Wednesday, December 22, 2010

YandA Homeward Bound December 22, 2010

All good things come to an end including our trip to the West Coast.  We packed on Monday morning, said our farewells and thanks and went off to the airport with Maya.  We checked in at Lufthansa and she went off to United to return to Eugene.  We expect to hear from her in the blogosphere.
We found the airport in a bit of chaos.  Snow in Europe had disrupted flights and people were sleeping on the floor in London and Frankfurt while San Francisco was full of rebooked travelers.  We found our friend and colleague Karoly from Budapest, who should have gone home on Friday, waiting for our flight since his BA flight was cancelled.  We got off about an hour or more late because the automatic fueling system at the airport had broken down and planes were being fueled manually.  We visualized little fuel elves as a bucket brigade on the wings...

Eventually we arrived in Frankfurt with several hours on our hands before our flight to Tel Aviv late at night.  There. too, stranded trravelers were sleeping on the floor awaiting  news of their fate.. We took the S Bahn into town and walked from the station to the Stadel Museum through the snow.    Note YandA at war.
The exhibition now on display is very interesting.  It is called Chronology of Painting and has two large galleries in which paintings from the collection are arranged in chronological order with events of the relevant era listed above on the wall.  The first gallery ran from 1300 to 1830 and the second from mid 19th century to the present.  Well worth seeing if any of you get to Frankfurt.
We then returned to the airport where it was A's turn to get an exotic serving of dinner, this time a swan bearing a baked potato.
We eventually boarded the plane and arrived in Kiryat Ono at 0500 to sleep, perchance to dream and now back to the real world.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sn Mateo December 19, 2010

Friday we packed up and left San Franciso under black skies and heavy rain. We took the BART to the airport, expecting to meet Maya (coming from Oregon) and be picked up by Fred. However, fog had canceled Maya’s plane, fortunately only temporarily, but this we did not know until we reached the airport. We presumed she had informed Fred and Mariel and tried to phone them but they were not answering the phone, and after a couple of futile, money-wasting efforts, came to the correct conclusion that they were on their way to pick us up anyway. However (see previous YandA’s) these are people who do not use a cellphone, in the event it was in the other car.. and Maya was also unavailable. We waited by the payphone in case they should call us back... Arkee sent me outside to look for a brown Toyota station-wagon, but Fred was driving a brown Accura sedan (and the station-wagon, when finally viewed, was a white Subaru!) Fred saw me walking up and down and tried to call me but the car windows were closed due to the weather and Fred is not as mobile as he used to be. So we waited, Fred at the kerb in the car, Mariel upstairs at one gate, and us downstairs with all our belongings at the other for about forty minutes until Mariel paged Arkee over the PA system and we finally got together.

And of course as we got to the house we found Maya’s message that she was just about due to land and off went Arkee and Fred back to the airport again. A good time was had by all.

The weather is not conducive to great initiatives, so yesterday was shopping and football and catching-up day. In the evening we met our friend Mike at an Afghan restaurant and enjoyed an ethnic meal together.  Today is Sunday, we hope to get into the city for a cultural visit with a family party at the end of the day.

Friday, December 17, 2010

San Francisco III

 ThursdayAnother fine but cold day with lectures for A and wrestling with wifi for Y. The internet connections either at the hotel or the convention centre give some illusion of normalcy, but sites come up very slowly and most tasks have to be postponed for better days. However, I took the Acer with me to wait out Arkee's engagements and managed to talk to Ella on skype with the aid of ear phones to cover the noisy background. We met with Margy for an intimate lunch  at another exotic place which serves teas and food in various peculiar combinations – mine was called English service and included a quiche, a scone with jam and clotted cream and English tea on a three-tiered tower – see pic. (blog of Y's exotic lunches-A)

Arkee and I went to investigate the Contemporary Jewish museum. Two exhibits were very interesting: one of a scribe – female – writing a sefer torah – with a complete explanation of how it is done, samples of the tools needed and a video demonstration. The other was a collection of art that had been stolen by the Nazis from a Dutch collector and returned to the Dutch government. Finally, after forty years, 200 pieces - out of a thousand - had been returned to the family and a sample was being exhibited here.  They were mostly Dutch masters of the 15th to 17th centuries and very lovely. We hope to go to another during the weekend when Maya is here.. It seems the Orsay is being refurbished and a huge collection of impressionists is being loaned around the world meanwhile, so we are in luck. This evening – yet another dinner with good friends. After all, someone has to take on these onerous tasks for the common good…
Friday AM Lovely dinner last night at The Stinking Rose with Barbara and Leo Stanger.  Tonight we start the weekend with Fred and Mariel and Maya.
Tough life.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

San Francisco II

San Francisco December 15, 2010
The meeting is going along well.  Yesterday A stood by the poster and had a few nice discussions.  In the evening we went to dinner with dear friends,  Ray Goldstein and his wife Jane from San Antonio and Daniel Winterhalter from Pasadena.  We went to John's Grill, a San Francisco landmark that is on the register of historical places in American literature.  Dashiel Hammett is said to have written The Maltese Falcon there and the place figures significantly in the adventures of Sam Spade, his detective.  Excellent company, fine food and  enjoyable conversation.  It wss Ray's birthday which made it even nicer.
Today I heard some interesting talks about the dynamic systems of Saturn followed by lunch with Mike Schulz and another friends.  I mention the lunch because Y had something unique stuffed fried pear wontons.  Here they are:
Nice variation.

The streets and shops are full of Xmas shoppers and the town is lively.  Nonetheless you see "retail space for lease" signs and beggars in the streets.  One of them is quite creative and has a sign saying "my wife has been kidnapped and I am short $0.99 for the ransom"
The weather has been cooperative, but rain is forecast to begin on Friday and to continue through the weekend just when Maya will be with us, alas.  We still hope to have some fun with her.
This evening we will attend the ceremony in which a friend from APL will be installed as a Fellow of the AGU in recognition of his contributions to science.  We will then go to dinner with Barry, Ralph and other friends from the East Coast.  Tomorrow night we are meeting Barbara and Leo Stanger who are in California to visit their daughter Debra and her family who live in Ukiah.