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Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween Crime Spree

Boo! Happy Halloween! I've gone back in time by a day to post my Halloween post because I ran out of time on the 31. It's amazing what you can do through the power of the PC. It's not a scary Halloween post cause I don't really have anything scary to say. Anyway, like last post I'll start by talking about my not so interesting life and then get to the actual post title.

The past two days I' have been staying up too late to watch episodes of the West Wing, which I am now quite hooked on, that I have been getting from Ren. Tonight I was going to go out with Ilan H. Ren and Katz but it never happened. I had wanted to go out because it's Halloween and we haven't gone out out in a few weeks. The only place ot go on an American holiday is Mike's Place, which is one of my favorite bars to go to because it has a cool atmosphere, including English speakers and good blues/chill out music. But alas, Ilan wasn't going to be ready till after 11 something and Ren could only go out after ten. I had wanted to be on the way by ten so as to leave at 12 or so (which would turn into 1230-1) so I could at least get a semi good night's sleep before going to the army today. Long story short, didn't go out at all and stayed home watching West Wing.

As for the title, it's not really a crime spree and it had nothing to do with Halloween but I like the dramatic title anyway. It's actually two short stories involving police that I wanted to share.

The first happened last week on Simchat Torah (I think) at night. I was hanging out on a street corner with Katz talking when we heard someone talking on a loudspeaker-bullhorn thing. We then hear a siren and some honking. The suddenly two guys on a moped came zooming up the road followed closely by a cop car. At first I thought the guy on the moped was also a cop because he had a yellow fluorescent jacket on. Anyway, the moped zoomed through the traffic circle we were standing at and sparks flew everywhere. Then the cop car did the same, showering the circle with even more sparks and making quite a bit of noise. Then they zoomed off and we heard the cop yell to the moped to pull over, which I don't think he did. We just kind of stood there in shock, as did a group of people walking across the street. Don't know what happened and heard nothing else the rest of the night.

The other story happened yesterday. I and a couple of army friends were standing by the window in the hall right outside my office. We heard some sirens and looked out the window. Just behind our base a jeep of Magavnikim (border police) had pulled over a car and ordered the driver out. Four Magavnikim got out and the jeep drove off. They talked to the driver for a few minutes and then the jeep came back, they loaded the driver in, in handcuffs, and drove off. That was that. Also, no idea what happened with that.

Those are my two police stories for this Halloween. Not quite a crime spree but close enough. Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Round Salami and Square Bread- the Sandwich Debacle

Before I get to the title of my post let me first recount what has gone on in my ever-so-interesting life the past few days.

Friday night I went to Ele's house to see her new room and hang out with everyone. Had a great time basically acting like little kids on her, pillow fights and rough-housing etc. Played some board games too and just hung out. The most fun I've had in a few weeks. Saturday night I watched the first episode of the 3rd season or the OC (it's such a soap opera but I can't stop watching) with Katz, Nadiv and Ren. We were going to watch three episodes but the second was all screwy so we watched the Family Guy movie instead. Halfway through, I cut Nadiv's hair while Katz and Ren watched the rest. From what I saw it was a pretty funny movie although very crude. This brings me to the title of this post.

There is a scene in the movie where Peter Griffin,the dad, is complaining about how salami (actually I think it was bologna) is round but bread is square. As he said that it hit me that he was so right! I was outraged. Ok, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. But think about it. It causes the corners of the bread to not have any tasty meat filling when you eat a sandwich! What's up with that?! I immediately exclaimed that I had to blog about this, to which I heard a resounding chorus of laughter coming from my friends.

So anyway, today as I was contemplating how to go about my rant on this subject it hit me: Some breads are round; and some meats are square! It's our own faults if our sandwiches' corners are left barren; not the meat production companies, and least of all the cows! One must simply take the time to choose the suitable meat for the type of bread being used in the sandwich or the suitable bread for said meat! So simple! For example one could use 2 regular pieces of white bread and square turkey breast or 2 slices of baguette or round roll filled with salami or bologna. For difficult sizes and shapes such as corn beef or roast beef that tend to be long and thin, one can use a baguette cut lengthwise or a giabetta! Problem solved! Nuclear apocalypse avoided! Too many exclamation marks, I think I pulled a muscle with all that enthusiasm!

