Category Archives: General

Off To Israel

I’m flying there tomorrow on business, back next Saturday. I’m thinking about renting a car. The rates seem pretty good (though I don’t know what the surcharges will be), and I can get supplemental insurance for $40 for the week. Anyone have any experience?

[Evening update]

OK, gotten a lot of useful feedback. Sounds like it would be manageable for me if it’s really no worse than south Florida with all the Haitians, but my new info is that they have a pretty good train system. If I were on vacation and wanting to explore, and into a terrifyingly entertaining experience, I’d definitely rent the car, but I’m there on business, and not moving around much. It looks to me like the best bet is to take a train from Ben-Gurion to Hertzlia, then a short cab to my hotel, and get around locally with cabs (and colleagues with whom I’m there on business). On Friday, my main day off, I could take train to airport to drop bag, then another to Jerusalem for sightseeing, then back to airport for flight home.

North Bay Quake

Sounds like they had a pretty good shake up in Napa. apparently the biggest one in the Bay Area since Loma Prieta, a quarter of a century ago. Have an in-law in Vallejo, but she’s currently in Missouri, so we’re more likely to have felt it here in LA than she was. Of course, I’ll get calls from relatives who don’t know how California is, wondering if we’re all right.

Steve Martin At The Hollywood Bowl

In our seats, waiting to hear him play banjo with a bluegrass band and Edie Brickell. Then, the fireworks.

[Saturday-morning update]

What a great show. I hadn’t realized how seriously Martin had gotten into his music in the last few years. He’s equally adept at both bluegrass fingerpicking and clawhammer, and he and Brickell did some beautifully spooky songs in the latter style. He also hasn’t lost his comedic touch. “It’s always been my dream to play the Hollywood Bowl on the 4th of July. Call me crazy, but I feel that, as I step on this stage, I’ve taken a big step in that direction.” (Paraphrase).

Only disappointment was that the show wasn’t long enough, and the fireworks (accompanied by a medley of Sousa tunes from the Air Force Band of the Golden West, ending with the classic Stars and Stripes Forever) less spectacular than I’ve gotten used to in recent years, but still well worth the money and effort to attend.

[Update a while later]

One other thing. Paul Simon made a guest appearance, and sat in for a song.


I’ve got Internet, obviously, but we’re too busy to blog. We got a bonus yesterday, driving up to our B&B outside of the park. We decided to take a side trip to Talkeetna, and happened to stop in to a little gift shop of local Alaskan art, when the proprietor looks up from the phone, and asks us if we’d like to land on a glacier for a hundred bucks each. The plane’s about to leave from the field and they want to fill seats. So we head over there, and hop aboard a DeHavilland Beaver with skis, with a 23-year-old pilot with a philosophy degree, head up into the mountains, and drop down between the ridges onto the ice. Unfortunately, the ceiling was only fifteen thousand feet, so we couldn’t see the big mountain, but the others were pretty spectacular. Pics anon.

New Kitchen Flooring

Well, the hardest part is done — we finally selected and purchased some. Installing will be a snap (literally, in this case, since it’s click-lock laminate) by comparison.

Similarly, I always find the hardest part of painting to be color selection. At least as long as it’s a group effort.

A Great Deal At Amazon

Get this Bosch router table, today only at this price. I bought a table from Rockler a couple months ago to build some new doors for our kitchen cabinets, but I did get a Bosch combo router that’s been great (I’ve been using the plunge base to mortise the holes for the hidden-hinge cups), and if I’d seen a deal like this on a Bosch table, I’d have gotten it instead. I don’t know how I’ve lived without them.

[Update a while later]

Here’s an unhelpful review.

Say What?

What does this mean?

The original Panama Canal was a revolution in geopolitics and economics; before it was built, the sea voyage was shorter from London to San Francisco than from New York to California…

Ummm, last time I checked, San Francisco was in California, and that was true even before the canal was dug. How could it have been a shorter distance from London to there, than from New York to there (or to southern California)? Both trips would involve going around the Horn (or taking the long way round the other way). Does anyone know what Professor Mead is saying here?

