What did I do?

Yesterday, I was basking in the glow of having just received an Amazon package with all sorts of delicious things in it: A wacom tablet, a Spanish edition of Don Quixote and accompanying dictionary, and my very own set of the Abhorsen trilogy. I was driving off from work in a very good mood, singing along to the radio and everything.

And then about ten minutes into my drive, I was stopped at a red light, behind a few other cars. I fleetingly notice a lady start to cross the street the next lane over, not in the crosswalk, but in between the cars. Dumb, but whatever, it's her life, I think. I'm completely stopped, and stare off at the light, waiting for it to change. Maybe my gaze strays somewhere, but I've always got my the light in the corner of my eye.

The lady crosses in front of me. She turn and I look at her. "Bitch," she mouths at me. "What?!" I mouth at her, totally flabbergasted as to why she did that. She then flips me off and pasts her butt at me, obviously really pissed about something.

*Pop* goes my good mood. What had I done? I wasn't rolling forward, I wasn't making faces, I think I have even stopped singing at this moment. I had done nothing at all connected with her other than glance at her, and she wasn't even looking at me then. Hell, I think I even made sure there was enough room for her in between my car and the one in front of me. It blows my mind to think that I could have so offended someone without meaning to.

I've had another situation this past year when someone I knew called me out on treating them as inferior, when I thought there had been mutual ambivalence. At least I knew this person, though. Am I just oblivious? Or are both of these people self-absorbed?

When I make mistakes, it's not like I aim that at people. Do people think I try to hurt them? I consider myself to be pretty nice on the whole, and before these two incidences, I felt like I had a good gauge on how people feel about me. When I say or do offensive things, I usually know it or have a good guess as to what was offensive, regardless of intent. So it weirds me out when there's a mismatch.

It makes sense that people focus on themselves, that they rarely put themselves in other's shoes. Everyone thinks about how a comment that was just made relates to them, it's how we're trained to think. Joe just said he hates trains. Golly, I have this great story where trains are featured as evil. Let me tell it to gain his approval! That could be one train *cough* of thought. Another could go more like this: Joe just said he hates trains. Didn't he know my dad was a train engineer? I told him that like two months ago at Bill's party. Ugh, that's really low. I love trains. How could he not know that? He must be trying to get at me for not hanging out with him last week when I had to work late. There are lots of possible reactions. In reality, Joe might just be making conversation, or might be trying to hit on the girl standing next to him who had previously said that she has a fear of trains--that is, right before you walked up. Not everything has an ulterior motive, and not everything has to do with you. Or me. Or Joe. Or the girl with siderodromophobia.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Like the lady crossing the street--she was probably having a pretty bad day. That said, I like also assume that people aren't intentionally mean, which sometime they are. Sometimes Joe might actually hate me. But it doesn't matter, cause I should treat him like he doesn't. As long as they aren't taking advantage of me, I want to play it nice. Doesn't mean that I always do, but that's the goal.


miniature time lapse

I stumbled upon some time lapse videos of a peculiar sort. First, I found this video, for which my thought process was something along the lines of "Oh! Time-lapse! I love time lapse! It looks so miniature...wait a minute....okay that helicopter is totally just a toy. I wonder how they did the ocean, maybe a comp of with a real time lapse?" Then I realized that the scenes were just way too crazy complicated to be stop motion. Instead, this was done with tilt shift miniature faking.

I found Keith Loutit's Vimeo page with a whole slew of these videos--time lapses that look like miniature stop motion animation. Pretty incredible. Everything looks miniature, from the vehicles to the people, but it's all real, as he says. Amazing.


critic or carper?

We are all critics. Some people like to pick apart movies, assess the quality of meals, or ponder the beauties and flaws of pieces of art. Some people have a tendency to universally approve of everything, and others the inclination to disapprove. You will never meet a person with no opinions on anything. And if you have, they're probably hiding something. Or you haven't actually been able to communicate with them.

What interests me is the nature of the highly critical individuals, particularly those with the tendency to disapprove or find fault. It seems common that being highly critical in this fashion is a cool, intellectual, highly-informed thing to do. Skepticism is in. And if you're being critical of other critics, then you must be way super rad. But it is not in an attempt to be way super rad that I write this. I make a lot of judgments myself, so this is just as much a reflection on my own psyche as it is on those of others.

