Saturday, May 24, 2008

Israel 60 Celebration Dinner

This year, Action Israel and many other organizations joined with the Allied Jewish Federation to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel, one of the miracles of the modern world. Many dinners have been held this year in the Denver metropolitan area, including 100 on the Night of 60 Dinners in April. Our local group of friends of Israel held a celebratory dinner tonight.
All told, we had 22 in attendance, a neat coincidence as the Hebrew Alefbet contains 22 letters. Using recipes from the materials provided by the Allied Jewish Federation, everyone prepared and shared typical Israeli dishes.

Below are pictures of just a few of the items that graced our table.
The complete menu looked something like this:
Chopped Israeli Salad (pictured below)
Israeli Spiced Chicken (pictured below)
Sliced Eggplants with Garlic and Tomato Glaze
Israeli Cous-Cous Salad with Fennel and Goat Cheese
Chicken Hamin
Moroccan Meat Balls
Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Lemons
Pot Roast with Carrots, Potatoes, and Gravy
Potato Kugel
Challah and other breads
Jam Thumb-Print Cookies
(If you are interested in the recipes, we have posted some of them on our daughter's recipe blog here and will be posting more in the next few days.)
Another interesting article about the Night of 60 Dinners with some insight into Persian cuisine can be found here.

After the meal, we shared some interesting facts about Israel in her 60 years of existence in the modern world, using the materials provided by the Allied Jewish Federation. You can check some of them out here and here. Some of us had gathered other information, as well, and since many of our people have visited Israel, we shared our experiences and our favorite memories.
One of the most touching moments was the reading of the blog post of our friend, Ori, who is spending some months in Israel. She wrote about her thoughts and feelings attending ceremonies on Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day, literally The Day of Remembrance). Yom Hazikaron is always held the day before Israeli Independence Day, which is intended to remind people of the price paid for independence and of what was achieved with the soldiers' sacrifice. Ori's writing really is worth reading, and you can find it here.

The younger set was busily coloring during this time.

Here are the products of their artistic labors!

All in all, our celebration of 60 years of Israeli independence was rewarding, informative, delicious, and a whole lot of fun.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A is for Aircraft Carrier

Okay, so this is really not about aircraft carriers; it's more pictures of the family, but I couldn't come up with a good A-word, and after all, I have served on three different aircraft carriers (if only for short periods of time).

Yesterday, we saw some pictures of Aidan. Now for more pictures, including Ellie, Ryan, and Jack. The first day I was in town we ate at a wonderful little Korean place. Here are the boys.

Here's Jack watching TV. He has a DVD called Baby Einstein, which I also found captivating. (It's in seven languages, teaches common phrases, alphabets, and simple songs in Hebrew, Italian, Russian, Japanese, French, German, and English).

Here's another view of the little guy watching his DVD (i.e. learning seven languages).

Here are some shots of Aidan and Jack.

Aidan is always talking to his little brother and loves to hold him and play with him.

As Ellie said on her blog, sometimes you take a bunch of pictures, and you just have to post them all. Here's another shot of the boys.

Jack seems to be saying, "Where am I, and what am I doing here?"

Oh, okay, everything's all right now.

Here he is—sleeping sweetly. Frère Jacques; Dormez-vous?

A picture before saying goodbye at the airport.

A family picture.

And a silly version.

Sabba saying goodbye to Jack.

Oh, and about those aircraft carriers. Here they are. I spent a short time on the John F. Kennedy (CV-67) in the North Atlantic and again in the Mediterranean.

I spent a month or so on USS America (CV-66) in the Med.

USS Independence (CV-62) had a long escalator to bring flight crews quickly from below decks. I did a couple of months TAD (Temporary Additional Duty) aboard Indy in the Mediterranean.

Here she is in Yokosuka, Japan, which happens to have been my last duty station.

Orig: 5/20/08

Monday, May 19, 2008

A is for Aidan

I just spent a wonderful four days with Ellie and Ryan. I have a bunch of pictures. I'll start with the ones of Aidan and move on to the rest of the family tomorrow.

In this first one, we see Ellie and Jack with Spiderman, who is a special friend of Aidan.

He can fly, as demonstrated here!

Aidan loves to play with the hose in the backyard. Here he is getting a drink.

Here he is pretending it's raining!

Aidan in his golfing duds (knickers and golf shirt) ready to hit the links!

Aidan demonstrating his golf swing.

Standing on his head.

Aidan and Sabba at the airport.

My first post on this blog was in January of 2007, a picture of Aidan and me, which you can see here.

Orig: 5/19/08

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A is for Accumulate

Do you ever think of clouds when you think of the word accumulate or accumulation? I didn't either until I read the etymology of the words. It seems they derive from a Latin root cumulus, meaning a heap or pile. Those puffy clouds we call cumulus come from an accumulation of moisture overhead, forming a beautiful heap in the sky. It seems that even in English the word cumulus can mean a pile or a heap, as well as clouds piled high.
Incidentally, knowing the derivation of accumulate means never having to misspell the word. If you know how to spell cumulus, you will never have to wonder how many m's or l's accumulate in the word. Just remember to double the initial c because of the prefix.

For more basic information on clouds, check out this site.
Orig: 5/18/08

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A is for Aardvark and Aardwolf

Before reading halfway through the first page of my dictionary, I came across an etymology of a not uncommon word from an uncommon language and a word with which I was unfamiliar. We all know of the aardvark, also commonly known as an anteater. I didn't realize the etymology was from the Afrikaans language, a close relative of Dutch. Aard means earth, and vark is from varken, which is pig (it's just a short linguistic leap from Afrikaans/Dutch varken to English pork), making the aardvark an earth pig. Here's a picture of the porcine creature.

