Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The male-female brain continuum

... that's what this BBC test calls what it claims to measure.
I found it via Samudrika's blog that I just had the pleasure of perusing...
Nu so how did I do on the test?
Well, it claims that my personal brain score leans slightly to the feminine side.
Other than that, it told me a bunch of things I already know: I have pretty good spatial ability, I can't judge people's emotions all too well, and I find masculine faces attractive.
Waste of time? Sure. But it's better than working!


I was in a car accident yesterday.
I was driving to my son's daycare center to pick him up, thinking about how well my sessions with the chiropractor are going, and listening to the radio.
The light turned green, I started driving, and then a squeal of brakes, turning my head I saw for a split second a car racing towards me, and then crash.
The first person who came up to my window was, I think, from the pub on the corner. He handed me a bottle of chilled water. Then another 2 people came and asked if I'm ok. They said they saw that I had the green light and they helped me get the car out of the intersection.
I was frozen in my seat and shaking.
The driver that slammed into me came out and started shouting that he had a green light. Then he came over and asked if I was ok...
Hubby rushed over from work to help me.
The police, and the insurance company, were pretty convinced that I had the green (and I did) because I had 4 witnesses to back me up.
When the police officer was done writing the report, he saw hubby taking out the car seat and pram from the car, and he was rather shaken until I told him that Junior was not in the car. He told me to go home and hug my son.
And that's just what I did.
Our wonderful friends picked up Junior from daycare and took him home with them. They made us dinner and gave us their spare car. What would we do without them??
I hugged my son so hard.
You know, for several weeks now I've been working on improving my attitude to life and trying to be more relaxed. And it's really working well; I'm calmer, happier, I smile and laugh more, I eat less chocolate and have fewer headaches.
But yesterday's crash gave me a real quick attitude adjustment.
When I woke up this morning the first thing I thought was, how wonderful to be alive.
And there are so many good people in the world, from strangers that hand out water and a helping hand, to good friends who are there for you when you need them, and most of all the family who loves you, supports you, and needs you.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Nu? So am I keeping up with the 3-things list every night?
Well, yes and no.
Yes, I'm making the list, but no, I'm not actually writing it down. I'm not sure how important the writing down bit is, but it is a good excercise and I'm enjoying it! It really does make you feel good.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Attitude shift

One of the things I enjoy most about driving to work is the chance to listen to the radio. Usually there are some pretty interesting programs on AM talk radio. This morning I heard an interview with the president of the American Psychologists Association. He was talking about teaching people to be more optimistic and happy. He said that until now psychologists have focused on depression, anxiety, and disorders, and still in America today more people than ever are depressed, and at a younger age too.
He reckons we should shift the focus to the study of happiness, contentment, and optimism.
I thought this was very interesting since I'm a rather stressed-out person generally, and lately I've been quite stressed and this of course has an impact on everything in my life. I had suffered from depression once in my life, when I was in my early teens, and I was starting to feel that I was getting awfully close to falling into that trap again.
The radio speaker said that our mind was analogous to our tongue, in that it moves around and around in the mouth looking for a cavity or a sore, and when it finds it it stays there and dwells on it so that we can't think of anything else.
He suggested a simple strategy to help people become happier. Every night, write down a short list of three things that went well for you today, and what you did to make them happen. He said it didn't have to be long, but it was important to get 3 things.
According to a big study he just finished, most people respond really well to this technique and show significant improvement in their outlook on life within 6 months.
He also said that this turned out to be a rather addicting activity, which I was happy to hear since my biggest problem with these types of things is sticking to it for longer than 2 days.
Apparently by using this simple technique, people learn to change the way their minds think about life and our place in the world, and learn to focus on the positive contributions they make instead of on what's wrong.
So, I have resolved to try this starting tonight. Let's see if I can keep it up...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Tim Tam

Ahh, Sunday afternoon and the boy is taking a nap.
A cold iced tea with fresh mint from the garden. Galgalatz on internet radio. A few minutes to relax and get ready for another week.
And here's a reason to celebrate: yesterday at the supermarket I picked up a pack of the new Tim Tam Latte.
Tim Tam is a yummy chocolate biscuit, with chocolate in the middle and on the outside. It's nice on its own, but if you want the true experience then you have to do the "Tim Tam Suck".
First you nibble a bit of one corner, then you nibble a bit of the opposite corner. Then you dip one of the nibbled corners into your hot drink (coffee, tea, whatever), suck on the other end until you feel the drink in your mouth, then in one quick deft move, you put the whole thing into your mouth.
The sensation of melting chocolate has been likened to a chocolate orgasm.
It's guaranteed to cheer you up if you are under the weather...
The original Tim Tam is with milk chocolate, but there are lots of variations. Double Coated is for people with acute depression I reckon. The other flavours are ok, but my favorite is Classic Dark.
Tonight I'll try the new Latte flavor and let you know the verdict.

