Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pack what you can carry...

Yeah right.

Packing List

Know that it can be rainy, snowy and as cold as 40°F in Israel during the winter. You are allowed to check two pieces of luggage (maximum of 50 lbs. and 62 inches [L + W + H]) and carry-on one piece of luggage (maximum of 45inches [L + W + H]), however we strongly suggest coming with one suitcase and an empty small duffle to expand into as you travel and shop. We will be traveling to several hotels around Israel throughout the trip. A good guideline – don’t bring more than you can comfortably carry up one flight of stairs on your own.

Required items:

  • Backpack for daily use (this will be your carryon for the airplane)
  • Sunscreen (minimum SPF30)
  • Hat (no visors - must cover top of head - must be packed in backpack)
  • Sneakers or walking shoes (with traction for wet Jerusalem stone, and with straps or laces)
  • Old gym shoes [closed-toe]

Suggested clothing list:

  • 4 Jeans (for hiking, for going out at night)
  • 1 Sweatpants
  • 1 Sweatshirts/ Sweaters
  • 2 Long sleeve shirts
  • 4 Short sleeve shirts
  • 1 Shorts
  • 1 Bathing suit
  • 2 Button-down shirts
  • 2 Long skirts
  • 1 Khaki or corduroy pants
  • Undergarments
  • Socks
  • Light jacket
  • Hiking boots or sturdy sneakers (must be closed-toe, for rougher terrain)
  • Teva/water sandals
  • Sleepwear/ Long Johns
  • Raincoat/ anorak/ poncho (or anything waterproof – winter is RAINY season)

Other stuff you’ll want:

  • Umbrella
  • Gloves - Gore Tex (or anything waterproof – winter is RAINY season)
  • 1 beach towel (for swimming outside of hotels)
  • 2 Plastic bags for wet clothes
  • Travel alarm clock
  • Nalgene water bottle
  • Imodium (your system may react to the new foods)
  • Flashlight (mini)
  • Camera (don’t forget your charger and a plug adapter (Israel uses the European adapter)
  • Film (bring extra film, because it's much more expensive in Israel)
  • Extra pair of prescription glasses or contact lenses
  • Fanny pack or money belt
  • A kipah/ yarmulke and tallit/ prayer shawl (although not required, you may want to bring them)
  • Extra duffle packed empty to expand into while you travel


In Israel, most of the same products they sell in America are available, although they are at a substantially higher cost:

  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Lip balm
  • Razor
  • After-shave
  • Band-Aids
  • Tampons/pads
  • Tylenol/ Ibuprofen
  • Eyeglasses/ contact lenses
  • Anti-bacterial hand lotion
  • Topical antibiotic ointment (such as Bacitracin or Neosporin – you can’t buy this over the counter in Israel and is handy for small cuts, blisters, etc.)
  • Any prescription medicine (acquiring the generic name is recommended)

Airplane Backpack:

  • Don’t forget your passport
  • Change of clothes
  • Deodorant
  • Camera
  • iPod
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Magazine, books, etc.
  • Journal
  • Snacks
  • Medications – You should carry on all medications you need to take while you’re travelling rather than packing them in your checked suitcase. If they are clearly labeled, there wil be no problem getting them through security.

Shabbat Attire:

We recommend modest dress for religious sites - shirts with at least short sleeves for both men and women, a skirt covering the knees for women (a jacket and tie are not necessary). Please be sure your Shabbat clothes are warm.

Out on the town clothing...

You can wear exactly what you'd wear here. For example, a nice shirt and pants or a casual skirt. Comfortable walking shoes are essential. FYI- many of the streets are paved with's challenging to wear shoes with awkward heels/soles on uneven pavement.


A few more suggestions that will make your trip to Israel more comfortable:

  • Batteries
  • Tissue packs
  • Sunglasses
  • Photocopy of your passport (keep one in your suitcase, one in your backpack)
  • Gum/ candy

Friday, February 27, 2009

Early birthday at James on the Mill

Onion-crusted chicken on asparagus rissoto with a milk chocolate
pyramid, a good German Riesling and the best husband ever.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Said Roger Ebert about his Late Colleague Gene Siskel

...He spoke about his Judaism, which he took very seriously. His parents had started the first synagogue on the North Shore after World War II. "I had a lot of long talks with my father about our religion," Gene told me. "He said it wasn't necessary to think too much about an afterlife. What was important was this life, how we live it, what we contribute, our families, and the memories we leave." Gene said, "The importance of Judaism isn't simply theological, or, in the minds of some Jews, necessarily theological at all. It is that we have stayed together and respected these things for thousands of years, and so it is important that we continue." In a few words, this was one of the most touching descriptions of Judaism I had ever heard.

