8

Wonderful, Wonderful Wisconsin: A Park and a Half

Summertime is prime time for exploring Wisconsin, and with tomorrow being July 4th and therefore prime time for all the Wisconsin spots worthy of exploring to be full of people, we decided to spend today exploring one of our great State Parks.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Wonderful, Wonderful Wisconsin

Episode 10: A Park and a Half (Roche-A-Cri State Park, Friendship, WI)

I wanted to spend the day, or at least part of it, doing something fun out of Madison. Unfortunately, I woke up with a splitting headache that had me on the couch until mid-afternoon, Fortunately, I was feeling well enough to rally by around 4 PM, and we were on the road to Roche-A-Cri State Park, a place I’d seen on the map and randomly picked to visit.

Roche-A-Cri (French for “crevice in the rock”) State Park is in the tiny town of Friendship (population: 725) in Adams County, about an hour and a half north of Madison. Fortunately, the park is open until 11 PM due to the campgrounds being so popular, so we had plenty of daylight and sunshine to explore.

Getting there was a little difficult at first. We took a back road through the Dells, and didn’t see any signs for the park until about one mile away. Once we got in and parked, though, it was a pleasant surprise at how peaceful this little park was. We paid the $5 admission fee and left it in an envelope at the park’s entrance (all WI state parks cost money to enter – if you park on the grounds) and set off on the shady trail.

Being a rather small park, we weren’t expecting too much. The longest trail, the Acorn Trail, is only about 3.5 miles long. But it was perfect for an hour and a half walk-around. We walked about half of the trail, only seeing a handful of other people, and then made our way to the observation point at the Indian mounds. The signs warned us of a strenuous climb – 303 steps, on an elevated staircase. The sign wasn’t kidding! Once at the top, though, we were treated to incredible views, and actually had the viewing platform all to ourselves – just as we left, a big family was coming up the stairs, so we crossed paths but otherwise it was quiet and serene.

We headed back along the trail to the car, stopping off at the petroglyphs for which this park is known. There is a huge rock, several stories high, with petroglyphs carved both by Native Americans and travelers from the 19th century (and probably some modern vandals, I’d suspect) and some fading red pictographs. We read the plaques about them, and were able to make out some of them, including a signature left by a traveler in October of 1845. It really was impressive and I’ll get the pictures up soon.

Upon leaving the park, I wanted to go a different way, so we could include more highway driving especially as it got later, but I ended up missing a turn. We were about 4 miles down the wrong road when we decided to turn around. To do that, we turned into a parking lot…and what do you know, it was Rabbit Rock – not exactly a state park, but one of the rock formations visible from the top of Roche-A-Cri, one that looked really interesting. Since we happened to be there, we poked around for a few minutes before getting back in the car. Apparently, visitors are allowed to climb this rock, and while it would have been fun, it was getting close to 8 and we needed to hit the road in order to be in Madison before dark. We backtracked, turned onto Route 21, and headed for the highway. About halfway there, Ship Rock appeared on our left; we didn’t stop, but it was really impressive and colorful, both with rock strata and graffiti. It took us about the same amount of time to get back to Madison, with a quick stop at the Starbucks on E. Washington for an iced coffee because I was fading (even though it was 9 PM and we only had like 15 minutes to go; wonder how I’ll sleep tonight). All in all, it was worth the 3 hours round trip to get out of town and walk around for an hour and a half, in a quiet park with beautiful views and ancient petroglyphs.

Oh, and in other exciting news…my third 2016 pen pal response showed up, all the way from Baby Ruth in the Philippines! Thanks for the fun letter; I got it out of the mailbox last night along with my other mail as I was flying out the door for Salsa Saturday, stuffed it in my bag, and ended up opening and reading it at the club during the break between the two sets. I thoroughly enjoyed the fan mail (which is what I’ve decided to call the response letters, heh) and I will write back soon! 13 other pen pals, take note.

6

Quick, Best Way to Get from Manila to London? Laayoune, Western Sahara!(?)

