Saturday, August 12, 2017

Texas - Mary'z, Houston, or a 7 hour road trip from Tel Aviv?

This should be entitled "Greater Texas."

Wednesday we ate at Mary'z, a great Lebanese restaurant. We had eggplant, hummus, baked cauliflower, and pita bread, it was filling and delicious, and under $20 for two.  It reminded us of the late lunch we had on the beach in Tel-Aviv, just a 220 km south of Beirut.

If one had the inclination to compare the same cuisine in Israel and Lebanon, there is no direct road link between the two cities anymore, it takes 6 or 7 hours to drive via Damascus.

Maybe not.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Art - "Oh my cod, I love her, yes, I do"

This was inspired by a article in the Economist of how English and Chinese are very suited to puns and double entendres. You can buy the song for a $1 on iTunes.

I was a cook and she was a waitress
Down at the Salty Sam Seafood Café
and somewhere 'tween the clam juice and the seaweed salad
some little shrimp just lured her away

Oh, I lobster and never flounder
He wrapped his line around her
and they drove off in his carp
Oh, I lobster and never flounder
I octopus his face in
Eel only break her heart

I said, "Just squid and leave me
for that piano tuna
if you want to trout something new"
She was the bass I ever had
Now my life has no porpoise
Oh my cod, I love her, yes, I do

Oh, I lobster and never flounder
He wrapped his line around her
and they drove off in his carp
Oh, I lobster and never flounder
I octopus his face in
Eel only break her heart


"Boy, I swordfish she'd come back to me, Sandy. I shore'd a whale of a time." "Now, Richard, you know she'd just pull that 'Not tonight, I've got a haddock' routine." "You're probably right. But y'know, I've kelped her picture in my walleye just for the halibut. I wonder if she's still got mine in her perch?" "Did say 'perch'?" "Yeah, I'm afraid so." "That's good. For a moment there, I thought I was losing my herring." (audience groans) "Well, we bass squid all this seahorsing around before these people out here go into a state of shark." "Yeah, if we get out of here alive, it's going to be a...mackerel." "Frankly scallop, I don't give a clam."

(Stavro Arrgolus)

Culture - Eye Witnesses - never believe them

Here I was again, I was sure this woman was someone I knew at work, just in casual clothes and little makeup. Her name was L, but I thought she was D, someone I know at work, she was tall, had the same build, the same age, the same way of standing. I asked her if she had a sister called D, and she said no. D and L are strangers to each other but my mind merged the two.

Since I was a teenager I have always suspected eye-witnesses. I was a learning to drive with my father riding shotgun, and a car coming from the other way hit the motorcyclist who pulled into the road. The motorcyclist, wearing a helmet and leathers, came off the bike and tumbled head over heals on the grass.  He seemed dazed but unhurt.  The police came and many of the eye witnesses apportioned blame to the motorcyclist, I thought the car was to blame.

All these years later I do not know what is true. But it made me aware, at an early age, how perception and reality often do not agree.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Texas - Finally some honey from our ex-bees

We hosted beehives for two years, and finally, after they were moved five miles away to a friend's collection, we get honey. Why they are labeled "Mad" Bee Honey? I don't know.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Texas - Wanton damage?

Seen last night in Houston, outside Aranda's Tequila Bar, the owner of the car was not there, and more importantly the vehicle that did the damage was not there. It looks as if the car was reversed parked, and someone had hit it so hard to move it backwards so it bent the steel pole at the curb.

I did not have time to look closer to understand what happened, but it looks more like a deliberate, malicious act, rather than an accident. There is a story here, but we will never know.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Texas - Missing for 3 months

Our gardener, Rudy, left for five weeks that turned into three months, we wondered if he was ever coming back and what plan B should be.

He is back! His son had been cutting the grass for three months without payment, and now we have the bill.

Part of his family live in Mexico, and he drives back periodically. He lets his son cut the grass (only) when he is gone, and the weeds and hedges grow.

