December 31, 2006

Israel, Day 3

Another packed day here (and still no photos, sorry) Here's today's rundown:

Shachar, Shula and I went to the The Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem (aka the Biblical Zoo since they apparently have one of every animal listed in the Bible - oh, and a giant Noah's Ark) Unfortunately it started raining about half way through so we were pretty much soaked by the end, but it was a nice zoo. Then we visited Shula's office and dropped her off there to work (the end of the year being a particularly busy time there) and Shachar and I went to see his Grandmother (we're going back tomorrow to learn to make the soup we had tried to make unsuccessfully at home). In her retirement, she has become a really amazing artist in a variety of media and her house is full of beautiful paintings and embroideries and other objects (I'll post some photos of some of my favorites of her works). From there we picked up Hila from downtown and drove to one of the big shopping malls where we hung out, got amazing hot chocolates at Aroma (a big coffee chain that my last Hebrew teacher had highly recommended) and then headed back to the bowling alley for a few games and a really good dinner (most definitely the best bowling alley food I've ever had!) We stopped back for tea at Shimon's before coming back here to Shula's where we will greet the new year in a nice quiet manner (especially since we're in a country that for the most part doesn't commemorate Dec 31 as New Years...)

Updated 1/19 with a few zoo photos:

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Happy Birthday John and Happy New Year!

Happy birthday today to John C -- and happy New Year's eve everyone!

Posted by Emily at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2006

A busy day in Jerusalem

I'm hoping to get some photos up tomorrow, but before I forget what we did today, here's the brief rundown:

Woke up and had fresh pitas and smoked tuna that we had bought at the market yesterday and then Shachar, Shula and I went to the Israel Museum where we saw the Model of Jerusalem in the Late Second Temple Period, a great exhibit on bread and the Shrine of the Book which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls! We're going to try to go back to see more of the exhibits another day. Then we went to see the big monster sculpture that we had seen in the movie months ago (and it was just as cool as I had hoped). Then we had a wonderful lunch at a restaurant whose name translates to People (ah-na-sheem) in Ein-Karem and then stopped by to see an old high school teacher of Shachar's and his family.

After that we went to check out the famous bowling alley, which was amazing (and I even bowled a pretty decent first game, only losing by 2 points to Shimon, but fell apart in our second match), then met up with a big gang of family members for dessert (and a birthday celebration), and then went out to the Link Cafe with Shachar's wonderful cousins who we had seen in DC a couple of months ago, her brother Ohad, and Sharon and Ran.

So now its after midnight on a very fun day, and I'll wrap up for now and fill in more details when I can add photos.

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December 29, 2006

... and finally in Israel!

We arrived this morning in Israel (at 5:30 in the morning, after a late night flight from London -- its actually only a 4 1/2 hour flight in the end), picked up our rental car and headed to Shachar's Mom's. After a trip downtown to exchange money and visit the amazing vegetable market (loads of photos of that to come), I was able to take a much needed nap and now we're visiting Sharon & Ran's apartment (and borrowing their net access) before heading over to have dinner with the rest of the family. Its colder than I had expected (thereś even a little snow left on the ground which is very rare here) but the sun was shining and the city looked amazing. I can´t wait to see more!

A few photos:
Sharon and Shula in the kitchen

Bob the dog

Sharon and Shachar

Ran on the phone

Sari in her kitchen

Shimon, Sharon, Riki and Safta (Grandma)

Tomer, Ran and Sari

Shimon and Shachar at dinner

Sari, Riki and Riki's boyfriend Yair

The group in the living room

Riki and Shachar

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December 28, 2006

Photos from Hanna's house

A few photos from our visit to Hanna and John's house and neighborhood where we finally got to meet Albert! (we also walked over to Victoria Park, went out to lunch, and stocked up on different English chocolates to sample)


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December 27, 2006

Now in London...

Part II of our trip, we're now in London. Got up early this morning and caught the 8:01 to Crewe and from there to London Euston (everything was completely crowded after the holiday and they kept making people get off the train before they would start for the next station, luckily we found seats and a place to stash our way-too-large baggage). Took a cab to our hotel and met up with Hanna and John for an afternoon wandering around London (we were going to try to go on the slides at the Tate but they were sold out and the line for the London Eye was way too long to bother with). Had dinner at Wagamama, a fun noodle place, and then walked around Convent Garden (where we had our photo taken in a snow globe -- which I'll post once I can scan it in at home) and then hung out with Hanna at the bar in our hotel. We're going to go see their house tomorrow and finally meet Albert, and then catch our plane to Israel tomorrow evening!





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Happy Birthday Bill!

Happy birthday today to Bill!

