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Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Tonight I ate at Katz's. Late Thanksgiving celebration with some of his extended family. It was a real Thanksgiving meal with yang [EDIT:What the hell is "yang"?! I think I meant yams], whole turkey and stuffing. It was really good. I also stayed at Katz's for the weekend and it was fun to feel young(er) again and have a sleepover.

Today I spent the day at the National Signal School also know as "Bahad Sheva"-Training Base 7. I had to do a course so that I can get my next rank (which I still won't get for about another half a year). Right now my training is at level 06 and to be a sergeant you have to be at 08. They told us (two friends also had to go) to get there for 9am to take the entrance exam for the course. In fact, they changed the way it works, and the test actually gives you the 08 certification. So I just had to do two tests (which everyone passes) and that was it.

The second I walked onto the base,however, I remembered why I hate that base so much. I had set foot on the base and already the discipline NCO was on my ass. Now this guy is not your regular hard-ass. He is know throughout the entire army. He started bitching about how I wasn't shaven, and my boots weren't polished and my belt isn't the kind allowed on this uniform. He wanted to give me a "Tofes Tluna" which could mean detention time on base but in the end he settled for just some more bitching.

While I was on base I saw Ele, who serves there, and Ilan M. who is about to start another course there. I also saw my old commanders from when I was training there. It was pretty cool and even though I hate the base (everyone who does a course there associates it with their course) I still miss the place a bit. Physically it's one of the nicer bases and I have a lot of memories there. It is one of the places I started my journey in the army, and I hope to be back several times before the journey comes to an end.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Home Made Enchilada

Home Made Enchilada
Originally uploaded by Benjamin Ludman.
Last night at about 1am I had the sudden craving for an enchilada. I decided to wait till today to make one for lunch. It came out surprisingly well, especially considering it was the first time I made one. I even made the sauce from scratch.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Today was Thanksgiving. The last Thursday of November. I've never really celebrated Thanksgiving, partly because of my identity crisis. Should I celebrate American Thanksgiving (or what people have told me- "Real Thanksgiving") or should I celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving (apparently also know as "Fake Thanksgiving" or "That-Bull-Shit-Holiday-Canadians-Made-Up-Hundreds-of-Years-After-the-Americans") While the Canadian Thanksgiving may not have any pilgrims (who doesn't like a story about pilgrims) I think the point of Thanksgiving is to remember how lucky we are and to remind ourselves not to take things for granted.

I didn't really celebrate at all. No turkey dinner for me (although I think whatever that was that I ate for lunch was turkey breast) as I at alone at home. But the spirit of the holiday was here and I was humbled by how lucky I really am, to have such great friends, family and overall just a great life.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Lester Pink 1922-2005

Lester Pink passed away last night. After a long courageous battle with cancer, his body just couldn't last any longer.

During WWII he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a wireless radio operator, a similar job as to what I am trained in. He subsequently became owner and manager of J. Pink and Company and co-owner of Thistle Knit Wear. He also founded "The Vanguard" newspaper, a newspaper that is still going strong today. After retiring, he moved to Halifax,NS, where I lived for 11 years where he started a second career as president and owner of Canplan Travel. After retiring from this, he took up painting and his paintings can be found in most Halifax hospitals and other landmark buildings.

Lester Pink was many things. A prominent business man, a successful entrepreneur, a brave soldier and a terrific painter. But most of all, he was my grand father.

He will be remembered by many and forgotten by few. May his memory be a blessing.

The Vanguard: 40 YEARS LATER

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fire Truck 1

Fire Truck 1
Originally uploaded by Benjamin Ludman.
And you wonder why our country isn't taken seriously? Our fire trucks luck more like collectors items and antiques than something used to fight fires and save lives.

Fire Truck 2

Fire Truck 2
Originally uploaded by Benjamin Ludman.
And you wonder why our country isn't taken seriously? Our fire trucks luck more like collectors items and antiques than something used to fight fires and save lives.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Raining Cats and Dogs

Today it pored! I got of the bus and walked into a wall of water. It was insane and some of the most rain I have ever seen. I was getting so wet (Even with an umbrella I got on the "slow bus" just so I could get out of the rain. The bus driver decided to take a detour and I ended up having to walk an extra 3 blocks to base. Luckily it had stopped raining. On the we drove through foot deep pools of water. Cars had water above their tires' height. It was such a weird experience considering our "desert" country.