With that, I hope none of you will ever loose any more sleep on that horrible dilemma that I'm sure you have been loosing sleep over for many years. Anyone who wishes to pass the money they would be spending on sleeping pills to me can contact me at the e-mail to the left. Any money earned by using the time previously used to cut corners off of sandwiches, to work will also be accepted. Please do not contact me to request reimbursement for any money you lost by reading this post. Your e-mail will promptly be deleted and a pack of flying monkeys will be dispatched to your house to brutally beat you with various types of deli meats. Just for shits and giggles.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

How Much is a Blog Worth?

Weblogs Inc. was recently bought by AOL. How does one decide how much a blog is worth? I'm not quite sure but Tristan Lois decided to break down the price according to various things such as links to it and indexes such as their Technorati rank. Dane Carlson made a cool little calculator to see how much your blog is worth. See how much your blog is worth. or See how much my blog is worth.

My blog is worth $1,129.08.
How much is your blog worth?

Friday, October 28, 2005

Would-Be Bomb Makers Blow Themselves Up-"Work Accident" Near My Base

This past Wednesday three people were killed when a bomb went off in their apartment. It's hard to feel sorry for them though; they were making a bomb. [Read the story] This happened in Jaffa pretty close to my base, about a 5 minute drive away.

This experience was pretty cool, because I happened to be guarding soon after, on my base. That meant that I got to listen in on the radio conversations going on while different search and rescue teams got sent in. Since my base is the Homefront Command base for the Dan District, we were the ones sent there from the army (in addition to a K9 unit, police, etc.). There were plenty of interesting things to hear.

The would-be bombers had criminal intentions. Almost surely a mob hit. For this, their fate to me is not so important. Terrorists on the other hand; I lean towards hoping they have "work accidents" as opposed to killing innocent people.

Photo: Zaka

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Sooo Tired...Of Sad Memories

I was guarding last night and I got about two hours sleep because I wasn't tired until 12:30am and I had to get up at 2:40 so I could guard at 3:00. I hate starting the day at 3 in the morning. I'm exhausted. Also, it was surprisingly cold last night. Unpleasant. I guess winter is really here.

I went to the memorial service today for Staff sergeant Ari Weiss who was killed in Shechem (Nablus) three years ago. It was a very touching ceremony. I feel that since I've been in the army, I have some weird connection to other soldiers. Seeing a fallen comrade always hurts. This one hit closer to home than I was "used to". I remember when we heard three years ago, how hard a time it was for everyone. Today brought back old, sad memories and feelings.

Ohel Ari

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Building a Template for Blogger with CSS- Behind the Scenes of TWTME 2.0

So as I said before, the new version of the site is up and I thought I would share the basics and some of the difficulties of redesigning a blogger template since this is also a technically a blog about Web Design. This may get a bit boring for the non computer geek so you may want to skim through it. I'll try to keep it interesting and basic enough so everyone can understand at least the basics.

Why build a template anyway? Well as nice as the default templates are, they are jus that, default. I prefer to have things my way and show a bit of creativity. For anyone who wants to change things up a bit, it's relatively easy to change some of the settings of a default template and end up with something pretty unique. To start you can change all the colors of your blog through CSS at the beginning of the template, in your settings. Adding stuff to a side bar, footer or a picture at the top are all pretty easy with really basic HTML knowledge. For both CSS and HTML the web is the first place to start. You don't really need to know how to code, just how to recognize a few key things and change or copy a few lines of code.

How did I build the template? I built my template from scratch and then incorporated aspects of my current blog template that I like. I started by reading up on CSS since that is the key to building a good template and one that is easily customizable. The layout is pretty simple. Think of it as a bunch of boxes drawn on a piece of paper. I start with a big box which is the "container". The whole blog is built inside this. It facilitates centering everything on the page and makes it look pretty on different screen resolutions. Then inside the container there are four more boxes (called 'layers', made with the

tag in HTML). There is the "header" layer on top, and the "footer" layer on the bottom. In the middle, my template is built with a layer for the content of the site on the left and a "side bar" on the side (DUH!) for navigation, links, etc. Many people who run blogs don't actually use the footer and some people switch the side of the side bar or have two; but the basic design of most blogs is similar to this.