Thanks to a colleague for sharing...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

New look for now...

My prior blog design was getting a little stale to me. I originally picked it because it seemed to scream "BALEBOOSTEH!" at me. It seemed a bit old world meets new world. But I've grown a little tired of it.

Truth be told, I toyed with the idea of taking this blog elsewhere. Over to WordPress to be specific. You see at work we use the WordPress interface for our staff blogs and some staff sites, so I thought it would help me learn more to use the same interface over her at BiT. But then I wandered over to WordPress and all the templates just seemed fug.

Now, of course I could spend hours and hours designing my own, but I don't know if I'm there yet. Plus -- not that you'd know it by the comments section -- I have some pretty regular readers and quite a few subscribers on readers, so there would be potential abandonment issues I'd have to deal with.

So for now, I'll stay put here, but I gave my site a quick update. Yes, it's very green, and I will probably get sick of it before long. But for now it's very me (which is precisely why it'll get changed sooner rather than later).

Another weekend without Ryan

Mom and Dad came to visit this weekend. They missed Ryan by a few hours because Ryan is in South Carolina presently to continue his coverage of the demise of Razorback hoops. (Seriously, this has circled past humorous, sad, embarrassing, suicidal and apathetic and now it's back to humorous. The circle will continue.)

Somehow this weekend has turned into my parents fixing everything that is wrong with our house — which believe me is a lot. So far the garage light has been fixed, the trees have been trimmed and my mom is about halfway through fixing our screen door. (Right now the screen door is on the floor of our kitchen, screenless.) I try to help, but I'm pretty hopeless — which is why we got into this situation to begin with. Our ladder has gotten the most use it has since we bought it two years ago.

Somehow I think I ended up being the most tired of the bunch. Go figure.

Later today I am solo again for Religious School and we're continuing our marriage unit. I've spent the last hour reviewing the curriculum and then my wedding video to use for class. I'm sure they'll be bored to tears, but without a copy of Fiddler on the Roof handy, this is the best I can do.

Hopefully this will be the last time I have to do it on my own, because really these are supposed to be Ryan's students and I think they like him much better. Really I should just have him do the class tomorrow via speakerphone.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Book #9: Reading the OED

Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages by Ammon Shea

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is strange. Reading it wasn't nearly as painful as reading the OED, but it came close. But -- just like the OED -- there were moments every 10 pages or so that were pure magic to me. Now I know there are words for the phenomenon of the sun warming a cold day and the pleasant smell after a good rain. I know there is a word to describe my loathing of laziness and lack of purposefulness. I know there is a word for something that has not been peed on (unbepissed)!

And what is brilliant about this book, like the OED, is that I will never use these words, and they will go in and out of my memory (some already have), which means in a few years, I can just pick this book up again and be similarly delighted again and again.

So this is one of the few library books I will probably make a point of purchasing. It is one of those rare books that will be just as interesting every time you read it.

View all my reviews.

Book #8

Life of Pi Life of Pi by Yann Martel

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Usually I don't go for fantasy or adventure novels, so I was really surprised by how much I like the book. Once I got into the meat of the novel, it was hard to put down and I was rooting on Pi. The author's writing is superb, and I found myself physically squirming as I read this account. I'd recommend this book to anyone. This is definitely a book that you'll appreciate 20 times more once you read the last five pages. Excellent ending.

View all my reviews.

Book #7: The Alchemist

The Alchemist The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a book I would never have picked up had it not been on the MLA list. I can't say I enjoyed it, though I did appreciate its brevity. Although I am not too old to enjoy a good fable, it is hard to get me to sit down and let an author force a message down my throat. The message was a little obtuse for me.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More Info.

Some people asked about the Adam and Eve Ecological Farm. I found this article with more info.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Trip Itinerary!

Things that intrigue/terrify me in bold. I've linked to Web sites for our accommodations when available.