My biggest question is what do we gain from negatively critical of things? Books, food, art--there is so much to approve of, why bother tearing down things? It doesn't seem like it's worth the time. I could see people trying to get an in with someone or some group by having equal levels of criticality--this happens all the time--but why not share things you enjoy instead? Unless everything is beneath you, of course.

Of particular interest is the inclination to criticize other people: they way they look or dress, the way they act and speak, and their mindsets. From this comes the organization of more-cynical-than-thou cliques that permeate society. How many times has a bond been formed with another person over criticizing someone? Sure, criticizing non-human things forms a bond, but confiding to a friend, "I really think that Suzy doesn't know as much as she pretends to know" is a socially charged statement and begs for an alliance not only with the speaker, but with the speaker against another holder of opinions. Alliances are made, a line is drawn. Us vs. Suzy.

On the other side of the room, Suzy may be telling everybody how prestigious her research is. We might be justified in taking an alliance against her. She's arrogant and puts down those around her. But when she goes home that night, maybe she cries because she doesn't feel a connection with anyone. She's lonely. Maybe if we talked to her instead of about her, she'd move past her facade and be interesting. By no means am I saying that all arrogant people are really lonely inside. Or that everyone's faults go away upon closer acquaintance. My point is that we always have a small clip of the picture, and that people tend to get better if you not only get to know them more, but give them room to make mistakes. I'm sure not perfect.

So that's one social example. But what if somebody is truly taking advantage of me? When does it become okay or even good to criticize others? I've surely improved my own character by watching the mistakes of others. If I had universally approved of everyone, I'd probably be pretty boring, if not unpleasant to be around. So where is the line? I'd argue that it's hatred. It's okay to realize that your friends make mistakes, and what the causes of those mistakes are. It's okay to think "I'd never do that." But when contempt starts to wiggle its way into my heart, I know something is wrong.

Then comes the question of once the opinions are held, what do we do with them? If I keep thinking the Suzy is arrogant and don't tell anyone, I might fester. If I tell someone, I might negatively impact their views of Suzy, or even of myself. Sure, I could write it down, but that isn't very satisfying and it's potentially dangerous. Unless I light the paper on fire afterwards. To this I have no answer but to trust in an individual's judgment.

I could argue that actions are only bad when they harm someone, but that is not a clear line, because some forms of hurt help overall. Suzy probably wouldn't like to hear that she's arrogant, but even if it hurt her a lot, she might end up correcting her behavior. Or she could be thrown into a depression. Is it in my realm of responsibility to determine what is good for her? Again, it comes down to judging case-by-case.

The only thing that I can actually conclude is that loving and trying to understand people is the best path, at least for me.


Stereotypical Teenagers

The line divides the cool from the uncool. I apologize for the color choices, it goes with the theme...

8/10/09 - Why teenagers?


sticks but not stones

I've been taking an art class on nests and nestmaking. As to be expected, we covered a fair amount of Patrick Dougherty's work. These sculptures are are incredibly impressive and inspiring to me. I want to go live in one.
My biggest question is: Where does he get all the willow branches to make his sculptures? I presume they aren't all willow, but with so much material going into these structures, it must take a small logistic miracle every time one goes up.
I think that one of the things I like best about his work is that it photographs so well. The image in this post make it look like those giant tree-sized structures are almost miniature. I wonder if any of the beauty would be lost in real life. I doubt it, but I could potentially see how a rough structure would be less impressive close up.


We Are Burma

Just a shout-out for the We Are Burma exhibition at the Leila Gallary at Cafe Leila. It's up until July 4th, so go see it if you can!


Adventures in Israel, the Epic Saga, Chaper IV - By Day and by Night

Wednesday through Friday I quit being a tourist. I shared a giant bowl of all different kinds of gelato with Ronni and two of her friends, I went out to dinner with others, at local food and drank desert-y drinks. I took buses, visited the shuk, watched people, took pictures, and wandered around. I talked a lot with Niv, one of Ronni's apartment-mates and met a fair number of his friends. I slept and let my feet recover. After walking to and around Jerusalem in my birks, I was sporting a slew of blisters, particularly an inch-and-a-half diameter one on my right foot. The birks were a poor choice in retrospect.

Thursday evening was the beginning of Shavuot, which meant that all the Jewish bus systems shut down. I was invited to Niv's parent's house for the evening, in a town from whence Delilah, of the Sampson and Delilah story, came. It was near-ish the Gaza strip--some bombing had occurred close by.

