Sunday, July 27, 2008

and ready to go

we just interviewed a ski-instructor / software developer as a potential flatmate, and i spoke to a guy we used to serve with who might also be interested. that kinda narrows down the field, and the fact that we have one definite is already cause for relaxation :)

i just discovered that one of our coffeeholic baristas is in a band called lemmus lemmus, and it's pretty damn good!

work stress? i think that's me. i had quite an interesting chat with my mum tonight, who is as usual full of wise notions, and i feel better for the advice she passed along. thanks, mommy!

i can't believe i'm actually playing a game seriously. abe's exoddus is even more fun than i remember, partially because the solutions are so amusing (and because i'm getting there through persistence and odd behaviour) and partially because my incentive to avoid studying is so damn high. the next week won't be so easy to escape, but i'm already glad in the knowledge that the cold winter evenings are taken care of :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

hard-rested

i bladed to the park to study a bit, and paused for ice-cream on the way back: i completely zoned with my chai tea / espresso combination, and i'm still happily bemused ^_^

the plan was to go up north for some serious digging this afternoon, but the plans just didn't get real. instead, i coupled studying with rambo ii and hamburger hill.

the thing about rambo ii that got on my nerves is that the americans don't wear uniforms at all and the russians run around the jungles in the heat of battle in their dress uniforms. and berets. i mean, like, wow. everything else was as it should have been - in context, we're not talking about a serious film here :P

hamburger hill, on the other hand, was awesome to behold as far as stickling for details is concerned.

big bad santa

aurora process determined

more potentially useful bio-material

Friday, July 25, 2008

dark and deeply satisfying

kontroll: best - foreign - film - ever. nimród antal does a bang-up job of pulling together a dark atmosphere and awkward characters to make a film that feels as natural as it is obscurely out-there.

must-see.

much thanks to alan foreman for the heads-up, and no thanks to imdb for not letting me log in to vote.

privacy ruins

you just can't mst3k a movie alone. i just watched the transporter by myself on shadowslight's recommendation (as in he recommended the movie for mst3k'ing), and it just wasn't as pleasurable an experience as it could have been.

oh, right. i was supposed to be studying.

jeefa

a horrible transliteration, i know, but that's the only word (ג'יפה) that nicely summarizes the crap, garbage and refuse that sullies the waters of tel aviv. it's hard to enjoy a swim when odd flecks of ill-looking leftovers are brushing past. i wish i'd thought of showering immediately afterwards.

the walk to egg's place was consumed by talk of snowboarding, and that's one more to add to the group i'm trying to organize for france next year. now i need to convince my sa friends, which is proving a lot less realistic.

i stopped by coffeeholic for eats and... you got me, coffee. i've been online since coming home. that's not very responsible of me, i have studying to do.

penny arcade on the literary button

something all relatives need to read - snopes

i didn't make it

i was right, i didn't get to the party last night. i slept straight through until 7.30am, ate breakfast and played some more of abe's exoddus, solving an incredibly amusing puzzle:
1) slap slig
2) say "hi"
3) slap slig
4) say "follow me"
5) slap slig
6) make a break for it
less than perfect timing scores either you or the mudokon slave a volley of bullets.

i did some basic shopping, laundry, and have been trapped online until now - i'm dropping everything (as you can see) to head off to the beach.

nuklear power - i'd forgotten about this strip, nystire's reminded me

dead space looks sweet

dr. horrible isn't available in israel yet :(

cardboard kid - this junior weapons master does it Übernerd-style

warhammer online - one day. one day.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

this is me.

this is me, sitting at my pc listening to really powerful goa on philosomatika desperate to find myself at the real thing, stomping in the cooling night air and surrounded by mother nature's wonders.

this is me, just out of the shower having scrubbed the square on my chest until it shines in an attempt to remove the glue that has caused me constant and unbearable burning since i got dressed this morning.

this is me, back home from base again, having travelled there in order to write an exam with a pass mark of 77 and coming back with a score of 72 - grateful to the commander for understanding that it wasn't a fair position to put me in and deciding not to impose the standard penalty of closing the weekend on base.

this is me, about to crash for a bit before hitting a 90's party... in theory. i haven't actually made a party in a while.