In the afternoon I attended a military remembrance ceremony for a fallen soldier as an honor guard member. It was a meaningful ceremony and these type of things always remind me of our mortality and to live each day to it's fullest. Don't regret things you did. Move on; Dwelling on the past is a waste of time.

Friday, November 18, 2005

ARG! Why The Army Is Making Me Bald

I woke up to the bzzzz of my cellphone as it vibrated next to my bed. "Unknown Name" -crap the army. Can't a guy get at least one day off. It seems every time I get a day off, someone on base decides: "Hmm I'm bored, let's wake Ben up and ask him stupid questions!" Now don't get me wrong, if you ask me a stupid question I'll answer it to the best of my abilities. I won't hold it against you that you're a dumb ass, not everyone can be as brilliant as I am. And I certainly won't mock you to your face, that would just be insensitive. But for the love of God, don't wake me up on my day off to ask me stupid questions!!

I answer the phone:"Ken" (Yeah), "Alo?" (Hello?). It was the new "discipline dude" (not the technical name) on my base. The NCO in charge of discipline on my base has disappeared for the past two+ weeks and so his minion has taken over. Now I get it, the guy is new in the job, give him a little slack but he is incompetent! "Oh I'm sorry, did I wake you up?" "No, it's Ok I had to get up to answer the phone anyway!" What do you think ass hole!? If you call me before 10 on a day off you're going to wake me up, never mind if you call at 8. He tells me he needs a favor, he needs me to come into base and guard this weekend. @#$%!!!!! Why the hell did I answer the phone?! So I told him no, in a slightly nicer tone than I'm speaking in now and tried to go back to sleep. I layed there for about 40+ minutes half asleep half not. BZZZZ! Not again!! It's one of my COs. "Listen, apparently you are written down as the backup for this weekend so you have to come in to guard." What, before you asked me nicely and when that didn't work you decided : "Hmm, I'll flex my muscles and show you who's boss." I said you know what fine, I'll guard but next week when I'm supposed to guard I'm not. He says he'll check it out for me.

I get out of bed, somewhat pissed off about the whole situation but a little relieved I'm going to get the guarding done and over with. BZZZZ! "Yeah?" "Forget it, they don't need you." At least I get to stay home but at the same time pissed of that they keep changing their minds. I'm out of bed already so I figure no point going back to sleep. I'll feel better if I complain to the world, so here I am.

Just wait it gets better. As I'm writing this I hear that annoying sound of angry bees, which has now caused some sort of PTSD. "They need you again." You have got to be shitting me! Get it together people! Make a damn decision! Fine, I'll come in. And so I sat down to finish this post. I'm pissed, cranky and overall not in the best BZZZZ! AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! Oh, just my wake up alarm on my phone. Good thing I don't have a gun home cause I would have shot a hole straight through my phone. Where was I. Oh yes...overall, not in the best mood. So now I will go take all the hair I have torn out of my head this morning, sew it into a nice little wig, and go pack my bag to head in to base. Have a good weekend.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Of Prime Ministers and Physicists

Today is the anniversary of Yitzchak Rabin's assassination. We had a small ceremony one base. It was interesting. The Home Front Command Choir came and sang the standard "Sad Songs" along with Hatikva-the Israeli National Anthem. I thought the ceremony was pretty meaningful and I had shivers when they played a sound byte of when the PMs death was announced. The ceremony was cheapened though, with too many fake gunshot effects and a corny echo effect. It almost made a joke out of it and many people were fight back laughter.

In other news (not really news, I guess) I went to a lecture tonight by Gerald Schroeder. Dr. Schroeder is a physicist and biblical scholar who gives lectures and writes books having to do with science and religion. I have his book "The Science of God" and after reading it and hearing him speak, there is no doubt in my mind the man is brilliant. I highly recommend his books to everyone interested in science, religion or both. I only wish I could have learned under him during his days teaching at MIT.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Long Day at the Shooting Range

Today was a long day. The morning was spent doing all of basic training over again. That is we did a fresher course in everything we learned in basic training plus a little more in depth on some of the things. This included:
Basic Communication Devices
Basic ABC Protection (Atomic Biological Chemical)
First Aid
Gun Class- including Shooting Positions, The parts of the gun and, Field Stripping

The afternoon was spent at the shooting range as was the evening. I shot a tracer round for the first time which was pretty anti-climactic. I expected something cooler, as if a light would come down from heaven and the would be fireworks...And angels singing and other extravagant things....[Gross you may mock me now] We finally left there at 9 and I got home at 11. That was all only because I got a ride most of the way from the bus driver as he was heading this direction anyway.

