Guanajuato, Mexico

10 Dec

Guanajuato, Mexico

I recently went to Mexico for the first time. Guanajuato was a great place to experience the country and, more importantly, devour tons of amazing Mexican food.

Nightlife at the California Academy of Science

5 Sep

, originally uploaded by yonajon.

Thursdays are party nights at the California Academy of Science. A few weeks back I found myself enjoying the nightlife at CAS – the aquarium was especially fun!


8 Jun

Boulder, originally uploaded by yonajon.

A couple months ago, Ofri and I spent a few days in Boulder. Got in some good hikes, excellent meals, and saw some friends. Will be back some day!


23 Feb

Dinner, originally uploaded by yonajon.

More than a Year

17 Dec

More than a year has passed since I updated this blog.  A lot has happened during the last year, though not much blogging it seems.  Some quick highlights for 2008:

  • Dapper moved headquarters to San Francisco from Tel Aviv.  We got an office.  I stopped working from home.  Things started happening on the business front.  We built a business model.  My cofounder moved to Sunnyvale.  I got real busy.  We added a some great people to our team.  We recently moved into our second office of 2008 by the Caltrain.
  • More things ended up on the walls of my apartment.  Until just yesterday there were two huge walls that still had nothing on them.  Ofri finally put up some of Liesbeth’s beautiful paintings in the bedroom, and I put up some of my photos from Thanksgiving in the living room.  We’ve still got work to do.  Today we finished constructing my holiday gift: a spice rack that Ofri designed and created with her school’s laser cuter – that made it onto the kitchen wall.
  • I made great strides in my cooking.  Taking a cue from my good friend Roos, I started cooking my favorite Indian dishes from scratch.  I bought a food processor.  I bought good pans.  I accessorized the kitchen.  I realized I can make any dish I want if I just try.  I realized I could even cook for other people.  I’ve been making lasagna, Chinese orange chicken, butter chicken, aloo gobi, garlic chicken, larb gai, and much, much more.  We started eating green salad every day.  I started liking tomatoes more than I once did.  I started baking, making chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin bread, and coconut cookies.
  • I slowed down my travel to and from Israel.  From August 2007 until May 2008, I traveled to Israel every 3-5 weeks.  Since May, I’ve only been to Israel once.  While it has been necessary to slow down my travel both because Dapper is more active in the States and because it was wrecking havoc on my life, I do miss my frequent trips to Tel Aviv.  For a while, I was maintaining some semblance of two lives simultaneously (though at some point I realized that two half-lives does not equal a full life).  I miss my friends and family there and the vibrancy of life in that crazy country.
  • I organized and held a fun event for Dapper called DapperCamp at the Swedish American Hall in San Francisco.  Lots of people came and it was a success.  Building on my experience of running the event, I’m helping bring the Internet Marketing Conference to San Francisco in May, 2009.
  • Ofri and I did a whole lot of hiking and camping: Henry Coe, Lake Pillsbury, frequent trips to Mount Tam and Point Reyes, and more in the Bay Area.
  • I traveled to a bunch of places I didn’t know well or had never been before, and Ofri joined me on some of the trips.  Particularly enjoyable trips were Seattle, Vancouver, Amsterdam, and Barcelona. I especially enjoyed my second trip to India.  I visited Bangalore and Mysore and am eagerly awaiting my return this spring.  Part of me really connects well with India and the Indian people.  I’ve got the head wobble down.  And I love the food so much.
  • All the travel added up, I earned tons of frequent flier miles, and I requalified for my elite status on Continental for another year.  If you want to dork out to my flight paths, check out my flight memory.

The year will end in Peru (courtesy of those frequent flier miles)  Ofri and I leave soon for our first foray into South America.

Hopefully 2009 will bring with it as much progress, both in life and in work, as 2008 did.  If nothing else, I finally feel back in my place in the US, and some sense of stability has returned to what was, for a long time, a very hectic life.