I then layed out the color scheme for the blog in CSS and designed what the side bar would look like. Did a bit of graphics work for the picture of the eyes (mine BTW) and most my design work was done. I incorporated a layout for the posts themselves similar to the previous layout. I thought it was clearly layed out and sharp, so why fix something that isn't broken. The rest of the blog-related content is placed with the help of blogger tags which you can read about in the Blogger Help Section.

Bugs? Over the course of building the design, most the problems popped up around issues dealing with compatibility between browsers. The first problem I had was the IE (Internet Explorer) double margin bug, which was fixed pretty easily with a bit of help from the web. The second was the IE expanding box bug. Also rectified with the help of the net. My last big problem caused all the text of my first post to only start after the sidebars contents ended. Unlike the other bugs this one only happened in Firefox. I call this bug the Blogger Layer Clearing bug. It's caused by some automatic features in the blogger system. I found a workaround also on the net but then realized that because so many people had complained about this, blogger put in a built in workaround. Those were the main bugs although I still have a few issues similar to last one in the archives that I may try to iron out.

Any questions about template design, CSS or web design in general can be directed to me at my e-mail. If you have any suggestions about template improvement or features you would like to see, you can also drop me a line.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Complete Template Update-TWTME Version 2.0 Released

Version 2.0 of the blog is now up and operational! I'm so happy and proud of my baby. This took a lot of time and effort not to mention basically learning a new development language (CSS) and all the Blogger Template Tags (used for building Blogger templates, if that wasn't obvious). I also had to do a ton of debugging because I wanted to make it as compatible as possible with all browsers. At first my problems were with IE and then Firefox. Last night I burned the midnight oil until after 3am to fix on e last major bug in Firefox. But now it seams to be pretty stable. There are some hickups in the archive so if I have time I'm going to try and make the template more backwards compatible. Most my problems stem from the Flickr posts because of the method Flickr uses to post pictures. I'll get a bit technical now (since in some of the listings this is listed as a Web Development and Web Design blog) so if you don't care or simply get confused don't read on. If you wanna know how the template was built or are curious about the bugs I faced, read on, or skim on.

Edit: Changed my mind, I'm gonna do it in a separate post with all the details later.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

For Your Entertainment

I don't really have anything witty to say about life or the world and I'm not in the mood for a rant on religion, the origins of life or string theory. For your fix of Bentertainment, the following links of things I found interesting will have to suffice.

If you are sick of terrorism and are living scared you can now face your fears and win something too. allows you to bet on where and how the next terrorist attack will occur. The person who predicts the closest attack wins a T Shirt. A sick idea but non the less, interesting. [Jerusalem Post]

You can also check out how UNICEF bombed the smurfs* or about Sex in Space. Perhaps Musical Breast Implants are more your thing? Contemplating suicide? This is one way to say good-bye.

Watching celebrities swear is also great for a laugh. [Link 1] [Link 2] (Same movie, different sites) And a little sacrilegious humor is always good, so check out "The Passion-Reloaded".

*Several of these links were found via HalcyoNic(k). I don't remember where the rest are from.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Going Down Waterfalls in Barrels

Barrels of fun in my waterfall of music that is! Bought a new stereo yesterday. Not for me, for the living room, but that means I get the old one. The new one is this really nice small Panasonic one. 5 Disk changer couple hundred watts and the screen tells you the name of the radio station you're listening to. The old one is only 3 disks and no fancy radio-station-name-thingy but its got a few thousand watts with full 5 speaker surround sound. I don't really listen to CDs anyway, I really just wanted it for the amp so I can get a good sound system for my iPod and computer. It's in for a few small repairs but in the next few days my room will be flooded in the melodic beauty that is music. Now all i need to do is get a projection monitor and my room becomes movie central (yeah right). But if you want to help the "Give Ben a Projection Monitor Fund"- Drop me a line. All sums are accepted.

