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Avia S-199 in Israeli Air Force Service

Archive for April 2007

Last day

Child Two, Child Three, and I leave for home tomorrow.

I’ve spent the last four days working on the Afghanistan piece with shortish breaks to eat, sleep, watch, and do crossword puzzles.

My father, enamored as always of surprises, didn’t tell us he was building a pool. He’d planned to have it ready when we arrived – in fact, before my brother spent a week here earlier in March – but it’s not the sort of thing you can keep a surprise when we’re here.

Yesterday, the workers finished enough of it to allow us to fill it. Child Two, my father, and Marion (father’s Wife Two who I don’t call a step-mother because they got together long after I’d moved out) splashed around in about two feet of water yesterday. This morning, it’s almost full and the Child Two is again swimming while Child Three walks in the hot tub annex.

I’m not much for swimming, but I have to admit that this is one cool pool. It’s built into what has become a mound on the back yard that slopes down to the canal, with a small concrete patio. It’s surrounded by real and faux limestone boulders, as is the higher hot tub. A pre-existing limestone wall and waterfall have been incorporated into the design at the deep end.

A bit of the blue paint/sealant has come off as the pool filled. You can’t see it floating in the water, but it turned Child Two’s neck blue.

Other than the work, I’ve fried about 68 helpings of matzah brei. I suppose I could give you my recipe.

I can tell it’s time to go home, because my father has started acting less mature than my son. Child Three left his sandals in the middle of the dining room, so my father in a hissy fit kicked them across the room and out the door.

After arriving home tomorrow, I’m zipping off to a Journalism Students Association dinner. I have a faculty meeting Friday and the Irrational League draft Saturday.

Bonus recipe for matzah brei:

5 pieces of matzah broken into thirds or quarters
3 eggs
butter
milk
boiling water

Put water on to boil. While it heats, scramble the eggs. To the eggs, mix in about half as much milk.

Put the matzah in a baking dish and pour boiling water to cover. When the matzah is soft but before it gets mushy – a minute or two – pour out the water.

Pour the egg/milk mixture over the soggy matzah. Turn the matzah so that it all gets coated.

Melt enough butter in a frying pan to coat the bottom. When pan is hot, dump the contents of the baking dish (matzah, eggs, milk) into the pan. Spread it into an even layer and let it sit until the bottom turns golden brown. At that point, flip as well as you can. Stir the matzah occasionally so that it all cooks.

Serve with maple syrup.

The first night of Passover was also Child Two’s tenth birthday. We made her an almond sponge cake with candied lemon on top. One of the by-products was a lemon syrup, which I kept. It is fantastic on the matzah brei – sweet, with bright notes from the lemon.

My eyes are bugging out

With a combination of grandparents who are doing their best to occupy my kids and my own poor parenting, I’ve spent the better part of two days working on this Afghanistan research for Reader’s Digest (Canada). It’s taking forever. Four pages of 20 in, I have accumulated 50 sources. Many stories require only 30 or so. This is on pace to exceed that tenfold.

As part of the work, I did something cool this morning – something that may be unique in world history. I made a phone call from Freeport, Bahamas to Kabul, Afghanistan. Really, how many people would have ever done that before? Granted, we used Skype, but still….

Child Two just told she read my account of her birth on my wife’s site. I married a plagiarist, apparently.

Bonus premature trash-talking:

Since the beginning of the baseball season, my four-man Irrational League team has owned first place (with the exception of one inconsequential day). Wire to wire, baby! We’ll see where I stand after the draft. I’m not going to go in for – well, I’ll talk draft strategy after our draft on April 14.

Vacation

I’m with Children Two and Three at my dad’s in Freeport, Bahamas and not a whole lot is going on. The kids and I spent much of today finding species names for the shells they harvested from Gold Rock Beach on Sunday. Or was it Saturday? I got a bit of a sunburn on my back there. It doesn’t hurt but it itches like crazy.

That beach is where they filmed significant parts of the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Maybe the first, too. There use to be a ship (set) or two out there, but there’s no sign of Hollywood anymore.

The casino treated me very rudely this year. I think I won three hands before I reached my limit. This is the only place I gamble, probably because there’s so little to do here.

There should be stuff to do, at least for me. Alex Y. spent the last two months cautioniong me not to write too much for the S-199 book without actually defining how much space I had. I got down roughly 22,000 words, and now we discover that that amount of text took us to page 56 of 92. And here I sit a few thousand miles from my references and tapes. I also have that Reader’s Digest piece to fact-check. I got it in December and I think I’m on page two. Shhhh. Don’t tell them.

