Archives for the month of: October, 2010

Roy is in NYC for Julie’s wedding this weekend, so Noah & I are on our own for a few days. We decided to make the best of it by doing stuff that Roy doesn’t like!
For breakfast we made o.j. and scrambled eggs:

fresh-squeezed orange juice

salami & eggs

Then we took the bus to the Haifa Museum of Art. They have a separate building called “Art for Children” that has various hands-on exhibits demonstrating how different kinds of art is made. Noah learned about still-life:

still life with wooden vegetables

Notice how they are clustered to the side because he arranged them to the side of his paper. Noah drew what he saw literally.

Another exhibit demonstrated portraiture.

Hard at work drawing his subject

Does it look like me?

He did not quite understand the purpose of the grid. And he did not quite capture my new haircut. I do see a Modigliani influence.

Then it was off to lunch in the Wadi, which was just a 5 min. walk away.

Noah thought his pita looked like a smile.

But the best part of the day was when we got home. (Roy, you would have liked this part.) Noah created a superhero costume and identity for himself. He made the entire costume himself – the only thing I helped with was pinning on the cape.

Our hero, Umpireman

In his own words, “The ‘U’ stands for ‘Umpireman’ because I shoot baseballs and bats out of my wristbands. If I didn’t have the wristbands, I couldn’t be a superhero because I couldn’t shoot stuff and I wouldn’t have a power. The ‘1’s on the wristbands mean ‘I’m better than the leader of the superheroes’.”

Then he made me my own costume and identity. He told me exactly how I had to pose for the picture. He wanted me to smile, but I thought I looked tougher this way:


As the sun sets over Haifa . . .

our hero looks for those in need of his help


On the weekends, we like to get out & explore, but with Noah’s leg still in a cast, we’ve been a bit limited in what we can do. No beach trips or hikes. Last weekend we attempted to go to the Haifa City Museum, but it was closed when we got there. Thwarted again! There was just a hand-written note on the door saying that it happened to be closed that day, even though it was a regular day & time that they are usually open. Nothing on the website to warn us. Optimistic after we had salvaged the Netanya trip the day before, we were undeterred and decided to walk over from where we were in the German Colony to Wadi Nisnas, an Arab neighborhood we visited when we first moved here. We decided to walk by the port, since we had never been in that part of town before. Here is something you’ll see only in a port town:

for all of your loading & unloading needs

We returned to Conditory Allenby for some of the bright orange knaffe we saw everyone eating last time we were there. The pastry itself was not sweet – the bottom layer was farmers cheese and the top was shredded wheat, but the knaffe was doused with a sugar syrup. Served warm.

Knaffe at Conditory Allenby

I hate to say it, but . . . we like the knaffe at our local Syrian bakery in in Brooklyn better. We will intrepidly continue our tasting of middle eastern pastries so we can report back our findings. Its a very difficult job.


After dessert, we came upon Suidan, an importer/Sahadi’s-like shop recommended by Anat & Menachem. We weren’t even looking for it, but there it was across the street from the conditory. What luck! We didn’t need much after our score at Teva, but we went in and bought a few little things. The owner is super-nice and offered Noah a pickle and Roy some salami. By this time, we were ready for lunch, so we walked through the Wadi and ended up back at Fatoosh. We don’t go out to lunch that often, but this place has become our “regular” spot. You can see why we love it so much:

scene from our table at Fatoosh

outdoor seating at Fatoosh, German Colony, Haifa

enjoying the limonana (lemon-mint blended)

enjoying life

Dinie, Noah’s preschool teacher last year, asked us if Noah learned any new Hebrew songs that he could teach her new class.  We also heard from his friend Olivia, that she liked the video of him singing in the car.

Here are two new songs we think you’ll like.  He even enlisted me to assist him.  I put on a nice shirt in order to appear on the internet.

