Category Archives: Fun

A multi-angle trip to Berlin and its summary

I love my lifeI am holding multiple perspectives of my trip to Berlin last month that I want to share with my future self along with a quick summary of the trip. I went with my Mother for three days. She was there last time in 1987 and never ventured to West Berlin. I did managed to cross the magical “West” around the same time for a  few hours and I also passed through Berlin a week before the Wall came down in 1989. So we both wanted to check out the new/changed city. Hence the first perspective: comparison with itself from almost 30 years ago. I think the most memorable difference is the contrast between the vast empty spaces back then around the Wall–along with the general  dreary grayness–versus the bustling constructions and new buildings everywhere. Yes, the changes on the streets could not be more tangible. We didn’t venture out too much to the East and West part of the city, so couldn’t fully compare the success of the unification. However we got the sense that it is mixed success. There are parts where it was hard to decide/remember whether which side we were on. Other spots were clearly belonged to one or the other too in their former selves.

We met an old friend from Hungary who has been living in Berlin for decades. He wasn’t the only one who described the city as “livable”. I cannot imagine a highest praise for a city. After all that’s what city folks want to do there live. This is where the second perspective comes in. We came directly from Budapest. Which is a great place to visit. It can also be made quite comfortable if one puts the effort in it and ha the resources to do so. However in Berlin I felt that the leaders of the city do a lot, including legislation and the way they must make decisions (involving the populace and experts) to ensue that the city serves its inhabitants and visitors. This concerted effort seems to be lacking in Budapest. So from the second perspective, comparing contemporary Berlin to Budapest the former comes out as a winner. It was most obvious when we were looking at the people on the streets, buses or S-Bahns. And I am not just talking about the multitude of skin colors and styles/types of people who coexist cheerfully. (After we returned to Hungary and watched the people on the public transportation they seemed so monotone, way less vibrant.) No, the its the general outlook and the mode of the people that I found more interested/interesting in Berlin. Yes, a lot of people look at their smartphone at both places, which seems alienating. However Berliners also looked up and were engaged with their surroundings and people lot more. And their face was more vivid, alive. Hungarians just keep looking stressed and sad. (Of course it is a gross generalization, there are lots of counterexamples in both cities, but I am just sharing trends I noticed.)

My third and final perspective came form the fact that I have been living in the US for 21 years and somewhat internalized its culture and frame of reference. Looking at Berlin as an American tourist was also refreshing. “We, Americans” are used to convenience, we like when things are arranged in a way that is easy to access, digest, consume. Berlin is a vary tourist friendly city. The signs are clear and unambiguous, everyone speaks at least some English, the spectacles are numerous, well maintained and vary enough to keep the visit interesting. One can find any kind of cuisine at any price range, although didn’t see “traditional American” food; not that I was looking hard. So my American self was fully satisfied with the visit.

So what did we do and see? Here are some highlights along with links to the images I took

  • The afternoon of the day we arrived Stiftung Neue Synagoge (official site, my pics) Old, partially destroyed/reconstructed synagogue including a rebuilt dome, with a nice vista I ventured up to.
  • Mitte district (my pics), where we stayed and wandered around quite a bit
  • We started off the second day, our first full by going next door to our lodging to the Designpanoptikum – surreales Museum für industrielle Objekte (aka Surreal Museum of Industrial Object (official site, my pics). It was well worth the entrance fee.
  • Then we went to the free, Tuesday noon lobby concert at the Berliner Philharmonie (official oncert description, video segment of the show)  where we listened to Beethoven’s Romance in F major op. 50 and César Franck’s Sonata for violin and piano in A major. The same day we checked out an outdoor exhibition about the Nazi’s euthanasia program,  the Sony Center at Potsdamer Pl, the Holocaust Memorial, the Brandenburg Tor, the LaFayette (French department store)  (see pics of this part of the day).
  • Still the same day  we saw Gendarmenmarkt, the  Ritter Sport chocolate store, Alexanderplatz, had coffee with a friend and took a double decker bus to see the West side of the city (see pics).
  • We packed the next day tight too. Visited two major museums Pergamon and Alte Nationalgalerie (see my pics), utterly enjoyed the DDR/East Germany museum, checked out the Aqua Dom, “a 25 m (82 ft) tall cylindrical acrylic glass aquarium with built-in transparent elevator”  (wiki) and at the end of the day took an hour long boatride on the river Spree (pics).
  • Our flight left on the afternoon of the next day, but that didn’t stop us from going to Checkpoint Charlie on our way to the Jewish Museum, where our visit was cut shor as we had to head back to the airport. (pics)

