Sunday was an uneventful day of work - met our instructor, who turned out to be infinitely cool. The most important thing I've learned so far though was that through osmosis, by figuring out what works and what doesn't, our team has learned most of what there is to learn about technical writing. It's highly vindicating. Most of us remember the time before the employer's major leap, when the Estonian branch had a corporate neurosis about not feeling like a real company. This translated to us: there is no history of technical writing in Estonia (I myself was, in all likelihood, the first person to actually carry the title back in 2002), and we simply had no frame of reference. Were we world-class? Did we completely suck? Could we use Microsoft as a quality yardstick, and then, how to measure that quality? As it turns out, we are as good as just about anyone in the real world, and better than a large amount of folks holding down jobs as technical writers. While not necessarily praising the state of the industry, it does make me feel good about myself and my coworkers.
Went out that night to watch the game. Osho pub in downtown Jerusalem, where we had some very nice Israeli wine (Galil Hills merlot) and some decidedly un-kosher food. I wonder if McDonalds serves cheeseburgers.
Today was awesome. One of our local colleagues that was there for the training used to do a regular three-day walking tour of Jerusalem, so he gave us the abbreviated 5-hour version. From the modern midtown market, down the pedestrian streets, out to the gardens and the Hebrew Union College, through Hell Valley and up past Sultan's Pool, through the main sites of the old city - all commented, with stories and explanations of significance. Enjoyed it tremendously. Took lots of pictures, including a few of the wall (visible in the distance) - I've flamed so much on the topic, on CoT and in other places, that I sort of had to.
Finished off the night in Spagettim, the Italian restaurant, where The Blonde and I had some very decent lasagne (with meat!), and The Boss had pasta with ham. Sic. I thought they simply wouldn't let shipments across the border, but apparently you can not only get non-kosher food in Jerusalem, you can even get pork.
Meat is actually a bit of an issue. Take the Regency's breakfast buffet, for example. They had the unenviable task of ensuring that guests do not mix meat with dairy. They solved the situation elegantly, by foregoing meat altogether. Generally Israelis do not eat very much meat, replacing it with truly outstanding baked goods. I'm a convinced carnivore - if God did not want us to eat animals, he would not have created them out of food - but even I have to admit, in this weather the local cuisine does actually work very well. Where Spaniards will not give up meat, instead instituting a period of rest to digest lunch, the Israelis simply modify their diet to suit the conditions. Like I said, it works.
Gave our guide a bottle of Vana Tallinn. It's more or less a condition of citizenship that you have to give people abroad Vana Tallinn. It is the landmark Estonian booze, although almost no Estonians drink it. It's 45% (sic) liqueur. Use your imagination.
Meeting a bunch of local tech writers tomorrow, and going to the Dead Sea on Wednesday. Updates will come as interesting stuff happens.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
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Ah, wonderful, sounds like you've fully "done Jerusalem". With an expert along, too, that always helps.
Since I know you are an athiest, I'm curious as to your 'spiritual' response to Jerusalem. On the one hand, it's been a bone of contention between Jewish sects, MANY Christian sects, and a few Moslem sects. This would tend to validate athiesm, I would think.
On the other hand, as a central spiritual focus of so many people, I found Jerusalem to be an amazingly spiritual place, even as I pondered how so many could ignore so much of the teachings of Jesus.
So, what was your reaction?
It's definitely important. Since I'm from a former Soviet country, to me Jew is a nationality rather than a religion. I've supported Israel as an idea, so being in Jerusalem, walking up Mount Zion, touching the Western Wall is a tremendous experience - if not a religious one, then definitely one of legacy and identity.
Whether that's spiritual, I'll leave for you to decide.
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