Remember the closing comments from the previous letter:

There is a purpose for everything in life. I was connected (to the Internet), Ima was connected, Tal was connected Osmo or Tintin were connected and you will soon be connected. We’ll get that syllabus done and we will also print it. It will be a wonderful year … Max picked up Tal’s laptop (its harder than it sounds) and you will soon have it. Believe it or not Ima managed to pack a carpet into the same bag instead of the mouse pad.

Well as you know by now Max figured out that the computer and the carpet were too heavy and he ‘forgot’ to take them with him. To be on the safe side his parents waited for two days before discovering the package that lay in the middle of their living room. Obviously they notified us ‘immediately’ and drove it back to our house without delay. We were all kind of pissed, given that we really wanted you to have the computer and having gone through so much (its time to read the previous letter if you do not know what I’m talking about) to try and get it to you. When they arrived I contemplated repeating a ‘Nili with chocolates’ ritual but their naturally sad eyes and artificial apologetic smiles got me back to my senses, ‘Yeela has to live with their kid for the next two years’ I said to myself, ‘it is enough that he does not clean his room, you don’t want to kindle underlying aggressions between them.’ Having weighed the evidence and the circumstances it would have been somewhat (but not completely) cruel to make them feel (too) bad about (Max’s) forgetting to take the computer. ow do you forget such a thing, and with a whole carpet wrapped around it’. Easy, easy, let’s get a grip here’. Smiling a better smile then they could ever muster I welcomed them un-wholeheartedly ‘Shalom, how are you?’. ‘We really just wanted to drop this off’, ‘Oh, [is this something that Max forgot?] of course, I understand’. ‘We’re really sorry’, ‘Please don’t feel bad (feel terrible), it can happen with all the emotion you and Max must have gone through these last few days’. ‘Yes, yes it was very difficult’. ‘Well we’ll see you’, ‘Bye (good riddance’)’

Max knew something that I did not regarding flights and weight limitations. I’ll get to that shortly.

So we had the laptop-fuff back for a while and I would bring it to you when I can over to visit. I think that at the time we knew that I would be going to see you so it wasn’t such a problem. As you know by now it made little difference anyway. In fact the computer is probably still disconnected thanks to ‘Nissan the Nistar’, but its there at the kibutz all the same.

It was decided that I board a plane and go to see how you were doing in the land of milk and honey and Tiv-ol. It’s hard to remember how the idea came about, however experience teaches us that the discussion went something like this:

“I think it would be a great idea if you went to visit Yeela”


and so it was decided. Having said the last word making the decision I felt that it would be best to let others take center stage preparing for the trip. What this implied I found out when standing in front of the British Airways check-in attendant when the time came to execute the plan. ‘You are over weight’ said the woman’s metallic, unwavering, remorseless voice. You know how your mind begins to race at times like this ‘Overweight, overweight’ This is something that I have always dreaded. Yet it has never happened to me when I travel alone and solely on my behalf so I was not sure how exactly I would deal with the terrible news. Clearly this was an Imma situation, let alone the fact that it was caused by Imma’s packing expertise. But Imma was not there and I had already admitted to having packed everything myself and to having never let the ‘supplies for an army’ out of my personal control since I packed them. I suddenly realized how diabolical the questions were. They had nothing to do with security. Every one knows that only fools admit to not having packed themselves. The questions are meant to corner those who are carrying overweight bags, and prevent them from using excuses about their not knowing who or why or how the bags are so heavy all of a sudden. ‘Perhaps they were out in the rain and are full of water, I’m sure they’ll dry and lighten up in the cargo bin’. ‘I didn’t see rain today and you said you came from Sunnyvale’. It’s for this and this alone that these seemingly stupid questions are asked!!!

I had tied the rope around my neck. I was all alone being told for the first time that I was overweight. Well the only shred of hope I possibly had was to play dumb and try to make the attendant believe that this is the first time that I was over weight anywhere, anytime. ‘I’m sorry’, I said, ‘but I am six foot and three inches tall and weigh two hundred and ten pounds which yields a body (pronounce the ‘o’ as in ‘old’ so the Brit gets it) mass index of 25.8 which is wonderful at my age which is forty two. You can verify my date of birth in my passport’. That was sure to convince her that I didn’t understand what she was talking about. ‘I mean your luggage sir’ ‘Well shouldn’t you weigh it one piece at a time’ I asked, hoping yet again to appear as ignorant as an unaccompanied major could possibly be. ‘Two bags are fine but the third is over weight’. There was an excruciatingly long second of silence during which I had the chance to envision how I spread ten pounds of candy meant for so many eager relatives and friends over the counters to relieve myself if the excess weight. ‘Starting November 1st you will have to pay extra for the excess weight’. And then there was silence again. I looked at the plane ticket just to make sure ‘ the date was somewhere in the beginning of October. ‘So if I stand here waiting for the flight for another three weeks I’ll have to pay extra’ I asked. ‘Yes, sir’ ‘Or if you fly with us again and your bag is overweight’. But I was not listening. ‘Talk about Peter Piper and the ‘if’ statement’ but I didn’t want to share so I thanked the attendant for the ‘useful information’.

On the face of it what had happened was completely ridiculous. For the god-knows-how-many time I had been victimized by what seemed to be a dumber than the dumbest airline attendant that I had met to date. It filled me with sadness that there seemed to be no bottom limit to the stupidity of man. What made things even gloomier was the notion that the bottom seemed to be quite a ways from where normal every-day life takes place. ‘So why are the airlines so different’. Perhaps because these people spend so much time closer to god and its his/her/its way of punishing them for this perceived impunity. While this might be accepted as a strong theological explanation, I was not all that comfortable with it. For once I thought that I have to make a genuine effort to look for the fault somewhere else. ‘Perhaps the woman you were talking to is far more intelligent than that airline uniform suggests’. You, have to admit that anyone who is willing to wear the horrific out-of-date-Scottish-skirt design over their entire body does not gain point for character right up front. ‘You are only rationalizing your own prejudices’ I said to myself. ‘Try to think positive’ ‘Two pound overweight is positive’, ‘two pounds underweight is negative’ ‘or is it the other way around” The power of metaphors, especially bad ones, can help one orient themselves in the ways others’ minds work. As I reflected upon the way the conversation developed I realized that I responeded immediately when I heard the shocking news that I was ‘overweight’. In my anxiety I had probably gotten ahead of her measured ‘stop-as-you-speak-to-Asians’ breaks which are made deliberately in order to allow us people to fully comprehend what we are being told without unnecessary apprehension. If I erase all of the above page I could end up with the following sentence:

BA: ‘You are overweight, [this is where the pause I did not allow to complete came in] if you fly after November 1st you will have to pay extra’

I could have lived with this analysis but it’s the use of the word ‘if’ that still didn’t work for me. I decided to pick up the contemplation after I had concluded my business with the now perhaps-much-more-of-stature attendant.

