Fourth journal from Israel

this is my fourth journal from Israel. If you didn’t get any of the other three, let me know. If you think they’re too long, too bad. If however, you have some input on where to put more or less detail, I’d be happy to hear them. Also let me know if I’m too melodramatic.

The previous issues had some amount of continuity. I tried to tie things together at least a little bit. This time, I’m just gonna tell you about independent events which probably have no correlation except that they all happened in Israel.

So I was at the beach with my friend Michal (the ‘ch’ sounds should be pronounced kinda like a cobra hissing at you except that there’s more spit involved. “Hey man. I don’t want no hachen on ma bread”-name that reference.) The beach in Haifa is similar to what you might find in Santa Cruz but not as fancy was many of the beaches in the LA area. There are a number of cafes along a concrete walkway. “under the ‘cretewalk. People walkin along….” Nice place to hang out and have a drink or some food. “what, you can drink in public. Get out!” “this ain’t Amurika, son.” Anyway, there we were hangin out one evening. The sun had gone down and the air was just the perfect temperature after a warm day. Not quite “Africa hot” but getting there. Woh! What’s that? Straight out of “GI Jane” comes this infantry type unit running along the beach. Machine guns abound. One dude has a radio strapped to his back. A radio which would have made any hick proud. Noone besides me seemed to notice.

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After going to see “Deep Impact” I was hangin out at a coffee shop in the Kenion (mall). (the movie’s not too great. Wait for the rental. Most of the people receiving this shouldn’t even bother with that) Anyway, there I am. The Kenion’s a pretty nice mall. Cell phone stands everywhere. Lots of shoe stores and shops with overpriced, small amount of fabric clothing items that make high school students look so much different than I remember them in MY high school.

I looked up to the next floor from my seat and what do I see? Dunkin Donuts. Sbarro…… kosher. McDonalds. It brought back memories of Jimmy Z and Brownhead going on their dollar and something box of a dozen stale donuts. Rather pavlovian. Sbarro from Tech Center. Don’t know why anyone would go through the trouble of preparing it kosher. I wonder if teenagers have the same delemna of their parents coming to eat the Arch Delux? I mentioned this to the other people at the table and they informed me that Burger King is also kosher. Their shakes are non-dairy. Good news for those lactose intolerants out there. To top it off, a whopper (without cheese, of course) costs ~$4.00. It wouldn’t be very popular with Gary Meeker and me. We used to go out for the $0.99 whopper lunch all the time. ($2.14 for two whoppers is quite a meal. Let me tell ya.)

I was talking to a guy from work who told me that he went there with his wife and kids. The kids got Big Macs (yum) and he and the wife got Sbarro. When they sat down at the tables by Sbarro, they were asked not to because the nutritious Big Macs were not Kosher.

I almost forget. During the movie, there was a line that went something like, “If you hire Johnny Cochran, I’ll kill you.” This was followed by a line that floating to me from the audience, “who’s Johnny Cochran?” I guess I should have moved here earlier.

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One night I walked up to Carmel Center from my apartment to grad a bite to eat at one of the cafes. I looked at the menu and the thing that caught my eyes was the hamburger with lots of stuff on it. Mushrooms, onions,….. Plus a baked potato. That’s what I ordered. What did I get when it arrived? Two halves of a potato. Peeled. Nothing on it. A hamburger pattie. “It’s got meat. That’s good. It’s got cheese. I like cheese. But I’m confused… This bread. What’s with the bread. It’s not meat. It’s not cheese. I don’t get it.” “But you have to have a bun so it won’t drip down your arm!!!!” The pattie was pretty good, however and actually made it all worthwhile. Plus, to be fair, it did some with some bread in a basket, so if I absolutely wanted a HAMBURGER, I could have made one.

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Now a little excitement. I’m writing this from memory from two weeks ago, but I can hardly forget it. Why I couldn’t forget as well as why it’s taken this long to write about it will become clear shortly.

