So Who Has A Lady Problem They’d Like to Share?

Yesterday was July 4th (well, duh, of course, since today’s July 5th), but it was more than the 239th anniversary of America’s independence; it was also the 39th anniversary of one of the most flawless hostage rescue operations of all time, the Raid on Entebbe aka Operation Thunderbolt. The raid brought attention to the terror that was Idi Amin, brought posthumous fame to Yoni Netanyahu, the young and educated commander of the operation (and brother of future Prime Minister of Israel Bibi Netanyahu), and laid the foundation for many future hostage rescues.

But one of the real heroes went relatively unsung: Patricia Martell.

Entebbe raid

A short history lesson:

In mid-June 1976, a regularly scheduled Air France flight took from Tel Aviv to Paris via Athens. When the plane landed in Athens, about 50 people got off, and 30 more got on. Once in the air, four of those who boarded in Athens – two Palestinian men, a German man, and a German woman – hijacked the plane and diverted it to Entebbe, Uganda. They decided to hold the passengers hostage in exchange for 53 Palestinian prisoners to be released from jails in Israel and Europe.

Eventually, they landed in Entebbe, and through crazy good planning and very good luck, the Israeli intelligence drew up a rescue plan in 5 days and rescued (almost) all the hostages in Uganda on July 4, 1976. It took all of 90 minutes.

Pretty smooth operation.


Once the plane was hijacked and headed to Africa, the pilots told the hijackers that they were low on fuel and they wouldn’t make it, so they made a refueling stop in Benghazi, Libya. They had only stopped briefly and did not allow anyone off the plane. However, one passenger, a British-Israeli woman named Patricia Martell, had a plan.

Ms. Martell went up to the lady hijacker, asked to get off the plane because she was pregnant and had miscarried. Her pants were stained with blood and she was still bleeding everywhere.

The hijackers (including the one lady hijacker, who might have had some sympathy for the bleeding woman), were probably like:

So, Patricia Martell got off the plane.

But…she didn’t have a miscarriage.

She wasn’t even pregnant.

She was, however, a nurse in an Israeli hospital who happened to a) have a sharp object in her purse, like a knitting needle or scissors or something (this was pre-9/11, so you could take just about anything on a plane), b) know exactly where to stab herself on the inner thigh to cause a lot of bleeding but not sever an artery, and c) the guts to do it to herself and then lie about it.

Once Patty got into the Benghazi Airport, she headed straight for the Libyan Airlines counter (hopefully having changed her pants) and booked tickets on the next flight to London. She arrived later that day, where she immediately went to Scotland Yard and the Israeli embassy to give testimony which proved to be decisive. In the days before Twitter or Facebook, Ms. Martell gave the all-too-important details and descriptions of the hijackers, the passengers, the plane, and where they could be.

She is still alive and living in Israel. In a 2006 interview, regretted her decision, saying that it was “pretty stupid,” but considering what resulted, I’d disagree.

And that’s how a problem with someone’s lady parts played a part in stopping a hijacking, saving hostages, and stopping an international incident.

Well done, Patricia Martell. You do you.

Works Cited:

“Entebbe Thirty Years On: Mancunian on Board.” Jewish Telegraph. <http://www.jewishtelegraph.com/enteb_2.html>. Web.

Kerr, Gordon and Phil Clarke. Hostages: Dramatic Accounts of Real Life Events. London: Canary Press eBooks, 2013. Web.


Happy In(Dependence) Day

The past few days have been kind of torturous, so before I get into the fun story of the day, here’s what up with me:

Thursday: Day 5 of the Get Yourself Together and Eat Healthy Diet. Pretty normal day, do a 20 minute interval run in the early evening. Once at home, I start to feel completely rotten. I’m hot and cold, my legs are numb, and I’m feeling dehydrated. Oh well, says I, probably a side-effect of running too much. Maybe I’ll head to bed a little earlier than normal (about midnight).

