Sunday, June 24, 2007

All my bags are packed....

Well, after a morning of frantic phone calls to the National Passport Information Center and the airline I think I should be okay with my flight this evening. I will just fly out with my Israeli passport and renew my US passport when I get to Israel. I made an appointment for July 3rd at the embassy in Tel Aviv, got passport photos at Walgreens, and completed and printed the renewal form. The joys of the internet! After a much needed cup of coffee I was able to calm down enough to finish packing. I think I'm good. Arthur came home from Texas and is napping, Maor made last minute phone calls to Israel to be sure they roll out the red carpet, and made me sign her up for the Bnei Akiva trip to Superland and the masa.
I've got dollars, Euros (stopover in Germany, unfortunately), and Shkalim, passports, credit cards, gum, nosh, crossword puzzle magazines, books, MP3 players for both Maor and myself with audiobooks. Sounds like we're all set, right?
I don't know how much I'll post when I'm in Israel (or how I'll manage to read all my blog subscriptions) so for now, wishing everyone a great summer!

My last minute late night discovery

Well, Maor and I are leaving for Israel tomorrow evening (actually today since it's after midnight). Can't believe it. I am almost done packing, doing some last minute laundry (it never ends!) and trying to get organized. So I decided to photograph my important documents with the digital camera so I'd have a record of everything. (Just a bit of paranoia since my wallet was stolen in NY last summer) And lo and behold, I discovered that my US passport expires June 30, 2007! So I can get to Israel but getting home may be a bit of a problem. And of course tomorrow is Sunday so no passport offices are open. So guess I'll either be mailing it in for renewal or heading over to the US embassy in Tel Aviv this week. Ah, the joys of travel.

Friday, June 22, 2007

July 4th giveaway


Susan and Janice from 5 minutes for mom are giving away some goodies in honor of the 4th of July. Their first contest is for a Krups Ice Cream Maker and Rosanna Sweet Dreams Bowl and theire second contest is for a custom Land's End bathing suit so click on over and check it out!

List of books

I found this at Alyson's blog, Bibilophiles Anonymous.

Look at the list of books below:
Bold the ones you’ve read
Mark in blue the ones you want to read
Cross out the ones that you wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole (or use red coloring)
Finally, italicize the ones you've never heard of.
If you are reading this (and haven't participated yet), tag, you’re it!

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Rowling)

17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence
80. Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

To be fair, some of the books I read as a student and wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole today (anything Dickens) and there are books that I feel I should read such as Little Women.

Does Your English Cut the Mustard?

I found this fun quiz on Alice's blog, Hello, My Name is Alice. Click the link below my score to test YOUR skills. As you can see, I will not be winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee anytime soon.

Your English Skills:

Vocabulary: 100%

Grammar: 80%

Punctuation: 80%

Spelling: 40%

Thursday, June 21, 2007

School Days, Golden Rules Days

It's Thursday so here's this week's BTT:

Since school is out for the summer (in most places, at least), here’s a school-themed question for the week:
1. Do you have any old school books? Did you keep yours from college? Old textbooks from garage sales? Old workbooks from classes gone by?

Well I was an English major in college a million years ago so I kept some anthologies and also some books from a class I took in children's literature. Now that I'm getting my masters degree (I hope, just finished my first semester so maybe that's a bit premature) and there's a culminating project it's been advised to keep the textbooks, so for now, that's what I'm doing.

2. How about your old notes, exams, papers? Do you save them? Or have they long since gone to the great Locker-in-the-sky?

You've got to be kidding! No old notes, exams, anything. I've got enough clutter as it is! LOL. I barely keep my kids' school stuff anymore, just odds and ends. And today, so much is done on the computer so it's saved for prosperity - unless the computer crashes (God forbid!)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tools for book lovers

The web site Lifehacker which recommends software downloads and web sites that save time has a post on 13 book hacks for the library crowd and it is worth checking out.

My favorite so far, even though I just signed up for it tonight is ELF, a site that helps you track and manage your library accounts. As you know, since coming to California I have fallen in love with the public libraries and I am now the proud owner of 4 library cards (for now). Maor has 2 library cards. As you can imagine, it can get complicated tracking what books you have out, when they're due, what holds are waiting for you, and so on. ELF does all the work for you and sends you e-mail reminders and updates. As a matter of fact, once I put in all my information, ELF informed me that one of my holds is waiting for me and I haven't gotten the notice from the library itself yet!

Another site that seems promising is paperback swap, which is similar to bookmooch. Both sites let you swap your books with others. On bookmooch you get points for both listing books and sending books, as well as leaving feedback. On paperback swap you are given 3 points to get started and then you get points when you send books out. I've been signed up on bookmooch for a little while with no action but already on paperback swap I ordered 2 books and it looks like someone wants a book I have. I generally don't buy books (see above re library cards!) but Arthur buys books when he travels so I am trying to swap them. Will see how it goes.

If you would like to try paperback swap for yourself just click here:

What is RSS?