Past the check-in, the ATM machine which did not at first want to give me money, and the security check which yet again found nothing wrong with my Bin-Laden (or so they seem) sandals, I sat down to think. As I always have a lot of time when I get to the gate, I had a lot of time this time as well. I could think clearly about all the weight business. ‘Clearly there are two separate issues here’ I told myself, feeling good that I was able to think straight in spite of the events. ‘First of all we need to put the aspects of the human interaction in perspective and understand why the attendant used the word ‘if’ in such a confusing manner’. This aside I would need to focus on the future and quantify the probability of my flying after November 1st with bags that are that heavy.

On the first matter (which is not be taken lightly) I came up with a few possibilities:

1) The attendant did not use the word ‘if’ at all, which implies that she made two simple statements in English with a ‘stop-as-you-speak-to-Asians’ pause between them. This possibility gives the attendant very high scores leaving me the idiot.

2) The attendant used the word ‘if’ in a manner which conveys the same meaning as the first option described above. In this case the word ‘if’ is redundant and could have been replaced with a period. However she chose not to use a period because they teach them that they can pause a sentence and still continue to use the same sentence provided that they use the word ‘if’ when they resume talking after the ‘stop-as-you-speak-to-Asians’ pause they need to make from time to time. This possibility gives the attendant very high scores leaving me somewhat less of an ‘idiot because the logic is not trivial..

3) The attendant did exactly what I described on page 2. She was (and probably still is) a complete idiot and my reactions where human and well in order under the circumstances. The third option is required to balance the exercise and as it puts us back to square one, can be used to belabor the issue further and further.

Having made one through and inconclusive analysis of the first intellectual item at hand I had time (I have a lot of time in airports) to contemplate the second. It took me about six seconds to realize that whatever caused the over-weight situation this time around would most likely repeat itself every time Ima and I make future decisions about flying to Israel. It was therefore required that I analyze what contributed to the weight of the luggage that I was carrying and determine whether the factors that I identify continue to be relevant in the future or not.

Every child knows that the weight of a bag that a passenger brings on board is the’ accumulated weight of the bag itself, its contents and the water that it absorbs. The first component is unavoidable as one cannot have ‘contents’ without a container ‘ bag to put them into. Choosing a light bag is important, but one must be aware of the tradeoff between a bag’s weight and its sturdiness as well as its resistance to water. As we still have a whole letter in front of us I will not elaborate on the bag too much. Suffice it to say that seasoned travelers like Doron carry one light bag for contents of high durability like sneakers and chain-saws, and a flying safe such as a ‘Samsonite’ suitcase for perishable goods such as mirrors, neon lamps and noodles. Note that the noodles are the exact opposite of glass in terms of vulnerability. Glass is breakable but resistant to water, while noodles will turn to shit if they get wet however it matters not whether they remain intact. In case you are asking what does water and getting wet have anything to do with flying, you should ask Ima about what happened to her bags when they were left in the rain by a ground crew in London, a few flights to Israel ago’

Bags behind us (at least from a high level analysis) we can talk about the contents. The contents of the bags are determined by the personal aspirations of people who call themselves friends, and/or claim kinship either through marriage or due to natural causes (mating). The more people that qualify the more contents there will be in the bags. What can make things worse are events in the personal lives of friends and kin (family). The most common ten types of events can be listed in ascending order of their effects on the weight of bags:

They got us something (size matters here) when they came to visit us. The fact that they stayed at our place, ate our food and used our hot water for six weeks does not count. They would gladly do the same for us’ So we are ‘muchrahim le-havi’ just a little something for the house Note that mezuzot are only an option when coming from Israel not when going there.

Third marriage ‘ a phone call will due but so will contraceptives. You do not want more kin out of this acquaintance of yours. However the fact that the person cannot remain in a relationship does not mean that you can default on your own obligations as a friend. A book will do, but books are heavy. There’s not a whole lot more that you can bring. You want to keep it as low key and as neutral as possible. You do not want to get trapped in the bottomless pit of bringing something for all the kids that have been sprouting from all the previous relationships that this relative or friend of yours has had.

The dog died ‘ while you had nothing to do with the dog, you need to show sympathy. A framed picture of them and man’s best friend would be nice. Wooden frames are better than metal ones for three reasons: they are lighter, they are cheaper and they do not show up on the X-ray machine as an object which requires your belongings to be torn apart by newly hired, highly motivated security ‘opicers’ from the P(h)ilippines.

Moved into a new house (distance matters). You have to get them something since they would have gotten you something if you had moved into a new house which was within a thousand mile radius of where they live. It just so happens that when they visited you for six weeks in America it was more than a year after you moved into your new house, and besides people in America do not need gifts, they already have everything they need.

Birthday ‘ there is at least one of these if you come for a week and know at least twenty people. The numbers grow at an alarming rate since trips to a far country tend to be longer than a week and the number of people that you feel compelled to see is significantly larger than 20. If you plan to show up 10 months after a birthday hoping that all is forgotten, keep in mind that its 2 months before the next birthday and nothing is forgotten. It’s best to wait another 3 months and bring only one present. If course you want to apply this logic across all the birthdays that your trip spans. Don’t be surprised if you find that you have to cancel your trip or send gifts by sea. Sending gifts by sea is cheaper but the arrival date is harder to predict. The worst thing that can happen is that a gift arrives two days before the next birthday so it doesn’t count’

Second marriage ‘ There is still hope that the first marriage failed for genuine reasons e.g. the spouse’s rehabilitation program failed’ Towels usually work for this kind of event. Towels are large (do not brink kitchen towels, these can be used for event 4) but they do not weigh so much.

New baby ‘ this one is not too bad in terms of weight generated but heaven help you if you forget about it. Please keep in mind that a baby is considered ‘new’ until you bring the ‘new baby’ present. Stalling only runs the risk of accumulating ‘birthday’ debts on top of the ‘new baby’ event. Twin are two distinct people. Triplets are a set of twins plus one more distinct person. Quadruplets are two distinct sets of twins, but you don’t have to worry about all the combinations.

Bar Mitvah ‘ happens only once in a lifetime so is far less frequent than 5 but cannot be mistaken for 3 (many dogs can die during a person’s lifetime), never-the-less one needs to rise to the occasion with a hefty gift.

Bat Mitvah ‘ Used to be the equivalent of ‘birthday on steroids’ however nowadays it has established equal social significance and must be treated as such.

First Marriage ‘ it’s important to distinguish whether this is the first marriage of the person you are obligated to present with a gift, the other party or both. A second or later marriage of the person you are related to should be treated as case 6. Otherwise a first marriage is a serious weight/price challenge. It becomes worse if the parties have been living independently for some time and seem to have it all. Cash is often the only way out. Too much cash and you cannot satisfy some or any of the previous categories.