P.s. From the hundreds of pictures I took on this trip I chose the one you see above, because it represent my biggest experience. I had a strong epiphany that I do love my life, which is how the German text translates.

500th YouTube videos

Last time, when I uploaded videos to my YouTube channel I noticed that it was the 500th. It is kind a milestone so I decided to take stock. Last time I did it was about 23 months ago, when my videos reach 1 million views. On the inverted screenshot of my analytics you can see, that my videos had

  • 1,437,739 views
  • 994,056 watched minutes
  • 2879 likes
  • 110 dislikes
  • 806 comments
  • 2694 shares.

It still amazes me, the kind of impact a person with a camera can have. And I know that I am far from maximizing my potential.

500th YouTube videos

Ignite Sebastopol, November 21, 2013

The ninth Sebastopol Ignite event was worth going to. I only went to Ignite once, four years ago in Budapest, so I was looking forward to another fun evening filled with presentations  “using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds for a total of just five minute.”  It was in the Hopmonk Tavern, so we had a drink and some bar food too. Here are the 10 presentations, not exactly in the order of appearance.

 “How Armenia led to my meeting Julie Numar”, Cat Cvengros – This was the first presentation, and my favorite.  She was funny, had a point the story(telling) was engaging. Worth watching

“Using Your 5 Senses: Future Tech and How it Will Touch You”, Kerry Rego – I was already familiar with almost all the technologies mentioned in this, but the presenter pulled it together nicely.

“Silliness: Your (New) Tool for Corporate Success”, Ann Hamilton – I picked up a few useful tips from this on how humor can help in corporate settings or at any meetings.

“Paradise Lost”, Josh Simmons – Support your local industry by hiring local talents and that may help to counter the harmful mono-vitriculture of the county. As I participated an event organized by him/WIMP I also appear with the other people at 2.52.

“Luther Who?”, Erin Sheffield – Basic biographical information about Luther Burbank, presented by a sweet lady who volunteers at Luther Burbank’s Experiment Farm.

“Relaxation and Love are the Same Thing”, Lee Brewster – This wasn’t a traditional presentation, more like a guided meditation for the whole audience.

“Hacking the Phrase “They Did the Best They Could””, Amy Jollymore – I was having a hard time to follow this, but I think it was about how to grow up and raise yourself if you had a chaotic childhood environment. The title is about the alcoholic parent and not about their deprived children.  More about it on her site.

“Your Brain on Language”, Matthew Bronson – This was a bit over my head with all the linguistic lingo, but still enjoyed singing row-row-your-boat…

“A Labor of Love: How Domestic Workers and Day Laborers are Changing the World”, Maureen Purtill – This was the only piece that had a political agenda, but it was also social and I agreed with it, so I didn’t mind.

“Do Your Actions Have Meaning?”, Sky Nelson – The point was to act with the knowledge that your choices have consequences, even if you cannot control them.

Fun: Week 7 (February 11-17)

Here is what I remember of the fun I had this week, admittedly written much later.

Monday afternoon I enjoyed watching Stella taking another climbing lesson at the gym. It was cut short, because she only climbed once and was not interested doing it again. So only 2 minute of the 45 minute class was utilized, but she was happy. After the gym I went to the JCC, where I watched another film with the film festival committee.

Tuesday evening we all ended up at the gym, before and around Anya’s belly dancing class. It ended so late, that instead of cooking dinner we went out for a simple Vietnamese dinner. It felt good for all of us, relaxing there.