Best wishes to everyone reading this – happy holidays, happy new year, and happy 2009!

Nokia N95 Cracks and then I Crack

28 Oct

I had been doing so well. I resisted the temptation last week at the Apple store, having realized that my Nokia N95 is by all means a fantastic telephone and needs not to be replaced by an iPhone. I tamed my envy.

Last night, I take my phone out of my pocket and see the following:

Nokia N95 - Cracked!

No idea how that happened.

Now yeah, I could have dealt with this until two weeks from now when I’ll be back in Tel Aviv. After my last phone fiasco (read: swimming with your smartphone will break it), I smartly insured this phone. But who can spend two weeks without email, calendaring, and more on the go? At least that’s what I told myself when walking into the Apple store today. So now I have an iPhone. I’m sure I’ll miss the N95…

Life with a Canon 30D

25 Oct

Those of you who know me, know that I’ve long loved photography. For years I’ve wanted a digital SLR and so recently I finally broke down and bought one. I totally love it – now I just need some more hard drive space.

I’m still not sure what solution to use for showcasing my photos, but so far I’ve broken it down as follows:

I’m using PicasaWeb for full albums that I want to show friends after an outing

Flickr for my higher quality photos

Facebook for photos of my friends who are on Facebook. (I’m using some Facebook application called zuPort to post my Flickr photos into Facebook – anyone have a better recommendation?).

My old gallery has long since been retired, but maybe I’ll resurrect it some day.

I’m using Xee and Adobe Bridge to manage files locally on my computer.

I’d love to hear other people’s photo strategies. In the mean time, check out my photos and let me know what you think.

Two Lives

13 Sep

August marked the beginning of a new stage in my life.  Or, rather, in my lives.  I have effectively started to lead two lives – one in Tel Aviv and the other in San Francisco.  It’s bizarre to say the least.  I have two apartments, two sets of clothes, two sets of friends, etc. (though there’ll always be only one Ofri). I’ll be splitting my time fairly evenly, with a slight bias towards San Francisco.

In San Francisco, I’ll be pursuing business objectives and partnerships for Dapper in addition to my new role as chief evangelizer.  In Tel Aviv, I’ll continue to work closely with the development team on technical issues.

On a personal level, it’s hard to say what’s going to happen.  After a year and a half in Tel Aviv, I was ready to return to the States.  But now that I have, I’m happy that I still continue to spend lots of time in Israel.  The best of both worlds?  Maybe, though I’m seriously going to have to figure out how to deal with this jetlag…

Israel Survival Tips: Part 3 – Driver’s Licenses

14 Nov

While I can’t imagine a trip to the DMV is fun in any country, the process of converting your foreign license to an Israeli driver’s license may be one of the most convoluted, expensive, and bureaucratic processes you have to go through when moving to Israel. It involves multiple visits to various places and getting the appropriate rubber stamp at each office. Hopefully, this post will save you some time and anguish.

First off: you’re apparently permitted to drive in Israel for a year after arrival using your foreign license. This, however, doesn’t mean that if you borrow your friend’s car, the insurance of the car will cover you. Read the fine print (in Hebrew, naturally) on the policy. After a year, you’re no longer allowed to drive without an Israeli license, and if you do it’s illegal and no insurance policy will cover you.

The first step in the process is to obtain the necessary paperwork – essentially a green form which confirms that you are medically and visually fit to drive a car. Unlike in the States, this is not done at the DMV. You have to visit a Teldor or Marmanet store in your city (the “moked” can tell you where – call either 1-559-50-20-30 and/or 03-929-8587). Show up with your Teudat Zehut and Teudat Oleh (and any other documents that might be needed, like your passport). This store will issue you the correct form and will give you an eye test. I went to store at 139 Ibn Gvirol in Tel Aviv – it took almost no time and cost 50 shekels. I walked away with my form, my photograph printed into it, stamped with the eye test results.

