Zev News – April 2008


On the last day in March, Jackie’s dad had surgery to remove cancer that had metastasized to his liver.  Aunt Marjorie and Uncle Milt came into town to helpful.  The day of the surgery, Jackie. her Mom and Aunt Marjorie were in the hospital lobby, waiting.  When the surgery was over, the surgeon came out to talk with us.  He said that the surgery had gone well, and Shel’s anatomy was slightly different from typical, but despite that, they thought they’d gotten all the cancer and had gotten clean margins.  He said they took about 60% of Shel’s liver, but that the remaining liver would regenerate.  It would take 6-8 weeks, and Shel would be very tired during this time, as the liver regenerating would sap his strength.  We expected him to be in the hospital for around a week.


All of April was a roller coaster - some days containing good news, some days worse news – we never knew what to expect.  On the good news days, Sharon would send out emails, letting friends and family know how things were going..


Benjamin went on a weekend retreat to Camp Alonim, with his religious school class and had a good time.  I asked him to tell me about the retreat, and this is what he said:


(Benjamin says)  I shared a bunk with Kyle, Ethan, Josh, Bret, Craig and Chet.  We had dinner and then services, and then went to bed.  On Saturday we had services, and then chugim (electives).  I did the performing arts chug.  Next we had lunch.  After lunch we went around and learned about Jews in different countries.  Every bunk displayed a different country.  My bunk displayed Canada.  I didn’t learn anything.  It felt like school.  Then we rested for a bit.  Then we tried to win a prize.  We had a series of competitions.  There was a cheer competition.  It was an M&M competition where one person would throw an M&M and the other person would catch it in their mouth.  We won the M&M competition.  Kyle was good at catching M&Ms and eating them.  There was a bubble blowing competition.  You dug your face into whipped cream to find bubble gum and then chewed it and blew a bubble.  No one won this, the first time.  The whipped cream was a problem.  So we got bubble gum with no whipped cream.  Then someone was talking, and two people came up with plates of whipped cream and attacked her with the whipped cream plates.  Everyone said she looked very yummy and then she washed her face.  Then we had the “silent dinner.” We could not talk during the silent dinner.  Then we had music session and the team that could sing the best would win.  But we had to wait until the next day to find out who won.  We couldn’t wait to find out what happened even though we knew it would happen – everyone would get the prize.  Then we went to bed.  In the morning, we went to breakfast and they announced that everyone had won surprise! Then we went home.


Benjamin had his yearly physical (less than a month after his birthday – yea!)  We learned that he is at the 24th percentile in height, and the 23rd percentile in weight - both slightly higher than Jonathan at the same age.


The weekend after Benjamin returned from his retreat.  It was Jonathan’s turn to be gone, as he and Marc traveled to Atlanta with the Granada Hills robotics team for the 2008 International FIRST Robotics Championship.  This is what he said about the trip.


(Jonathan says)  Wed: We got on the plane.  When we landed, Tiffany was very glad (it was her first flight).  When we arrived, we divided into groups.  I’d been assigned to unload stuff, but I got reassigned and ended up not doing it.  We took the subway to a couple blocks away from the hotel and walked to the hotel.  We ate a dinner of pizza.  I roomed with Daniel and Titus. 


(Jonathan says) Thurs: In the morning, we took all the stuff that had not made it to the Georgia Dome to the Georgia Dome.  A couple of us (including me) got separated from the rest of the group.  When I got to the Georgia Dome, I didn’t have my safety glasses (I left them in the room) so I couldn’t go in.  Squeaky went to get safety glasses for me, but she couldn’t find Eric.  So there was a delay before I could go in.  Daddy was in the stands.  I got the scouting sheets and started wandering around the pits gathering information.  I saw some of the robots.  For lunch, we went with dad to the CNN Center.  We took a long circuitous route so he could talk on the phone.  We came back and I continued surveying the pits, and I went to the workshop I had signed up for, to learn about different grabbers.  The workshop was useful.  I came into robotics knowing nothing and had three examples to learn from (in the form of past robots, one of which wasn’t applicable to this year’s game.)  The workshop taught me a lot.  I went to the meeting point and we all went out to dinner.  I learned that a “heavy” dog does not mean that the “dog” is heavy, it means that there is a lot of chili on it – much to my dismay, especially because I was hungry, and the lines were long.  But the dessert was good – some kind of apple pie and some random person in line gave me his change.  We went back to the hotel. Some people went into the pool, but Daniel and I went to our room and played magic.