For Valentine’s Day we got lucky and found that one of Stella’s grandma could be with her. This way we had a chance to dine out, which we did at Sobbit Goa. The company and the food was excellent. I remembered taking Lactaid with me, so really enjoyed Mano Lassi again. Also papadum, naan and two main dish. To round of the evening we also had frozen yogurt. We were thinking what else we could do in the time we had, but didn’t come up with much more. Still this was the high point of the week.

There was also a little party at my workplace for V-day. Before the Subway sandwiches, sodas and chocolate the company got for our lunch we played a little game. We all got a sheet, that had bingo written on it. However we had to fill out all the 5×5 squares, where each contained a statement, that was true for one or more of our colleagues. We had to find to whom it applied and got her/his signature in the box. I was very slow, but the first one was another SEO person. Her prize was a box of fancy chocolate, that she was kind enough to share, so I had a piece to. It was a good, day, but I ate too much.

The third V-day related event was that Criterion movies were available to watch throughout the weekend free on Hulu. I watched three with commercial, when I realized that we actually paying members of Hulu Plus, so I could have watched them any time without commercial. This was a great discovery as Criterion published a lot of the art and foreign movies I was interested in watching. Looking forward doing so from now on.

I also read a book. Sort of. Someone donated to the Jewish Library where I work a book titled “Exit Wounds” by Rutu Modan. So I took it home, before incorporating into the library’s collection. (This is an advantage i feel I can take as the librarian there.) It was an interesting story of a young man searching (and more often not) for his father who may have been a victim of a suicide bombing.  I only count it as “sot of” reading, because it is a graphic novel. I believe this is only the second or third such work I ever read, after Spiegelman’s Maus. It was fun to get immersed into this media and I may try other books too in the future. But looking at panels of drawings is definitely a different experience then reading text only.

I still enjoy taking a unique picture a day and posting it with a short message. This week I shot a table, an eucalpytus tree, rolling fog, a tree for sale, a screw, chair legs, and a sunset.

Here are the movies I watched this week:

  • All In (La suerte en tus manos) (2012, Argentina) – not funny enough comedy, but fast-paced with a  barely likeable hero.
    DVD – IMDB summary: A professional poker player seeks out an old flame after his marriage fizzles. Trailer
  • Black Moon (1975, France) Non-linear trip through the mind of an over-imaginative girl. But I only learned this towards the end. Till then I was watching a dystopian gender drama.
    DVD – IMDB summary: There is a war in the world between the men and the women. A young girl tries to escape this reality and comes to a hidden place where a strange unicorn lives with a family: Sister, Brother, many children and an old woman that never leaves her bed but stays in contact with the world through her radio. Since the content of this picture is not as important as the pictures and allegories, the simple plot can not be described further. Trailer
  • Border Radio (1987, USA) Watched it for the punk musicians, but got stuck with the story too. Low budget, reminiscent of Jim Jarmush. Weird that the black and white tone was et as if taking place in a cold climate, but really it was in the summer in Los Angeles and Mexico
    DVD – IMDB summary: Three musicians take money that is owed to them from a job and flee to Mexico. Trailer
  • Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970, USA) – Surprising ending in a world where war games end instead of with the planned win-win, with a win for the proto-Terminator.
    DVD – IMDB summary: Forbin is the designer of an incredibly sophisticated computer that will run all of America’s nuclear defenses. Shortly after being turned on, it detects the existence of Guardian, the Soviet counterpart, previously unknown to US Planners. Both computers insist that they be linked, and after taking safeguards to preserve confidential material, each side agrees to allow it. As soon as the link is established the two become a new Super computer and threaten the world with the immediate launch of nuclear weapons if they are detached. Colossus begins to give its plans for the management of the world under its guidance. Forbin and the other scientists form a technological resistance to Colossus which must operate underground. Trailer
  • How to Re-Establish a Vodka Empire (2011, USA) – I enjoyed the story, the  storytelling, how 3 threads were interwoven, and the reenactments. Didn’t like the the vodka ended up being advertised with Communist design.IMDB summary: Feature documentary charting the journey of film director Dan Edelstyn as he tracks down his long lost Jewish Ukrainian heritage and then attempts to relaunch his great grandfather’s once glorious vodka empire. The film constitutes a whirlwind journey through European times and spaces – the story has it all, revolution and romance, exile and entrepreneurship, and at its heart lies a life changing discovery of a vodka distillery in Ukraine. Trailer
  • The Naked City (1948, USA) – Great display of the material culture of post-war NYC, with a basic who-dunnit caper thrown into it.
    DVD – IMDB summary: Amid a semi-documentary portrait of New York and its people, Jean Dexter, an attractive blonde model, is murdered in her apartment. Homicide detectives Dan Muldoon and Jimmy Halloran investigate. Suspicion falls on various shifty characters who all prove to have some connection with a string of apartment burglaries. Then a burglar is found dead who once had an elusive partner named Willie. The climax is a very rapid manhunt sequence. Filmed entirely on location in New York City. Trailer
  • Orchestra of Exiles (2012, USA) – Good coverage of origins of orchestra, but I would have liked to learn more about its overall history, beyond on pre-history. Good history doc though.
    DVD – IMDB summary: Some stories get lost in the turmoil of their times. It is often only in retrospect that we can discover the true shapers of history. One such man is the prodigious Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman. Orchestra of Exiles explores this great man’s 4-year odyssey, which culminates in the founding of the orchestra that would become the Israel Philharmonic. His fascinating story touches many of the major themes of the 20th century and the unfolding drama of his life is riveting. During the darkest days of a Europe being torn apart by anti- Semitism and Nazi aggression, Huberman’s extraordinary efforts saved hundreds of Jewish families from the approaching holocaust and his achievements changed the landscape of cultural history. Before the Nazis came to power Huberman was focused only on building his own monumental career but witnessing Hitler’s agenda was a call to action that Huberman could not ignore. Huberman’s personal transformation and subsequent heroic struggle to get Jewish … Trailer
  • Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp home (2012, USA) – Good series of personal/oral histories, but not enough about the last 3-4 decades of the home. May not have wide appeal as it is about 1 place on the East Coast.
    IMDB summary: A one-hour documentary revealing the origins and originality of a resourceful community that over generations has brought together more than 1,000 Central European Jewish refugees and Holocaust survivors under one roof. Interweaving archival footage with testimony by the Selfhelp Home’s residents and founders, REFUGE reaches back 70 years to tell the story of this last generation. Trailer
  • Things to Come (1936, UK) – I am pretty sure I’ve seen this when I was a kid. Didn’t remember the philosophical last third, where the idea and value of progress itself is questioned.
    DVD – IMDB summary: A story of 100 years: a decades-long second world war leaves plague and anarchy, then a rational state rebuilds civilization and tries space travel. Trailer
  • Welcome to Kutsher’s: The Last Catskills Resort (2012, USA) – Too many talking heads, not enough documents in this documentary for my taste. But interesting preservation of soon something that might become soon history.
    IMDB summary: Kutsher’s Country Club is the last surviving Jewish resort in the Catskills. One of the legendary Borscht Belt hotels during its heyday, Kutsher’s has been family-owned and operated for over 100 years. Exploring the full Dirty Dancing-era Catskills experience– and how it changed American pop culture in the comedy, sports and vacation industries– this documentary captures a last glimpse of a lost world as it disappears before our eyes. Trailer

Here is the not so fun part of the week. Stella got sick no Thursday. we kept her home on Friday and Anya even toko her to the doctor, who prescribed some antibiotics. We struggled with Stella whole afternoon so she woudl take the liquid. We eventually gave up, as we knew that we can go back and get her a shot. That’s exactly what we did next day and she recoveed fast after that.r

Fun: Week 6 (February 4-10)

Not exactly fun, but I started of the week still sick. Nevertheless we had to take one of our cars to the mechanics, because it was way overdue for a tuneup. So we went there with both cars, dropped off one of them and Anya drove me home with the other one.  On the fun side though I spent the rest of the day of watching movies and finishing another book, Marina Lewycka’s A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. In the evening, when we picked up the car, which is fine by the way, thank you, we went out to Crepevine and had a nice dinner. Which ended up not sitting me perfectly well, even though I tried a light fare.