Saw Shark Tale last night with my sister. Cute-ish movie. Had it's moments of humor.

In other exciting news, Katz and I shot some pool last night at Lincoln. Katz made great comebacks in both games but ultimately I won both. The second game he went from two down to two up and at the very end I was a ball down, I cleared my last ball and put in the 8. Fun was had and victory dances were danced. Time to get ready for shul. Ciao!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Hair Netted Me

Hair Netted Me
Originally uploaded by Benjamin Ludman.
Don't blame me if I start a fashion trend and everyone suddenly wants to buy hair nets. It's hard to look this sexy in a hair net.

Edit: Apparently it isn't clear that this was taken at the Roladin bakery tour (See bellow post). So for the people that didn't understand why I was randomly walking around with a hair net-this is for you.

The First Rain a Cometh

Today (well actually yesterday at this point) we got our first real rain. It was pouring this morning before I got out of bed and it was really relaxing. I love the rain. Then it was gorgeous out and you wouldn't know it rained. And then it poured again. If you looked up to the sky you could see some rain clouds and perfect blue. Every once in a while a cloud would pass over and like in the cartoons you would have rain for a few minutes and then it would pass.

I then went to the Roladin factory in Kadima, on a tour. Roladin is a chain of bakeries. Didn't really want to go but didn't have much choice. It was kind of interesting how they do everything and we made some cookies which we got to take home-free baked goods is always a plus, but I prefer croisants.

Did some stuff around the house. Ordered pizza. Went to see a movie at Ren's with Nadiv and Katz. They brought me there under false pretenses, they hadn't really rented a movie, they rented the West Wing. I actually enjoyed it a bit even if I didn't understand what the hell was going on or who each person was. We watched 5 episodes and i got home bout 30 minutes ago. Doubt I'll watch the rest of the episodes they rented, but who knows.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sukkot- the Holiday when People with Houses Live in Shacks Made of Sheets

It's Sukkot. I've found lately that the Jewish holidays I used ot love have somehow lost their magic to me. Don't know why. Maybe I'm growing up or maybe you just get sick of it after a while.

Ate at Nadiv's place last night along with my family, his family, Katz, Ren and Candy. Had a good time. Then chilled at Ren's for a while. On the way over the guys stopped a a friends from school's sukka to say hi. Didn't really want to go but Katz had said he would stop by and since it was on the way I said "What the hell" (to myself of course). We stayed for about 20 minutes of which 18 were spent hearing them sing and talk religious things. The last two minutes were spent hearing about the fights they got in with soldiers during the disengagement and how they got thrown in jail. That was our cue to exit before we got into a few fight of our own.

We didn't go out tonight. Cut Katz's hair. Ordered in Burgers Bar. Tasty as usual. Nothing else to say. End of post.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Battle Between the Two Whites-the Blues and the Reds


I'm referring to the basket ball game last night where Maccabi Tel Aviv (Blue and White) played the Toronto Raptors (Red and White), and won! But first let me recap a bit about the past few days.

Yesterday was Sunday so I started with good old Thursday morning manual labor. What?! Yes, the lovely brass (actually i think it was the NCO) decided that since we weren't on base on Thursday, we would work on Sunday. It actually wasn't that hard. Mostly bringing some chairs down a few flights of stairs and organizing them. I ended up mostly sitting on my ass for like 1.5 hours chilling with some guys. It really wouldn't have been that bad at all if I hadn't gone to sleep at 3:30 and woken up at 5:15 when the phone rang. Who calls at 5:15?! Actually it was fax spam. What's up with fax spam?! But that's a whole other post. So I had like 2 hours of sleep, but was surprisingly awake. Regular day at work, average stuff + a few meetings. Came home and we decided to go out.