Friday: Wake up at 8:00 AM sharp, to…pain. Everywhere. My neck, my chest, my shoulders, my torso, my legs. I feel like I’m preparing for a full body X-ray with a suit of lead. I manage to get up, eat something…and then head back to bed, walking through my apartment at about 40% speed. I cave and have some cranberry lemonade that I find in the back of the fridge, then lie in bed, completely awake and completely motionless, for 3-4 hours. Torso and legs are still achy and numb, but I manage to sit up and then stand with less pain. Operating at 65% now, I manage to get some more food, get dressed, and head out for the day…at around 5:00 PM. After getting gas, I stop at Walgreens and wander around like a zombie until I manage to locate a thermometer, because my temperature is feeling wacky and I’m sweating. I take my temperature in the car, and maybe it’s the heat but I’m 99.6 degrees. No wonder I’m feeling rotten. I pop a few Advil. Next stop: Starbucks, to say hey to my favorite barista Lacey and get my daily iced coffee, probably a bad idea, but I need some caffeine. Head home an hour or two later, still feeling blah, and get ready to go to Chabad, giving myself extra time because I’m now operating closer to 81% than 65%. Take my temperature, and it’s 98.3, so maybe the heat from outside affected it. Go to Chabad for dinner, forgoing all carbs but a piece of challah, and head back home early, at about 9:45. I’m feeling a lot better now, but still I take 2 Advil and go to sleep.

Today: Up at 5:45, dehydrated and in pain. 2 more Advil and back to bed. Wake up around noon, almost as achy as I woke up the day before. Manage to get out of bed for yogurt and coffee (late breakfast) and a salami sandwich on lettuce (lunch). Now it’s just after 4:00 PM, and though my joints are less achy, this might not be the best day to go for a run since the gym is closed, which was my original plan. My temperature is 99.3, but it’s probably because I’ve been in my apartment all day, so maybe I should take a short walk outside or something.

I think I lost a little weight, maybe: Last night I weighed myself, and it looked like I had gained weight, but I weighed myself again right now, and it was five pounds LESS than last night, so by splitting the difference, I probably stayed the same or lost 1 pound since I weighed myself a month ago. I’ve heard that after about 2 weeks on the diet, the weight comes off, so I’m hoping to see what happens by this time next week and go from there. I don’t want to be on this diet forever – I want croissants when I get to Montreal! – but we’ll see how I do up until then, hopefully, which is a month from now.

But now, the story of the day…

Last night, I managed to get myself to Chabad for dinner, and just as I was sitting down at the table, we were doing the going-around-the-table doing introductions and answering a question. This week’s question was: what are you thankful for about America?

The answers were pretty banal and almost Miss America-esque, with people saying things like “I’m thankful for religious freedom,” “I’m thankful for a strong economy,” and “I’m thankful to feel safe everyday.”

Then, it’s my turn. My response?

“I’m Jacob, and I’m thankful for Target.”

A few snickers from the table, but I’m pretty serious. Who cares about freedom of religion when you can go to one store and get a laptop case, light bulbs, q-tips, bath towels, colored pencils, sweatpants, and a Nestle Crunch bar? Come on, friends, what do you think about more: free press, or shopping?

And, by the way, your freedom of religion? Tell that to black churches in the South. Strong economy? Europe has free education, and we’re not quite out of the woods with this recession thing. And…feeling safe? Try being a woman, an African-American, or identifying as LGBT. Being a cis-gender white male, I feel marginally safe in this country, and I might be totally wrong about the above three categories of people feeling safe, but were I one of them, I think I’d definitely feel at least a few moments of vulnerability here and there living in this country, especially in light of recent events in here in the good old US of A.

My first choice answer was actually Starbucks, but oddly enough, I did not want to sound too materialistic.

Happy July 4th, y’all. I’m off to celebrate with more salami and lettuce.


What Adults Are Thinking At Birthday Parties for 2-Year-Olds

What time is it starting? 4:00 PM? Okay, I can leave the house at 3:45.

Wait…do I bring a present? What if I do, and no one else does…won’t that be weird? What if I don’t, and everyone else does…am I heartless and cruel?

