Sunday, May 21, 2006

Next Year in Jerusalem

So a while ago I was reading through the automated emails that I get from the research office with scholarships, postdoc positions, and all that. And something caught my eye: a scholarship for exchange programs between my uni and the Hebrew uni in Jerusalem. They had postponed the deadline for application submissions, probably cause there aren't too many people lining up for a free ticket to Israel. So I applied.
And I got it!
They will pay for my airfare and accommodation... and I get to do some work in collaboration with Hebrew uni which is by far the best uni in Israel.
We're planning to fly on Christmas day, hoping for a less-than-full plane (at least for the first leg).
By then it will have been nearly 3 years since we visited.
I'm not looking forward to such a long flight with a toddler, but I am excited about seeing family and friends, and having junior spend time with his grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. And seeing all my old friends. My Sydney friends are nowhere near as close as my friends from high school whom I barely saw in the last decade. That's the way it is.
But I'm also excited to see what it's like to work in an Israeli uni. I have very little experience working in Israel in an "adult" job (ie not babysitting and fast food work). After all, we left very shortly after finishing the army and hadn't had much chance to really live there as, you know, adults.
So it will be an interesting experience....
And if I get a paper published to boot, then that makes it all the more worthwhile.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Sometimes I need something to remind me why I love Linux

I've had the unfortunate need to use a couple of our Windows workstations for some serious number crunching that I had to do. What a pain in the neck! Jeeeez! I forgot how much grief working with Windows can bring.
On my desktop running Linux, I could open 2 files and crunch them at the same time. It took many hours, but it crunched until it was done.
On Windows, with much better hardware (an extra CPU, tons of memory), it would crash half way through one number-crunching session. And no, it did not save anything.
Luckily I'm married to a genius programmer who wrote some code to bypass the need for this time-consuming and cpu-consuming stuff.
So now I'm back with my lovely linux, and enjoying every bit, even though I do have to work on the weekend.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Army Fashions

Iran's crazy president backed by an entire army of men with the same unshaved stubble.
This reminded me of the old Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein, where everyone had the Saddam mustache. And the Syrian army where everyone has the Assad mustachio.
I don't think anyone in the Israeli army is going to take up the new defense minister's mustache style.

However, it looks like the IDF is having some trouble keeping the women's pants waistlines from plunging too low. (Yahoo News couldn't resist the pun...)
I remember, way back when, I took my army skirt to a tailor to have it shortened. It looked like a potato sack originally. And there were specific rules as to how low you could go. I reckon it's time to set some new rules regarding pants. Although, what with all the bureaucracy in the army, by the time they figure something out (or redesign the pants), low-riders will be out of fashion.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

From Darkness to Light

After 14 days trapped nearly a kilometer underground, the two Tasmanian miners have finally been rescued.
What an amazing story! I must say that when I first heard the news of the mine collapse two weeks ago, I had very little hope that they would be found alive, especially after the body of their colleague was found.
It's rare to hear any good news lately, but this is an amazing story and the whole of Australia were watching and hoping for the miner's return to safety.
I think that's a primal fear that all humans share; the fear of being buried alive, with no air, light, water, and not knowing if you will be found and rescued. I don't know how those guys survived for so long. I'm sure they will write a book about it and maybe a movie will be made? They deserve whatever the get in royalties!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Happy Birthday Israel!

I was reflecting yesterday on the differences between the memorial days of my three countries.
When I moved to the US I was quite surprised that Memorial Day is not really about remembering those who gave their lives in the defense of the country, but rather a day of shopping and sales and barbecues. It really made me feel that I was, indeed, in a different country. I couldn't understand it (and I still can't), but it was nice to be living in a place where most people are quite removed from war and loss.
What a contrast to Israel's Yom Hazikaron, which affects everyone in a very direct way, simply because virtually everyone knows someone who lost their life.
Anzac Day was recently commemorated here. Australians are not as directly affected as Israelis are, but still they do not treat the day as a shopping spree. There are dawn services, and interesting documentaries, and parades. People share a sense of pride in the sacrifices and achievements of their soldiers.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Don't worry be happy?

It's impossible to read the news in the last few years and not be terribly worried about the state of this planet. Being Israeli, I think I have a good understanding of how this world works, and especially the middle east. Living in a sane country like Australia gives me the chance to look at things "from the outside". And yet, even oceans away, I can never be truly disassociated from what's going on over on the other side of the world. And especially so today, when events and happenings have a truly global significance.
Iran's nuclear threats worry me a great deal. I really believe them when they say they want to wipe Israel off the map. But at some point I have to force myself to stop worrying, since there's really nothing I can do about it. And I take solace in the thought that there are people who can do something about it, and I'm pretty sure they are worried too and are doing something about it.
This interview with the former Mossad chief helps to calm my nerves a bit; just knowing that there are good, intelligent people doing their jobs.
It's a rather long interview but highly recommended reading.