"We" ended up being me, Katz, Nadiv, Ren and Ilan H. Katz wanted somewhere close with kosher food (so he could eat while we drank). My parents have been bugging me about this place in Herzelya Pituach called Tarabin. Supposedly some bar/restaurant where religious youths chill, possibly with nargila/Karaoke. Now I'm not much for nargila or Karaoke but I figured why not check it out. It fit both Katz's criteria. So we get there and it didn't seem like the kind of place we wanted to hang out in. It was very bright and filled mostly with little religious Yemenite kids, smoking nargila and singing (badly). Not that I have a problem with little people, religious people or Yemenite people. Just not exactly our crowd. So we left. Maybe we'll try again sometime. Katz and Ilan decided they wanted to go to Max Brenner, not to far away. Overpriced chocolate wasn't really what i was looking for so I was happy when the line to get in was huge and we scrapped that idea. We tried a bar on the beach, which was closed and then another further up on the beach, Picasso. WE got there and through the window we could see a bunch of old people dancing like old-school Israeli dancing. Like the Horah and shit. Maybe a bit of salsa to. Also not our scene. At this point Ilan was pretty tired (it was like 12:30) and decided to call it a night, so the rest of us headed to Tel Aviv to go to our usual TA hang out- Mike's Place. Sat at a booth and enjoyed the live music, conversation and the basketball game that was on. It was two minutes till the end and we were up by 3. The last 2 minutes of the game found them tying it up then pulling ahead, then us pulling ahead etc. In the last 11 seconds we managed to pull ahead. With 0.8 seconds left the ball moves to the Raptors (WHY!!?), we're up by two and they shoot a 3 pointer for game. It hits the hoop...No good!!! The bar erupts in applause and cheering (which the band thinks is for them because they just finished their last song) and we just beat a NBA team. Spent the rest of the night talking. I had my usual 1/2L of Guinness. Then decided to try Sam Adams (first time they have it in Israel) which I really liked. It had this sort of apple-y grape-y flavor to it that was interesting. A good second beer.

We chilled on the beach for a while (this time TA not Herzelya) and then headed back to Ra'anana cause Nadiv had to get up in a few hours (it was like 3:30). This was the first time i didn't fall asleep on the way home form TA in a long time. Ren, Katz and I hung out in a park for a few more hours till the sun came up. At 5:45 when I walked in the door I had been up for over 24 hours. I went to sleep till 12:30 ish, and here I am.

I also finally got my permission from customs to drive the car. I'm not sure I explained this so I'll do a quick recap. Got my license (finally). Can't drive the car for two reasons:1-insurance, 2-customs. Insurance shouldn't be hard to get, they said simply to call after we dealt with customs and that day I would have insurance. Customs on the other hand at the best of times are difficult to deal with. Basically, because my parents bought the car with immigrant rights (less or no taxes), only they can drive it. So i needed permission from them in writing that I'm allowed to drive the car. A few phone calls, letters, faxes, days later, I got the letter in the mail. Yeah! But, the insurance agency is already closed for the day as tonight starts Sukkot. Hopefully by Wednesday I will finally get behind the wheel of our car.

Wow! This is a ridiculously long post. I'm not sure anyone will really want to read it. If you are reading this, thank you for sitting through that bout of verbal diarrhea. Cheers.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Freicha Nails

I'm in the mood to rant a little. Not about anything political, or about religion or anything like that; but something just as important-"Freicha Nails". I also call them "Sharmuta Nails". Don't know what "Freicha nails" or "Sharmuta Nails" are? Sharmuta is Arabic (although used in Hebrew too) for whore. I haven't found a translation for Freicha yet but if you watch the video on "The Arse" from my previous post you may be able to understand. Perhaps I should show you what Freicha nails look like:

I think these are called "French Nails" in English but I prefer my names. This gets me to my point.

WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU LADIES THINKING!!!???!!! Are those supposed to be sexy?! Are those supposed to be attractive?! You could poke someone's eyes out with those, or much MUCH worse. When I see those I want to run away and hide, possibly under a blanket...or bullet proof vest where the crazy lady who put those on can't get at me. Anyone else thinking Freddy Kruger? I don't understand why someone would put those things on! They seem to be pretty popular around Israel these days. I see a lot of the girls on my base with them. Course these are girls than lean towards Freicha-ness (my base has a lot of these).