Screw it, it’s 3:57 and I’ve gotta head out. I guess I’ll be fashionably late.

Wait, two-year-olds don’t really know what fashion is. Do they even know what birthdays are yet?

4:10 PM. Okay, officially heading out the door.

Okay, I’m here, not the first and not the last.

Wow, there are no other children here except for the one who’s having a birthday, and ironically, the only one refusing to wear a party hat.

Thank goodness I’m not the only one without a gift.

Let’s see…who’s here?

Oh, he’s here. Ugh. He tries way too hard to be funny.

And there’s the chick in her thirties who’s sitting on the floor, pretending to get the birthday girl’s attention with toys, but secretly enjoying playing with dolls without being judged. To her knowledge, at least.

Some guy I don’t know, some girl I don’t know…are these friends of the parents or is their kid part of MENSA?

Oh look, Fat Libby’s here. Of course, she’d be here, she can sense an event with free food two miles away.

Speaking of food, what a spread.

Of course, no one’s eating, because we are adults and therefore always dieting, even though there are little signs saying “diet fruit punch,” “gluten-free pizza,” and “cupcakes made with free-range eggs.”

Except the salad, fruit, and veggie platter, which are gone in a flash, and the water pitcher that the hostess is constantly refilling.

Oh, look! The one couple with an actual child is here! This means it’s officially a birthday party for a child and not a bunch of adults sitting around in party hats without alcohol.

Cake time! Let’s sing! And again! And again!

Adorable cake, let’s cut it!

The birthday girl gets the first slice. Also getting cake: her face, her hair, her dress, the floor, the chair she’s sitting on, her mom’s blouse.

Five minutes later…no one else is having cake. Of course.

Oh, wait a minute…here comes Fat Libby. Go figure.

Two slices of the giant cake gone.

Time for presents!

Here, have this card, even though you can’t read it yet. Total waste of $3.95. He could’ve scribbled on a piece of construction paper and it wouldn’t make a difference.


Wow, toys! What a surprise! Yes, you can play with them now, in the middle of the room, with all of us watching. That’s not at all creepy.

Oh look, the adults are playing with the toys. The child is elsewhere, exploring the boxes and bags they came in.

Okay, it’s been like thirty-five minutes, party’s over, can I go now?

“Happy second birthday” ::hug and kiss the adorable birthday girl:: ::chorus of awwws::

Well, that’s over. Now back to my regular schedule of doing nothing.


Geocaching Milestones: 1600-2000

Today, I scored my 2000th geocache. How weird is that? It seems like only yesterday I was back with Julie and co in Texas getting my 1000th. A lot has changed since then. But I guess I must be doing something right.

So here are my last 5 milestone caches:

1600: District 13 (Madison, WI)

A puzzle cache involving The Hunger Games. Led me to a Tupperware hidden behind a Willy Street Co-op. 

1700: Tardis: The Key to Time Travel (Madison, WI)

One of my all time favorites: a Tardis in the Verona woods.

1800: Water Tower View (Beaver Dam, WI)

This was an unremarkable cache as part of Cache and Release. WeKache was with me at least. 

1900: Castlevania (Madison, WI)

Another unremarkable micro but WeKache was also there. 

2000: LFT – Queen’s Landing (Chicago, IL)

Finally!!! A magnetic key holder along Chicago’s beautiful Lakefront Trail. A gorgeous day too. Of course, the minute I go to take a picture of myself with it, my phone died, so a nice lady nearby took one with her phone and texted it to me. 

Still in Chicago right now, having sashimi and pretending it’s sushi. 


Raw Food and a Raw Deal

So much is going on in the world today, but as for me, I have finally decided to take a tighter hold on my eating habits.

As of 48 hours ago, I have subsisted almost solely on raw food. My only exceptions have been yogurt and peanut butter, because who has time to make those items from scratch unless you live on a farm.

I’ve always been of the opinion that a healthy diet consists of moderation. Protein, carbs, sugars, fats, all in harmony, just never too much of one thing. Carbs are not the enemy; well, not all carbs (hey, maybe that can be the next Facebook/Twitter movement, NotAllCarbs) but the majority – potato chips, white bread, sugar cookies – are just empty calories.

