Jewish stuff at ChaiSpace!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Retroactive Life of a Busy Blogger

You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging as much lately. My only excuse is that I've been very busy. I've been left no choice but to blog several posts at a time when I get a chance and through the magic of the computer, have them appear as though they were posted at other times.

Thursday night went to a party at a club Tel Aviv in honor of Nadiv finishing basic training. All one week of it. I had a really great time. It's been a long time since I went out and did the whole clubbing scene. I didn't get home until 5:30 am so most of today was spent sleeping. Last night I also hung out with my friends.

I could actually really go for a basketball game right now. Seriously.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

No Sports For Me- I'm Heart Broken

Sports are not my thing. They never have and I don't think ever will be. Since I was little I never really enjoyed anything more than a game of catch with my father, something I have since grown out of. I'm not particularly good (read: pathetically bad) at sports and could never get into them enough to really cheer for a specific team. Other than the occasional big game between Israel and another country, you wont find me watching a sports game of any type. No Olympics, cheese hats or big foam hands that say "We're #1!" on them (although I'm pretty sure I have one somewhere from a basketball game I saw as a kid).

So why then did I agree to play basketball this past Saturday night? Well Katz is always suggesting we play and I always respond in the negative. So when I wasn't in the mood to shoot pool, watch a movie or go bowling and he suggested a little physical activity, something I haven't done in waaaaaay to long, I agreed. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I played for about an hour. The second half of which, I was taking minute breaks every 5 minutes to catch my breath. I just assumed I was out of shape, although my friends say they thought I was going to pass out. When my heart was still pounding after about and hour of rest my mom decided I had to go to the doctor the next day.

She gave some restrictions when guarding and sent me for some blood tests and an ECG. When the ECG wasn't completely normal and some blood tests came back abnormal I got two weeks free of guarding (Hey look, a silver lining!) and an appointment with a cardiologist. After seeing the cardiologist, I remember particularly not liking him last time I saw him (about 8 months ago). He sent me for some more blood tests and a stress test.

I decided to save the blood tests for next week as I had already done some before seeing the cardiologist today. I think I got a new medic because she wasn't so skilled in drawing blood. At first she couldn't get the blood out, to which one of the medics told her to put the needle in further. She moved the needle around until it eventually found it's mark and she filled 4 tubes with my blood. I was glad it was over. Today's prize for stupidity goes to me when I agreed to let her stick me again in the other arm when the same medic said that one tube wasn't full enough. She did better this time, I guess practice does make perfect (or at least better). Although needles don't scare me and I have a pretty high threshold for pain, I wasn't going to push my luck and go get more blood drawn. Two holes in one day are enough!

So now I wait to find out what's wrong with me. My dad and grandfather (the family doctors) aren't worried so neither am I but I would like to know why my tests aren't normal. Until then I guess I'll just have to take it easy. Oh well.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

32 is My New Favorite Number- A Shorter Service For Israeli Soldiers?

Today the big hoopla on base was about the announcement last night by the Ramatcal and Minister of Defense- Army service is to be shortened by 4-8 months for male soldiers who joined from July-August '04 (Aug '04 Ad Matai!). That means me! Like I told Nadiv (the first person who told me about this) I'll believe it when I see it, and I have returned my uniform. Every newspaper seemed to have run something different and no one is quite sure of how this is really going to work. From what I understand, some people will receive 8 months off (non-required "jobniks") and some will get 4 months off (required "jobniks" [read:Me]), some may not get any (combat soldiers). The more time you have to do, the more monetary bonus you get. I think, and hope I will be doing 4 months less and maybe getting an added 500NIS for the last 4 months, but again, the law hasn't even passed yet.

With that said, I would just like to bring to attention the timing of this announcement. Although this was proposed in July '05, it's announcement, less than two months before elections raises some questions. How many votes will Kadima raise if Shaul Mofaz passes a law shortening compulsory army service? We are a pretty big army. It wouldn't buy my vote but if a certain party stopped this from passing, they would probably lose my vote. If this comes to a vote before elections, I think we can be pretty sure that my 36 will become 32. Halleluyah!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

It's A Party! A PowerPoint Party!