I'm done ranting I think. So in conclusion:
Think of these as drugs. As tempting as they may be, JUST DON'T DO IT! And if you expect to get anywhere near me with those things, you better be wearing gloves. Big thick fuzzy ones.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur is over and it's back to eating for me. Which is good because I'm quite fond of eating. Wednesday night was the usual Kol Nidre etc praying thing followed the very important ritualistic walking on the closed street. The streets are closed on Yom Kippur all over the country so e-v-e-ryone walks around on the street after shul. I really wish I could have taken a picture, it looked really amazing. I had a really good time walking around with my friends, probably not a feeling one is supposed to have on Yom Kippur but I had such a good time that I'm not sorry. Katz and I debated which would be more fun to zoom down the empty roads in/on, a scooter or rollerblades. I still hold that the scooter would be more fun.

Thursday was a day full of more praying. I was feeling pretty crappy in the afternoon (I think I was a bit dehydrated). Having a headache and feeling week are not fun feelings when standing an entire day praying while fasting. I was fine though and finished off the day with a huge break-fast at home with, I think 53 was the final number, other people. My house can't hold that many people on the main floor and I don't know how we did it. It was a lot of work but not that bad. Katz and Gross dropped by for a while. People went to play pool last night but I didn't go unfortunately. I had to stay home and help with the break-fast till it was over. I was pretty tired and done in anyway so it probably was for the better anyway, although a bit of a waste of a Thursday night. Oh well. Today's Friday and I don't go back to the army till Sunday, so I'll probably go out later anyway. And now off to start my day.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Cutting Grapes- A Lesson in Futility

Cutting Grapes- A Lesson in Futility
Originally uploaded by Benjamin Ludman.
While helping to prepare for the anual post Yom Kippur break-fast I was told to make a fruit salad. This involved cutting grapes in half with a giant knife.

Bone Marrow Registration 2

Bone Marrow Registration 2
Originally uploaded by Benjamin Ludman.
Registering for the bone marrow databank.

Bone Marrow Registration 1

Bone Marrow Registration 1
Originally uploaded by Benjamin Ludman.
Registering for the bone marrow databank.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Of Blood and Bruises

Bit of a long day. I feel completely wiped out. On my way home from the base today I went to register myself into the national bone marrow databank. They were having some annual collection day today and last year they had closed up by the time I made it there so I did that today. The nurse who took my blood killed my arm. She hesitated when putting the needle in. Then moved it around when attaching the tube. Then she took the tube out and looked at it for a few seconds while letting the needle come half out. I could see part of the hole at the tip of the needle, sticking out of the hole in my arm. It's probably going to leave a bruise. It hurt like an SOB! I used to complain about the people in the army who take your blood. You know, they're young, about my age, what do they know? Compared to the old lady who did mine today, the army blood taking feels like a massage (which I could really use right about now). Anyway, I think registering for the databank is really important. It's so easy to save a life. Why wouldn't you do it? I feel the same about donating blood. It's so easy, there really aren't many excuses not to do it. I plan on giving in about 2 weeks, after Sukkot.

Tomorrow is Yom Kippur. Day of Atonement. More thinking ahead I guess, and no eating. I'm not sure I'll post tomorrow and the following night I doubt I will either. So Gmar Chatima Tova to the Jews and happy Wednesday to the others. Oh and Merry Ramadan to the Muslims ( I think it's around now sometime).

Monday, October 10, 2005

Leading me to drink, almost like the monkey...

Was guarding again last night...not fun. Got very little sleep as my whole base went on a trip to Jerusalem at 1am making the base loud and busy until then. I was guarding from 3-7 am so didn't get all that much sleep leading up to my shift leaving me tired while guarding...all this guarding is leading me to drink, well not really but that would make life so much easier ;)

Anyway, you may be wondering what the title is a reference to. What monkey?! Well you know all is calm in the world when the other day the most interesting headline I got from my army headline thingy (that's the official name for it) was "Chimpanzee quits smoking after 16 years". (See below pictures) I guess this was before the whole earthquake-killing-hundreds-of-thousands-of-people-thingy.

Basically, some monkey named Ai-Ai got addicted to smoking and after 16 years, the zoo keepers helped him break his addiction. I thought it was funny.

