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## Shalom to Ning

I had never expected that Feb 19, 2017 would be the last day we say farewell to each.

We used to talk about math puzzles, from blue-eyed islander puzzle to the hardest logic puzzle ever, every time on the bus from or to Shuk. We joked about the possibility that the apple cores we throw in the Carmel national park would one day become apple trees. We had plans to host a hot-pot party and introduce Mahjong to our Israeli friends…

I realized that all these can only expressed in past tense when I saw you forever asleep in Eilat.

We were so close, yet we are so far apart.

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## First week in Israel

Here is a list of things I have experienced during the first week in Israel and some tips for those of you who plan to visit me in Haifa!

Hainan airline has a direct flight from Beijing to Tel Aviv, and they have a resting area for transiting passengers in Beijing.

If this is your first time in Israel, make sure your arrival day is not Saturday or any holiday. Saturday (or holiday) means almost no public transportation, almost no restaurants and fewer people on the street whom you can ask help from.

Most Israelis are quite friendly and speak decent English. Even if someone does not speak English at all, he or she is always able to grab someone closeby to help.

You can exchange all major currencies (eg. US dollars, Chinese yuan) for new Israeli shekels at the airport in Tel Aviv at Bank Hapoalim. Expectedly, the rate is not as good as what you can get outside the airport. A lot of places accept major credit cards, such as Visa and Mastercard. Some places ask for a purchase of 20 shekels or more if you use credit card.

The vending machines for train tickets did not accept my Mastercard. The ticket from the airport to Haifa (Hof Hacarmel station) costs 35 shekels. The train is on platform 2 and it has WiFi connection. Use Google map to tell which station you are arriving if you, like myself, do not understand enough Hebrew.

The train from Tel Aviv to Haifa goes along the coastal line of the mediterranean sea. Highway no.2 lies between the rails and the coast, which resembles highway no.1 in California.

Bus no.11 goes from Hof Hacarmel to Technion. The bus fare is something slightly less than 6 shekels. Moovit is a must for public transportation planning, and it can send you notification when you are approaching at your destination.

Uber and Lyft do not have services in Haifa (but Uber does in Tel Aviv). People use Gett (aka Get Taxi) to call cabs. Since tipping is not required for taxi, remember to turn off automatic tipping in the app. You can use my code GTMLIYK for 15 shekels off your 1st ride.

The most popular messaging app is WhatsApp. I was asked for my WhatsApp contact for quite a few times.

Google Fi (global cellular service including data) works quite well in Israel. For the first week, I’ve heavily relied on my smart phone for navigation, transportation and information retrieving. It’s probably a good idea to carry a power bank. The outlet sockets in Israel are Type C and H.

Other random observations:

On Sunday, the train is full of soldiers. A few were probably carrying M4 carbines when I was on the train.

The rent for the property listed online (eg. yod2.co.il or Facebook group) usually does not include city tax and building management fee.

Some apartments in Haifa have a separate room for the toilet only.

You give all the checks for the rent to the landlord when you sign the contract. Technion is able to write a guarantee letter to the landlord saying that they will freeze your last payment as the security deposit.

You will not be able to change the PIN, set by the bank, of your debit card, at least for Bank Leumi, the other major bank in Israel besides Bank Hapoalim.

Hebrew calendar and Chinese calendar are both lunisolar, so they are similar in a lot of ways. Friday and Saturday are weekends in Israel.

High schoolers can choose how difficult the math they want to learn. For example, calculus (including formulas like $e^{i\theta} = \cos \theta + i\sin\theta$) is offered in high schools.

However, most high school graduates need to go to army for 2-3 years and it’s hard to recall what they have learnt after the army. Top students might have the option to delay their military service.

Pork and shellfish are not Kosher, so you will not be able to see them in most supermarkets. It is also not Kosher to eat meat with milk.

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## 美国数学奥林匹克观察（上）

MOP 正式开始是从六月九日，在这之前还有给黑组成员的小灶 Pre-MOP。为了备课，我的母亲从上海帮我翻拍了很多以前的笔记和数学日志，精选了一百来个题目，花了不少时间把每一个题目都做了一遍，并翻译成英文写了解答。

Pre-MOP 很快就过去了。六月九日大批的蓝绿红组的学生到来，看面孔大多数都是华裔，不知道这算是人种优势，还是华人家长比较在数学教育。于是我问 James Tao 他是如何走上奥林匹克数学道路的。他说，一方面，是他父亲的辅导，小时候拿着一本中文的几何书翻译着将给他听。另一方面，他发现了 Art of Problem Solving 这个网站和一本叫 Problems from the Book 的书。我个人的看法是，华人家长会更有意识培养和挖掘孩子数学能力。

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## iShattered

Today, probably, is not my day. I dropped my phone on the ground when I was rushing to the first recitation. The screen was totally shattered into pieces. And I had no time mourning on the loss of my first smart phone because I had to arrive in the classroom on time.

