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23
Dec

How To: Change Your Oil, Part 1

The question I get asked almost more than any other is:  “How do I change my own oil?”*  This always makes me smile because I am eager to help those who want to get their hands dirty under the hood.  So, I will attempt to help others with similar desires to discover their inner-mechanic with a quick and dirty How-To guide.

When to change your oil

Step one is to determine if it is even necessary to change your engine oil.  Answering a few quick questions should give you a good indication of just how much time you have before your next service is due. Read more »

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16
Dec

The Three (un)Wise Men, Episode 7

Well, you’ve made it to the final segment of the Israel/Palestine series.  If you haven’t yet spent enough time reading nonsense, you can get the rest of the installments here:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.  However, if you feel that you have wasted far too much time on this already, please click on the small “X” at the top-right corner of your screen.

We spent one final night in Nazareth and headed to Mark and Andrea’s flat in Zababida, located in the northern part of the West Bank.  In the morning, we met up with our quiet, but friendly taxi driver and drove up the hill one final time to collect Andrea at her flat.

We headed south from Nazareth and into the hill country.  It is a far more deserted drive than what a map would lead you to believe.  I can understand why people may not want to call this area home anymore, as this is also the first moment I saw signs warning of land mines along the road.  As the road wound its way up over the mountain, the driver slowed his pace down a bit as he navigated the ridge.  We started our descent, and about halfway down the hill, he jabbed the brakes and got a panicked look in his eyes.  Then I heard it:  the pop-pop-pop of automatic rifle fire.  I looked out the window to my right and could see several Israeli military vehicles parked in the valley below.  The driver muttered something to Andrea and, with a look of sheepish relief, started driving again. Read more »

9
Dec

The Three (un)Wise Men, Episode 6

The journey through Israel/West Bank continues.  Episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 will get you the rest of the story so far.

It was late afternoon by the time we found the car again in the streets of Tiberias (it was right where we’d left it) and decided to head to the coast for dinner.  Our destination would be Akka (Acre).  It had several draws, the biggest being the fact that it was right on the Mediterranean and the second was that it had a high probability of containing at least one restaurant.

We climbed up the switchbacks over the mountains that separated the Sea of Galilee and the coast.  It is only about a 25 mile drive, but it took some time as the progress is slow due mainly to traffic of vacationers clogging up the two-lane roads.  (How dare they ruin my holiday!)

We parked along a boulevard and walked to the coastal wall. The wall that protects Akka from the Mediterranean is, like nearly every structure there, built out of tan stone blocks.  The wall extends around much of the city, with the top of the wall forming a street lined with fish markets and cafes.  (It should be noted that these cafes were not necessarily of the same  caliber that one would find scattered about around Les Halles, in Paris.  Instead, they are more in line with the type of cafe you would expect to see next to a fish market.)  The wall extended down a couple of stories toward the water level, then extended out for another 30 yards to reach the sea.  This floor seemed a bit of an odd extravagance, until I noticed how well it kept the waves from damaging the wall, at least for the 20 minutes I stood there watching them rolling in. Read more »

2
Dec

The Three (un)Wise Men, Episode 5

Yet another chapter in the never-ending saga of an excursion taken to Isreal and the West Bank.  Episodes 1, 2, 3, and even 4 can be accessed, if so desired.

Mark made sure El Jefe and I had all of our belongings packed before we went to bed.  We’d be catching the Paper Taxi by 6AM, and he didn’t want us to be late.  Mark made a call to confirm the reservation, and we were set to go.  All that was left to do now was walk down to the fried chicken place and grab a late snack before heading to bed.  (Warning:  If you want fried chicken in Jerusalem in a timely fashion, do not call in your order ahead of time.  The only thing that assures on-time chicken is if you are a regular customer and a taxi driver.  This was evident as we watched literally dozens of men walk in, order, and receive their meals before ours was prepared.)

Waking up on time for the taxi was not an issue, having an excellent alarm clock in the form of the PA system used for the Islamic call to prayer.  We grabbed our bags, headed out into the still-dark city, and waited by the curb for our ride.  Not having any idea what a Paper Taxi looks like, I assumed that any vehicle coming our way could be it.  The Paper Taxi, is not a car created out of Mache, but simply the van used to courier a newspaper, printed in Jerusalem, up to its distribution point in Nazareth.  While we could have taken a bus or hired a shiroot (whether it be Shen’s or not), the Paper Taxi was certainly the cheapest route.

The driver arrived right on time, pulled up to the curb and opened the rear doors of the van to place our bags inside.  He had a massive space to choose from since his cargo consisted of only one bundle of newspapers placed in the middle of the floor.  I looked at that bundle and questioned the worth of driving a van 100 miles through the desert to deliver one bundle of papers; however, I kept that judgment to myself. Read more »