Need sleep. Good night.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Thursday Night Suicides

I didn't get a chance to write on Friday. I slept until about 1130. Thursday night I went to Cinema City with Ele, Ren and Nadiv. Cinema City is a big cinema (21 screens I think) in Ramat Hasharon which is pretty close by. I've never been there before because we have perfectly good cinemas here in Ra'anana. It was a pretty cool experience though.. They make a whole big deal about the place with all these massive sculptures and ads. The place is really hyped up. It seems like lots of young people go there on Thursday nights. The place was crawling with soldiers (out of uniform) and I ran into someone from my base. We saw Flightplan which was a really good movie. Excellent even. I can't really explain what it's about without spoiling it but I recommend seeing it. Especially in the theater because you actually feel like you're in the plane.

I thought I would share my opinion on the following too:

IDF to collect guns to prevent suicides
The IDF has decided to start collecting weapons from non-combat soldiers to reduce suicide attempts, Army Radio reported Thursday. The report also said soldiers who did not require weapons or were serving in rear units would not be issued weapons for the same reason. So far this year, some 30 soldiers have committed suicide, the report said. It did not say how many of them were combat soldiers. - Arieh OÂ’Sullivan

I think this is ridiculous. From my experience the suicide rate is pretty equal if not higher in combat soldiers. There would be less soldiers killing themselves if the Army was more empathetic with it's soldiers. Being in the army is not easy. Some people just aren't cut out for it and some just aren't cut out for specific jobs. If the army would help these soldiers more then they wouldn't have this problem on their hands. Many soldiers ask to see psychologist or at least "Mental Health Officers"- kabanim, and don't get to see them for a long time if they get to see them at all, (They have to pass interviews with several COs before being allowed). If these people were more readily available, it is me belief the suicide rate would be lower. The army isn't treating the underlying problem- simply covering its ass. People who want to commit suicide will commit suicide. They don't need the army's gun to do it. I think any soldier who wants a gun should be allowed one. We are soldiers after all. The uniform gives us added responsibility to civilians and the uniform makes us bigger targets. Shouldn't we at least be armed targets if we want?! The army shouldn't take away our right to defend ourselves and others just because we aren't on the front lines.

Just my two, maybe three cents. Agree? Disagree? Let me know.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

So far this year....

Today is a fast day. Tsom Gedalia- the fast of Gedalia. It commemorates the day when Gedalia, the then leader of the Jewish people was murdered by another Jew. I could go into a whole long rant about the virtues of this fast day and about civil war, Jews fighting with Jews, etc. But I'm too tired to write something like that and I'm not so much in the mood to get so political.

Anyway, the fast day means two things. A) I'm frickin starving and a bit dehydrated and B) I only had a half day in the army today. This was a bit of a waste because I was home from Monday till this morning and then went in for 5 hours. But now I'm home so I'm happy...and hungry.

Rosh Hashana was nice and I actually didn't get to annoyed about the things I referred to in the previous post. At lunch I got into a small disagreement about evolution. I am a very strong believer in evolution and this didn't sit well with some of the people who I was eating with. To many religious Jews the idea of evolution is preposterous but I look at this as a mere lack of education. Not because evidence corroborated evolutionary theory but because most Jews don't realize that there is nothing wrong in believing in evolution and God. I have had many disagreements with people who ask me how can I be a religious Jew and believe in evolution. "God made us! You really think we came from monkey!?" YES! I agree with both. I often hesitate to use the word God when talking about this subject from a scientific point of view, but evidence points toward "intelligent design" in conjunction with evolution. That is, we developed from apes but this couldn't have happened by itself, by random chance reactions; there had to have been an outside governing force (perhaps God). Many religious people don't know about this all and choose the path of blindly believing in God as opposed to blindly believing in science, which they think contradicts this. Gerald Schroeder explains this all very well in his books as well as in several articles on the Internet and I very much recommend reading his work for anyone interested in the subject. Well that was more of a rant then I had planned and I'm sure I missed a few points I had meant to make but my writings are more like verbal diarrhea than essays. They would loose some of their charm if I were to actually read them over and make them make sense, that is to organize it a bit and arrange the ideas into a properly formed essay.