There are a handful of farmers markets around Israel, most in Tel Aviv & its suburbs, but not in Haifa. They are almost always held on Friday mornings (which is not a work day, although the kids have school). Last week we decided to take a little drive to Netanya to check out the market there. The plan was to drop Noah off at school, go to Netanya, and be back in time to pick him up (Fridays are early dismissal). The directions were non-existent on the website, but we thought we had enough information to get there. We found a mall and can you recognize what else?

guess where we are?

familiar color scheme?

The Mediterranean IKEA

We bought a few things including a mattress pad for Noah, who has gone 3 dry nights in a row without a pull-up! Go, Noah! Our big boy!

So, we drove around into different parking lots and shopping centers. No farmer’s market. Did we just drive 45 mins. to go to a mall? In the back of one shopping center, we spotted a green awning with the word Teva on it. We knew that Teva means “nature”, so we thought we’d go see what was there, despite the awnings looking kind of dingy & dirty. Turns out, we struck gold! It was not the market we had come for, but it was kind of like the Israeli Whole Foods – a modern market, with organic groceries, evoking traditional middle eastern markets.

gorgeous spice bar

A whole bar just of spice mixes to cook with rice

We salvaged the trip! Although it turns out that there is a branch of this store in one of the suburbs of Haifa. Let’s not dwell on that. It was quality-road-trip-together time. And we were able to get everything we needed for the latest installment of Fri. grill.

Noah says hamotzi over the best challah we've had since we've been here.

beef & sweet potato kebabs & okra & tomatoes (inspired by our Druze lunch the week before)

grilled figs with honey ricotta

Just about 30 mins. from Haifa on the top of Mt. Carmel are a couple of Druze villages. We took a little trip last week to check out one of them, Daliyat el-Carmel. We went to the market, but its mostly tourist places now. No good photo-opps. We had a great lunch though – you can see the Druze pita, saj, in the bread basket with the regular pita. We ordered a dish of saj stuffed with meat, rice, pine nuts & spices and Noah called it a “big, big, big, big taco.”

enjoying the Druze lunch

update: if the picture looks strange or does not finish downloading, click on it

Since we’ve been here, I have worked from home almost exclusively, going to the University less than once/week. I have been catching up on older projects, primarily doing a lot of writing & data analysis. Work that I can do alone with my computer.

Classes started last week at the University and at the Technion so the students and faculty are back from their summer and holiday travels. Suddenly I am busy with more collaborative work. I’ve had a couple of lab meetings with Anat & her students and immediately we have developed 4 projects to work on this year, which are in various stages of completion. In other words, one project is completely new and we’ll have to start with piloting the data, another project is based on already-collected data and I will serve more like a consultant, and then everything else in between. Last Thursday morning I had a meeting with the dean welcoming me to the department and a departmental reception where I was able to say a few words about my research, so it is official. (I was even able to say a few words in Hebrew – ani sameach meod l’hieh po – and learned about a Hebrew class at the University that I might be able to audit for more practice.)

Last Wed. I had a really interesting meeting with a researcher at the Technion whose work, on the surface, could not be more different from mine. He develops virtual reality and computer-based training programs to train athletes, fighter pilots, and the elderly on improving various cognitive skills. However, at the root of our work, we are both interested in attention and how it is allocated under various demanding conditions. So, I will be giving a talk to his group of students and post-docs and we’ll have fun trying to figure out whether our research has anything in common other than the language we use to describe it. Coincidentally, he was the advisor (over 20 yrs ago) to the woman who developed the software that I use to code my data, which was initially designed for human factors research, but also happens to be perfect for behavioral coding.

Speaking of, I am scheduled to give a workshop over the winter break on the video coding software that I use (I’m one of the beta testers for the newest version). It is opensource, free software and will be available for Mac, PC & Linux when it is finished. I am hoping to show other researchers how it might be useful for their own work. In addition to the workshop & Technion talk, I also have plans to give 5 other talks and am coordinating others. When it rains, it pours.