i've spent six hours of my day travelling uncomfortably, and five on base of which four were post-exam time-wasters.

some of my hair fell out on the way there. i think i may have over-conditioned. or over-stressed.

stripped

removing the pads hurt, as was to be expected. i slept really badly. post-shower feels incredible. egg visited, hence the photo (yay! camera's back!), and i didn't really get much studying done (reached saturation point).

cute foxtrot

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

stoneclad

stoneclad
this is me and my unsympathetic ladies' underwear. plus tubes and tags.

an original identity crisis

i forgot to mention: the hospital has my country of origin listed as "india / pakistan / afghanistan". unsure of how to take this, i sent an sms to the indian guy in our unit (who i'm always fighting with) to inform him of our newfound brotherhood :P

the secretary tried to change it, but south africa simply isn't an available option. i wonder how many other ex-south africans have this issue...

shorn (of the living)

she shaved me. i'm certain the doctor who referred me arranged this all just for fun. she shaved me.

i've got a lot to write down:

getting to the new base wouldn't have been a problem... i entered the train station with a minute or two to spare, fully laden with all my gear - except, of course, my rifle.

whoops. to make matters worse, one of the officers from the previous leg of the course lives in the neighbourhood, saw me unarmed, and reported back to my commander. at least it didn't go any further than a mouthful from her.

so that delayed me a solid hour, stressed me out no end and between the heat and my low blood pressure i wasn't feeling so hot. when i finally arrived there was a problem with my secondment papers. i arranged for them to be sent over, and it only took the girls on the new base a week to get them to me.

in theory i should've sat outside the gate for that entire week, which quite frankly would've been less of a waste of time and far less frustrating. for the last ten days i've been back in basics, only with less useful commanders and this time i can actually (unfortunately) understand what everyone's saying.

as a point of interest, i've rediscovered the synagogue, and i'm now a regular for the morning services - i've even re-learned how to put on tefilin.

that reminds me, i had an irritating run in with a couple of american "do-gooders" who spend their days running after people coercing them to wrap up. they were patronizing and repulsive, and quite frankly we could do with less of them. i'm strongly of the opinion that belief is great and religion stinks, and they're definitely leaning hard on the latter side of things.

the second day in the blazing heat saw me incredibly sick, but the doctor calmed me down, explained that it was just the blood pressure and prescribed sleep until the next morning. since then i've been all good, i've been consuming loads of chocolate and sugar, drinking lots of coke and fighting over salt at every meal.

speaking of which, the food is awful. there was one morning when breakfast was excellent, all the rest of the meals have been barely edible.

i scored myself a black mark on the second day: my sat-phone, always on silent, made loud beeping noises in class after we were warned not to carry communication devices. not cool.

sitting in a class on a topic that i know too much about, desperate to pee. i raise my hand on a slide with five of ten items:
commander: "wait for the next five"
... i wait agitated for five minutes...
commander: "okay, next five, write them down"
... i wait, bouncing up and down, no pen and paper in sight and couldn't care less...
... i wait, staring desperately at the commander...
commander: "are you done?"
me: "yes."
commander: "okay, you can go."

i know he knew that i wasn't planning on writing anything.

for the physically challenged (me and my slipped disc), running is strictly verboten. if you're familiar with the usual warm-up exercises, such as raising knees to chests and feet to buttocks, then try to imagine a group of people silently performing those actions while walking.

it's unbelievable how childish and uninteresting our platoon is. i can't help but be continually disappointed. they're too embarrassed to sing during the exercises (and i came up with some really amusing marching songs), but have no shame when it comes to being loud and rude in front of external instructors. superb.

last week i had an appointment near my old base, which gave me a bit of a break. the doctor checked me out, stopping awkwardly when she registered my piercing. when she was done, and satisfied that i'm otherwise healthy, i overheard her remark under her breath to her assistant: "that was fun!"

mosquitoes, mutated spiders, snakes and scorpions: we're living in tents in the desert, and we have them all. boots must be sealed with socks at all times, and there's no such thing as getting into bed without giving the bedclothes a good shake.
and painful lesson number one: sleeping in a sleeping bag in the middle of a heatwave is NOT comfortable.