His family was wonderful. Both of his parents had come from nearby countries, one of them being Iran--I think. It was also the birthday for one of his nieces. She got a little mermaid bathing suit and sun glasses from an aunt, but a redheaded, slightly older cousin ended up stealing the glasses. We ate amazing amazing homemade food and lit sparklers.

Afterward, we visited some of Niv's local friends. We walked on the beach and talked for a while. Niv wanted me to pretend like I had met one of the guys before while backpacking in India, but I couldn't pull it off.

Friday, Niv and I celebrated Shavuot by eating chicken and steak. We also explored a beautiful little area of Jerusalem, all on a slope. He is looking to move soon and was scoping out places. It was determined that it would be a nice place to live in a few years, once his friends were no longer dependent on buses to visit him.

It's funny both how similar and different the American and Israeli cultures are. There are times that it feels like a photo of Israeli streets, shops, or homes could have been taken of America with no fiddling, excepting printed language. The people don't feel any different--they don't really think differently or have a different needs. And yet sometimes you'll see a man carrying a giant gun slung across his back as if it was nothing. It's a different world with the same heart.

Adventures in Israel, the Epic Saga, Chaper III - Religion and Politics

That evening a slew of us headed to a bohemian soup restaurant: populated by younger people, mismatching bowls, and everything kosher neutral. Our dining area was a whole bunch of old couches and chairs out back in a covered alley.

Understandably, Jamie felt a desire to talk about religion and its impacts. It happens when you travel in such territory. Ronni shut him down, eventually, for various reasons. But he still had those urges when we returned to Ronni's place, so we stayed up super late, talkin' religion. The conversation, at least for me, was tied closely with a question sometime in high school: Does religion do more good or bad for the world? I've never been able to come to a satisfying answer.

My discussion with Jamie that night was much like a human trying to fly with only the use of a trampoline. One would find a probing question or thought and use it to project the conversation, but the force of gravity, or the weight of the uncertainty would bring up back to the question: religion, good or bad?

Jamie's stance was adamantly against religion. He reveres science as a god, though, which I pointed out as comical, though he didn't think so. Being a religious person myself, I found the hatred and unwillingness to understand religion and religious people a little upsetting, but also moderately understandable. I think that we all find our own gods, whether they be in traditional religion, in science, in relationships with other people, or in the small things of life. Feeling dislike of religion as a scientist is not so different from disliking Catholicism as a Lutheran or vice versa. It's when dislike swells to hatred and misunderstanding results in deeming other schools of thought to be rawly stupider than their own that I draw my objections.

The next morning, Jamie and I walked to the old city of Jerusalem, which was quite the hike: the route was something like this. Have I mentioned that Jamie doesn't like to take buses? He abhors them. Thus, we walked, and at a decent clip.

In the old city, there were a few helpful merchants who weren't shoving merchandise in our face. The informed us that the Dome of the Rock was closed until a certain hour of the day for tourists, and since Jamie was headed off to Jordan that day before it opened, we parted ways. I headed off the the Lion's gate, in a hope to see Gethsemane. Once I arrived at the gate, I decide to go back into the city because I wouldn't have as much time as I wanted to see the garden.

So I walked back to the street corner with the same friendly merchants. They asked me to sit down if I like, so I did. The first one I spoke with was so friendly that I wasn't sure how he made money or if he even had a store. Eventually I asked him if he had a show, and he took me inside it, with my chair, and gave me a bottle of water, no charge, and kept handing me seeds and nuts to try. I didn't quite master the watermelon seed eating technique, but they were tasty and a bought a small bag. He knew I was waiting to see the Dome of the Rock, so he kept encouraging me to stay, since it was so close. Eventually, he and a few of his male relatives who also worked in the shop went off to pray, leaving me with the shop owner, who also encouraged me to sit and relax with him outside.

The shop owner identified himself as Palestinian. He talked for a while about all sorts of interesting things: his people, his perspective on the conflicts, his wife's modesty choices, Islam, and religion in general.