After I write stuff down and publish it to the greedy eyes of the entire world (or at least to my mom’s eyes), I realize that stuff is wrong, or at least could use some clarification.  Here goes:

  • The mold and mildew are not as bad as all that.  When we arrived, Haifa was in the final throes of a heat wave, with temperatures in the mid to high 90’s (American) and severe humidity every day. Since then it’s been hot and humid, but life is not such an uphill struggle.
  • The armed man who inspects the bus is not a soldier, but works for a private security company.
  • Getting a bank account has been more work than I originally posted.  Since it took an hour to fill out the paperwork, I was ready to leave and didn’t worry about actually transferring money into it.  They also said it was no rush for me to order a checkbook.  I wanted Sarah to get an ATM card and to be able to write checks, so I waited to do it until we had added her to the account. Sarah came to Technion with me twice to visit the bank branch. The first time it was Sukkot and the bank had closed early.  The second time was a Friday morning, and the bank was open but had limited service.  I gave up on adding Sarah, but each time I came to the bank to order checks, the people I needed to see were busy and I ended up leaving without seeing them.  Finally I ordered the checks and transferred some money from the US.  Then I went to the ATM and tried to make a withdrawal, but the money had not been converted into Shekels, so I had to go inside and wait to speak to an officer one more time.  Finally, it was done. Moral of the story: take care of everything the first time or spend half your life waiting to speak to someone at the bank on 5 different occasions.
  • When we went to haGolan, we wanted a 3 day auto rental, but Tamir only delivers the car if you keep it for a week.  Okay, then, a week.  Then we realized that Noah had half-days of school throughout Sukkot, so we wanted a car for halfday trips, and we added another few days. Then, he broke his leg and who wants to take a stroller and a walker on the train to Tel Aviv? So we want the car a little longer. Oh, forget it, what started out as a 3-day rental is now a 9-month rental and the final answer is “To Car.”

When Sarah’s friend Anat had us for dinner, she put out some ring-shaped crackers on the coffee table in addition to the standard


Israeli spread of olives and skinny pickles.  They were so good that I mentioned them to Sarah a few days later, and she agreed how good they were.  She emailed to find out what they were.  Anat said they’re called Abadi (עבאדי) and are available in every supermarket. I’m eating one right now! So, when you go to the grocery store that first day, ask for them by name, and tell ’em Roy sent you.

Late Fri. afternoon, we took Noah to his first birthday party since we’ve been in Israel. He received an invitation at school that there would be a party at the Madatech (the children’s science museum). We were a little surprised, given that there are 36 kids in the class, that the whole class would be invited, but thought it was a nice gesture.

When we arrived at the museum, we were really surprised to see my friend Julia whose son also goes to the gan at the Technion, but is in a different class. Inviting 2 classes – 70 kids! – we thought that was incredible.

The kids had the run of the museum after hours, with a party leader from the museum shepherding them from exhibit to exhibit. They had about 5 mins per room before they were rounded up and moved on to the next display. They also had some hands-on activities in chem lab-type rooms where they got to make their own glitter goo and see a “magic” show of chemical reactions. Liquids changing color! Dry ice! Oozing foam!

For the food portion of the party, the kids were led to an exhibit hall that was set with 2 long banquet tables with plate after plate of candy, snacks, pizza, ice cream cones, etc. When the kids saw this, they all made a mad dash to the tables and started grabbing food. Noah is still in a cast, so I had to help him find a seat and he is still not quite used to the aggressive part of the Israeli personality, so I had to tell him that it was OK to start eating. Poor kid was lucky to get anything to eat. Too polite for his own good. He was even hesitant to finish up the last few marshmallows from a bowl, until I reassured him that it was OK to take the last ones.

At the end of the evening, we asked the birthday girl’s mother where we should leave our gift and just then the birthday girl walked up and so we were able to hand it directly to her. As we were leaving, Noah said that he didn’t know that girl! She had the same name as a girl in his class, but it wasn’t the same girl. It was a girl from the other class.  Well, I hope she likes her present.


Milk in bags. With special pitchers.



Baking supplies in little packets



ripe oranges come naturally packaged in green skins



These are the few examples of hipster/yuppie packaging that we've seen, with pattern, font, & images. Most grocery store packaging is not overly designed.