Archive for the 'True Story' Category

One Day

Yesterday I was talking with some friends. It went something like this:

Me: Yeah, it was really —
(I back into a light fixture.)
Friend: Oh, are you ok?
Me: I’m fine, just a little startled. (Pause.) You know, that should be on my gravestone: “Here lies Ilan. He was fine, just a little startled.”
Everybody: (General agreement.)

Worth at least a dozen words

whiteboard_small.jpgSome days, you look at your work, and you say, “I do that?” Or at least that’s what happens to me.
I work from home. Today, I stepped back and looked at the stuff I mapped out to build the web application I’m working on today. (See left.)
I think maybe I need to get out more.
Or drink more. Or drink less.
Maybe get a trained monkey.

Yeah, trained monkey’s good. I think he should have a hat.
He will have a hat and I shall call him Gerald.

I talk funny

At 2AM:
Me: Ooo. The hours are getting too wee.
I think I must meet my Maker for a bit.
Layla tov.
My friend: great, i see you still speak in iambic pentameter

Pre-fixing it

Whoooeee! So I just got back to Israel about 2 weeks ago, after spending one of the more bewildering weeks of recent memory hopping from place to place. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that I had 6 separate flights (4 international, 2 domestic) within 9 days, and that at one point I spent 9 hours in JFK terminal, and then a 9-hour flight later, I spent another 12 hours traipsing around downtown Istanbul. (Yes, the one in Turkey.) I think I’ll present one of the highlights1 here:

America seems to love the prefix “pre,” especially when it’s totally unnecessary. Among the precious pieces of mail still being sent to my parents’ house was a letter saying I was “pre-approved” for some sort of cellphone giveaway. I’m sorry, but is “preapproved” somehow a stage before approval? Because it seems to me that it’s just their way of saying “approved” while making me feel special: “Look, Mother! I’m not just approved for this, I’m pre-approved, before all those other chumps. I simply must order this product and/or service post-haste!” “Pre” crops up in other places, like a movie being exclusively “pre-released” or (one of my favorites) how the drinking before a college party (not that I went to parties in college…) is called “pregaming,” the “game” being (you guessed it) more drinking. But none of this tops my recent brief stroll into bewilderment with JetBlue. I walked up to the woman at the gate, and asked if I could board the plane.

“We’re pre-boarding,” she replied

I figured that this might mean that only the disabled and children were boarding. I was clearly not disabled, and, since I now sport a full beard, I also can no longer pass for a toddler. But I gave it a shot anyway: “So, can I go on?”

“Well, we’re pre-boarding.”

Then I came right out and said it. “How is that different than the actual boarding?”

“No, sir. We’re not boarding yet. This is pre-boarding.”

I kind of looked at her funny, shrugged, and boarded the plane. The Israeli in me was shaking his head and laughing, while the American was simply confused. I got to my seat and sat down without incident. Conclusion: pre-boarding looks an awful lot like boarding. Maybe they teach the difference in flight-attendant school.

Bonus story: I got a letter from Cornell, my alma mater, saying (yes, really) “We miss you as a dues paying class member.” I’m reminded of Conan O’Brien’s description of college fund-raising in his Harvard Commencement speech:

Here’s how it works. Your phone rings, usually after a big meal when you’re tired and most vulnerable. A voice asks you for money. Knowing they just raised 2.5 billion dollars you ask, “What do you need it for?” Then there’s a long pause and the voice on the other end of the line says, “We don’t need it, we just want it.” It’s chilling.

Yeah, I’m sorry, Cornell, but I seem to recall paying you about $128,000 in tuition. I think that should tide you over for a while. I did tell you not to spend it all at once, right?

  1. Note that by “highlights” I don’t mean the things I actually enjoyed, but the things that I think the reader will find entertaining.

Conversations, Part 2

So I seem to get weirder when I get more tired. I finally got my American (VOIP) phone line working at something like 1 or 2 in the morning, so I called some friends to let them know. After all, for $200 / 15 months, it’s free to call anywhere in the U.S. (Nice, eh?) So I called my friend R, and we had this conversation:

[Phone rings.]

Me: Hey.

R: Who is this? Jesus?

Me: [Hesitating] Yes.

I have a mission for you. Go out and buy lots of flamingoes. Buy all the flamingoes. Form a flamingo army.

Tie them to your waist, and [dramatic pause] fly, fly, fly.

Fill the sky with pink.

R: What???

Me: I don’t know. You said I was Jesus.

R: Yeah, but- what??

Me: Never mind.

Not Spam, Exactly….