We also got onto the subject of the Jewish Calendar. The Jewish Calendar is Solar-Lunar calendar. Part of this system requires leap years, much like in the standard Gregorian calendar system. Only in the Jewish calendar we don't just add a day, we add a whole month. For more information check out the link above. I was born in a leap month in a leap year. The calendar works on a 19 year cycle. That means that I'm only 7- every 19 years contains 7 leap years. Someone brought up this fact and I showed that every 19 years your Hebrew birthday falls out on your Gregorian birthday. Someone said that a friend of theirs worked it out and her birthdays actually came out one day apart. I said this couldn't be and so we all checked it in a calendar book. It was in fact like this and so was someone else at the table's birthday. So we knew this phenomenon happened the questions was how. My dad figured it out. If you were born in a regular Gregorian year but the 19th years is a Gregorian leap year than the Gregorian year will have an extra day and therefore birthdays after February will be one day off. The same can apply if you are born in a Gregorian leap year and the 19th therefore isn't a leap year. I actually found another possible reason this can happen. It turns out that two months in the Jewish calendar can have either one extra day or one less day to make sure certain holidays don't fall on certain days of the week (see above link). This could also account for a one day difference.

Well I think I've talked enough now. Time to get on with my day and do something productive, like watching TV.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Rosh Hashanah

Tonight is Rosh Hashanah. The Jewish New Year. A time for new beginnings. I never really liked this time of year. It makes me think too much. About life and religion. God and mortality. I never seem to be able to get my head around these things and thinking about them usually gives me a headache. My dad said that this time of year makes you confront your mortality. I'm not quite sure why this bothers me so much. I think it's the lack of knowing, the unanswered questions. Life and religion are just so confusing and I hate not understanding something. So much so that when there is something I don't understand I may stay up all night trying to understand it. In this situation this leads to some problems because these questions don't really have answers. There are no real objective answers about God or life. Only religion's look at them. So for now I guess I'll have to stick to the only simple answer for the meaning of life I have found- 42. And even that, I don't understand.

A few links for you for this New Year:

Try and understand some of the oddities of the Israeli culture- learn about the Israeli "Arse" in this humorous clip.

Learn about Palestinian propaganda from this brilliant clip that uncovers some of the deception. Either stream it or download it (in your choice of two file types). It's big and 18 minutes long but well worth watching!

Here's to a healthy and safe New Year! Happy New Year!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Oh, Baby! Three Day Vacation!

Today was the last day before a three day vacation for Rosh Hashanah. No army till Thursday as long as everything is smooth. Got a little goofy today with an amp that we had in our office after there were a bunch of speeches in the morning (see below pictures-which came out abnormally small, but hey that's my piece of shit cameraphone). I got a certificate of appreciation for my work during the disengagement. I also got a card and gift (wheel shaped key chain) from my COs for getting my license, which was really nice of them. My CO Lior also gave me a Rosh Hashanah card in the shape of a "Tofes Tluna" which is a form ("Complaint Form") an officer gives you when you screw up and he wants to try you for something (from mouthing off to sleeping on guard duty). He's always joking with us that he's going to give us each one so he wrote up fake ones as cards.

Day went by pretty quickly and I got out of there just after four. It took me 2 hours to get home (and that was with a ride part way) because there were ridiculous traffic jams.

I picked up my paper license from my driving teacher tonight so I could normally drive now but there's some whole big thing I have to deal with customs and insurance. Probably won't be till next week.

Heading out to meet Katz, Nadiv and Ren and Nadiv's place to finally watch the last few episodes of "the OC" that we never got around to watching because of army and other things that run our lives. Good Night!

Or Playing Guitar

Or Playing Guitar
Originally uploaded by Benjamin Ludman.
Today we had a bunch of speeches and so we had an amp and mic in our office. This lead to goofiness at lunch break. Or was playing his guitar as usual.

Lior, my CO, Singing

Lior, my CO, Singing
Originally uploaded by Benjamin Ludman.
Today we had a bunch of speeches and so we had an amp and mic in our office. This lead to goofiness at lunch break. This is my CO singing. He does that a lot but usually doesn't have a mic. He likes to sing along with the radio but in other languages. Simultaneously translated singing=fun.