Friday, May 31, 2013

Some funny menu bloopers

Yesterday I went out to lunch with 3 of my coworkers for one of their birthdays.  We went to a tiny sushi restaurant on the second floor of a building.  It was a fun lunch, and the sushi was good.  But there were a couple of funny things on the menu, and I like to take pictures of them when I notice them.

Care for a chocolate muse?

Or maybe some Gross Mint?  Sounds...gross.

Here's a picture of us outside the entrance to the restaurant (minus the one who was taking the picture, although I'm pretty sure that's her finger at the bottom):

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A post with plenty of pleasant pictures from Petra

Petra - the site of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Two weekends ago, Caroline and I went on our biggest excursion for the Israel portion of our trip, taking a long weekend to travel to Petra, Jordan. There are probably a ba-zillion blog posts out there from people who have done this trip, but I'll add our own version. I'm pretty sure that 50% of these posts begin with the exact same Indiana Jones picture that I started with.

But I bet that most of them don't follow that up with a photo of a toilet! Caroline snapped this photo when we stopped at a highway-side rest stop on the bus ride from Amman to Jordan.

This is the same kind of toilet we saw in India a lot of times.
We stayed at a hostel in the town of Wadi Musa, near to Petra. It's not quite one of those towns that solely exists to support tourists, but it is certainly a very tourist-centric town. Our hostel, the Saba'a Hotel, was a great choice and we'd recommend it to anyone. Clean, well-located, a pretty good breakfast and very friendly staff.

We arrived in the evening, so after we got settled we went to a nearby restaurant to grab dinner. There seemed to be a real mix of Jordanians and tourists there, but it actually wasn't such good food anyway. It did have some funny translations on the menu, featuring such items as: potato ships, questioner yogurt and burger sandwich.
The food itself was only ok. Jordanian bread is not as good as Israeli pita. It's much drier and flatter.
The next morning we set off to Petra. We took hundreds of pictures, so I will try to make a slideshow with many highlights to share another time, and just post a few here.
When you first enter, you walk through this long canyon with very high walls, called the siq.
The main structure is called the Treasury. You get your first glimpse of it through the crack in the canyon, so it is very dramatic.
Here we are!
The Treasury is very cool to see, because it is actually carved out of the stone rather than built up. The effect is very impressive, but what you don't realize at first is that the stone here is very soft and crumbly. It actually would have been very poor stone for building, and it was probably relatively easy to carve.

I had come to Petra when I was around 13 with my family, and because we had some young kids in the group at that time, I remember seeing just the Treasury and not much more. I hadn't even realized that there was much more to see, but this time we really hiked around and saw a lot. Some of the coolest parts were on these hikes.

One of the really spectacular things about Petra is the swirls of color in the stone. It seems like layers and layers of different materials were deposited over millennia to form these strata.

There are Bedouin families living in the desert in Petra, and many of them make their livelihood selling trinkets to passing tourists, or offering donkey, horse or camel rides to tired tourists. The donkeys are surprisingly good at going both up and down the zillions of stairs. Unfortunately, we'd heard the the animals aren't treated well, so we didn't do a ride. Still it was pretty crazy to see people on these very narrow and steep paths trusting their lives to the donkey's surefootedness!
Though the Bedouins definitely tried to sell us things, they weren't nearly as pushy as touts we had experienced in other places. And after we said no thank you, they were still friendly and seemed happy to exchange a few words. They would often tell us "halfway there" or "5 more minutes" as we hiked up seemingly endless stairs.

It was especially interesting to interact with the children. There were kids as young as 5 or 6 running and climbing all over, seemingly fearless. At one point when we were up near the top of a peak, we couldn't quite find the trail to get to the lookout point, and two young kids saw us from a distance and started shouting "this way!" and running to us to guide us (I was pretty terrified that they could fall off an edge!).

During lunch time, we found a nice spot in a shady, cool cave where we decided to eat our sandwiches. There was a young Bedouin girl sitting near us in the cave, and she approached us to sell us a pack of postcards. We said no, so then she just sat with us and we talked with her about the topics that she could manage in English: family, where she lives, where she goes to school and so on. The conversation was frequently interrupted by attempts to sell us the postcards.

