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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Oren Ronen's LiveJournal:

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Tuesday, March 31st, 2009
7:30 am
Off to Japan for 2 years in less than 24 hours.

If you can handle Hebrew, or want to see lots of pretty pictures and don't mind gibberish in a foreign language along with them, follow me at www.matsunoki.net/japan!

Current Mood: scared
Sunday, December 30th, 2007
6:55 am
What I did this year
This blog has been neglected for quite a while now, and I'd be lying if I said I'm planning to come back regularly, but here are a few tidbits for those I don't keep regular contact with.

So, in 2007, I

1. Lost 20 kilograms. Which was easier than I thought it would be. In the process I went from "not *excessively* fat" to "some people would even call this state thin".
2. Made the TAU rector's list. This means I'm one of the top five BA students in the entire faculty. Being the humanities faculty, this will not be very impressive on my IT CV, but will probably be useful if I choose to switch to an academic career.
3. Been abroad twice, which is two time more than I thought at the beginning of the year. A weekend in London back in February and a week in SF and NYC earlier this month. Next year, maybe Japan again.
4. Bought a shiny new 24" iMac (replacing a 1st generation G5 one) and a new MacBook (replacing a G4 12" iBook).
5. Read an entire Murakami novel in the original language. Working on the next.
6. Made a very silly student film with some friends, playing a bit role and doing most of the videotaping and editing. Based on this (which you should read if you want it to make any kind of sense), the film is in badly pronounced Japanese with either English, Hebrew, or no subtitles, and contains many many inside jokes for TAU Japanese students. It was also watched by the Japanese ambassador to Israel, to our total embarrassment.
Tuesday, December 19th, 2006
11:24 pm
unexpected bonus
Earlier this week, I got an unexpected bonus from my boss. Part of each group's budget is dedicated for awarding employees for specific tasks they did well, and since I spent the last couple of months working my ass off on ashiny new proof-of-concept project with excellent results, I was given an envelope.

It seems the budget had gotten bigger -- last year, when I received a similar bonus, it was a couple of movie tickets. This time, it's 2000NIS to spend on a vacation weekend of my choice - in Israel or abroad.

So I have a few choices --
1. Be a good son/brother and let my parents or my brother have the vacation.
2. 2000 NIS buys a luxurious weekend in Israel for a couple. it should cover a 5-star hotel and dining in style. Only problem is, I need someone to go with. And finding that someone isn't easy.
3. 2000 NIS covers a flight to Europe, leaving very little for other vacation necessities, so I will need to add some of my own money. I am very weary of travelling to new places alone, so if I go this route I'll probably settle for a city I already know (London, most likely). Hotel+food+entertainment means paying a lot of extra money I wasn't planning on spending for this kind of vacation, but it's very tempting. Also, the only time I can take this vacation is in February, and I hear it's very cold.

Choices, choices.
Saturday, December 16th, 2006
11:08 pm
Back from the dead
So I just renewed my paid LJ account, even though I wrote only about a single post in the last 6 months. That doesn't seem like a good return for the money, so my new year's resolution is to actually use this thing once in a while.

This weekend I split my time between completing the second draft of a Phonology paper due at the end of the semester (in which I try to describe Quechuan compensatory lengthening in terms of optimality theory. Exciting stuff), and researching for a lecture about the history of Manga I'm giving at a comic convention next Thursday. When not doing either of those things, I was with the family for Hannuka stuff, getting fatter in the process.

And speaking of December holidays, my friend A. and his Japanese girlfriend F. got a small christmas tree for their apartment, and F., like a proper Japanese Christmas-fanatic lit it up with colorful lights and carefully placed empty gift boxes under it. I believe this is the first time I've seen an actual Christmas tree outside the TV and movie screen. It's very cool. I want one too.

Current Mood: tired
Monday, October 16th, 2006
9:58 am
For those interested, my Hebrew blog is up again (sort of) at http://www.matsunoki.net/blog. I'm writing a new WordPress design to go with it, but since I have things to write about I'm settling for the default for now.

If you can read Hebrew -- you are welcome.
Tuesday, October 10th, 2006
9:59 pm
Neil Gaiman is the guest of honor at ICon this year, so I went to see him speak tonight, and will do so tomorrow night again. I am skipping the reading he's giving on Thursday, though, and the vote is still up on whether I want to spend a couple of hours in line Friday morning to get a book signed.

I've seen Gaiman before at San Diego, but that was an hour he shared with Dave McKean speaking of nothing but MirrorMask. Tonight was much more the real deal - an hour was spent on a short but very funny autobiography, his experience in comics and some excellent tales about his grandfather. It went to Q&A after that, with such crowd-pleasers as "what's your favorite comic?" and "who is your favorite artist you worked with?".

Tomorrow is a longer Q&A session, but moderated by one of the nicest guys in the Israeli SF community. So hopefully we'll get some good stuff.
Tuesday, September 26th, 2006
3:07 pm
Tuesday, September 19th, 2006
8:18 am
Turns out that watching this (warning: this video may make your head explode) and then going to the company's annual new year's party extravaganza and consuming some alcohol leads to weird dreams about an army of creepy red dolls invading the party during the CEO's speech to the tune of French kitsch music.
Sunday, September 3rd, 2006
10:20 am
Ha, a month of vacation == the best paycheck I got in almost a year.
Friday, September 1st, 2006
4:41 pm
Weirdest scene from last night's party
Yuki, a Japanese guy with bleached hair who speaks next to no Hebrew but perfect English, talks about how much he likes the Pik Sisters1 and then tries to convice us that we're all fans of Sarit Hadad's2 singing but afraid to admit it.

