Sunday, July 26, 2015


I made these choices, with eyes wide open. I knew what I was doing. I knew it would be hard. I knew it would be work. I made the choices anyway. There has been sadness, and I knew there would be, the inevitable sadness of change. But there has been no regret. I would make these choices again. Looking back, I know I would make these choices again, given the spread of choices before me.

Then why am I still not sleeping? 

Before I made the first choice, the precipitating choice, I thought of these words, from Genesis, chapter 49, verses 14 and 15:
 14 ¶Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens:
 15 And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.
If rest is good, and the land pleasant, is that enough? Is that enough to remain a servant unto tribute?
For some it is enough. For a time, it was enough for me. But with change, it was no longer enough, and I recognized that. And so I chose to look elsewhere, to give up rest.

Then there were other choices after the precipitating choice. Where to go. What to do next. And I chose an option that would be uncomfortable, stretching, but with high opportunity for future happiness. And I am eager and excited. I know I will need to learn. I know it will be hard, and it will be work. But I made the choice anyway. I admit I am afraid. But I knew there would be fear, the inevitable fear of change. There is no regret. I would make this choice again.

But I chose to give up rest. That is why I'm not sleeping.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


We were told we could fill a 20 foot shipping container with all our worldly goods. The container would be 20 feet by 8.5 feet by 8 feet. It should hold the contents of a three bedroom home.

We have a five bedroom home.

When Tim pictured the 20 foot shipping container, he pictured something vast and wide and deep.
"My Star Wars stuff will easily fit." --Tim
When I pictured the container, I pictured something much more modest.
"It's not going to fit." -- Artax
I guess the reality was closer to Tim's vision. It all fit.

All this stuff:
And this stuff:
And this stuff:
Turned into this stuff:
And this stuff:
And ended up in here:
Like this:
And then after a little cleaning, the house ended up like this:

And this:
But only the inside. The outside is just as crazy busy as always.

It's been a lot of work. Even Jonathan has helped.
Maybe not quite as much as some others, though.

On Monday, we leave the keys for the new owners. Until then, we have just a few more things to get rid of. And then, for the next six months, we will be living out of these:
Six months of suitcases.
Life is good, if tiring.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


This Wednesday, the movers will come. On Thursday, they will load our stuff into a container, and put the container on a truck. The truck will drive to a boat, and the container will be loaded on the boat, and then it will float around the ocean for a month or so, before turning up at customs and quarantine.

In order to get through customs and quarantine quickly, with as little extra expense as possible, we were told, we need to make sure all our things are thoroughly cleaned. Thoroughly.

Camping gear? Make sure there is no dirt on it. Clean with soap to get it off.

Bicycle? No grease on the chain at all.

Anything that has been outside? Clean clean super clean.

I have been cleaning.

Jonathan and I scrubbed the bottom of the tent with sponges loaded with dish soap and water. I wiped down the rest of it.

Today I took some solvent and a couple of toothbrushes and attacked the bicycle chain. Three and a half hours later, it looked great. No more dirt and grime! Later, I went to drip some lube on it to protect the spotless chain from the elements while in transit. Turns out that nothing is better than bike chain lube for pulling dirt out of nowhere and plastering it all over the bike chain again. I had to spend another two hours cleaning the chain again after I thought I was finished. Stupid bike. Stupid chain. Stupid cleaning.

Oh, and when the bottom of the tent dried? It still looked like there was dirt on it. Dirt that is invisible when wet, and impervious to dish soap and water and scrubbing.

And when I went to clean the sporting equipment that's been outside? The tennis racket is so old that its handle disintegrated in the soapy water.

I quit.

Let's leave all this stuff here.

Except the bike, because I spent five hours cleaning it today and I'm not losing that time.

Only I'm a little worried that tomorrow morning it will be magically coated with grime all over again. How does it do that?

Monday, July 13, 2015

World travel

I am sitting now in the Charles de Gaulle airport, in a giant room of arched glass and steel, where it is blessedly quiet. There is a plug outlet just over my left side. And I could even sign up for wifi provided that I give Hello Bank all my personal details and let them bombard my computer and email account forever with advertisements. What a deal! I signed up!

I'm heading home, Reader. Finally. Briefly. What is home?

My job requires a lot of travel. It sounds very exotic. And it is. Very exotic. But not as exotic as you think.

Long before I knew I was moving next week, I agreed to speak at a conference at the Universite de Paris Sud, in Orsay, France... last week. And then a project with an Israeli collaborator became fruitful, and he suggested that while I was traveling all the way to France, I might as well stop by Israel for a few days in advance so we could get a research paper put together.

With travel, conferences, and paper writing, I have been working very hard for the last 13 days. And I have been very productive. But it makes the travel less exotic.

I did do a little sight seeing. Last Sunday, after we finished significant work on our paper, my colleague and his wife took me from Haifa, where the Technion is situated, to the town of Akko, or Acre. Just a couple of decades ago, archeologists began excavating ruins under the town, and they have found a huge citadel built by the Crusaders in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Really huge.

Outside the citadel, the town was a crazy mix of old and new: stone buildings built centuries before, haphazardly strung with electrical wiring, plumbing pipes, satellite dishes.

So there you go. Sight seeing in Israel. Otherwise, working.

We did spend an afternoon working at an outdoor table at a cafe perched on a cliff above the sea. That sounds like a lovely place to work, doesn't it? It was. I won't mention that my view was of the wall opposite, and that the air smelled heavily of cigarettes and cigars, because the smoking patrons were the other ones who used the outdoor tables. But I won't mention that, because I like to accentuate the positive.

If one wants to catch an 8am flight from the Tel Aviv airport, it is recommended that one arrive at 5am. If one has been staying in Haifa, 90 minutes away, it is recommended that one leave one's hotel at 3:30 in the morning.

My host thought this was ridiculous, and put me on a taxi at 4:30am. And I was able to get through security and passport control and catch my flight to Paris right on time.

From Paris, take the RER B all the way south, nearly to the end, to the village of Orsay, a beautiful little town nestled in a wooded valley. Who knew this existed so close to the city center?

The weather was hot, and the University was terribly pathetic about labeling their buildings. The first talk was already underway when I arrived, in building 450. Dragging my luggage, I circled building 450 about three times before I finally found it! In the heat. Up the hill. Migraine.

But the conference was lovely. My hotel room had a balcony overlooking the woods.
Isn't that lovely? Did you know there was such a hotel only a 40 minute ride from the city center of Paris? Neither did I.

I gave my talk. I listened to other talks. I tried to be social and talk shop over lunches and dinners and Network! and all those things you do at a conference. But I was tired. I fell asleep during a working meeting with collaborators on Friday afternoon.

And then Saturday morning I caught the train into Paris, arriving at 10am, at which time I met a colleague, staked out a table in the hotel lobby, and proceeded to work again for 8 hours, with a break for lunch and then dinner.

Sunday, 8:45pm, after another long workday in the hotel lobby, I suggested we go for a walk, since we were in Paris, after all. And we had accomplished a great deal and would not be accomplishing more. And so we left the hotel and turned left, and walked for a while until we saw this.
You see that tiny building in the center? That is the Eiffel tower. I told you I was in Paris.

I am in Paris. For 40 more minutes. Time to pack up and board the plane.

And to answer my earlier question, what is home? These two guys.