Thursday, November 20, 2008

Name That Gun

This is the gun I got today, the Smith & Wesson 6906 (this is 659, but they're really similar). I wasn't even expecting to buy one today: I had heard that there was a gun store in Giv'at Zev, so I decided to check it out. It's a great place, there was a security guards course going on, a soldier came to get his gun fixed. Great deal. This gun at another place was 2300, and the one I got was 1800 (shekels, of course). I have my next 4 shootings there for free, gave me discounts here and there, great guy, everyone loves him. His son is in Lotar, and he was my madrich. Thank God, I shot well, all 50 hit the target. It's been awhile since I shot a pistol, but I didn't forget. All I need to do now is to go to the Misrad Hapnim on Sunday, show them the forms, and then Monday or Tuesday to pick up the gun and we're good.

Anyway, I'm having a contest. Everyone gives me suggestions for names for my gun, and I (maybe with another friend or two) will choose the best. The winner I'll take out for lunch or dinner or something (if someone can think of a better prize, let me know).

I am going to put in two suggestions myself.


I'm thinking maybe to keep Ayelet from my army M4. And Shalhevet for something new.

Everyone, send in your suggestions. Just comment here (or facebook, wherever), and may the best [wo]man win!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Posts That Never Were II: Checkpoints, Wedding Stuff, & The Coldest Night Of My Life

January 12, 2008

So, once again, I haven't posted in a while. Since then, fun stuff has happened.

One of the things we do is the checkpoint at the entrance of ramallah. It's a diplomatic checkpoint, only members of the organizations listed can come through (with ID of course), and only important people pass through. There is a list of about 746 people who can pass through (who aren't necassaraily part of these organizations), they all know their number, and those who don't know if they can pass or not, can't. Most of the people are doctors, CEO's of banks, people who work for the water and electric companies, etc. A lot of Americans work in ramallah, so here and there I make a friend. One time this lady passed by and I asked her, "Where are you from?"

Lady: I'm from New Yowk.
Me: Oh cool I'm from Connecticut.

Then she makes this face at me and says, also gesturing with her hands, "I don't wanna know what you'we doing hewe." *New Yowk-ese*

Another time a guy passed by, but this time I put on a British accent, and I told him I'm from Manchesta. Around two weeks later, a guy passed by and asked me, "You've been here before?" And without thinking, just spoke in my regular American accent, "yeah, I'm here a lot." Oh, ok cool, happy new years, etc. Five seconds after he drove away, I realized that he was the same guy I told that I was from Manchesta in my British accent. I'm wondering if he noticed.

I got some time off to do some wedding stuff, aka register. We went to the rabanut at first, but they were just too obnoxious, and someone suggested we go to Belz to register. We didn't even have everything, and instead of pushing us out like the rabanut, the rabbi said, ok, so fax it; it took us 30 minutes. One of my friends did go, and with everything, it only took them 15 minutes.

I also went to pick out the bentchers. That was fun, looking at all the types. What I wanted though, was the songs in the back, but not the NCSY bentcher. [Ed. note: I was surprised to find, about 5 months after the wedding, that this bentcher is missing one or two basic shabbos zmiros...*sigh*]

A few Thursday ago I went on a mission. Sorta. I was supposed to do a mission that night anyway, but before we were told anything about it my lieutenant came to my room and told me to get my equipment on (bullet-proof vest and regular vest), we're going. Ok, sure, I said. Got ready, hopped into the ze'ev (soldier transporter) with the other 8 guys, and on the way they told us what we're doing. The number 1 wanted terrorist in my area was leaving his house. He was a gun seller to terrorists. However to make matters worse, he is also the Champion martial arts guy for like, all of the arabs in Israel, or something like that, so we had to be even more careful. So get get out to walk 2 minutes to where we would be waiting for him to pass. Our Captain says to us, "yallah yallah, he'll be there in 3 minutes." We get to where we're supposed to be, they tell us what car to look for, and we start. 30 minutes, an hour, and it's cold outside. I was told after it was 3 - 4 degrees Celcius outside, and I was lying down on the ground, making it even colder. I was with 2 other guys on the right side about 100 meters from my lieutenant who was in the middle, and 3 other guys on the other side of him. After a while we get on the radio to my lt., Hey it's cold.

Lt: Yeah me too, just sit tight.

Well. we sat tight, all the while my lieutenant and his radioman I forgot the word, but their temperature dropped too much. My captain decided, not let us leave, but bring us fleeces. But me and 2 friends decided, no, we're going back we're too cold, and we went back with the captain.

I didn't mention yet that I wasn't wearing anything to keep me one was. We all thought a few minutes and it would be over, so I didn't bring anything. Thank God I was wearing a thermal shirt, to keep at least a little warm. Even long johns I wasn't wearing...In the end we were there for about 3 and a half hours in the cold. In the end we couldn't even look for the terrorists car. And that wasn't even the other guys, my friends and I who left early were there for 3 hours. Everyone else was there for another 3 -- although they DID have fleeces after that. I remember being told that they were there until 1 am and they didn't even catch him...

[Ed note. In the end, a few months later, he was indeed caught.]

The Posts That Never Were I: Shvu'ayim Shetach, Hagnam, and Tekes Hashhba'a

Because I was in the army, I didn't have much time at home, and when I was, not much time on the computer and especially to blog.