Who said this was easy’

There are a few important guidelines to all of the above. First and foremost they are all mutually exclusive. You should not, under any circumstances, attempt to apply the same gift to multiple occasions. For example a couple just getting married and moving into a new house the next day which happens to be the birthday of one of them, and the lady giving birth to their first conceived-in-sin child a week later are four distinct events. When you show up three months later to congratulate the couple you are expected to address all four events with distinct offerings.

Another useful guideline is that in most cases one can substitute cash for cargo. One simply needs to figure out the overall cost of gifts that look expensive but weigh a lot plus the charge for overweight vs. the cost of giving cash up front, a transaction whose true value cannot be hidden. One thing that speaks in favor of cash is that American dollars have an added perceived value over the Israeli Sheqel because the latter is sure to be depreciated somewhere in the near future after the gift transaction is done. In other words 10 American dollars can be perceived as 100 Sheqels even though their current value could be only half of this amount.

And so it was time to board the place a fly to.

I’ll skip the flight because I flew business class so there were really no horror stories to tell. In London I first stepped into the connecting flights lounge and turned to a help-desk to figure out my options. The aging learned attendant who has undoubtedly seen millions of passengers to date, greeted with me with a ‘How may I help you sir’ to which I answered ‘I have a connection to Tel Aviv in 12 hours’, which caused the expression of the veteran’s face to change from a greeting smile to painful remorse. ‘Sir’ he said in an ominous and sad voice ‘you had best enter the country first, and then find someone who can help you. If you ask me it’s a great day to go to Windsor, you might even be able to make it to Scotland if you hurry’. In other words he what he said was ‘when will you people realize that waiting in a terminal for twelve hours is not an option’. So I thanked him and joined the very long line to enter GB. An hour later I met the man at passport control who was much more supportive. ‘Welcome to GB’ he said not even looking at me. ‘Fuck you too’ I thought to myself, ‘Thank you’ was my reply, and started getting organized in the new country I had just entered and would be leaving in what was now a little over ten hours. I changed some dollars for British money which to this very day I cannot figure out so I had no idea how much I had. All I knew was that I had to have enough to check in my hand luggage and get a two way ticket to London and back. The British have their own version of a bullet train it’s called the ‘Heathrow Express’. Impressed by the name I stepped onto the train expecting a joyous ride into the city at a pace which I had never experienced before. As it turns out the British concept of a bullet train is a regular train which follows the route of all other trains but does not stop at any of the stations save the destination. This shortens the ride from one hour to fifteen minutes without requiring any breakthrough in technology. Obviously there was nothing new to see along the way. The dreary remains of what was the pride and glory of modern transportation a century just got a little older and rustier and dirtier. In case anyone is really interested the trains’ one and final stop was at the Paddington Station. This was not obvious to me until I realized that not only had the train stopped, but I was the only one left on board. I disembarked in the most casual manner possible, as though it would make me look less of an idiot and walked in no particular direction towards anything that looked like it could be an exit.

I knew I had to get to Trafalgar square because that’s what people do when they go to. I figured that I could probably walk there because I had so much time to spend in the country. I started walking in the wrong direction because I never ask. I understood that I was going in the wrong direction because all the busses coming towards me has ‘Trafalgar Square’ included in their list of stations which is so conveniently illuminated above the drivers window. Of course in GB the driver sits in the passenger seat so its really illuminated above the passenger’s window but that’s a minor issue. I verified my hunch by stopping to read the map which is located in every bus stop which is located at every corner of every street. It became very obvious that I was headed towards Ireland which is the opposite direction from Paddington Station if one is to get to Trafalgar square. I reversed direction and it very quickly proved to be a good choice. The names of the streets and the places were becoming more and more familiar as I went. There was a place called Hyde Park, and some Wellington Arch across the street, and a Princess Diana memorial drive and a Buckingham Palace where many people were taking pictures of themselves taking pictures. Just past the palace another half mile to the east were the stairs I knew would lead me to the line of monuments that leads to Trafalgar square. When I got to the square exactly as planned I was dumb struck by something that was at first beyond comprehension. ‘Closed for SHIPUTZIM’ the signs said. Well that’s not exactly what it said but that’s exactly what it meant. A place stands for thousands of years (well only a few dozens but it seems like thousands when you wait for a connection) and they decide to patch things up on the day that you happen to be passing by. As the initial shock subsided I realized the it was the side of the National Art gallery that was completely cordoned off, but the southern side with the loins and the pillar and the Nelson on the pillar was accessible. I weaved my way through construction equipment and wire fences and got to the fountains where people and pidgins where now sharing what used to be a much bigger space. The problem with pidgins is that they don’t really care about shrinking two dimensional space because they can always go higher. What this means is that there was a much higher concentration of pidgins above much less of a portion of Trafalgar square. The practical implication of this was a much denser concentration of bird droppings in the dimension of Trafalgar square available to people. This was somewhat disturbing because under no circumstances could a six foot human expect to find a clean patch of land large enough to stretch out on.

Disappointed with the unfriendly conditions at the square I decided that I would identify a few Israeli’s to myself and move on ‘ just for fun. The two people closets to me, right on the other side of the dung mound were Israeli’s ‘ mission accomplished. I was beginning to take a lot of pride at the rate I was fulfilling my goals for visiting GB. ‘Just Big Ben and you can head back to the airport I told myself’. I had never seen Big Ben up close before so why not’ Big Ben is really a tower with a clock and its bells toll at the top of every hour. I went there, saw the clock, heard the bells and went back to the airport, feeling very proud that I had not been victimized by the flight plan and had made the best of my time in GB.

I landed in Israel early Friday morning and the rest you know so we can skip all that and talk a little bit more about what went on here in the weeks that followed my return. Fortunately you were here to share some of the experiences first hand so we can skip a lot of details and focus on the essence of things.

As you recall your leaving for Israel has had a lasting effect on the Family. Disruptive and depressing at first, but that is behind us, as we discussed in our previous letter. What is accelerating the turn for the better is the fact that we have been able to add predictable and powerful controls to our lives which I would like to describe to you. Our lives are no longer driven by feelings, intellect and instincts. These are weak human factors which are susceptible to changes in surroundings and events. There is very little of that now. Our lives both as individuals and as a family are no longer at the mercy of simple fate and circumstances. Oh no! Ima has become a zealous follower of an infallible cult ‘ the believers of the ‘Feng Shui’ and our future is all coming up roses as these words are being written. We are now guided by the good will and the positive energies of a feng shui teacher who is known to his followers as ‘Master Lee’. His day-to-day name is ‘James’ So great are his powers that he has managed to double his number of followers by meeting Ima’ so now both Elaine and Ima obey everything he says. Mary is headed down that road but we’ll get to that. The course of events also seems to be in line with his predictions. For example he said that ‘there would be changes in my company’ and indeed ‘there were changes in my company’. I personally am not only in awe but I feel that some of his prowess has rubbed off on me. Try this one for size ‘there will be changes to the whether over the course of the next six months’. I’m not sure I could have made this statement with the same levels of conviction before Master Lee came into our lives.