As if I needed another mindless, addicting Internet game to distract me, along comes archive.org’s DOS games. Playing old DOS games on the Internet was not new to me; ever since my ex in Israel showed me Abandonia, I spent many hours pressing the space bar on my childhood favorite Where in Europe is Carmen Sandiego? and all those figure-it-out, travel-adventure games. Eventually, the mindlessness got me bored, so I forgot about it for awhile, but when archive.org went viral recently, I checked it out again, and found…

Bush Buck: Global Treasure Hunter.

An understatement, Emma Stone.

 

I mean…hello? Where was this game when I was in elementary school?

Because this shit is awesome.

Bwahaha! You’ll never catch me and my bright yellow coat, bitch!

The premise of the game, kind of like the Carmen Sandiego series, is to follow clues and go around the world, only you don’t have to deal with the whole “making a dossier” thing, you just get to find stuff and bring it back to a home base for points. It’s almost like you’re the villain! SWEET.

There are three levels. At beginner, you just fly around the world picking up stuff, which gets boring once you get the hang of it. At the intermediate level, you get fewer flight points, harder clues, and you compete against Natasha, a not-so-bright villain herself who mostly flies around in circles, constantly checking clues so you don’t have to.

But then, I tried the advanced level…and hoo boy. An actual challenge. There is some devious stuff going on.

At the advanced level, you have no choice; you’re pitted against Otto, who can make super-quick, super-long flights, like from Southern Africa to Northern Europe; redirect your plane if he wants; steal one of your items if he wants (bastard), and says nasty things to throw you off. It took me a good few hours (and the average game lasts about 10 minutes) before I could beat him at his own game, and I finally did once yesterday, but then resumed losing to him until just now, twice: first, when he ran out of tickets somewhere in India chasing down the final object, a pomegranate located in Shanghai, and I had exactly enough to make it there and grab it, and then a second time when we were looking for the final two items, he found his somewhere in East Asia and I found the last one two turns later in Kuwait, automatically giving me the win. Even without Otto, it’s a challenge notwithstanding; almost every country in the world is represented with at least one city, even often ignored places like Malabo, Equatorial Guinea; Nuku’alofa, Tonga; and Vaduz, Liechtenstein. A few territories are represented too, like Martinique and French Guiana. More popular/sizable countries like Germany, China, India, and others have a few cities to choose from. The only countries not represented are those that did not exist when the game was created – the game includes 3 cities in the USSR, Belgrade in “Yugoslavia” – or those that hadn’t become independent yet, like Eritrea, Palau, and the Marshall Islands. The objects themselves are kind of odd too, and some are very vague, like a sled, which could be anywhere from Novosibirsk to Anchorage, or a box of chocolates, which could be almost anywhere. Or it’s something I’ve never heard of before like a pocketful of dobra, a bottle of chibuku, or a sastruga. Also, each city has multiple possible objects; in one game, I had to go to Tokyo for a samisen, and in the next I had to go there for ikebana. And then there’s the flight situation – you can’t always fly to the closest city, sometimes you need to go through another country or another continent. This does make some cities more convenient than others; never would I have picked Laayoune, Western Sahara, to be the main route between the Americas and Europe/Northern Africa, or have to go through Vancouver or Honolulu to get from Anchorage to Los Angeles. There are occasional clues, but you have to remember where things are, how to get there, and how to do so before running out of tickets, which you can pick up for handing in correct objects or lose for flying in an ice storm or a typhoon.

I started working on this blog post the other day, before I was able to beat the game, so I could walk you through my frustration through screencaps. As I said, I ended up being able to beat it a few times, so if you’re too busy to play the game (or fear that you’ll  but still want to come along for the ride, let’s do that right now.

Screencap 1:

bushy2

I got a pocket, got a pocketful of dobra…

 

So, we’re starting out in good ol’ Manila. I have no clue what any of these items are, but I’m thinking that the metical might have something to do with Africa, so I’ll head there first.

Screencap 2:

bushy3

Are you trying to be Russian or Slavic?

Oh, Otto, go home, you’re drunk.

Screencap 3:

bushy4

I hope these screencaps are not Hanoi-ying yet.

Okay, on my way to Africa. Yay, I get to fly to Hanoi, Vietnam! There’s a little song that plays and I can watch myself fly over Southeast Asia, but I can space bar through that.