Out of curiosity I need to find out where he goes to Mexico, it is a long drive just to the border.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Art - Mosaic Spheres

Broken tile and ceramic on a polystyrene core, these were tough to make as one could only glue on the top surface, pieces glued on the side would slide off.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Maps - The Roman World and Britain

I used to live a mile from Watling Street, the only road that was straight.

Two logical Roman maps, in English and Latin, showing the links and nodes, from Sasha Trubetskoy. Notice they got as far as Exeter, but not to Cornwall, and had plans for Scotland.

And also see a digital Roman Atlas from Lund University.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Culture - My annual spy fix from Daniel Silva

Le Bar Saint Étienne occupied the ground floor of a three-story pie-shaped building at the corner of the rue Vernier. Its awning was green, its tables and chairs were aluminum and stained with spilt ice cream. It was a neighborhood spot, a place to grab a quick café crème or a beer or perhaps a sandwich. Tourists rarely ventured there unless they were lost.

On the opposite side of the intersection was La Fantasia. Here the fare was pizza, though the accommodations were identical. Keller arrived at half past one and after ordering a coffee at the counter took a table on the street. He was dressed as a man of the south. Not a well-to-do sort who lived in a villa in the hills or an apartment by the sea, but the kind who lived by his wits on the street. A waiter one day, a laborer the next, a thief by night. Hed done a bit of time in prison, this version of Keller, and was good with his fists and a knife. He was an excellent friend to have in times of trouble, and a dangerous enemy.

He drew a cigarette from his packet of Marlboros and lit it with a disposable lighter. His phone was disposable, too. Through an exhalation of smoke, he scanned the quiet street and the shuttered windows of the surrounding apartment buildings. He could see no sign of the opposition. Mayhew and Quill, his instructors at the Fort, would have reminded him that surveillance by a professional service was almost impossible to detect. Keller, however, was confident of his instincts. He had worked as an assassin in France for more than twenty years, and yet to the French police he was nothing more than a rumor. It was not because he was lucky. It was because he was very good at his job.

A small Peugeot transit van, dented and dusty, passed in the street, a North African face behind the wheel, another in the front passenger seat. So much for coming alone. Keller wasnt alone, either. In violation of all known MI6 rules, written and unwritten, he was carrying an illegal Tanfoglio pistol at the small of his back. Were the weapon to dischargeand were the round to strike another human beingKellers might be the shortest career in the history of Her Majestys Secret Intelligence Service.

The Peugeot eased into an empty spot along the rue Dabray as a second car, a Citroën sedan, stopped outside Le Bar Saint Étienne. It, too, contained a pair of North Africanlooking men. The passenger climbed out and sat down at one of the outdoor tables while the driver found an empty space along the rue Vernier.

Keller crushed out his cigarette and considered his situation. No sign of the French security service, he thought, only four members of a Moroccan criminal gang quite possibly linked to ISIS. He recalled the many lectures he had attended during the IONEC regarding the rules for making or aborting a meeting. Given current circumstances, MI6 doctrine dictated a hasty retreat. At the very least, Keller was obliged to check in with his controller in London for guidance. Too bad his secure MI6 phone was locked in a bank vault in Marseilles.

With the disposable phone, Keller snapped a photograph of the man waiting for him at Le Bar Saint Étienne. Then, rising, he left a few coins on the table and started across the street. He is not important, the old woman had said. But he can lead you to the one who is.

Silva, Daniel. House of Spies: A Novel (p. 69). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Texas - Raccoon capture and release - Take two

We thought we needed to capture and relocate an armadillo, there were dozens of holes in the flowerbeds and under the plants. But before the loaner trap arrived, a large armadillo was found dead, hit by a car. The vultures had breakfast.

We suspected we had a raccoon as the water, left out for the cats, was muddy in the morning as if a raccoon had been washing its food. I set a trap, baited with dry cat food, and the next morning we had a raccoon. It is never this easy.  He thought he was doomed, but I set him free a few miles away and he hightailed it to the trees.