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Apr
19

Third Day in Tel Aviv

Posted by James under Travel

The day started with breakfast as usual, but today I decided to have a little coffee as well…

As I walked to work, it was interesting that some cars were patriotic with Israeli flags sticking out… It’s probably because of the holocaust memorial…

And some hang flags all the way down the building…

For the holocaust remembrance, at 10am there was a siren at 10am and people were to stand up for a couple of minutes. Unfortunately we were in the conference room and didn’t hear anything.

For lunch, I had goose,which was pretty good…

And Israeli salad…

Public transportation are not as convenient here so people typically don’t take the trains as much as, say cars, buses and taxis. We decided to take the Israeli train to Zikhron Ya’aqov, where one of our Israeli coworkers lived.

On the way to the train, we saw many military personnels getting off and heading home.

Then our train came…

and it was crowded today. Many people were reading on the train…

When we got off, on the fence of the train tracks was this logo of a fencing company…

It’s interesting that the logo shows a poor animal being fenced in.
Then we arrived at our friend’s place, where they had a nice view…

If you can see, to the right, there’s an arab city where they broadcast pretty loudly call to prayer 5 times a day.

We saw some memorial with an interesting Star of David…

Here are the street signs. Can you make out where to go?

Supposedly this city was created because of this winery…

The restaurants in Israel are very international. Here in this place lies an interesting restaurant…

Unfortunately when we got to our restaurant it was closed…

Seems like there’s also some Maternity place… is it maternity clothing? Or midwives? Not sure…

When we arrived at the restaurant, which had this interesting bar in the middle… I wasn’t sure if I was in a restaurant or the John…

Remodeling gone wrong? Anyway, so they asked us earlier what we wanted to eat, and I said anything but western stuff like Pasta. So guess what… we see a restaurant with sandwiches, pizza, and pasta!

Oh wait, wrong menu…

So here were was my coworker Jeff who lived in Israel, with his wife and daughter who’s 5 1/2.

And here’s myself and another coworker Neil who came with me…

First we had some pretty good bread…

As for the entree, it was between Salmon and Sea Bream. Sea Bream was delivered daily and Salmon… not so much. So guess what was the choice…

Now if you’ve been bored by some of the random snaps I did, here’s a little treat. While we were at Jeff’s place, we noticed there was this strange thing on the power panel…

Apparently on Shabbat they shouldn’t be turning on and off the light, but if the lights turn on and off by themselves, what can you do. So sometimes even TV and other things would be put on timer. This does pose a problem with cooking, so there are devices that continually heat up the items to eat on Shabbat. It’s also problematic for doctors, who need secular people to pick them on, and then they made an exception that they can get back from the hospital on their own.

Now here’s an interesting thing from their bathroom…

After that we took the train back…

Then we crossed the street and took a taxi back. Supposedly the cab drivers at the train station were less honest, and when we first got there a guy asked for 90 shakels and wanted us to sit in his cab, and then it was discounted to 70 shakels when we hesitated. I asked them to meter instead, and after a couple of cab drivers denied, the guy ended up taking us himself. The final price: 57 shakels, and in Israel taxi drivers don’t expect a tip.

So that was the third day. It was another day of work, but now it’s time to hit Friday and Shabbat, the weekend! Tomorrow will be when we need to squeeze all the sightseeing in, and Shabbat will be interesting because most of the country is shut down, while the rest of the country (non Jews) may operate. Let’s see what’s in store for us tomorrow!

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Apr
18

Second Day in Tel Aviv

Posted by James under Travel

Now this trip isn’t really about sightseeing as much as work, but nevertheless, there are a few interesting things to see along the walk to work. The first of which is… breakfast! This hotel has pretty extravagant breakfast…

Seafood. Behind that hand there lies smoked salmon so some other fish… (sorry didn’t do as good of a job snapping with one hand)

Some hot foods…

Decent vegetable selection…

And different breads…

Cheese section…

Fruit section…

Apologize for the picture overload. That was just a few samples…  I just had a little bit with some freshly squeezed grapefruit and orange juice…

Though I didn’t get a picture of the smoked salmon because I ate it already before realizing I should photo journal my breakfast.

On the way to work, it still felt weird seeing all these street signs in Hebrew…

Looks like someone got an Israeli ticket…

And a couple cruising down in a race car…

And a bank that almost looks like Bank of America…

The weather was really strange today. It was 98 in the morning then dropped down to 71 with high winds in a matter of hours. There were some Saudi Arabia winds, similar to the Santa Ana winds in California.

I’ll share more as I see more interesting things, though right now most of my day is spent at work. May have to wait until weekend for really interesting stuff… I mean, Israel. What do you expect to see?  :)

Stay tuned!

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Apr
18

First few days in Tel Aviv

Posted by James under Travel

Here’s a business trip to Israel! I flew on El Al airline (which means To God in Hebrew) and took Business class for the first time. Prior to the trip, I had to get a letter of invitation, and was interviewed with questions on the nature of my stay.

Never been on business class, so it was nice to get the extra leg room for an international flight…

Here were the seat adjustment controls…

Despite the controls showing that you can recline, it wasn’t completely flat, unfortunately…

After about 13-14 hours, we arrived in Israel airport.

Overall Israel reminded me a little more of Taiwan than the States…

with older, concrete houses and people hanging clothes out of their windows.

I did get to stay at a very nice hotel…

View from my floor…

Definitely not used to seeing Hebrew signs everywhere. Here the first language is Hebrew, followed by Arabic, then Russian (apparently lots of Russian Jew immigrations), and then English. That said, just about everyone spoke English here at Tel Aviv, the happening city in Israel.

Interesting that for the parking floors, instead of P1 and P2, they go negative…

Here’s a picture of the recycle bin…

And here’s a coca-cola store, oh no, wait, that’s a post office!