the group leaders, little girls with no concept of command or proportion, have ruined the experience for me. they're supposed to be teaching us stuff, and all they're doing is distracting us with irrelevant crap or shouting at us because we don't behave as they expect us to. if they'd enforce discipline instead of whining about the lack thereof then maybe i'd be sympathetic. and i'd definitely have learned all the material within a few days if not for them, right now i'm behind and aggravated.

i left the previous course with high morale, having thoroughly enjoyed it. the review brought me down, and the new course has me constantly pissed off.

the range: my grouping sucks. otherwise a fun day in the sun.

shabbos (the sabbath): both friday night and saturday morning i joined in for the whole toot, and i haven't done that since 1996. it was enjoyable and i even managed to convince some of the sephardim to sing ashkenazi songs - our tunes are simply more musical.

saturday night: three and a half hours of scrubbing dishes as efficiently and properly as possible, and doing my job too well. irritated that the girls in the next section were wasting a lot of water unnecessarily after i showed them how to do it. i'm still upset that i overheard one kitchen-worker verbally abusing another over not doing his job and didn't intervene. that won't happen again, but it shouldn't have happened the first time.

exhausted after the dishes, i slept for four hours and then got up to guard. the guy on comms was either napping, or couldn't get the hang of pushing to talk - i kept repeating myself until he responded, and everytime he responded he sounded irritated as all hell. the mosquitoes drove me crazy (as they do everyone), and the guy who was supposed to relieve me didn't, so i scored an extra shift when i was already bushed.

on my way back to the tent i looked at my left shoulder, and was horrified to discover a giant spider-beast legs-up on my epaulet. i think i may have crushed him with my cheek at some stage.

we ran a basic war simulation, and someone asked about getting lost in enemy territory. the commander's response went along the lines of: "we're not going to be travelling around the enemy countryside for fun".
a little later, in response to approaching the closing point of the simulation, i asked (completely innocently): "after the war, will we be able to tour the enemy countryside for fun?"
he was staring at me while everyone else laughed, and the pressure to not crack a smile was tremendous... i just don't learn :P

as the days go by, the leaders assume that we get stupider. a few days ago they began to instruct us on how to go about eating in the mess hall.
"everyone, take a plate. then take a knife, a fork and a spoon. stand in line. take the food you want as you go by. take a cup. fill it with water. find a seat. eat. if there are any problems, let us know."

we figured that shit out ourselves, thanks.

yesterday i paid the doctor a visit. i had to wait a half an hour to see him, and after sitting down he ignored me for a further twenty minutes. then he took my details, disappeared, and came back five minutes later to tell me that as he's not my unit doctor he's not allowed to help me. it took another five minutes to convince him to answer a general procedure question. and then i had to explain to the commander what took me so damn long.

this power-walking shit is insane. and the frightening thing? i'm good at it. i can walk almost as fast as i jog. it's strenuous, uncomfortable, and it looks silly, so i'm sticking to the back of the line and attempting to increase morale.

we had to sit through a first-aid lecture (no, really, this is exactly like basic training). firstly, i'm amazed that i remembered that we only use about 5% of the oxygen that we inhale, because the only time i've heard that was during a first-aid course we did in kindergarten.

like, wow. some things just stick.

after semi-randomly linking to rabies, the instructor mentioned a youtube video of an infected man. i couldn't find it amongst all the kids playing silly buggers, so if anyone can send me a link i'd be grateful.
smart guy, the instructor, really funny and filled with all sorts of interesting tidbits concerning dangerous animals and different forms of toxins.

what was amusing was his demonstration of the "russian" bandaging technique. he got one of the guys to stand up and drop his pants, then pulled out two long bandages and a mean looking stick. i was convinced he was about to crack the guy one in the 'nads.

i was hurriedly packing to leave the base yesterday when one of the kids came around to chat. he asked why i was stressing, and i explained that i had to figure out what to leave behind in case i get called back at the last minute to close the weekend on base.
"dude, they're never going to do that to you. just pack all your gear and head on out, we'll see you on sunday!"
i looked at him, laughed, and asked him how long he's been serving before stating that one thing is certain with permission to leave base, and that's that there's never a guarantee that you get to use it. when i left my commander specifically stated that there's no point in my coming back before sunday and wished me a good weekend. this afternoon he called me to tell me to come back tomorrow afternoon.