The next step is to take this same form to a doctor to get a stamp indicating you are fit to drive. If you don’t already have a regular doctor, just call your Kupat Cholim’s moked and ask for an appointment with any family doctor. The Kupat Cholim covers the cost of the doctor’s visit.

Be sure that at both places, you get official stamps on the form – without them the DMV will not accept the form.

Next: take the form, your foreign driver’s license, your passport(s), your Teudat Zehut, and your Teudat Oleh to the DMV. Every DMV branch is different, but my experience at Holon (the branch responsible for Tel Aviv) should reflect what you’d go through elsewhere. First thing to check is what days they deal with Hamarat Reshiyon Zar (exchange of foreign driver’s license). In Holon, this is on Monday and Wednesday from 07:30 to 13:30, but definitely double-check. The DMV has a website, though most of the information is available only in Hebrew. Once at the DMV, ask the information desk which line to get in and then wait. When it’s your turn, the person will verify that your form is filled out correctly and that you have the right to exchange your license (meaning that your foreign license is not expired and was issued during the last three years). Once they sign your form the real fun begins.

In Israel, to exchange your license, you have to pass a road test. This requires finding a driving instructor because you cannot take the test with a private car – it must be the car of a licensed driving instructor. So to find a driving instructor, go around back the DMV and look for the aging men sitting under the tree. Any one of these guys will be happy to provide his car for your test. I used a guy called Sammy – he was reliable and friendly (just ask for him).  Once you’ve selected an instructor, he (naturally) fills out more forms and will then schedule a date for your test. If you do not drive stick, make sure you find an instructor who has an automatic vehicle (and note that your license will indicate that you are not allowed to drive stick in Israel). At this point the instructor will convince you to take two lessons with him. Naturally, it’s all a ploy to get you to spend more money, but I took the classes and found them useful (I learned very little, but I entered into test mode).  Each lesson should cost 90 shekels for a stick, or 100 shekels for an automatic.

When you set up the time for your test, the instructor should give you a bill for 58 shekels.  This sum is used to pay the tester.  You have to take this to any post office and pay the sum, or else the tester won’t show up to your test.

Typically you’ll have your second lesson right before the test, and this is also when you pay your instructor for the two lessons and for using his car to take the exam.  To take the exam in his car costs 350 shekels.  When you are taking your test and reach the end of the examination, the tester will not tell you if you passed (unlike in the States) – apparently they don’t like to be asked, either. You can call your instructor later in the day and have them check if you want to know.

You’re almost there.  If you failed the test, you’ll have to show up and get your form back and schedule another test with an instructor.  You get two chances total.  If you fail the second time, you have to take 28 driving lessons (at 100 shekels a pop, that’s not something you want).  If you passed the test, you show up and supposedly your temporary license is waiting for you (of course, when I showed up, it wasn’t ready because the tester forgot to sign the form).  Either way, you have to show up in person and go back to the same line. Once you have your temporary license in hand, take it to any post office or bank and pay the 372 shekels to get your real license. Your permanent license is sent by mail – expect up to two months (mine took just over one month).

Again, the process is tedious, obnoxious, and expensive (50 – Eye Test, 100 – Lesson, 100 – Lesson, 350 – Examination, 58 – Tester, 372 – License = 1,030 shekels), but if you plan to drive in Israel, it’s necessary.

Drive safely, and feel free to post any questions in the comments of this post.

The Hidden Lake

4 Sep

After hearing much about a “hidden” lake in northern Israel, Ofri, Nachshon, and I set out to find it. Nestled in between some cliffs and desert-like sand, we found the lake glimmering in the sun. It may be hidden from view, but at least 25 others were able to find it this past Saturday. It was totally beautiful, the water was cool, and the swimming was fantastic. I didn’t know Israel actually had bodies of water other than the Galilee and the Dead Sea. It was refreshing to swim in water that doesn’t sting from salt. The lake is extremely deep – 5 meters at the edge – and fairly big (for Israel): 40 meters by 150 meters. Here are some photos.

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake

Hidden Lake