Screencap 4:

bushy5

I got, three tickets to paradise…

Onto Rangoon (Yangon), Burma (Myanmar), I get the gift of three free tickets! Yay!

Screencap 5:

bushy6

Get a load of that retro bitmap font, and the pixelated pagoda. Some designer spent literally HOURS drawing that.

Oh, and every time you land somewhere, you get a little blurb about where you are, the history, what to do there, etc. Good to know, in case I want to come back and visit “the world’s largest book” or I run low on cash and need some diamonds to trade.

Screencap 6:

bushy7

Metical: Not a Pokemon.

After a random clue appears and my co-pilot Wikipedia confirms, I head south and west to Maputo, Mozambique. After I dig around, score! A metical appears! One point for That’sSoJacob!

I think I got tired of pressing print screen, but I did jot down in Word that after this, I remembered that the dhow was from the Persian Gulf, so I hop around there trying to find it in different cities, finally landing on it in the last place I look; Doha, Qatar. I’m running low on tickets to I head back to Manila to turn in my items when two others show up. One of them is a magnifying glass from Baker Street, and since Otto’s somewhere in South America, I head from Manila to London via Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Western Samoa, the USA, Western Sahara, Spain, and France (remind me never to do that in real life, that sounds awful and expensive) and grab the magnifying glass. By now, a few more items have been revealed, including a hazelnut cake, and the clues point somewhere in the Middle East, so I look through Tehran, Baghdad, and Kabul before I realize I’m running out of tickets and drop the magnifying glass in Manila, revealing that another hidden artifact, Mack the Knife. Guess I gotta go to Germany.

Screencap 7:

bushy8

Oh well, at least I got some frequent flier miles.

I go back the way I came to get to Germany, but oh noes! I land in Leipzig only to run out of tickets, and that’s the game.

Other than that, I actually did manage to get some stuff done today, like getting new gloves at Kohl’s (women’s size large, don’t judge me), Batteries Plus, Goldberg’s, Best Buy, the post office, Starbucks, and dinner with my best friend. I drove around York Road so many times I felt like I was on my own treasure hunt.

Oh, and I just passed the 600 follower mark with Dottie Daniels, aka The Write Perspective, so visit her blog now.

And if you play this game and enjoy it, post some screen caps and link me so I don’t feel so weird and alone flying around the world in my bedroom.

2

If LinkSys Smart WiFi is So Smart, How Come It’s Sitting in the Neighbor’s Car?

One hour, thirty-eight minutes and two Filipina technicians later, I have wireless internet in my apartment.

Talk about an ordeal.

More of the story as my sanity reappears.

Finally an update…five days later…

So, I purchased a LinkSys wi-fi router at Best Buy, and I knew it was trouble when the salesman tried to explain exactly what it would do. All I needed it to do was maintain a wireless internet connection.

I get home, and follow the three “easy” steps. Plug in power, plug in internet cable, go to a website and voila, hello internet.

Of course, I do all these things and nothing happens. I put the manual CD thing in, and all it is is the same thing in the packet, only in PDF form with useless hotlinks that don’t work BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE INTERNET.

So, I do the next best thing (okay, the SECOND next best thing, getting drunk would have been the first) and call the hotline. After only about 20 minutes of waiting, I say mabuhay to a Filipina named Dianne. She puts forth her best efforts, but one hour and several options later, I’m no better off than where I was. Dianne suggests I return the item to the store, and I ask to speak to a manager. Supervisor Michelle comes on the line, with a much better command of the English language and fortunately, a big heart. She does the override thing that usually solves everything, which they say is only for warranty-registered customers but she’s doing it for me for free because it’s now been an hour and a half. Of course, it’s one setting that’s wrong, and my device is not defective, as previously thought. Thanks, Dianne. But sincere thanks to Michelle, who after two excruciating hours delivered and helped me get on the Internet.

This is the first time I’ve set a connection up by myself, so I got to name the network. What do I pick?

“I Love The Wi-Fi I Got To Boogie.”

Thanks, Alicia Bridges!

See the inspiration for this post’s title here:

0

Pop Culture Showdown: The War of the Roses

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the two new flags that have shown up on my flag counter, so vitejte to my first visitors from the Czech Republic and to Switzerland, bienvenue or wilkommen, depending on which part of the country you come from.