An actual email I just got:

from Ski Safe <onlinequote@skisafe.com>
to Trevor Rans <_______@gmail.com>
date May 24, 2007 6:15 PM
subject Thank you for using SkiSafeWeb (2819240821)

Thank you for your interest in insuring your craft with Ski-Safe. We have assigned a password so that you can access your records later, either for this quote (if we have been able to provide it), or for another one that you might want. If your quote required approval, it will be accessible after we have reviewed it.

Your password is [removed] and you can change it any time.
We also have representatives standing by to help you and are happy to take your
call at 1-800-225-6560.

My actual response:

from Ilan <_______@gmail.com>
to Ski Safe <onlinequote@skisafe.com>
date May 25, 2007 12:10 AM PM
subject Re:Thank you for using SkiSafeWeb (2819240821)

Dear SkiSafe and SkiSafe affiliates/loved ones,

    I do not recall expressing an interest in insuring a craft with you, nor is my name Trevor. However, as I do not, to my knowledge, own a craft of any sort currently, I would be very interested to see the craft you speak of. I would even go by the name Trevor if you would prefer. What sort of craft is it? Does it have skis, as the name of your company would imply? If so, how does it navigate on non-slippery terrain (e.g. the road outside my friend Bobby’s house, where there are several large, intimidating potholes)? Or perhaps it is a craft of an as-yet unspecified type. If so, can I choose? I believe I would choose a hovercraft (that, or a jetpack, but I hear that jetpacks tend to chafe). Yes, I think a hovercraft would be a fine choice. (They had one in that film, Back to the Future – I highly recommend it. It stars Michael J. Fox and an older fellow, whose name I cannot recall. He’s the one with white poofy hair like Einstein.)

In sum, please let me know where and when I can pick up my hovercraft and how much the insurance you are offering will cost.

Thank You,

Ilan/Trevor

I will keep you updated with whether they write me back.

Update: They responded. Proof that some organizations have a sense of humor:

from Onlinequote <onlinequote@skisafe.com>
to Ilan <_______@gmail.com>
date May 25, 2007 12:31 AM
subject RE: Thank you for using SkiSafeWeb (2819240821)

Thank you for injecting some levity into what might have been an arduous day.

Had you requested a more ordinary yacht or jet ski we might have been able to accommodate you, but alas, none of our programs cover hovercrafts (or submarines) so we must regretfully decline.

However, I appreciate your lending credence to the statement of Galileo Galilei who said:

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

Have a great weekend!

[name removed]

Who Was that Masked Infection?

So, short post.
I was sick last week. All of it. I had all the wrong stuff coming out of all the wrong orifices at all of the wrong times. I went to the doctor twice and the immediate care place twice, and had needles put in, fluids taken out, other fluids put in, etc. And they still don’t know what it is I am just now getting over. They checked for what they thought it was (Death-Causing Spiridium from Mars) and it came up negative, and…that’s it, it seems. So, I decided to help them out by giving them a picture, featured here. If I had to guess, I’d say that they may have been thwarted in their identification attempts because it normally appears in the wild in a clever disguise.

Ping-Pong with the Army

I went to the lishkat hagiyus, the army recruitment office, last week. It was suprisingly organized and efficient. Until the end.

In the end, I went into the final office, where they tell you, bottom line, what’s going to happen with you.

They told me that I didn’t have a giyus (enlistment) date yet, but I would get one when I got a profile (i.e. the number that represents your fitness). So I wasn’t done with them yet. Let’s start the cameras rolling…

Me:Am I not allowed to leave the country until you give me a date [as previously had been indicated to me]?
Girl 1:Yes, you won’t.
Me: When will I have a profile, then?
Girl 1: When you bring in the medical documents that you’re missing.
– Begin quest for the missing documents. –
Girl 1: Go back up to the 2nd floor, and walk into an office and ask what documents you need to get a profile.

Scene: second floor office, several minutes later.
Me: I need to know how to get my profile.
Girl 2: Did you see the doctor here?
Me: Yes.
Girl 2:: (Checking computer) Ok, let’s look at your profile.
Me: (Waits)
Girl 2: You don’t have a profile yet.
Me: Yes, I know. How do I get one?
Girl 2:You need to bring the required medical documents.
Me: Right. Which ones?
Girl 2: Oh. (Passes me off to another girl.)
Girl 3: (Checking computer) You need some missing medical documents.
Me: (Through clenched teeth with a strained voice) Yes, I know. Which ones?
I get passed off to a 4th girl who says she’ll be with me soon. I sit patiently until I don’t feel like it any more, then go back into the office.
Me: I need to know which medical documents I need to get to get a profile.
Girl 5 (or maybe this was Girl 2 again): Isn’t someone already helping you?
Me: Yes, but I don’t know where she went.
Girl 5: She’ll be with you soon. She hasn’t forgotten about you. [She had.]
Girl 4 finally walks by, and I follow her into the office.
Me: Which medical documents do I need to get?
She turns to the other girls expectantly.
Other Girls: You need medical documents.
Me: (Head explodes.)
(Practically yelling) But which documents?
One of the girls (I am fairly certain either Girl 2 or Girl 3) checks the same computer they’ve been checking all along.
Girl 2/3: You need to come back for a psychological examination.
Me: (Really wondering ‘what about the documents?’ but certainly not curious enough to bring that up again) When?
Girl 2/3: We’ll call you.
Me: (Not taking any chances) When will you call me?
Girl 2/3: Within two weeks.