The nice thing about Feng shui is that it’s a brilliant marketing exercise in what the first chapter of Genesis tells us. The only difference is that as Jews we are taught to take the ‘shit always happens to us’ attitude and not mess with our surrounding, while the Chinese have realized that you can make a living out of making you believe that you can actually do something to your surroundings which will change your quality of life and prospects for the better.

Feng shui means ‘wind, water’ and traditionally symbolizes the space between heaven and earth – the environment where we live. The underlying philosophy recognizes that we and our environment are sustained by an invisible, yet tangible, energy called ‘chi’ ‘ this is the ‘ruach elohim’ which as Jews you aren’t supposed to mess with. It moves like wind, but can eddy and become trapped like water and stagnate. Well our Elohim doesn’t need to be trapped in order to stagnate. Many of us would give a whole lot to figure out how to get this Elohim of ours moving again.

The Hindus have a name of their own for these beliefs and if 2.5 billion people believe, then they cannot all be wrong’

The skill of a feng shui consultant lies in recognizing where chi is flowing freely, where it may be trapped and stagnant, or where it may be excessive. The work of an occupier is to create space for chi to flow and activate the opportunities that may be frustrated by obstacles. While the intent is not consistent with the recommendations, it did get Ima to close the toilet doors so that energy CAN move freely. Doesn’t sound right, but I don’t think that the intent is for anyone to question the logic. If your house smells like shit, it really doesn’t matter what you call it. It can be energy not flowing or fowling energies, its not appealing and its best to do something about it.

The skills of the teachers and work are applied together with a harmonious re-balancing of yin and yang, the dark and light of all situations. The principles may be applied geo-physically as well as superficially to placement, design and decoration. House and garden should work together relative to life, health, wealth and happiness. Every aspect of home, life, career and relationships is open to enhancement. The implications of this have affected not only our bodies and our house but also our cars and offices. My car crushed two car jacks attempting to replace a flat tier and only a Triple-A service man with all the right equipment was able to fix it. Seeing this we feng shui-ed my office a week ago and I hadn’t had a flat tier since’

Feng shui facilitates holistic development of the individual, his family or business by enhancing the immediate environment and it is natural that good fortune and increased energy should accompany proper implementation. Recommendations for change and placement are based on nine traditional cures, adapted for modern western use, involving light, sound, life, movement, stability, electricity, symbolism, color and transcendental solutions, all as required or appropriate. We have diligently applied all the required fixes to 739 Durshire Way and the house it feng shui approved. Dick, however refused to cut down his hedges which Master Lee views as blocking the energy flowing from Grackle road. Knowing that this is the direction Nili Caspi tends to flow from I would rather keep the hedges where they are and beef them up with whatever we can. The fence guarding the entrance to the house was a different matter. This was completely under Ima’s control and she had John go after it with a Chain Saw. The fence down, Tin-tin was confronted with a dilemma ‘ should he continue to piss in front of the kitchen window, which is no longer shielded from view, or should he start using a toilet’ I think he’s opting for the toilet and the back yard more and more, which is not such a bad idea all things considered. Given that Tin-tin has marked off some of her territory, Tweety is opting for the neighbor’s yard which is not a bad idea either. Just the other day Osmo reported that ‘Jay’s yard is so full of poop its worse than ours’. Indeed, there are significant gaps in the fence between us and Jay and the dog crosses over freely to relieve herself.. Now that we know that the gaps are essential for chi to flow, its all the same to us that it keeps shit flowing as well. One of these days someone who cares will move into the house next door and the chi will hit the fan. In the meanwhile we have no intention of fixing the fence, as long as Tin-tin and Tweety are content with the territories they have marked for themselves.

I hope your back is feeling better following the MA-ASAH-LEE treating you.

The MA-ASAH-LEE could not overlook Mary’s house for reasons of kin or friendship which work in similar ways to those that cause us to fly long distances with heavy bags. As a gift to Mary MA-ASAH-LA recommended that she demolish her house and rebuild a feng shui friendly dwelling or else’ Poor Mary, as though Lulu was not enough. So now Ima is busy trying to figure out ways to get good energies flowing through the house in spite of its hostilities to the chi. As part of the effort we went to have the ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving dinner with Mary and many of her (new) friends. As usual it was a bunch of people who had so much in common’ Let me see if I can piece this together for you. There was a lady from Taiwan called Alison. Alison, my a(li)ss(on), but then who cares. The important thing is that she met Mary two weeks ago in a Yoga class and the bond grew strong enough for Mary to cook for Alison. Alison came with a husband who two hours into the dinner turned out to be just a friend living with her in sin. The friend is a fair skinned, faired thinning haired, short, somewhat on the plump side, Canadian who is living in the US with Alison whose name I forgot. He works for a high tech company but is not an engineer. Then there were five more people from China or Taiwan who were somehow related amongst themselves and to Mary. They sat on their half of the table where the ham was and spoke Chinese which is probably mandarin. And there were Peter and Lina and us. Like every year Peter cooked the food, Lina made the gravy. and we ate both. Thank goodness the turkey fell apart of something so it was served carved with the gravy that Lina made on the side. The were four kinds of side dishes which in Thanksgiving are called ‘stuffing’. Peter prepared all four ‘stuffing’s and Lina made the gravy. Peter also bought a nice huge half of a pig which rested peacefully on the Chinese people’s side of the table. After three and a half hours the Chinese people finished the ham and their share of the stuffing and went home. We cleared the table and left as well. Alison stayed on to make reservations for next year.

As the holiday’s come upon us, the house is filling up with positive energies which is a good thing. To encourage the good energies we decided to replace the furnace which is no longer working with a new one which should be here within a week. The new furnace will hopefully provide the energies with a place to originate from. Right now we all have to revert to Ima’s new down comforter which seems to trap wonderful energies under it. We have at least one person under that wonderful blanket every hour of the day.

As the energies mount I will begin planning how and what is packed for the next trip to Israel as it will take place after Nov 1st and we will pay extra for overweight luggage.

Love you and miss you

Gray Areas of the Law

The past two weeks have been all about getting Ima back on her feet so that she can take care of all of us. As you know your leaving the house was hard on everyone. You consolidated your assets into suitcases and shuffled them off. Ima tried to consolidate whatever was left of you by sneaking past security with you which almost worked. Osmo seems to have come to terms with what was left of the family by accepting the fact that Tintin has basic rights to life not necessarily including happiness, but life all the same. After all two less heads at our table would be a little too much regardless of how annoying a head might be. Tal tried to make Fuff disappear at least for a few hours but Fuff has grown accustomed to our house and always comes back. All in all there have quite a few events that came out of nowhere and let to nothing. I would like to make heads and tails of what’s been going on now that things are back to normal.

