understand dog greetings without offending another person…. but nope…

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And they had bees… along with a bee counter. (not to be confused with a bean counter).   Most importantly… they had a large butterfly section.   It was in a very large net enclosed area with beautiful plants an of course a scary amount of butterflies.  There is something incredibly calming when you watch butterflies flittering around… well that is until you step on one.   You are not suppose to do that… but it requires much more attention than I initially thought.   (It was an accident… promise)  I thought I would have awesome butterfly pictures but after taking three or four pictures my phone died… (I immediately  regretted wasting batteries on the cockroach, smelling thingy, and bee pictures…)  Here are the butterfly pictures  I took.  (I didn’t take one of the dead butterfly on the walk way… you know… could be used as evidence)

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Our mission is to foster and appreciation of invertebrates while educating the public about the importance of conservation of threatened habitats in the tropics and around the world

Butterfly Pavilion Mission:

After this visit I definitely gained a appreciation for invertebrates… even the detritivores… Big word that I learned and I am going to just throw it out here like I know what I am saying.   The Butterfly Pavilion was earnestly committed to their mission statement insomuch that if just visiting didn’t foster appreciation…. they offered the chance to eat invertebrates with beer.

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I guess you will need several beers before you will be willing to eat some of their “unique, delectable dishes”.   (I wonder if they server butterflies…  I actually think I could eat one)… They also have an alternative for those who don’t drink alcohol…

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“INSECTIVAL”… kind of reminds me of “Festivus”…

OK… enough bug stuff… and a little bit about the conference venue… By the way this conference has a tag line of “no fluff, just stuff”.   I am not going to focus on the stuff… I will just share some of the fluff…. I found while being out and around.

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The hotel where the conference is being held is fantastic and has some amazing grounds. I have really enjoyed walking around during the breaks… (my fluff time).   While walking around I noticed that there are wild rabbits everywhere.   I think they should advertise this hotel as a “Rabbit Pavilion”.  The pictures below are just a small sample of the rabbits I saw… and no… they are not the same rabbit.  (Different sizes, colors and locations)

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LOTS of rabbits… I have a great idea I am going to go “sell” to this hotel

“BUNNIES and BEER”….

 

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Just Got HOME! (Last Pictures from Israel)

I just arrived home after a long flight.   I was fortunate (read that with sarcasm) to sit in the same row as two very large men.   I was by the window and every time someone would walk down the aisle, or bring the cart down the aisle, the two gentleman would have to squish into the row which crushed me into the side of the airplane.   This happened the entire flight…  twice while I was asleep… knocking the wind out of me.  Luckily the flight was only 11 hours (read that again with sarcasm).   I didn’t think that things could get worse but the very large man in the middle seat fell asleep on me.   When he finally woke up the left side of me was soaking wet with his sweat.  (wow I probably shouldn’t complain…   I am sure it could have been a little bit worse… you know like the plane going down and killing us all)

I want to share my last day with all of you.   I had hoped to have at least half of a day open to go visit somewhere cool… or even just somewhere other than work and the hotel.  Unfortunately I had too much work… or maybe it was not enough time… either way I was not able to go site seeing.   (I am going to just share my last day… next time I will make sure I have enough time… maybe even visit Petra)

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Here was my last breakfast…   yep… desert for breakfast.   I am going to have to go on a serious diet to make up for all of the eating I have done this past week.  I tried supplementing my meals with a little bit of healthy options.  (Enough to take away the guilt… )   I fell in love with the pears in the picture below.  I have no idea what kind of pear they are but they are “mini” sized.   I was able to eat one of these and not ruin my appetite for the real food… you know cheese cakes, fruit tartes, Belgium waffles and of course halva.

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After my breakfast feast I went on my last morning walk.   Here are some picture from that walk.