Taglit Birthright Israel
Israel Experience IE-19-278
Winter 2009 Itinerary
Subject to change

Thursday, March 5, 2009
Afternoon arrival in Israel
Drive north
Opening ceremony and program orientation
Accommodations: Karei Deshe Guest House, 011-972-4-672-0601

Friday, March 6, 2009
Tsfat – tour of the old city, ancient synagogues and artists' galleries
Winery in the north
Kabbalat Shabbat (candlelighting)
Shabbat Dinner
Oneg Shabbat – fun group activity
Accommodations: Karei Deshe Guest House, 011-972-4-672-0601

Shabbat, March 7, 2009 (aka MY BIRTHDAY!)
Shabbat discussions
Visiting Hours for Friends and Family
Fun night in Tiberias
Accommodations: Karei Deshe Guest House, 011-972-4-672-0601

Sunday, March 8, 2009
Mifgash begins-Israeli participants join
Gadot overview: Introduction to the north
Gilabun hike
Mt Bental – overlook into Syria and entire region, introduction to the area and the story of the
Golan Heights
Valley of Tears
Fun group activity
Accommodations: Karei Deshe Guest House, 011-972-4-672-0601

Monday, March 9, 2009
Volunteering at Adam and Eve ecological farm
Drive south
Bedouin Hospitality in Kfar Hanokdim (camel rides and dinner)
Accommodations: Bedouin Tent, Kfar Hanokdim

Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Early ascent to Masada – enjoy the sunrise and tour the site that has a unique story of faith
and survival and that has become a central part of Israeli culture and Jewish legacy
Ein Gedi Hike
Swim in the Dead Sea
Drive to Tel Aviv
One woman show: "The Four Faces of Israel"
Accommodations: Sea Net, Tel Aviv, 011-972-3-517-1655

Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Israel Update with guest speaker Neil Lazarus
Neve Tzedek-first neighborhood in Tel Aviv
Independence Hall
Lunch on Sheinkin Street
Yitzchak Rabin Square
Purim Party with other Taglit-Birthright Israel groups!
Drive to Jerusalem
Accommodations: Judaean Youth Hostel, Jerusalem, 011-972-2-632-2777

Thursday, March 12, 2009
City of David - explore the first Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem, when King David chose
Jerusalem as his capital, forever linking the city with the story of the Jewish people
Tour the Jewish Quarter - learn the stories of its inhabitants, then and now
The Kotel – the central, most significant site in Jewish tradition
Machaneh Yehudah open-air market
Say goodbye to Israeli friends
Prepare for Yad Vashem
Accommodations: Judaean Youth Hostel, Jerusalem, 011-972-2-632-2777

Friday, March 13, 2009
Yad Vashem – visit the National Memorial for the Victims and Martyrs of the Holocaust
Mt. Herzl – the tombs of the leaders of the nation and the military cemetery tell the story of
the struggles for Jewish independence from the first days of Zionism to today
Kabbalat Shabbat (candlelighting)
Shabbat Dinner
Oneg Shabbat – fun group activity
Accommodations: Judaean Youth Hostel, Jerusalem, 011-972-2-632-2777

Shabbat, March 14, 2009
Morning Services
Shabbat discussions
Time to rest
Visiting time for family and friends
Program evaluation
Night out in Jerusalem
Depart for airport

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I am...

a antisocordist. Just ask my husband.

I'm also on my ninth book of 2009 and a few behind in my updates.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This is the end.

Of my beautiful MacBook Pro. Oh how I loved her so.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Book #6: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

The next books I'll be reading for a time come from MLA's List of 30 Books To Read Before You Die.

Reading this entire list has always been a goal of mine -- well, ever since Mrs. Diana Davis handed out the purple pamphlet in AP English my senior year. (Mrs. Davis was always a romantic and loved the color purple and often commented on my love for wearing orange with kind of a grimace. She had to like me because my in-class essays always rocked, but I know she liked Elisabeth Ahrens better.)

Anyway, I've decided that I will finish this list in concert with my goal of reading 50 books this year. I making one exception. The Bible in No. 2 on the list and I just can't sit down and read the Bible cover to cover and still accomplish my 50 books goal, so reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Golden Compass trilogy (which only count for one book apiece) will have to be my atonement.

I had already read about a third of the books, so I will be able to read some other books, too. I put all of the books I have yet to read in my GoodReads to-read shelf and ordered them by reader popularity. I'm working my way from least popular to most popular, which brings me to....

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read this book in less than 24 hours. I started it at about 8 p.m. Monday and finished it at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

I really liked this book though it didn't really move me emotionally. The narrator is an autistic boy, which allows the reader to be reintroduced to basic themes of family, trust and love from a new viewpoint.

This is not a "dog lovers" book. (I feel the need to point that out because a lot of people are turned off by the derth of Marley & Me copy cats out there.)