A tale of three countries

Sunday morning, and it's my turn to sleep late but due to a 6:30 AM tantrum by my son I couldn't go back to sleep. So I sneaked into the office and now I'm enjoying some quiet time at the computer. Now, I didn't have any caffeine this morning so please take that into account.
We live a comfortable and good life here in Sydney, and still I find myself going over the same dilemmas every day it seems. Is this where I want to live in the long term? Is this where I want to raise my family?
I've lived in 3 countries and all three have a lot to offer. Let's start with where I am now, Australia.
I think that the thing that I like most about Australia is how 'normal' it is. It's a free country with an established democracy, a great economy, wonderful health care, good education. People spend a lot of time participating in, talking about, and watching sports. The people are relaxed and polite. On a personal level, I have a job that I actually enjoy (the first in my life!) with colleagues that I like working with. All in all, it's a great place to live.
So what's the problem? I guess it's more of a personal thing. Why are all my friends here Israeli? I can't seem to connect with Australians the way I do with Israelis. I have no problem with English, and I try to immerse myself in Aussie culture (I even tried to learn the rules of cricket, but I still only see a bunch of men standing around on the grass for 5 days, scratching themselves), but I still can't seem to connect on a deep, personal level.
In Israel I have friends I can call at any time and talk about anything with, even though I haven't been living there for 10 years. Here I just don't have that, and it's hard.
Now in Israel, there are numerous problems and a long list of things that make me cringe when I think of moving back. Terrorism doesn't scare me so much as such, but it's the secondary effects that are a daily problem: people are stressed and aggressive, they drive like maniacs, the economy has suffered immensely, there's not enough money or time to think about things like education or health care, because of the more immediate security issues.
On the other hand we have family there, and good friends, and that support network is missing from our lives now.
The third option is to move back to California. Life was good there for us, and there's a lot more money to be made than here. But that comes with a price: you have to work long and hard to get it. In Israel people also work an incredible amount of hours, but get a lot less in return. Australia certainly takes the lead when it comes to work-life balance.
The important question, and the reason why I am thinking about this so much in the last 2 years, is where do I want my son (and his future siblings) to grow up? I know that once he starts school, he won't remember any of the Hebrew he's learning now. I'm not religious, but it's hard for me to see him at the day-care centre end-of-year party, singing Christmas carols and getting a pressie from Santa Clause. I know that in Israel he would get the language and culture that I would rather have him know.
There is no good answer. Having too many choices sure makes things difficult.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Oh yes, I'm going to the U2 concert in April

This is old news, but I haven't been writing for a long time so I forgot about it for a while.
I got tickets to the sold-out U2 concert!!!
I had missed out on the first concert and was all bummed out. Then they announced a second concert and this time I was ready. As soon as tickets went on sale (actually an hour before) I was ready at their web site and with phone in hand, it was "reload" and "radial" over and over again for about 4 hours. Just as I was about to give up, I got 2 tickets!! Granted they are on the 6th level and on the side, but so what?? I'm finally going to see U2!
When I was a kid I was the hugest U2 fan ever. Totally nuts. At some point in the 1990's I switched to Pearl Jam. Today I hardly listen to Pearl Jam any more and I think Eddie Vedder is rather pathetic. But I still listen to U2, oh yes...
Anyway, I was their hugest fan in Israel but by the time they finally performed there for the first time, I had just moved to the USA and so I missed them.
Getting the tickets has already caused a bit of a fracas. Hubby's friend's wife is also a huge fan and didn't get any tickets. I had already asked out my good friend, who doesn't especially like U2 or anything, to go with me as a birthday present. Some mild catfighting and attempted bribery ensued, but eventually I managed to diplomatically sort things out.
My Ph.D. graduation ceremony is one week after the U2 concert, and I can tell you that I'm much, much more excited about U2.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Is there a Starbuck's there already?

A pristine "Garden of Eden" was found in Papua, untouched by humans. Dozens of new species of animals, birds and plants have been found.
Interesting that they also found an echidna, and some kangaroos that don't look at all like kangaroos. Amazing!!

I miss flying

Last week I attended a training course and the other attendees were all from a company that does aviation-related work. At the breaks they would talk about planes and helicopters, and swap stories about test flights and all that.
It's been several years since we moved from America to Australia, and I haven't flown at all since then (except in commercial airliners but that's not real flying). I had forgotten how much I missed it. Not just the flying, but being part of the aviation community.
The flying was so great, what an amazing feeling to see the world from a different perspective... but the friends I made and the feeling of belonging to a really tight-knit community was what I enjoyed most. Being active in the flight club, "hangar flying", washing the planes, going off to new and weird airports that we found on the map and never went to before, just to see what's there. Whenever you get 2 or more pilots together, the conversation immediately shifts to flying stories and they will be happy to talk for hours and hours.
General aviation just isn't as developed and wide-spread as it is in the USA. There are fewer airports, planes, clubs and instructors. Flying is much more expensive. In California I could get in my car and be at the airport going over my pre-flight checklist in 20 minutes. Here I'd have to drive an hour and a half to the nearest GA airport. And then there wouldn't be a whole lot of places I could fly to just for fun, or for the proverbial "$100 hamburger". It wouldn't be anywhere near $100, and there would probably not be any veggie burgers either.
It's just not the same unfortunately. Australia is a wonderful place to live, but there are certainly some things that I had to sacrifice for the privilege of living here.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


I just read about a stabbing on a minibus in Petah Tikva, my home town. This was on the main street from the city to Tel Aviv, and of course I know it well.
Just as I was thinking to myself "how nice to be living in Australia", I saw that there was a stabbing at Bondi beach as well.
Both stabbers were men of Middle-Eastern Appearance.
The world is indeed a small place and it seems there aren't many places left that are unaffected.