I originally started this blog to catalog my thoughts and stories, but I’ve deviated from that somehow with rants and videos and other things. I do have more stories to share, plenty more, and maybe they’ll emerge in the coming days of highway boredom, starting tomorrow when my dad and I begin the drive back to Wisconsin.

But for today, I digress…to present the very first edition of:

That’s So Jacob: Pop Culture Showdown

Episode 1: The War of the Roses.

In recent years, Israel has needed more nurses and carers for the elderly and the handicapped than they can supply, so more and more people from the other end of Asia are recruited to fill those gaps. They come from many countries, but mostly from the Philippines. The growing numbers of Filipino caretakers in Israel has even made the word “Filipino” synonymous with “nurse.” It doesn’t matter if they’re a Thai Filipina, an Indian Filipina, a Vietnamese Filipina…they’re all in the same category. Their growing numbers have created a presence in the country, and among them is 47-year-old Rose Fostanes, who just today won the first season of Israel’s version of the reality competition, The X Factor. Called Israel’s Susan Boyle, she is expected to become a musical success even though she will probably go back to her job as a caregiver, because that’s why she’s in Israel in the first place. For no good reason, I have put her up against actress/comedienne/Presidential candidate Roseanne, the original “domestic goddess.” Let’s see how it goes.

Age?

Rose: 47 as of last week.

Roseanne: 61. Man does she look rough.

Religion?

Rose: Christian

Roseanne: Mormon/Jewish/Kabbalah/Twitter

Sexuality?

Rose: Openly lesbian, and in a relationship.

Roseanne: Straight, but probably had a lesbian phase. Currently dating after three failed marriages.

Relationship to LGBT?

Rose: See above.

Roseanne: Very liberal. Has several gay siblings and included a multitude of gay characters on Roseanne, including primetime TV’s first gay kiss, and probably the first lesbian kiss as well. Roseanne felt that her show should strive to represent a microcosm of America, and that microcosm included gay people, which no other show did at the time.

Relationship to Israel:

Rose: Um, duh, she just won a reality competition there.

Roseanne: Aspiring to be the next Prime Minister of Israel.

Island of Choice:

Rose: Luzon, the Philippines, where she was born.

Roseanne: The Big Island of Hawaii, where she is in runs a nut farm.

Years of Television Experience:

Rose: Since the 26th of October, 2013.

Roseanne: 26 years (Roseanne premiered on the 18th of October, 1988).

Degrees of Separation:

Rose: 2. Apparently, she’s a friend of a good friend of mine, who sang with her and her band from time to time at Tel Aviv bars.

Roseanne: I have no idea.

Regrettable Round Hairstyle Choice:

Rose: Her audition look. Grown out and better-styled over the course of the series.

Roseanne: Around Season 2, when she got the “Dorothy Hamill” cut.

Vocal Claim to Fame

Rose: Her audition for The X Factor, “This is My Life,” by Shirley Bassey.

Roseanne: Her infamously screechy, profanity-laced, saliva-laden rendition of the National Anthem, which is pretty much all you need to know. But she can sing, and in Hebrew, too:

WINNER:

roseannefostanes

It was a close one, but congrats, Ms. Fostanes – show ’em how it’s done, tulip.

Let’s get a reaction shot from the runner-up:

Typical Roseanne, always with the shade-throwing. Better luck next time.

0

Miss Universe 2013 Missed the Boat

That’s right, you heard it from me. I watched the whole thing twice; once live from Russia online, and part of the NBC telecast. Overall, it was not the best thing I’ve ever seen. I thought that the presentation was just fair, the talent was mediocre, and some of the placements were completely wacko, in addition to some of the other production shenanigans. But there was some good and interesting television as well.

First off, before I go into too much detail, congratulations to Maria Gabriela Isler of Venezuela for the win. I wrote in my previous post that I liked you, and that even if it meant another win for Venezuela, she’s clearly a good choice. Apparently, the entire nation of the Philippines was going NUTS over Miss Philippines, Ariella Arida, who got waaaay further than she should have, in my opinion. The ratings probably skyrocketed for NBC, so I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if those politics kept her going. But back to the point – Good going, Ven, you did your country proud and you seem pretty cool.