(Jonathan says).  Fri: Again I was wandering around the pits, collecting info.  George H. W. Bush spoke in the intro session before lunch.  He said Robotics was like the World Wrestling Federation, but for smart people.  For lunch, I went with Mikey’s mom to the place inside the convention center.  After lunch, daddy and I collected pins.  Also on Friday, I started taking pictures of the robots for my report.  Our robot started out not doing well – but then was doing better.  But at the end of the day, we were pretty low in the rankings.  For dinner, the entire team went to the CNN Center.  After dinner, we went to the aquarium.  That was fun


(Jonathan says) Sat: Mostly I just walked around avoiding our pits and trying to look busy.  We were in two games on Saturday.  In the first one, our robot moved some, but in the second, it didn’t move at all.  We didn’t get picked for the elimination round.  So at that point, my job was done, and there is nothing more for me to do.  Then, we all went to the stands of the Einstein field for the finals, where the finalists from each field competed against each other.  In addition to Einstein, which wasn’t used for regular matches, there were 4 fields – Archimedes, Newton, Galileo, and Curie.  We were on Archimedes, which was about half a mile from the entrance.  Neither of the teams I was rooting for in the finals won.  After the finals, they had speeches and videos and way too much noise.  Daddy escaped by escorting the kids who were transporting the equipment back to the hotel.  I was watching all the hoopla from the second floor.  During normal matches there was plenty of seating because everyone was spread out over four fields, but for the opening and closing ceremonies they wanted everyone at Einstein and they wouldn’t let people on the second floor (due to the fact that there was still damage from the tornado?) but finally they let us up to the second floor.  After the finals, we packed up, and there was the Seder.  Both Dean Kamen and the Hawaiian Governor were at the Seder.  It was fun.  Daniel and I got a picture with Dean Kamen.  Daniel got a video of the Israeli teams singing loud and energetically.  Then we went to the social and got there just in time to see the fireworks.  We went to our meeting place and ran around in the fountain.  There was a curfew which many people didn’t follow, so Mr. Vanderway deducted points from those who broke curfew.


(Jonathan says) Sun:  we had breakfast and flew home.  We had trouble getting a bus to the flyaway (since there were 30 of us!)


As Jonathan mentioned, the robotics competition ended the night Passover started (Saturday night).  This year, the annual Schuster-Picus-Katz seder was hosted by the Katzes, but held at Don and Sue’s house.  The night before, Temple Aliyah had a musical Shabbat service, where the theme was African music, and the featured guest was an Ethiopian who had come to America to become a rabbi, and, having accomplished this, was leaving within the week to return to Ethiopia.  The music was phenomenal and his stories of his native land were wonderful to hear.  Since Marc and Jonathan were in Atlanta, Jackie and Benjamin came to the service, and then spent the night at her mom’s house.  In the morning, Jackie went next door to Don and Sue’s and spent the day helping set up for Passover.  [MZ1] Seder was wonderful (as always) with a little bit of extra humor at the end when Gerry wondered about the manufacture of the “Miriam’s cup”  on the table and turned it over, not realizing that it was filled with water! But far better he should have done that to Miriam’s cup  (which contained water) than to Elijah’s cup (which contained wine!)  Jackie and Benjamin spent that night at her mom’s house again, so that she could put Benjamin to bed earlier than if she had gone home.  Sunday, she helped with the cleanup that was left and returned home in plenty of time to greet Marc and Jonathan on their return from Atlanta.


The following weekend, Benjamin went to a birthday party for a friend who turned 11 and Marc and Jackie went to a birthday party for a friend who turned 50.  50!  Jackie used to think that 50 was old.  But it doesn’t seem so old anymore. 


 [MZ1]None of this is necessary and doesn’t go anywhere