the ride back home was hot and tiring.

this morning i woke up at 5.30am, got into uniform and missioned off to sheba hospital.

a) the signage there sucks, everyone's aware of the problem and nobody cares enough to do anything about it.
b) i got to the place listed on my referral at 7.30. the woman at the reception desk told me to come back at 8am when reception opens, and i asked if i could just verify that i've arrived at the right place. "yes, yes," she assured me, and i sat down to wait the half an hour (my appointment being for 8am).

at 8am i stood up, waited patiently to speak to the lovely lady (it took a while for her to see me, it's because i refuse to scream and shout like mr. average israeli), and discovered that i was, in fact, on the exact opposite side of the hospital from where i needed to be.

"oh, well," she says, "don't be stressed".
cow.

i got to the right place, and went through the echocardiogram. educational, watching and hearing my heart beat, and it's a surprisingly healthy and happy heart. the doctor asked me if it was alright if her assistant performed some experiments on me, with only a slight pause before explaining that she needs practice using the equipment.

holter. sadistic bastard. i'm strapped up, with a shaved square of my chest, my dog-tags trapped and tangled along with my nipple-ring in this weird, semi-fishnet brassiere that keeps the test package and tubes strapped in and my body from a washable state. i look like a reject from a manson video.

to make life more interesting (what could be more interesting that being strapped up in the heat and humidity and having things to do), i have to make a list of all the activities and times performed for the day.

for instance:

9:17 - not feeling good. this is about five minutes after being hooked up, waiting my turn to update my address.

10:58 - almost crashed. the bus driver pretending to be in a formula one vehicle, weaving at high speed.

11:24 - falling over waiting. this is me standing for half an hour waiting for the sister in charge at the city officer to tell me that i didn't actually need her permission to cancel my appointment, in direct contradiction with all the listed rules.

12:39 - golden axe. like, DUDE, i played golden axe in the games arcade! antique! i still suck at it, though.

13:05 - lunch. i ran into my teammate, so while he drooled post-dental i stuffed myself with bamboo'ed steak. while waiting for him, i acquire a few dvd's from tower records:
rambo first blood
rambo ii
hamburger hill
terminal velocity
teenage mutant ninja turtles
the last samurai

13:29 - phone call back. so this is me, no longer excited about a few days to study, rather annoyed at having to go back and be tested when i'm not ready.

14:15 - 14:50 - abe's. exoddus, that is. my memory card works, only it's a game that requires a bit of effort.

-> 16:00 - sleep. passed out completely while trying to learn something, woken up by the landlord to groggily help fix the toilet. yeah, i now know how to fix it myself. his kid was with him, totally awed by my boondock saints poster and begged to borrow the box set. i told his father it's on his head ;)

17:12 - mom. first stage whinging: complete.

18:45 - food. our flatmate made really, really salty tuna vegetable mix.

19:35 - course commander. second stage whinging: complete. since the end of the course we've been getting along much better, so much so that i actually enjoyed chatting with her.

20:00 - 22:10 - blogging. and chatting online with wolfman, and doing that facebook thing. i gotta get some more studying done, though.

back and airconditioned

the last ten days have been horrid. i planned on getting it all down this evening, but between laundry, facebook, shopping, abe's exoddus and the fact that i have to be up in another five hours it kinda got unrealistic.

and of course there's a plumbing issue in the bathroom to be taken care of.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

too quiet

we cleaned today, a proper clean that really took it out of me. after lunch we watched the first few episodes of noir... or tried to, at any rate. the problem is that it's interesting, but so incredibly peaceful that it was impossible not to pass out.

we've paid the caretaker's fees, gone out for ice-cream, and in a second i'm going to do the dishes, finish packing, and go to bed. i have to be at the train station by 6am... so much for getting some rest.

i'm still upset about thursday's review. this is baggage i really don't need to be carrying with me into the next phase.

here's to another two weeks!

more earth potential. in the meanwhile, we need some CO and CO2 breathers

slashdotted - the following articles might be interesting, but the discussions are hysterical:

louisiana enables ID...