  • The opening was delightful in comparison to previous years. The national costumes were featured (yay!) and it wasn’t so much, “Hi! I’m Miss Angola! Bye!” – they got to step up to the microphone and say their full names and hometowns. Seriously, it’s the least you could do for girls who flew all the way from the Caribbean to stand on the stage. When Philippines got up to speak, you couldn’t even hear her.
  • Announcement to the Philippines/Vietnam: not distasteful in the least. But why not go out and just say, “hey, here’s Miss Philippines, if we put her on your screen for ten minutes solid and then put her away, will you be quiet?”
  • Top 16: No Africa, no Oceania, and worst of all, no Israel. They finally pick a girl of winner caliber and she stayed put. Oh well, at least she’s still Miss Israel. Also, Poland was forgotten about, as well as new girls Myanmar and Azerbaijan. Homegirl Russia also missed the cut, which is pretty rare on home turf. Obvious ins were USA, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Brazil. Pleased to see Switzerland, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Ukraine, and Dominican Republic. Not too surprised about Spain, India and Indonesia. Great Britain hasn’t placed in awhile, so that was good for her, but Costa Rica and China? I was cringing at those two. Kinda knew the online voters pushed Philippines through.
  • Swimsuits? Not the most flattering nor tasteful this year.
  • Evening gowns were uneventful, no major trips or falls.
  • Ecuador’s reaction to being in the top 5 was kind of striking. She really didn’t expect it – no one did – but she actually managed to give Ecuador it’s highest ever placement by just making the top 5, so I imagine people down there are happy for her.
  • Final questions? Completely asinine, with abysmal answers. This had no impact on anything.
  • Philippines’ reaction to being eliminated was interesting – kind of a half-smile/half-frown thing, letting her guard down for a minute.
  • Final moment was HILARIOUS. I don’t quite know what happened up there, but it seemed like a case from the movie Miss Congeniality when no one can hear or think. The camera went to Spain, then to Venezuela, and they were just kind of standing there talking about goodness knows what, and then Spain was whisked away and the crown and sash came forward for Venezuela and instead of an ugly cry she did the exact opposite and did a full-on bug-eyed crazy scream that actually made me think of her as an awesome human being for having a normal reaction and not knowing how the heck to deal with it.
  • The crowning moment of the night? The crown, which kept falling off Venezuela’s head, so much so that she just gave up and took it off at one point. Props to her for the quick reflexes to catch it before it crashed into a million pieces. My theory? Maybe her hair wasn’t sprayed too much and there wasn’t anything for it to latch onto.
  • What happened to Miss Congeniality and Miss Photogenic? Did anyone else notice that any mention of that was completely excised?
  • Also, the credits coming on too early sucked – she was literally crowned with the words “DONALD TRUMP” on her forehead in big white letters. Irony, or just bad planning?
  • Oh, and the whole million dollar swimsuit thing? What was that about? I thought it looked pretty horrible even on Miss Universe 2012, Olivia Culpo, and she was covering it up with a fur stole the whole time. So what it’s an expensive swimsuit – it probably can’t even get wet, which defeats the whole purpose. And also…with that million dollars, couldn’t you have done something, oh, I don’t know…charitable? Or good for the environment? Who needs a million dollar swimsuit? Especially an unflattering one.

In ten words: Blah show, Ven again, but deserving this time. Greasy crown.

Aaaaand, now it’s time to get some work done. Ha.

0

Masterpiece YouTube: Not Your Average Beauty Queens, feat. Queneerich Rehman & Alyse Eady

That’s So Jacob presents: Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 6: The Talent Portion of the Competition

One of the best parts of watching a beauty pageant is watching the section called “talent.” It’s mean to use quotation marks, but it’s true – these women might be beautiful, intelligent, and work for good charities, but not everyone’s cut out to be a performer.

But it’s fun to watch them try.

