Monday, July 18, 2011

I stepped where Herod stepped

My trip last week to Israel was about evenly divided between spending time with family and exploring various areas of the country. We were there only a week, which is not nearly enough time to see everything, but we had a good long day walking around the Old City of Jerusalem, we spent several hours at the antiquities in Ceasarea, and we wandered around the beach and city of Tel Aviv.

Caesarea's antiquities are based around a harbor that was built in Herod the Great's time - and include relics of construction from then and onward, including leftovers from the Romans - a circus for chariot races and an amphitheater that is still in use today. There are remnants of public baths and many different styles of mosaic floor, as well as columns and bits of walls fallen. The harbor itself was the largest artificial harbor of its time, and helped make the city a valuable asset.

bits of columns

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Israeli Pride

In the States, if you see a car with an American flag decal, or a house with a flag flying out front, and it's not a holiday, regardless of the owner's actual intent, you will frequently infer that the owner is either a late-to-the-game sentimentalist or a semi-crazed racist xenophobe. Or a politician running for office. It's not really fair. But patriotism in a post-9/11 United States has gotten a pretty dirty rep. Perhaps it's because the crazies are the most vocal, the most strident, and the most wanting-to-show-you-how-much-more-they-love-their-country-than-you-do. Or perhaps to imply that if you don't have a flag, you are probably a terrorist or at any rate a conspirator and should be deported. Or something equally nuts. And because it's ostentatious, because you doubt their honesty, (because you secretly hope they're not quite as insane as they appear), everything rings false, and even the flag starts to look like a lie in and of itself.

And the ones who actually do love their country - or at least the potential their country has - are unfortunately grouped with the nutbars. I have a lot of issues with America, or at least with American government, but I love the idea of America. I love what it was founded on - freedom, enterprise, achievement, progress, the ability to remake yourself in a new world into the person you want to be - America is, or should be, about everyone realizing his full potential. It often isn't - often it's about holding back everyone so we're all "equal" - down to the lowest common denominator (but that's another debate about the problems with the school system). We still have that potential. And I would like to think that at least some percentage of the flag wavers are of a like mind (I know some of them are). But the totem of the flag has been tarnished by people who would use it as a tool, a weapon even, for political maneuvering, rather than a symbol of freedom and honor.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Next week in Jerusalem

When I was a wee young thing (by which I mean, I can't quite remember what year it was), my Mom took my siblings and me to Israel for three weeks to visit ... basically her entire family: her parents, her grandmother Nana, her brother Jonny and his children and his wife's parents, her aunt Millie and uncle Elliot and all his descendants, etc. 

On the flight over, I remember being astonished at how waaaaaaay ritzier this flight was than my usual fare (yes, even at that age I considered myself a world-weary traveler and connoisseur of the flying experience). On El Al, we had rows four seats across so the whole family could sit together. We had individual movie screens (this was back in the day when not every airline in the world had this) with so many movie choices (I watched Mrs. Doubtfire and Beethoven's 2nd over and over. What? I was like eight)! Perhaps most importantly, they gave out freaking TOYS to the kids!!!! I got a supercool travel magnetic version of this marble puzzle. Also, I remember the flight was superduper crazyface long.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Spoiler-Free User-Friendly Guide to Enjoying Sleep No More

friendJudy, who attended Sleep No More last night with me, suggested I try my hand at a post on this show that's not dripping with spoilers, and that could actually be a useful tool for any first-timers attending, so ...

Tips and Tools to Having the Best Time Ever at Sleep No More!