Is it finally over?

I just got off the phone with Bar Ilan, trying to work this out, and it’s still not worked out.

The Bar Ilan English department has this stupid thing called a B.A. exam, with very simple “See Spot run. Run Spot run” type questions, and, while there are no credits for it, you need to get a 60 on it in order to get your degree. I think the reason for it was that the English Department got burned too many times by Israelis who manage to get an A in Comparative Literature or write papers for Advanced Shakespeare, yet still not manage to be able to speak a word of English. Don’t ask.

I’ve been out of the country the last few times it was offered, or missed the deadline for registering for it for various reasons I won’t get into, but I’ve reached the point now where my not having taken it is the only thing holding me back from graduating (That, and a professor who still hasn’t graded a paper I turned in four months ago). So in order to take it now, I had to register with the status department (statoose) to register for a course not as a student, get special permission from the department, pay 10% of tuition for the pleasure, pay a fee-paying fee, pay a late fee for the fee-paying fee, and whatever else I don’t even remember anymore. It cost me something like 1500 shekels to register for this, and they told me to come back on January 4th to take the test.

So now January 4th is just around the corner, and I figured I’d be a little proactive and call the department to find out what time on January 4th the test is going to be, because the Bar Ilan website refuses to tell me. The Bar Ilan website is so screwed up that it refuses to even acknowledge that such an exam exists. Of course, when I call, they tell me that the B.A. exam has been cancelled (meaning that the website isn’t so screwed up after all – Bar Ilan University is screwed up), and that it is no longer required for graduation, and that they sent out a cancellation notice to everybody who was registered for it two months ago (If this is correct, then it was about a week after I registered for it). Except, it seems, to me.

So here I am, seemingly graduated retroactively two months ago on a technicality, assuming that I eventually pass on the paper I turned in four months ago for a Spring 2007 course. Mazal Tov to me?

Also, whatever happened to my money?

The Knockout Blow

I just bought two closets for my parent’s apartment from somebody they found on Janglo. In a true Salla Shabati moment, the people dropped off the closet in the parking lot, took the money, and left before I realized that I’m going to have to figure out some way to get these monsters up the stairs.

I have a thought on this “victory in points,” that we just scored in Lebanon. If I were to fight Mike Tyson in the ring, last 15 rounds, but lose to him “on points,” I would consider that a victory, even if, technically, I was the loser. (How lame was that at the end of Cinderella Man where he wins the fight on points? They should have deviated from the true story. Who wants to watch a boxing movie wher somebody doesn’t go down?) I also don’t think Mike Tyson would run around bragging about how he beat me in a victory on points. Though honestly, I would just be thankful he didn’t go to town on my ear.

So what we have here is essentially a draw, but in a fight where Israel needed a win to win, and Hizbullah just needed to avoid the loss. In that sense, we lost. Even if, really, we won. It’s complicated.

Running for Her Life

There have been alot of videos floating around YouTube about the Katyusha attacks on Haifa and other cities in the north. Most of them are videos people took while looking out of their windows; you hear a siren, a bang, and sometimes see a pillar of smoke. This one is different, and I think the most powerful.

Katyusha’s Clear Song

Apple trees and pears were in blossom
On the river hung the morning mist
Young Katyusha stepped up on the high bank,
Of the river steep bank in the mist.

On the bank Katyusha started singing
Of a proud grey eagle of the steppe,
Of the one Katyusha loved so deeply,
Of the one whose letters she has kept

Oh, you song, you bright song of a maiden
Fly you by the sun, fly like a bird
To the soldier on faraway border
From Katyusha bring a greeting word.

Let him think of simple native maiden,
Let him hear Katyusha’s clear song
He will guard the land of dear homeland
And their love Katyusha will keep strong.

Apple trees and pears were in blossom
On the river hung the morning mist
Young Katyusha stepped up on the high bank,
Of the river steep bank in the mist

This song was written in 1938, and first sung by Lidiya Ruslanova for Russian soldiers on the front. Try listening to it; it sounds a lot like the old Israeli folk songs. It’s about a young girl, Catharine, nicknamed Katyusha. The song became so popular with the Russian soldiers who fought World War Two, that the Russians named their new missile (which had actually been around since 1936) the Katyusha. All Russian rocket artillery from then on carried the same nickname, including the ones we’re facing in Lebanon now.

Reading the English translation of the song, I really picture it not as a love song, but as an actual song about a missile. It really conjures up images – at least in my mind – of rockets flying through the air with “Fly you by the sun, fly like a bird To the soldier on the faraway border,” and of rockets screaming down with “Katyusha’s clear song.” It’s very prophetic, or I guess that’s just what the Russians had in mind when they named their rockets after this song.