Most pageant performances are passable, a good deal are ghastly, a few are good, and only a very select few are what I would refer to as incredibleAs in, I would legit pay to see someone do this onstage. Popular choices include song and dance. Usually, that song is something operatic like “Nessun Dorma” that very few of the ladies can hit. You’ve gotta be able to store all that air somewhere inside that body of yours, and that place is not in your boobs or your butt. Even worse than opera are renditions of popular songs in a completely different style than what they were intended for. Exhibit A: Every single woman at Miss America who’s ever performed “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as Edith Piaf rather than Judy Garland. (Retire that song, America. It’s enough.) Dance is another popular choice. I’m partial to ethnic dance or some good Latin, jazz, or tap numbers that actually showcase some coordination or cultural awareness. Ballet and modern do not work as well. Frankly, ballet is pretty boring onstage unless you’re like one of those ballerinas on acid like in Center Stage or something. And modern? Well, you can pretty much get away with rolling around on the ground and yelling these days, so no points for you.

The next level up would be that of instrumental music. Piano is pretty traditional, but is boring to watch, unless you’re Liberace. Which I hope that none of these ladies are. Harp, guitar, violin, sax, or drums are usually a good choice, because you can move around or use some showmanship, and it’s interesting to watch. The odder the instrument, the better. I’d love to watch some girl one day play the tambourine like the useless youngest sister on The Partridge Family. Or maybe even the triangle.

And then…there were Queenie and Alyse.

First up is Queneerich “Queen E. Fresh” Rehman, Miss Philippines in Miss World 2012.

WHOA MAMA. This is some hardcore legit performance right here. It starts with some falsetto singing, but gets better and better. Not only is this lady insanely pretty, but she can beatbox.

Beatbox.

GENIUS.

Why had nobody thought of that before? Beatboxing has been around for ages, and if beauty pageants care anything about breaking stereotypes or being more “current,” as the case may be (and always is)…wake up and smell the coffee because Ms. Rehman is burnin’ down the house right here. Screw all the ladylike nonsense of ballet and singing Barbra Streisand songs – I want to see Miss Belgium break down a rap or Miss Ghana doing a hip-hop routine or…okay, maybe not twerking, per se, but how about something like crazy jump rope tricks or acrobatic dance or an old fashioned dance-off. Make it edgy and hip, and then maybe you’ll see your flagging ratings raise. And you know what else? Miss Philippines had a long ponytail and a gold outfit – no one would dare to call her unfeminine, and if someone did, they’d probably get the beat thrown right back into their face. The compilation is exquisite as well – for someone who doesn’t care much for pop music, she certainly got a lot of the basics from the 90s, 00s, and today, so kudos to her for the smooth transitions.

Next up, probably my favorite beauty pageant performance of all time: Alyse Eady, Miss Arkansas (a few years back as well).

Again, wow. Just wow. Ms. Eady clearly spent a lot of time on her craft and her presentation, because it is fantastic. Ventriloquism is something I couldn’t even begin to attempt, and I didn’t even see her lips move once!

Unfortunately, the Miss Universe pageant (like Miss USA) does not contain a talent portion, so, sorry ladies! You’ll have to leave your ballet shoes, bongo drums, and bass guitars at home for this one.

0

That Other Time I Saved Someone’s Life

Then there was the other time I saved someone’s life. It wasn’t nearly as high-stakes or as dramatic as the other one, but in the interest of fairness and preserving this story, here it is.

(Oh, and welcome to my blog, viewers from District of Columbia, Georgia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania who all showed up on my flag counter today 🙂 )

This time, it was 2009, and I was living in Israel. It was pretty much an ordinary Monday morning (or whatever day it was, I think it was a Monday but that’s not important to the story) and I was walking down Rechov Rivka in Bak’a, just past Ba’kafe, when an Asian girl ran up to me, screaming for help. Her plea was something like “help, help, English, my lady fell, she fell, my lady fell.” After I got her a little calmer, I found out that her name was Sharon and she was a mitapelet, or caretaker, for an elderly lady that lived in the apartment building adjacent to Ba’kafe. She was pretty new at the job, and it became obvious when she told me what happened. She left the apartment for a few minutes to get some cigarettes or gum or something from the handy-dandy makolet. In her absence, the lady she was supposed to have been watching fell, somewhere in the apartment. When Sharon returned, she heard the lady yelling out in pain and beating on the floor, And then she realized that she had left her keys in the apartment after locking it from the inside. And to make things worse, the apartment was on the second floor, so there was no way for Sharon to pry or break open a window and enter from the outside.