Cyber Monday

I know that it’s Wednesday, but Amazon is extending the deals all week, including lightning deals that change every hour. Also, check out the Christmas (not “holiday”) Corner.

I appreciate the purchases that folks have made through the site so far this month, particularly the iPod Touch and Kindle. Also, I notice that someone bought Jake Tapper’s must-read new book on Afghanistan. I hope that more do. Here’s an interview with him about it over at National Review Online.

When My Dog Lucky Disappeared

so did I.

I haven’t mentioned it, but last Saturday we put Jessica down. She was eighteen, and still loving, but she had become incontinent (not in the sense that she had lost control, but in that she didn’t care where she went, and the litter box was generally last on the list). She was down to half her peak body weight from an original nine pounds, just skin and bones, and very finicky about food, demanding not food per se, but to be fed.

She was always a very social cat (even when we rescued her at the age of one and a half, she seemed more dog than cat in her need for attention), and remained so, but she was tired, and didn’t seem to enjoy anything in life other than eating, and lying on us. At the end, she had to stay outside lest she destroy the house, and when I took her to the vet to diagnose a diarrhea problem, we both concluded that despite her continued affection, she was suffering from dementia. Patricia and I made an appointment for Saturday, and saw her through to the end, which came very quickly and painlessly, at least for her. There was very little fight left in her. We brought her home and buried her in the yard where she used to play when she was young.

While we’re relieved that we can finally clean floors (and perhaps replace some of the wood flooring where she’d made permanent urine stains through a rug that we hadn’t seen), there’s a hole in our lives as well, after over sixteen years. Rerun (the young cat we adopted three years ago) doesn’t know what happened to the older cat she used to try to play with, but she’s been more subdued than usual. At some point, I hope we’ll get her companionship her own age.

[Update a while later]

Thanks for the condolences in comments. It’s interesting to note that what we did was very common when we were growing up (and not unusual at all to our great grandparents), but a lot of people think it’s weird today, I think. Some friends of mine live in a farmhouse west of Ann Arbor across the road from a church in which some of their relatives are buried in the yard.

When we first got a quote for the procedure from the vet, it included cremation, with an option to keep the ashes. That’s in fact what I did when Stella died, but I didn’t really have a choice, because I was half a continent away when it happened. Apparently keeping the body of the animal is an unusual request. When we asked, the vet said that we weren’t supposed to bury it ourselves, but she would give it to us as long as we didn’t tell her what we were going to do — for all she knew we were taking it to a pet cemetery for interment. It actually saved us a little money, and made us feel like we were taking care of her ourselves.

And apparently dealing with pet remains is a pretty good business. We just used a cardboard box. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t care. The vet did make a little clay cast of her paw print, that the young women in the office paint (one of them was a little apologetic about it — “It’s nothing fancy, sort of like a kid’s art project”). I’ll pick it up tomorrow. Maybe I’ll embed it in a cement slab.

[Update late afternoon]

One more point, per comments. I am never offended by someone offering their prayers for me, though I’ve been god blind all my life (and expect to go to my grave that way, which is one, but not the only reason that I’m into life extension).

I can’t imagine how they would hurt me (well, OK, I can, but only in a ludicrous, Pascal’s-Wager-denying thought experiment), and I assume that they at a minimum benefit the person praying. I always appreciate everyone’s good will, and good thoughts, in whatever form.


in Colorado Springs. Good luck to all my friends in the area. I’ve heard they’ve evacuated the Air Force Academy.

[Update a couple minutes later]

It’s not a forest fire any more. (Note that these pictures are from last night, not sure what status is this morning, except I saw on Facebook that Stephen Green was getting ready to potentially evacuate).

[Update a few minutes later]

Here are more pics from the Denver Post. This could be one of the worst fires in the nation’s history, in terms of residential damage (and perhaps loss of life, too, if people don’t evacuate in time).

[Update in the afternoon]

As Stephen Green says, it looks like Hiroshima.