Yesterday, despite a really bad and embarrassing start (more on that in a minute), turned out to be really interesting and enjoyable. The reason? Hossein Derakshan together with Lisa Goldman gave a talk to the faculty of the Communication department of Ben-Gurion University. (BTW, Hossein has an op-ed in the New York Times today, very worth a read)
It was a very intimate affair with just the faculty members for our end of the semester celebration. Therefore, the talk really turned into a relaxed and stimulating exchange of ideas and discussion, as well as being educated about the current situation (political and social) in Iran and the Iranian (Persian) blogosphere movement. There was much discussion about the role of blogs as journalistic tools (can they be?, how do they compare with traditional forms of journalism?, how do they complement and influence traditional journalistic venues? and more), the role blogs play in building bridges of understanding between cultures, the way in which trust and subesquent respect (and often reliance on) the opinions of a blogger is established with readers and fellow bloggers,the way in which blogging communities can develop and spill over into very real world interactions and communities, and so much more. The questions and discussions kept coming until we were all late for the prepared (and so-not-tasty-kibbutz-hotel) lunch and then continued through the lunch. Poor Hossein, starving by this time, was peppered with questions and so was hard-put to eat a mouthful in peace. Everyone wanted for him to come out to the University (we held the meeting in Jerusalem) to talk more and see the campus before he goes back but, alas, he is only here for a very short time. When he comes next time (and hopefully there will be a next time :), BGU is cueing up eagerly.
Now for the embarrassing part: why is it that communications departments are so extremely, horribly, bad at communicating? This is not restricted to the BGU comm department but has been my experience at every comm department I've ever been in. There is a serious lack of communicating crucial bits of information in critical circumstances between parties. For instance, we were supposed to be picked up by a cab and ferried to the meeting in Jerusalem. On Thursday I got an email saying ok, you and the speaker are traveling together and so two other faculty can also go in the same cab, ok? No, I wrote back, not ok because it is me and Hoder and Lisa going together so we can only take one other person or you can order a mini-van cab. Next email I receive: so the occupants of the cab are you, Hoder, colleague X and collegue Y. NO, I wrote back again just before leaving for BGU in an exhausted state and reiterated the situation. Get there and the secretary is gone for the day but I expected an email had been sent in the meantime. So when I got home on thursday night I checked ---no email.
Friday morning me, Hoder and Lisa are all in the appointed place with the cab driver and we stand waiting for half an hour for the other two people who don't show up...if we leave any later we are going to be late...finally I say, ok let's go. Lisa says "better call someone and cover your ass" since we are leaving without the others. Good plan. I call the head of the department who has no clue what the situation is (and shouldn't, he is not the secretary, after all) and he gives me the secretary's number. I call her and she is like, "oh you left? you aren't waiting for them?" She gives me the number of colleague X. I call said colleague and say, where are you people? "We're on the 1.." What?? How are you on the 1? Why are you on the 1? "Didn't the secretary tell you last night that we are getting a ride with colleague Z?! She was supposed to tell you." No, no she didn't. The girls in the other car begin to discuss among themselves and to me general outrage (and were very Israeli in a confrontation with the secretary over this I've since heard).
So we continue merrily on our way. The cabbie pulls up at a kibbutz hotel, drops us off and says, "I'll pick you back up here at 2 p.m." and drives off. We turn and start to go into the hotel and then stop short...it is the wrong kibbutz. We have been dropped at the wrong place. Phone calls again. Lisa grabs the phone and makes me jealous, not only with her fantastic hebrew, but also her no-nonesense Chutzpah in demanding that they fix the situation and fix it now. Colleague Z, along with colleague Y, are dispatched to pick us up. 15 minutes later they arrive. Another 15 minutes drive later we are all (very late) where we should be, and everything begins. An inauspicious start to be sure but wow, what a fantastic talk.
Now, a question that is unrelated but very important to me (one that has taken me all day to be able to write and ask). I am going to need to make funeral arrangements for Pandy. I am not going to just let her be picked up by the city for disposal like a piece of garbage. All of the family pets that have left us are interred in the garden of our house in Austin, Texas but this is obviously not an option (though my mother suggested freezing her and sending her by plane home for burial). I am renting and don't have my own garden. Does anyone know if there are pet cemetaries or something along those lines where I can bury her and know that she won't be disturbed? I want her someplace safe and peaceful and pretty. I want to be there to bury her and to say goodbye. Any help or advice along these lines would be most appreciated.