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This fish was on the walk way… being guarded by a cat.   I pulled out my camera and the cat ran off and hid.  I have never seen a camera shy cat before… imagine… scared enough to leave behind this prize (still got his picture of it… see below)

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I didn’t have much time for this walk otherwise I would have sat on this toilet… pretending to go…you know… just to watch other people’s reactions.   (Next time I really need to plan to have more time for the important things like toilet pranks)

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In Israel Sunday is the beginning day for work and Thursday is Israel’s “Friday”.  In our office Thursday you can count on two large challah loafs on every floor.   I am going to have to find a recipe for this brioche like bread… (am still working on my halva recipe… looking for help if you know how to make halva… please leave a comment)

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When I visit other countries I love visiting the grocery stores.  It is always fun to see what is the same and what is different.  Plus it is free to visit unlike  a lot of monuments and museums… you just have to put yourself in a “zoo visiting” state of mind.    Especially when looking at the people.  People watching is fantastic at the store since people are most like themselves while shopping. (you know… seeing them in their natural habitat… just don’t try to feed them… ).  I love seeing everything written in Hebrew…   I am still struggling to learn Hebrew and my mind keeps changing the Hebrew characters into English ones.  I didn’t realize that the store’s logo was English and Hebrew.   I thought it read “stop!  Open”.   I noticed that the second word was not English on the last day.

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Speaking of Hebrew… “Shin” is the first letter I learned… and it’s sound is “sh”.  (This was also the first letter in a word I learned during a meeting שתוק“shutup”) I remember this letter because you see it alone everywhere.  Many of you know what you are looking at… but I had no clue until I asked.   This was on my hotel door and you will find these little tubes with this letter on many doors.  (Every door at my office has one).  I learned that these are called mezuzah and have a small prayer written inside.

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Not all of the stores have Hebrew words… like this store…   “Gentleman It’s a Man’s World”…. what a long name for a store.  When I entered I was glad I had a beard… you know proving my manliness.  I wonder if they let women shop there?

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And then there are places with no English… (other than a coke advertisement).   This is where I had lunch on my last day.   I went with co-workers and they wanted to eat hummus.   I thought I didn’t like hummus, since I had only eaten the hummus you buy in the store… plus in my ignorance I thought hummus was just a chip dip.   They offered to go somewhere else but I wanted to see how you could make a meal out of this adult baby food.

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I practiced the name of what I wanted… which meant everything… and ordered it here.  (picture above and darn it… I have already forgotten how to say the name).   Watching this gentleman prepare my dish was like watching an artist.  He painted on tahini and hummus, plopped in onions, parsley, and courser ground chickpeas (not quit hummus), and swirled in sauces and oils.  I caught him before he plunged the egg… not sure I wanted hard boiled egg mixed with all of that stuff.  He signed the work of art with red spices… not sure what kind of spice but I imagine paprika.

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Here is my lunch and I was not sure how I was going to eat this…   But it was fantastic.  I was completely wrong about hummus and it is definitely “meal worthy”.   I think I only got about half of the bowl eaten.   I mentioned not being able to do any site seeing but this lunch on its own was an interesting view of this regions culture.   I think we often forget that a meal can be an exotic vacation alone in itself… plus the food doesn’t mind when you stare or take pictures.

The day quickly ended and I had a plane to catch… but had three hours to waste and I spent it on the beach.

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I got to spend the last night on the beach with a sunset… so romantic… made me really miss Isabelle.  (I am not sure I should say it was romantic without her… don’t want her to get any ideas.)

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

Working in Ra’anana

I am going to post some pictures  with possibly boring words talking about and showing where I work while in Israel.  This post is “self/life logging” at its worse…

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Don’t hate….this is acting as my personal journal and I wanted to “remember” where I spent the majority of my time while in Israel.  Above is my work’s office building located in the city of Ra’anana  (it has taken me three visits here before I learned how to say the city’s name)

This is going to make me sound dumb but the first thing I had to learn in this office, to fit in, was how to operate the elevator.    Yes… I know how to push buttons and the numbers are in English… but it is different.   The picture below is the outside of the elevator.   They are “too cool” to have just an up arrow and a down arrow… they have an LED screen and a key pad.

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In the elevator you have only five buttons… one to close the door, one to open the door, one to sound an alarm… and well two others that I have no clue what they do.  (see picture below)… Of course I had to push the other buttons several times and those two “dot” buttons did nothing.

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On the outside of the elevator on the keypad you punch in the floor.   That sounds simple… but here is the tricky part… there are 4 elevators marked A, B, C, and D.   You have to watch the screen after you type in the floor and it will tell you what elevator (one of the four letters) will be going to that floor.