An interesting discussion point came when he asked me, "Do you know the biggest difference between Christian and Muslim beliefs?" "The divinity of Christ?" was my tentative answer. "No!" he responded, "It's that we believe in your prophet, Jesus Christ, and you do not believe in ours, Muhammad." Taking away the fact that I belong to a sect of Christianity that believes in a modern-day prophet, he is still missing the point that most Christians believe that Christ was more than a mere prophet. But, the perspective is understandable. For Muslims, that is the biggest difference. And for Christians, the biggest difference is something else. Any pairing of religions in contrast would likely have a similar problem.

We talked about Islam for a while, including that the Qur'an is only the Qur'an in Arabic, and that Christians have hundreds of versions of the bible in all sorts of languages. I expressed interest in learning more, and by then, his relatives had returned, and he ran off to search for a pamphlet for me.

He couldn't find it easily, and it was time for me to go see the Dome of the Rock, so I promised to return, since one of the exit gates was right by their shop. The Dome was certainly beautiful. In a city where everything is build or covered by a pale pink/yellow stone, this stood above it all in brilliant blue and gold.

Soon after entering and wandering, I met an Arab man who offered to give me a tour. In stark contrast to the Palestinians whom I had just been with who make a point not to touch me, this man asked me to hold his hand as he showed me around. Completely naive and not wanting to insult the man, I allowed two fingers to touch his palm. He showed me around and told me all sorts of interesting things and took my picture for me. He was uncomfortably close and kept telling me not to be afraid and come closer, speaking in whispers, which I attributed to it being a hold place.

But then he told me about a German girl who he had basically taken on as a girlfriend for two weeks when she was a tourist, explaining that for hugs and kisses he took care of her and took her to dinner, etc.. Umb, I thought, not happening with me. Also, telling me that you're a player won't help, just FYI. We left the dome and he took me to a museum, very close by. He paid my way into this museum, which had really cool underground structures (old old Jerusalem) and a lot of interesting artifacts. He told me to hold his hand again (I had stopped a while ago). At this point I flatly told him that I was warm and didn't want to. He told me to go meet him to walk the ramparts and left. Thank heavens. I took my time in the museum, then rushed back to the Palestinian shop, where I felt safe and respected.

When I got there, they were preparing lunch, and invited me to join. There was a danish girl there in addition to the five men and all of us talked extensively over a delicious meal. The son of the shop owner, who had previously (and jokingly) asked the Danish girl to be his second wife, asked me as well over dinner, to the amusement of all. He had just been recently married.

The shop owner and I chatted again (he had found the pamphlet for me), this time with him expressing more anti-Jew opinions. I originally used the term anti-semitic when talking about this to Ronni, but she pointed out that since he was technically a Semite too, it was a funny usage. Anyway, it was a sad conversation, because he said a lot of things that in the states would be shot down as not politically correct, but at the same time, he had a right to his opinions. He felt that since Jews controlled most of the world financially, and were in all sorts of positions of power in cooperations, banks, etc. that they shouldn't take Palestinian land. Though the reasoning was flawed, and the language a little hostile to Jewish people, he did speak some legitimate points.

I believe in an Israeli state, but I think the Palestinian territories should be returned. How is unclear, since it would require uprooting families. It's a tricky business, and I just don't know enough to be able to express an articulate and detailed opinion.

One of the Palestinians was dressed in brand-new religious garb and showing it off. He was the most visually religious,m but also the most jocular and fun. High-energy, almost. After lunch, he meandered around the shop and showed me everything. He had one bad hand, which is why he worked in his uncle's shop, he said, but so much enthusiasm that it made up for it. He showed me spices, the nuts and seeds again, and scarves of all sorts. He put the traditional Palestinian white-and-black scarf on my head and called me something, leaving the shop owner a little disgruntled. He and I were grinning like thieves, though. From him I bought spices, a scarf, and one of the traditionally touristy mother-of-pearl inlay boxes.

Finally, I knew I needed to leave, so I left the sanctuary of the Palestinian shop and wound my way back through the city. I took pictures of some children on one street and was harassed by a little girl crying "No! No!" to me and my camera, which I thought was odd since I wasn't taking pictures of her. Having a hard time finding my way, I took out a map and was approached by a little boy whose glasses gave him giant eyes. I asked him for directions and another little boy came up and started leading me. When I got to a place I knew, the boy demanded for money, which I gave him. And then he demanded more, which I grudgingly gave him. I wish I had let the big-eyed boy lead me, for I don't believe he would have been as impertinent.