She was also really interested in playing with our Kindle and our digital camera. It was sort of adorable how kids in every culture seem to love gadgets and can figure out how to use them so quickly. She took a picture of us, during which we were just hoping that she didn't turn and run with the camera. Fortunately she had no such plans, so here is the picture:

There's really a lot more to tell from the trip, since we had so many experiences and met such interesting people, but this post seems long enough. I'll try to do another post with more stories and definitely will share an album with more pictures sometime soon.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Congratulations Rebecca!

Continuing with the famous friends and family, our friend Rebecca was interviewed for the Chemical and Engineering News site!  You can read her awesome interview here:

And you can check out her blog, called ChemKnits, here:

Congratulations, Rebecca!

A pretty sky at sunset out our window

Nice, huh?

Monday, May 27, 2013

My brother is also famous, probably more famous than Sam or me

He did the commentary for the Major League Ultimate game on Mother's Day between the Philadelphia Spinners and the New York Rumble.  If you watch starting at about 2 minutes (the video below is already set to start at that time), you can see my parents walk by to go to their seats.

He did a great job!  I'm so proud!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Really delicious grapefruit

Grapefruit has come into season here, and it has been extremely delicious the last few times we've eaten it.  It doesn't even need sugar!  Here's my grapefruit from this morning:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My modeling career is taking off...into space

I'm not sure why I was asked to do this, but at work I was asked to be in some pictures for something.  I think it might be for explaining how to take a picture with the model spacecraft, so that you can see how to hold the QR code paper.  Or maybe it's for marketing or the website, I'm not sure.  Anyway, that spacecraft in the picture is a model of the proposed spacecraft to be made by the company SpaceIL, which is an Israeli company aiming to compete in the Google Lunar X-Prize.  It's supposed to hop on those leg brace parts.

Like I said, I'm not sure why they wanted these pictures, but I would say my modeling career is now taking off.  As you can clearly see, we're standing on the Moon.  That's a guy from work named Slava with me, and you can see he's quite enthusiastic about being on the Moon:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A day trip to Tzfat

We went on a day trip to Tzfat (Safed, Sfat, etc.) with our friends from our building Christina and Justin.  We took the bus there and back.  When we got there, we saw a cool flower that didn't want to be touched, so it had spikes.  But isn't it pretty?

The town itself is very cute, with lots of little winding streets and cobblestones.  Here's Sam with Christina and Justin right after we found the old part of the city, which also has a famous artists' colony:

Here is the general gallery of the city, where many of the artists have their work displayed (inside, of course):

There was this cool piece with actual spoons.  You can't tell so well because the picture isn't great, but the spoons actually stick out of the background:

This sculpture was hilarious:

Some brands of extremely religious Jews don't cut their sideburns.  This sculpture is a boy whose head is held up by them!

Here's a view down the tunnel of a ton of art shops:

One of my favorite shops that we found had tapestries and weaving.  To be honest, we don't really understand how weaving works, but the things they had were beautiful.  Look at the process:

And look at this gorgeous tapestry behind the loom:

So I thought I might like to have one of those, until I saw that the price on one about a third as wide as the one above cost 6000 shekels, which is about $1650!  I'm sure there was room to negotiate, but still!  Even if you got him down to half price, that is over $800 for a tapestry.  Yikes!

Here's another cute street in Tzfat:

I saw this thing in a shop window.  The cool thing is that it's made out of metal!  Can you tell?

Here's another pretty painting I saw in one of the shops.  They had a lot of versions of this painting, so I guess it must be pretty popular:

Isn't this one cute?  These creatures are relaxing on a bench:

There was a rooftop viewing deck that we went up to.  Here's Sam on the way up:

Here we are at the top (Sam should really get some sunglasses):

There was a cool door that we passed made out of stained glass, and here it's reflected in the regular glass window of the store:

There were also some old synagogues in the town.  We only made it inside of one, since one was closed and we couldn't find the other one.  It was quite pretty, and reminded us of the synagogue we saw in Fort Cochin in India:

Then we went to a shop that does all sorts of crazy things with candles.  I liked these ones because I thought they looked like pasta:

And these turtles are actually candles, but I hope no one burns them:

They also had a few display cases of crazy things they did with wax.  There were a few that had graphic violence (I guess as graphic as you can get with wax), but there was also this Noah's ark sort of thing, which if you look closely has a lot of your favorite characters from childhood shows, movies, and books.  On the left you can see Winnie the Pooh with Eeyore and Piglet and Kanga and Roo, with Tigger on top:

There were also a lot of Looney Tunes characters, Lion King characters, Pinky and the Brain, and a ton more:

Then we went for lunch.  Our guidebook (thanks Jerry and Louise!) recommended a place that we wanted to try to find, but on our way we found another place that looked and smelled really delicious.  We decided to stick with our plan and find the place from the guidebook, but as we wound our way to it, we realized that it was the same place!  So a win overall, although it was not nearly as cheap as our guidebook led us to believe.  Still it was quite worth it, look at this Yemenite bread/pizza:

There wasn't a menu, just a guy who came and told us the one option that we could have.  I don't know if there were actually multiple options, because we thought we saw something different at another table, but it was delicious, like I said.  Here's the after photo:

One of the things I'm looking forward to doing again when we get back is making glass mosaics.  I saw this table and chairs in the tunnel with all the artist shops, and I really liked it and want to make something like it when we get back:

We also peeked into a shop where the artist will do glassblowing demonstrations if you pay her.  It didn't look like the stuff she made in the demonstrations was all that impressive, to be honest.  Here is the outside of her shop, which was pretty:

Her husband also worked in the shop, and he had a shirt that was made from a fabric that had the same design as some of the artwork in the shop.  I asked him about it, and he said that there's some website where you can design your own fabric!  Mom, maybe we should do that!  Anyway, then he got the fabric and had a local seamstress make it into a shirt for him.  The whole effect was sort of tacky, but it sure was a good conversation starter.

Jenn, I took a picture of another cool door for you.  I don't know what you're doing with them and I don't know if it counts if you didn't take the picture yourself, but I liked this one and I thought of you so here you go:

And here's some more pretty stained glass that was just the wall of some empty-looking building:

We had a really nice day!

Monday, May 20, 2013

I'm on the Technion website!

Check it out, my project is on the Technion homepage!
The title says "Adapting science and technology education to the 21st century". If you click the picture, you get a window with more information. I put it through google translate and did a little fixing up, so you can see what it says:
Adapting science education - 21st century technology, is a joint project of the Technion and the Abrams Hebrew Academy (AHA), a collaborative community school belongs to the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia in the U.S.. Due to shortage of teachers of Science and Technology, AHA's management, with the assistance of the Technion Society United States (ATS), requested the head of the Department of Education Science and Technology, Professor Orit Hazan, to develop for them study materials in the English language. Mr. Sam Ribnick, a student visitor, a graduate of MIT, is responsible for the development of the material and Prof. Miri Barak serves as the academic advisor. Thus, in recent months, there has been brewing and development based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), as the basis for outside-the-classroom activities - teaching method called Flipped Classroom. For homework, students are asked to watch the lectures recorded, while classroom time devoted to solving exercises, work on projects, and / or discussions.
Study units developed at the Technion include short videos of lectures, animations, simulations and colorful illustrations illustration of scientific principles and concepts. They also include closed questions and feedback to the learner's self-examination and open-ended questions that encourage reflection and classroom discussions. Learning tasks encourage understanding of different forms of representation of scientific concepts such as equations, graphs and tables. Tasks incorporate critical thinking and argument, and planning and implementing research-based laboratory activities.
Recently, a delegation of AHA's management and a group of 19 eighth graders from the school visited the Department of Education Science and Technology and participated in various educational activities developed especially for them on energy. All students mentioned positively the innovative teaching method, the way information is organized in lectures recorded and graphics. Over 70% of students indicated that they consider it important to understand various concepts in science. The current project is unique, they noted that the Technion positively not only assists American Jews, but also contributes his knowledge and experience with regard to children in community science education - technology.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

We hung out with some friends

We've been having some really social time here in Haifa, including hanging out with many new friends.  We went to get ice cream with my coworker Hadas and her boyfriend:

Hadas is really nice, and she tells me all sorts of things about Israel so that I can tell Sam and seem really knowledgeable.

We also went to the beach with our friends Rebecca and Nadav:

At this beach lunch we had salads with the extremely delicious haloumi cheese.  Mmm!