Tonight we had a "surprise party" for Nadiv. Katz and I (mostly Katz) with the help of Candy and Ren made Nadiv a PowerPoint slideshow/movie with pictures of the last 5 years, in honor of his giyus- conscription. We had planned on doing it this past Saturday night with a BBQ but that had to be canceled when Nadiv invited 70 people to a party he was throwing that night.

In the end it was a pretty low key "party". Just Me, Katz, Nadiv, Ren, Candy, Ele and Ilan. We watched the movie we made, which came out really well-kudos to us, and then a regular movie. I think it was called Frailty. Weird horror movie about this guy who "destroys demons" (Read: kills people). Not one of the better movies I've seen. I started falling asleep in the middle, but to be fair it did keep me entertained and I was up last night till 1am working on the presentation.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Laser Guns and Other Toys

Today I got to play with a laser gun. It's been three months since I've been to the shooting range and it was thus time to bloody some cardboard. Only without the blood...or the live ammunition...or even blanks...and no cardboard cut-outs either. Today's target practice was done entirely with a laser gun. My unit has trained on the laser guns once before but I was at the disengagement so I missed it.

The shooting is done in a pretty big room, about 15m X 8m. There are ten spaces for people to shoot. At each space there is an M-16 attached to a hose in the ground. You stand about 5m from a wall, where projectors project a picture of a real shooting range. You operate the gun almost exactly the same way you would a real one. The recoil and sound is provided by the air pressure in the hose. The recoil is not quite as strong, the sound is quite a bit quieter (no need for earplugs) and there is no smell of cordite but otherwise very realistic.

We started of with ten shots in a day setting, five standing and five kneeling. We then moved onto 10 shots in a nighttime setting, again 5 standing and five kneeling. The last type of shooting was and open range shooting. The screen looks much like a video game, with buildings, cars, barrels etc. laid out in front of you. Various terrorist pop out at you and you have to kill them. You get 45 shots and in the middle you get a jam and must "change magazines". This is done by removing the magazine, replacing it and re-cocking the gun. It was like a better version of a video game. I really enjoyed it.

We (about 35 of us) finished the whole thing in just over an hour and we were back on our base in time for lunch. Much quicker then regular shooting as in regular shooting you have to wait till after sunset to shoot in the dark and there are also more safety precautions when you use live ammunition.

As for other toys, well, I lied.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Worst Day Ever!

Today was one of the worst days ever. Well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration. Today was just really long. I only got two hours of sleep last night which basically made me Oscar the grouch today. I was really cranky and all I wanted to do all day was either sleep or go home (and probably sleep). I've had a splitting headache all day and that hasn't helped. I got home and crashed for two hours so now I'm a bit better.

Thursday night Gross was home for the night (an "After" in army lingo). We used this unique opportunity for a guys night where "the guys" (Me, Katz, Nadiv and Gross) went to Mikes Place. Had a good night drinking (side note: Stella Artois= good beer) even if the night ended with me doing a shot of ketchup, mayo and beer. It actually wasn't so bad. The mayo is a little lumpy going down but it's all in your head. The sad part is I was sober for the shot.

Friday night was Starfarers night. Katz won as usual- but last week I won so Ha! Saturday was a party for Nadiv's giyus-conscription, at Cafe Joe (which is actually Cup'o'Joe but in Hebrew looks like Cafe Joe and has thus become Cafe Joe). Went home and watched TV till about 4 am (some weird movie with Steven Baldwin) and that brings us to today.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Blood Donation On Base

Blood Donation On Base
Originally uploaded by Benjamin Ludman.
Today we donated blood on base. All of the soldiers in the picture are from my department. We were the first people to show up and therefore the first people to donate.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Dear Liza, Dear Liza

More like a pipe than a bucket. For the third time in a year, the most recent time just a few weeks ago, a pipe burst in my roof, flooding my room Sunday evening. This time the pipe was exactly over my room instead of just outside the door. That meant that instead of the water flowing into my room from outside, it was raining in my room. Suddenly there were tens of little cracks forming in my ceiling as droplets of water pushed their way through the plaster. And so, I was back up in the roof drying up water. At least is was early evening and so a plumber fixed it early enough so that I managed a warm shower before going to sleep.