have we seen the last of jack thompson?

incredible and daft!

the incredible hulk was, and not even the idiot-texter two rows in front with the super-bright cellphone screen could ruin it. they made it beautiful, and i am happy.

from LOLcats to LOLBAT to LOLCODE...

cellular microwave - how much damage could it do?

daft bodies - harder, better, faster, stronger is great, the drunk version not quite as good, and this one's just kind of sad.

on the same theme: daft hands - one more time's not bad, but not nearly as impressive as technologic.

and that's enough daft punk for one day.

the kid's finally learning to play tekken ^_^

Friday, July 11, 2008

back on flat

most of today was downtime, i can't sleep but i certainly made an effort.

a great breakfast, and the kid agrees with me that the coffeeholic girl is cute. that makes me feel a bit better. i spent the day either online (reading comics like wigu or learning about rabies (thanks to questionable content for the heads-up).

the first trance album i ever listened to - and still my favourite.

i bought a new (PAL) copy of abe's exoddus, and in two weeks when i get back i'll know if i won the bid for a PAL copy of crash bandicoot warped. and they're cheaper, too, because they're british. always buy british!

i'm creeping forward through the fall of hyperion... i'm not enjoying the book, but it's still interesting enough to keep on trucking. there had better be a giant reward at the end.

so closing time is by semisonic, and not greenday. it's an awesome song, either way. and quadra is brilliant.

i played some fallout 2, cracked down on our flatmate in tekken (after he thrashed me some at the beginning - quite the wake up), and just snacked on an egg and salmon sandwich. now i need to shower quickly before we head off to see the incredible hulk... or wanted.

i'm still not feeling great, but having done nothing all day has definitely helped. and i'm so glad that i don't have to pack!

flavour of the month

today killed me.

it began alright, but the first thing i had to deal with when i arrived was our SC. i fell flat on my face in the peer-review, and my commanders' evaluation wasn't flattering at all. in fact, it was downright disgraceful.
"don't take it so hard," he tells me. what, should i be smiling while i listen to my commander telling me that everyone thinks that i'm useless and unfriendly?

what makes it worse is discovering later that our resident spoke-in-the-wheel / party-pooper's review marked him as a prime example of professional excellence. i'm really not sure what's happening here, and all i can do is assume that the remarks that i got are fair and try to improve them.

organizing my trip to the range was distasteful. i had to make three hurried trips across the length of the base, a large number of unpleasant phone calls (the original group decided that i'd be wasting their time: DENIED), and it was only a spark of inspiration on my part that allowed me to arrive *just* as the second group was being briefed. the guys were really helpful and i was out of there quite fast. it's been a year and a half, but i finally have a license again :)

the awkward bit is readjusting to carrying a rifle at all times. i had exactly five minutes to eat lunch, which is probably why today of all days the guy serving showed mercy and gave me all three main meals...

i was exhausted all afternoon, and i had way too many forms to fill out. i made a daring rescue of my medical file from the base clinic, gleaned some interesting advice from a number of people in my unit, and eventually made it onto the shuttle back to tel aviv.

i got home, offloaded my weapon and had a quick shower, then crashed. nystire woke me up four hours later, and i was so wasted that it took me half an hour just to get out of bed.

exhausted, feeling quite ill, i made my way to the bar to drink cola with my buddies from the first phase of the course we just completed. it was fun, but not amazing, and a couple of the guys decided to join me on my way to the meimad. this was midnight.

1) it took more than three quarters of an hour to assemble outside
2) it took an hour to complete the fifteen minute walk to the port
3) instead of getting something decent (and quick) to eat on the way, it was decided almost unanimously (my vote as a tel aviv resident didn't sway the court) to eat at agadir... on the wrong (arshole) side of the port.
4) after the twenty minute walk to agadir, it was decided that somewhere else would be better
5) just over an hour later the guys finished eating (pizza, so i sat on the side and watched)
6) another fantastic decision: going home

so instead of eating in a decent place, and enjoying a night out, the evening was spent bitching and moaning about the walk and the lack of food. when i think "hey, i'll go to the rock party", i get up and i make my way there. i just can't identify with these kids.

who is this gorgeous creature?