A highlight of the week was when one evening a spammer, I mean telemarketer called and Stella picked up the phone. All three of us was in the living room to experience the conversation which went liek this:

– Good evening, may I speak with…?
– Hi.
– Uh, may I speak to your father?
– What’s your name?
– Is your Mommy or Daddy there?
– What’s your name?
– Can you give the phone to your Mommy or Daddy?
– Yes, but what is your name?

We let it go for a while, while literally rolling in laughter. Eventually we took over the phone but we had so much fun at the expense of the poor caller.

Wednesday we went over to have a last supper with my sister-in-law, before she went off to Israel for three months. It was a nice dinner and we had fun. I tried to give a few last advice and ideas, but I doubt any of them were heard or stick in all the excitement.

Sunday I worked in the garden for an hour clearing up weeds. I filled our big bin of yard waste, to be taken Wednesday. I also worked a bit in the basement. I have been keeping cardboard boxes for the eventuality that I need them for something. But after three years off sitting there they are i such condition that they would not hold anything safely. So I started to break them down and filled the recycle bin with them. I have enough boxes to fill it 3-4 more times. Then the basement will start to look better, but there is a lot more that could be done to tidy it up.

I watched these TV shows this week:

  • Touch‘s second season started off with two episodes and plenty more characters and intrigue and mystery. Lukas Haas acts good as a paranoid genius.He was a good addition to the show.
  • Person of Interests had a few twisted scenes set  in Moscow and a crazy, eccentric, genius billionaire, who might end up being a nemesis or an ally later. Liked the the idea was kept floating.
  • Arrow, the anti-hero worked together with the cop for the first time to free the former’s daughter. That was some real coopetition.
  • The Walking Dead was also back finally for good, old fashion zombie killing.

I watched these movies this week:

  • Broadway Musicals: A Jewish LegacyThe Ballad of the Weeping Spring (Israel): Beautiful music and story, but rather slow. (Synopsis: A legendary Persian tar (lute) player, after not playing for decades, gathers a team of musicians to play at the deathbed of his old bandmate.)
  • Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome: Yeah, more action in the BSG universe. (Synopsis: a prequel to the critically acclaimed hit series, Battlestar Galactica) takes place in the midst of the First Cylon war. As the battle between humans and their creation, the sentient robotic Cylons, rages across the 12 colonial worlds, a young, talented fighter pilot, William Adama, finds himself assigned to one of the most powerful battlestars in the Colonial fleet: the Galactica…)
  • Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy: Fun documentary about the Jewish nature, origins and aspects of Broadway musicals. (Synopsis: Why has the Broadway musical proven to be such fertile territory for Jewish artists of all kinds?.)
  • Dr. Pomerantz (Israel):  Excellent movie, but with really dark humor. It is almost pro-suicide. (Synopsis: “Life is a disease with 100% mortality.” Dr. Yoel Pomerantz, 64, an unemployed clinical psychologist, lives in poverty in his 12th floor apartment with his son Yoav, 30, who works as a parking inspector and suffers from severe “ticketomania”. Dr. Pomerantz volunteers at ANA, the psychology hotline, and as an expert on suicide callers, he suggests that they come to his clinic for private therapy sessions. One day, a patient named Shtark is offended when Pomerantz arrives late for a session and jumps off his 12th floor balcony to his death. Shtark’s suicide provides the doctor with a life changing idea – to let his apartment to potentially suicidal tenants for enormous sums of money.)
  • Infiltration (Israel): Drill sergeants are horrible during boot-camp even in Israel, but do we need a movie about it? (Synopsis: This is the story of one platoon at Training Base 4, a three-month boot camp for non-combatants in 1956. The platoon consists of soldiers from cooperative settlements, kibbutzim, towns, Ashkenazim, new immigrants from North Africa and Europe, holocaust survivors, secular and religious men. All the platoon members suffer from afflictions, are physically unfit, or mentally disabled.)
  • Key Largo (USA, 1948): Rather enjoyable old school gangster movie with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. (Synopsis: A man visits his old friend’s hotel and finds a gangster running things. As a hurricane approaches, the two end up confronting each other.)
  • We Are Not Alone (Israel): Cute people separating fantasy from reality with some nice visual solutions and upbeat music. Mall-setting is interesting. (Synopsis: Eddie is a lonesome young man who works as a security guard at a big shopping mall. Eddie strongly believes in an old prophecy predicting the very near end of all human civilization. Just as he is getting ready to embark on a carefully planned escape journey, Eddie meets May, a very intelligent yet anti-social young woman, with a dubious past. As the last days before the fateful date go by, May gradually insert herself into Eddie’s life and heart until finally Eddie must choose whether to stay and abandon his hope to escape the upcoming apocalypse, or leave and lose his chance for intimacy and real love..)

