Pray for the folks in Wimberley

More than 300 homes were swept off their foundations in Wimberley, Texas — a little community not far from where I am staying. Officially, only 8 people (all from one family,  having a family reunion, in one home) are missing but that number is sure to change according to local news reports because all of those homes were occupied. A “wall” of water took the homes off their foundations.

“Flood water gushing through the Blanco River in San Marcos and Wimberley took everything downstream and the aftermath is still unknown.”

We survived a tornado

Last night a mini tornado ripped up our street –it went all the way up the street and it ripped some places up good and proper. Two blocks over, there is not even a mini tree limb down. In our back yard the 300lb dog kennel that was Tovi’s home until a few weeks ago (when we brought her inside afraid of lightning strikes on the metal kennel) was picked up and thrown:
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I heard the longest and loudest “thunder” roll I’ve ever heard in my life –it went on for a good two minutes and there had been no flash of lightning. I could not get the front door to open more than an inch, the suction from the wind was so fierce. The electricity went out and stayed out until about an hour ago. We could hear all hell breaking loose outside around us and, when things calmed down a bit, we ventured out with a torch to check on the cats in the garage and Shachori in her enclosure and to examine the flung across the yard kennel (shown above).

Here are a couple of videos I took this morning before the battery in my camera died. (And yes, I’ve picked up a Texas accent).


We’re fine and all the cats are fine.

summer goals

Really short-term goals (e.g., next two weeks):
1. Write up our Articles of Incorporation, the last piece needed to file for 501(c)3 status for DARA.
2. Get the DARA website up and running with the permanent (as opposed to just thrown up there last fall) design
3. Do some garden work (need to plant out hot pepper and tomato transplants and plant a ton of herb seeds- dill, marjoram, cilantro, basil, summer savory) and do a ton of yard work (might have to wait on the yard work as we are having rain, rain, and more rain)
4. Do something about the damn fire ants that are EVERYWHERE
5. Finish Javascript for Cats (cute name, lots of work)

Summer goals:
1. Get to be a Javascript expert with mentor help :)
2. Learn Python
3. Do a full refresher on PHP (another coding language) because my memory of it is nearly 15 years old and so rusty there just ain’t that much left
4. Write up and submit the 22 studies, divided into 6 (I think) articles, that I’ve not had time to even look at much beyond actual data collection and stats analysis over the past 3 years but that had really robust and interesting findings. (I’m bagging the 17 studies that I just don’t find interesting but certainly could be published).
5. Finish volume 1 of the 3-volume young adult fiction series I’m working on. (I’ve been so frustrated with it because when the computer died it took with it the 3 chapters I wrote in the fall. So I’ve got to reinvent them all over again from scratch. I was 2 chapters from closing the first in the series!)
6. Get accepted to MakerSquare

Well that is enough to go on with.

Flying the flag

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It was with a little trepidation that I put up our flag back on Yom HaAtzmaut — I’m in a very (very very very) “progressive,” Obama-fawning, lefty neighbourhood. I thought it possible we might suffer some insults and even possibly vandalization. However, the result of proudly flying the Israeli flag has been astounding.

A couple of days after I put it up I was working in the front garden and a passing car slammed on its brakes, backed up and a woman leaped out of the passenger’s seat and ran up to tell me how excited she was to see the Israeli flag flying on the house. She and her husband lived in Jerusalem for 10 years during the ’80s but had to come back to the U.S. to care for her husband’s ailing parents. They were on the verge of moving back home again when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and so their plans are again on hold. She literally threw her arms around me and hugged me.

We’ve had people walking by compliment the garden and ‘beautiful’ yard and then add that they loved to see the flag up.

Yesterday, Ema had to take the car into the shop [Side note: It is seriously criminal to make a car that, when some plastic part on the inside door handle breaks so it won’t function, you not only have to replace the door handle but the entire inside panel and removing the inside panel causes the plastic window guide to break so the window gets stuck in the down position and so the total cost of replacing a non-functioning handle is a bit more than $1400). The service guy who drove her home was ecstatic when he saw the flag. It turns out he ‘plays’ the shofar in his Church and he brought out pictures of his little two year old son blowing on a baby version of the shofar.