Posted by Emily at 02:31 PM | Comments (6)

December 26, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me!


It was a lovely birthday -- I got to sleep in, had happy birthday sung to me in three languages (English, Hebrew and Welsch) and cake for breakfast. Then we went out and about touring the countryside, are home now resting and reading email, and then will have a day-after-Christmas-duck-dinner.


I got a pony for my birthday! Or at least a wild one came right up to the car to say happy birthday -- and of course there were the many (spraypainted)

Lots of gorgeous countryside

We also went to a national park area with the British Slate Museum (it was closed, but had lovely grounds with the quarries)

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December 25, 2006

Christmas in Wales

Some photos of Christmas in Wales -- their family tradition includes a morning walk (this year to a near by waterfall), then getting dressed up and lighting the tree (with real candles), reading Christmas stories (in German), and singing carols (12 Days of Christmas) and then presents.


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December 24, 2006

In Wales

Checking in from Wales, where it is green and beautiful (if cold and grey) and absolutely filled with sheep wherever you look. We're here visiting Eliazer, Helga, Thalia and Ariel and will be here through Christmas and my birthday and then head to London on the morning of the 27th and then we're off to Israel the day after that!

Happy holidays to all of you!

The castles were closed so we went to look at an ancient tomb and the lovely shoreline.

Posted by Emily at 08:58 AM | Comments (2105)

December 22, 2006

Offsetting our carbon

Just offset the carbon we'll be using up on our flight at Terra Pass

San Francisco, CA ↔ London, United Kingdom
10,700 miles : 4,173 lbs CO2

London, United Kingdom ↔ Tel Aviv, Israel
4,455 miles : 1,737 lbs CO2

total: 15,156 miles : 5,910 lbs CO2

Posted by Emily at 10:23 AM | Comments (109)


People keep asking if we're flying through Denver and I was so pleased to be able to report we are flying direct to London. Of course now I learn that they're having fog issues (but it only seems to be disrupting their domestic flights, so we should be fine)...

Posted by Emily at 08:47 AM | Comments (2201)

A few books

Before I go, I wanted to write up a few of the last books I've been readig and listening to before I forget about them:

Swapping Lives
by Jane Green
Great chick-lit where a London singleton and a married CT housewife trade lives for a month to see if the grass is really greener elsewhere. A scary portrait of CT suburban life, making me appreciate living in such a very different social climate here.

The Tenth Circle: A Novel
by Jodi Picoult
Another from a fantastic author. This one is a father/daughter one filled with twists and turns. Lots of heavy issues, but great characters and story.

The Game (Mary Russell Novel)
by Laurie R. King
Another fantastic series, unfortunately I had about 1/2 a CD to go last night and had to return it before trip since it couldn't be renewed past our return date.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder: A Hannah Swensen Mystery (Hannah Swensen Mysteries (Hardcover))
by Joanne Fluke
You can't go too wrong with a book featuring cookie recipes interspersed in the murder mystery. Not the best of the food-themed mysteries I've read, but the series may improve (there are a bunch of them).

Posted by Emily at 06:24 AM | Comments (619)

December 20, 2006

The Cruciverbalists

Mom sent a fantastic article clipped from the September 15, 1977 Roanoke Times & World News, "The Cruciverbalists" by Mag Roff. Here's a bit from the article:

Cruciverbalist is a 14-letter workd, soon to enter dictionaries, for one who crosses words.

It also defines Eugene Sheffer, creator of the puzzle in the morning edition of the Roanoke Times & World-News, and Thomas Joseph, author of both Word Sleuth and the evening crossword.

As different in background and personality as the slant of their puzzles, Sheffer and Joseph have in common intelligence, wit and stunning vocabularies.


Scholarly yet whimsical, Sheffer, 72, is a retired professor of French at Columbia University. During the winter, he designs puzzles in the study of his apartment on Morningside Drive near the campus, but he spends summers at Amagansett near the tip of Long Islrand, fitting words as he works in his living room overlooking the ocean.

Although his family background is Austrian, Sheffer said, he began studying French at 13 and "never stopped" until he had two degrees from Columbia, a doctorate from the University of Grenoble in the snow-capped French Alps and a teaching career of 43 years.

For 25 of those years, he directed Columbia's Maison Francaises, welcoming to New York a variety of French artistic, literary and theatrical personalities, as well as "some gray-bearded professors." he much preferred the former.

Among them was singer Edith Piaf and she and Sheffer became "fast friends." They met for two hours daily prepring her American debut in 1947, with Sheffer writing English summaries of her songs for the concert program and teaching her some English. Maurice Chevalier was another close friend. The French government awarded him its Legion of Honor medal in 1960 for promoting Franco-American cultural relations.

