This time last week, I was in Glasgow, getting ready to celebrate Shabbat and then the Gladstone wedding. (I miss my Glasgow family and friends. I miss that dear, green – and quiet! – place. See the picture, above.) Now, I am back in Ra’anana, and it’s Shabbat again. Time to step off the roller coaster.

Shabbat Shalom one and all.

Iranian research goes up in smoke

From the Jerusalem Post:

Iran study: Water pipes as dangerous as cigarettes

Israel Cancer Association says the tobacco for ‘hookah’ water pipes is irrigated with sewage water.


I used to smoke, but gave up a long time ago. I smoked my lst cigarette shortly after graduating from university. Years later, my elder daughter came home from primary school, fresh from a no smoking health education presentation – and interrogated me about my smoking. I admitted to smoking cigars at simchas. I had smoked my last cigar, as she made me promise not to repeat that bad habit. Now, as far as I know, she has stayed away from cigars and cigarettes, but is partial to the odd nargila. This is my attempt to repay the favor she did me… Continue reading

Return to Glentress

No trip to Glasgow would be complete without a visit to Glentress and some of the best mountain biking in the world. It was pouring. We were wet. We were muddy. We were tired. We were very, very happy. I miss this so much..

Whine for table six

Great headline – and article – from The Times of Israel:

You’ll be a fat drunk before wine saves you from cancer, new Israeli study shows

Ha ha! You can probably guess the thrust of the piece:

An active ingredient in grapes may slow growth of some cancer cells. But consuming the necessary quantities has its downsides.

If I were a wine drinker, I might be upset. Fortunately, my tipple is whisky!

Stop that arking around…

Seen on a wall in Glasgow:

Just to prove that it’s not only Israelis who struggle with the English language! Anyway, the next time I am arking around, I’ll be sure to check if I am nop arking or not nop arking…

Glasgow gamers

Less than an hour after landing in Glasgow Airport last week, I had been fed and watered (thank you Steven!) and driven to Jeff Jesner’s house for a combination games evening and reunion. Along with Steven, Martin, Brian and Ian joined in the fun and it was almost as if I had never been away – right down to the Maltesers!

We played a couple of games of 7 Wonders and one of Ticket to Ride, closing out with R-Eco. I was way too happy to bother about keeping score, but Jeff has kindly provided the following report:

And so the founding father was welcomed back to Glasgow, to join his flock for a night of gaming at Jeffrey’s house. Brian, Martin and Steven all came along and 7 Wonders was the first game called into action. Ellis checked to see which side of the card was normally played and was told ‘A’. Brian then won the game, simply because he was the only one playing side ‘B’. Steven was second and was therefore declared the winner among the side ‘A’ players.

Next up was Ticket to Ride. Various strategies were employed by the different players. Steven went for the multiple route, small value strategy. Brian went for many routes which he didn’t build and went steaming backwards towards the 0 points marker. Jeffrey went for two routes, built them both along with the longest train, and puffed ahead of everyone to win.

Ian arrived, hot off the plane from London, while Steven left. That old perennial favourite, 7 Wonders, was brought back out. This time Martin won by a point from Brian, proving that Brian can do well at the game, even when playing the correct side of his card!

Martin then left to go into town to pick up his wife. Loads of brownie points there! Jeffrey unwrapped R-Eco and Ellis explained the rules. The rubbish was recycled, the overspill dumped from hands and the points counted up, Jeffrey winning by dint of the ‘5’ token he picked up to finish the game.

Next week, who knows? If anyone wants to organise and hold a night, please let everyone else know. In the meantime, a hearty Mazeltov to Steven and the family on this weekend’s big event, Mazeltov to Brian who has bought a house, a hearty welcome to Ellis on his brief return to Glasgow and condolences to the Chicago bear who is currently believed to be tunnelling his way out of Illinois!

Great report, Jeff. I miss you all, and the gaming, already…

First Day of School; Israeli Style

From the ever enjoyable Treppenwitz comes this pleasant change of pace about (real) life in Israel:

So Yonah – our little one (not so little, truth be told) – just started third grade yesterday.

It’s sort of an Israeli tradition that the Prime Minister and many of the Knesset bigwigs fan out to schools across the country to welcome elementary school students to the first day of the academic year.

Early yesterday morning after most of our neighborhood had been hermetically sealed off by an advance security detail, a helicopter set down on the playground of Yonah’s school, disgorging Israel’s Prime Minister who spent part of the morning welcoming our community’s children back to school.

As if this wasn’t enough to bring home just how tiny our country is, while Zahava and I were talking with Yonah last night about what it was like to meet the country’s Prime Minister, I couldn’t help notice that he kept referring to the PM as ‘Bibi’ (Benjamin Netanyahu’s nickname).

Only in Israel would an eight year old be (justifiably) excited about having just met the country’s Prime Minister… yet refer to the country’s leader as if he were a schoolyard buddy!

Cute, eh? As our kids are grown up, we miss this type of insight into Israeli society. But, hopefully future generations will get to experience this reality in peace.

Science in Monopoly

From the 25 August 2012 edition of the New Scientist:

Monopoly measures more than money

Spaces round the Monopoly board always progress from shabby neighbourhoods to swanky locales. Now Marie Friberger at Malmo University in Sweden and Julian Togelius at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark have written software that lets users design their own board based on social differences. Using open source data from the UK government, people can assign a weighting to different statistics, allowing them to create a board in which areas with high levels of volunteering stand in for traditionally richer streets, for example, and vice versa. The idea will be presented at the Computational Intelligence and Games conference in Granada, Spain, next month.

Interesting idea. I hope they have cleared it with Hasbro, because there are one or two intellectual property rights questions that this raises.

[The online version of the article has slightly more detail. See here.]


There have been no posts while I was back in Glasgow for a flying visit – the highlight of which was the wedding of Joanne Gladstone and Robert Rams. Mazeltov to the happy couple. Normal service will resume on this blog as soon as I clear the backlog…