On the face of it things were sad but normal after you left. In reality there was quite a lot of sublime yet destructive emotional baggage to deal with. The obvious could not be changed: you were away and that could not be helped. So dealing with the piece of reality was simple: you cry about it until you get used to it. It helped to know that you had most of your things with you, and they would surely last you for the first two or three months plenty of time to get another supply ship over. So the pressure was not coming from there. However the fact that you did not pack a computer was quickly becoming a black hole of guilt that threatened to drag the entire family into its pits of sorrow and despair. Most of us firmly believed that there would be more than a fair chance that you would have access a computer in Israel. Not Ima. Ima could not seem to touch a keyboard without feeling guilty. In fact the guilt was so bad that if she did manage to get some works done on a computer, she would find a way to accidentally erase it or lose it. Things got to the verge of self destruction. Had this been confined to working on computers for the sake of updating Hanchu with the changes to our family’s demography it would have mattered little. However it just so happened that one of those rare occasions where an employment prospect rested on a certain syllabus being provided in electronic form to the Hebrew Day School. Not getting a job is not the end of the world, but not working when all that is on your mind is the fact that you let your daughter be washed ashore on the west coast of Asia with nothing but three hundred items of clothing, cash in the bank, cleansing utilities that would last ten people the better part of a cool decade and the phones and addresses of some very close relatives and friends, that would could drive a person mad. And that we did not want. Working is one of those things that help people get their mind off things. You’ll find that out when you start picking them apples

And so our story begins

I believe you are aware of the fact that Ima had given up on teaching Lolita (or whatever that Vietnamese kids’ name is Lisa my ass) to speak Vietnamese. As a logical replacement she found a job teaching Jewish (that’s us) and Israeli (that’s even closer to us) kids to speak, read and write Hebrew. It’s strange how winding the paths of fate are having to try to teach a Vietnamese retard to speak a foreign tongue only to find out that you are destined to teach your own people their and your mother tongue So anyway here was Ima, confronted with her destiny. Based on her knowledge and experienced she was chartered with preparing the syllabus for the coming year. After all you do want to let the kids, their parents, the school board, the staff and Ginjah know what it is that will be taught over the course of the coming year. The kids don’t give a damn about the syllabus but they always get it so as to prevent legal grounds for their suing the school for ‘discrimination against minors’. The parents want to know because they think they are doing the right thing for their kids and seeing a plan (which they have no way of understanding) helps them feel secure with their decisions. Secure parents are very important to a school that lives off of their handsome donations so the parents needed a syllabus. The school board needs a syllabus so they can explain to the parents where their donations are going. The more detailed the syllabus the more money it can fetch. This is a very old and common fund raising trick beef up the needs to secure the funding and worry about execution later if ever. So the school board needed a syllabus. The staff needs a syllabus so they can quote it in every parents-teachers day. The staff doesn’t need to follow the syllabus but they do need it so that they can quote it correctly. Correct quotations from the syllabus assure parents that their money is being put to good use. This encourages to put in more money which the board is happy to collect and count. The only person who cares about the syllabus was and will always be Ginjah!!! Its not the syllabus per-se that interests her, its anything that she shouldn’t really care about that catches her attention with the power of a sea siren. She also has some unfinished non-of-her-business with the staff, parents and the board so Ginjah needed the syllabus.

So Ima sat down to work on this syllabus of hers.

She opened Microsoft Word and worked on a document which contained quite a lot of important information regarding what was in store for the Jew-viniles in the coming year. Write it, save it, close it and then send it wherever it needs to go. If only things were that simple.

“Shouldn’t we check the contents before we send out the attachment to half the most influential bastards in the community? After all you are replacing Michal who got her ass fired for not being as prudent as she needed to be.”

“I guess we could check it one last time”, Ima concurred.

So I opened the document and lo and behold the whole screen layout of America On Line stared me in the face. “Funny way to teach Hebrew” I said. Not the smartest thing to say, but I really thought that the workbench of AOL with a sample of the mail menu and another cheap add for Brittney Spears endorsed ‘never-have-yellow-teeth-again’ product didn’t do a whole lot for the Jewish cause. As I was getting a grip on myself not to say anything stupid Ima was losing her grip on things.

– “Where is my document?” (the voice was not calm)

– “Why did you open AOL again?” (the voice was not calm)

– “I didn’t open AOL again, I opened the attachment”

– “That’s AOL we are looking at!!!” (from not calm to less then not calm)

– “It’s also the document you asked me to attach” how the hell did this happen?)

– “Where is the syllabus I worked so hard to create?”

– “This is the syllabus you worked so hard to create”

– “That’s not the syllabus That’s AOL Where is my document?” (the voice was not calm)

As the color coding indicates this could have easily turned into one of these endless repeating teasing poems that evil people make up to kill time, which by the way does not hurt eternity (thank you George Carlin I think). It could go on forever content wise and get more and more distressing emotionally. I had to say or do something that would get us back on a constructive track so I stayed quite to see where the winds would blow.

– “This is not my document!!”

I believed we had established that. However we lost an exclamation point, which was encouraging…

– “This is not the document! Where is the document?”

It was Peter Piper logic. We all expect there to be a peck of pickled peppers because Peter Piper supposedly picked them. In the same manner it stood to reason that we could expect there to be a syllabus document if Ima wrote one. The difference is that we know that the tale of Peter Piper is a myth and therefore there is a big ‘IF’ at the beginning of every sentence. The power of this ‘if’ is its ability to do away with the expected outcome no Peter Piper, therefore he could not have picked any peppers let alone pickled ones, and hence there are no pickled pepper But Ima was no Peter Piper and no ‘ifs’ applied therefore the document had to be there Ima was absolutely correct.

– “What happened to my document?” (time to get real)

“Well it says Sixth Grade Syllabus in the place where Microsoft word shows the file name”

“How did this happen to my document?”

“You don’t allow yourself to write anything meaningful as long as Yeela does not have a laptop.”

The room fell silent. I was hoping that Ima would come to terms with reality. It was pretty clear to me that destroying one’s own documents is a harsh form of self inflicted punishment. Maybe I’m a cold blooded son of a bitch, but here’s how the stone hearted rationalist that I viewed the situation. On one hand you were in Israel without your own computer. On the other hand you were in Israel with access to a computer wherever you went. While the computer you had access to was not your own, I expected that the computer itself, more often than not, would have no issue with the fact that you as a stranger would use it. This is a common phenomena with computers being the dumb piles of electronics that they are. So with that being the state of affairs wasn’t it better to make sure that Ima have a job that could help finance the next computer we get and ship it over when the time was right?

The thing that baffled me was the fact that the contents of a WORD document had been replaced by a screen capture of AOL. I simply could not recreate the sequence of key strokes that could possibly reproduce such an act of evil wizardry. Sensing that more information gathering would be required before a corrective course of action could be selected I decided that stabilizing the patient would be the best course of action. A combination of constructive support mixed with grand belittling of ones self usually works in these situations:

“Why don’t you let me scan the hard disk for any file which was changes during the past week”

“Will that find my document?” (still signs of resistance)

“It might”(yeah, right!)

So I ran the search which found the file we had been staring at in disbelief all along.

