Saturday, 29 November 2008

Bank Holiday Friday

The Friday after Thanksgiving isn't really an official holiday here, but most people have the day off. The Singer children's school was closed and so we took Maya, little Hannah and Elliot down to the beach with us for the afternoon.



Excitement in the village this morning! A fire engine turned up outside our apartment building with firemen and axes and everything! It turned out to all be for a malfunctioning smoke detector...



Down on the beach with big Hannah, little Hannah, Maya and Elliot.



Going for a paddle.



Smiley Hannah.



Feral Maya.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Thanksgiving

I naively thought that lots of Christmas dinners had prepared me for the festival of food and drink that this year's Thanksgiving turned out to be. How wrong I was!



The meal started out with appetisers in our flat.



Hannah puts the finishing touches to creamed corn.



Amanda can't believe the bargains she's found in the Black Friday sales! Strangely no one opted to go out and join the madness at 5am this morning.



Two moms, one who has cleverly swapped her baby for a drink - Christine, Tamara and Layla.



Nibbles Chez Davies.



We then moved to Vince and Christine's, where their living room had been transformed into a three table restaurant.



Vince receives instructions from his Dad about the best way to carve a turkey, and how it always tastes better in a Texan bowl.



The spread!



We then had a short talk from Vince about the history and meaning of Thanksgiving. It contained a few too many references to "evil English oppressors" for my liking...



Dick and Evie.



Tucking in.



Dessert happened at Sagy and Moran's, including a fabulous Israeli chocolate cream sandwich creation along with delicious pumpkin pie and various other treats. After that it was the traditional college football game for some...



...while for others it was Rock Band II (gratefully provided by Patrick and Kathy) at Dana and Amir's!



Let's rock!



I never realised how similar Shauli and Bruce Springsteen looked.



Rock divas Amanda and Hannah after several shots of whisky.



Jack and Amanda. "I got you babe, I got you babe..."



Unimpressed, Hannah trawls the ads that came with this morning's paper. Number of genuine bargains: zero.



Me and Christine rock out!

---

Unless you've experienced Rock Band it's hard to describe just how much fun massacring well known songs with a group of friends can be. Who doesn't want to be a rock star? And yes, perhaps this version is a little better than the $10 guitar I got from the charity shop.

By way of evidence, please see below:

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Preparations

Today is Thanksgiving, when we celebrate the native Americans bringing corn to the British settlers of this nation. Unfortunately things got a bit confused over tea taxation and the war of independence, but today we forget that!

Preparations are happening apace, with cooking and cleaning going on in several apartments as we get ready for a progressive dinner: appetisers at ours, turkey at Vince and Christine's and dessert at Sagy and Moran's.

After that there's an American football game on tv, and something special happening at Dana and Amir's...



It's a little known fact that the Americans actually brought frozen corn to the settlers...



This is more like it! Amanda's husband Jack is in town, and he knows how to celebrate.



Happy Thanksgiving! (And it's not even 12 o'clock yet...)

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Three sheets to the wind

After much nagging from Elliot, Dana and Amir, we finally got around to joining the Haas Wine Club. Like all student clubs it's designed to introduce potential future leaders of the viticulture industry to vineyards, producers and distributors of fine grape products.

Like all wine clubs it's actually about getting sozzled. I've noted before the amazing effect alcohol can have on networking ability, and so it proved again as the noise levels rose and rose in the business school's Wells Fargo room. Tonight we were "sampling" St. Supery - two whites and two reds, accompanied by lots of cheese and chocolates. Why has it taken us three months to join in?



Hannah and Amir - studying hard in Haas library? No, looking up the Black Friday bargains.



The spread.



Soused.



Boiled as an owl.



Half-cut.



Drunk as a lord.



No comment.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Sunday roast

For lunch today we had the great honour of being invited to Dana and Amir's for טשאָלנט, or Cholent. This is a traditional Jewish stew, cooked for 12 hours or more, and is normally eaten on the Sabbath (so that you can prepare everything in advance and avoid doing work! Clever).