Sheffer began constructing puzzles as a junior in college and King Features Syndicated asked him to work professionally when he received his doctorage in 1929. He has produced six puzzles a week since then, but Sheffer said he thinks it may be about time to consider retirement.

With a career as a professor, he acknowledged, puzzles have never been his livelihood, but have been "a very convenient addition to my income."


[it goes on about how they each create their puzzles, which is very cool]


Sheffer aims at a public he described as "middle society." Age and sex are irrelevant, he said, and the educational level is at least high school and preferably college. he keeps below the level, though, or the New York Times, which he called the hardest in the nation and full of tricks, anagrams and puns. Sheffer occasionally tackes the Sunday New York Times crossword, especially if he is visiting his brother's [that'd be my Grandpa!] home where it becomes a family undertaking. It is usually his only venture as a solver.


Sheffer said he doesn't think it matters where a solver begins so long as he starts with a word of which he is sure. Then, he said, there are letters to help. Sheffer also thinks fans should look things up if it gives them the satisfaction of finishing. but he aims at people riding commuter trains to work who don't have books handy.


Thank you to Mom for sending the clippings and a pile of original puzzles he wrote!

Posted by Emily at 09:24 PM | Comments (737)

December 19, 2006

Dinner and Goats

We had a lovely dinner tonight at Rebecca's house and finally got to meet her goats (and her sons) and have a chance to catch up with her, her husband and Joanne. Thank you for having us over!


And happy 5th night of Hanukkah!

Posted by Emily at 09:52 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2006

Happy Hanukkah, Night 4

And happy hanukkah yet again! hanukkah06-4.jpg
(this may be the last of the different menorahs -- we have 2 more but they take birthday candles and I'm not sure if I know where ours are currently so we may repeat the 4 we have already shown for the next few nights)

In other news, for those of you who have been asking, we got the requisite travel document that we needed today in the mail (not that we weren't going on our trip anyway, but this makes it feel quite a bit less risky.)

Posted by Emily at 09:30 PM | Comments (0)

Holiday Tea

Our team went out for a lovely holiday tea today!

Posted by Emily at 09:23 PM | Comments (1875)

December 17, 2006

Happy Hanukkah, Night 3

Happy Hanukkah (again) Tonight we had pizza with our candles (we should be putting our sink back in tomorrow after they do the countertop measurements) and, in keeping with this being a festival of lights, finally added some funky track lighting to the living room so one can actually have enough light to read by when sitting on the couch.

Posted by Emily at 07:46 PM | Comments (50)

Congrats to Carol!

Its now official that Morgan Hill's Woman of the Year 2007 is CAROL O'HARE! Among other thigns, she is the President of the Friends of the Library, former co-President of AAUW, plus all sorts of other things -- and just a great person and wonderful to work with! Yay! Congrats!

Posted by Emily at 07:42 PM | Comments (949)

One more Grandpa writeup

Brian and Mom wrote up a notice about Grandpa for the Columbia alumni magazine, and it appears here in their Nov/Dec issue:

Ralph Sheffer, sports marketing pioneer, fundraiser and philanthropist, Westport, Conn., on September 26, 2006. Sheffer was a coxswain at Columbia in the early 1930s, recruited during the first days of his freshman year because he was small. He joined not even knowing how to swim. He attended the Law School, fought in WWII and worked with the U.S. Olympic Committee to sell sponsorships and advertising to support American athletes around the world. Sheffer married Betty Rabinowitz in 1947 and moved to Westport, where he served in a variety of elected and appointed positions, most notably as moderator of the Representative Town Meeting. Sheffer’s name is carved in the wood paneling of the Columbia boathouse in honor of his rowing accomplishments. In 2002, the Columbia rowing community named the newest boat in its fleet in his honor. Sheffer’s wife predeceased him; he is survived by three children and five grandchildren, including Brian Reich ’02, who was a coxswain for Columbia’s heavyweight crew. Sheffer’s brother, Eugene, was a professor of French at Columbia and director of the Maison Française.
Posted by Emily at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

Eugene Sheffer Puzzles

As I'm collecting information for our upcoming crossword puzzle tournament, I of course keep coming across mentions of Eugene Sheffer (my grandfather's older brother) and his puzzles. So here is a bit of information collected about him for future reference.

Dr. Eugene Sheffer, 76, Ex-Columbia Professor (NY Times, 5/4/81)

Dr. Sheffer, a native of Long Island, had been associated with the university's French program virtually since his arrival at Columbia College as a freshman in 1922 until his retirement in 1966 after 25 years as director of the Maison Fran,caise. In 1960, the French Government awarded him its Knight's Cross of the Legion of Honor for his work on behalf of French-American cultural bonds.