But now, I think it’s become time to purify my system, and maybe this raw food thing is the way to go. So far, my meals have consisted of:

  • Breakfasts: Yogurt and banana (the only fruit with more protein than sugar)
  • Lunches: Egg whites, salmon, tuna and lettuce
  • Snacks: Salad (sigh), chicken soup, post-workout green smoothie
  • Dinners: Chicken, some sort of veggies to pretend to enjoy
  • Drinks: Water, coffee, tea, water with sugar-free lemonade powder

I spent most of my day looking forward to my post-workout smoothie so I could have something sweet in my system. So, as you can see, my life is terribly exciting. Yeah…not so much. In fact, I’m miserable. I feel like I can’t eat anything. How do people live like this for days and months on end? Maybe, just maybe, if I make a list of foods I’m craving here, it’ll help me stop thinking about them all the damn time.

List of foods I miss:

  1. Sushi. (I wonder if I could get away with nigri or sashimi and still be on the wagon)
  2. Chocolate-covered almonds/bridge mix.
  3. Twizzlers.
  4. Frappuccino.
  5. Caramel Macchiato.
  6. Diet Coke.
  7. Cookies.
  8. Popcorn.
  9. Pretzels.
  10. Muffins.

I guess that’s not too bad or long of a list.

Here’s to Day 3, I guess.

But I don’t have the rawest deal of the day.

After Donald Trump’s crazy rant about Mexicans being drug lords and rapists, he’s been losing traction. First, Univision canceled the airing of Miss USA and Miss Universe, which, by the way, is two weeks away. Then, individuals started dropping like flies: judges including former Miss Universe Zuleyka Rivera, the entertainment, the Spanish-language commentators, and Farouk Systems (the hair and makeup stylists). Today, NBC officially announced that they are dropping Miss USA from its airing schedule. So, basically, 51 women who have already traveled varying distances to the pageant (well, I guess Miss Louisiana didn’t have to go too far, given that it’s in Baton Rouge this year) will either a) not get to participate in something they’ve been preparing for for the better part of a year, or b) be denied the privilege of having their non-present family members watching them getting crowned. Either way, it’s most likely that these poor ladies wasted thousands of dollars on travel, gowns, and other preparation-type-things.

Prepare for some epic backlash. Meanwhile, I will prepare some vegetables.



Two Random Childhood Memories

I haven’t told any good stories in a while, so here are two that I don’t want to forget. One silly one and one serious one. Tell me what you think.

1. All Combs Go To Heaven

One morning when I was about 6 or 7, I was getting ready for school. Ever the multitasker, I was peeing while combing my hair. As I reached to flush the toilet, the comb flew out of my hand and went straight down the hole. I tried to reach for it, but I didn’t manage to get it in time. I do not know why, but this caused me great distress. I think I even cried.

My first thought: oh God, I’ve destroyed the plumbing in my house. It’s going to get stuck in the pipes and everything’s going to be backed up. We’re going to have to replace all the sinks and toilets and pipes and it’s all my fault.

My second thought: where did it go? Where do things that get flushed down the toilet go? Do they disappear, or do they ever come back.

I ran to my parents, telling them what happened, and they didn’t seem to think it was a big deal. I even asked them how I could fit inside the toilet and get it. They tried to explain to me that it was gone, and it was an accident, but I wasn’t going to see it again. I asked them where it would end up, and they told me that it would probably end up in a sewage plant somewhere. I asked them where that was, and they shut me down pretty quickly. I guess that’s what you do when your six-year-old asks about visiting sewage plants.

It traumatized me for weeks, and every time I saw a hairbrush or comb, I got sad immediately and my parents had to console me. Looking back, it seems more funny than sad, but it’s interesting to see how small your world is as a child and how much insignificant things can affect you.

2. The Relative Truth

Growing up, I had a babysitter who was practically part of the family. She loved us, she took care of us when my parents were away, and she helped me learn so many things, from the basics of reading to how to fold towels so they looked neat on the shelf.