There were a number of posts I started writing, but never finished/posted. I decided I'd post them now.

May 21, 2007

The past few weeks have actually gone by really fast. It was April 29, starting the 2 weeks of shetach (we leave base for a week and, for lack of a better description, camp out), M16 b'sisi (where we shot all week and learned how to shoot in all positions), and sada'ut, a taste of what being a chayyal is really like. M16 b'sisi was really fun, I mean, shooting a gun is fun. You get to know your gun (which I named Ayelet) really well that week. I did really well until we got to 100 meters, and I kinda dropped off. I think I still have a chance of becoming a sharpshooter though, so I'm ok.
Sada'ut is the hard week of shvu'ayim shetach. No cell phones, not even watches, and the few people that are allowed have their watch scrambled up. No connection with the world at all. Our sada'ut though was easier than most -- it was cut short because it was too hot to do anything. We went Sunday night, did Masat Pil (with everything on our backs) for 3 km, set up the tents, ate went to sleep. We woke up, davened, did another 2 km to a base called Tevetz to sit under their shade and have shiurim about sada'ut. All day we had these shiurim, even going til the night. We learned to crawl, and then we played a game called Melech HaHar, King of the Mountain, where the sergeant had a sticklight and we had to steal it from him. But we had to be unheard, if he or the other commanders heard us, or saw us standing, they told us to go back down the mountain a little. Then we went to sleep at 330 (someone who snuck a watch told me), woke up at around 530, davened, ran, went back to sleep til 2, then went back to our own base. It wasn't so hard, but the annoying thing about shetach is that you can't stay clean. I like being clean, so I had to get used to that. It was really hot, and after during a masa you sweat alot, but since we're in the shetach, you're not allowed to take off your uniform, and obviously you can't shower. You have to sleep in those uniforms drenched in sweat, wake up and do it again, for 3 days. In M16 b'sisi even longer, 4 or 5 days. 2 weeks straight of this. Fun fun, right?
After sada'ut we had whats called Hagn"amim, short for haganat machane, basically doing shmirah all week, from Thursday til Thursday. The unit was split up and each machlakah was at a different base. I wasn't with my machlakah because during M16 b'sisi I hurt my knee and couldnt do regular shmirah, so I stayed at my own base with Machlakah 2.

The swearing in ceremony was at the Kotel, Sunday May 20th. I have to say, I felt kinda stupid walking that way; "Smol yemin smol! Smol yemin smol!" It was cool though, having quite a bunch of people there, being a chayyal bodeid and all, who don't really have many people there. Talya, Adina and Shifra came, that was awesome. Yesodei came, my aunt with Saba Yosef came, and the Bogners and Solomonts. Thank you guys. We even went out to dinner after.

Til next time...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Those Kotel Letters

As I mentioned once, I daven Ma'ariv at the Kotel (Koisel...?) before I go home. Because I'm there everyday, I see things that other people who aren't there everyday see, like the cleaning guys for example, sweeping, putting stuff away etc.

One day last week I was davening, and I saw one of the cleaning guys sweeping up a big pile of what looked like little papers, and I thought to myself, "No...", and what I saw next confirmed my suspicion. I saw him reach out, and sweep with his hand a pile of little Kotel-letters on the floor and sweep them up into the garbage, from a place that, honestly, the letters would've been blown away by the next wind.

I kind of couldn't believe it. After seeing that I wondered how many people thought their letters were somewhere safe in the old and secure walls of the Kotel, when their letters really had been swept up like last week's trash; wondered how many peoples' prayers had been chucked like the toungue of R' Chutzpis HaMeturgaman.

Truth is, I never really understood the whole putting-a-note-in-the-Kotel thing. I mean, you might as well just say whatever it is you've written, no? Is there any advantange to putting a letter in? God knows what you're thinking, and if you actually daven it, isn't that even better than writing it down? The power prayer with proper kavana can have, I would think (I could be wrong, of course), could do more than simply writing it.

I guess I could understand if people said they feel more connected somehow to the Kotel by putting something in. Sorta. Not really. I hear where they're coming from, but for me I just don't understand.

If anyone would like to indulge me, to explain this, "minhag", please do. If you do good, I might even change my mind...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

2008 This Year In Baseball Awards

That time of year is back, folks! It's that time to vote for Mets players for the awards again this year. The Mets actually have a candidates in the key categories, best hitter, pitcher, play, and performance. Hitter and performance are both Carlos Delgado; performance for going 3-5 with 2 hrs and NINE rbis on June 27 (two days after his birthday) at the Bronx Zoo, aka Yankee Stadium, and hitter, well, you can tell why. Pitcher, obviously Johan Santana. Even though he was only 16-7, if it weren't for the bullpen, he'd have at least 20 wins for sure. His ERA was also 2.53, and had 206 K. Best Play of the Year, is Carlos Beltran, who jumped over the fence to rob the Cardinals of a homerun (for those who've followed the blog for a while, you guys know that's my favorite play in baseball).

In the Best Play category, there are actually a few other really, really good plays. Max Ramirez, the TEX catcher, I would say should be ranked 2. Reed Johnson and Willie Harris both made spectacular plays.

Well, good luck to the Mets, and...Next Year's The Year!