View all my reviews.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

People in Arkansas are going bat-shit-crazy...

If my slideshow didn't convince you, this might:

Driving to work today, a pair of guys behind in an old Bonneville were wearing 3-D glasses.

Who does that?!

It must be the weather. Everyone's got cabin fever.

When I picked up pizza from Papa John's this evening, they had spelled my name Missell. Interesting.

A pit bull found its way into our yard today. A fat, ugly one I had never seen before. Luckily Olivia was inside when he made his entrance (and he was obviously looking for some female action if you know what I mean). The dog didn't have a collar nor tags and I had never seen it before, so I called the police.

I don't know what scared me more — the dog or the officer saying "If that dog looks at you that way one more time than I'm just going to shoot it."

Ah, small-town cops.

Very soon...

I'll be teaching Religious School for the first time. I'm pretty sure these kids know more about being Jewish than I do, but I have something they don't -- lesson plans and a teacher's guide. I'll get the best of them.

Ryan is in NOLA. So the house is a complete mess and I've been keeping weird hours. This is how it always goes when he's gone. It's like if I don't have anyone to take care of, why bother taking care of myself?

Eh, depressing.

Speaking of -- apparently I'm all dark and twisty (yes like Mer on Grey's Anatomy, I stole the phrase) because my 25 Things I finally managed to do on Facebook depressed some passersby.

What do you think?

1. I am kind of obsessed with paper.
2. I hate wearing black 99 percent of the time. In fact, I probably wear green twice as much as I wear black. OK, maybe three times as much. Four?
3. I don't like talking on the phone, but will do it in extreme situations.
4. There's a 50 percent chance I didn't listen to your voicemail before returning your phone call. Unless you're Marissa, and then I wouldn't miss it...95 percent of the time.
5. I successfully continuously talked from Colby, Kan., to Lawrence, Kan., when I was 3, thereby earning me the nickname Chatty Cathy.
6. Interestingly enough, I have discovered as I've matured that I really don't like to chat, but only do so when in awkward or too-quiet situations.
7. My face is asymmetrical. When I smile the right side of my face shifts higher. In pictures I always tilt my head to balance it.
8. This "disfigurement" makes me prone to not smile very big, which kind of ruined lots of good wedding photos and video footage of me walking down the aisle. I used to think about this daily. Now it's more like weekly.
9. My "Internet" friends voted my wedding best of 2008 among them.
10. When I was little I couldn't imagine driving a car so I was sure I would die before I was 16.
11. In middle school, when I'd have fleeting moments of depression, I would decide not to kill myself because I didn't want to miss school the next day. (You know, because English class was always so much fun.)
12. I've obviously never really been depressed.
13. I distinctly remember my grandpa turning 66 when I was 6 and thinking "Wow, he's old, and he's not going to live till the inverse of his age (99), so he's going to die soon." From that moment until he died, I felt like I was just waiting for it to happen.
14. Waiting for my grandpa to die (it took almost 19 years by the way) affected my life more than anything else. I worked hard in school so he'd be proud of me before he died. I got married young because I wanted to get married before he died.
15. I've cried thinking about my dog dying before I have kids.
16. I obviously have issues with dying.
17. 80 percent of the people I encounter in my daily life annoy me. I can't help it, and I'm sure I annoy them too.
18. I procrastinate just as bad as Ryan, but his procrastination is my No. 1 pet peeve about him.
19. I've never been able to enjoy something in the moment -- really relish something. As soon as something begins, I want it to be over so something else can begin. I hope this changes when I have kids.
20. When I think about my college GPA, I think I should be making more money.
21. I don't really like eating, but I'll do it when I'm bored and there's nothing else to do. Or if I'm really, REALLY hungry.
22. I wrote a short story about a teenager dying of AIDS when I was 10. I blame this on reading too many adult books at a young age. And all the summers I spent watching Days of Our Lives.
23. I'm terrified of financial failure.
24. My last meal would consist of peanut butter and jelly and Kix with skim milk. And a slice each of cheese pizza from Minsky's, Rudy's and Papa John's.
25. That last one was my attempt at being light-hearted, which I'm clearly not.
At first the feedback was grim, but then my closer friends logged on and had a few chuckles (or so they relayed). It's funny to me that I consider myself a happy person, yet have fairly dark thoughts and have a fairly negative outlook on life. So I guess in some weird inverse way being negative makes me positive? Hrm.