Fun: Week 5 (January 28 – February 3)

The week started of with Monday night’s  meeting/filmviewing for the JCC film festival’s committee. This was the first this year and we viewed A Bottle in Gaza Sea. Most of us liked the movie that connected a naive, truth seeking Jewish teenager girl, with a sweet Palestinian boy, even if only via remote communication channels.

The rest of the week wasn’t very exiting, As usual, I worked a lot and watched a lot of TV. The latter included finishing the second season of Lost Girl. This took longer than the first season as the second had 22 episodes, while the first nly 13. I also watched this week’s Arrow and Person of Interest. In addition the fifth season of the original (not the US remake) of Being Human started. None of the original characters are in it, so it took me a few minutes to recall how they all got exchanged one by one to the new crew. I still have to get used to them.

When it came to my websites this week I was hoping to finish adding all the festivals and movies that were shown in January to my Jewish Film Festival site. I made a pretty good dent, but didn’t finish the process. I added 52 movies and 21 festivals and listed the movies played at 6 festivals.

Friday several of my colleagues sounded and were getting sick. Then after work at the gym I couldn’t finish my workout and had to go home and lay down. We were supposed to go to a party, but when I woke up a few hours later I called Anya, who was already at the party and told her, that I didn’t feel well and am not gonna make it there. The short version: I got the flu and spent the whole weekend in bed. Anya made chicken soup twice and that helped me and kept me afloat. I still lost 4 pounds, which was welcome, even if the method was not the most desirable. I couldn’t really work, even with a laptop in bed, so I ended up watching a lot of movies and I finished reading two books too. The first book I finished this year was Jim and the Flims by Rudy Rucker. I feel pathetic that it too a month to read a single book this year and even that was a light sci-fi, instead of something more substantial. But it was a lot of fun. Half of it was set in Santa Cruz, my old stomping ground. The other half in a widely imagined underground underworld. I loved the fantasy elements, that were actually based on weird science, well-known by the author who is a university professor.

Here are the movies I watched

  • Alice: Hard drama about the tough life of a detached woman who works at a juvenile hall for yuong women. But I didn’t care for it or her.
  • Bachelorette: Light comedy about the misadventures before the wedding of the woman who used to be the butt of the jokes in highschool. Shallow lives lead to empty ones.
  • Betrayed: Made think about the nuances of Honor and duty in Israel and the IDF. Covers an interesting piece of Israeli history I was not aware of.
  • The Dealers: Boring, predictable Cheech and Chong wannaba flick. Why did Israel need this drug movie that was not funny?
  • Eurofalsh: Live the Dream, Survive Reality: Eurovision fans in drag perform Eurovision songs. The doc shows the people in the group.
  • I Wish You Would Die: A musicians is dying of cancer and this brutally honest documentary documents his relationship with  his girlfriend. Depressing and open.
  • Not in Tel-Aviv: Quirky drama with comical elements that kept me guessing the motivation of the main character. Eventually I learned that it is about “Letting yourself be loved,” which is a good lesson, but the delivery here was too confusing for me.
  • Present Continuous: A family locked in by the mother into their apartment with communication channels cut off gets together and unearth their connections to each other. Proves that sixth sense makes sense.
  • Ram csaj meg nem volt ilyen hatassal: 1994 Hungarian movie that I somehow never saw, despite that it is about and with people I used to know. It was an immersion into the Hungarian underground that I missed. As  a movie it was too sanguine, but my connection and recognition of places made it worthwhile. Zeitgeist rules.
  • Slower Than a Heartbeat: This was probably the favorite movie I watched this week. It showed the Tel-Aviv art underground, that I think I would have fun with/in. Its ambiance, as depicted here is my kind of atmosphere. Plus the story was multi-layered enough, the acting and directing superb and it helped that the main characters were played by hotties. I want to rewatch this to get more nuances.
  • The World Is Funny: It is a comedy, that is based on a series f death and tragic events. Nevertheless fun to figure out all the connections between all the people, who all have their slowly developing stories.