“I must have done something when I tried upload the file, I said, my voice disappearing in spite of myself.

“So its gone?….” (whew she still loves me)

“I’m afraid so, but I can work with you to recreate it.”

“Ok, some other time!”. (was this assertiveness or denial?)

When someone says ‘some other time’ with an exclamation mark its usually a sign that the person is in control and will determine when and if events will take place. This however was not the case. Under normal circumstance the conversation would have not taken this course. Ima was succumbing to a prophecy which she was creating about the nest becoming empty and life losing its meaning to a degree where syllabuses did not matter anymore. This was not a good sign. Somehow I knew that there was a whole lot to live for (we had to get Ginjah a syllabus) and that things were actually working out for the better. The problem was how do you make Ima see things that way?

I knew I couldn’t rationalize with Ima about their being no relationship what-so-ever between you getting a computer and us leading normal lives. On the other hand I had no clue as to what courses of action were open to me. I knew I couldn’t continue to take the blame for everything that was wrong in the world because for one that would shatter the kids confidence in me, and secondly I have very strong ‘resistant to blame’ genes which run deep in some parts of the family. “The last thing we need right now is for Ima and Tintin to fight over the razor blade” I thought to myself gloomily.

“When do you need the syllabus?” I asked?

“Not for a week or two”.

This was good news. We had time. A lot could happen in two weeks.

“So if this waited for a few days would that be ok?”

“Of course, forget about it” (I hate how she says that) “gotta call Yeela”.

I almost asked “again”? But opted against it. What’s a microwaved brain compared to a mother’s happiness when receiving a first sign of life from her first born daughter whom she has not heard from in 15 minutes? But then you know this better than I do. In fact all these phone calls were a good gauge for Ima’s touch with reality, and how susceptible she was to doing any real productive work. The next few days would be spent improving the means to help ‘rain man’ out of the ‘gotta call Yella can’t do syllabus’ ranting.

The ‘do it yourself’ angle must have been paying attention during the first woeful hours after the syllabus was officially declared ‘missing’ as the word ‘gone’ was not allowed in the house. As a side note the synonym for ‘gone’ is now ‘Osmo or Tintin think they know where they put it’. Anyway (NO ‘s’ IN ANYWAY), Ima was investigating calling card plans. At first this puzzled me. I knew for sure that we were using the most optimized calling plan that one could possibly have Ima wouldn’t have it any other way. ‘Gotta call Yella AT&T to expensive”. At 10 cents a minute how much cheaper can you possibly get? “Gotta call Yella a lot 5 cents a minute is cheaper than 10 cents a minute”. And how much do you plan to save buy saving 5 cents a minute? “20 dollars a day”. So in a month you’ll be able to buy a computer with the money you saved? (during those hours I had given up on the school job). “Yes”. And then we’ll be able to work the syllabus? “Of course” (a twig to cling too).

My inch deep understanding of behavioral psychology made it crystal clear to me that having Ima ‘dial for dollars’ was a wonderful way to make her feel functioning. The next step would be to make perception a reality.

So Ima got this electronic calling card where they charge you only ‘5 cents a minute’. It turned out that they indeed charge you 5 cents a minute but not for all the minutes. In fact the five cents apply only to the minute you spend dialing the unbelievable combination of numbers that have to precede every number you dial. The rest of the minutes where you actually use the phone were much more expensive. The initial payment was 20 dollars which on the face of it would have paid for 400 minutes of phone calls. As the credit ran out sometime during the afternoon Ima was somewhat surprised but refreshed the credit line without giving the time-to-money calculations to much thought “time is money and that’s the way it is.”. “If Peter Piper talked for two hours at five cents a minute where is the rest of the 20 dollars that Peter Piper paid?”. “Hang in there” I told myself.

The next 20 dollars ran out two days later – I guess you were getting acquainted with the kibbutz and didn’t have a lot of time to talk. “Something is not right with the calling plan, the credit is evaporating way too quickly”. “I think I’ll switch back to AT&T”. Now how many times in the past was it Ima that had to switch back from the plans that a sales cadet had managed to sell me during his/her lunch break from their ‘find-a-sucker-and-you-can-sell-anything’ classes? Ima was showing signs of self awareness! Words cannot express the emotions that swept me. Ima will be ok just give her time (, money) and support. “You know that this is more like me to sign up for one of those plans” I said more to test the waters than to take the blame. “As a matter of fact I don’t know what came over me these plans always have a catch, even you know that by now”. Ima was definitely in control, not to be taken for granted, but in control. What a wonderful development.

The next thing to do was to create a warm and nurturing environment around Ima wherever she went. The new school’s staff had to be bonded with and what better an opportunity then a barbecue with the teachers? Being the social creature that I am (that’s why I attended every flower class Ima took) I really looked forward to this one. Nothing like a middle class all white half Jewish American get together. I could see the hot dogs which were prepared two days in advance sitting in the house plate surrounded by cantaloupe (yes cantaloupe is much better for you than potato chips) with counted sparkling water to wash it down and two cans of diet coke that no one would touch for fear of being accused of taking the next to last one I was also very excited for the opportunity to “nice to meet you’ ten or fifteen times with people of my own flesh and blood (type O is common). And to top it all the hosts lived in one of those water front housing communities right next to where I work so I would have a chance to “share”

When the day finally came on the weekend that followed us losing the syllabus, I couldn’t wait to get into my party clothes and go. The get together was a marvelous success. I bonded with everybody and paved the way for Ima into the warm and loving bosom of the staff. We easily found the little plastic neighborhood, with plastic grass around the plastic houses right on the shores of the ‘unique sweet-water-salt-water ecosystem’. What a joy, all these birds (large mosquitoes) in the meadow (weeds) with the wind blowing the smells (odors) of that rise from the beach (scum) when the tide (filthy water) recedes. In Israel these ‘delicate ecosystems’ are labeled for what they are and are called ‘Jora’ (J as in Goerge) if you managed to stay far enough and ‘Hara’ if you had the misfortune to get too close or worse step into them. Here they put a dirt road called a ‘nature path’ right through the middle, stick a ‘dogs must be on leash’ sign at both ends of the path, call it an ‘ecosystem’ and build plastic neighborhoods which they populate with people who cannot cook or barbecue. Then you bring the people who work on one side of the pond to a barbecue with the people who live on the other side of the pond and share It was almost perfect.

The only thing that broke my heart was that Ima wasn’t all that into partying that day and kept hinting that maybe it was time that we leave. Time and time again I had to ask for “Od kamah dakot”, until I could no longer do so. Ima really needed to go. So seeing that it was only us and the hostess that were left anyway, and any additional second that we stayed would be held against us, I promised to stay in touch and we left. Too bad, I really like parties. I hoped that I had at least managed to ease the pressure of the new school environment. Not that I could do much more at the time.