After reading this post my cousin Yossi said I should explain what RSS is. Well, I can't but Lee from commoncraft does an excellent job:

Win a free iPod Shuffle

Mark W. Shead, the author of Productivity501, a site which brings you tips and tricks to help increase your productivity, is giving away a free iPod Shuffle. Checkout the details of the contest here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Excellent picture which sums up Israeli politicians

Thanks to my daughter, Maor, for sending it to me!

Friday, June 15, 2007


These pictures made me homesick. 12 days till we're there.

Thursday Thirteen

This seems like a fun thing to try so here goes.
1. Go to Google.
2. Type your name and the word "needs" in quotes in the search engine and hit the button. Give us 13 that make sense, if you can.

Before I give you my answers, let's give credit where credit is due. I saw this first at Reading is my Superpower who credits Educating Petunia who credits A Fraternity of Dreamers and JellyJules who credits Scarlett.

So here goes:
1. Fern needs an overhaul. Well, I probably do but don't we all?! (And isn't it just a bit rude to mention it?)

2. Fern needs a companion. Hmm. Not really. A person can never have too many friends though.

3. Fern needs no teeth! Well, thankfully mine still work pretty well.

4. [Lazy] fern needs more volunteers to work on it. I am lazy it's true and if someone wants to whip me into shape, they are more than welcome to try.

5. Fern needs to be seen and heard to be appreciated. I couldn't agree more!

6. Fern needs no supplemental water during the summer. Unless it gets really hot!

7. Fern needs to be mowed down. I think that's a bit extreme, don't you?

8. Fern needs acid. Acid is a bit much but perhaps some other feel good pills...

9. Fern needs plenty of room as it will grow to be a large specimen. Well I do need my own space but I am trying very hard not to become a large specimen!

10. Fern needs protection from hot afternoon sun. Which is why I always wear a baseball cap outdoors.

11. Fern needs a humid environment. I don't mind the heat but you can keep the humidity.

12. Fern needs to get rid of a spider. Not at the moment but it's true I am not a big fan of spiders.

13. Fern needs your support . So send your checks to P.O.B....

This was a lot of fun! Try it for yourselves!

School's out

Well, today was Maor's last day of school. On Tuesday the 4th-8th graders went to an amusement park, Great America, and I accompanied them. They divide the kids into groups based on ride thrill levels (low, medium, high) of the rides they want and a teacher or parent accompanies each group. The eighth graders got to walk around in pairs or they could hook up with a group. Another parent and I had a medium level group of 7 kids (including Maor) and an eighth grader hung out with us. I only went on one ride, the tame (despite its name) Rip Roaring Rapids. The kids had a great time.

One of the nice things about this year has been that I've had the opportunity to volunteer at Maor's school since I wasn't working. In Israel I rarely was able to accompany her class or do much during the day. I volunteered one day a week in the school library and helped out with various activities, such as the Scholastic book fair. Today I helped with the end of year teacher luncheon that the principal's wife hosts.

Now I am in high gear for getting ready for our trip to Israel. I am a bit worried that I'm going for too long (2 months) and I hope we don't wear out our welcome. I know Maor will have a great time but what am I going to do?! I bought myself a new toy and downloaded 4 audiobooks: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain, Exile by Richard North Patterson, The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I am also bringing 2 books with me, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon and Independence Day by Richard Ford.

I also have a big cross stitch project which I haven't started yet, Kimono Row, from a book called A Cross Stitcher's Oriental Odyssey by Joan Elliot.

And of course there's the new Harry Potter book to look forward to, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which comes out 10 days after the fifth movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Here's a cute song by Urban Tapestry about the upcoming book.

Yesterday I ran around buying paper goods for Maor's bat mitzvah party which will be on July 26th, 11 Av, im yirtze Hashem. I thought I had so much time to organize and buy everything I wanted and all of a sudden I'm leaving in 10 days and I'm not even done printing out the invitations (why am I doing it myself?!). I've also been buying things to decorate the tables. It seems that I'm doing all the work and Arthur and Maor are just going to show up. Story of my life.

Yesterday evening I registered for school for Fall 2007. I am taking 3 classes next semester: Information Organizations and Management (a requirement), Vocabulary Design, and Information Technology Tools and Applications - Advanced -
Library and Web 2.0. All 3 classes are online only. I hope I'm not biting off more than I can chew. I would like to find a part time job as well, in the library field, but for that I need to redo my resume which I have been avoiding. Maybe over the summer.

Okay, my eyes are getting tired and Maor is screaming for the computer so I will sign off for now.

No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks!

Dessert first

1. Do you cheat and peek ahead at the end of your books? Or do you resolutely read in sequence, as the author intended?

No, I don't think I've ever cheated and peeked ahead to the end. It's not really the ending that's important, IMHO, but the whole journey.

2. And, if you don’t peek, do you ever feel tempted?

Not really. I'm usually content to keep plodding through until I reach the end.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A day without GOOGLE

You may not know it but there are many search engines out there in cyberspace besides Google.

At the blog Alternative search engines, they post a top 100 list and monthly updates. The June top 100 can be found here in an excel worksheet and the history of the list can be found here.