You can’t just get in the first elevator that opens the door… ummm like I did.   It may not be going where you need to go and once you are in the elevator there is nothing you can do… you are at its mercy.  I have no idea how the seeing impaired use these elevators.   While the outside keypad has braille, the letter that shows up on the screen is not voiced… nor touchable… how would they know which elevator to go into?  (see I am sensitive and  think about accessibility… and yes… I am trying to make up for the previous blog’s “cripple beach” comment)Random Israel 26

The building has great flower beds, lily ponds, and even a roof top garden.   If it wasn’t so miserably hot and muggy I would have sat in the gardens during lunch.  I am not sure that I like the heat and humidity here… but the views are fantastic.  (Most of them I enjoyed from inside the air conditioned building.)

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Very beautiful work environment at least when I am not “working”.  When I am working I am often “parked” in a bomb shelter that moonlights as a conference room.   I have to admit it kind of makes me think about where I actually am and my safety.  I have never felt unsafe while in Israel but I have also not had to work in a bomb shelter.  I keep thinking that there must be a reason for these.   I am not sure I want to experience that reason…. hmmm if you think about it what a scary place… (with bad cell phone reception).   As a side note…  These bomb shelters are on each floor and they have hatches in the far corners that lead either up to the shelter above or down to the shelter below.

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My co-workers are fantastic… love to argue but brilliant.  The company is great and they are kind enough to give me a card that allows me to have “free lunch”… Everyone in the office enjoys complaining about the food but I found the cafeteria to be better than average(that is better than average for a cafeteria).  It is kind of fun not knowing exactly what you are eating half of the time.

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I hope you have enjoyed a small peak into my work day.   Again I really appreciate you taking the time to read my words.  As a reward I will leave you with this picture of a blue cow in front of the cafeteria.

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Back in Isreal

I just arrived in Israel (yes I am here again…  feel like I just left).  I am back for work and everything about this trip is starting to feel familiar.   I am staying at the same hotel, Herods in Herzliya, and in fact they put me in the exact same room… I am not going to tell you the room number you will just have to believe me.  (You can see the hotel above in a photo I took this morning… and you can see my room in the photo below)

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I know… the hotel and hotel room pictures are boring.  One of the things about travelling to the same place frequently is that all of the newness goes away.   I worry about sharing pictures of this trip with all of you because I have already shared so much.   What I hope is that even if you are familiar with my posts and especially the posts from Israel I will still be able to offer something interesting, surprising, and hopefully weird.   Often places that are very familiar can become “new and exciting” again if you just pay enough attention and try to truly see things.   (Our minds tend to tune out so much… especially when we are familiar with the place)

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A colleague and I arrived in Israel very late last night… darn flight delays. (six hours delay in New York)   I didn’t feel like eating but he was “snack” hungry. (“Snack hungry” is a new term he taught me)   We stopped by a “familiar” place McDonald’s.  This seems to be very familiar even in Israel.

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We realized that we were not exactly “home” when we tried to read the menu and noticed that everything was in Hebrew.  We were both taken aback by the strange combination of familiar icons and food images along side very unfamiliar letters.  My co-worker stated “you can’t even try to sound out the words”.

This was kind of interesting… Then… we looked closer…

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WOW….

It is not often you see a person in line before you with a live boa wrapped around his neck.   Notice the counter worker looking around to see if the snake was real.  I am not sure I would have looked or remained so calm.  We decided to wait back a bit until this young man left with his order… (wonder if he shared his food with his pet snake and if he did… is McDonald’s food safe for snakes?).

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Today (this morning) I went for a small walk around familiar places including the beach on the north side of my hotel (Acadia)… really a fantastic beach.    A coworker from here said it is a “how you say it….  a cripple beach”.    I looked around the entrance to see if I could find a sign stating the beach’s accessibility in the same way as my co-worker… but no luck.   I hope I haven’t offended anyone.   I am sure this is one of those things lost in translation and I think what she meant was that it is handicap accessible.

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This picture of all of the cheeses is to make my wife jealous. (Isabelle… I miss you already)

I followed up my walk with the now “familiar” and always “fantastic” breakfast…  and yes I am going to share again pictures of the wonderful breakfast my hotel offers.

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Thanks for taking the time to read this!  I will try to post something new and interesting from this trip later this week!