Basic socializing behind us we could work on fundamentals. I knew that in cases like this there were ripple effects throughout the social fabric of the immediate family. When a matriarch weakens anarchy has a tendency to set in. In doesn’t happen immediately. Usually there is somewhat of a delay before any patterns begin to emerge. I was more concerned with the boys than with Tal or with Tweety. The boys constantly live under the bad influence of the immediate neighborhood. Without Ima’s character and attention it was only a matter of time before they diverted from the path of civil behaviors. So it did not surprise me at all that they broke into Yolakach’s house to steal Game Boy controllers when they needed one more for a four hand game @#&!!!

I’ll give you a minute to contemplate this before I continue.

As serious as this is the reversed roles that everyone played in the ‘crime of the summer’ were quite amusing. One can easily see how kids get into situations where an additional Game Boy controller is needed. Under normal circumstances kids pick up the phone and ask a friend for a ‘loaner’. This however is the ‘conscious loaner’ approach which has one obvious disadvantage: if you are missing one controller calling a friend can complicate things a bit because the friend that has the controller is very likely to want to join the fun, often reducing the availability of controller at least to a degree. Every child knows the drawbacks of the ‘conscious loaner’ protocol, but subconsciously suppresses the alternatives. This suppression in the result of a very powerful image of a disapproving matriarch should a friend not be included in a search for a solution. But when the matriarch is weak the alternatives become far more tempting. Things are even worse when interacting with kids like Yolakach on a regular basis and seeing first hand that ‘alternatives’ are an option.

And luck would just have it that Yolakach’s family was on vacation away in Israel, but their lessons were well remembered. ‘You can take what is not yours as long as you do not get caught’. Heaven help the boys if they ever stoop that low, but there is a twist to this approach: ‘You can take what is not yours as long as you put it back before anyone misses it’. And so it further came to be that the boys and the ‘concilyeri’ were in need of a controller. The version of the story that I heard from Osmo was “It was the concilyeri’s idea” so far so good that’s what councilors are for “we waited outside while he went in a GOT the controllers”. Hmm For one thing if its his idea how come he’s so dumb as to execute by himself? And I assume he didn’t bring you over to the house tied and gagged in the trunk of his (sister’s) car.

Given that the essence of the story is not what stupid mistakes little boys make at times, I’ll move through this rather quickly. The good news was that no sooner did they set foot in the concilyeri’s house with the ‘borrowed’ controllers that Tommy (more of a role model than meets the eye) beat the crap out of his misguided son. Needless to say that the break-in was reversed and Ima was informed of the incident. As much I hate to say this, there is a reason for everything. Ima put two and two together, gathered herself and set out on a crusade to get Osmo and Tintin to tell her what happened. This has been going on for a couple of days now and two things have become quite clear. Ima was recovering and the boys were getting closer and closer to the facts. I will not bore you with the details.

Calling card costs and the need to restore law and order are essential restoration factors, but in and of themselves they are not sufficient. Something else was needed to get Ima back onto a foundation that was free of guilt and full of confidence.

The warring gods of the road really worked up one for the books. I only came to the scene after the fact, but it is was not hard to complete a chronicle of the events based on the evidence on the scene. Ima was on the sidewalk talking to Dick. The policeman was on the other side of the street Dick’s car was a little closer to where Fuff is usually parked. Fuff was nowhere to be seen, instead a brand new Taurus was standing in the next available parking space in front of Tweety’s toilette. Moran was standing amused next to the rear end of Dick’s car making gestures that clearly indicated that she was not impressed. Tal was next to Moran and her body language had ‘what a wasted opportunity’ all over it. In case I didn’t mention it the brand new Taurus had a very useless front right side it was smashed to bits. Moran was making wide sweeping motions with her hands pointing from the back of Dick’s car to where the horizon was. These gestures were accompanied with slapping both her hands together with the forearms parallel to the ground, and the palm vertically facing each other as in ‘SMASH’. Moran was obviously describing a more impressive car mashing scenario which I later found out was right out of her own ‘drive-like-a-menace’ resume. Apparently she was letting Tal know that there are ‘real’ ways to drive into cars this was sissy stuff for grownups

You are probably better acquainted with Moran’s driving accomplishments, and you know the details of what happened that afternoon[1]. The bottom line is that Ima has full faith in Nili who she had known as a woman who drives like a drunk for more than three minutes, use Fuff to complete whatever Dick’s car prevented her from achieving with her own Taurus.

I do want to tell you about the things that the hours of waiting for Fuff did to Ima. At first Ima was bonding with her new acquaintance Nili Caspi. “Come to think of it she has been gone for quite some time now”. This could have been interpreted as going one of two ways. Either Ima was working up anxiety regarding the well being of another human being she had sent on the road in a state of distress in a car like Fuff. This of course was the last thing I needed more reasons for guilt. On the other hand Ima could have been working up a healing viscous glee as she contemplated the fate of Nile Caspi who first destroys one car and then steals another As the minutes ticked away it was heart warming to see Ima regaining ‘Kipperman character’: “First she doesn’t even say thank you, then she disappears with the car”. “Go on, go on”, I eagerly thought to myself. “She probably slammed into another innocent driver and stole a third car”. Wonderful “I feel kind of bad for her she was quite distressed when she left with the car”. Oh oh don’t go there. “She has to be a complete idiot to think that we gave her the car”. Tal didn’t like that sentence, it made perfect sense to her to give Fuff away. All I cared about was the nature of the remarks. “I wonder what she’ll have to say for herself when she finally gets here”. “She probably won’t even say thank you, HAMEYUBESHET”. Music to my ears I decided to pitch in: “Mazeh Meubeshet; she’ll turn a lake into an ecosystem”. Ima did not hold back any more: “Ashkenaziyah, Ma Yesh Lehagid”. Ima was connecting with herself and her true identity. If only Nili stayed away for another few hours I thought to myself.

God was listening, and Nili did take her sweet time. Finally she did show up with Fuff in the same condition as she had received it. This was quite unfortunate because it had the potential of undoing some of the goodness that transpired during the hours of waiting for its return. However Nili lived up to her perceived reputation and did not bring along any token of gratitude other than her children which she had all the intentions of keeping. Thinking back in retrospect this was not the time to expect any gifts but then healing sessions do not always have to be realistic. We closed the door with Nili on the outside and Fuff’s keys on the inside and spend a few more minutes butchering Nili’s character, just to be on the safe side.

That evening I could tell that we were over the hump. We were not yet ready to assume work related responsibilities but we were out of the danger zone and the snowball which was threatening to roll down the hill had melted early in the process. All that was needed now was to keep building the support and suppress events that triggered remorse or guilt.

