[Tour of Israel Part 4] Masada Without Incident

Friday, June 9 / יום שישי, 15 סיון

After a restless sleep, I was awake at 06:45. Just like six years ago, I had a restless night prior to Masada, but this will NOT have the same aftermath — there will NOT be a SPLAT! I donned my Taglit shirt and some shorts, and had breakfast downstairs. I was not thrilled with the cheese that I tried, and given last night, played it a little conservatively with my food choices. A long day is ahead, and I wrote this paragraph when I was in the airport, at 23:40. In other words, GIDDYUP!

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[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 9 of 11] Music in Israel

28 July 2011. We woke up around 03:45, were on the bus at 04:29, hiked Masada, I fell on the way down, and missed the Dead Sea.

I could give a five-years-later reflection on the first six hours of my waking on this day, but I feel like that would be blogging. about. flogging. a. dead. horse.

Another major aspect of the day was music, and I feel that it was seriously underrated in my original account of the day. In fact, the musical aspect of the day may have been one of the greater legacies that remains today! So, let’s talk about it. And then, at the end of the post, I’ll give some of my favorite photos from the day.

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[M.M.X.I.V. 113] Wandering in wonder

Today’s Daily Prompt seems to be quite well-timed.  It wants me to list five places that I (have always) want(ed) to visit.  One of those would not be on this list, but because of what happened to me a thousand days ago, a certain place has added itself to the list (I will list this fifth on the list).

In no particular order, here are the five places that I would like to visit:

1) Archaeological digs in Jerusalem.  Prior to going on Birthright, when I mentioned to my advisor my leave, he mentioned that the archaeological digs are really interesting.  Clearly, though, on the trip, I was unable to participate in one.  In some sense, Birthright is a 101-level course, i.e. a buffet line of things to see and do in Israel.  Therefore, seeing more of Israel is certainly on my list.

2) Alaska.  When I was an undergraduate at UNL, I met Kelsey G. and Megan V., who both went to Chugiak High School in Eagle River.  The former was a star on the Husker basketball team, and the latter became a good acquaintance throughout my undergraduate career.  She told stories of the outdoorsy activities done up there, the long days during the summer, and the aurora borealis, among other things.  This whets my appetite for adventure.

3) A long trip in Europe.  I love riding on bikes, and I have heard that much of Europe is both bike- and public-transit friendly.  I would love to take various adventures in Europe, in order to just explore.  Currently, though, I have no particular destinations in mind.

4) Places with lots of caves to explore. In 2001, my family went on a cruise to the Caribbean, and one of the ports of call was Barbados.  When we were there, we took an excursion to a cave, and I really enjoyed the adventure therein.  I have always enjoyed the sense of adventure in various landforms, I think.

5) The Salty Sea (better known as The Dead Sea.) Despite this being a place that every (?) Birthright Israel trip goes, due to my pratfall on Masada (which incidentally occurred exactly 1,000 days ago!), I was redirected to בער-שבע (Beersheba) to get sutures for the injury, while the rest of the bus went on as scheduled.  Therefore, that is unfinished business for me to see–and combined with Item #1 on my list, I will definitely return to Israel at some point.  When?  Who knows…


Today is the one-hundred and thirteenth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes sixteen weeks and one day.

היום שמונה ימים, שהם שבוע אחד ויום אחד לעומר

The man with nine lives- Part II

In the previous part, I described my battles with injuries on bike.  They have continued since my first year at Northwestern.  I guess for as much as I cycle around the place, some amount of crashing or injuries are expected.  Not all of them happened with biking, though!

After my first year had finished, it was June 19 (2010) and I decided to go biking to find the Allstate Arena, planning at some point to see at least one Chicago Sky game during the summer.  There was no game scheduled for this day, but I figured that I would go on an adventure.  So, after doing some grocery shopping in the morning, I filled my CamelBak and took my Dahon toward Rosemont (this was before I had a road bike).

The ride there was pretty uneventful, at least until I got to near 8800W.  The plan was to take Touhy further west, but it was blocked off by police cars!  There was a storm the previous night and it caused power lines to fall on Mannheim!  So I took a detour toward Touhy, and there I lost my bearings.  I was using an origami-style map (instead of Google Maps).  Thus, I went southbound at Devon and Mannheim, which led to a highway (thank goodness it wasn’t an interstate, that I didn’t get hit, and that I didn’t get snagged by the fuzz).  Upon realizing I was going the wrong way, I turned around, going on the shoulder such that cars were coming toward me in the adjacent lanes.  Back at Devon, going straight got me to the Arena after a short distance.