It was Shavuot and we got a three day weekend. On Friday, I went to another mountain bike race with the Intel bike club. We actually got a bus since about 30 of us were going both for the two races as well as the family ride. I rode in one of the team races. Three riders on each team and Intel had four teams. The course was a good one. Rocky but still rideable. It had some climbing but also a longer gradual downhill. Very enjoyable. Of Intel’s four teams, only one had all three riders finish. Unfortunately, mine was not it. The team race was not as popular as the singles course; most of the fast riders opted to solo it. Because of this, my team could have finished third. I was ahead of all three third place riders by about 5 minutes, my teammate that finished came in a couple minutes behind me, ahead of two riders of the other team. T he teammate that didn’t finish because of a flat probably would have come in between the two of us.

Or course, another Intel team that didn’t finish (also because of a flat) might have made second.

Oh well, it was fun anyway.

But that’s not the excitement that I wanted to write about.

I forget what I did on Saturday but on Sunday I went on a hike in the Galilee region. Did you know that the sea is 600 ft below sea level? Not quite the Dead Sea, but then it wouldn’t be able to feed into it if it were lower. The Jordan river connects the two seas. It was a good hike.

We started at one of the higher areas just north and hiked down into a canyon. It reminded me a bit of the Grand Canyon though it’s not as large or deep. Once we got to the bottom, we walked along the river. The water was flowing but not so much that you couldn’t take a dip here and there in the pools. One of the more interesting parts was that we had a dog along; a pit bull that was afraid of everything that moved. Afraid even of the water which meant that getting her past some of the scrambling parts required a bit of force. Some of the other groups there got a kick out of watching it all. In one part there was no path and we had to hold onto there metal loops bolted to the rock wall. With alot of coaxing we got her to swim through the water.

but that wasn’t the excitement either.

So we continue on. At one point, we spread out a bit and I stopped to let everyone catch up. Along the path there was this cool rock wall. Again, we’re in a canyon, so the walls go up pretty steeply in places. I just couldn’t resist. There were plenty of handholds, it was overhanging just a little, and I didn’t want to just sit there. I didn’t bother to take off my fanny pack since everyone would catch up within a minute or two. (There were six of us) Well I got up about a meter when the rock that my left hand was holding onto broke off.

“UhOh….” I fall straight back. My first thought was, “oh man, my camera. I’m gonna fall onto it. It’ll break.” Well, doing all this, I forget to let go of what WAS part of the wall and is NOW a rock about 8 or 10 inches in diameter. It smashes my hand and I’m like, “dude! that hurt.” I see that I cut myself but at the same time, my first impulse is cover the incident up. I’m feeling really stupid now and being the guy that I am, I’d rather not give my friends something to heckle me about. Only one person in my group, Arnon, witnessed it so maybe I still have chance. I walk down the path a little, pull out my water bottle and clean off my cut when I notice, “That’s alot of blood to be coming out of a cut on my finger”. It’s not like the flesh wound in The Holy Grail but still.

I look at the cut and at this point I know that I’m gonna need some help from my friend Michal patching me up. She’s a physical therapist so has a clue about this kind of stuff. She had heard the fall as well as Arnon asking if I’m ok so she was next to me quickly. I show her my finger and she remarks, “that’s quite a cut you’ve got there.” I mutter, “yeah”, as the embarrassment is starting to set in. She’s going through her bag to get out a role of TP to apply pressure and stop the bleeding when my own Boy Scouts First Aid training kicks in. “Hey my head is spinning and I’m about to pass out. SHOCK! Lay your ass down, Miles!”

The human body has an interesting way of dealing with injuries. Even if the injury is not life threatening one (which mine obviously wasn’t) your body often assumes the worst. It knows by pain impulses, loss of blood (however little), increased heart beat caused by my excitement that something is not right. Your blood pressure drops and less O2 gets to your head.

As my friend John Ramirez observed halfway up Shasta probably soon after we saw a guy (involuntarily) slide down the snow and ice for awhile, “This shit is for real, dude!” Shock is not something to be ignored. You don’t even have to be hurt bad, or at all and it can hit you. If you see someone experience an intense incident, be on the lookout for it.