Every family has their own version of the recipe, and Dana's included whole eggs that are baked in the stew and then shelled before serving. It was accompanied by קוגל - Kugel, potato and sweet onions, wrapped in foil and then cooked in the same pot on top of everything. Hardly any washing up! These Israelis know what they're doing.

Needless to say it was absolutely delicious. As Hannah commented: the closest we've come to a proper Sunday dinner since coming to America. Unfortunately we couldn't follow it with the traditional afternoon snooze as Hannah had to go into Haas, but that did allow Dana and me to have a few more goes on that addictive, evil guitar game...



Amir, Dana and Hannah ready to eat, if only that annoying person would stop taking photos and sit down...



Sunday dinner. And wine.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Playing games again

Saturday night was games night! Numbers were a little down due to some people's overindulgence at the Berkeley/Stanford American football game earlier that day. Thankfully Berkeley won in an intense rivalry that mirrors the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, but without the boats.

The star of the evening (apart from baby Claire) was the guitar game. Scoffs and guffaws were heard when the graphics appeared on the telly, but could those same people pull themselves away from it? They could not. After the unwelcome distraction of having to play Scene It and Cranium, it was straight back into rock heaven.



Patrick flexes his musical muscles as Sagy looks on.



Kathy, who graduated from Haas last year, demonstrates the focus and mental effort needed to gain an MBA.



Vince organised a "beers of the world" theme for the drinks. The Newcastle Brown we brought went pretty quickly.



"Is it a sausage?" Elad shapes playdough during Cranium while Claire wonders when these people will leave and let her sleep.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Cut-price heroes

Berkeley's charity shops are magical! If you wish hard enough for something, it will appear.

Hannah fancied a Cal branded hoodie, but at $50 they are ridiculously overpriced. One materialised in the Salvation Army for $4.99! Christine needed Pictionary for games night. $2 from Out Of The Closet! And after the >play conference last week, everybody wants a copy of Rock Band II on the Xbox 360.

When you wish upon a star (makes no difference who you are) your dreams come true, and so it was when I found a Guitar SuperStar Interactive Video Game in the Goodwill store for $10.



For those unfamiliar with the Rock Band/Guitar Hero computer games, they're basically a way for people to fulfil their desire of being in a band without having to learn how to play an instrument. Learning to play an instrument would, in fact, be easier than the object of the game: to press the right coloured buttons on your guitar-shaped controller as corresponding blobs cascade down the screen in time to music.

If you spend $300+ you get 84 songs from bands such as The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and Nirvana. You can create a realistic virtual version of yourself to appear onstange in front of a screaming crowd, play in different lovingly-recreated venues across the world, and experience the thrill of live performance!

If you spend $10 you get ten songs, all of which are not entirely unlike other famous songs but have been changed sufficiently to avoid copyright disputes. The device plugs straight into the TV, avoiding the need for such unweildy things as game consoles, and its graphics and sound would shame an 80s ZX Spectrum game. But it is fun!



The 80s songs would have felt lonely without 80s graphics. I haven't seen pixels this size since Chucky Egg.



Dana Pelleg - rock goddess.



Amir even sings as he plays!



Not even Hannah is immune to its charms.

And new to my blog, find below some videos for you to watch! Oh yes, we're all about the innovation here:



Amir does his best...



But is he as good as Dana?

Beach life

It's been a quiet few days after six weeks of visitors. If anyone wants to come and entertain us then let me know.

Today we ventured down to our local beach. It's an interesting place! Dogs gamboled between huge pieces of driftwood, children laughed and played on the sand, and at one end what looked like a fashion photo shoot was taking place.

Akhil came with us and as the sun went down, and temperatures fell into the range of what you might expect on an English August day, we drank the bottle of Pimms and lemonade he'd pre-mixed and put into his rucksack.



Albany beach - a lovely place for the whole family.



Akhil rations the Pimms.



We bumped into Shauli and Anat, out on an evening run, who showed us up by being all keen and healthy!



Fit Israeli, lazy Brits.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Sunset

The horse racing track (see below) is right on The Bay, with some of the best views I've seen. It also turns out that we have a beach!

Anyway, here are some pics of the sunset.



Bridge, sun.



SF at dusk.



Bridge, no more sun (until tomorrow!)