Yesterday I had kitchen duty on base. It was the first time I have done kitchen duty in over a year. Only recently did guys start doing kitchen duty. It wasn't very fair but I wasn't complaining too much. It's not such a big deal though- a couple hours of washing dishes never killed anyone.

My computer is really on it's last legs these days so I haven't been as bloggy as usual. Hoping to get a new one in the next few weeks. Tomorrow I'm donating blood on base which is good because the blood bank is really low and it also means I get half a day off. So it's a win-win situation.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Flippin' The Tape

Thursday was a very important day for me. It was the day when I "flipped the tape". The number of days I've been in the army is now officially higher than the number of days I have left. But who's counting. I ran into a friend of mine, from basic training and course, Thursday on the bus. He called me up tonight to tell me something funny that had happened to him. He was eating at a restaurant in Herzelia and his waiter was our sergeant from basic training. He reminded him who he was. The sergeant pointed out that now he was taking orders from him instead of the other way around. He got out in November.

In just under a year and a half when I get out I will really miss the friends I've made in the army, but I won't look back for a second.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hamas Victory- A Victory For Terror Or Democracy?

Hamas won the recent Palestinian elections. This has caused a lot of controversy in the media over the past week. Most people I have discussed this with are in agreeance, this is a horrible outcome for Israel. At first I agreed. When I heard the news I was outraged to hear that a an organization recognized as a terror organization was going to be the ruling power in the neighboring area. The fact that the people democratically chose terrorism scared me. The more I think about it though, the more I begin to change my mind.

This victory is not only a victory for Hamas but a victory for democracy. For the past several years, the world, lead by the US and it's (some would say eccentric) president have been trying to stamp out terror and spread democracy. Ironically the spread of democracy may spread terrorism too. One of the reasons that everyone is in an uproar about the elections is that there were democratic elections- the people doing the voting simply chose the party the people not doing the voting didn't want picked. But that's part of democracy. You can't please everyone all the time.

But then again, who can really blame the Palestinian people for voting Hamas? From the outside we see a blood-thirsty organization, mercilessly killing our citizens in cold blood, simply for existing. From the inside they see people who are paving their road, giving them jobs and paying for their children's' education and summer camps. Is there really any wonder why they chose Hamas over the corrupt dictatorship of Fatah?

This raises another issue: If you don't really have a choice, is it really a democracy? Natan Sharansky doesn't think so.

"An election between a terrorist organizations that wants to destroy the State of Israel and a corrupt dictatorship that does not care about helping its own people is not democracy"
I disagree with Mr. Sharansky. Like I said in my comments and post "Disengagement"; While democracy may not be perfect, especially in the Middle East, this is still democracy, and it is much better than the alternatives. Democracy in Middle East leaves room for improvement. That responsibility rests on our shoulders.

In conclusion, I ask you the following: Is it really that tragic that Hamas was elected? Yes, they want to wipe us off the map. But so does Fatah, Hamas is just honest about it. Yes Hamas trains it's youth to commit suicide in the name of Allah, but they also give back to their community. If a Palestinian democracy is going to work at all, it needs an infrastructure. With less money being syphoned out to buy Mercedeses perhaps more will go to developing their land; paving roads, building schools and reducing crime. Lastly, terror is a weapon used to get power. Once you have power, terror is useless. With Hamas running the government, they may not resort to such desperate measures.

Ultimately, what's worse? An organization that outwardly hates us and help its people or an organization that steals from its people and is nice to us to our faces but stabs us in the back? I will leave the decision up to you.