Play ball 2007! Part 2

AL East

Another year, another Yankee/Red Sox showdown. The Sox have improved everywhere they could. This is one solid team – but so are the Yankees. I think that at the start of the season, the Sox have the best team in the division. The Yanks are weak at 1B (DOUG MIENTKIEWICZ????!!???) and a little weak on the bench and a notch below the Sox in starting pitching. Last year I was burned by underestimating the Yankees’ ability to shop for repairs. I’ll pick them, but I still think Boston is better. The Blue Jays are good, but Vernon Wells will take a step down and as much as I adore the Big Hurt, he’s a big-hurt risk. The Jays’ pitching is not a selling point, either. What’s Royce Clayton doing in uniform? The Jays will be lucky to get ten homers from the middle infield. The Orioles are OK – no real weakness, but fewer strengths. It’s a losing team. Time to sell. The Devil Rays are fun. Not good, but fun. Small steps….

AL Central

The Tigers spent the season in the limelight before fading and taking the wild card. Too many things went right last year. It won’t happen again. The Tigers are not a bad team, they’re just not good enough. The White Sox are leaking talent and not filling the holes. Podsednik is not an asset. Neither is Buehrle. Uribe needs to hit 30 homers to add value. Again, this team’s just not good enough. Cleveland or Minnesota. Minnesota or Cleveland. Nope. It’s the Royals’ division to lose. April Fool’s! Cleveland and Minnesota are both very good. Either can win the division. I’m going with Minnesota on the edge in defense and pitching depth.

AL West

This one isn’t close. The Angels might be the only team over .500 in the division. Oakland might threaten if they get the good Esteban Loaiza and the less-recent versions of Crosby and Chavez. Still, they have more pitching than the Rangers, which is a pity because that’s another team that can sock.

I don’t want to choose the Yankees to win it all, but what else can I do? If Clemens goes to Boston, that might seal the deal the other way.

Play ball 2007! Part 1

Here are my guesses:

NL East

Washington would have trouble winning a AAA championship. Last year, Florida’s rookies performed far beyond expectations. Are they that good or did they, on the whole, luck out? I don’t see Dan Uggla or Miguel Olivo repeating their performances, they still don’t have a center fielder, and the pitching is below average on average. I wouldn’t be surprised by an Atlanta pennant, but I think they have to rely on a few too many lucky breaks with the starting pitching and in LF, 2B, and 1B – and 3B if you count Chipper Jones’s health as lucky. The Phillies have the starting pitching, but still haven’t addressed the hole at third, and have an outfield with two journeymen. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Braves finish higher, but I do think the Phillies ar ethe better team – but not quite good enough. It’s the Mets again, folks – a bit weak in starting pitching, but this team can rake.

NL Central

I picked the Cubs last year, and God help me, I’m doing it again this year, with no Dusty Baker in the way. I’d prefer a stronger middle infield, but the starting pitching blows great to middling, which is enough to set the pace in this division. Milwaukee is a team on the rise, and will rule this division in a year or three, but until they replace Graffanino, they won’t win the division. Sheets may be the best pitcher in the league and Capuano is good (Milwaukee plays in a bandbox, remember), but bottom of the Cubs’ rotation is better than the Brewers’ bottom three. The Cardinals continue to age, but rejuvenated their starting pitching with good talent. On the other hand, Chris Duncan is not going to do that ever again. I can’t see them winning over the rebuilt Cubs. Cincinnati? I can’t pick any team relying on Eric Milton, Adam Dunn, and a pack of singles hitters. David Ross is for real, though. Houston continues to try to prove it can win with a rotation of Oswalt, a decent #2, and three batting practice machines. If only Clemens would join earlier. Houston might surprise, but they’ll need Jason Jennings to pull a rabbit out of his hat. Coors wasn’t responsible for his inability to strike people out.

NL West

This is becoming my favourite division in baseball. The Rockies are the Rockies. Helton is now Sean Casey, masked by the park. Coors is no place for a side-armer, so expect Kim to do nothing. The team still has no pitching. I love to watch the Giants lose, maybe because I get the Bay Area feed of DirecTV and the homerism sickens me. I’ll be doing a lot of loving this summer. Last year’s acquisition of Matt Morris is followed up with Zito this year. Way to go! Last place for the Giants. The Dodger starters are a strength. I like the team, but Luis Gonzalez was not the answer to any question that needed asking. Nor was Juan Pierre. Matt Kemp and Brady Clark should start. I predict the Dodger season goes down the tube with injuries. The D-backs and the Padres will battle for the crown. Both teams have a ton of ability at the plate. The Padres in particular are solid 2 to 9 in the field and plate. What blows me away are the Padres pitchers. Peavy, Young, and Hensley are all potential all-stars. Then there’s Maddux and Wells, who still contribute. Wow. Padres take the division and go to the World Series.

The AL will have to come later. Gotta go eat.

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