I stopped to get some ice cream at Cold Stone (no singing due to me, however).  It was quite tasty, but I noticed that my right knee had some pain in it.  I didn’t think much about it, and considering that I was about 15 miles from my apartment, didn’t think there was much I could do.  So I biked back, but this time went northbound on Mannheim.  The result was eventually returning to Evanston via Oakton Street, and each pumping of the pedals was difficult on my right knee.

Of course, upon my return to my apartment, I called Dad, and he recommended heat, ibuprofen, and rest.  The pain did subside a little bit, but it continued for several weeks.  The probable culprit wasn’t the biking, but rather the previous night.  There was a fire alarm at Engelhart, and being the pyrophobe that I am, I panicked down the stairs.  I didn’t notice any injury, but I must have hyper-extended my right knee or something.  There never was a diagnosis done.  This was probably the most traumatizing injury that I have had in the last few years, at least considering the amount of pain versus the situation that brought it on.

Then, I stayed safe until May of 2011.  Cinco de Mayo, in fact.  I had just finished with improv at Seabury, and the skies looked quite imposing.  So, I also saw lightning and heard thunder as I was walking back to the bike rack at Tech.  As the storm brewed, I accelerated on the sidewalk on the east side of Sheridan.  Near the Kellogg parking lot, just as I had cleared it, someone jumped out right in front of my path.  I had no ability to react to the jump, so I ended up ramming her before wiping out hands and arms first.  I did not hit my head, and when the police and ambulance came, no charges were given.  Other than scrapes, I was not injured, and neither was she.  The ambulance simply gave me some bandages and then released me.  It was a mental scar, though, as I’ve now been involved in two bike crashes that were primarily my fault.

And then the day before Memorial Day, I biked toward downtown Chicago in order to pick up my packet for Bike The Drive and to have lunch with Jay Lewis.  It was a little damp and there was also rain from earlier in the week.  I got to Ardmore and turned onto the lakefront trail.  Not far from there was the roundabout at the head (tail?) of the trail, and there was mud.  I didn’t think much of it, and went at full speed.  Well, this caused me to lose control, and so I skidded and wiped out!  This time, there were no cops or ambulance, but I was definitely cut in several places (at least there was no profuse bleeding).

So I continued to the nearest rest area on the trail and managed to wash off my arm and legs.  I didn’t carry any bandages or antiseptics on me, but hoped that I would be OK until I could see Jay and/or get back to Evanston.  At Merchandise Mart, someone in line was an angel and had some bandages to cover the wounds.  After rendezvous with Jay, a wet ride back to Evanston, and a little interim time, I applied rubbing alcohol (YIKES–it STINGS!!!) and was perfectly fine for the next day and Bike The Drive.  The weather that day was pretty rotten though–very foggy and then rainy.  I can’t choose weather, though!

So then two months later, I find myself banged up again, with a pratfall on Masada.  That speaks for itself, so I will simply put a pingback (link?  Whatever it’s called…) to my journal entry from July 28.  Here it is.

Because I have not been medically cleared yet, I must put a hold on the story that will give Part III of this story.  That will come sometime later.

November 2, 2011 = 8888

I’ll explain the title of my post a little bit later.  But, it is indeed a number, and as has probably been evident from my previous blog posts, dates and numbers tend to bring vivid memories or strong associations for me.  Some memorable numbers and (sometimes the dates which brought them about) are given below, with some information about why.  Obviously, I have many more great dates and numbers than what are listed here, but these dates and numbers that I mention here I would call the ones that define me the most.

121.  I suppose I should first explain why my number on my blog is 121.  Back when I was 11 years old, I had a Netscape e-mail account that was called “noah11@netscape.net”.  About a year later, though, there was some sort of a service change, and my e-mail address then changed to “noah121weiss@netscape.net.”  I still use that e-mail address even today, and though at that point, the number change didn’t mean much to me, new meanings sometimes come with delayed gratification!