And I’m spent.

Generation Gap?

An actual conversation between me and my parents. I’m honestly not sure if this is going to make me want to talk to them more in the future or less.

Mom: have u used your webcam? we also have one but haven’t tried it yet

me: Not yet.

I feel that it’s a bit too early in my career to start uploading compromising videos to the internet.

Mom: no no no compromising videos, just your face when we are talking. or else we’ll upload those baby pix!!

me: Which ones?

There are lots more of Noam and Tali. I’m the 3rd child, remember?

Mom: how about the bathtub shots?

me: You don’t have those of me.

Mom: want to bet?

me: Yes.

[long pause]

Dad: mommy is busy fruitlessly trying to find compromising pix of u

me: I know.

Dad: …now Mommy is more determined than ever

don’t b surprised if a Noam picture is claimed to actually b u

me: I won’t.

I think I can tell the difference. Not sure.

Dad: uh oh, u should never challenge your mother, she found some

me: No way!

In an album?

Dad: how about dressed up as a classic nerd 4 Purim

me: Not good enough. She said “naked.”

Dad: Or being hugged and kissed by Judy E. at camp when you were a wee one

me: Or “bathtub” at least.

So?

Dad: How about topless in the back yard?

me: Still not doing it for me…

Dad: The Purim nerd is pretty bad

Dad: But the mother is still on a quest, still looking for naked

Dad: Busted, found the bathtub

with a girl

me: No way!

That’s Noam!

Which girl?

Dad: Tali

Since she’s bigger than u in the pic, it has to be you

me: Is this a naked picture of Tali, where I just happen to be there and naked?

Dad: Just found 11 more

many at the beach in public

me: I am “b’shok.”

That’s Israeli for “in shock.”

Dad: U and Tali are sharing a bathtub

There are also solo shots of u

me: ….

Dad: can we stop — your mother doesn’t give up and I’m hungry. This could go on all night now. I’m gonna waste away to nothingness, dying of starvation

all because you challenged your mother

u should know by now you can do that

especially if u think you’ll ever win

me: I’m stubborn. You should know that by now.

Dad: BTW, it’s a good humbling lesson for marriage as well

just something to keep in mind

me: …and we’re back to this.

Dad: how about the three of u naked in an outdoor shower

me: Ok, now you’re just making stuff up. [Editor’s note: otherwise, I should go back in time and turn them into Child Services]

Dad: U want compromising, we got plenty, now go out and find a girl so we can thoroughly embarrass u

me: …I’ll work on it. -sigh-

Dad: have a great night. I’m going to eat the woodwork (or other inedible stuff not nailed down, while your mother searches the archives.

Seriously, have a great night. Talk to u tomorrow.

me: Ok.

Later.

Dad: bye

I am speechless. For me, that’s a big deal.

I Think I’m a Clone Now

A while ago, in January, while I was training in the U.S, Nefesh B’Nefesh called me to ask if needed any help with my aliyah. It went something like this:

GUY: Ilan, hi, this is [whatever his name was; we’ll call him Stanley] with NBN. I was wondering how we can help you with your aliyah.

ILAN: I already made aliyah.

STANLEY: You did?

ILAN: Yes.

STANLEY: When?

ILAN: August.

STANLEY: Oh.

-awkward silence-

(Recall that he’s calling my American cellphone)

ILAN: I’m in the U.S. now. [pause] But only for a short while.

STANLEY: Oh.

-awkward silence-

STANLEY: Well, if you want, you can still apply for our services. Give us a call when you get back.

ILAN: Sure, thanks.

STANLEY: Bye.

ILAN: Bye.

I’m not sure if he ever realized that not only did I make aliyah, I made it with NBN. In truth, NBN is a wonderful organization, which does amazing things for many people, myself very much included, so I shouldn’t make fun of them. But it was funny.
I think I downloaded their application twice or something, and I’m in their database twice, so that in their files, there’s one Ilan who planned out the aliyah process, made aliyah, even got a generous cash grant from them; and one Ilan who never quite got off the ground.

Parallel universe much?