1 for non-Israelis: think any American pop-starlet then slash talent by half and clone a sister.
2 a popular etchnic pop singer.

Current Mood: tired
Sunday, August 27th, 2006
9:12 am
I'm back home (back at work, even). It was a long trip, but very satisfying.

I may actually post pictures to my travel blog sometime soon (it was mostly neglected for lack of energy during the trip).

Now, back to thinking of strategies on how to deal with more than 500 email messages in my inbox.
Wednesday, July 26th, 2006
9:14 pm
My flight leaves tomorrow morning. On one hand, it's a relief to leave the country in this time of constant stress and news updates. On the other hand, I hope I can shake off the constant irrational fear for the well being of family and friends who are staying in the country in this quickly deteriorating situation (Hizbollah vocally announced today the next city they're going to bomb is Netanya -- my mother works there).

In any case, I plan on keeping a travelogue blog, with plenty of pictures. You are all welcome to visit, and subscribe to the RSS feed or something.

See you on the other side.
Thursday, July 13th, 2006
8:06 pm
Apparently, it takes a war for me to write here again.

I don't know why, but the current escalation is making me far more depressed than any of the previous peaks. It may be that it's only been going on for a day and already it hit close to home (a guy my brother knows is one of the dead soldiers).

This is especially jarring when everything is going so well in other fronts (ahem) in my life:

- Exam season is over, and so is the first year of university (with the exception of a tiny paper I have to turn in on Sunday). It was an amazing year. I am having thoughts of an academic career in generative linguistics.

- Japan in two weeks (unless things get *really* bad over here). Got news today that the better flight with Turkish Airways we've been on a waiting list for got approved, so it's a shorter, more convenient and cheaper flight through Istanbul instead of through Italy.

- At work, gave a demo to people from the board of directors which went exceedingly well. Now I can look forward for some months of coding crazy AJAX ideas from scratch instead of fixing bugs and being frustrated with corporate bureaucracy.

If only this country could be a little saner, life would be very good.
Saturday, June 3rd, 2006
7:53 pm
Hm. In case anyone is keeping track of such things, there's a short Hebrew article about IF in the online edition of Ha'aretz (and most likely in the print edition as well).

Modern game mentioned by name are Galatea, 9:05 and The Edifice, and there's a link to Baf's Guide. There's also a quote from a Yaron Rekah (anyone knows who that is?), described as "a fan", who says that writing IF requires no special programming ability (whether this is an I7 or ADRIFT reference, I don't know).

I can translate the entire thing if anyone is interested.
Wednesday, May 31st, 2006
7:32 pm
With end-of-semester study madness, lots of time at the office and various social commitments, this month is the busiest I've been in several years, I think. Nevertheless, I managed to plan (and then plan again) my upcoming trip to Japan (which is less than two months away), book flights and hotels. Our current schedule looks like this:

July 27, morning: Depart on an Alitalia flight to Narita through Italy.
July 28, morning: Arrival at Narita. Pick up 14-day JR Rail Pass and get on a train straight to Kyoto.
July 28-August 7: Based in Kyoto, explore the city and take day trips to Nara, Osaka, Kobe, Himeji, etc.
August 7-9: Train to Hiroshima, spend two days in the city.
August 9-21: Tokyo. I like big cities, so I expect I won't be bored. On the plan is also attending at least one day of the Summer Comiket. Also, probably day trips to places like Kamakura and Hakone.
August 21-22: Two days in Nikko, spending the night in a traditional Ryokan.
August 22-25: Three more nights in Tokyo, probably in a more expensive, central hotel. Try exploring Tokyo's nightlife without worrying about catching the last train.
August 25: Flight back to Israel.
August 26, early morning: Home, exhausted.

I can't wait.
Sunday, May 28th, 2006
9:37 am
For anyone who can read (or fake reading) Japanese: the TAU East Asia Studies department (where I currently study) is organizing a Haiku competition for students. 44 enties were submitted, and now it's time for voting.

Since I'm responsible for the competition's website (which is nothing special and was made in 10 minutes) and also wrote one of the submitted poems, I thought I'd get some more people to come and rate their favorites. You can do so here. (For those who can't read Hebrew: the three combo boxes are for your first, second and third places, in that order)

Doumo arigatou gozaimasu!
Monday, April 10th, 2006
9:37 am
It's been months since I last updated, but since it's exactly a month until my birthday and there's this meme going around, here we go:

May 10:

1503 - Christopher Columbus visits the Cayman Islands and names them Las Tortugas after the numerous sea turtles there.
1908 - Mother's Day is observed for the first time (Andrew's Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia, USA).
1960 - The nuclear submarine USS Triton completes the first underwater circumnavigation of the earth.

1838 - John Wilkes Booth, American actor and assassin of Abraham Lincoln (d. 1865)
1957 - Sid Vicious, English bassist (The Sex Pistols) (d. 1979)

1999 - Shel Silverstein, American poet and composer (b. 1930)
Thursday, February 23rd, 2006
12:54 pm
For the first time since joining many years ago, I have an LJ recruit!

Allow me to introduce secretary extraordinaire (and overall nice person), quainta, to the LJ multiverse. Check her out, and maybe cure her from friendlessness. (linked journal is in Hebrew, so Americans/English/Austrians/etc. need not apply)
Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006
2:05 pm
First exam results are in: a final score of 94 in Phonetics.

Which is good, but could have been better if I'd studied more than an evening for the exam. Unfortunately, I've been busy studying for the History of Japan test which took place the same day.
Sunday, February 19th, 2006
5:29 pm
There's a beautiful sunset outside my office window right now, with a fire-red sun going down into the Mediterranian, somewhere past the city.

Nature is beautiful even from a 10th floor office overlooking a dirty industrial zone.
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