One time, also around that same age as the comb story, we were learning about families in school: parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins. At a family event, I was sitting with my mom, when all of a sudden this conversation took place.

Me: “Mom, how is [babysitter] related to us?”

Mom: “She’s your babysitter.”

Me: “Yes, but is she my aunt, or my cousin?”

Mom: “She isn’t either.”

Me: “So is she related to us?”

Mom: “Well…yes. But not by blood.”

What a great response to young me.

And that was how I learned that friends can indeed be family, and that there’s a difference between being related and being blood-related.

Because my mommy said so and she’s never wrong.

Except for the time she yelled at me once for buying her a bag of lettuce at the store that listed ingredients on the front that included feta cheese, before realizing that it wasn’t a list of what was in the bag, but suggestions on what would taste good with said lettuce in a salad.


‘Tis The Season…Or Something

It seems like book reviews have taken over my blog lately, with several more on the way, including the two I said would take over my blog, once I get either the inspiration or the wherewithal to write them.

But until then, please enjoy this…book review, yet another selection from Rebekah Koontz‘s Blog Book Club: Paper Towns by John Green.

In a similar vein to An Abundance of Katherines, the last novel I read by Green, Paper Towns features an angsty teenage protagonist and his quirky friends withering away, or attempting not to, in suburbia – Orlando, in this case, rather than Chicago. The protagonist himself is pretty forgettable in comparison to his friends – I actually had to sit and think for a moment to remember that his first name was Quentin – Ben, the hopeless romantic; Radar, the token black character who happens to be a supergenius; and Margo Roth Spiegelman, who might just be my favorite John Green kick-ass, way-too-smart high-schooler yet. The adult characters are kind of there; the only ones that get much development are the Spiegelman parents, who are way uptight, and Quentin’s parents, who seem way too chilled out. Also of note: a character actually has a sibling ::gasp:: for the first time I’ve seen so far in the John Green-iverse, Margo’s sister Ruthie, who probably could have contributed more to the plot than she actually did.

Basically, the book can be broken up into three sections: Margo and Quentin’s Night of ShenanigansMargo Disappears and Apparently This Is Not a Huge Issue, and The Arbitrary But Fun Odyssey.

In Margo and Quentin’s Night of Shenanigans, we meet most of the characters when Margo commandeers Quentin into doing a bunch of shit for her to get back at people. I enjoyed this part, even though, like Quentin, I had no idea what was going on. A little more backstory would have been beneficial, but we learn enough later that it’s not too much of an issue. Then, Margo Disappears and Apparently This Is Not a Huge Issue, well, except to Quentin. Seriously, after a few chapters, even Margo’s parents seem to accept the fact that their daughter, despite being 18 years old, has skipped town before her high school graduation. No one but Quentin is even looking for her. Eventually, he ropes in a crew consisting of Ben, Radar, and this girl Lacey who Margo “got back at” but must be a better person than Margo gives her credit for, because they all ditch their high school graduation on the morning before it happens to take Quentin’s new car on The Arbitrary But Fun Odyssey to track down Margo based on a few clues that may or may not lead them to her. Despite the cringe-worthy second section, this section is actually quite well-written and exciting; the trip merits an hour-by-hour breakdown, in a completely different, travelogue-like style as the quartet make their way up the East Coast in search of their friend. The ending is a bit anti-climactic, but kind of sweet, and ends with enough room for a sequel, should Green ever want to pick it up.

The verdict: much better than An Abundance of Katherines, in every way. More interesting characters, better-thought-out situations, and some of the Mental Floss quirkiness that I would expect from John Green. I’d definitely recommend this as a beach read, or an any day read. Not much else. Thumbs up.

Best quote:

“It’s a penis,” Margo said, “in the same sense that Rhode Island is a state: it may have an illustrious history, but it sure isn’t big.”

This book review has been brought to you by Northwestern University Library, and Rebekah Koontz, of course. I already have next month’s book on the way.