And at last, I caught a bus on (J|Y)af+a street, which took me all the way back to Ronni's place. Regular expressions are the only way to deal with the transliteration of Hebrew into English. Tangentially, I like the word hebraization.

Adventures in Israel, the Epic Saga, Chaper II - Slack, Salt, and Sun

After I get in that Sunday evening and find my way to Ronni's place, we decide to hit the town and meet up with Jamie, who is also staying with Ronni. The connection is that we all went to the magical world of college together, although Jamie and I had not yet been acquainted.

Later that evening, Jamie and I decide to go on a walk, he with the intent to do some slackrope walking. We make our way to a park and he shows me how to set it up. He walked all over the rope, making it look easy, and then I try it, falling all over the place and unable to even mount the thing without assistance. There's a reason my college friends declared my puritan name to be Grace. By the end of the evening, however, I was able to get up on the line and balance for a few seconds. It is a really peaceful activity, and I'd like to get better at it.

The next day, Jamie and I tromp out to the Dead Sea, with the expectation that we'll spend most of the day there. We bus out, not really knowing where to get off. After driving along the sea for a while, we decide that the current stop is as good as any. There were only a few people at our particular beach, at least before a tour bus got there an hour later. But meanwhile, we floated peacefully and made friends with a Canadian student named Todd. I know everyone says it, but I need to add my own personal declaration of how awesome the Dead Sea is. You float. No matter what. You can try to sink, but it doesn't really work. Probably because you don't want to try too hard because getting the water in your eyes hurts a lot. And getting it in your mouth is super gross. I say this not from my experiences, but from witnessing Jamie's.

Having experienced the joys of flotation for a while, a novelty for me as I always sink in normal water, and the beautiful swirly water, the three of us decide that it is high time to find some mud. We see a man walking towards us, who had gone exploring for the same purpose a little earlier, and it appeared as though his journey had been successful. Jamie the bold question him and found out that the mud was about 300m off that-a-way. Donning our shoes, we tramp over the salty rocks and boulders, past the barbed wired and danger signs, and to the mud pits. The first one we encountered had a whole lot of trash in it. The was a moment where the three of us stood there, staring down at it in disappointment. By Jamie the determined found another pit that was satisfactory.

Todd acted as photographer for the Jamie-covers-himself-in-mud photo shoot, which was prolonged and humorous. "K, take a picture of me clean. Alright, now one of me holding the mud over my head. Now one of the mud on my head..." Jamie and his mud yamika were soon accompanied by lots more mud all over him while Todd and I covered ourselves as well. By the time we got back to our previous location, a tour bus had arrived, full of "Ugly Americans," a term that had been given to loud, culturally insensitive American tourists.

Still partially covered in mud, we see some girls who bought mud at the souvenir shop nearby. Jamie proffers that there is free mud a little ways off, but the girls were very proud of their mud, and informed us that their tour guide said it was dangerous. Prissy and proud.

We take lunch at a touristy place, the only thing that there is, and discuss plans. Neither Jamie nor I had realized how close Masada was to our current location, and decide to forgo the rest of the day swimming in favor of seeing the ruins. Todd, who had seen them recently, offered to accompany us as a guide.

So there we sit, at a bus stop in the middle of the desert, waiting. Along comes a transport vehicle. You imagine an interstellar space ship, no doubt, but there are not other words for it. Think shortbus meets greyhound. Okay, so maybe there were other words for it. Obviously intended for tourists--I mean, who else is going to want a ride here? Anyway, said vehicle pulls up to us, and the driver asks us where we are going, we tell him Masada, and he says he'll take us there. 50 shekels, he says. Each. That's almost thirteen US dollars, and the same that we paid for our round trip tickets. So we laugh. No way, sir. 30 shekels. We'll take the bus. 20. Okay, we're thinking, bus fare will be about that. Alright, deal. And we're off to Masada.

It's the hottest part of the day and we want to make sure we see everything, so we buy the cable car ride up, much to Jamie's chagrin, who would walk everywhere if he could. We saw building after building, room after room, and wall after wall of ruins. The views were gorgeous: dead sea, salt planes, rock cliffs. We could see the rubble outlines of Roman encampments down below. The cisterns were the most impressive. And the ramp. The freaking huge ramp. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go read the wiki article I linked above.