And that’s when I showed up.

We ran up the stairs, and we could still hear her mumbling in Hebrew, although her voice was pretty faint. Sharon was panicking and on the verge of a total meltdown, and I knew that kneeling at a locked door in a stuffy stairwell wasn’t going to solve anything at that point in time, so we went back downstairs into the open air. I was pretty new to Israel, having been in the country for maybe two months or so, but fortunately I knew enough to call 100, which is Israel’s equivalent to 911, which apparently Sharon had no idea existed. I encountered a dispatcher who couldn’t speak any English, so I had to rely on my Hebrew skills to describe what exactly had happened, ask for an ambulance, and let them know the exact address and some local landmarks in case they got lost. I also told them I’d be wearing a red sweatshirt and dancing around in the street so they’d know where to find us.

I hung up the phone, looked behind me, and saw that Sharon, at this point, was a total mess, because not only was there a lady howling and kicking in pain, but she was probably going to lose her job and be sent right back to the Philippines with no paycheck and probably not a sparkling recommendation for future employment. I asked her if she wanted a hug, and she got up from the stoop where she was sitting and threw her arms around me, sobbing, so I ended up holding her for awhile, first on the sidewalk, then out in the middle of the street while we waited for the ambulance to come. I felt horrible for seeing her like this, even though I had only met her moments ago. I patted her hair and whispered to her that help was on the way, so we shouldn’t cry or worry because everything was going to be okay. While we waited, I struck up a conversation with her, learning that she did not speak any Hebrew and had just arrived in the country relatively recently from Iloilo, Philippines. I  told her than I was from America. I said “mabuhay” and told her that I knew some words in Filipino, which made her smile a little bit. She asked me where I learned them, and incidentally, I happened to be wearing my APO letters sweatshirt, so I asked her if she’d heard of Alpha Phi Omega (APO) when she was back in the Philippines. She had heard of APO before, but didn’t really know what it was about, so I told her that we were friendly people devoted to the service of others, and she nodded in agreement.

Then, the ambulance showed up, with two firemen inside. Unfortunately, one of them had a broken hand and couldn’t hold or climb the ladder, so guess who had to go out in the middle of the street where suddenly a bunch of cars were going by, help lift the heavy ladder off the truck, and set it up so that the fireman with two functioning hands could climb up, pry open the window, and get into the apartment. After the fireman disappeared into the apartment, Sharon, for some reason, decided that she would do the same, and I was immediately all “nooooo, don’t even think about it,” at which point I actually put grabbed her around the waist and physically pulled her off the ladder because with her luck, she’d trip and fall into the bushes surrounding the building, and we already had one out-of-commission fireman on the scene and I did not want to have to call another ambulance an explain why there was a stupid girl bleeding from the head.

So then, the fireman leaned out the window, reporting that everything was okay. He climbed back down the ladder, saying that there was no blood, and that the old woman was conscious, responsive, able to walk once he got her back up on her feet, and he’d gotten her to sit on the couch. He then told Sharon that she could go back inside (via the now-unlocked door, not through the window). so she could sit with her while he prepared the stretcher to take her to the hospital to get her checked out. We thanked the fireman, and Sharon thanked me for saving her hide in the nick of time, asking me to exchange numbers so that she could repay me by taking me out to dinner one night (when she was off duty, if she still had the job). We did, and had one more big hug before she disappeared up the front steps and I went on my merry way.

Later, she called me from the hospital, thanking me again and letting me know that her lady was fine, with just a few light bruises on her head and that the doctors were getting ready to send the two of them back home for the night with some over-the-counter pain meds. We promised to meet up sometime, but we didn’t until she showed up at an audition I was proctoring because she wanted to see me one more time before going back to the Philippines because the job was over. Maybe her lady died, or maybe she got fired from her agency or the family for some other reason but either way, it was clear that she’d remained in the country and working – and incredibly lucky, given the circumstances of what happened. She and I were Facebook friends for awhile until she deleted her profile, and her full name is pretty common so it’s unlikely we’ll ever cross paths again.

Oh, and I also got my bus pass that day, which is the reason why I was walking down Rivka in the first place.