Since it’s the number on my e-mail address, it is also my handle on every online forum (i.e. Noah121).  I’m not a troll or a troublemaker on forums, and why should I hide in anonymity with an online personality?

64.  It was the morning of February 26, 2000-, in my seventh-grade year.  In the lobby of Culler Middle School, I drew the number “64” out of a box, which established me as 64th in the lineup in the LPS Spelling Bee.  In round two, I was apparently knocked out on the word “Mississippian,” as after I had spelled it, the judge said, “Not correct.”  Unbeknownst to me, Mrs. Sanks (my fifth-grade teacher), Mom, and Dad heard every letter and knew I had spelled it correctly.  Indeed, the reason that I was apparently eliminated was that I didn’t capitalize the word.  But, you are not required to capitalize!  So I got reinstated, and eventually managed to “annihilate” the competition that year.  The rest of that day was a great time, including a Stars game that was a victory.  Unfortunately, three weeks later I didn’t make it out of the written round in the Midwest Spelling Bee.  I tripped up on the word “russet,” misspelling it as “russite.”

I didn’t immediately then see the connection between 64 and 121, but in far retrospect, both of those numbers are perfect squares.  I think that gave me a generalization of liking all perfect squares, but especially 8^2 and 11^2, for the reasons given.

48,51.  These numbers stick out to me for maybe a bad reason.  Ever since my junior year of high school, whenever the score at a sporting event that I have gone to or seen has been 51-48, the team with 51 points has won it either right there or gone on to win, with one exception.  This included a painful LSE loss to Bellevue West in the semifinals of basketball of my junior year, a loss to Lincoln High in my senior year when Trent Price suffered an injury and also my car window got smashed, but later, it worked the other way as the Huskers led #20 Creighton by that score in basketball and proceeded to win.  The only time thus far that this “pattern” has not followed through was Charles Richardson Jr’s miracle shot that beat Texas Tech during my sophomore year.  Thus, these numbers are salient to me within the realm of sports.

21.  Or, should I say עשרים ואחת! There are plenty of stories about this number in my Israel journal, but I’ll just say that there are some other connections that I made.  I was assigned this number on the 21st day of July, in 2011, for count-off at appointed times in Israel.  Now that I think about it, there’s a connection between this number, and another number that is part of my identity.  Every time that we did משפּרי ברזל להתפּקד, I shouted out my number loudly and enthusiastically.  After Masada, though, it took on a whole new meaning.  After eating breakfast and returning to the bus following the fall, the count-off was done as usual, and when it got to my turn, I didn’t let the injury dampen my enthusiasm.  This was greeted with cheers, and I guess that probably nobody forgot my number, despite forgetting their own!

Since it became a part of my identity, I’ve looked for situations involving the number “21,” and frequently come up with them.  On the 21st day of each month, I post a status update that involves “עשרים ואחת” on my Facebook.

3. The number actually has a connection to not only עשרים ואחת, but also my birthday and my family.  When we started taking family vacations more frequently, we decided that numbering off to ensure that we were all there would be important for us.  The order was simply the order of birth in the family (including the parents).  The count-off call is “Oogie Boogie!” and I was therefore “Oogie Boogie 3.”

Now let me explain the connection to 21, my birthday, and such.  My birthday is July 3, and though we didn’t assign the numbers explicitly on my birthday, I can say that my “Oogie Boogie” number was thus retroactively and implicitly assigned to me on my particular date of birth.  So, there have now been two “count-off” numbers that have been assigned to me, in July, corresponding to the day of the month.  I believe that once is an incidence, twice is a coincidence, and thrice is a pattern, though in this case, there are more connections leading me to believe something deeper than a coincidence.

Take the numerical month and date of my birthday.  Multiply them.  What do we get? Well, it’s המשפּר שלי (my number in Hebrew).  But, then take the day and month that I was assigned עשרים ואחת.  Divide them, and Oogie Boogie pops up!

8888.  Well, it’s probably pretty apparent at this point what is coming up.  Actually, it was six days ago when I curiously plugged in “July 3, 1987” to Wolfram Alpha, and noticed that it said “8882 days ago.”  And what is July 3, 1987?  My date of birth!  Indeed, today is my 8888th day of life.  An interesting milestone indeed!

And that’s why I waited until later in the day to post this… I wanted to make sure to post it after my time of birth.