Here’s an interesting decor, though I have no idea what this is…

Unfornately, there were graffitis everywhere…

Also saw an interesting balcony…

Check out this parking job. Wonder how he’s planning to get out…

This is the dinner place we went to. Check out the number of people dining… and the first thing they asked us was, “Do you have a reservation?”

Turns out that Israelis have a big dinner, and most people eat at home at night, when dinner prices could double or more.

Unfortunately this place didn’t really have Israeli food, so I just got a seafood dish…

The hotel was right by the Mediterranean Sea…

And a little further south from Tel Aviv was a city called Jaffa, where there’s supposely eateries for workers that serve only one or two dishes.

Back at the hotel, there were some Orthodox Jews. They’re hard to detect… see if you can find them.

So a Jewish friend taught me that Toda is thank you, Bevakasaha means Please, Sliha means Sorry, and… how do you think people greet each other? Shalom?

They say “hi”.

When it comes to holidays, it’s interesting. Apparently there’s some holocaust observation holiday today (Wed), so most restaurants close in observance of it. We had to eat at the hotel.

Now their Passover is interesting, where you work half day for an entire week. Here in Israel the holidays, including Shabbat (Sabbath), starts around 6pm the day before and ends 7pm the day of. So they typically get half a day the day before as well… though that poses an issue this weekend, where everything closes down by 6pm the day before and the entire day on Saturday. Guess the sightseeing this weekend will be much shorter than expected!

And I’ll have to work on Sunday. Ugh!

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Mar
10

Writing Lesson

Posted by James under Lia

Lia, write an A. Good. Now write a B. Wait, that’s a D, let’s write a B next to it…

And this was the result.

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Mar
06

Seattle Friends Visit

Posted by James under Family and Friends

A few pictures taken of Happyfishers who came to visit, and enjoy San Diego (in no particular order, though I’m sure enjoying San Diego was an afterthought :P).

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Mar
03

Up In The Air

Posted by James under Events

This morning we went to the Mission Viejo Up In The Air event…

First we were greeted with balloons…

Then Lia and Eli played with some bubbles, big ones at that…

 

After that we watched some flying kites…

Saw a really tall man…

And some disc dogs…

Played a few carnival games…

And won some small prizes!

All in all, a fun event!

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Oct
19

Carol & Erwin’s Wedding

Posted by Karen under Events

It was a great weekend seen friends and family since we moved to CA in May. It was also an exciting event as it was our little girl’s first time being a flower girl.

 

Waiting for the show time…

Picture with the beautiful bride

Look! I have a bouquet too!!

final talk before walking down the aisle…

Here comes the bride…..

and the wedding party.

first kiss as husband and wife

happy couple

daddy, when is my turn to be a beautiful bride?

Family picture @ Mars Hill West Seattle Campus

Brother & Sister

family picture @ the banquet

Sisters

Congratulations! Carol & Erwin

 

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Oct
17

iPhone 4S

Posted by James under Tech

While many people were apathetic toward iPhone 4S because of unsubstantiated rumors of the iPhone 5 that propelled the unrealistic expectations, Karen and I waited enthusiastically at University Village (Seattle) to pay our respects to Apple. The reason was simple. Karen packed in her purse an iPhone 3GS and a trusty old Canon SD870 IS, which acted as our portable “camcorder”, and we yearned for saving money and weight by consolidating the two devices into one.

No such luck.

Either my hands exhibited a natural alcoholics shake, or I had too much booze last night, but despite the selling point of having image stabilization, the videos from the iPhone 4S taken by my excruciatingly careful hold resembled videos shot during a 7.0 earthquake.

Moreover, The 4S was portrayed as capable of being taken out and snapping a picture before I could say “foo bar”, but in practice, the camera app locked up for upwards of 20 seconds while my subjects stared in boredom. By the time the phone was ready, the smile had turned into a frown, which typically do not make great photography unless you’re in the morgue. In addition, my finger regularly, unintentionally acted as a lens cap as well as a wind-cover for the mic, resulting in artistic mime-like movies. To top it off, the new antenna design worked so well that while my 3GS was showing “3G” and browsing with ease, my 4S was showing “Searching…” for quite a while.

Could I have just hit the jackpot of a detective phone, or is it all user error? Either way, this one is going back.

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Oct
10

Spelling Bee

Posted by James under James & Karen

When it comes to spelling, I’m actually quite competent with the words I know. Having come to the States when I was 9 and not being studious when I was young, my vocabulary is okay but not extensive. Last week at work there was an opportunity to participate in a Spelling Bee, so I decided to give it a try.

First word: LYNX.
Easy as I’ve seen it before, though I asked for a sentence just for the heck of it.

Second word: PERMEABILITY.
This was actually a pretty easy word for me. Permeable, drop the E and add the ABILITY. No-problemo.

Third word: PHILAMOT.
Say what??? Nope, didn’t get this one, as I was way off. Asking for the definition and the origin didn’t help me.

So there we go. 2011 Spelling, and I got eliminated the first round. Still, playing spelling bee in front of an audience for the first time was fun.

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May
18

First night at Irvine

Posted by James under General

First night in Irvine we arrived very late at the gated community. I got the apartment keys from a lockbox and couldn’t access the garage. Apparently I had to get it the next day. Public parking was completely full so I had to park outside. It also rained for a little bit (?!!).

After parking my car, I came back to the gate and the code doesn’t work! To make things worse this is the end of the day, and my phone shut down! After trying for a little bit I ended up picking that lock to open it… In a few mins after I got in, some car came out and opened the door! Guess I didn’t have to resort to those drastic measures…

Oh well… At least the apartment was nice!

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