In the afternoon, I gave it a try at the Apple store. And unfortunately, I had to pay 200+ dollars for a replacement of my phone. As I was hesitating whether to take it or not, they told me that actually they could do nothing with the device because it is purchased outside the country. I left the Apple store with the number of Apple Care.

Then I gave my second try. The customer service whose name is Jeremy let me hold on the line for about 10 minutes because the case is rare and he was asking for help from the senior advisor. At first, he told me that probably I needed to send my phone back to China, get it fixed and send it back. And he transfered me to the customer service in China. After listening to about-10-minute enjoyable pop songs with no one answering the phone call, Jeremy told me that he had been looking for an alternative solution so that I wouldn’t have to go through the procedure in China.

Finally, he transfered me to the senior advisor whose name is Diego. And he found a new policy for devices purchased abroad which I thought was perfect for me. He charged me 99 dollars to upgrade my phone with an Apple care which will cover two incidents with 49 dollars extra charge each time. The only downside of this deal is that what I got is a new iPhone 5 locked to AT&T network instead of the factory unlocked one. I think overall it is a good deal because it’s cheaper and gives more protection.

During the evening, I went again into the Apple store, and replaced my phone with a new one. But I don’t know why it took them for like an hour to get it done. But anyway, it’s fixed.

Lesson learned. Buy a case. Just in case.

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## Legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright

Finally, I got a chance to visit Fallingwater, a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1935. I had long dreamed of this trip. And Wright didn’t let me down. As he is always right.

With narrow rooms inside, this house is organically designed so that people are ‘forced’ to come outside, to connect with the nature. On the other hand, we’ve seen rocks inside the living room and a corridor in the house, as an extension of the outside. This intertwined theme, the combination of nature and design, can be seen in every single dimension of this house.

Another thing to notice is that Wright kept a uniformly horizontal rhythm in his design. The lines formed by shelves, tables, beds, etc. are aligned in such a paranoiac way. Even the stairs were designed without handrails so that the rhythm can be continued and extended.

Unfortunately, we only had the regular tour because the in-depth tour tickets were sold out when I was purchasing online. However, it gives me a good reason to see this place again. Maybe the brunch tour or the probably-overpriced sunset tour next time.

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## Con Man

I received the following email this afternoon.

Hello,
I’m sorry I didn’t inform anyone about me and my family short trip to Madrid, Spain. Unfortunately we were mugged at gunpoint, at the hotel park we checked into. Our cell phone, cash and credit card was stolen in the process and we  immediately file a report to the Police, but they seems to be taking things too slow. Our flight leaves in few hrs from now and we need a quick loan to settle the hotel bills and our transport to the airport. I promise to reimburse immediately we arrive back home safely. Please get back to us asap.
Thanks,
—- —-

At first, it makes a little sense since I know this friend lives with his / her family. But it looks somehow suspicious, because apparently this friend can write in Chinese. And Gmail also popped up a message warning that the content of this message is suspicious. But I couldn’t rule out the possibility that he / she was really needing my help. So I replied:

I would definitely like to help you. Just to check it’s really you. Could you tell me who discovered the zero-one law?

One may ask more advanced questions, like personal questions. But usually you will get a vague answer.

Hi Roy,
I’m glad you replied back and am appreciative for your concern. It was a horrible experience but glad we were not physically injured. To answer your question, zero-one law was discovered by Ron Fagin. The total amount we are needing is about \$2000, that will cover all our expenses to settle the bills and extra to return home. We don’t have any money left on us right now. You can have the money transferred on my name from any western union money transfer office around you.
Here’s my Info,
My passport name is under: —- —-
Nearest western union address: Plaza de Santa Ana 14, 28012 Madrid, Spain.
Please get back to me with the transfer confirmation number#. I’ll standby near a computer to check back.

Obviously, they failed. It’s Kolmogorov! Meanwhile, I saw the status of this friend on Chinese Facebook. Both his / her gmail and Facebook were hacked. So I decided to play with these con men for a bit while.

Sorry. That’s the wrong answer. I would definitely send you the money if I can verify it’s you. But you really need to tell me the right answer. Please try again. You should know the right answer. Take your time.

They replied promptly.

Oh Sorry, it’s Andrey Nikolaevich Kolmogorov.

That’s ridiculous! Who the hell can remember the middle name of Kolmogorov except Kolmogorov himself. So I replied politely with sarcasm.

Yes, that’s absolutely correct. Just one last question. You understand Chinese, right? Please tell me what’s the meaning of 你是骗子，我要报警 ? (Translation: you are a liar. I am going to call the police.)

I expected that they wouldn’t get back to me any more. But out of my expectation, they responded in Chinese!

This was astonishing. They even tried Google translate!
A quick reminder: there are several things you can do to protect your gmail or Facebook account before it’s too late. You can set up a strong password and use 2-step verification, though they might cause inconvenience sometimes.