street fighter never looked so good

Thursday, July 10, 2008

from a brief glance last weekend

i managed to clear away a bit of news with the minutes i had online:

lcd production a serious contributor to global warming - so they've found the missing gas.

humour sources on the decline - the onion is still around?!

vinyl production photos

a century of tanks - pretty :)

the clown quartet - i cannot describe the mixture of horror, awkwardness and amusement that i felt watching this video in words.

this amusing video i discovered yesterday as i caught up on penny arcade

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

good news, everyone! no packing!

we just came to an agreement with our landlord, and all the stress and anguish from the past few weeks has melted away. a pity we had to suffer the anxiety, but we've come away stronger.

*dances a jig*

the kid installed a playstation emulation on his computer, so we can play the games. it's not the same on a pc... they're games for winter, sitting on the couch in front of the telly with hot chocolate and munchies.
*grumble*
i reckon i'll just have to acquire PAL versions somehow and resell the NTSC ones when their replacements arrive.

continuation from the previous post:

my new diet's working out for me. lots of coca-cola, ice-cream and chocolate. i do believe that my dentist's due a visit.

we went through a couple of days of simulations... a few of us were selected to deal with various uncomfortable scenarios. i was picked last, after having suffered through performances that in real life would've earned at least a slap from me, and i was given a scenario that the kid described as "classic <totalwaste>" when i described it to him.

and when i stepped down afterwards, a number of the guys approached me to inform me of my hero status, and their were a few comments thrown to our commander that i hadn't been shown enough respect. i think i've learned some from my four years on the job ;)

little jonny: as promised, on our last night (last night) i repeated the joke to our commander. she was surprised and awed that i had full audience participation (when i asked a question, there was an immediate and correct show of hands by all those familiar with the story), and fortunately she laughed after i explained the meaning of the word "pig" :)

the shocked look on her face when i walked out blowing bubbles was priceless, and i was most impressed at how quickly she regained composure. [grabbing the bottle and going wild with bubbles... who knew?!]

this morning's goodbyes were tough. for two months we've made that base our home, and i've grown quite attached!

now for some ice-cream, tomorrow's going to be a bit stressful.

a two-week lifetime

the first of many. and they were jam-packed with all sorts of interesting bits, so it's a bit difficult to get it all out.

upon returning:

i was totally sick for a full week after getting back to base, and when that passed i was blessed with sinusitis that i still haven't gotten over. it's been a cruddy couple of weeks health-wise.

the constraints on the guard shifts multiplied and became more irrational as the weekend drew near, but i eventually managed to sort it all out. my tenacity in keeping the number of soldiers screwed to a minimum was appreciated.

we had a lecture on memorizing, and the majority of cadets requested that in the future that be presented first. the password for our group was designated that day: 315368477755199382. the stories behind that number are quite amusing and completely bat-shit insane.

one of our assignments was to design an "experience" for a giant group of course graduates, and we put our all into it. not only did i participate in constructing a paratrooper and his parachute (or is that the other way around?), but i went so far as to read a speech and handle the lighting at the same time, and this presentation was repeated for a number of groups. quite the challenge, and i only screwed up once... and one of the group was kind enough to return my torch from the-gods-know-where.

most notable: two of the groups were terrified by our creation, to the point where a number of graduates actually ran out in tears. we rule!

two related events caused a large amount of anxiety, anger, disappointment, envy and horror. the first was the unit assignments.

1. what you study in university does NOT dictate your career path.
2. your first job does NOT dictate your career path.
3. most people never figure out what they want to do with their lives, so if you have an idea - revel in that and deal with whatever gets thrown your way knowing that you can pick your path as soon as you have a choice.
4. your first post in the army is to prove yourself, so if you can manage something unrelated to your field you shouldn't have any problem getting the second post that you actually want.

that's the mantra i tried to instill, but some of the guys just didn't get it, and i find that a bit sad.

the second was being informed who's going through to the second phase of the course. a lot of the guys took it really hard, and i was uncomfortable admitting that i was one of the few who made it. the irony that until i knew for a fact, everyone else was convinced that i was going... except me.

and i'm still worried about last-minute changes.