I now must go shower and get the filth and sand off of me before I got to bed. Tomorrow is a whole new day and I have to be on base early. Blah!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I Have Become a Starfarer

If ever I wondered if I was a geek- yesterday I received confirmation. Starfarers of Catan is a board game. Last night Katz, Ren, Candy, Tali and I met up at Katz's place. Candy mentioned she had a new board game that was really complicated and similar to "intergalactic risk". We decided to play and so Candy went home to get it and Tali ended up going home. We started at just after midnight and I think at 1:30 just started to actually play the game.

The rules took a while to read and understand and setting up is quite a task as the game has lots of pieces. As soon as we started playing the game though, we were all hooked. At four we called it quits for the night and tonight we finished the game. The game took us about 5 hours which is three hours longer than the 2 hours the box says it takes to play.

The idea of the game to explore the galaxy. You do this by traveling around a board colonizing planets and making trade deals with aliens. Building these colonies and trade outposts cost resources as do improvements on your ships. You receive resources by rolling dice, making trades and other methods. The winner of the game is the first person to make it to 15 points. Points are collected by colonizing planet, making deals with aliens or becoming more famous, among other things. You become famous by battling pirates, rescuing distressed ships and other missions you get by drawing "encounter cards". Are you starting to understand why this game is complicated and why it confirmed my geeky-ness?

I had a great time even though I got my ass kicked. Katz ended up winning (partly my fault) but next time, everyone better watch out!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Saw has Been Seen but I Have Not

Well a few e-mails of come in and yes I know, I've been neglectful over the past few days. But don't worry, I have excuses.

Last Saturday night I went to a beach party thrown by Adam and David. Met a lot of new people. Had a really great time but don't remember it all that well. Possibly because of the unusually large amount of alcohol I consumed. I have blogged since then but I had a good time so I added that too.

Next, Tuesday night I met up with Ren and Katz to watch a movie. Ren's cousin watched with us and Ilan H joined in the middle too. We watched Saw (hence the title of this post). I thought the movie was great. People have been telling me how great a movie it is for a while now and I just haven't gotten around to seeing it. From people had told me about it, I had compared it to a mix of Seven, Cube and The Bone Collector. I think that was a pretty accurate comparison. The movie starts with some really bad dialogue and some pretty cheesy acting but from the start I loved the idea behind the movie. The middle gets better with the dialogue improving although you ask yourself what the hell the writers were smoking during some scenes. The end of the movie is amazing though. Just when you think it was a pretty good movie the end really drives it home as a truly great movie (with a few flaws). It totally made my list of favorite movies and you should go see it.

Wednesday I was abducted by aliens. They put me in this contraption that immobilized me and they forced we to watch old episodes of Roseanne. They let me go later that day but I was too traumatized to blog. Actually I was at and army test/drill testing a missile detection system and didn't get home till almost midnight and was too tired to right down anything, nevermind anything resembling a coherent post. Spending 6 hours straight standing alone in the sand dunes will do that. My only forms of entertainment were my cellphone, which as in any good horror movie started flashing "Low Bat" after about an hour, and my iPod, that I so conveniently had forgotten to charge the night before. I had run out of Podcasts to listen to anyway though.

Yesterday I went to Gross' Tekes Hashbaa- swearing in ceremony. It was nice and I saw some old school friends I haven't seen in a while. Then I went home and vedged for most the day. At night we went out to Mikes' Place to celebrate. We being Katz, Me, Gross and Davidi in one car and Ilan H, Ren, Ele and Tali in the other. The music was too loud though and we couldn't really talk which sucked but at least the music was pretty good. We were all tired though and started to fall asleep. Made it home a bit before 3 and went to sleep.

And here I am filling you all in. Now I must go pick up my uniform form the cleaners and go for lunch.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Zipper Supremacy- Move Over KKK, Here Comes the YKK

We've all experienced the YKK. You know, your standing outside waiting for the bus. You zipper up your jacket just a little bit more with hopes it will keep you warmer. You've been waiting for what feels like for ever. You start to get bored and you fidget with the zipper. Suddenly you notice that there are some tiny letters embossed on the zipper. You struggle to make them out. YKK. But what do they mean?

The other day I was sitting with my brother and a friend outside on a bench. I noticed the "YKK" on my zipper and was reminded of how on just about every zipper I've ever looked at, I could find the YKK on it somewhere. They both checked the zippers on their jackets as well as the fly on all of our pants. Sure enough, YKK was on all of them. But what the hell is that damn combination of letter?!