Well, I didn’t pass out, but my head continued to spin for a couple more minutes while Michal is working on me. At about this time, I notice the pain in my other hand. I guess I’d tried to break my fall but the surprising thing was that it was still hurting! Having broken my arm as a kid, I knew that if it were broken, I wouldn’t be able to move it. I wiggle my fingers and feel relieved that the day is not as bad as it could have been. Give it some time. There might be swelling a but it’ll go away.

So I’m not in particularly good shape. Physically or mentally. I’m hurt, bleeding, can’t stand up. In my head I’m feeling shaken up, embarrassed, and not in one piece. I prepare myself for the next problem. Dealing with the inevitable questions from Michal, “what were you doing up there? I can’t believe you would do something like this.” Or perhaps she would just make fun of me. Her thoughts and opinions matter to me and the anticipation filled me with more dread than any physical pain I felt. I thought about other friends I’ve had and the pes of comments or even expression that I would have gotten. They would not have made me feel any better. Quite the contrary, it would have put them on my shit list. (to be fair, I sometimes have a tendency to be teasing and inappropriately joking myself.)

But this was not her reaction. Her behavior reflected an attitude of, “well, shit happens. Let’s just deal with it.” This, as well as the fact that she was even able to deal with the situation earned her MAJOR BONUS POINTS. She provided me with exactly the medicine I needed: SUPPORT. Something to think about next time a friend does something stupid.

At this point, other groups are starting to pass and my status as a guy still hasn’t changed. I’m ready to continue on. Michal had made a makeshift bandage and there wasn’t much else to do. Since being the oh so prepared ones, we hadn’t even brought a bandaid. Not that it would have fit; the cut was about a cm long and very deep. I get up to brush myself and again, my head tells me, “where do you think you’re going. You’re not done resting.” I resist by sitting down but this was an argument I’d lose. I laid back down.

So we decided to eat lunch; it was a nice shady spot. I’m just hoping my head clears up because I know I still have to walk to the car. Inevitably it does and we hike back. At the trailhead, I got some ice for my hands and we’re on our way home. I’ve calmed down by this point and just looking at it all with a laugh. My new worry is whether Michal and I will make it to the Shavuot party at work that evening. We eventually made it back to Haifa and after dropping off the third person in my car, we headed to her parents to ask where they would suggest going to get stitches which I would surely need.

In the end, her father took me to Carmel Hospital. Beauracracy here slows things down just like it can in the states but eventually, I saw a doctor who sent me off the get xrays. When I see him again after, he takes a very short look at the films and comments, very matter of factly, “looks like you have a fracture in you right hand. You get a cast.” I’ll remind you that it was the LEFT hand that got the cut.

Only now does he remove that bandage that we put on the cut at the trailhead. He pokes around a little, I guess to see if it’d damaged anything important and when he was satisfied he announced that I get two stitches. He pulls out this gadget which is a cross between a stapler and a staple gun. He pushes the cut closed. click. click. and I’m back in one piece.

I showed up to work the next day with a cast on the right hand and a large bandage on the other. This is a story I’ve had lots of practice telling.

The epilogue. How much would you guess all this cost? My insurance here is such that I pay whatever the cost is and I get reimbursed. Treatment included: seeing a doctor in the ER, xrays on my hands, a cast and two stitches. When all was done and I was waiting at the reception desk, I was expecting a bill of at least $1000. Total bill: 860 shekels otherwise known as $232.

Things that I learned from this: 1) be prepared. at least bring some bandaids

2) not alot has to happen for you to need assistance. This will make me think twice about mountain biking by myself with just water, wearing only my cute biker shorts. If/when I fall from my bike it’ll probably be because I was going too fast and/or did something stupid.

3) It’s hard to shower without the use of your hands. The first day or two, I still felt some pain in them.

4) It’s even harder to take a leak. I mean, it’s hard enough whipping it out without both hands, but when you’re reduced to just one pinky…. I’m not even talking about aiming. That’s a whole other matter.

5) A guy at work suggested that at least I won’t go blind but I won’t comment on that.

The stitches are gone now and I’ve learned to type with a hand and two fingers. Hopefully, I’ll get this stupid cast off in another week and will be back to climbing, only this time I’ll have either a rope or a spotter. I want to get back on my bike even more.

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