We are on Winter Break until January 9th and our son Owen came in on Friday to complete our family! We are enjoying having us all together. We are staying in Tashkent for the holidays, with my brother and sister-in-law coming to visit us later this week. It is so nice to have flexible working hours and time to relax and recharge after a very busy first half of the school year.
I had a fantastic Sunday. The weather has warmed, although in the shaded areas there are still patches of ice and snow. Owen and I have been hanging out in the mornings because he is jet-lagged and I am up early as usual. I miss him and it fills me with joy to have him around again. I went for a 34-kilometer bicycle ride in the afternoon. I found a safe route along one of the minor canals from my house to the Parkent highway. There is a good sidewalk along the highway. I rode all the way to the Yangi Uzbekistan Park and looped back to the canal through an agricultural area. It was quite muddy on the sides of the road. It felt good to get back into cycling and I am trying to make a point to get as much exercise as possible during the break.
Later in the afternoon, we celebrated the first day of Hanukkah with our good friends the Furman family. We’ve grown quite close over the past two years and Nati and Daphna are special to us. We lit the first candle and sang in Hebrew. Hanukkah celebrates the re-dedication of a temple that was lost to the Syrian Greeks over 2,200 years ago. It is amazing that the Jews can trace back their history as distinct people so long ago. Most Americans can trace their ancestry back to Europe only about a couple of hundred years. My ancestry is Polish/Slovak/Ukraine and the Slavs only go back to approximately 600 AD. I also learned that the Jews have many names for God, including “Adonai”. It means master or lord and is one of the most common terms for god in the Old Testament. We spun the dreidel, I lost twice and won once.
The highlight of the day was watching the extremely exciting World Cup Final between France and Argentina. The constant flopping of Argentinians annoyed me greatly, but eventually, they won me over with their spectacular play. I favor the golden goal to end the game instead of playing the full extra time. However, the late French goal gave us an extra 15 minutes of excitement when it came to penalty kicks. My favorite part was just celebrating goals with Ocean, Nadia and Oliver. We are not big soccer fans, but avidly follow the World Cup and the Summer and Winter Olympics. It was a special night to have the whole family cheering loudly in our living room. We watched the game with our 1-month Peacock subscription. They had the Telemundo feed in Spanish. I first became a true soccer fan in Colombia and I prefer the Latino announcers. Mbappe is a stud and Messi is a magician! Both teams had a great tournament and we loved having a November World Cup this past month.
I also was curious about how much gasoline costs here in Uzbekistan compared to the USA. The mid-grade gasoline (92 octane) costs $3.83 per gallon, which is slightly higher than the $3.26 average price in the USA last week. I used dimensional analysis to convert from 9,500 Uzbek So’um per liter to USD per gallon. Thanks to my high school science teacher Jack Sherman for drilling this into us. It cost me 580,545 Uzbek So’um or $51.53 to fill the 61-liter tank of my Chevrolet Captiva.