 

Fun: Week 4

Eating out

We ventured out one weekday evening to have pizza out. We used to order a large pizza and stuffed ourselves silly. Last few times I ordered medium and even that was too much. So this time we ordered a small one, which still filled us plenty. And on Saturday we went to Sushi Hana‘s “Dollar sushi”. There is no longer any sushi on their menu that would cost a dollar, but it is still much more affordable than other places or other nights and the sushi is still really good too.

Eating in, Friday night

We know a really nice Jewish family, consisting of a little girl a  year younger than Stella, her mother and grandmother, who we’ve been trying to invite for dinner for a long time, and not just because we had diner at their house last time. Finally this Friday was good for everyone. So they came, Anya made great chicken and we all had a good time. Even the conversation was more relaxed and flowing than last time. It was as a Shabbat night should be.

My online life

  • I kept up with my picture a day project
  • I added 10 new books to my FilmAndReligion.com site, and these were really new books. I finally caught up with the stuff I had logged for over a year that I wanted to add to the site. From now on I can focus adding stuff as I discover them.
  • I added posts to my professional site/blog (Vision Nest Media) about “Drupal in Libraries“. This is a topic I am interested in and have been gathering links about it. Finally instead of just having a link collection on my machine I put up these older notes on the site for everybody to see.
  • I added 5 movies, 2 festivals to my Jewish Film Festivals site and the full film listings for 4 festivals
  • I reduced number of my past likes on Facebook in anticipation of graph search from 400+ to 250. Let me explain what I just wrote. Facebook announced a new kind of search, called graph search. It is essentially a faceted search of all the data in Facebook. I never posted anything n Facebook that I would need to be sorry or ashamed of, but I dno’t necessarily want to show up for all my past likes. So I pruned them down to 250 or so. One step closer to giving up Facebook.

Movies watched

  • It’s a Disaster – Pre-apocalyptic couples brunch with a surprising end. Relations and individual stamina break down as the end of the world is approaching in not-exactly predictable patterns. Still it is more of a comedy than anything else. Uneven, but fun.
  • Robot & Frank – Will a robot put back the grace in an ungraceful aging process. Or is it just an enabler for things we don’t want to admit to ourselves or our family members. Frank Langella and Susan Sarandon are superb, but the other actors are not bad either. The thought it provokes: robots are not good or bad: they are what we (will) make them.
  • Hitler’s Children – The children and/or grandchildren of Nazi monsters (Goering, Himmler, Goeth, Hoess…) are decent people who have been struggling with their dark legacies all their lives and worked through it in different ways. The film didn’t include those Nazi descendants, who are Nazis themselves. This movie filled a gap as I wondered in the past how could those kids (now adults) live with themselves, considering their family background.
  • 5 Broken Cameras – I watched this movie a few days before it was nominated for the Oscars. It was touching and interesting but unbalanced, as any personal/subjective video diary. There was nothing shown from the other side. Nevertheless it is an authentic expression of a Palestinian olive farmer’s lived experience.
  • Room 514 – I didn’t like this interrogation drama. The camera work was inadequate, the actor playing the female officer was not convincing and ultimately the story was not believable.
  • Alyah – Petty Parisian drug dealer decided to move to Israel to start afresh and/or to avoid his problems? Some good scenes, but overall it annyod me.

This post is part of the series answering how I did this week with my new year resolution of having more fun, working on my body, and being more spiritual?

