Israel, 1 Year Later

Or just about

I abandoned Julie in St. Louis (I have a habit of doing that) and flew to Israel via Washington DC and Frankfurt on Sunday, arriving at Ben Gurion on Monday mid day. We are staying in Herzilya just up the Mediterranean coast from Tel Aviv, about 500 yards from the hotel I stayed at last time I was here. This one is quite a bit nicer though not up to even the most basic western standards. Understandable as this country is often pre-occupied with other more important matters.

Holocaust Memorial

Today (starting yesterday at sundown) was a national day of remembrance for the holocaust victims of World War II. It was touching to reflect on the events that so greatly impacted all of us and so hurt the Jewish nation. I've personally visited two former concentration camps (Dachau and Mathausen) and it should be a required side trip for any European vacation. We can't forget the attrocities and it pains me to think that there are those that continue to deny the magnitude or even the reality of the events that transpired just a brief 60-65 years ago.

The weather here is surprisingly like it was when I left Portland about a week ago - mid 70s with a mix of sun and clouds. The sea is churning with lots of surfing and kayaking activity in the surf.

View of the Sea

It's looking like we'll get some brief time for tourism activities on Friday, perhaps allowing a trip to Jaffa or some interesting sites in Tel Aviv. Unfortunately I don't think we'll be able to make it to Jerusalem this time to visit Yehuda. We have a very early flight out Saturday morning at 5:30am, requiring that we be at the airport by 3:30am. Maybe we should skip sleep altogether.

Went for a run this morning (it is common to wake up very early the first morning after traveling 9 timezones to the east) and enjoyed the suburban community. Even happened by the American embassy, situated right on the coast. I don't know if it is the embassy here (I suspect it is in Jerusalem) but this was definitely a significant presence.

View of Herziliya

Thurtene 2006 - A Tribute to Coach

Julie and I spent the weekend in St. Louis visiting our alma mater, Washington University. The last time I visited was in 1995 at a five year class reunion, but Julie and I decided it was time to return and join a special celebration. I was a member of Thurtene, the junior honorary, a group of thirteen students chartered each year with putting on the Thurtene Carnival. This is presumably the oldest and largest student-run carnival in the United States. Members are selected early in their junior year and spend the next 4-6 months doing the prep work for the carnival. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my college years.

The campus has changed significantly for the better since my time there, with the most dramatic changes being the residential area, aka the "South 40". What used to be a collection of boring 60s and 70s-style cement buildings has turned into a terraced landscape of classic brick buildings and winding pathways. Gone are the ugly skyscrapers (and firetraps) and one-by-one they are taking down the older dormitories and replacing them with buildings much more in step with the architecture of the campus. Some things never change though, making our visit an exciting blend of revisiting old familiar spaces and discovering new aspects of this beautiful university. Thankfully, student groups still paint the underpass with event advertisements - losing that would have been a hard pill to swallow.

Thurtene Underpass

Our reason for coming this weekend went beyond just attending the carnival - the faculty advisor for Thurtene, Coach Jim Burmeister, is stepping down from his role after serving in that capacity for 35 years. I swear he hasn't aged a day since serving as our advisor in 1989, and members from his 1st years back in the 70s affirmed that their view was consistent with mine.

Chris and Coach

We had a spectacular turnout from our year, with seven members making the trip from all corners of the US (Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Oregon, and St. Louis). There's something special about a group charged with a single monumental task each year (putting on a carnival to raise funds for a children's charity) that maintains a level of continuity that far surpasses most institutions we encounter in our lives. While the names change every year (as does the makeup of the organization - it went from all men to co-ed in 1992), the traditions stay the same largely due to the adept guidance of an individual like Coach.

Thurtene 1989 with Coach

Thanks Coach for your loyalty and dedication to Thurtene these past 35 years. Thanks to my fellow Thurtene 1989 for creating and sharing one of my most memorable college experiences. Finally, thanks to those current and future members of Thurtene that will carry the tradition forward.

Madge Gardiner - Rest in Peace

My (other, last) grandmother passed away this week.

Madge Meredith Gardiner, 97, of Morristown Manor in Morristown, Ind., formerly of Carmel, Ind., and Shelbyville, Ind., died Wednesday, April 5, 2006.

Born Feb. 14, 1909, in Chanute, Kan., she was the daughter of E.T. and Mabel Alice Robertson Blackwood. On June 2, 1934, she married George Gardiner. He preceded her in death.

Mrs. Gardiner taught first grade at Perkins Elementary School for 21 years.

She was a graduate of Parsons College in Fairfield and did graduate work at Drake University, Northeast Missouri State College and Western Illinois University. She was a member of DAR, a charter member of Abidah Circle of King's Daughters, Alpha Kappa and a longtime member of Grace United Methodist Church in Burlington.

Survivors include one daughter, Lynne Brooks of Shelbyville; two sons, Larry Gardiner of Lincoln, Calif., and Don Gardiner of Bloomington, Ind.; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Besides her husband, she was preceded in death by her parents, one sister and one brother.

Her body has been donated to the Indiana School of Medicine.

A memorial service for Mrs. Gardiner will be at Grace United Methodist Church on Saturday, Aug. 5.

A memorial has been established for Grace United Methodist Church.

The Hawk Eye Newspaper.