The answer is not nearly as dramatic as I would have liked*. YKK is simply a big company that makes zippers and other fastening devices such as plastic clips. They make lots of zippers, one factory Macon, Ga., produces 7 million zippers a day, in a total of 1,500 styles in more than 427 standard colors. The company's name was originally Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha. I think YKK is a little easier to print on zippers though. It seems that since it is such a huge company and this is pretty much all they make, they have almost the entire zipper market. Are YKK zippers any better than other brands? I don't know, and quite frankly I don't really care, as long as my jacket stays closed and my pants stay up.

*More information and links can be found here.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Light Dark Bread

Light Dark Bread
Originally uploaded by Benjamin Ludman.
What the hell is "Light Dark Bread"?!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Death By Baptism

I stumbled on this news story on the paper the other day and then saw a link to it on the net today.

Basically this pastor was about to baptize a woman when he got electrocuted by a microphone.

Wow, that's pretty funny. In a sick way of course. Put yourself in the pastor's shoes (I knew I shoulda worn rubber soled boots today). Here you are, about to begin a baptism. A very holy ritual where that symbolizes "the cleansing (remission) of sins, and the union of the believer with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection so that he becomes one of Christ's Faithful" You reach out to grab the microphone when suddenly hundreds of volts of electricity shoot through your body, stopping your heart and killing you. That's gotta suck. I mean here you are, about to declare someone clean of sins and then God strikes you down with a bolt of lightning. When his life flashed before his eyes, I bet he was rethinking all those nights he spent alone in confession with little boys. But I digress.

actually, I thought this was pretty interesting because I didn't really know what a baptism was. I knew it was some Christian ritual that involved sprinkling water on babies or something. It turns out that Baptism can be done at any age (I'm quite glad the Jewish ritual of circumcision is done on an 8 day old drunk baby) and isn't necessarily done by sprinkling of water. Pouring of water or even full immersion (like in this case) is also practiced. Not only do Christians practice this ritual but so do the Mandaeans and the Sikhs and it evolved from Jewish rituals involving the mikvah. So the death of this pastor actually served as a learning experience for me. Could someone pass the bagels and lox?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

US Government is Tracking you Through Your Printer

No I'm not some crazy conspiracy theorist. This is true. If you are printing documents from a color laser printer, you could be getting tracked by the feds. Take out a magnifying glass and a blue light (yeah, cause eveyone's got one of them lying around the house) and start looking for any weird dots. Coded data has been found on pages printed on printers manufactured by nearly every major printer company including HP and Xerox. The code has so far only been cracked on Xerox printers though. The coded data codes the printers serial number as well as date and time the document was printed. The US Secret Service has acknowledged the existence of these codes but say they are "strictly a countermeasure to prevent illegal activity specific to counterfeiting". The hidden codes were confirmed by a Xerox spokesman, Bill MacKee, who also said they were simply assisting an agency that asked for help. HP said in a statement that it is involved in anti-counterfeiting measure and supports the cooperation between the printer industry and those who are working to reduce counterfeiting. Not only this, but research has shown the coding on documents produced by printers that were at least 10 years old.

One could argue that this is a huge breach of privacy but I'm not sure I'm really all that appalled. I mean, the amount of trouble it would take to track a printout to and end user seems like an awful lot to go through for no reason. As long as you're not printing Benjamins in your basement I think you should be just fine. But still, where do we draw the line?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Islamic Extremists Changing Targets- Sights Now Set on Porn Watchers

Yes you read that correctly. This story is actually about a month old I just haven't had a chance to write about it.

The Yusafali-a Trojan tracks windows users web viewing habits and when it detects you surfing on a pornographic website (which it detects by looking for words such as "penis", "sex" and "teen" in the title bar of the browser) it springs into action. With lightning fast speed Yusafali minimizes your browser and begin preaching to you by quoting the Koran.

"Yusufali: Know, therefore, that there is no god but Allah, and ask forgiveness for they fault, and for the men and women who believe: for Allah knows how ye move about and how ye dwell in your homes."

If the user continues to stay on the site, a button pops up that says "For Exit Click Here". As soon as the mouse is moved the box changes to have vertical bars and the text 'OH! NO i'm in the Cage'.

Image courtesy of

Options of LogOff, ShutDown and Restart are given but they all just make the computer logout.

All in all this isn't such a damaging virus. It could only really cause any serious damage by blocking medical sites. It is however quite funny. If suicide bombings and other physical attacks are going to stop and instead we will simply be reprimanded when we look at porn, maybe peace is on the way.