Fun: Week 3

We had two fun night out and a mixed one too this week. The mixed one on Thursday, included a good board meeting that didn’t continue as planned. Our daughter was with her grandfather so in theory we had a night out. The plan was that after the board meeting we would have some fun, e.g. go to the movies or something similar. First we gave a ride to one of the board members whose ride didn’t arrive to pick him up after the meeting (that ended earlier than usual.) As we didn’t plan ahead the fun part of the evening we had limited choices and time at 9 PM. But we made it to the movie theater where Life of Pi was playing at 9.15. So we thought. turns out the paper where we got the info from was wrong and the movie was not playing. This was the second time we missed this movie. Then we were just undecided what to do, so didn’t do anything beyond getting some mango juice and yogurt, took it over to where Stella was and had some mango lassi with the family. That was fun, but not exactly what we planned . Or more precisely what we didn’t plan.

Wednesday however after we worked out at the gym, we were more spontaneous and the three of us had some nice Vietnamese dinner out. Then we walked over to another restaurant, where I remembered seeing good looking cakes on display. We shared a really rich and nice chocolate cake. It was tall, dark, moist, sweet, just as it should be. It was delicious

Friday Stella’s Boppa took her again for the day so we had another chance to go out. That we did, as right after I finished work we went to see Life of Pi. This time we actually made it too. It was really good, worthwhile the wait. I still before to have read the book first. Having seen the movie nd being told that it followed pretty close the book, but the book has more to it I still think eventually I will read it. I’ve been recommended this for years, just never got to it. It was added bonus for my sting, I mean frugal  nature, that we used some gift cards that we purchased earlier for both the movie tickets and for the junior mints we had there. In other words It felt that the movie was free as we didn’t have to pay for it now.Furthermore parking ended up being free in the parking building as the movie theater validated our parking ticket. Having saved so much money it was time to spend so we had sushi after the show. We went back to Toyo, where we used to go when we lived close to it. It was as good as it used to be if not better.

Any’s sister stayed with us from Friday evening till Saturday evening. The thee ladies were having fun all day. I joined them for a quick walk to the river an hour before sunset. I haven’t been down there for a long time, so I enjoyed the beauty of this slice of nature with renewed awe.

I saw two more movies this week, both at home. I think it was only entropy and the hope that it will get better that let me watch L!fe Happens till the end. IMDB said it was a comedy and we kept waiting for something funny to happen. It never did. I understand that for the Valley people and in the LA`culture it might seem funny, but outside that region it was just not very exciting “life happening.” I also previewed a movie for the local Jewish Film Festival: A Letter to Wedgewood. It is a documentary based on an interview and book by Gabriella Hartstein Auspitz, a woman from Munkacs. Sorry, I can’t call that city Mukacevo, like they do in the movie as I’ve known it all my life by its Hungarian name. I plan to write a longer reflection about the movie, but for now I am sharing the highlight: There were lots of original movie footage form the 1930’s from Munkacs and from other regions from Slovakia. This made me feel I got  a peek into my grandmother’s life who grew up there.

I also watched quite a bit of TV, including the whole first season of Lost Girl. It’s easy mindless fun, although if I stop and think about the morals of the characters I may not condone all of it. I was anticipating the series finale of Fringe. It was good and all the threads of the Fringes were tied up nicely, but the very end was too anticlimatic for me. I guess war and struggle is what makes exciting TV, while peace is boring. But I still prefer to live in peace, just like the characters in the series. Arrow was also back from its winter break.

I also spent a few hours working on my sites. I added 10 books to the FilmandReligion.com, kept adding the films that Jewish film festivals are playing this year, so the site now has the full listing for 9 festivals this year. I have the data already tabulated for dozens of festivals, it is just a slow process to actually them to the site. I also added a few pointers to job opportunities and obituaries to my Forestvile blog. The tip of the week for my professional blog at VisionNest.com was on “How to create Drupal nodes in batch from an XLS, CSV file or from an RSS feed?”

This post is part of the series answering how I did this week with my new year resolution of having more fun, working on my body, and being more spiritual?