In the same entry, I read of another interesting African animal called an aardwolf, a hyena-like mammal. Unlike the hyena, though, the aardwolf is insectivorous, subsisting on a diet almost entirely of insects.

Orig: 5/17/08

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A is for Abstemious and Its Vowels A E I O U

Not to be facetious, but whenever I come across the word abstemious I am reminded of the only two commonly used words in the English language with all five vowels in order (if one makes them into adverbs with the addition of -ly, one has six vowels in order).

Now these are not the only two words in the English language with all the vowels in order, just the only two words in common, contemporary usage. In fact, some word lovers with nothing better to do have found dozens of such words, but you and I have never heard of them. (For much more than you ever wanted to know on this subject, check out this site.)

You can even find the vowels in order in that euphonic but phony word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (with quite a few extraneous vowels thrown in, to be sure).

Abstemious derives from Latin ab- (away from) and temum (liquor). One who is abstemious is sparing or moderate in eating and drinking.

For some related sports trivia, can you identify the baseball player whose name contains all the vowels? He played for a number of teams, most notably the Detroit Tigers in the 70s. His name is Aurelio Rodriguez.

By the way, did you know that the vowels represent life? How? Well, the vowels represent breath—breath flowing freely without obstruction. (The consonants obstruct the breath with various parts of the mouth.) Since human life cannot exist without breath, vowels represent our life. "He blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the adam became a living being."

Orig: 5/15/08

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A is for Absquatulate


The effect of the Latin language on the English language is immediately apparent when reading the first pages of the dictionary. It is perhaps appropriate, then, that my first word, absquatulate, is a Mock Latinate form. In other words it is an English word formed from a Latin prefix (ab-, from) and suffix (-ate, to act upon in a specified way) with a non-existent root (squatul-, probably related to the word squat). For more on this interesting word, check here.
Orig: 5/13/08

A is for Ab Initio

To tell this story ab initio (from the beginning) I have to take you back to the time before I first went to school. I wanted to be an abecedarian. Of course, I didn't know that word back then. I just kept asking my mother when they would teach me the alphabet. When would I learn to read?

Words became my life. Thirty or more years ago, I began to study words on a systematic basis, writing down definitions and etymologies, not only of unfamiliar words but of familiar words for which I could not give a quick definition and derivation.

I guess it had to come to this eventually.

I am reading the dictionary!

Some will find that funny.

It's probably more accurate to say I'm studying the dictionary, perusing the dictionary, skimming some parts, focusing on others.

The idea may have grown from a book my niece gave me called The Know-It-All, One Man's Humble Quest to be the Smartest Person in the World. This guy set out to read the Encyclopedia Britannica in an attempt to prepare for a possible appearance on Jeopardy. He then wrote a book highlighting various interesting things he had learned on his quest.

Much of my life has revolved around learning words, looking up words, researching words, studying words. I thought: Why not do it in a systematic way? Why not start at the beginning and go to the end, from Alef to Tav, from soup to nuts, ab initio to finis?

So yesterday I started. I will be looking for unusual words, interesting words. I will of course be looking at etymologies, which are my passion. I will be highlighting the many different languages from which English derives.

I have chosen The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language as my text, for a number of reasons. For one thing, I am most familiar with this dictionary. It has been my constant companion for many years. I like that it is more prescriptive than other dictionaries. In others words, it does not immediately acquiesce to popular usage. No matter how many people say "ain't," for example, it still considers the locution "nonstandard." That noxious pronunciation of nuclear popularized by Jimmy Carter, although accepted by other dictionaries, is still considered an incorrect pronunciation (which by any reasonable standard, it is).

Also, and perhaps even more importantly, The American Heritage Dictionary gives excellent etymologies for most words, whereas not all other dictionaries do.

Check back to my blog occasionally as I make my way alphabetically through the English language. It will be a verbal adventure.
Orig: 5/13/08

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

On Mother's Day, we had a very nice family meal at a new Chinese Restaurant we just discovered. Kathy was the only actual mother at the table, but we celebrated all of our mothers (and our daughters who are mothers). The food was quite acceptable and not nearly as crowded as most restaurants in town on Mother's Day. Here's a picture of our party next to the beautiful pond at the entrance of the restaurant. The pond is populated by some gorgeous koi (ornamental carp).

Stephanie's Birthday Dinner

We were in Mexico for Stephanie's birthday party, but we had a birthday dinner for her on our return. Here are a couple of pictures of the meal, her favorite: Macaroni and Cheese with Hot Dogs on the side!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Cancun, Mexico 2008

This past week we took a vacation that was one of the most restful ever. Kathy and I enjoyed a three-night vacation at a five-star resort in Mexico with four other couples from my place of employment, Affordable American Insurance.

The resort, Barcelo Maya Beach was on the Yucatan Peninsula, about 75 kilometers south of the Cancun airport on the Mayan Riviera.

Here's an aerial view of the entire complex, which consists of five hotels tied together by common facilities along the Caribbean coastline.

The resort and the area is steeped in Mayan culture. These statues of kings are everywhere.

We thought we would use a couple of these statues to bring out the Mayan flavor of the Rivera Maya.

Kathy and I have lived in five countries on three continents but have never visited Mexico. We have waded in many oceans, but this was our first encounter with the Caribbean. It is beautiful, is it not?

Here's a shot of the guys at the ultimate "wet bar" and Kathy on a bridge over very calm waters.

One of our most restful afternoons was spent reading and doing handwork in the lobby with a cool breeze blowing. Here's Kath doing her handwork. The other pictures give a panorama of the lobby.

Thousands of miles from home but still only a keystroke away via the World Wide Web, I was able to check the Internet and leave comments on our daughter's blog in Australia, as well as emailing friends and family.

With that I'll close this travelogue of our Cancun trip. Signing off from the Mile High City......