(I remember when Mom went back East for the funeral, I guess I was 6 1/2)

Puzzles syndicated by King Features all over are still given his name.

There is apparently a tape of him in the Columbia University. Oral History Research Office. The description includes: "Foundation of Maison Francaise at Columbia in 1913; director of house from 1942 to 1966; demoliton of original building, numerous visits from French artists; recollections of Edith Piaf and others."

In "Atop an Underwood: Early Stories and Other Writings" by Jack Kerouac, an excerpt reads:

I wrote movie reviews for the Columbia Spectator, covered the varsity track team in the winter; ran a one-man typing agency, did some more ghost-writing, was elected Vice-President of the class, tutored French, and worked as private secretary for Prof. Eugene Sheffer of the French department. I helped Prof. Sheffer edit and translate his French textbook, typed out the whole manuscript, and even ventured definitions for his daily Journal-American crossword puzzle. We became fast friends; I wrote voluminously and took all my plays and stories to him.

Possible correspondence with Dwight D. Wisenhower over "a hand-tooled leather desk blotter given Eisenhower by General Juin"? (in the presidential archives.

Putnam's Two-Way Question Book (1927)  With Interlocking Answers. A book of crossword puzzles. By Eugene Sheffer. The Knickerbocker Press. New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons. p v-vi.  [EPBLIB

Much more to come over the day... and Mom's sending some additional clips to add later in the week.

Posted by Emily at 08:06 AM | Comments (1733)

December 16, 2006

Hanukkah, Night 2

Happy second night of Hanukkah!

Since we currently don't have a kitchen sink (long story involving new countertops when we get back from our trip), we used the excuse to head out to dinner at CreAsian, a great "creative Asian" restaurant in town -- and they even had something approximating latkes ("Japanese vegetable potato cakes")!

Posted by Emily at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2006

Happy Hanukkah!

Its the first night of Hanukkah, so of course we made jelly donuts again (a tradition that I am more than happy to adopt from S's family). We now have a whole collection of menorahs, and tonight we used the bird one (one of my favorites) and its sitting on a lovely glass drip plate that Mom sent (check out the dreidel legs on it!)


The donut making process (I'd share the recipe, but have no idea what it says):

And a random cat photo:

Posted by Emily at 09:52 PM | Comments (217)

December 14, 2006

Feb 24: Puzzle Day!

Sharpen your pencils and save the date! The inaugural Silicon Valley Puzzle Day is coming on Feb 24th here in Morgan Hill. There will be crossword puzzle and sudoku tournaments (and other fun things). If you want to participate, help out, or be a sponsor, let me know!

Posted by Emily at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

Happy Birthday Mike

Happy birthday today to Mike.

Posted by Emily at 06:08 AM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2006

New Trader Joe's

Our town has major Trader Joe's mania going on -- the new store opened a couple of days ago and made the front page of the paper. We finally got over there tonight and stocked up on some of the yummy goodies. Its definitely going to be nice having one on the way home from work!

I remember when we got one in Falls Church, VA where I used to work about 10 years ago. There were two women in the office from California who knew what we were getting and practically camped out at the store to be one of the first people in, then went back for lunch and pretty much every day afterwards for a while, taking us newbies along at times to show us the ropes. Now, of course, the stores are everywhere, but they're no less appealing and the local community was just as excited as Valerie and Jess were all those years ago (even though there are some in not-that-far-away San Jose).

Posted by Emily at 07:29 PM | Comments (1)

December 12, 2006

Happy Birthday Seth

Happy birthday today to Seth (who turns 4!) and who had the coolest of pirate birthday cakes...

Posted by Emily at 06:06 AM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2006

Happy Birthday Brian!

Happy birthday today to my brother Brian -- and best of luck with his new job which starts today!

Happy birthday to Ilona today as well!

Posted by Emily at 06:05 AM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2006

Physics of Roller Coasters

We stopped by the library to get a sneak peak at their Physics of Roller Coasters program, part of the Get Tech at the Library series (since I like to see how that's going...) It looked like a lot of fun -- I'm so excited they're actually bringing Tech Challenges into the libraries (the staff even had super cool t-shirts!)


Posted by Emily at 05:49 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2006

Tonight on KTEH

Somehow we've made it to Friday, mostly by trying to keep pretty busy (book sorting Wednesday night for the book drive, wrapping presents for the adopt-a-family drive yesterday and letting my hairdresser do whatever she wanted to try to cheer me up -- nothing radical, but a slight "chocolate cherry" reddish tint, etc.) Tonight I'm back at KTEH for another pledge shift. Here's what will be on:

7: An Unsuitable Job for a Woman
8: New Tricks
9: Cadfael

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December 07, 2006

links for 2006-12-08

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What time is it?

