Thursday, November 22, 2007

To Eat Turkey and Rest

Thanksgiving Turkey(Title sounds better in Hebrew)

Today is the 4th Thursday of November, which means Thanksgiving Day is celebrated throughout the United States. This is the day where Americans celebrate their conquest over the native Americans ("Indians"). This is the most family-inclined of all US vacations, and most people use this holiday to meet with their families and eat together, similar to the Jewish Passover.

As a tribute to this togetherness, the family I live with have invited me to join their Thanksgiving celebrations. I got to meet many members of their family in their house in Palo Alto. They have invited me for dinner as well, but I have already booked dinner at Stanford.

The Stanford dinner included Turkey and mashed potatoes. I met there someone I have met while walking "the dish" on one of my first days here.

Tomorrow is Black Friday. While in most cultures calling a day "Black" implies a negative context, Black Friday actually celebrates the most American tradition of them all: Shopping. The use of the word "black" comes from the fact that retailers start making profit, and thus are "in the black" after this day. It turns out that the day after Thanksgiving marks the start of the US Winter Holiday Season, and specifically the shopping season before Christmas. Many retailers have sales on this day, and unless your are shopping-crazed it's advised that you stay home, which is exactly what I plan to do.

Monday, November 19, 2007

To the city

View from Vista point on I-280Yesterday, was my birthday, and my friend Jesse and I went over to "the city" known as San Francisco. At start, I drove and she navigated (with the aid of my friend Miss GPS). We went to see city hall and the opera house, then to Japantown and ate an American lunch. The next stop on our journey was Coit Tower (nothing to do with the radio station KOIT).

Here we switched places, with Jesse driving and me navigating, and didn't get much out of the car. We saw the palace of fine arts, and the golden gate bridge. The route took us by the Pacific shore, though we couldn't see anything due to heavy fog. At this point we decided to head back home. We ate dinner at a nice pie restaurant and back to Jesse's house where we saw the movie Garden State.

Pictures from the Tour

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Happy Birthday to me!

49 mile driveNovember 18th is my birthday, which is tomorrow. My plans for my birthday is to go with my friend to San Francisco and act like tourists. Specifically, we plan to take the 49 mile scenic drive all around the city. If you want to greet me, comment here, or use the info in the about page.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Stanford Football StadiumAmericans love sport. They simply define it differently than the rest of the world. According to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, sport is defined as:
Physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively.

In American popular culture however, the idea of physical activity does not really exist. For most Americans, sports are somet/hing you watch not something you do.

This relates to the true aim of US colleges and universities: To house sports teams for people to watch. Research is what they do behind people's backs when they're busy watching sports.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, yesterday I decided to go to the pool I heard was open at Stanford. I looked through Stanford's athletics website and found no relevant information. You see, the athletics website is for people who want to watch sports. So, there is information about events and how to buy tickets. Even when you do locate the page about the pool (or "aquatic center") there is no information about using the pool. Why would there? Athletic facilities are for varsity athletes and people coming to see them.

Anyway, after finding the much more obscure site for Stanford recreation and wellness, I found the very limited opening hours of the pool, and headed there yesterday afternoon. What a mistake I have made. Stanford was full of cars, all parking lots in the north side of the campus were full, a high school located just off campus sold parking for $10. All this on a Saturday. Why? Because there was a football game, and when I say football, I mean the strange American sport similar to rugby.

So, I decided to try again today (Sunday). I arrived and parked my car and headed at first in the wrong direction. It seems Stanford has stadiums for many strange sports, and they are all used by the few select athletes who compete in that sport. Same goes for the aquatic center. It is clear that is was designed for training and competition, and not for recreational use. One pool is surrounded by audience seating and the only open pool is also designed for competition. It is deep almost all way across, with no shelf in the deeper end, and with ladders only in the shallow end. On the other hand, there are jump boards all around the pool and a big scoreboard. There is no clock anywhere around the pool, but there are many timers all around the pool.

So, after a few laps of swimming, I head back home. I'm not sure if I'd be returning there any time soon.