By the end, I was very sunburnt, and was running around with my black cardigan draped over my head to prevent the sun from hitting my face. Water was also an issue. I filled up my water bottle repeatedly (that the saints that brought those water tanks up), but it wasn't enough. I have no idea how those people lived up there. They even had the hot room in their fancy roman bathhouse. Basically a steam room. Who wants a steam room in the desert? Apparently the Romans. From this we concluded that it must have been Herod's winter vacation location.

When we started our decent down the mesa, Jamie started singing the Indian Jones theme song and ran all the way. Todd and I had a pleasant walk and saw a herd of about six Addax.

Sitting at the bus stop, waiting to return to Jerusalem, we recall that we bought round trip tickets to the dead sea, and didn't know if we could get back with the ticket stubs we had. And we were also impatient, so Jamie keeps flagging down cars to hitch a ride, but none of them have any room, especially not for all of us. So we wait. Eventually a bus comes, and according to plan, we shuffle on, look terribly lost and confused, and hand him our undervalued tickets. We can pay the difference, we say. But we know these bus drivers don't take money. So, mildly disgruntled, he lets the poor, hopeless travelers on. Way to go, getting places for cheap. Points for us.

Adventures in Israel, the Epic Saga, Chaper I - Sebastian and Friends

So...I went to Israel last week. For fun, to visit a friend, to see the Holy land. The whole shebang. And thus, I need to tell that story. And if I'm going to do it, I might as well go all the way. So hold tight. It's gunna be a doozy...

It begins with a beautiful Friday morning. I bart to SFO. I love public transit, by the way, it really makes me happy. Or it makes my happy, either way. Anyway, my lovely afternoon flight, for which I arrive rather early, boards on time, everything going smoothly, the prospects clear as crystal. But as we put away from the gate, suddenly invisible hordes of ruby-eyed demons attack our plane, and the saintly armies of sanity, who also happen to be in charge of making sure airplanes are not delayed, are wounded and must withdraw. Left to their own devices, and in possession of our transcontinental vessel, the ruby-eyed demons decide to, of all the devious things, turn on a warning light. They then laughed mercilessly.

The warning light called for the intervention of the slug of bureaucracy and paperwork, who happens to be named Sebastian. A half hour later, Sebastian decides that we need to go back to our gate and re-balance our plane. I think we all agree that an unbalanced plane is a bad thing. So we go back to the gate, take care of business, and Sebastian takes his dear sweet time again to get our final okay outta there, a full hour late. That's fine, I have two hours between my connecting flights. And I like running. Running is fun.

But we weren't rid of Sebastian quite yet. Arriving an hour late meant we didn't have a gate. So after we landed, we waited a good half hour. And then, after we got a terminal, we didn't have someone to let us in, or something like that. So we all stood on the plane for another twenty minutes. And then Sebastian finally decided he was done with us. So I ran. My connection was on the other end of the Atlanta airport, so I took the tram and then ran some more. And was met with a missed flight, as were a lot of other people. Why Delta decided to leave instead of wait the extra ten minutes so everyone could make it, I don't know. Perhaps it's better for them given employee overtimes, etc. But considering that they had to put me and a dozen other people up in their own hotel rooms, and then gave me, and probably the others, business class for the transatlantic portion of the flight, I think it would have been smarter to delay the other flight a bit, but I don't know all the factors. I mean, they could have overbooked the other flight and deviously set Sebastian on us. I thought this was a story about Israel. Hush, I'm getting there. Heavens, I'm glad you don't detail all your days like this. I said hush.

So I stay overnight, wishing I had flown through JFK and thus had friends to hang out with over the next 24 hours. But instead, I was in Atlanta. So I talked on the phone and slept a lot. The next afternoon, I arrive rather early, board on time, and everything going smoothly again. I'm in Business class this time, though, and boy is it nice. We had those pod-seats where you don't have to talk to anyone. There's a thick quilt and a bottle of water waiting for you, the seats recline to totally horizontal, and the food and wine are decent and free. It's awesome. Situated so comfortably, I barely minded that we were forty minutes late in departure due to the catering being messed up and our flight not having any drinks initially.

And thus, well rested, I arrive in Israel. Finally. I take a taxi-cab-shuttle-thing, from the what-everyone-but-locals-call Tel Aviv airport to my friend's place in west Jerusalem and am greeted with her embrace. The ruby-eyed demons have been conquered, and Sebastian left on another continent.