We’ve had nothing but positive responses!

A maybe life-changing update

I’ve not been this intellectually excited since I was a grad student and studying and finding things that no one had done before. This is not quite like that because people have definitely studied and done this before and I am a rank newbie. I’ve fallen in love with coding. We are talking head over heels in love with it and it is a great match because I’ve been studying the Internet and human-computer relations my entire adult life.

I don’t know if I’ve got an aptitude for coding. Getting the highest grades in two coding classes at a community college is not a good benchmark.(By the by, these courses had far more stringent standards than any of the courses I’ve taught in the past 10 years: Your WEEKLY assignments –sometimes 3 in a week per class, requiring at least 20 hours of work to complete them for a single class– are due on X date at 11:59 p.m. and not even an act of G-d will let you submit them for credit one minute late at 12:00 p.m. –the kids I was teaching would have gone to ground in the first week and had conniption fits)

My bro, who also happens to be a software programming genius, says that he is proud and impressed with the final projects I put together (but what else is a bro going to say?) –praise from a familial relation is not a good benchmark. The email I got from him the other day, however, may be. He looked over my code for my final project and then he wrote me about a coding bootcamp at a very well respected place called MakerSquare, said that I not only can do it but will do it and he’ll pay half of the price ($10,000 of the $20,000) of the 3-month, 66-80 hour week, coding learn-a-thon. I’m not there yet. We only covered 6 chapters in the course I took and, while I taught myself a lot of stuff out of chapters we didn’t cover, you have to know Javascript upside down, sideways and while standing on your head blindfolded to pass the admissions interview (they only accept 10% of applicants). Sooooooooo….

In a couple of weeks I’m going to start the recommended 8-week prep course with mentor and cross my fingers that I am accepted into the September cohort.

I’m also learning (on my own) Python this summer and I’ve put together both a Javascript and Python study group from interested classmates. I am just really excited.

A garden update and the traffic stopping rose

The garden is only just now on the cusp of becoming productive. I had a few setbacks. They were major setbacks. Last fall, after all the double digging, spider-eeking, and sweat, I did what I have never done before — I created the Mel’s mix (of square foot gardening fame) for the big salad raised bed. I mixed in vermiculite, peat moss, soil, and compost in the correct proportions. Unfortunately, because I’d only just started our own composting at my Ema’s place, I bought compost in bags from the garden store ($30 of the stuff!!), and even more unfortunately, the compost turned out to be a serious plant killer. It wasn’t cured. It was supposed to be cured but what we got was literally hundreds of (non-edible) mushrooms sprouting and anything planted either turned yellow and died soon after sprouting or just sat there if transplanted like it lived in munchkin land. The only exceptions were on the side where I’d run out of the compost and that was only a few squares of this big square foot garden.

I’ve now replaced almost all of the squares containing that expensive mix with, well, still expensive miracle gro soil, but at least things are growing.

I designed two raised beds, one with a trellis, that are just getting going.
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More pics to come of the garden today.

this blog is about to undergo a change — I just haven’t decided how

The blog is no longer a haven for me to spit out whatever is on my mind, anything that might be worrying me, my feelings about pretty much anything or pretty much almost anything else. I regularly sit down to compose a blog post and, as the needed self-censorship kicks in, I realize that there really isn’t much I can say about much of anything –certainly not anything that really matters to me. You’ve probably noticed the lack of updates if, because of the lack of updates, you still bother to check this blog.

I’ve considered the options. I could go all politics all the time and just rant about the, it seems, multi-daily insults, underminings, and machinations that present an existential threat to my country. I could start blogging only in Hebrew or only in German (yes, my German is still better than my Hebrew but more to the point uses the same keyboard I have available). I could just restrict it to how the borrowed garden grows. I’ve not decided yet but do plan to put up a post on the garden later today.

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