Is your cell phone an hour off too?

Posted by Emily at 05:50 AM | Comments (945)

December 06, 2006

Mittens, 1994-2006

I'm very sad to report that it turned out to be cancer, but that Mittens did not suffer much and everything happened very quickly.


a photo from last night

Posted by Emily at 03:02 PM | Comments (8)

More Cat Trauma

Mittens in sick again, and back at the vet. We just got the follow-up lab results yesterday and she was doing really well -- the thyroid stuff was getting under control and it wasn't masking any failing kidney things, which apparently it often does. And then this morning was a whole different story -- something is very wrong and even the vet doesn't know what's up yet. I brought her in the second they opened this morning and now they're doing xrays and more blood work, putting her on antibiotics and things, and we're waiting to learn more...

Posted by Emily at 10:57 AM | Comments (45)

December 05, 2006

links for 2006-12-06

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December 03, 2006

The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines

Yeah, its probably no surprise what I'll be watching tonight -- TNT's The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines.

Apparently, "The Librarian: Quest for the Spear" was basic cable's most-watched movie in 2004, making a sequel all but inevitable.

And apparently in this one we add a character named Emily Davenport who can match Flynn degree for degree (actually she's supposed to have one more PhD than he does) -- probably still all those degrees and not an MLIS (sheesh).

Posted by Emily at 05:55 PM | Comments (1447)

Views of Morgan Hill Exhibit

We stopped by Gallery Morgan Hill at the Granary this afternoon for the reception for their new exhibit, Views of Morgan Hill (celebrating the 100th year of our city). We bought some raffle tickets (drawing is 12/21) and dropped off some paper versions of my local artist survey (so we can publicize that paper versions are available there for people who don't want to take it online).

The Gallery is a cooperative organization with services provided by exhibiting artists and volunteers. Exhibits are changed every eight weeks.  Unfortunately the road it is on has been under construction for a while, so they're not getting the traffic they need. But its a cute little space and showcases a lot of interesting local art. We particularly always love the robots and things (particularly the dogs) by Paul Loughridge (which we have been tempted by many times).

Posted by Emily at 05:41 PM | Comments (0)

Notable Books

I've read two of The 10 Best Books of 2006 (according to today's NY Times list) -- Special Topics in Calamity Physics, which I loved, and The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, which I finished off last night.

From their list of 100 Notable Books of the Year, there were the two from above plus The Gate of the Sun, which we read for book club (but which I didn't actually make it all the way through)

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan was really excellent, and I highly recommend it to anyone who cares about what they're eating (or isn't, and really should be). I had no idea how much of our diet was based on corn!

I also recently listened to The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, which was so well written (and not as hard to get through as I thought given the subject matter). I'm currently listening to The Tenth Circle and am not sure which book off the big pile I'll read next.

Posted by Emily at 03:22 PM | Comments (1644)

December 02, 2006

Tonight on KTEH

KTEH pledge time still -- another shift tonight, 6-10. Looks like I'll be on Camera 3 (which usually means lots of opportunities to get shots of the phone volunteers, and which doesn't require me to stand on a box like camera 1 sometimes does...) Here's what will be showing:

Country Pop Legends
Roy Clark hosts this mix of current and archival footage of country stars performing their hits of the 1950s, '60s and '70s. Included: Bill Anderson; the Bellamy Brothers; Glen Campbell; Crystal Gayle, Hank Locklin, B.J. Thomas; and the Browns.

6:30: Johnny Mathis: Wonderful, Wonderful! A Gold 50th Anniversary Celebration
In celebration of his 50th year as a recording artist, Johnny Mathis performs many of his hits in an October 2006 concert in Atlantic City, including “Wonderful, Wonderful,” “Chances Are,” “The Twelfth of Never” and “Misty.”

8: Celtic Woman: A New Journey
The vocal group Celtic Woman and classical singer Hayley Westenra perform a concert at Slane Castle near Dublin, Ireland.

(but Friday night I'll be back there for Mystery night, which is always fun)

Posted by Emily at 11:21 AM | Comments (1563)

December 01, 2006

links for 2006-12-02

Posted by Emily at 11:20 PM | Comments (2637)


Its December again -- let the seasonal craziness begin (or continue, I guess its already started). As always, this should be a packed month but hopefully a fun one as well!

Posted by Emily at 06:10 AM | Comments (0)