AltSearchEngines is asking everyone to go one day (6 am - midnight), this Tuesday, without using one of the major search engines; Google, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, or Ask.

And just to give you an idea/a taste of alternative search engines, here are a few examples:
Snooth - personalized wine recommendations (hey I'm in California, land of the wine snobs)
Sputtr - a collection of all your favorite search engines on one page.
Cognition health search - uses natural language and allows you to search various reliable sites for health information and journal articles.

Something about me challenge

I found this interesting and low key reading challenge where you choose 5 books which represent you in some way, post them on the Something about Me reading challenge blog, and on August 5th, choose 5 books from other people's list to read. I had a tough time coming up with my list because I can't remember everything I've read and I really wanted to choose books that 1) I've read 2) I liked 3) represented me. So without further ado, here is my list, in no particular order:
1. Beach Music by Pat Conroy. This is my all time favorite book and I have read it a few times. I chose it because like one of the characters, my father was a holocaust survivor, although I don't think I'm as messed up as the character is by this.
2. Chocolat by Joanne Harris. Chosen because I love chocolate!
3. Good Grief by Lolly Winston. I chose this book because like the main character I live in Silicon Valley and came because of my husband's job.
4. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I chose this haunting book because I had a teenage daughter who died, but not as gruesomely as the main character in this book, thank God.
5. The World According to Garp by John Irving. Chosen because like Garp, I too harbor anxieties about my child's safety.

I will let you know what books I chose to read after I pick.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Encore, encore

At the meme Booking through Thursday Deb writes: "If you could have just ONE more book from an author you love . . .Who would the author be, and why?"

This is very timely for me since I am listening to my all time favorite book on audio, Beach Music, by Pat Conroy. I have read this book several times and even though I'm an avid reader (currently reading: Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child) Beach Music has never been displaced from its #1 spot in my heart. Although Mr. Conroy has written other works since Beach Music in 1995, including the autobiographical My Losing Season, there have been no new novels since then.

So I have to say that I would LOVE to read a new novel by Pat Conroy and I am always on the lookout hoping that one day it will appear. If you are not familiar with Pat Conroy or his books, you should run not walk to your nearest library, bookstore, or online secondhand bookseller to try one of his books. Pat Conroy was born in Atlanta, Georgia and was a military brat who moved 23 times before he was 18. His books take place in the south and his most well known book is probably Prince of Tides which was made into a major motion picture with Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte. Beach Music tells the story of Jack McCall who flees to Rome to raise his young daughter after his wife commits suicide. It spans 3 decades of life in South Carolina while dealing with both Vietnam and the Holocaust. It is an engrossing story that doesn't let you go.

P.S. Read JMC's post about Beach Music which appeared a day after mine here.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Blogging the day away

I have been getting very into blogs, my not so techie friends. So I have been toying with the idea of making what is essentially a journal more of a blog, with more frequent postings, links, thoughts, ramblings, etc. I hope you will enjoy the new format which will be a learning experience for me.

So first of all, Maor had a great time on her SEED shabbaton in New York.

She met girls from all over the USA and had a full program of fun things to bring the group together including a surprise trip (with the girls blindfolded) to the beach! Both my NY cousins went to visit Maor while she was in NY. She came home Sunday tired and happy.

So I am now subscibed to about 50 different blogs, about libraries, Israel, Judaism, books, and web 2.0. I have started using Google Reader to get automatic updates of the feeds. One of the interesting things I found today is the following:

Nefesh B'Nefesh is initiating a simple project this week called "12 to 12". We are asking every Oleh to compose a list of 12 great things you appreciate and love about living in Israel and email your message to 12 (or more) friends abroad.If you send this out to your friends, please CC when you send it out.Please send out your letter before Friday June 8.

So here is my list:

12 things I love about living in Israel:
1. Being in a supermarket before any holiday and knowing that everyone is in the same boat, religious or non-religious, Sephardic or Ashkenazi; - everyone is hosting or being hosted, buying rimonin, matzot, cheese for cheesecake.
2. The period between Pesach and Shavuot, when Israeli flags are flying throughout the country for the upcoming Yom Haatzmaut and Yom Yerushalayim.
3. The togetherness and solemnity of Yom Hashoah and Yom Hazikaron, when the country shuts down its stores and entertainment.
4. Knowing if chalilah something is wrong by the music on the radio.
5. Really feeling the New Year start in the fall, with Rosh Hashana, as the whole country gets ready for the chagim.
6. Acharei hachagim, and how nothing gets done until then.
7. The kids can play outdoors and go to friends by themselves.
8. Dropping in and visiting neighbors without advance notice.
9. Finding short sleeve or elbow length shirts year round.
10. Not paying thousands of dollars a year for my child to get a Jewish education.
11. Hebrew rap music (Hadag nachash, Subliminal)
12. The feeling that I am truly at home.

And here are links to several others:

Life in Israel

A Mother in Israel

Maor needs the computer for her homework and I need to make supper before my ice skating lesson, so signing off for now.