the final fitness exam: this time i made no bones about displaying my hostility. i caught up with the examiners on the way to the course, and asked loudly if the ability to play word-games in hebrew was a part of the test. after receiving a solid "NO", i made sure that i understood all the rules. i had approximately forty minutes to complete a 4km walk without any fear of penalty.

pity i didn't think to bring my mp3 player. it took me exactly forty minutes to complete, and i sang all the way to keep myself occupied. i drove my commander nuts, she was hopping up and down and screaming at me to move faster. i [rather impolitely] informed her that i have two modes: "walk" and "run", and that i was more unhappy about not being able to run than she was.

i probably shouldn't have responded that screwing up her morning schedule by delaying everyone wasn't my problem.

one of the evenings was spent stargazing, and i managed to get comfortable with my starmap :)

we have a cultural problem: i've been raised to understand that when somebody raises his hand in a class, then whoever's speaking knows to give them a chance when they're ready. in israel, and specifically in the army, when somebody raises a hand it's understood as "answer me now, dammit!".

i've been shouted at enough times that i now only raise my hand when the speaker is done, but their attention always goes to the first person to speak and not to the hand.

i was raised to not shout out randomly. i've almost had to give up participating in class at all.

the last few days have been educational, trying to organize a trip to the firing range for one. i've just now been handed another obstacle, tomorrow's going to be stressed and interesting :S

flag-bearing for the graduates:
wow. i got to be a flag-bearer for the first time in my military career. not only do we have to roll down our sleeves in the height of summer...

on the morning of the ceremony we rehearsed for about three hours, and we all came away exhausted and with mild sunstroke. in the late afternoon, bombed, we all arrived to stand and wait for an hour with our brains pickling. the ceremony was going to be half an hour, easy-peasy, and we walked out ready to prove ourselves.

item one: the first rule is not to look at the feet of the guy in front of you. i broke that rule, and two of us were out of sync. oops.

item two: facing the sun is undesirable. i've seen the photos, we all look like we're about to launch an attack with our flags. or drop a load.

item three: a strong wind suddenly cropped up about twenty minutes into the ceremony. that hadn't happened during the three days of rehearsals, and none of us anticipated the sheer force of a heavy flag trying to fly away with a soldier attached. not flying away is one thing, but trying to stand still was painful.

item four: during the rehearsal, every one of the 150+ graduates' names were called. during the real event, every one of those names had a description attached, and the man in charge made a point of chatting with each and every owner of those names. the ceremony was extended by just over an hour.

item five: the band did not need to play a bonus song, requesting that everyone "sing along".

item six: being provided with a bottle of water sans explanation can lead to misunderstandings. when presented with the bottle i sharply moved it to my lips, took a quick slug, and passed it on. some of the guys were a little less focused, and stood there gulping down... the discipline officer was horrified.

item seven: the graduates skewed their formation so badly that it was unintelligible. at least we were okay, but we were already so confused that somebody had to tell us that later.

community service:
i only got hold of the right person on sunday, which was too late to actually do anything. that sucked :/

on both weekends our hours at the pool were great fun. a couple of nights ago we had a pool party to celebrate the summer, with the pool filled with pretty girls and crazy trance governing the night. it was a great experience!

the apartment:
during the last couple of weeks the story of our apartment has gone from bad to worse, and we're about to have a meeting to see if we're staying here or not. the problem is that if we can't agree on the terms, finding another place is a nightmare. even my agent gave up. and having exactly two weekends to pack up all my gear is unnerving to say the least.

and my mood was ruined on saturday when the kid updated me with distressing news, and the guys in my team for dance choreography [??!] thought that i was disappointed with them. well, i was, but not that disappointed.

the excitment:
crash bandicoot: warped! and abe's exoddus arrived along with noir while i was away, and i happily brought them all home, filled with elation... until i was informed that both the playstations in the apartment can't read NTSC... damn your silly american formats! PAL! PAL! PAL!

now i'm stuck with two games that i want but can't use, and i'm going to have to resell them on ebay and obtain my copies from somewhere else. this sucks.

went to the beach this afternoon to make up for a miserable morning / early afternoon on buses. one of the guys managed to get left behind mid-way... schmuck. army socks are freakin' EXPENSIVE.