As though to spite me Nili did show up two days later with a package of Godiava chocolates making up for the missing token of gratitude, whose absence had worked wonders for Ima. Fortunately Ima was not home. The last thing I needed was for her to see these chocolates. The first thing to do was make sure that Nili did not stay. The second thing was to make sure she doesn’t call to ask Ima about the chocolates and kind of get in cahoots with her. The first part was easy knowing that her neurotic two year old daughter was afraid of Tweety I made no attempt to keep the dog from stepping forward to sniff them hello. The child immediately recoiled in horror. I obviously ignored the situation. It was obvious that Nili was well aware of her daughter’s mounting plight. If I called Tweety in she would have an opening to say that the child was afraid of the dog. If that happened it would have been way too rude for me to ignore the comment and I would have had to move Tweety, which in turn could have paved the road for Nili to keep standing there, thus forcing me to invite her in. THIS COULD NOT BE ALLOWD TO HAPPEN AFTER ALL WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH. So I ignored Tweety completely and let the child cower in fear (chuckle).

Seeing that she was not in a welcoming situation which on-the-face-of-it was of no fault of mine, Nili turned to leave. Knowing that I was winning I refrained from reciting the Polish clich�s “Are you crazy, you shouldn’t have brought anything”, “Why did you bother”. These can easily backfire because a true Polaniah will call to apologize for having brought a gift “Pashut Hyiti Muchraha” and that’s a conversation I did not want Ima to have. “Thank you VERY VERY much for the chocolates, It’s really nice of you not to have taken everything we did for YOU for granted”. I used ‘we’ so as not to disassociate myself from the events that triggered the Godiava. I had to be accepted as a valid representative of our family who was fully qualified to receive such gifts. I could see something die in Nili’s eyes I could see the “So much for a follow up phone call” thought pierce her brain. “Sorry lady”, I though to myself, “I’m not a cruel person but our relationship ends here in the most terminal manner”. I could not take the chance of having Nili’s presence trigger a relapse in Ima’s improving condition.

I almost undid my cunning two days later when I fell asleep on the carpet in the living room with the half eaten box of chocolates by my side only to be awakened when Ima walked in. Ima was back from a visit to Rivkaleh in San Francisco. “What great taste she has”. “Such a lovely apartment”, and then she saw the chocolate – “what’s with the chocolate?”. “That’s something that Nili just dropped over to say thank you” I said. “Then why did she eat half of it?”. “That wasn’t her, that was me” But it wasn’t Nili or the chocolates that I was thinking about. “Tell me more about Rivkaleh”, and she did

And then it clicked “If Rivkaleh can have a ‘lovely apartment’ why can’t we”? Restore ‘consumer confidence’ and we Check Mate this passing depression in six simple moves. First get her back to Ikea to work on the looks of our house. As part of this we would obviously get to reorganize the boys’ room. Part of this is sure to include the fact that they cannot use their computer because their monitor is gone. “Go for� a monitor and a new computer cannot be far”. Once you have the computer this frees up a laptop to send to Yeela. Yeela has a laptop we can go back to writing the syllabus It wasn’t completely clear to me how it all comes together but I was sure that once we had a few of “HAHANAH LE whatever” nothing would turn back the tide.

First things first – get to Ikea. The wonderful thing about this was that Ima was so far along in her recovery that she settled for Tal driving her there and I did not have to tag along. The memories of the previous pilgrimage to Ikea were still very vivid in my mind. They got back with everything that one could have hoped for. New bookshelves for every room. New baskets to throw dirty clothing in, new supports for mattresses to put between the main poles of bed frames (none were missing but that’s not the point) and plastic sheets with pockets to put CDs in which you hang on whatever is left of the bare walls once the bookshelves are up. The nice things about all of these new pieces is that to make good use of them one really has to reorganize every room that they go into. Reorganization makes broken or incomplete things stand out. Once you fix such problems in one room the same problem stands out like a sore thumb in another.

To make a long story short we now have very well organized book shelves in every room. We also have a computer table in every room, and we have a computer in every room. This called for buying a new computer, but believe it or not Ima found a computer, monitor, keyboard and all just sitting in a shopping cart in the price club with a price tag which said :”Display 477$”. I didn’t understand what the sign meant but ima did and began to push the cart to the register. At first I thought that she had seen too much of the concilyeri and almost threw a fit. However I managed enough self control to ask “Are you sure this doesn’t belong to anyone?”. “It belongs to us” was the answer.

Ima was back to normal and all I had to do was to figure out how we really wanted to do all this new computer layout. When confronted with problems like these one needs to work backwards from the end goal if such a path exists the problem is solved. If not, it means that there is at least one more item in some store which remains to be purchased.

The end goal was to free up Tal’s laptop so it could travel to Israel with Max. To do this we would have to replace Tal’s laptop with Ima’s laptop. This would be fine because Ima’s laptop has a wireless card which would allow Tal fact Internet Access. This would assure that Tal wins on all counts both a newer (better?) laptop and a faster connection which can be moved around – you can chat from the bathroom!!! Ima has already taken care of replacing her laptop when she found the shopping cart with the computer waiting for her in the Price Club. This computer had to be connected to the Internet and it would also need a printer that works. In order to connect to the Internet we would need to free up a port in the hub (that little blue box) so that we could connect the computer to it. This is where it all seemed to come apart. There were no ports to spare on the hub!!! “We cannot go back now”. “Its so unfair, so close to pulling it all together and we lose it for one lousy port?”. The first thing to do in situations like this is to throw one’s self on the barbed wire so that others may flourish. I disconnected my laptop from the hub and connected the new computer to the Internet.

We were almost able to trace a successful path from the goal to reality. Everyone had their own computer, or should I say there are enough computers for everyone. Each computer has a fast Internet connection and two of them have printers. The only remaining obstacle was connecting my laptop to the Internet. It would have been really cruel to get so close to perfection and lose. Suddenly in dawned on me that there was a little cardboard box on the little desk in the living room (the one where Ilana’s version of the statue of liberty stands) which I used to use before the Internet mattered. With trembling hands I opened the box and there it was gleaming in the morning sun a spare ‘wireless’ card (these magical little things that allow you to connect with out a cable or a phone line). With moist eyes I inserted the card into the laptop not daring to think where I would find the inner strength to go on should it have not worked.

I’ll tell you, child, there is a purpose for everything in life. That card worked. It worked after sitting there for two years, missing getting tossed by a hair’s breadth many times over. I was connected, Ima was connected, Tal was connected Osmo or Tintin were connected and you will soon be connected. We’ll get that syllabus done and we will also print it. It will be a wonderful year. There is no turning back. Max picked up Tal’s laptop (its harder than it sounds) and you will soon have it. Believe it or not Ima managed to pack a carpet into the same bag instead of the mouse pad.

Keep in mind that you need a transformer to work this machine it’s seven years old and will fry if connected directly into a wall socket in Israel.

We Love and miss you very much.


[1] For the benefit of those who are reading this letter out of the blue we will only mention that a lady came around the bend with her car, smashed into our neighbor’s car and had to get a replacement car so that she could continue on her way to fetch her child from school and head on to a doctor’s appointment. Having heard a loud collision from the street, Ima rushed from the house. Once the situation was clear: the lady had to stay on site until the police arrived Ima hustled the woman into Fuff and let her go attend to her business.